All Articles Tagged "civil rights movement"
The 1963 bombing of an African-American church that killed four young black girls changed the course of the Civil Rights movement. Now the lone survivor of that tragedy, Sarah Collins Rudolph, is demanding millions in compensation — and says she won’t accept a top congressional award to honor the victims, reports the Huffington Post.
Rudolph recently told The Associated Press that she feels “forgotten” in the 50 years after the Sept. 16, 1963 blast at Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in which her sister was killed. Rudolph lost her eye in the attack. Rudolph says he never received restitution for the incident.
The four girls who died were Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley (all 14 years old), and 11-year-old Denise McNair. Three K.K.K.K.K.K.K.K.Klan members were convicted of the bombing many years later. Congress is currently considering whether to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the victims.
Rudolph isn’t alone in saying she will reject the Congressional honor. According to HuffPo, the brother of Cynthia Wesley, Fate Morris, says he’s also not interested in the medal, Congress’ highest honor.
When Martin Luther King Jr.’s memorial was unveiled to the public in D.C. in 2011, it was a monumental moment that commemorated the struggle and sacrifice of not only Dr. King, but all those who marched and fought for equal opportunity, rights and more during the Civil Rights Movement. But that was just the beginning. Today, there’s another great figure from the Civil Rights Movement being immortalized in statue form in Washington D.C., and that’s Rosa Parks.
During a ceremony today at the Capitol building, President Obama, members of Congress and members of the Parks family helped unveil the statue, which is the first full-length one of a black woman in the Capitol according to ABC News (Sojourner Truth does have a bust in the building as well). According to the Inquisitr, the statue stands at almost nine-feet-tall and shows the icon seated with her hands folded on her lap. The Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal honoree passed away in 2005, and the statue had been in the planning and creation phase ever since then. President Obama spoke at the unveiling saying, “She defied the odds, she defied injustice. She helped change America and helped change the world…We do well by placing a statue of her here, but we can do no greater honor to her memory than to carry forward the power of her principle and a courage born of conviction.”
Rosa Parks spent a majority of her 95 years working against racial injustice, poverty and many other social issues, so it’s definitely nice to know that a statue celebrating her work and life will be around for many, many years to inspire others to do the same. As her niece Rhea McCauley told ABC News, “…her being in the hall itself is permanent and children will be able to tour the (Capitol) and look up and see my aunt’s face.”
Family Of Emmett Till Angry With Lil Wayne For Comparing Sex Acts With Civil Rights Icon’s Brutal Beating In Song
I’ve been saying it for at least a year now. Lil Wayne has run out of clever stuff to say in his rhymes. About 95 percent of the time he’s talking about his love for the “nether regions” of a woman, or skateboarding, or Trukfit. But his latest few lines have everyone up in arms, particularly the family of Emmett Till, who found the rapper’s recent use of their late family member’s name in a remix to the Future song, “Karate Chop” to be extremely disrespectful.
Lil Wayne takes over the song around the third verse, and the line in question goes something like this: “Pop a lot of pain pills/Bout to put rims on my skateboard wheels/Beat that p***y up like Emmett Till/Yeah….”
Nooooo Wayne…no. When Airicka Gordon-Taylor, cousin of Till and the director of the Mamie Till Mobley Memorial Foundation heard about his reference, she says that the family was appalled. While speaking with Dr. Boyce Watkins, she had this to say:
“To compare his murder and how beaten and how bullied, and tortured he was to the anatomy of a woman was really very disrespectful. We found it dishonorable to his name and what his death has meant to us as a people and as a culture. It was offensive not only to us, but to our ancestors and to women and to themselves as young, black men. I just couldn’t understand how you could compare the gateway of life to the brutality and punishment of death. And I feel as though they have no pride and no dignity as black men.
Our family was very offended, very hurt. Disturbed by it…Our young people they emulate what they see, what they hear, and what they’re immersed in. And then we question them as they grow up and become citizens and they’re supposed to be productive in society and they’re not productive. And society is already criminalizing our young, black men at every opportunity they have. So it just really concerns us that here you are using Emmett Till’s name in such an egregious way and you’re not having any respect for yourselves as well as our family. And that’s the biggest concern. We’re concerned about our young people as well as the image of Emmett Till.”
And a lot of other people were pretty disgusted too, including Jesse Jackson Sr., who, according to Rap Radar, said on his Twitter that the moment he heard about the song, he spoke with L.A. Reid (the CEO of Epic records, which the song was released through) and as of now, the remix has censored that part of the song and the label is allegedly in the process of taking down all signs of the song off the Internet. On top of that, Reid reached out to the family of Emmett Till to apologize, according to E! Online, saying the song was leaked out and that he hadn’t previously heard the lyrics. Epic also went on and issued a statement, which included them saying, “We regret the unauthorized remix version of Future’s ‘Karate Chop,’ which was leaked online and contained hurtful lyrics. Out of respect for the legacy of Emmett Till and his family and the support of the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr….we are going through great efforts to take down the unauthorized version.”
While their apology is all good and dandy, the person who really needs to get their life together is Lil Wayne. Why he thought this was clever, I’m not sure, but it was definitely a disgusting move, especially since, as Gordon-Taylor says, the rapper wouldn’t have the opportunities he does to say such deplorable things if it weren’t for her late cousin and the brutal beating he took that August night in Mississippi. Poor taste indeed, Weezy.
What Rosa Parks Can Teach Us About Standing For Something And The Benefits Of Being The “Angry” Black Woman
It’s Black History Month, so let’s talk about Rosa Parks.
For the 100th birthday of the great civil rights icon, Charles Blow, columnist at the New York Times, gives another side to Parks, challenging the commonly told narrative that Parks refused to give up her seat because of her tired feet:
“I didn’t tell anyone my feet were hurting,” the book quotes her as saying. “It was just popular, I suppose because they wanted to give some excuse other than the fact that I didn’t want to be pushed around.”
The book in which Blow writes about is The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, by Jeanne Theoharis. According to Blow, the book asserts that Parks’ image had been “sanitized and sugarcoated” in order to easily feed the masses. Despite always being portrayed as “humble” and “soft-spoken,” the book argues that in fact, Parks was a high-strung and proud woman, who used to sit vigil with her grandfather (a follower of Marcus Garvey) and his shotgun, hoping to one day see him take out a K K K member. Writes Blow, “That day came on Dec. 1, 1955, when a bus driver asked her to get up so that a white man could sit. She refused. This was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. It was a political calculation informed by a life of activism. As Parks put it, “an opportunity was being given to me to do what I had asked of others.” Blow then goes on to say the Rosa Parks in this book is as much like Malcolm X as she is Martin Luther King Jr.
I haven’t read the book, but I’m adding it to my Kindle queue because it sounds like a great alternative to the insipid history lessons we always get around civil right icons like Parks. Although, Parks history of radicalism has been documented in before, particularly in the book, At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance–A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black. Power, which highlights Parks’ pre-bus sitting radical work as an investigator for the NAACP, who specialized in investigating sexual assaults against black women in Jim Crow Alabama. One particular case involved the sexual assault of a 24-year old mother named Recy Taylor, who was brutally and repeatedly sexually assaulted by six white men in Henry County, Alabama. According to the book, it was this case, in addition to others, which served as the spark to the Civil Rights Movement and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
The old saying is that well-behaved women rarely make history. This is true, but there is also a desire to sanitize them; to make them into a shell, although beautifully painted, than what they were. Parks might have been a quiet, patient and an unimposing woman, but she was also bold and assertive too. And it is important that we get to see Parks in the later context as much as we see her portrayed in the former. Bold and assertive are among the traits that women, particularly black women, are the most picked apart about. People wonder what would have happened to the movement if Parks would not have boarded that bus that day. I think about what if she had boarded that bus and had the whole thing recorded and uploaded to the Internet? Would she have still garnered the same sort of empathy and admiration from the public if we saw a Parks in contrast to the tired seamstress on her way home from a long day at work, but rather a firecracker, who refused to give up her seat based on the sheer principle of it? I imagine that it would be even hard for some folks, including some black folks, to sympathize if they viewed just how vibrant and not helpless she really was that faithful day.
And that’s not to compare Parks to the hyper-aggressive street violence we see in videos on sites like WorldStarHipHop, it’s however, to point to how often we misunderstand or are dismissive of black women who dare to be outside of the framework of “proper” womanhood. In one sense, we can understand the anger of a black man, who had been victimized and continually denigrated by systematic oppression, yet through that same lense, treat black women, who might act out in the same sort of systematic anger, as the perpetrator of her own victimization. We mock her, call her crazy and in some instances applaud when she finally writes a check that her mouth can’t cash. And yes, nine times out of ten that offense has to do with her mouth. She is too loud, too opinionated; too brass. If only she would learn to be quiet, learn to smile more and understand her virtue of submission, all the problems we have in the community would just melt away.
Ironically, it is the “disobedient” black women, with their non-yielding attitudes, which more often than not helped to progress the community in some way, shape, form or fashion. Women like Ida B. Wells and Mary Church Terrell, who used their mouths to spread the urgency of the lynchings in the South. And it was the plain-spokenness of black women like Fannie Lou Hamer, who galvanized the Mississippi communities through Freedom Summers to organize against the Jim Crow South. Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth engaged in acts of rebellion by not only escaping slavery, but leading others, who fled North and West. In fact, being soft-spoken and delicate is a privilege, which has never been afforded to black women, as told by Truth at the Women’s Conference, delivered in 1851.
“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?”
You can’t be a docile woman, overly concerned about manners and proper womanhood if you want to lead a group of people from slavery – particularly black folks. Anyone who has ever tried to engage black folks in any form of cooperative building knows how damn difficult it is to even get us united for something as simple as a meeting – let alone an escape from slavery. And by virtue of either biology, environment, or the subjugation experienced through slavery and hundreds of years of oppression, not every woman is going to be soft and meek. And quite frankly, that’s a good thing. We need our angry black women with their big mouths to be that burst of fire, which ignites us into actions and new ways of thinking (but clearly not angry and loud just to be angry and loud). That’s why today I feel a special need to acknowledge the real Rosa Parks, not just for historical accuracy, but for all the young, black and loud mouth jump starters out there, trying to make sense of why they can’t fit in nicely to this narrow definition of womanhood. Truth is, like the ancestors before you, you weren’t meant to be proper; you were meant to speak out.
From The Club To The White House: What’s The Deal With How Everyone Uses Dr. King’s Image These Days?
While some of you will be celebrating Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day by performing service projects around your community or taking the day off as a silent protest for reparations for all the unpaid work and Jim Crow bulls**t our people have gone through, some of you will no doubt be at the American Legion Post for the MLK Weekend No Worries Bash in Florida.
That’s right, many folks across the country decided to pay tribute to one of the greatest figures in the history of the Civil Rights Movement by going to the club, including the MLK Weekend Blast-Off, which went down this past Saturday night in Auburn, Alabama. No word yet on what notable dignitaries might have descended on this fancy shindig, but according to the er…invitation, which featured the bust of the slain Civil Rights leader Photoshopped into a leather bomber and a neck full of enough bling that could make Nino Brown sit his five dollar a** down before King makes change (get it? Change? Martin Luther King Jr.? Ah, forget it…), Ciroc – or Coric (according to the backwards bottles on the flier) – probably was flowing and the ladies were admitted free all night.
While most would agree that putting Dr. King’s face on your club flier is not the best way of paying respect or homage (and odds are that the promoter is more concerned with cashing in on the very lucrative three-day weekend), truth of the matter is that people have been using, and in many instances misappropriating, King’s legacy for years to sell or market stuff. How could we forget the McDonalds’ “Candles” commercials from the ’80s? I’m sure obesity, high blood pressure and the McRib sandwich was not what he marched all them miles in Selma. And then there are his very own family members like Alveda King, niece of the late Dr. King, who has been using her uncle’s legacy to promote her anti-gay, anti-abortion agenda with her cohort Glenn Beck. She even went as far as to claim that the late Coretta Scott King, who said that Dr. King would have supported gay rights, didn’t have the authority to speak on Dr. King’s behalf because she was just related by marriage and not by DNA.
And then what about all those pictures I see of Dr. King Photoshopped sitting next to, hi-fiving and basically co-signing President Barack Obama on mugs, T-shirts and posters- My personal favorite is the very well-executed pencil drawing of a bust of Dr. King, with the caption “I have a dream,” positioned next to another pencil-drawn bust of President Obama, with the caption, “I am the dream.” That imagery is pretty bold and some would argue, pretty authentic, especially considering that today marks not only King’s national holiday, but the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, the country’s first black president. To add to the symbolism, it has been reported that President Obama used a Bible, which belonged o Dr. King, to take his oath.
Unfortunately, Dr. King is no longer with us, so will never know how Dr. King would have reacted to the many ways in which his image has been appropriated. Perhaps he would embrace President Obama’s historic first and then second successful presidential run as the fulfillment, or at least extension, of his legacy. But as a passionate advocate for peace, racial equality, as well as social justice and human rights, Dr. King might not have felt as supportive of some of the Obama Administration’s policies that deal with education, the environment, the use of drones, illegal immigration and the black and poor, particularly black and poor communities. Again, there is no way of knowing for sure. For all we know, Dr. King might have changed positions later in life. However, if he was the same man as his legacy suggests, he might have been a vocal critic of the President. And that type of dissent don’t land your face on mugs and T-shirts, or in pencil drawings next to the country’s first black president. And I doubt very highly that President Obama would be using his Bible at the inauguration.
And while it is true that King was a man of respectability, he was also a man, who once performed a difficult behind-the-back back shot in a pool match with civil rights leader Al Raby in the slums of Chicago in 1966. Therefore, while a picture of Dr. King Photoshopped into a leather bomber with Mr. T chains, looking like an ’80s rap thug is certainly jarring, it is not entirely impossible to believe that he wouldn’t have embraced Hip-Hop/street aesthetic in some form. Based upon the legacy he left us with, I could totally see a modern-day King co-signing a few rappers and appearing in a few hip-hop videos. What better way to recruit the next generation of leaders into the movement for social justice than meeting them where they are at – and in many cases, when where they are at might just be at the club? Heck, even Maya Angelou did a song with Common – and he been calling women b***hes and h*es on and off for years.
But I guess we all have our own version of Dr. King’s legacy, which we like to remember and honor. My own Dr. King is birthed not just out of his dream of racial equality but of social justice, which inspired him to give these words against war in a speech, delivered at Riverside Church in April of 1967:
“My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years — especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they ask — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They ask if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.”
Funny, that’s the King we never see a stamp, a party flier, a television commercial or a political platform of. That is what we probably should be offended by.
Sculptor and printmaker, Elizabeth Catlett died Monday at 96 years old.
Catlett, who has consistently been dubbed one of the most important African American artists of the 20th century dedicated her life to producing art that depicted the African American experience and promoted social justice.
Born on April 15, 1915, in Washington D.C., Catlett was the granddaughter of freed slaves. Her father died before she was born and her mother worked as truant officer. Unfortunately but not surprisingly, Catlett experienced her fair share of discrimination living as a black woman in the United States. She was not allowed to attend the Carnegie Institute of Technology because she was “colored.” But she went on to Howard University where she studied design and print-making.
After graduation she joined a Depression-era program that provided jobs for struggling artists. There she was exposed to Mexican artists Rivera and Miguel Covarrubias. The men’s political opinions would come to influence Catlett’s art and perhaps her decision to spend a majority of her life living and working in Mexico.
But before her relocation, Catlett taught art at a North Carolina high school. Troubled by the inequality in pay between the white and black teachers, Catlett left to attend graduate school at what is now the University of Iowa. There Catlett said she was shown the first kindness by a white man, her mentor Grant Wood. (You may know Wood’s iconic work “American Gothic”) It was Wood who suggested Catlett draw from her own culture to create her artwork. She went on to graduate in 1940.
By 1941, Catlett was in Chicago working with the South Side Community Art Center. There, she met her first husband, Charles White. They married and moved to New York but were divorced by the end of the decade.
Still in New York, Catlett joined the faculty at the George Washington Carver School in Harlem.
From there she moved to Mexico City. It was there that she met her future husband Francisco Mora, when he offered to teach her Spanish. (Pretty slick, huh?)
Throughout her career Catlett went against the grain. At a time when black artists were expected to assimilate to a European Standard, Catlett portrayed depictions of black life. Her work would later be known as symbols of the Civil Rights Movement as she often depicted lynchings and beatings of blacks. In “Target,” perhaps her most well known work, Catlett sculpted a black man’s face inside of a gun target range. Tragically, due to the recent killings of black youth, Catlett’s sculpture still holds weight today.
Catlett also made sure to highlight historical, black heroines like Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. But she didn’t stop there. She also focused on the everyday woman. In 1992, she told the St. Petersburg Times, “”I wanted to show the history and strength of all kinds of black women,”
Working women, country women, urban women, great women in the history of the United States.”
Catlett moved to Mexico in 1940 to study ceramics. Her new environment greatly influenced her work as she took on the cause of presenting the struggles of Mexican workers. Although she’d adopted a new focus, Catlett never forgot her African American brothers and sisters. She referred to black and Mexicans as “my two people” and incorporated physical features from each group in her art work.
In Mexico, she was able to gain acceptance she never experienced in the U.S. Throughout the ’60′s she was denied a U.S. visa which stunted the impact she and her work were able to make in the United States.
She leaves behind three sons, Francisco, Juan and David, 10 grandchildren, one of which included America’s Next Top Model Winner, Naima Mora and six great grandchildren.
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Every February, in recognition of Black History Month, we’re reintroduced to influential people in our history who have left marks in their respective industries. These people were great. Their courage surpassed their fear and they held steadfast in their fight for justice and equality for the human race. Yet, while we’re constantly reminded of the Dr. Martin Luther Kings, Harriet Tubmans, Malcolms, and Rosa Parks of the past, there are many other black leaders that often go unrecognized. Their paths were just as difficult and their fights just as courageous.
So as Black History Month gets ready to come to a close, we would like to acknowledge seven of the least recognized women in black history. Some you may be familiar with by name, but not aware of their stories. Others you will be introduced to for the first time. These women paved the way for other women and blacks in general.
Check out our list of influential black women who may have missed the mainstream recognition, but nevertheless played a pivotal role in our history.
While we’re constantly reminded of the civil rights leaders who worked in front, those who were behind the scenes often go unrecognized. Ella Baker is one of those people. An active civil rights leader in the 1930s, Ms. Baker fought for civil rights for five decades, working alongside W.E.B Dubois, Thurgood Marshall, and Martin Luther King, Jr. She even mentored well-known civil rights activist, Rosa Parks.
Ella Baker is quoted as saying, “You didn’t see me on television; you didn’t see news stories about me. The kind of role that I tried to play was to pick up pieces or put together pieces out of which I hoped organization might come. My theory is, strong people don’t need strong leaders.”
The old adage is certainly true, ‘behind every good man, stands a good woman’; and while we modern day ‘feministas’ would prefer to remix the saying to ‘beside every good man, stands a good woman’, these women still made history from behind the iconic men in their lives. Their passion to correct civil injustices may have been publicly carried out by their well known husbands, but it was evident before and after their husbands’ death that they were a driving force behind their men. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
(Washington Post) — Rosa Parks gave the first installment of her papers to Wayne State University’s Walter Reuther Library in 1976, explaining, “I do hope that my contribution can be made use of.” Thirty-five years later, nobody is making use of the rest of her papers. After her death in 2005, all of her effects and the rights to license her name became the subject of a dispute between Parks’s nieces and nephews and the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, which she co-founded in 1987 with longtime friend Elaine Steele. In 2007, a Michigan probate court awarded custody of Parks’s possessions to Guernsey’s Auctioneers and instructed that the collection be sold in its entirety to a single buyer, with the proceeds from the sale divided, in an undisclosed settlement, between the litigating parties. All of the materials — political documents, letters and photos, along with Parks’s clothes, awards and other personal items — were collected, inventoried and taken to New York for auction. Last month, Steele challenged the court’s actions before the Michigan Supreme Court, landing the auction back in the news.
Blockbuster movie “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” has just come out on top after a competitive weekend at the box office. Raking in $27.5 million, this prequel to the 1968 classic “Planet of the Apes” beat out the controversy-laden film “The Help,” which came in at No. 2. “The Help” is hated by black female historians, cultural critics and average folks alike for what many see as the stereotypical mammy imagery they believe the film promotes. But “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” does something even more crafty. To make audiences sympathize with the abused chimps, its storytellers borrowed images from the most emotionally arresting moments of the black Civil Rights Movement. It’s impossible to imagine that Hollywood artists at the top of their game did not know what they were doing. Tinseltown has finally given our history its due — even if brilliant animals have to be a stand-in for blacks to gain mainstream empathy. Here are the most obvious grabs from the rich repository of the black political past that usually go unremembered.
[SPOILER ALERT: This slide show contains spoilers.]
The Black Power Fist
In this UK poster to promote the film, we see a clear copy of the black power movement’s fist gesture from the ’70s.