Tag Archives: Civil Rights

“I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” | Martin Luther King, Jr.

Delivered 3 April 1968, Mason Temple [Church of God in Christ Headquarters], Memphis, Tennessee

Thank you very kindly, my friends. As I listened to Ralph Abernathy in his eloquent and generous introduction and then thought about myself, I wondered who he was talking about. It’s always good to have your closest friend and associate say something good about you. And Ralph Abernathy is the best friend that I have in the world.

I’m delighted to see each of you here tonight in spite of a storm warning. You reveal that you are determined to go on anyhow. Something is happening in Memphis, something is happening in our world.

As you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of picking a general and panoramic view of the whole human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, “Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?” — I would take my mental flight by Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn’t stop there. I would move on by Greece, and take my mind to Mount Olympus. And I would see Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Euripides and Aristophanes assembled around the Parthenon as they discussed the great and eternal issues of reality.

But I wouldn’t stop there. I would go on, even to the great heyday of the Roman Empire. And I would see developments around there, through various emperors and leaders. But I wouldn’t stop there. I would even come up to the day of the Renaissance, and get a quick picture of all that the Renaissance did for the cultural and esthetic life of man. But I wouldn’t stop there. I would even go by the way that the man for whom I’m named had his habitat. And I would watch Martin Luther as he tacked his ninety-five theses on the door at the church in Wittenberg.

But I wouldn’t stop there. I would come on up even to 1863, and watch a vacillating president by the name of Abraham Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation.

I would even come up to the early thirties, and see a man grappling with the problems of the bankruptcy of his nation. And come with an eloquent cry that we have nothing to fear but “fear itself.” But I wouldn’t stop there.

Strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, “If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the 20th century, I will be happy.” Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under American Culture, American History, American Politics, American Progressive Politics, Black Culture | United States, Black Politics, Civil Rights, Historic Black Politics & Figures, Historic Photos - People, Peace, Political Ideology, Protest, Work of Comrades

Martin Luther King Jr. | Where Do We Go From Here?

Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Atlanta, Georgia
16 August 1967

Now, in order to answer the question, “Where do we go from here?” which is our theme, we must first honestly recognize where we are now. When the Constitution was written, a strange formula to determine taxes and representation declared that the Negro was 60 percent of a person. Today another curious formula seems to declare he is 50 percent of a person. Of the good things in life, the Negro has approximately one half those of whites. Of the bad things of life, he has twice those of whites. Thus half of all Negroes live in substandard housing. And Negroes have half the income of whites. When we view the negative experiences of life, the Negro has a double share. There are twice as many unemployed. The rate of infant mortality among Negroes is double that of whites and there are twice as many Negroes dying in Vietnam as whites in proportion to their size in the population.

In other spheres, the figures are equally alarming. In elementary schools, Negroes lag one to three years behind whites, and their segregated schools receive substantially less money per student than the white schools. One twentieth as many Negroes as whites attend college. Of employed Negroes, 75 percent hold menial jobs.

This is where we are. Where do we go from here? First, we must massively assert our dignity and worth. We must stand up amidst a system that still oppresses us and develop an unassailable and majestic sense of values. We must no longer be ashamed of being black. The job of arousing manhood within a people that have been taught for so many centuries that they are nobody is not easy.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under American History, American Politics, American Progressive Politics, Black Culture | United States, Black Politics, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Historic Black Politics & Figures, Historic Photos - People, Pan Africanism | Afrocentrism | Africana Studies, Political Ideology

Dr. Benjamin Hooks | “Are there no more cats to bell?”

Benjamin Lawson Hooks (January 31, 1925 – April 15, 2010)

Dr. Hooks erved as executive director of the NAACP from 1977 to 1992.  In this speech –  “Civil Rights and Social Justice: Past, Present and the Future” delivered at The Hooks Institute at The University of Memphis – Dr. Hooks’  asks: “Are there no more cats to bell?”

Leave a comment

Filed under American History, American Politics, American Progressive Politics, Black Culture | United States, Black Politics, Civil Rights, Friends & Comrades, Historic Black Politics & Figures, Historic Photos - People, Human Rights, Pan Africanism | Afrocentrism | Africana Studies

Stokely Carmichael speaks at the University of California’s Greek Theater, Berkeley, California, October 29, 1966

Stokely Carmichael, initially an acolyte of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and his philosophy of nonviolent protest, became a leader in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), but was radicalized when he saw peaceful protestors brutalized in the South.

In the mid 1960s, Carmichael challenged the civil rights leadership by rejecting integration and calling on blacks to oust whites from the freedom movement. Following his arrest during a 1966 protest march in Mississippi, Carmichael angrily demanded a change in the rhetoric and strategy of the civil rights movement. “We’ve been saying ‘Freedom’ for six years,” Carmichael said. “What we are going to start saying now is ‘Black Power.”

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under American History, American Politics, American Progressive Politics, Black Culture | United States, Black Politics, Civil Rights, Grassroots Historical Figures, Historic Black Politics & Figures, Historic Photos - People, Human Rights, Pan Africanism | Afrocentrism | Africana Studies, Political Ideology, Protest, racism, Uncategorized, white supremacy

The Novocaine Effect | Obama and Black America | By Kevin Alexander Gray

“It’s like when you go to the dentist, and the man’s going to take your tooth. You’re going to fight him when he starts pulling. So he squirts some stuff in your jaw called novocaine, to make you think they’re not doing anything to you. So you sit there and ’cause you’ve got all of that novocaine in your jaw, you suffer peacefully. Blood running all down your jaw, and you don’t know what’s happening. ’Cause someone has taught you to suffer – peacefully.”

Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X), Message to the Grassroots (1964).

There’s a picture of Barack Obama next to one of Jesus in the front window of the small, black art gallery that I drive past almost every­day. And I still see someone wearing an Obama t-shirt maybe once a week, but sometimes it’s the same guy. If you’re looking, you can a find a variety of shirts in just about every corner store where I live. They’re on the wall, next to the Bob Marley, Tupac, Biggie Smalls and Al Pacino “Scarface” t-shirts. You can get an Obama hat and a presidential calendar there too. There are still a few Obama yard signs in the neighborhood, usually in a window. A few people still have an Obama bumper sticker on their cars. Not as many as some might think. Certainly not as many as the number of Confederate flags on vehicles in this part of the country.

Racial solidarity is the mood that helped get Obama into the White House. The traditional source of power and sur­vival among blacks, it is also the novo­caine of the moment, a numbing agent as people suffer through what, despite the more hopeful official forecasts, feels like a full-blown depression where I live. The pride is real, but so is the pain, and it’s coming in sharp stabs despite the shot. The novocaine is still working, just not so well, and the result is a discomfiting confusion.

In late September I spoke at a ‘‘Black Male Summit” about 80 miles north­west of Columbia in Rock Hill, South Carolina, which is famous in civil rights’ lore as the first stop in the Deep South for the Freedom Riders testing the 1960 Supreme Court decision outlawing ra­cial segregation in all interstate public facilities. Rock Hill is where Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) activist John Lewis and another man stepped off the bus and were beaten by a white mob. The town is mentioned in Chuck Berry’s “Promised Land” – only the “poor boy” on the Greyhound is lucky as his bus “bypassed Rock Hill” in the song. Things are still tough in the town just south of Charlotte. Since February of 2008 the number of jobs here has fallen by 15 per cent, and the average salary for people lucky enough to be employed is about $28,000. In June of this year, Yvette Williams, a 15 year-old black girl, was shot and killed by two police officers after she robbed a grocery store. The two of­ficers fired on Williams five times after she pointed a gun at them and refused to drop it, according to Rock Hill Police Chief John Gregory. He said he felt the police response was justified. A witness who lives across the street from where the shooting happened, told the local paper she was in bed when she heard shots and got up, looked out her window and saw the girl fall to the ground. She said she then saw an officer shoot again.

The theme I was asked to speak on in Rock Hill was “How do we restore dignity back to black communities?” My initial response was I didn’t know we’d lost it. But I knew the idea was a nod to Obama’s tough-love trick bag. “Post-racialism” is nonsense, but as an ideological concept it’s real, with real political consequences. On the right, it is license for white blow­hards to go on any racist tirade they like so long as they don’t actually broadcast the word “nigger.” In the black communi­ty it’s alive wherever blacks argue among themselves as to whether they are indi­vidually or collectively responsible for the conditions they face, or if they’re as criminal or immoral or lazy or violent or promiscuous or stupid as racists believe them to be. Sherman Porterfield, one of the organizers of the event, was quoted in the local paper, “Obama talked about it,” this claimed loss of dignity; “he has challenged us. The question now is, are we up to the challenge? Our young peo­ple are dropping out of school in record numbers, and it’s our fault. Nobody is shooting water hoses at us anymore. But we are allowing our young brothers to shoot each other. And that is not accept­able.” Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under 1ST LOOK | KAG 2009 Essays, American Politics, American Progressive Politics, Black Politics, Civil Rights, Congressional Black Caucus, Economics, Human Rights, Obama Administration, Pan Africanism | Afrocentrism | Africana Studies, Political Ideology, racism, The Bush Administration, The Obama Administration, Third Party Politics, white supremacy

Dorothy Cotton | Lessons From the Past, Visions For the Future

Dorothy CottonDorothy Cotton, who worked with Martin Luther King Jr. for 12 years, continues to spread the message that fighting for King’s “dream” made his followers stronger.

Cotton

Cotton - 1961

Delivering the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Lecture, Feb. 20, 2007, to a large audience in Cornell’s Sage Chapel, she said, “Many people associate the civil rights movement with great suffering and sadness. However from another perspective, that earth-changing movement gave millions a new reason to live.” Her lecture focused on what it means to “truly live” and related that theme to the legacy of King.

Leave a comment

Filed under American History, Black Culture | United States, Black Politics, Civil Rights, Grassroots Historical Figures, Historic Black Politics & Figures, Historic Photos - People, Pan Africanism | Afrocentrism | Africana Studies

A Candid Debate On Black Manhood, Homosexuality and Civil Rights | Cleo Manago, Tony Wafford & Kevin Alexander Gray

more about “Candid Debate On Black Manhood, Homos…“, posted with vodpod

 

 

Social architect/activist Cleo Manago participated in a candid debate on homosexuality in Black communities, civil rights and attitudes behind Black resistance to affirming homosexuals at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network’s 2009 Summer Conference held in Atlanta, GA. Manago was joined by author/activist Kevin Alexander Gray, and National Action Network’s Director of Health & Wellness, Tony Wafford.

According to Manago, “often when I have these discussions in the Black community, someone gets up talking about production, to produce or to not produce being the measure of who deserves the most rights or who deserves the most respect, which is not logical because most sex people have, including heterosexual sex, is not to reproduce.”

Manago further went on to discuss that while HIV is killing us [the Black community] it’s difficult getting heterosexual men involved in part based on myths, judgments and under-discussed issues around manhood in the Black community.

Leave a comment

Filed under Black Culture | United States, Black Politics, Civil Rights, Human Rights, LGBT issues