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February 2008

February 27, 2008

Reverend H.K. Matthews

The Northwest Florida Daily News profiles Reverend H. K Matthews today. There's additional information on the Reverend here at The History Makers. Matthews paid an incredible price for his Civil Rights work over the years and encourages the youth of today to not take for granted something once thought unobtainable for an Afro-American: the vote.

His grandmother didn’t live to see it, but when he grew up, Matthews became personal friends with leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and spent several years of his life fighting for equal rights.

Matthews helped establish Freedom Schools throughout the Panhandle for expelled students who walked out of school because of harassment during integration. He has been jailed 35 times for leading protests and demonstrations for civil rights. He was sent to prison for crimes he didn’t commit, only later to be acquitted. His family’s lives were threatened for what he stood up for. He was shot at for defending other people. Eight known contracts were taken out on his life for who he was. He did all this for others.

Later in life, those he helped abandoned him when he faced hard labor imprisonment for crimes he never committed. And despite the injustice he’s faced, he remains a happy man.

Matthews says one of the accomplishments by African-Americans that younger generations take for granted is the right to vote in spite of the tremendous price paid by people such as those who marched, and were beaten, in the Edmund Pettus Bridge March in 1965. It was this march that led to President Lyndon Johnson enacting the Voting Rights Act that superseded local laws that prohibited blacks from voting.

February 25, 2008

Johnnie Carr Passes

Full story here.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Johnnie Carr, who joined childhood friend Rosa Parks in the historic Montgomery bus boycott and kept a busy schedule of civil rights activism up to her final days, has died. She was 97.

Carr died Friday night, said Baptist Health hospital spokeswoman Melody Ragland. She had been hospitalized after a stroke Feb. 11.

Carr succeeded the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as president of the Montgomery Improvement Association in 1967, a post she held at her death. It was the newly formed association that led the boycott of city buses in the Alabama capital in 1955 after Parks, a black seamstress, was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to whites on a crowded bus.

A year later the U.S. Supreme Court struck down racial segregation on public transportation.

"Johnnie Carr is one of the three major icons of the Civil Rights Movement: Dr. King, Rosa Parks and Johnnie Carr," said Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center. "I think ultimately, when the final history books are written, she'll be one of the few people remembered for that terrific movement."

February 08, 2008

The Orangeburg Massacre

If February 8, 1968 was an important day in the struggle for Civil Rights and equal justice for all, you wouldn't have known it from the press coverage at the time. On that day, in Orangeburg, South Carolina, three students were murdered and 27 injured in a hail of buck shot from the state police firing into a crowd. Was a segregated bowling alley really the reason? Or was it hate-filled hearts that America was just beginning to acknowledge four years on from the passage of the Civil Rights Act?

Sam Hammond, Jr. died that day, two months before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. died in the same cause; two years before the killings at Kent State University would convulse the nation over protests related to the war.

My friend Sam Hammond Jr. has been on my mind lately. This is partly because a pair of high school friends are trying to establish an award in his honor and partly because of a confluence of two tragic anniversaries and one truly breathtaking event. Forty years ago today Sam died on the campus of South Carolina State College in Orangeburg, S.C. That night in 1968, Sam and two other young black men were killed by a fusillade of double-ought buckshot fired by S.C. state troopers to end a three-day demonstration meant to integrate a bowling alley.

Ken Jeffers, now of Toronto, is linked to the massacre. He continued to carry forward the cause.

Those who know Jeffers, 61, are privy to his wide resumé of community activism in Toronto – whether through his official work as a manager in the city's recreation and parks department or in founding the Harriet Tubman Centre. He even headed up the ungovernable Caribana for two years.

What most don't know is that the events around Feb. 8, 1968 have defined the man and as he surveys the plaza, the bowling alley now closed, he considers the price his fellow students paid for a little bit of human dignity.

"I'm thinking, this is such an insignificant-looking, dilapidated place," says Jeffers.

"Why did we have to expend three valuable students' lives to integrate it? This stark reality underscores how devalued our lives are, the imbalance out there, that one angry, hateful white southerner had the power to keep so many students at bay, and still have us coming back 40 years after."

Now, there are student reenactments and the media is doing stories around the event - 17 via Google News. Some might argue that's far too few.

February 07, 2008

On The Road To Freedom

Acknowledging a work such as On The Road To Freedom should not be seen as an endorsement by The Dream Blog. But from time to time, we will be pointing out books that might be of interest to our readers.

As much a travel guide, as it is a history of the early Civil Rights movement, Cobb's book may be of interest to our readers. Story here and the Amazon dot com link here.

I wanted to write a book people could actually use, and a travel book seemed to be the way to do it," said Cobb, who was a field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the Mississippi Delta in the 1960s. "But while this is a travel book, I also consciously wrote it as a story ... I was trying to put things into the mix of the historical discussion, both in terms of place and in terms of people - especially women - who simply are virtually unknown."

NEW YORK—If you drive six miles southwest of Anniston, Ala., you'll pass the spot where a bus was bombed in 1961 and the passengers - civil rights activists known as Freedom Riders - were beaten by a mob. There's no marker there, but it's one of 400 places in a new book called "On the Road to Freedom: A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail" (Algonquin Books, $18.95).

Many of the sites included in the book are well-known - like the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, now the National Civil Rights Museum. But Charles E. Cobb Jr., who wrote "On the Road to Freedom," says he also wanted to include little-known places - like the road near Anniston - "for the person who has a real interest in the civil rights movement and is not necessarily your ordinary tourist."

February 04, 2008

Dr. King's Struggle For Justice Continues

While the legendary work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sometimes ticks up in the news, most notably around the Holiday that marks his birthday and during Black History Month, much of the effort to continue the King legacy goes on behind the scenes and unreported.

Martin Luther King panel explores issues of social injustice

Until the relationship between the powerless and the powerful is changed, the struggle for civil rights for all will remain unfinished, according to Manisha Desai.

Desai, director of the Women’s Studies Program, spoke during a panel about Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 30 in the Student Union Theatre.

While such efforts may go along largely unnoticed, it's clear that Dr. King's agenda, pushed forward against much resistance long before it was popular, or even safe to do so, continues to drive the discussion of equal rights and equal justice for all in America and around the world.

Dr. King didn't simply influence the nation; he changed it, even as the work continues.

Carey First African-American Refs Super Bowl XLII

Highly accomplished NFL official and businessman, Mike Carey, of San Diego received the call informing him of his assignment on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. The assignment, which made Carey the man with the mic on Super Bowl Sunday, is seen as reserved for one of the league's top officials.

PHOENIX – Mike Carey got the call Jan. 15, which he called “fitting.”
On the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Carey was told he would be the referee for Super Bowl XLII, the first African-American referee in the NFL's biggest game.

“I am proud, humbled and blessed,” said Carey, a San Diego native who lives in Del Cerro. “I may be the first . . . but I'm just part of the path. There are a lot of African-American superior officials.”

Assignments for the game are viewed as indicative of any official's stellar performance throughout the year during NFL regular season play.

Carey's crew tomorrow will include two other black officials – line judge Carl Johnson and field judge Boris Cheek. There were an all-time-high 26 black officials on the 17 NFL officiating crews this season. Among those is Mike's brother, back judge Don Carey.

Now that the game has been played, Carey and his crew are being praised for an excellent job.

February 01, 2008

A Rosa By Any Other Name

Here's an interesting item involving the memory of the late Ms. Rosa Parks

Just in time for Valentine's Day, OrganicStyle.com introduces Freedom(R) -- A Rose in Honor of Rosa Parks, a new rose that pays tribute to Rosa Parks' birthday on February 4th.

Nonprofitshoppingmall.com has teamed up with OrganicStyle.com and will donate 20% of the proceeds from sales of this bouquet when ordered at Nonprofitshoppingmall.com to the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development with each company donating 10% respectively.

On December 1, 1955, 42-year-old Rosa Parks boarded a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. A few stops later, a white man boarded the crowded bus and had to stand in the aisle. When the driver demanded that she give up her seat for the man, Rosa Parks remained seated. The driver called the police, who arrested Mrs. Parks, but her courageous act initiated a citywide bus boycott led by Martin Luther King, Jr. that lasted 381 days.

On February 1, 1956, the Montgomery Improvement Association filed suit in the U.S. District Court, challenging the constitutionality of segregated public transportation. In June of 1956, the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the Improvement Association. When the city appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, the higher court affirmed the lower court's ruling, declaring segregation on buses unconstitutional. The decision was implemented on December 20, 1956. With her quiet strength, Rosa Parks gave birth to the modern day civil rights movement.

During her lifetime, Mrs. Parks received more than 43 honorary doctorate degrees and hundreds of other honors. In September 1996, President William J. Clinton, the 42nd President of the United States, presented Rosa Parks with the Medal of Freedom, the highest award given to a civilian. In 1999, she was the 250th individual to receive the Congressional Gold Medal. At her passing, the United States Congress was suspended with many of its members being flown to Detroit to pay their respects. Rosa Parks became the first woman to lie in honor at the U. S. Capitol Rotunda.

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