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March 2008

March 31, 2008

Sanitation Worker from Memphis Remembers Protests from '68

Marking the fourth decade after Dr. King's assassination, the Memphis Department of Solid Waste Management continues to employ 30 workers who were present during the protests of '68.  Elmore Nickelberry, who's been working for the department for 54 years, tells his story.

"This is where they threw gas on us," the 76-year-old points out as the truck passes the Clayborn Temple, where Martin Luther King Jr. led a thousand mostly African-American striking sanitation workers on a march.

"I got hurt in the arm, Mace thrown on me," Nickelberry remembers, rumbling down Main.

"We sang 'We Shall Overcome,' " he adds softly.

The Clayborn Temple march that night ended not with the victory of a sanitation union, but with 280 arrests, 60 injured men and 4,000 National Guardsmen deployed to impose martial law. A week later, King was dead — shot several blocks away on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.

Today, after four decades, Memphis' Department of Solid Waste Management still employs about 30 people from the '68 era, and Nickelberry is the oldest. It is in him, and in the sanitation department as a whole, that one clearly sees a legacy of the '60s and the civil rights movement.

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."

Samuel L. Jackson Volunteers At Museum

Hollywood's Samuel L. Jackson served as an usher at Dr. King's funeral in 1968. Fast forward to today and the actor is volunteering his time to help prepare the National Civil Rights Museum for April 4th.

When 100 volunteers got together this week to spruce up a Memphis museum, there was one especially recognisable face amid their ranks. Oscar-winning actor Samuel L Jackson had taken time out from filming his latest movie in the city to lend a hand with their efforts.

As the 40th anniversary of the April 4 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr approaches next week, the former Lorraine Motel where he was shot - now the National Civil Rights museum - will become the focus of memorial activities.

March 27, 2008

The Future Of News And Politics

The New York Times takes a look at how the Internet is changing politics and political discussion, especially among the young. That's one reason why foundations such as this one are starting blogs and other on line initiates.

It is not news that young politically minded viewers are turning to alternative sources like YouTube, Facebook and late-night comedy shows like “The Daily Show.” But that is only the beginning of how they process information.

According to interviews and recent surveys, younger voters tend to be not just consumers of news and current events but conduits as well — sending out e-mailed links and videos to friends and their social networks. And in turn, they rely on friends and online connections for news to come to them. In essence, they are replacing the professional filter — reading The Washington Post, clicking on CNN.com — with a social one.

Vietnam War Memorial Wall Now Online

Vietnam_3 If you had a friend or family member who fought in the Vietnam War to whom you would like to pay your respects, you no longer have to travel to the nation's capital to see their names in granite.  The Associated Press released this story:

The virtual version of the famous memorial — which is a pair of 246-foot black granite walls inscribed with the names of more than 58,000 American military casualties — is searchable.

Every name etched onto the real-world wall is viewable online and linked to the veteran's service record. Online visitors can add photos and describe their memories of the servicemen and women who died in the war.

Footnote.com Chief Executive Russ Wilding hopes the site will develop into an online community for veterans, family and friends to pay tribute and share their thoughts.

Maya Angelou Turns 80

Poet, civil rights activist, actress, director, professor, singer and dancer, Maya Angelou celebrates her 80th birthday.

The Tuscaloosa News gives the full story of how Angelou continues to live a life of adventure:

   ""The only things I ever really loved were writing and dancing, and at 800 I will still be dancing. I'll still think in terms of the long leg and extension, releves, and still love it," she says. "The line of the dancer. If you watch Baryshnikov, and you see that line, that's what the poet tries for. The poet tries for the line, the balance."

She has evolved from outcast to bohemian to celebrity to institution. In 1993, the poem she read at former President Clinton's first inauguration, "On the Pulse of the Morning," was a million-selling sensation. She is a mentor to Winfrey, who will throw a party for her 80th birthday. Since 2002, she has been composing verse for Hallmark, calling it — however commercial — part of her mission as "the people's poet."

"My intent is to see a person read 30 pages of the book of mine, or five poems, before he knows he's reading. I like him to just get in there," she says.

"So in order to do that, I have to take these things, words. ... Everybody in the world uses them, from morning until night. Words. You have to take some nouns and pronouns and adjectives and adverbs, ball them together and throw them against the wall and let them bounce.

"I've got to do it."

Dr. King's Global Legacy

The Telegraph takes an interesting look at an area of Atlanta, Georgia that produced both Dr. King and novelist Margaret Mitchell.

Not a nice area? This eastern neighbourhood of Downtown Atlanta, known as the Old Fourth Ward, just happens to have produced two of the great figures of modern American history.

On April 4, 1968 — 40 years ago next Friday — Dr King was shot dead in Memphis. In the words of the exhibition at Sweet Auburn, he “pitched his voice into that mysterious chamber of light and dark, the soul. The response he got transformed America.”

And the BBC reports on commemoration events in Ireland:

They are organising a series of seminars, exhibitions and conferences to take place over the next few months. The organisers say it is important to remember the events of 1968 in a "sober and reflective way".

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?

Rev. Al Sharpton joins Martin Luther King, III to host "Recommitment March"

Al Sharpton and MLK, III plan to host a "recommitment march" to memorialize Dr. King's death which occurred 40 years ago.  The march will be held at the Memphis City Hall.
The full story here:

“We have crossed the red sea of segregation, public accommodations and voting rights,” he continues. “But, we are still oppressed by a combination of what the Pharoahs have done and the fact that some of us have succumbed to false values and oppression…Compounding our struggle are Black on Black crime, the killing, drug use, the glorification of Gangsta Rap,” he says.

Sharpton said in a statement that he is calling the event a “Recommitment March” because it will “serve as an opportunity for people to recommit themselves to fighting for the ideals that Dr. King envisioned 40-years ago.''

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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