Posts tagged ‘Dr. Martin Luther King’

Selma, The Film

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I saw the movie and love it and I’m thrilled that a black woman, Ava DuVernay, directed. This is the story of  a seminal moment in American history: the 1965 Selma to Montgomery, Alabama marches for the rights of blacks to vote. It was a horrific time in the story of our nation. This film gets a lot of things right: the portrayal of the racially charged era, which is itself a character; the rendering of the place and the portrait of the iconic man. This last one is tricky because King the IDEA lives so strongly in the hearts of so many. David Oyelowo, [pronounced o-yellow-o] gives a stirring performance as King.

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Guest Blogger Dennis Roberts—Oakland, CA Attorney at Law—reflects on the film, Selma and his days as a young attorney working in Southwest Georgia during the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.

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Education Under Arrest


I agree with Marian Wright Edelmen, who spoke recently with Tavis Smiley about the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, beyond the 60s: “We love our prophets, we love the dream, but we don’t love the bounced promissory note.”

On a personal level, I look at how far we have not come since the 1963 March on Washington:

On the one hand as you read this, lucky college freshmen, such as our daughter and her friends, settle into their new lives. On the other, I find myself mentoring an 8-months-pregnant 19-year-old, Read more…

All Things are Linked

In the 1960s  this Buddhist Monk from Vietnam, Thich Nhat Hanh, persuaded MLK to publicly oppose the Vietnam War.

In the 1960s, this Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, persuaded Martin Luther King, Jr. to publicly oppose the Vietnam War.

As I wrote this post, my heart reached out to the families in Newtown, Conn., steeped in grief and looking for their next steps. May they soon find that—even in suffering— peace is every step…

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Harlem Barbershop ~ Tells Its Own Stories

June 2011 ~ ALBANY, GA

Nope. Not talking about the infamous Harlem in New York City, but rather its namesake 1000 miles south in Albany, GA. It’s hot as the dickens that day, but nice and comfortable inside the barbershop on the corner of W. Highland and S. Jackson Streets in this historic district. When you open the door, the little bell rings, just as you’d expect it to. That day in June I learned that this is where my late dad went for hair cuts for well over 40 years, and I finally crossed the threshold last June while home researching the novel.

I introduce myself to the owner and head barber, Eugene Bailey, (he goes by Boo Jean) and ask him, “I’m Silas Jones’ baby girl…did you happen to know my dad?” He smiles, “Oh yeah!…we always knew we was gon’ have a good time whenever Silas walked through the door!” Read more…

Poor People’s Campaign ~ Lessons from the Streets of 1968

My family was living on Hazard Drive in Albany, Georgia when Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated on April 4, 1968—my late mother’s 42nd birthday.  I was two months shy of 14 and felt doubly sad—that King’s life had been snuffed out and my mother would cry for him on her birthday.

Five weeks later, on May 12th, approximately 50,000 protestors gathered on The National Mall and heard Rev. Ralph Abernathy say these words ~

“We come with an appeal to open the doors of America to the almost 50 million Americans who have not been given a fair share of America’s wealth and opportunity, and we will stay until we get it.”

This peaceful gathering of poor people from the four corners of the country—all races and walks of life—was called The Poor People’s Campaign and demanded that Lyndon Johnson and Congress  provide jobs, healthcare and decent homes for the 13% of Americans living below the poverty line. They weren’t alone in this act of civil disobedience in 1968, there was continual student unrest across the globe—in New York City, Paris, Mexico, Poland, Egypt, West Germany, and Czechoslovakia.

A week after the march, tents and shacks went up on the Mall and became known as Resurrection City— a temporary city of 7,000 who were still traumatized by King’s assassination, yet carrying on with his hope for America. Photographer Jill Freedman quit her job and lived in Resurrection City. She and her pictures have survived to tell the story. In the the video above Chuck Farris artfully tells a version of that story.

The massive poor people’s march would be Dr. King’s final project, reflecting his shift in focus away from civil rights, as purely a race issue, toward human rights, a matter of class. His wife, Coretta Scott King, with the help of many black ministers—Abernathy and Rev. Jessie Jackson among them—carried through with the plan.

After seven weeks of unrelenting rain—the sky itself was despondent—the protestors went home. No doubt Jessie’s words echoed in their minds and hearts: “I am. Somebody…I may not have a job, but I am somebody.”

If it happened today—over 43 years later—Resurrection City could just as easily be called Occupy The Mall.

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