July 2, 1964


On July 2, 1964 American president Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. Discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, national origin and gender were outlawed – America officially recognized the rights of all citizens. In August, three black civil rights workers working in Mississippi to register African American voters, were found murdered by the KKK. That October, Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The following year Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – literacy tests and poll taxes aimed at southern blacks became illegal.  Legislation sparked by a tumultuous year that witnessed Malcolm X’s assassination and “bloody Sunday” – Alabama State Troopers using tear gas, whips and clubs to send 50 peaceful protesters to hospital as they crossed a bridge.

1966 – Huey Newton and Bobby Seale form the Black Panther Movement, the term “black power” immortalized in 1967 by Stokely Carmichael of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Seattle. President Johnson appoints Thurgood Marshall as the first black Supreme Court Justice. The court rules in Loving v. Virginia that prohibiting interracial marriage is unconstitutional.

April 4, 1968 Martin Luther King is assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. A few days later President Johnson amends the Civil Rights Act to include racial discrimination in housing sales, rentals and financing. Democrat Shirley Chisholm of New York becomes the first black female Representative elected.

It would take pages to properly document the American civil rights movement.  Rosa Parks of Montgomery, Alabama refusing to sit at the back of the bus in 1955 would shudder at the 1972 Tuskagee Syphilis Experiment (a 40 year U.S. Health Dept. program, from 1932 intentionally infecting black men with Syphilis) or Rex 84 (a plan penned by Oliver North in 1984 laying out plans to inter 21 million African Americans in the event of civil unrest),  to the abysmal behavior of pin headed “patriots” (terrified, petulant children quaking in their boots because Obama tried to drive the bus).

Pondering 50 years since signing of America’s first Civil Rights Act is depressing. Narrow minded nincompoops may be wise to the illusion of equality, becoming adept at politically correct facades is second nature. Don’t kid yourselves – inclusion, equality, education, housing, fair wages – they all impact the bottom line, civil rights are bad for business. Racial equality screams foul from every courtroom, prison, ghetto, housing project, and school in America.

A few days from now, the 50th anniversary of a momentous civil rights act coincides with Fourth of July flag waving hoopla. At some point between all the fireworks, BBQ’s and marching bands – I propose a moment of silence for courageous Americans forced to suffer the stigma and inequality of race.

A thank you to the inspiration for this ponder….

http://larryjben.wordpress.com/

civilrights.uga.edu

What Are We Afraid Of?


As a little girl I remember chanting “eeny meeny miney mo, catch a n****r by the toe”, it was the early sixties, I was 3 or 4 and hadn’t the slightest concept of what it meant. Somewhere along the way the “N” word became “Tiger” – I can’t recall an explanation, all I knew was we had to decide whose turn it was to go first, so tiger it was. There wasn’t a hateful bone in my body; my family – decent hard working people who never spoke ill of anyone. It wasn’t the deep south, this was rural Canada  in 1963 – parents passing along rhymes  they learned as children – nary a thought to meaning.

I believe that “Tiger” was Martin Luther King Jr. Fifty years ago today, close to a quarter of a million people marched on Washington, D.C. Gathered at the Washington Monument, Martin Luther King spoke for nearly 20 minutes, delivering his iconic I Have a Dream speech. Powerful, articulate, compelling – I can’t think of words that do justice to this moment in history.

MLK was a proud American; a man who asked only that people uphold the American constitution, the promise of emancipation, the pursuit of life, liberty and freedom for all citizens. He calls for tolerance, understanding, and peace. He asks that the black community forgive white America and proceed in a spirit of understanding. If you do nothing else today – take 5 minutes out of your life –  click below and listen to the words of Martin Luther King Jr.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFcbpGK9_aw

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Listen then ask yourself what it is you’re afraid of. Ask yourself what good it does to sabotage every move the Obama administration makes. Ask yourself if a “tiger” is just as capable of settling things as any other animal you could name. Ask yourself why you’re filled with contempt, ask yourself to snap out of the past and think for yourselves. Stop being afraid and ask yourself if America is worth fighting for. One of the greatest Americans in history answered that question 50 years ago today – to think his life was in vain breaks my heart.