The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.
|Volume I: Called to Serve, January 1929-June 1951
The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Volume I: Called to Serve, January 1929-June 1951 went beyond the existing biographies by locating King’s family roots within the African American social gospel tradition. While previous biographers had devoted only a few paragraphs to the civil rights activism of King’s father and grandfather, the introductory essay and calendar of documents for Volume I amply document his family’s tradition of activism. That volume also focused attention on the young King’s letters to his parents (previously unavailable to researchers), his fledgling public speeches and statements, and his student papers from Crozer Theological Seminary.
Introduction | Contents | Chronology | Ordering Info
|Volume II: Rediscovering Precious Values, July 1951-November 1955
Volume II: Rediscovering Precious Values, September 1951-November 1955 made a wealth of previously unavailable documentary materials accessible to researchers, including the text of King’s first recorded sermon, delivered in 1954 while he was still a student at Boston University. The most widely publicized finding of this volume was the discovery, during annotation research, of extensive plagiaries in King’s dissertation and his other academic papers. Although the additional research necessitated by the plagiarism discovery delayed the publication of the volume, the Project’s handling of this controversial issue was widely praised.
Introduction | Contents | Chronology | Ordering Info
|Volume III: Birth of a New Age, December 1955-December 1956
Volume III: Birth of a New Age, December 1955-December 1956 is the most comprehensive account yet published of King’s leadership of the Montgomery bus boycott movement. Birth of a New Age marked the first publication of the complete text of a recorded version of King’s remarkable speech on the initial night of the boycott. Also included in the volume is the full text of King’s testimony at his trial following his arrest for participation in the bus boycott, and texts of his most significant speeches and writings during his emergence as a major protest leader.
Introduction | Contents | Chronology | Ordering Info
|Volume IV: Symbol of the Movement, January 1957-December 1958
Volume IV: Symbol of a Movement, January 1957-December 1958 , published in 2000, documents the formation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and traces King’s rise to national and international prominence as a civil rights leader. Highlights of the volume include audio transcriptions of “Give Us the Ballot,” King’s historic address at the 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom in Washington, D.C., and “The Birth of a New Nation,” a sermon delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church that chronicled King’s historic eyewitness account of the Ghanaian independence ceremonies in March 1957. King’s increasing importance as a human rights leader is reflected in correspondence related to his conferences with Vice President Richard M. Nixon (June 1957) and President Dwight D. Eisenhower (June 1958), a letter from Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana (January 1957), and in documents related to his support of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, the nation’s first civil rights legislation since Reconstruction.
Introduction | Contents | Chronology | Ordering Info
|Volume V: Threshold of a New Decade, January 1959-December 1960
Volume V: Threshold of a New Decade, January 1959-December 1960 follows the narrative of Volume IV by documenting King’s landmark month-long trip to India in 1959; his move to Atlanta in early 1960 to become co-pastor of his father’s Ebenezer Baptist Church; his complex relations with student activists in the sit-in movement of 1960; his acquittal in May 1960 on tax evasion charges; his arrest in October 1960 at an Atlanta sit-in, and presidential candidate John F. Kennedy’s subsequent involvement in his release from jail.
Introduction | Contents | Chronology | Ordering Info
|Volume VI: Advocate of the Social Gospel, September 1948 – March 1963
Volume VI: Advocate of the Social Gospel, 1948-1963 departs from the overall chronological arrangement of the edition to accommodate the acquisition of King’s personal sermon file. King’s early religious writings, along with other previously unpublished homiletic materials, shed light on his development as a minister before his rise to international acclaim. For the first time scholars are able to trace the evolution of King’s sermons back to rough drafts and original source materials. This volume also includes transcriptions of King’s most famous sermons and offers insight into the origin, drafting, and editing of King’s 1963 book of sermons, Strength to Love.
Introduction | Contents | Chronology | Ordering Info
LC Lesson Plans
About Clayborne Carson
Selected in 1985 by the late Mrs. Coretta Scott King to edit and publish the papers of her late husband, Stanford University historian Clayborne Carson has devoted most his professional life to the study of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the movements King inspired. Under his direction, the King Papers Project has produced six volumes of a definitive, comprehensive edition of speeches, sermons, correspondence, publications, and unpublished writings. Dr. Carson has also edited numerous other books based on King's papers. In 2005 the King Papers Project became part of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford University, with Dr. Carson serving as the institute's founding director.
A member of Stanford's department of history since receiving his doctorate from UCLA in 1975, Carson has also served as visiting professor or visiting fellow at American University, the University of California, Berkeley, Duke University, Emory University, Harvard University, the Center for the Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, the L'Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, and at Morehouse College in Atlanta, where during 2009 he was Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Professor and Executive Director of that institution's King Collection.
Dr. Carson's extensive writings reflect not only his research about King but also his undergraduate civil rights and antiwar activism, which led him to appreciate the importance of grassroots political activity as well as visionary leadership in the African-American freedom struggle. His latest book, Martin's Dream: My Journey and the Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., a memoir tracing his life from teenage participant in the 1963 March on Washington to internationally-known King scholar. Carson first book, In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s, published in 1981, remains the definitive history of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the most dynamic and innovative civil rights organization. In Struggle won the Organization of American Historians' Frederick Jackson Turner Award. His other publications include Malcolm X: The FBI File (1991). Carson also co-authored African American Lives: The Struggle for Freedom (2005), a comprehensive survey of African-American history.
In addition to The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Carson's other works based on the papers include The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998), compiled from the King’s autobiographical writings, A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. (1998), and A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (2001).
Dr. Carson wrote “Passages of Martin Luther King,” a play that was initially produced by Stanford’s Drama Department in 1993, and subsequently performed at Dartmouth College, Willamette University, the Claremont Colleges, the University of Washington, Tacoma, and other places. On June 21, 2007, the National Theatre of China performed the international premiere of "Passages" at the Beijing Oriental Pioneer Theatre, and full houses viewed the four subsequent performances of the first drama to bring together Chinese actors and African-American gospel singers. During March and April 2011, the Palestinian National Theater "Al Hakawati" presented the first Arabic production of "Passages" in East Jerusalem, with additional performances in the West Bank communities of Jenin, Nablus, Bethlehem, Hebron, Tulkarem, and Ramallah.
In addition to his books and scholarly writings publications, Dr. Carson has devoted considerable attention to bringing his research and King's ideas to broader public attention. Dr. Carson was a senior historical advisor for a fourteen-part, award-winning, public television series on the civil rights movement entitled "Eyes on the Prize" and co-edited the Eyes on the Prize Civil Rights Reader (1991). In addition, he served as historical advisor for “Freedom on My Mind,” which was nominated for an Oscar in 1995, as well as for “Chicano!” (1996), "Blacks and Jews” (1997), "Citizen King" (2004), "Negroes with Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power" (2005), "Have You Heard from Johannesburg?" (2010) a multipart documentary about the international campaign against apartheid in South Africa, and "Al Helm: Martin Luther King in Palestine" (2013). The Liberation Curriculum initiative that Dr. Carson conceived has become a major source of educational materials about King and the ongoing struggles to achieve peace with social justice, and the King Institute's enormously popular website -- kinginstitute.info -- reaches a diverse, global audience.
Dr. Carson also collaborated with the Roma Design Group of San Francisco to create the winning proposal in an international competition to design the King National Memorial in Washington, D. C., and he has served as an advisor to the King National Memorial Foundation.
Among the many honors and awards Dr. Carson has received, the honorary degree he received in 2007 from Morehouse College had special meaning, because it made him part of the community of Morehouse Men that includes Martin Luther King, Jr. and Sr.
Dr. Carson was born in Buffalo, New York. Before her retirement, his wife, Susan Ann Carson, served as consulting editor of the King Institute. The Carsons, who live in Palo Alto, have two grown children. His son, Malcolm, is a graduate of Howard University and University of California’s Boalt Hall School of Law and currently manages the Legal Aid Foundation office in south-central Los Angeles. His daughter, Temera, received her masters degree in social work from San Jose State University and is employed by the County of Santa Clara. She lives with her three children in East Palo Alto, California.
Lecturing: Dr. Carson has lectured throughout the United States and in many other nations including India, China, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, England, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Israel, and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In addition his King lectures, Carson's topics have included Gandhi, Malcolm X, SNCC, the Black Panther Party, nonviolent resistance, and black-Jewish relations. He has appeared on many national radio and television shows, including Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, The NewsHour, Fresh Air, Morning Edition, Tavis Smiley, Charlie Rose, Democracy Now, and Marketplace. Dr. Carson has also participated in dramatic readings based on his play "Passages of Martin Luther King." For many years, he has delivered lectures on behalf of the Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lectureship Program. Carson's public lectures are arranged through the American Program Bureau: (Ph. 800-225-4575 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org) or through Regina Covington at the King Institute (650-723-2092).
This Month in the Movement: The Freedom Rides
Initially led by James Farmer, the first group of CORE freedom riders encountered violence throughout their trip, culminating in the burning of one of the buses in Anniston, Alabama, and mob violence at the bus terminal in Birmingham. The violence led Farmer to call off the remainder of the trip and the volunteers flew to New Orleans.
Frustrated by the canceled demonstration, student activists under the leadership of Diane Nash volunteered to continue the rides. Despite tension between the student demonstrators and SCLC leadership, stemming from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s refusal to join the riders, King served as a spokesperson for the rides. King publicly pressured the Kennedy Administration for federal intervention and during a tense standoff in Montgomery in which an angry mob had trapped the freedom riders and their supporters inside First Baptist Church, Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent federal marshals to disperse the mob and protect the riders.
On 29 March 1961, the Kennedy Administration directed the Interstate Commerce Commission to ban segregation in all facilities under its jurisdiction. The Freedom Rides continued throughout the summer until eventually relenting once the ICC ban took effect on 1 November 1961.
This Month in the Movement: Fiftieth Anniversary of the Letter from Birmingham Jail
King’s 12 April 1963 arrest for violating Alabama’s law against mass public demonstrations took place just over a week after the campaign’s commencement. In an effort to revive the campaign, King and Ralph Abernathy had donned work clothes and marched from Sixth Avenue Baptist Church into a waiting police wagon. The day of his arrest, eight Birmingham clergy members wrote a criticism of the campaign that was published in the Birmingham News, calling its direct action strategy “unwise and untimely” and appealing “to both our white and Negro citizenry to observe the principles of law and order and common sense.”
Following the initial circulation of King’s letter in Birmingham as a mimeographed copy, it was published in a variety of formats: as a pamphlet distributed by the American Friends Service Committee and as an article in periodicals such as Christian Century, Christianity and Crisis, the New York Post, and Ebony magazine. The first half of the letter was introduced into testimony before Congress by Representative William Fitts Ryan (D-NY) and published in the Congressional Record. One year later, King revised the letter and presented it as a chapter in his 1964 memoir of the Birmingham Campaign, Why We Can’t Wait, a book modeled after the basic themes set out in “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”
In Why We Can’t Wait, King recalled in an author’s note accompanying the letter’s re-publication: “Begun on the margins of the newspaper in which the statement appeared while I was in jail, the letter was continued on scraps of writing paper supplied by a friendly black trusty, and concluded on a pad my attorneys were eventually permitted to leave me.” After countering the charge that he was an “outside agitator” in the body of the letter, King sought to explain the value of a “nonviolent campaign” and its “four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustice exists; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action.” He went on to explain that the purpose of direct action is “to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.”
To read more about the letter, visit the Online King Encyclopedia, here.
James M. Nabrit, III, civil rights lawyer, dead at 80.
Born on 11 June 1932 in Houston, Texas, James M Nabrit, III, grew up in Washington D.C. where he attended a segregated high school in the city's public school system.
Nabrit's father, James M. Nabrit, Jr., helped Thurgood Marshall argue the cases that led to the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954. After receiving his law degree from Yale University, Nabrit served two years in the Army and was then hired by Marshall to work for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in 1959.
During his 30-year career with the defense fund, Nabrit argued twelve cases before the Supreme Court, winning nine. Additionally, Nabrit worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. and other leaders of the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March to prevent Alabama officials from obstructing the march with legal red tape. Nabrit helped create a plan for the march that included the number of marchers and plans for rest stops along the way. Nabrit's plan gained judicial approval at the federal level and lent credence to King's assertion that the demonstrators had a constitutional right to march.
Nabrit continued to battle systems of institutionalized discrimination in court for the remainder of his career, including arguing the cases Shuttlesworth v. Birmingham in 1969 and Keyes v. School District No. 1, Denver in 1973. Following his retirement in 1989, Nabrit moved to Silver Spring, Maryland and continued his involvement with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, serving as advisor and board member for many years.
To read James M. Nabrit III's obituary, click here.
To learn more about the Selma to Montgomery March, visit the King Encyclopedia page here.
To read more about Thurgood Marshall, visit his King Encyclopedia page, here.
Visit the King Encyclopedia entry for Brown v. Board of Education here.
Click here to visit the website of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Olen Burrage, suspect in 1964 civil rights murders, dead at 84
Burrage was born in 1929 and lived in Neshoba County, Mississippi, where he owned a trucking business. He owned the property where three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman, were buried after being murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan on 21 June 1964.
Though Burrage claimed he had no involvement in the murders, an informant told the FBI that Burrage volunteered a dam on his property as a place to hold the murdered workers’ bodies. In addition, Ben Chaney, younger brother of James Chaney, also claimed that confessions of other suspects in the killings implicated Burrage.
With Burrage’s death, the likelihood of future prosecutions in the so-called Missisippi Burning cases diminishes. Though one more suspect is still alive, Burrage’s passing, according to civil rights activist Roscoe Jones, means that “Mississippi Burning is burning out.”
To read more about Burrage’s alleged involvement in the civil rights killings, click here.
Cartha D. DeLoach, former F.B.I. liaison to the White House, dead at 92
Born in Claxton, Georgia in 1920, Cartha D. DeLoach's career in the Federal Bureau of Investigation spanned more than 25 years. While with the F.B.I., DeLoach held numerous top positions, including head of F.B.I. investigations and deputy associate director, a position which made him third-in-command in the bureau.
During Lyndon Johnson's tenure as Senate majority leader he worked with DeLoach to cement a salary-for-life for F.B.I. director J. Edgar Hoover. Following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, President Johnson requested that DeLoach serve as intermediary between the White House and Hoover.
DeLoach spearheaded numerous high-profile F.B.I. investigations during the civil rights period. In 1964, he was principle spokesperson during the investigation of the murder of three CORE volunteers, Mickey Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman, in Mississippi and lead the investigation of the Ku Klux Klan in the years that followed. He also assisted the F.B.I.'s continued surveillance of the anti-war and civil rights movements, and was aware of the wiretap surveillance of Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1968, he supervised the investigation of King's assassination.
DeLoach retired with ambivalence towards the F.B.I. and cited Hoover's unwillingness to relinquish the directorship as the reason for his departure. Following his career in the F.B.I., DeLoach served as a vice president for PepsiCo, Inc. for 15 years.
To read the full obituary, click here.
To read more about the F.B.I.'s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, visit the King Encyclopedia here.
Fay Bellamy Powell, SNCC worker in Selma, Alabama, dead at 74
Bellamy Powell was born in Pennsylvania and served in the United States Air Force. After that she accepted a position as the leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee's Selma, Alabama field office. In her time there she served as a secretary, typist, and media specialist. Inspired by the belief that she should make the same commitments that she asked others to make, she went on to work in the field directly, participating in organizing efforts in Greene County, Alabama. On the subject, Bellamy Powell said, "I was not looking for more danger, but I really believed that I shouldn't do less than what I would ask others to do."
In addition to her work with SNCC, Bellamy Powell was a prolific photographer who captured many gatherings of friends and family members. Her colleagues remember her sense of perspective in particular. Highlander Folk School office manager Kristi Coleman, who worked with Bellamy Powell, said of her photographs, "It was what we are. I didn't even know she was taking the picture. Her pictures were her words."
Bellamy Powell later served on the staff of the Institute of the Black World. She was also a founding organizer of the National Anti-Klan Network and a co-founder of the We Shall Overcome Fund. In this role she worked with the Highlander Folk School, a social justice leadership and training center, for more than fifty years.
For more on the life of Fay Bellamy Powell, click here.
For more on the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, click here.
5th Graders Investigate Civil Rights History
This Month in the Movement: March 1961
On March 7, 1961, Atlanta business leaders seeking to stem a wave of direct action protests agreed to desegregate the lunch counters of major department stores downtown. Two months earlier students had initiated a new round of sit-ins and promised to continue them until the stores were desegregated, a tactic that King had endorsed.
As the students demonstrated, black Atlanta lawyer A.T. Walden discussed a possible agreement with a representative of Rich's department store. They approached Atlanta's Chamber of Commerce, whose members agreed that further sit-ins would have a harmful economic effect on the city.
As a result, business leaders agreed to tie the desegregation of the department stores to the desegregation of Atlanta's school system scheduled for that September. The stores would be desegregated within 30 days of the schools, and the students would cease demonstrations in return. It was King who urged students to accept the compromise, arguing that the interests of unity required it.
To read more about the tactic of sit-ins and the various other occasions on which they were used, visit The King Encyclopedia here.
To read more about King's thoughts on the sit-in movement and how it fit into the larger civil rights struggle, click here.
Celebrating Black History Month: Diane Nash
Celebrating Black History Month: President Kennedy Proposes Civil Rights Reforms to Congress
Celebrating Black History Month: King’s Ordination into the Ministry
Celebrating Black History Month: Harry Belafonte
Today we recognize the contributions of Harry Belafonte. After completing his studies in acting at the New School for Social Research in New York City, Belafonte joined the American Negro Theater in Harlem. From there, Belafonte launched his professional singing and acting career, which has spanned decades and includes his best-selling album, Calypso.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Belafonte participated in the Civil Rights Movement and used his popular status to spearhead fundraising efforts for civil rights organizations. He helped finance the Freedom Rides in 1961 and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the 1964 "Freedom Summer."
Belafonte maintained a close relationship with the King family. When Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested and held in jail in Birmingham, Belafonte organized fundraising efforts that allowed the Birmingham Movement to continue in King's absence.
Belafonte has continued his activism throughout his life. In 1985 he helped organize a fundraising effort that culminated in the release of "We Are the World" and was a vocal participant in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.
Celebrating Black History Month: Dorothy Cotton
Recognized as “the highest ranking woman in SCLC during most of the 60s,” Dorothy Foreman Cotton served as director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s (SCLC) Citizenship Education Program (CEP) at the peak of the civil rights movement, a position that situated her in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s inner circle of executive staff.
Cotton’s involvement with the civil rights movement began in the late 1950s, when she joined Gillfield Baptist Church in Petersburg and met its pastor Wyatt Tee Walker. Under his leadership she became involved in local protests targeting segregation, and eventually became secretary of the Petersburg Improvement Association. Cotton first met King at a dinner while she was working in Petersburg, and recalls that he had “some intangible magnetic quality.… That something that made people want to be with him … because he had a way of really being with you when he was with you.”
In 1960, when King invited Walker to come to Atlanta to serve as SCLC’s executive director, Cotton joined the organization as Walker’s administrative assistant. Her work became more focused the following year, when she became SCLC’s educational consultant. She was later promoted to education director of the CEP in 1963. Cotton described her responsibility as helping “people realize that they have within themselves the stuff it takes to bring about a new order.” She was active in teaching literacy, citizenship, and nonviolent protest tactics, and motivated others to become registered voters and active political participants. She spent much of her time with the CEP, traveling throughout the South and conducting educational programs with Andrew Young and Septima Clark.
As one of SCLC’s most important leaders, Cotton worked closely with King. In a telegram acknowledging his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, she expressed her admiration for “the seriousness and devotion with which you hold your noble charge.” Cotton was a member of the group of close family, friends, and colleagues who accompanied King to Oslo, Norway, when he received the Nobel Prize in 1964.
Cotton retired from SCLC in 1972. Following her departure, she held jobs relating to public service and social action, including director of the federal Child Development/Head Start program of the Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity in Birmingham, Alabama, and vice president for field operations at the King Center in Atlanta. In 1982 she accepted a position with Cornell University as their director of student activities. In the early 1990s, Cotton returned to her civil rights background and began leading seminars and workshops on leadership development and social change. She released her memoirs, "If Your Back's Not Bent: The Role of the Citizenship Education Program in the Civil Rights Movement," in 2012.
Celebrating Black History Month: The Supreme Court Ruling in Edwards v. South Carolina
Celebrating Black History Month: Solomon Snowden Seay, Sr.
Celebrating Black History: Morehouse College
In September 1944, Martin Luther King began his studies at Morehouse College in Atlanta, following in the footsteps of his father, Martin Luther King, Sr., and his maternal grandfather, A.D. Williams,. Although King’s years at Morehouse were characterized by middling academic performance, his experiences outside the classroom set him on a path toward the ministry and the struggle for civil rights.
Founded in 1867 by William Jefferson White as Augusta Baptist Institute, the school’s purpose was to educate newly freed male slaves to teach and become ministers. The school relocated from Augusta to Atlanta in 1879, and was renamed the Atlanta Baptist Seminary. Later named Atlanta Baptist College at the turn of the twentieth century, it was eventually renamed after American Baptist Home Missionary Society ofﬁcial Henry L. Morehouse.
King, Jr. was admitted to the college in 1944 following his junior year in high school, as the school’s enrollment fell with the wartime draft. A friend of King’s, Walter R. McCall, recalled that King was an ‘‘ordinary student’’ during his time at Morehouse: ‘‘I don’t think he took his studies very seriously, but seriously enough to get by’’ (Papers 1:38). King did, however, ﬂourish in other areas, winning second prize in the John L. Webb oratorical competition in 1946 and 1948. King was president of the sociology club, as well as a member of the debate team, student council, glee club, and minister’s union. King also joined the Morehouse chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and played on the Butler Street YMCA basketball team.
King’s growing awareness of social and political issues while at Morehouse is evident in the surviving writings from his undergraduate years. The summer before his junior year King wrote a letter to the editor of the Atlanta Constitution, responding to a series of racially motivated murders in Georgia. In the letter, King summarized the goals of black citizens: ‘‘We want and are entitled to the basic rights and opportunities of American citizens: The right to earn a living at work for which we are ﬁtted by training and ability; equal opportunities in education, health, recreation, and similar public services; the right to vote; equality before the law; some of the same courtesy and good manners that we ourselves bring to all human relations’’ (Papers 1:121).
That same year the school paper, the Maroon Tiger, published King’s article ‘‘The Purpose of Education,’’ in which he argued that education had both a utilitarian and a moral function. King asserted that the function of education was ‘‘to teach one to think intensively and to think critically’’ (Papers 1:124). The following year, his commitment to social change was strengthened through his involvement with the Intercollegiate Council, an interracial Atlanta student group that met monthly to discuss various social issues. King’s participation with white students from Emory University in these meetings helped him to overcome his own anti-white feelings. He later recalled: ‘‘As I got to see more of white people, my resentment was softened, and a spirit of cooperation took its place’’ (Papers 1:45n).
Benjamin E. Mays, who served as president of Morehouse from 1940 to 1967, played a critical role in King’s college experience and was described by King as ‘‘one of the great inﬂuences in my life’’ (Papers 1:38). Mays believed that black colleges should be ‘‘experiment stations in democratic living’’ and challenged Morehouse students to struggle against segregation rather than accommodate themselves to it (Papers 1:37). Mays preached every Tuesday morning in the college’s chapel and introduced many students to Gandhi's philosophy of nonviolence, which Mays had gained an appreciation for during his travels to India.
Celebrating Black History Month: The Southern Christian Leadership Conference
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
At the time of Martin Luther King, Jr.,’s birth in 1929, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was already the largest and most influential civil rights organization in the United States. King’s father, Martin Luther King, Sr., headed Atlanta’s NAACP branch; and in 1944, King, Jr., chaired the youth membership committee of the Atlanta NAACP Youth Council. Although King believed in the power of nonviolent direct action, he understood that it worked best when paired with the litigation and lobbying efforts of the NAACP.
The NAACP was formed in 1909 when progressive whites joined forces with W. E. B. DuBois and other young blacks from the Niagara Movement, a group dedicated to full political and civil rights for African Americans. The NAACP initially focused on ending the practice of lynching, and although lobbying efforts did not persuade Congress to pass anti-lynching laws, the 1919 publication of the NAACP report entitled, Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, convinced President Woodrow Wilson and other politicians to condemn mob violence.
In 1940 the NAACP established its nonprofit legal arm, the Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF). Under the direction of Thurgood Marshall, the LDF went on to win the landmark 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education, which ruled that segregated education was unconstitutional. NAACP activists worked at the local level, as well. In 1955 NAACP member Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus, helping launch the Montgomery bus boycott that brought King into the national spotlight.
The NAACP supported the boycott throughout 1956, providing NAACP lawyers and paying legal costs. NAACP Executive Secretary Roy Wilkins personally encouraged branches to fundraise for the Montgomery Improvement Association. In a 1 May 1956 letter, King thanked Wilkins, saying, ‘‘this deep spirit of cooperation from the NAACP will give us renewed courage and vigor to carry on’’ (Papers 3:244). King recognized the benefits of this partnership and encouraged Montgomery churches to become lifetime members of the NAACP. In the summer of 1956, King gave the first of many featured addresses at an NAACP national convention. The following year the NAACP gave King its highest award, the Spingarn Medal. In his appreciation letter, King wrote Wilkins, ‘‘I am wholeheartedly with the program of the NAACP. You will have my moral and financial support at all times’’ (King, 10 July 1957).
In 1957 the NAACP and King’s new organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), began collaborating on civil rights campaigns, beginning with the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom in Washington, D.C. The next year King and Wilkins met with President Dwight Eisenhower to advocate for civil rights legislation. Although tensions surfaced between SCLC and NAACP, both King and Wilkins were quick to publicly deny any discord between the two organizations.
In 1962 NAACP partnered with SCLC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the National Urban League, and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) to launch the Voter Education Project, a grassroots voter registration and mobilization campaign. The organizations joined with the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters the following year to organize the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Throughout the mid-1960s, while King continued to partner with the youthful activists of SNCC and CORE, the NAACP sought to distance itself from the more radical, action-oriented organizations. However, by 1966, the NAACP and SCLC were both at odds with CORE and SNCC because these groups began advocating ‘‘Black Power’’ and excluding white members.
Despite the NAACP’s opposition to King’s 1967 public statement against the Vietnam War, Wilkins and King continued to work closely on civil rights issues. Both pressed for immediate action to address the needs of urban blacks and blamed the summer race riots of 1967 on a lack of jobs. SCLC and the NAACP were both accused of being too moderate during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The NAACP steadily lost membership during this more radical period, and the political climate under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford continued to hurt the organization. In 1986 the NAACP moved its headquarters from New York to Baltimore, where it began a slow recovery. Nearly a century old, the NAACP continues to be the strongest national multiracial voice for political, educational, social, and economic equality.
Celebrating Black History Month: Operation Breadbasket
Celebrating Black History Month: King’s visit to India
Celebrating Black History Month: King Writes to Eisenhower Amid Escalating Violence
Celebrating Black History Month: Dr. Maya Angelou
Celebrating Black History Month: Coretta Scott King meets with Malcolm X
Drum Major Instinct
On 4 February 1968, Dr. King delivered his seminal sermon, “Drum Major Instinct,” at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Ironically, two months before his assassination on 4 April 1968, he told his congregation what he would like said at his funeral: “I’d like for somebody to say that day that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.” Excerpts were played at King’s nationally televised funeral service, held at Ebenezer on 9 April 1968.
King’s sermon was an adaptation of the 1952 homily “Drum-Major Instincts” by J. Wallace Hamilton, a well-known, liberal, white Methodist preacher. Both men tell the biblical story of James and John, who ask Jesus for the most prominent seats in heaven. At the core of their desire was a “drum major instinct—a desire to be out front, a desire to lead the parade.” King warns his congregation that this desire for importance can lead to “snobbish exclusivism” and “tragic race prejudice:” “Do you know that a lot of the race problem grows out of the drum major instinct? A need that some people have to feel superior … and to feel that their white skin ordained them to be first.” Conversely, King preached that when Jesus responded to the request by James and John, he did not rebuke them for their ambition, but taught that greatness comes from humble servitude. As King put it, Jesus “reordered priorities,” and told his disciples to “Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be first in love.”
King used Jesus’ own life as an example of how the priority of love could provide greatness. In his biographical sketch of Jesus, King preached that Jesus owned nothing, and when public opinion turned against him he was called a “rabblerouser” and a “troublemaker” for “[practicing] civil disobedience.” King notes that, although by worldly standards Jesus was a failure, no one else has “affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one solitary life.”
King concluded the February 1968 sermon by imagining his own funeral. Urging the congregation not to dwell on his life’s achievements, including his receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize, King asked to be remembered as one who “tried to give his life serving others.” He implored his congregation to remember his attempts to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and comfort prisoners. “Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice,” King intoned. “Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”
To read the sermon in full, here.
February 1960: The Greensboro sit-in movement begins
January 2013- A National Day of Service: Honoring King’s Legacy with his own method
As we prepare to celebrate the King Holiday with a long-weekend, President Obama and the First Lady, the Vice President and Dr. Biden will take part in an event that's become a tradition -- a National Day of Service to honor Dr. King's legacy on 19 Saturday. Following the decadence of the holiday season, such service is an excellent way to commemorate Dr. King’s birthday. In fact, in 1957 King outlined the negative effects of being self-centered and prescribed service as one method of absolution. In the final sermon in the four part series concerning the “Problems of Personality Integration,” he warned, “An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. And this is one of the big problems of life, that so many people never quite get to the point of rising above self. And so they end up the tragic victims of self-centeredness. They end up the victims of distorted and disrupted personality.” He suggested that “one of the best ways to face this problem of self-centeredness is to discover some cause and some purpose, some loyalty outside of yourself and give yourself to that something.” To read the full text of the sermon, “Conquering Self-Centeredness,” click here. To find out more about the National Day of Service, visit www.serve.gov.
2013 King Institute Open House
Stop by the King Institute and visit with our staff and view our exhibit of King-related photos and documents.
Friday, January 18, 2013 - 4 to 6 pm
Free and open to the public
Cypress Hall D - 466 Via Ortega (Map)
Jesse Hill, Jr., adviser to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jimmy Carter, died Monday
Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Jesse Hill, Jr. moved to Atlanta in 1949 after completing his Master of Business Administration from the University of Michigan. After taking a position as an assistant actuary with Atlanta Life Insurance Co., Hill quickly climbed the ranks eventually becoming the company's president and chief executive in 1973.
Hill acted as financial and personal adviser to numerous civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and in 1960 he co-founded the Atlanta Inquirer after determining that the Atlanta Daily World was not supportive of King. He played an integral role in the desegregation of both the Atlanta Public School system and the University System of Georgia. In 1973 Jimmy Carter selected Hill to serve as the first African American chair of the Georgia Board of Regents.
Throughout his life Hill encouraged African American students to get involved in business and helped them secure venture capital for new enterprises. In 1989, Hill described his dedication to promoting entrepreneurship by saying "I think my determination to make a quest for human dignity has to be tied to the quest for economic dignity, and vice versa."
Click here for the full obituary.
December 1955: The Montgomery Bus Boycott begins
Lawrence Guyot, Civil Rights activist, died Thursday
Born in Pass Christian, Mississipi, Lawrence Guyot became involved in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee while attending Tougaloo College. While with SNCC Guyot organized efforts to increase voter registration among African Americans in Mississippi during the early 1960s.
Guyot also served as chairman for the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which was created as an integrated alternative to the all-white state Democratic Party. The Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party lost its bid in 1964, but in the process it had focused national attention on the issue of voting rights.
Ever-willing to sacrifice for the movement, Guyot often endured physical hardships in his drive for civil rights. He was beaten numerous times by law enforcement and in 1963 he lost over 100 pounds while on a hunger strike in a Mississippi penitentiary.
Guyot continued his involvement in politics throughout his life. In 1966 he ran for Congress as an anti-war candidate, and served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1968.
In 2004, Guyot summarized his involvement in civil rights by saying "There is nothing like having risked your life with people over something immensely important to you."
Read more here
To read more about the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, click here
Election 2012: Remembering the Voter Education Project
Genevieve Hughes Houghton, original CORE Freedom Rider, died Tuesday
Genevieve Hughes Houghton grew up outside of Washington D.C. and, after graduating from Cornell University, moved to New York City to work as a stockbroker. While in New York City, Houghton became involved in CORE in the 1950s and organized boycotts to protest segregation in the South. In 1960, she accepted a position with CORE and made activism a full-time commitment.
Houghton’s Freedom Ride encountered massive resistance including an attack by a mob near Anniston, Alabama during which the bus she was riding was fire-bombed.
To explain her decision to join the Freedom Ride Houghton stated, "I figured Southern women should be represented so the South and the nation would realize all Southern people do not think alike."
For Houghton's official obituary, click here.
To read about the Freedom Rides, visit our encyclopedia page here.
October 1960: Atlanta sit-ins
Little Rock Nine
King’s impression of Jamaica
King was repeatedly impressed by the unity in Jamaica, and related to his congregation at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Jamaica’s national slogan: “Out of many people, one people.” Inspired, King shared his hopes, that “One day, here in America, I hope that we will see this and we will become one big family of Americans. Not white Americans, not black Americans, not Jewish or Gentile Americans, not Irish or Italian Americans, not Mexican Americans, not Puerto Rican Americans, but just Americans. One big family of Americans.” Listen here.
May 1954: Brown v. Board of Education
Nicholas Katzenbach, Attorney General for Lyndon Baines Johnson, Dead at 90
As a key member of the administrations of both Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson, Nicholas deBelleville Katzenbach found himself involved in many of the most significant political and social events of the turbulent 1960s. He died Tuesday at his home in Skillman, New Jersey at the age of 90.
Born in 1922 in Philadelphia to Edward and Marie Katzenbach--his father a lawyer and one time attorney general for the state of New Jersey, his mother a long serving member of New Jersey's State Board of Education--Nicholas Katzenbach pursued a degree in international relations and public affairs at Princeton University before the outbreak of World War II. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Army Air Force as a navigator on B-25 bombers. Achieving the rank of second lieutenant, he became a prisoner of war in Germany after his plane was shot down in 1943. Returning to Princeton after the war, he graduated in 1945 before obtaining a law degree from Yale in 1947. He also studied at Balliol College at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.
The 1950s found Katzenbach as a member of his family's law firm and teaching law at both Yale and the University of Chicago. After John F. Kennedy's victory in the 1960 presidential election, Katzenbach joined the Department of Justice at the behest of his friend, Byron R. White, Attorney General Robert Kennedy's deputy. Katzenbach was given the title of Assistant Attorney General and put in charge of the Department's Office of Legal Counsel, serving as an advisor to Attorney General Kennedy. In March 1962, he was elevated to Deputy Attorney General after White’s appointment to the Supreme Court.
As Deputy Attorney General, Katzenbach continually found himself thrust into the midst of the many flash points of the civil rights movement. He urged Alabama Governor George Wallace to protect the freedom riders in May 1961. He traveled to Mississippi to ensure a federal court order was followed granting James Meredith admission to the University of Mississippi. On 11 June 1963, in perhaps his most recognizable moment, he confronted Governor Wallace on the steps of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama over the admission of Vivian Malone and James Hood. Despite the Governor's promise to block the students "at the schoolhouse door," Katzenbach escorted the two African American students to register later that day. In Washington, D.C., Katzenbach was instrumental in winning Republican support to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which he helped draft.
Following the assassination of President Kennedy in November 1963, Katzenbach drafted a memo to President Johnson calling for an independent commission to investigate the killing. The resulting committee, the Warren Commission, concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
President Johnson tabbed Katzenbach in January 1965 to become Attorney General filling the hole left when Robert Kennedy resigned in September 1964 in order to run for the Senate seat of New York. As Attorney General, he successfully defended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 before the Supreme Court and secured a federal court order preventing Alabama officials from interfering with the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965. Katzenbach also took on FBI director J. Edgar Hoover over the FBI's expanded and intrusive bugging of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After a long running battle with Hoover, Katzenbach stepped down as head of the Department of Justice in 1966 citing the FBI Director's "obvious resentment of me." President Johnson appointment him under secretary of state, a position he would hold until Richard Nixon's assumption of the presidency in 1968.
After leaving the Johnson administration, Katzenbach joined corporate giant IBM as a senior vice president and general counsel. One of his first tasks with the company was representing it in an anti-trust lawsuit filed by the federal government in the final days of the Johnson administration. The suit lasted thirteen years before President Ronald Regan dropped the case in 1982. Katzenbach left IBM in 1986 for the private New Jersey firm Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti.
Patricia Stephens Due, Civil Rights Veteran, Died Tuesday
Patricia Stephens Due embodied her own belief that "ordinary people can do extraordinary things."
She was born in Quincy, Fla. on December 9, 1939 to Lottie Mae Powell Stephens and Horace Walter Stephens. The second of three children, her career as a civil rights demonstrator began at the age of 13 when she successfully began using the "white only" window at the local Dairy Queen. In high school she and her older sister, Priscilla, continued "testing things" when they began a school wide petition to remove the principal. At 19, she was a founding member of Tallahassee's Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) chapter and began planning organized sit-ins. Along with seven other students, Due was arrested when they attempted to be served at the "white only" counter at the Tallahassee Woolworth's on 20 February 1962. Convicted of "inciting to riot" they were ordered to pay $300 fines or serve sixty days in jail. They refused to pay the fines and ended up serving forty-nine days in jail.
These courageous acts received attention from national figures such as Jackie Robinson, Eleanor Roosevelt, James Baldwin and Harry Belafonte. Dr. King wrote the students in March after they had begun serving their sentences applauding their courage and willingness to remain in jail. "Through this decision you have again proven that there is nothing more majestic and sublime than the determined courage of individuals willing to suffer and sacrifice for the cause of freedom."
Due was willing to suffer for the cause of freedom. According to her husband, John Due, "I never met any person willing to sacrifice herself the way Patricia did. She was beaten, arrested, suspended... She had the same kind of moral force as Rosa Parks. She would not give in to these practices of society that demeaned people and were against humanity...All her life she has had a spirit for righteousness and justice." Her involvement in civil rights demonstrations delayed her education as it took her almost a decade to finish her degree from Florida A & M. She also sustained a permanent injury to her eyes when she was hit by a tear gas canister launched by the Tallahassee police, in their attempts to disrupt a mass meeting at a local church.
Throughout the her life she was continually involved working with political campaigns, human rights issues and youth education. She has been featured in The History Channel's "Voices of Civil Rights" in 2006, and is referenced in more than 20 books. In 2003, Due and her daughter, Tananarive, published "Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights."
She is survived by her husband, her sister, her brother, three daughters and five grandchildren.
She was often quoted as saying, "Stories live forever. Storytellers don't."
Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2012/02/07/3415874/patricia-stephens-due-civil-rights.html#storylink=cpy
Dr. King's Letter to the students of Tallahassee
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Court cases, international travel and national student movements
SCLC founded January 11, 1957
2012 King Holiday Events
Events at Stanford
Friday, January 13
Time: 3:00-5:00 PM
Location: Tressider Memorial Union, 459 Lagunita Drive
Cost: Free and Open to the Public
King Holiday Celebrates New Memorial on the National Mall.
The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute will celebrate the King Holiday by recognizing the dedication of the King Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and King's continuing legacy. Call to Conscience Awards will be presented to photojournalist and civil rights activist, Bob Fitch and cast memebers of "Passages of Martin Luther King," Ramzi Maqdisi, Aldo Billingslea, Aleta Hayes, and Chelsi Butler. Musical guests include Kim Nalley, Tammy Hall, members of Chicago Collective A Capplla Jessica Anderson, Garry Mitchell, Kadesia Woods and Tyler Brooks and jazz saxophonist Waveney Hudlin.
King Institute Director Clayborne Carson will review the Institute’s activities and accomplishments in 2011.
Click here for more information!
Local King Holiday Events
(stay tuned for more!)
Sunday, January 15
Time: 3:00-4:30 PM
Location: First United Methodist Church, 625 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto, CA
Cost: Free and Open to the Public
"Honoring Courageous Leadership and Compassion in the Face of Controversy"
The Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Community and Interfaith Celebration will host special guest speaker, Dr. Emmett D. Carson, founder and CEO of Silicon Valley Community Foundation at this years event. The Volunteer Community Interfaith Choir will perform, as well as students from Stanford University, Eastside College Prepatory School and Costano Elementary School.
For more information: http://www.firstpaloalto.com/
|Monday, January 16
Time: 11:00AM- 3:00pm
Location: Lyton Plaza
Emerson St. at University Ave.
Palo Alto CA
MLK Family Service Day
Please join the City of Palo Alto, The Y, Canopy, Break Through the Static, Oshman Family Jewish Community Center and Youth Community Service in celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. There will be various service project activity tables, live music, and an open mic featuring local community artists.
For more information email Alicia Gregory at Alicia@youthcommunityservice.org
Monday, January 16
Time: 8:30 - 10:00 AM
Location: San Mateo CalTrain Station
385 First Avenue, San Mateo, CA
San Mateo County Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Celebration.
The celebration starts with a pre-program of arts projects at 8:30 a.m. The celebration and continental breakfast begin at 9:00 a.m. and will recognize the 2012 Honorary Chairperson, Claire Mack, former Mayor of City of San Mateo and 2012 Honorary Group One East Palo Alto. Afterwards, participants can join up on the Freedom Train and head to MLK Day events in San Francisco.
For more information: http://www.mlksmc.com/
Monday, January 16
Time: Departs 8:30 AM
Location: San Jose to San Francisco
Ride the Freedom Train!
Train departs from San Jose with stops in Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, San Mateo, carrying fellow celebrators to the San Francisco.
Purchase tickets in advance at the African-American Community Service Center in San Jose
Phone: (408) 861-5323
Monday January 16
Location: 90.3 FM KDFC
Listen in to 90.3 KDFC on Monday, January 16th at 8pm as they celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Featuring a tape-delayed broadcast of Yo-Yo Ma and the Atlanda Symphony Orchestra, as well as choruses from Atlanta, including King's alma mater, Morehouse College.
Monday, January 16
Time: 10:00 AM
Location: ILWU Warehouse Union Hall, 99 Hegenberger Road, Oakland, CA
Cost: Free and Open to the Public
"Keeping the Dream Alive through Peace, Justice and Non-Violence"
Come celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Oakland's longest continuing King Holiday celebration sponsored by the East Bay Regional Park District, Martin Luther King, Jr., Freedom Center, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and the Martin Luther King, Jr., Rally Committee.
Speakers include author Belva Davis and Mayor Jean Quan. Doors will open at 9:00 am for refreshments, Exhibits, and book signing.
For more information: Email email@example.com or call Otis Sanders (510)798-5535 or Joan Suzio (510)684-1007.
Be sure to also check the National King Holiday Calendar for other events in your area!
News Release, King Institute Celebrates New Memorial On National Mall
The Martin Luther King, Jr.
Research and Education Institute
at Stanford University
January 6, 2012
For Immediate Release
Contact: Regina Covington (650) 723-2092
KING INSTITUTE CELEBRATES NEW MEMORIAL ON NATIONAL MALL
On Friday afternoon, January 13, 2012, the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute will hold its annual celebration of the King Holiday. This year’s event will highlight the Institute’s involvement in the recently dedicated King National Memorial in Washington, D.C. and last year’s Palestinian production of “Passages of Martin Luther King,” a play written by Institute director Clayborne Carson. The King Institute will present its Call to Conscience Award to photojournalist and civil rights activist, Bob Fitch and to several cast members of "Passages of Martin Luther King." Palestinian actor Ramzi Maqdisi, who played “Martin” in the production, will be among those honored.
The King Celebration will take place from 3 pm - 5 pm at Tresidder Memorial Union, 459 Lagunita Drive, on the Stanford campus. The event is free and open to the public. A reception will be held from 3 pm - 4 pm, after which Maqdisi and noted actor Aldo Billingslea of Santa Clara University will perform a dramatic reading of King’s "I Have A Dream” speech. Cast members and Stanford alumnae, Aleta Hayes and Chelsi Butler, will provide vocal accompaniment for the reading. Internationally acclaimed vocalist, Kim Nalley, will perform accompanied by celebrated jazz pianist Tammy Hall. Stanford student performances include the Chicago Collective with Jessica Anderson, Garry Mitchell, Kadesia Woods and Tyler Brooks and jazz saxophonist Waveney Hudlin. During the month of January, a display in the Tresidder lounge will feature images by Bob Fitch.
The Papers Project was established in 1985, when Coretta Scott King, founder and president of the King Center in Atlanta, asked Clayborne Carson to edit the papers of her late husband. Under Carson’s direction, the principal mission of the King Papers Project is to publish a definitive fourteen-volume edition of King's most significant correspondence, sermons, speeches, published writings, and unpublished manuscripts. In 2005, the King Institute was founded to sustain the Papers Project and its related educational initiatives.
For further details on the performers and updates on King Holiday events at Stanford, please visit our website at http://www.kinginstitute.info
Robert L. Carter, federal judge, arbitor and author dies at 94
Robert L. Carter, a former federal judge in New York died at 94, 3 January 2012.
In the late 1940s and 1950s as a member of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., led by Thurgood Marshall, Carter had a significant hand in a number of historic legal challenges to racial discrimination. Most significantly, Mr. Carter spent years doing research in law and history to construct the legal theory that was used to challenge the Supreme Court’s 1896 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson during the infamous 1954, Brown v. Board of Education case. Mr. Carter insisted on using the research of the psychologist Kenneth B. Clark that showed black children suffered in their learning and development by being segregated. Mr. Clark’s testimony proved crucial in persuading the court to act, Mr. Carter wrote in a 2004 book, “A Matter of Law: A Memoir of Struggle in the Cause of Equal Rights.”
Born in Caryville, in the Florida panhandle, on March 17, 1917, the youngest of nine children, Carter was raised in New Jersey by a single mother, following the death of his father in his first year. His first taste of activism came when he experienced racial discrimination as a 16-year-old in East Orange, N.J. The high school he attended allowed black students to use its pool only on Fridays, after classes were over. After he read in the newspaper that the State Supreme Court had outlawed such restrictions, he entered the pool with white students and stood up to a teacher’s threat to have him expelled from school. He enrolled at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania at 16, and later, Howard University School of Law in Washington. He then went to Columbia University as a graduate student and wrote his master’s thesis on the First Amendment.
In 1944 he took a job as a lawyer at the Legal Defense and Educational Fund, then the legal arm of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (it later became an independent organization). By 1948, he had become Marshall’s chief deputy and soon became active in school segregation cases. After Marshall chose Jack Greenberg as his successor as director-counsel of the fund in 1961, Carter moved over to the NAACP as its general council. Carter resigned in 1968, protesting the board’s decision to fire a Lewis M. Steel, for publishing an article in The New York Times Magazine critical of the Supreme Court. After a year at the Urban Center at Columbia, he joined the New York law firm of Poletti, Freidin, Prashker, Feldman & Gartner. President Richard M. Nixon nominated him to the federal bench for the Southern District of New York in 1972 at the recommendation of Senator Jacob K. Javits, Republican of New York.
On the bench, Judge Carter became known for his strong hand in cases involving professional basketball. He oversaw the merger of the National Basketball Association and the American Basketball Association in the 1970s, the settlement of a class-action antitrust suit against the N.B.A. brought by Oscar Robertson and other players, and a number of high-profile free-agent arbitration disputes involving players like Marvin Webster and Bill Walton.
In 1979, his findings of bias shown against black and Hispanic applicants for police jobs in New York City led to significant changes in police hiring policies and an increase in minority representation on the force.
See Brown v. the Board of Education for more information.
King Holiday 2012
Civil rights activist Robert Mants passes away 7 December
Robert Mants, who helped lead the first march from Selma to Montgomery to press for equal voting rights in 1965, died 7 December 2011 while visiting relatives in Atlanta. U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, who joined Mants in leading marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge described him as “committed and dedicated, a real fighter for civil rights and social justice.”
Born and raised in East Point, Georgia, Mants was the youngest member of the Committee on Appeal for Human Rights (The Atlanta Student Movement) at the age of 16, while at the same time volunteering at the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee Headquarters. He attended Morehouse College.
At the 25th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” Mants told the New York Times: “Two months after Bloody Sunday, an organization I was in got to work in nearby Lowndes County, which was 81 percent black and had fewer than 30 black registered voters and no black elected officials. The result was the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, whose symbol, a black panther, would be adopted by the movement of that name.”
Historian Richard Bailey saluted Mants for his civil rights activism and described him as a man who “did not seek the limelight.” “He was a freedom fighter at heart,” Bailey said. “What he wanted most of all was a better life for the disenfranchised people who did not have the right to vote.”
Bob Mants remained in Lowndes County. He served as a Lowndes County Commissioner for many years, and was chairman of the nonprofit “Lowndes County Friends of the Historic Trail”, advising the National Park Service. Mants is survived by his wife of 45 years Joann Christian Mants and their three children: Kadisha, Kumasi, and Katanga; and seven grandchildren.
Find additional information on the Selma to Montgomery March
Desegregating Montgomery’s Buses
December marks anniversaries of both the foundation of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) and the successful conclusion of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Begun in December 1955, the year-long campaign resulted in the desegregation of the city bus system of Montgomery, Alabama, provided one of the most memorable examples of direct action demonstrations in the history of the United States, and vaulted Dr. King into the national spotlight as the leader of the civil rights movement.
Here are some other major highlights of the boycott:
"Don't Ride The Bus" leaflet.
Listen to Dr. King's Address to the First MIA Mass Meeting.
Read the "Integrated Bus Suggestions" distributed by the MIA following the integration of city buses.
“Don’t Ride the Bus,” the Montgomery bus boycott begins
Today marks the 56th anniversary of the beginning of the Montgomery bus boycott. Initially planned as a one day boycott of Montgomery’s buses, in response to the arrest and conviction of Rosa Parks on December 1, the boycott far exceeded the organizer's expectations and continued for the next year. Dr. King was unanimously elected chairman of the newly formed Montgomery Improvement Association and spoke to an over-flowing crowd at Holt Street Baptist Church on the evening of December 5th. Included in our Encyclopedia article is Dr. King’s speech, the minutes recording the formation of the MIA and many more documents related to the Montgomery bus boycott.
Montgomery Bus Boycott
MIA Mass Meeting
MIA Meeting Minutes
Eddie Brown Jr., Civil and Human Rights Advocate Dies at Age 70
Known to his close friends and family as a renaissance man, Mr. Brown dedicated his life to helping others and advocating civil and human rights. Eddie began working in the area of civil and human rights in the 1960s when he was expelled from Southern University in Louisiana for participating in a sit-in protesting racial segregation. After being expelled Mr. Brown moved to Washington D.C. where he enrolled in Howard University and became a leader and organizer in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Although Eddie Brown was devoted to the civil rights struggle and spent considerable time eradicating injustices, his work often went unnoticed. According to his friends and family he worked to serve others and to make a difference.
In addition to his activism on behalf of others, Eddie Brown dedicated years defending and advocating for his younger brother, Jamil Al-Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, who is currently serving a life sentence for killing a Fulton County Sherriff’s Deputy in 2000.
Eddie Brown, Jr., was born in Atlanta, Georgia. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, and died from complications on 23 November 2011 at his home at the age of 70. He is survived by his wife, Valinda Johnson Brown, his three sons Michael Joshnson, Kevin George and Keith George; his two sisters, Pat and Cheryl; two brothers, Lance and Jamil; and six grandchildren. Mr. Brown will be remembered for his selfless dedication to human rights and the pursuit of justice.
To read more click here
1964 Thanksgiving Fast for Freedom
Press release from SNCC calling for the release of Dr. King and student protestors
Fred L. Shuttlesworth, Civil Rights Hero
Fred L. Shuttlesworth, Iconic Civil Rights Leader from Birmingham, died Wednesday
Andrew Manis, author of the Shuttlesworth biography, A Fire You Can’t Put Out, has stated, “That Fred Shuttlesworth did not become a martyr was not for lack of trying. There was not a person in the civil rights movement who put himself in the position of being killed more often than Fred Shuttlesworth."
Widely known for his confrontational and fiery style, Shuttlesworth was often a controversial figure to both his opponents and allies. Due to his daring fortitude, he suffered multiple physical attacks, and both his church and home were bombed on multiple occasions. He was arrested and jailed over 30 times in various cities throughout the South as he led civil rights protests. In 1957 he was beaten with chains and brass knuckles by Klansmen as he tried to enroll his children in an all-white school in Birmingham. As he was being treated for his injures, he famously said, “The Lord knew I lived in a hard town, so he gave me a hard head.”
Born Freddie Lee Robinson on March 18, 1922 in Mount Meigs, Alabama. He was licensed and ordained as a preacher in 1948, earned an A.B. (1951) from Selma University and a B.S. (1953) from Alabama State College. In 1952 he accepted his first pastorate at the First Baptist Church in Selma and the following year he was called to Bethel Baptist Church in Birmingham. He remained at Bethel Baptist until 1961 whereupon he accepted the pastorate of Revelation Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Shuttlesworth frequently traveled back to the South in order to remain on the front lines of the battle against segregation. After pastoring Greater New Light Baptist Church for 39 years he retired from full time ministry in 2005.
One of the founding members of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (ACMHR) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Fred Shuttlesworth brought a militant voice to the struggle for black equality. He drew Martin Luther King, Jr. and the SCLC to Birmingham in 1963 for a historic confrontation against one of the strongest bastions of segregation, enforced by Eugene "Bull" Connor.
The Rev. Shuttlesworth is survived by his wife, Sephira Shuttlesworth, and his children, Patricia Shuttlesworth Massengill, Ruby Shuttlesworth Bester, Fred L. Shuttlesworth Jr., and Carolyn Shuttlesworth.
Birmingham News Obituary
Fred L. Shuttlesworth
Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights
King on Broadway: “The Mountaintop”
Don’t miss Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett on Broadway in "The Mountaintop," the Olivier Award-winning new play that took London by storm.
Strictly Limited Engagement. 16 Weeks Only!
Taking place on April 3, 1968, The Mountaintop is a gripping reimagining of events the night before the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. After delivering one of his most memorable speeches, an exhausted Dr. King (Samuel L. Jackson) retires to his room at the Lorraine Motel while a storm rages outside. When a mysterious stranger (Angela Bassett) arrives with some surprising news, King is forced to confront his destiny and his legacy to his people.
Opens October 13.
For tickets and more information see the show's website: http://www.themountaintopplay.com/index.html
King Memorial Honors a Man Who Changed a Nation
Behind the Image of the King Memorial
Clay Carson is Featured on the Michael Eric Dyson Show
Martin Luther King Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Events Calendar
The Opening of the King Memorial, Article by Clarence Jones
Designing the King Memorial
The unveiling of the King National Memorial will have special meaning for me, because I attended the 1963 March on Washington where King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech and contributed to the King Memorial’s initial design. San Francisco’s ROMA Design Group incorporated my ideas about King’s historical significance in a design that won an international competition. On August 28 – the forty-eighth anniversary of the march – I’ll return to the National Mall to see the final result of a collaboration with ROMA that began in the spring of 2000.
The Martin Luther King Memorial. Credit: Charles Dharapak/AP.
Although Coretta Scott King selected me in 1985 to edit and publish the papers of her late husband, I urged ROMA’s principal architects, Bonnie Fisher and Boris Dramov, to reject the notion of a heroic Great Man memorial. My own activism during the 1960s was influenced by the bottom-up grassroots organizing approach of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which saw King as a product of the movement rather than its instigator. Nonetheless, we agreed that a King memorial to be built next to Washington’s Tidal Basin near the Lincoln Memorial should celebrate the Dream speech, which eloquently expressed the larger historical significance of the African-American freedom struggle.
I recommended that the design visualize the vivid metaphorical language of King’s 1963 oration, especially the passage “With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” We imagined visitors entering the memorial through an opening cut through the granite core of a Mountain of Despair. The removed slice – the Stone of Hope – would be thrust forward and turned slightly so that visitors entering through the Mountain would encounter an inscription of King’s words on the slab’s smooth surface.
Rather than a familiar passage from the “dream” refrain, we preferred a passage from his prepared text that insisted that “the architects of our republic” had signed “a promissory note” – “a promise that all men, yes, black men and well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’” King’s call for the nation to “live out the true meaning of its creed” would, we believed, serve as an enduring reminder to Americans that the nation’s democratic ideals had not yet been realized.
The only point of contention was whether the design would include a statute of King. Bonnie and Boris soon persuaded me, however, that many visitors – and perhaps the jurors for the competition – would miss seeing a statue of King. We settled on an image of King that would be sculpted into the rough edge of the Stone of Hope facing toward the Tidal Basin. Visitors standing at the edge of the Basin would be able to turn back and see King’s visage emerging unfinished from the Stone.
For a model, I supplied the photograph by Bob Fitch on the cover of my edition of The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. that depicted King not as a charismatic orator but instead as a thoughtful leader standing in front of his office desk. With Gandhi’s portrait on the wall behind him, King holds a pen in his right hand. We imagined him taking a break from drafting his reference to the “Promissory Note,” symbolically looking across time at the memorial to Thomas Jefferson, one of the nation’s founding “architects” and principal author of the Declaration of Independence. The two men would serve as historical frames for a profound perpetual dialogue about the meaning of American democracy.
Our design won the design competition, which attracted almost nine hundred entries from 33 countries. We soon learned, however, that the ultimate fate of our design would be decided by the King Memorial Project Foundation and the various commissions in charge of what can be built on the Washington Mall. During the next few years, we watch our design move very slowly toward realization, as Foundation officials guided it through the approval process and struggled to raise the $120 million needed to build it.
Then, early in 2006, Foundation officials asked me to suggest the King quotations to appear on the memorial. I welcomed this assignment, which would utilize what I had learned editing King’s papers, but I was dismayed that the Foundation wanted quotes on only four themes, “Justice, Democracy, Love, and Hope.” I wondered why not other themes, such as nonviolence, religion, peace, and poverty. The Foundation’s instructions eliminated King’s forceful statements against poverty and the war in Vietnam.
About this time I also learned that the Memorial Foundation had hired a Chinese master sculptor, Lei Yixin, to depict King on the Stone of Hope. Although some critics insisted that an African-American sculptor should have been chosen, I was mainly concerned about whether Lei’s sculpture would be convincing and consistent with the memorial’s overall themes. I also wondered what King would think of the decision to lower labor costs by outsourcing much of the stone work for the memorial to a nation without independent labor unions.
When I see the completed memorial, I’ll be disappointed that some of my favorite quotes were not chosen and that the image of King that I imagined has been replaced with large-scale imposing image of a confrontational, perhaps even authoritarian, figure. Nonetheless, rather than regretting these departures from ROMA’s original design, I look forward to appreciating the opportunity I’ve had to preserve King’s legacy for future generations.
Published Encyclopedia Britannica Blog: http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2011/08/designing-king-memorial/
Adapted from "Designing the King National Memorial" @A History of a Just & Peaceful Future
“Kick Up Dust,” Letter to the Editor, Atlanta Constitution
U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Perry, Dead at 89
When Matthew J. Perry began his career as a civil rights lawyer, he was treated as a second-class citizen in segregated courtrooms. Two days before his body was found, Perry went to work in a federal courthouse in Columbia named in his honor. "He is the only militant civil rights figure I know of who seems to be loved and respected by both racial groups while still engaged in the struggle," wrote Robert Carter, a U.S. District Judge in New York in the book "Matthew J. Perry: The Man, His Times, And His Legacy."
Perry was born in Columbia, South Carolina on 3 August 1921. His father, who worked at a tailor, died when Matthew was 12 years old. Perry was raised by his mother and grandfather who would forever be the most influential people in Perry's life. While serving in World War Two, Perry experienced the depth and cruelty of racism when he was made to eat outside of a restaurant which gladly served enemy prisoners of war inside. This experience forged Perry's dedication to the civil rights struggle. After the war, Perry enrolled at South Carolina State's law school and became the first graduate to pass the bar. Perry first made a name for himself as a civil rights lawyer when he represented Harvey Grant, the first black student to attend Clemson University. "Matthew personified the black lawyer of the 1950s and 1960s — courageous, articulate and persuasive," said former state Chief Justice Ernest Finney. Perry retired in 1955 but continued to hear cases up until his passing.
SCLC leader Howard Creecy Jr. dies at 57
Rev. Howard Creecy Jr., prominent Atlanta minister and president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, died suddenly Thursday, 28 June 2011.
Creecy, 57, took the helm at the SCLC on Jan. 30 of this year. Acknowledging that the SCLC had suffered internal divisions in recent years, he made it his mission to refocus the group in the 21st century.
Creecy, a third-generation preacher, was senior pastor at St. Peter’s Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta for 26 years. He joined his father at Olivet Church in 2002, where he continued preaching until his death. Growing up, Creecy recalled eating dinner with the titans of the civil rights movement, including Revs. Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, and Joseph Lowery, around his father’s dinner table. He was a graduate of Morehouse College and earned a doctor of divinity degree from Abotra Bible Institute and Seminary. In addition to his duties at Olivet, Creecy was director of the Office of Chaplain Services for Atlanta Fulton County Government, the organization’s highest ranking ecclesiastical position: the first African-American in the county’s history to serve in that capacity.
"Throughout the years, Rev. Creecy inspired and touched everyone he came in contact with. He was a pastor, mentor, friend and confidante to many, including me," Mayor Kasim Reed said.
Creecy is survived by his wife, Yolanda Grier Creecy, and two children.
Passages of Martin Luther King, Jr., Featured in St. Petersburg Times
The story behind Clay Carson's play, Passages of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the cast members that brought the play to life in Palestine this year, was featured at length in the St. Petersburg Times. To view the story click on the hyperlink. To view the Official site for Passages, click here.
Gus Tyler, Labor Leader and Activist , Dies at 99
A long time leader with the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union, Gus Tyler spent his life fighting for the rights of workers combining his socialist politics with the belief that democracy was vital in unions and unions were vital to democracies.
Born Augustus Tilove to Eastern European Jewish immigrants in October 1911 in Brooklyn, he changed his last name to honor the leader of a 14th-century English peasant uprising, Wat Tyler. It was through his mother, who started working in the sweatshops of New York's Lower East Side when she was 10, however, that Tyler was introduced to the socialist outlook that would shape the articles and speeches he would write. As he recalled in an interview with New York Newsday in 1988, it was his mother's belief that "socialism was what God ordained," that which convinced him "it was just the natural thing. People are people and they shouldn't be rich and they shouldn't be poor. I just thought this was the way you live."
Tyler began his activism early and at 16 he was editing the Young People's Socialist League's newspaper. By the time he was a student at New York University he had read Edward Gibbon's six volume The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire because he wanted to know "how empires have been toppled in the past." After graduating from NYU in 1933, Tyler became an assistant labor editor at The Forward, a socialist leaning Jewish daily newspaper in New York.
Less than a year after joining The Forward, Tyler left to join the garment workers union where he spent more than forty years heading up its political and educational wings. In 1945 he became the union's assistant president, a post he held under four different ILGWU presidents, including its longtime leader David Dubinsky, before retiring in 1989. Over the course of those four decades Tyler continued to push for rights of the underrepresented including government-sponsored health care and better political representation of cities through the reapportioning of voting districts.
Tyler passed away on 3 June in Sarasota, Florida at the age of 99.
Edythe Scott Bagley, Sister of Coretta Scott King, dies
The King family released a statement today announcing the death of Coretta Scott King’s eldest sister Edythe Scott Bagley. In the statement, Martin Luther King, III described his aunt as a “vibrant, brilliant woman,” who was “always a source of strength and wisdom for our mother during the difficult challenges of the Civil Rights Movement.”
Bagley was born in Marion, Alabama, and was the oldest child of Bernice and Obie Scott. After graduating valedictorian of her high school class, Bagley became the first full-time black student to attend Antioch College in Ohio. She later transferred to Ohio State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree. Bagley went on to earn master’s degrees from Columbia University and Boston University, and held a number of teaching positions at some of the nation’s finest black institutions, including Elizabeth City State Teachers College, Albany State College, and Norfolk State College.
After her brother-in-law Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed in 1968, Mrs. Bagley helped Mrs. King establish the King Center in Atlanta, Georgia. She remained an active member of the center’s advisory board until her death. As an active member of the Women’s League for Peace and Freedom, the American Association of University Women, and the NAACP, Mrs. Bagley was committed to eliminating poverty, racism, and war.
Just prior to her death, Mrs. Bagley had finished a biography of her sister Coretta, which is scheduled to be published next year by the University of Alabama Press.
Arthur M. Bagley, her husband of more than 56 years, died in February. She is survived about a host of family, friends, and admirers.
“Walk to Freedom with Martin Luther King, Jr.”
Two months before the March on Washington, King stood before a throng of 150,000 people at Cobo Hall in Detroit to expound upon making “the American Dream a reality”. King repeatedly exclaimed, “I have a dream this afternoon”. He articulated the words of the prophets Amos and Isaiah, declaring that “justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream,” for “every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low”. As he had done numerous times in the previous two years, King concluded his message imagining the day “when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing with the Negroes in the spiritual of old: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”.
Speech at the Great March on Detroit
Edgar Tekere, Zwimbabwe Independance Leader, dies at 74
Edgar Zivanai Tekere, a controversial and outspoken political leader of Zimbabwe, died on Tuesday in Mutare after a long battle against prostate cancer. He is survived by his wife, Pamela and daughter Maidei. He was 74.
Tekere began his political career in 1963 as a founding member of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and served a ten year prison sentence after the organization was banned in 1964. After his release, Tekere remained a prominent figure in the fight for independence and took part in the Lancaster House conversations helping solidify national independence in 1979. He held the position of Minister of Manpower for one year in 1980, but was demoted when he was accused of murdering a white farmer. Later in his career he represented the Zimbabwe Unity Movement party in an unsuccessful bid for the Presidency in 1990.
Often a harsh critic of governmental corruption Tekere often spoke out against the administration of current President Robert Mugabe. In a memoir published in 2007 Tekere blamed President Mugabe for building a nation whose people “live mostly in fear of their own government, of a state machinery, born out of the forces of liberation, but now, regrettably, more associated with ruthlessness and naked force.”
Edgar Tekere Obiturary
Clara Luper, Oklahoma Civil Rights Activist, Dies
Born in rural Okfuskee County, Oklahoma on 3 May 1932, Clara Luper's interaction with segregation in schools--a condition she would help defeat in her native state--began early. After graduating from a segregated high school in nearby Grayson, Oklahoma, Luper graduated from Langston University, a segregated college in central Oklahoma, in 1944 with a B.A. in mathematics with a minor in history. Seven years later she completed a Master’s degree in secondary education and history at the University of Oklahoma where she encountered separate bathrooms and a segregated cafeteria.
With the Supreme Court's decision to desegregate public education through Brown v. Board of Education, Luper found herself among the first individuals involved in the integration of the Oklahoma City schools when, as a teacher, she transferred from the all black Dungee High School to Northwest Classen High School, an all white school. On her first day she was greeted by racial slurs from students and teachers trying to taunt her, individuals to whom Luper refused to bow. She retired from teaching while at John Marshall High School in 1989.
What Luper is most remembered for in Oklahoma, however, is her role in sit-in campaigns that brought about the integration of the Katz Drug Store chain. On 19 August 1958, Luper and members of the local NAACP Youth Council were arrested after refusing to leave the Katz Drug Store in Oklahoma City when the lunch counter refused to serve them. Two days later Katz announced their intention to integrate all thirty-eight of their locations in Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri.
That success touched off an expanded sit-in movement directed at the restaurants throughout downtown Oklahoma City. Starting in August 1960, Luper was at the forefront of the movement through regular radio broadcasts as hundreds of protestors demonstrated for almost four years. On 2 June 1964 the Oklahoma City Council stepped in to resolve problems with those restaurants still resisting integration. In the six years dating back to her initial sit-in at Katz, Luper was arrested 26 times in helping integrate downtown Oklahoma City.
Summing up Clara Luper's impact on the history of the state, Oklahoma Speaker of the House Kris Steele commented, "Through her actions, she helped lead Oklahoma and the nation forward by showing courage and courtesy simultaneously, often in the face of unpleasant opposition."
After she passed away at her home in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, the city's mayor, Mick Cornett, ordered all flags on city property flown at half staff in her honor.
Bitterness Lingers in Greensboro
Albertina Sisulu, Mother of the South African Liberation Movement, Dead at 92
Born Nontsikelelo Thethiwe to a poor farming family in the Transkei, a former British protectorate in South Africa, Thethiwe changed her name to Albertina after enrolling in a Christian missionary school. After graduation, she moved to Johannesburg to study nursing. While training at the Non-European General Hospital, Sisulu met her husband Walter, a political activist with the African National Congress (ANC). They married in 1944. Fellow ANC member Nelson Mandela was best man at the ceremony.
At the Sisulu’s wedding reception an ANC supporter said: “Albertina, you have married a married man: Walter married politics before he met you.” Immediately the Sisulu home in Soweta was a hub for ANC activity.
On 9 August 1956, Sisulu lead a march of 20,000 women against the South African pass system. August 9 is celebrated as Women’s Day in South Africa. Throughout her life, Mrs. Sisulu was arrested numerous times. Of her time in jail, she said: “I did not mind going to jail myself, and I had to learn to cope without Walter. But when my children went to jail, I felt that the Boers were breaking me at the knees.” When her husband Walter was sentenced to life in prison in 1964, she was left to continue his political legacy.
Despite numerous stints in jail and being banned from South Africa for 10 years, Mrs. Sisulu continued her political activities. In 1983, she co-founded the United Democratic Front, an anti-apartheid coalition. She met with U.S. presidents George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter to discuss sanctions against the South African apartheid government.
After serving 26 years in prison, Walter Sisulu was released from Robben Island in 1989. Five years after her husband’s release from prison, Mrs. Sisulu was elected to Parliament. She retired after four years and remained active in social causes.
Mrs. Sisulu lived to see her children assume leadership positions in the once apartheid-driven South Africa. Her daughter Lindiwe Sisulu is the nation’s defense minister. Her son Max is speaker of the National Assembly, while her daughter Beryl Sisulu is South Africa’s ambassador to Norway.
King’s commencement speech, in honor of the class of 2011
Former Black Panther Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt dies in Tanzania at age 63.
Pratt was raised in Morgan City, Louisiana and served two combat tours in the Vietnam War. Following his service, Pratt used the GI Bill to attend UCLA where he joined the Black Panther Party. Following the murder of organization leaders John Huggins and Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter, Pratt was made Minister of Defense. In 1971, Pratt's wife Saundra was killed while eight months pregnant. The murder was blamed on a Party schism between supporters of Huey Newton and supporters of Eldridge Cleaver.
In 1970 Pratt was convicted for the murder of Caroline Olsen and spent 27 years in prison before the conviction was overturned in 1997. Pratt's conviction became a rallying cry for rights groups who believed he had been framed for his involvement in the Black Panther Party. After his release, Pratt told CNN that he held no bitterness about the many years he spent behind bars. Of the 27 years he spent in prison, Pratt said eight was in solitary confinement. He said his spirituality and love of music helped him through that period. "My mantra was the blues. It would go through my head when I was going through my meditations," Pratt said.
Following his release from prison, Pratt continued to work on behalf of men and women believed to be wrongfully incarcerated, including participation in rallies in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
For more information on Pratt, click here.
Outspoken Brazilian Civil Rights Leader Abdias do Nascimento Dies at 97
Artist, politican, and scholar Abdias do Nascimento died in Rio de Janeiro from complications of diabetes. He was 97.
The grandson of slaves, Abdias do Nascimento was born in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo in 1914. While he earned a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Rio de Janeiro, Nascimento began his involvement in the country's civil rights movement, the Brazilian Black Forest, as a teenager. From that point on, Nascimento would establish himself as a voice of dissent against governmental insistence and popular belief that Brazil was a racial democracy. "He was a legend," wrote Princeton professor of sociology, Edward E. Telles. "He wasn't afraid to tell people that racial democracy was a myth. And he said it for 60 years."
In combating the racism embedded in Brazilian society, Nascimento founded the Black Experimental Theater in 1944 to celebrate the country's African-influenced culture. The theater countered tradition by training black actors for roles usually filled by white actors in blackface, and sponsored civil rights events including the inaugural 1950 Congress of Brazilian Blacks.
Nascimento entered the realm of politics with his involvement in the foundation of the Afro-Brazilian Democratic Committee in 1945, which fought for the release of political prisoners. When the military overthrew the Brazilian government in 1964, Nascimento left for the United States and Nigeria; he did not return to Brazil until the early 1980s. During his self-imposed exile, he taught at the State University of New York at Buffalo where he established the chair of African cultures within the Puerto Rican studies program and spent time lecturing at both Yale and Wesleyan. At the same time, Nascimento began producing art work that put human and natural images together with shapes suggestive of the Afro-Brazilian culture and religion.
In the late 1970s, although still in exile, Nascimento re-entered Brazilian politics through his involvement with the newly founded Democratic Labor Party of Brazil. Insisting that the party's platform deal with issues of racial discrimination, he served as a congressman and senator after the fall of the country's military dictatorship. Following his return, Nascimento was influential in the founding of the Afro-Brazilian Studies and Research Institute in Rio de Janeiro known as Ipeafro. His widow, Elisa Larkin Nascimento, is the current director of the Institute.
"There was no more important Brazilian than Nascimento since the abolition of slavery in 1888," said Wayne State University professor of Africana Studies, Ollie A. Johnson. "For Americans to understand him and his contribution, you'd have to say he was a little bit of Marcus Garvey, a little of W.E.B. DuBois, a little bit of Langston Hughes and a little bit of Adam Clayton Powell."
Gil Scott-Heron, Poet and Voice of Protest Culture, Dies at 62
Gil Scott-Heron, 62, was a poet and musician who helped lay the foundation for modern day rap and hip hop culture by fusing minimalistic percussion, political expression and spoken-word poetry. His most famous song, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” expresses Scott-Heron's ability to captivate and articulate the angst of the 1970s black protest culture. Scott-Heron died May 27 at a New York City hospital after becoming sick upon returning from a European trip. The cause of death is not immediately known.
Born in Chicago on 1 April 1949, Mr. Scott-Heron grew up in Tennessee and New York. He attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and wrote his first novel, "The Vulture," at age 19. Though initially his interest was in literature and English, Gil turned to music in search of a wider audience. During the 1970s Scott-Heron was considered a prodigy although his reputation never exceeded cult popularity. Between 1970 and 1982, Gil recorded 13 albums, and was linked with music executive Clive Davis.
In later years Gil Scott-Heron's career and popularity declined due to drug use and convictions. He served a sentence at Rikers Island in New York for parole violation. Though his reputation was irreparably tarnished, his contributions to black culture cannot be over-looked.
Gil Scott-Heron is survived by his son, Rumal; and two daughters, Gia Scott-Heron and Che Newton.
To listen to his work click here
“Race Still Matters” John Seigenthaler on the Freedom Rides
Freedom Ride Coordinating Committee
George Houser: Recollections of the Freedom Rides
Freedom Riders Return to Mississippi
SNCC Telegram to President Kennedy
Bernard LaFayatte, Jr. “The Siege of the Freedom Riders”
Op-Ed:Bernard LaFayette, Jr. The Siege of the Freedom Riders
Twenty-two Freedom Riders left Birmingham on Saturday morning 20 May 1961, Bernard LaFayette, Jr. among them. The morning began with the Riders stranded on the bus platform with no driver and a gathering mob outside. The scheduled Greyhound driver for the Birmingham to Montgomery route decided at the last minute that he would not drive the bus.
After a series of frantic phone calls between Department of Justice aid, John Seigenthaler, and the top Greyhound officials in Atlanta and Birmingham, a driver was found and the Freedom Riders boarded the bus. According to an agreement worked out by Seigenthaler and Alabama Governor Patterson a few days prior, the local police departments of Birmingham and Montgomery would be responsible for the Riders inside city limits while the Alabama State police would provide protection on the open highway.
The bus left Birmingham without incident at 6:00 am on Saturday morning, however, when it arrived in Montgomery at 10:20 am the promised police protection was no where to be found. Moments after they exited the bus the small group of travelers were overwhelmed by an angry mob armed with lead pipes and baseball bats. It was during this attack that Jim Zwerg, William Barbee, John Lewis and John Seigenthaler were beaten unconscious.
Arsenault, Freedom Riders, 2006.
Interview with John Seigenthaler
Seigenthaler was aide to Robert F. Kennedy during the 1960 Presidential campaign and Administrative Assistant to the Attorney General, Department of Justice (1961). At the request of Kennedy, he joined the Freedom Riders in Birmingham and escorted them to New Orleans on May 15, 1961. A few days later, unable to convince Diane Nash to call off the continued pursuit of interstate travel through Alabama, Seigenthaler flew back to Birmingham to join the SNCC riders. In this interview he tells of his experience negiotiating with state and city officials for the safe passage of all interstate travelers.
Excerpt of Siegenthaler Interview
Renewal of the Freedom Rides
The Freedom Rides, led by CORE, were scheduled to end with a freedom rally in New Orleans, La. on May 17, celebrating the seventh anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision by the Supreme Court. Wanting to continue testing desegregation in interstate travel, a group of ten members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee left Nashville, Tenn. for Birmingham, Ala. Once they arrived they were promptly arrested by police and held in protective custody.
Freedom ride Itinerary
Nashville Freedom Riders
Dr. King speaks out against violence toward Freedom Riders
Freedom Rider Was No Hero to Family
Tower of the Civil Rights Movement, Octavia Geans Vivian
Born and raised in Michigan, Mrs. Vivian received her degree in social work from Eastern Michigan University. After moving to the South both Mrs. Vivian and her husband, C.T. Vivian, worked tirelessly in the field of civil rights. She helped desegregate the public schools of Dekalb county and was involved in voter registration as one of the first black deputy voter registrars in the county. Later, she helped organize and collect the papers of the SCLC, preserving it's history and legacy. Mrs. Vivian also shared a close friendship with Coretta Scott King, which allowed her to publish a biography on the life of Mrs. King.
A Tower of the Civil Rights Movement
Statement of Charles Anthony Person
Profiles of Freedom Riders
Profiles of Freedom Riders
Profiles of Freedom Riders
Black Preacher Forgives Former Alabama Governor George Wallace
Profiles of Freedom Riders
Profiles of Freedom Riders
Letter to John F. Kennedy announcing Freedom Rides
Profiles of Freedom Riders