Civil Rights

July 01, 2008

Nelson Mandela Removed from FBI Terror Watch List

In honor of Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday on July 18th, President Bush saw to it that he be removed from the FBI's terror watch list, on which he had been placed over 30 years ago.  This will give Mandela the ability to visit the United States from now on without having to be given permission from the secretary of state.

Mandela had been placed on the terror watch list because of his involvement with the African National Congress, which in 1960, the Apartheid government had banned.  Mandela spent 27 years behind bars as a political prisoner.  In 1994, the African National Congress took control as the new governing body of South Africa.  Nelson Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for peacefully ending the Apartheid segregation.

June 09, 2008

Jackson On Obama, Civil Rights Movement

The link below is to a recent interview with Jesse Jackson. Is Obama the first post-civil rights leader?

For nearly half a century, Rev. Jesse Jackson has ranked as America's most ubiquitous civil rights crusader, working alongside Martin Luther King Jr., founding Operation PUSH, demanding equality from corporate America and twice making credible runs for the presidency. Now a younger African-American leader has won the Democratic nomination, and many Americans wonder whether that means the civil rights movement has finally achieved its goals.

Jackson, 66, recently sat down for a conversation. This is an edited transcript.

Q: Where does Sen. Barack Obama fit in the history of the civil rights movement? Is he the culmination of that movement?

A: Today someone said to me, "You know, Barack is the first post-civil rights leader." I said, "Really?" He said, "He's not attached to those civil rights days." I said, "He's a direct descendant of it, a direct beneficiary of it!"

May 22, 2008

Last Remaining Plaintiff in Brown V. Board of Education Dies

Zelma Henderson who died last night at the age of 89 was the last living plaintiff to file suit against the Board of Education of Topeka.  This historic trial led to the Supreme Court decision to desegregate schools and served as a major triumph leading to the civil rights era.

In 1950 she signed onto the litigation on behalf of her children challenging Topeka's segregated schools. In all, 13 black parents, including the Rev. Oliver Brown, took part in the federal court case.

The plaintiffs lost in U.S. District Court, but the case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, along with similar cases from Virginia, South Carolina and Delaware, all challenging the constitutionality of racial segregation of public schools. They were consolidated by the court as Brown v. Board. A similar case from the District of Columbia was decided the same day, but wasn't part of Brown.

The high court's unanimous ruling overturning school segregation came on May 17, 1954. It outlawed the "separate but equal" doctrine and was a prelude to the civil rights movement.

May 21, 2008

Is Driving While Black A Crime?

Some reflections from a blogger on the experience of "Driving while black." It's important to not forget that the discussion around Civil Rights continues for a reason.

I found out yesterday a good friend of mine spent the night in jail because he didn't have his license on him. I will back up and say since I have lived in Atlanta, I have come across at least two "roadblocks" by police in neighborhoods that I would classify as "predominately" Black. The routine is for the police to block the road and ask everyone to see their license. If you don't have your license you get a ticket that ranges from $300 to $500 or more then if you are "unlucky" or DWB (Driving While Black) you may get a visit to the county jail...

April 18, 2008

The Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act was signed into law by President Johnson just one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) and various state affiliates are acknowledging the anniversary of the Act and heralding its success. It should be noted that the NRA is a sponsor of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial.

On the national front, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is working with Congress to make the new FHA and conforming loan limits permanent so Americans can access affordable financing in all areas of the country. Realtors also work side by side with HUD and other housing-related organizations to eliminate discrimination in all U.S communities. 

NAR is also a proud sponsor of the Washington, D.C., Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial. Scheduled for completion later this year, the memorial embraces a vision of human dignity and equality for people of all races, colors, creeds and countries of origin. King’s message of equality is mirrored in the principles of NAR and all of its members who embrace the ideal of equal opportunity in housing.

At the same time, the Asheville-Citizen Times believes that housing in and around their community still isn't fair. While there may be room for debate on the topic, as a part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, there can be no argument that the effort remains as just one component of the legacy of Dr. King.

Forty years later, there is no argument that fair housing is part of American law. But, in Asheville at least, there are still differences between the law on the books and reality on the street.

April 10, 2008

The Future Of Civil Rights And King's Dream

Blogger Jill Tubman has picked up on a Washington Post item highlighting the changing nature of the organized Civil Rights movement and speculates on the future of Civil Rights activism in a new media age.

"What would happen if W.E.B. Du Bois or Marcus Garvey had a laptop?" Du Bois helped found the NAACP in 1909, and Garvey, a rival, started a back-to-Africa movement around the same time.

April 09, 2008

What If?

It's unclear as to if there's anything to be gained from asking the question, What if Dr. King had lived? But the Boston - Bay State Banner takes it on today. What can be known, as is pointed out in another look at some related Sixties history - that of the Black Panthers via The Community Times, many of the problems facing Black America, especially in urban settings, remain to be solved. Might things be better today had Dr. King survived the turbulent Sixties? Could be.

The preacher in him would have continued speaking out against injustice, war and maybe even pop culture. He would likely not have run for president. He probably would have endured more harassment from J. Edgar Hoover.

Four decades after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. fell to an assassin’s bullet, colleagues and biographers offer many answers to the question: What if he had lived?

For his children, however, the speculation is more personal. They know their lives would have turned out differently had they had their beloved father to guide and teach them.

March 28, 2008

American Bible Society Honors Dr. King

Via a news release from the American Bible Society that terms Dr. King a "prophet."

NEW YORK, March 28 /Christian Newswire/ -- The following is a statement by the Rev. Dr. Paul Irwin, President, American Bible Society:

Two score years ago, the voice of a prophet was stilled in our land. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was killed in the midst of calling for America to live up to the true meaning of the concept that all people are created equal. His mission was based squarely on his faith in God and the message of the Bible that God loves all of us in this world, regardless of our ethnicity or where our ancestors lived before they came to these shores.

Dr. King's vision was of a kingdom of peace for all nations of the earth. As it says in the biblical book of Amos (5.24 Contemporary English Version), "Let justice and fairness flow like a river that never runs dry."

March 26, 2008

Racism Today

There are two current worthwhile articles dealing with racism in contemporary society. One is from Newsweek:

Like many of us, I was inspired by Sen. Barack Obama's recent eloquent speech on healing racial and other divisions in this country. His words resonated with my personal experiences. In 1981, for example, when my friend and I moved to Boston to start our medical internships at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Brigham & Women's Hospital, the landlord forced us to find another place to live when he saw that she was African-American.

And another can be found at Real Clear Politics:

In his eloquent 37-minute speech, "A More Perfect Union," Sen. Barack Obama sought to address head-on the nuances and complexities of race in America. Sadly, much of the media are not taking up his challenge for a serious discourse on race; they are still obsessed with the more superficial and incendiary aspects of the topic.

Some of the comments of Obama's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, are beyond the pale. But are they really any more outrageous--or any more significant--than the words of some notable ministers on the political right?

Westminster Abbey To Honor Dr. King As 20th Century Martyr

In announcing the April 4th commemoration, the Very Rev Dr John Hall, Dean of Westminster said, “Dr Martin Luther King is commemorated at Westminster Abbey as one of the most significant of many martyrs in the 20th century.

A Service of Hope to celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr, the Baptist minister and civil rights activist who received a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end segregation and racial discrimination in the United States of America will be held at Westminster Abbey on Friday 4 April.

Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated on 4 April 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. Today he is one of the most revered figures in American history. His statue above the Great West Door of Westminster Abbey is one of ten statues of 20th century martyrs, which were unveiled on 9 July 1998.

The preacher will be Joel Edwards, General Director of the Evangelical Alliance, whilst Ruach Ministries and Tribe of Judah will also be participating in the service.

In attendance will be Dr Elbert Ransom Jr, contemporary and former aide to Martin Luther King Jr, David Lammy, MP for Tottenham and Minister for Skills, and the American Ambassador, Robert H Tuttle.

Your support brings us one step closer to building this Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Help us honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his vision for America. Help us “Build the Dream.”

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