Posts tagged ‘Voting Rights Act’

My Father ~ Silas Jones ~ An Inspiration


Cira 1980s ~ My Father, Silas J. Jones in his back yard in Albany, GA after a miraculous snow fall. Yep, that’s a dusting of snow on the car…

Independence Day Musings ~

My father, Silas Jones, was born in 1921 in Putney, Georgia—a widening-in-the-road near Albany. I remember one summer when I was home—most likely during my Brooklyn, New York years: 1979-1985, we drove “down home” to visit my mother’s people in Bainbridge/Camilla. We were at a cousin’s house where the TV played perpetually. My cousin’s daughter, a toddler, sat too close to the set, spell-bound. My 6’2 father Read more…

President Obama: “What could more American than this?” [Bloody Sunday]

AP Photo:Butch Dill

50 years after Bloody Sunday: 2015. AP Photo/Butch Dill

Last night I read from John Garner’s The Art of Fiction about the theory of the “fictional dream”—a notion that the writer makes us “see” the story by giving us images that appeal to all our senses, eliciting emotion. I thought of this as I watched President Obama’s electrifying speech delivered this past Saturday in Selma Alabama on the banks of the Alabama River to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

On March 7, 1965 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., along with now Congressman John Lewis, lead 600 blacks in a march across the Edmund Pettus bridge in Slema. This march was sparked by the police killing of unarmed, 27-year old civil rights activist, Jimmy Lee Jackson and to protested the tenacious, inhumane obstacles sanctioned by our US government to keep blacks from voting 100 years after the Civil War. The protest ended with mounted police brutally attacking the peaceful marchers with bullwhips, billy clubs and tear gas.

President Obama’s speech at the site of this bloodshed was like a masterfully crafted sentence; the kind we writers aim for, structured so that readers go back and read it again and again just to savor and learn from it. As I listened I wanted to rewind his words; they appealed to all my senses and pulled me—as always—into his dream for America. He does this so well, this thing that a good sentence does: evokes the past, holds the present and propels us into the future—where there is still much work to be done. Much work indeed:

JFK’s Civil Rights Speech: June 11, 1963

50 years ago last month, President Kennedy spoke boldly and eloquently from the Oval office in response to the National Guard being sent to protect African-American students at the University of Alabama. Kennedy’s words ~

“We are confronted primarily with a moral issue.
It is as old as the scriptures and as clear as the American Constitution.”

• Kennedy would only live another 5 months and 11 days
• 13 months later President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law.
• 13 months after that Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.
• 48 years later (ie 3 weeks ago) the US Supreme Court “gutted” the Voting Rights Act by striking down…

“…Section 4(b), which set out the formula for determining which states are subject to the Section 5 preclearance requirement,
thus rendering Section 5 — which many consider the heart of the act — meaningless.”   ~
Bill Moyers Group Think

Watch this short excerpt of Kennedy’s Civil Rights speech for more motivation to turn outrage into action:

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