All Articles Tagged "martin luther king jr"
Well, there appears to be more drama involving the family of slain civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. According to TMZ actor and social activist Harry Belafonte has some of Dr. King’s original speeches in his possession. He also has the notes that were in his late friend’s pocket when he was assassinated back in 1968 and the condolence letter written to Coretta Scott King by President Lyndon Johnson. Harry is looking to auction off the items, but Dr. King’s family isn’t really going for it.
Back in 2008, Harry tried to sell the items at a Sotheby’s auction, but the Kings objected and the auction was canceled. According to reports, Harry has been pretty angry about the way things went down and now he’s taking Dr. Martin Luther King’s estate to court. Now he’s not requesting money, but instead he’s asking for a judge to rule that he is the rightful owner of the items and that he has the right to sell them if he pleases. Oh, but there’s more. Sotheby’s is keeping the items until a judge rules on who the rightful owners are.
There’s no word on exactly how Harry acquired any of the items, but he and Dr. King were good friends. MLK frequently worked out of Harry’s New York City apartment and Harry offered him lots of financial support. It sucks that things have come to this. Hopefully they can settle this amicably.
The movie will reportedly be brought to life by DreamWorks (along with Warner Bros.), who had major success last year with the film Lincoln. According to reports, both of the studios have been trying to get a picture on Martin Luther King, Jr. made for years now, dating back to 2009. The story would follow King from his early days as an activist and go all the way to his assassination in 1968. The script has already been put together by Kario Salem, and producers behind the project include Steven Spielberg, Suzanne De Passe, Madison Jones and Samuel Nappi.
As Variety pointed out, for both Oliver Stone and Jamie Foxx, biopics are pictures they do some of their best work in. Of course, Foxx picked up an Academy Award for his role as Ray Charles in Ray, and Stone is known for his biopics, including, JFK and W.
As talented as Foxx is, do you think he would be a good fit for Martin Luther King, Jr.? Would you go see it? Or are you too through with the stream of biopics coming out these days?
Martin Luther King Jr. is probably rolling over in his grave. The children of the revered Civil Rights activist have turned again to the legal system in the battle over his estate. Now, just as the nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s historic March on Washington and his famous “I Have a Dream Speech,” Dr. King’s sons are suing their sister.
According to WXIA-TV, Dexter King and Martin Luther King III, who run the King estate, have filed a lawsuit against the King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, which is headed by their sister, Bernice King.
The brothers claim the King Center has mishandled historical documents, recordings, and even their father’s remains. The brothers allege that valuable items at the King Center are at risk of damage and theft.
Last month, the King Center was informed that its licensing agreement with the King estate was being terminated.
According to ABC News, on Aug. 28, King’s estate filed a complaint in an Atlanta court asking a judge to stop the King Center from using his image, likeness and memorabilia. This includes his writings, speeches, sermons and letters, as well as the remains and coffin in his crypt (!). Ironically, the date was the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. In March 2007 , the estate granted a nonexclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license to the center to use all of these items.
The estate says the relationship between the two entities “has recently become strained, resulting in a total breakdown in communication and transparency.”
“After failed meetings and communications, the estate sent a letter to the center on Aug. 10 saying it would terminate the license at the end of a 30-day notice period, the complaint says,” reports ABC News.
The King Center could keep the license agreement if the Center put CEO Bernice King on administrative leave until the final outcome of the audit investigation; gave the estate power over the use, care and treatment of the memorabilia until another solution could be agreed upon; and removed Alveda King, the civil rights leader’s niece, and former Atlanta mayor and civil rights veteran Andrew Young from the center’s board of directors. The estate charged that Alveda King tried to impede the audit investigation and that Young infringed the estate’s intellectual property rights.
Stephen Ryan, a lawyer for Bernice King, said in a letter on Aug. 14 to The King Center’s general counsel that her brothers have disregarded their obligations to the nonprofit center in favor of their own financial interests, and their actions risk tarnishing and reducing their father’s legacy.
In 2008, it was Bernice King suing her brothers over the estate, claiming that Dexter wouldn’t open the books and refused to include others in the decision making.
This is ugly and sad. Thoughts?
As you surely know by now, today marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s legendary “I Have A Dream” speech. One of the major criticisms from that historic event back in 1963, was the fact that the women were completely left off the program. Dorothy Height, the woman who headed the National Council of Negro Women, was supposed to speak that day but something happened. Thelma Daley, director of Women in the NAACP, told the Washington Post they were waiting for her to speak: “We didn’t know the full story. We didn’t know the dynamics. We didn’t know the inner workings. She was too much of a diplomat to tell us.”
Though women weren’t on the program, their presence was still felt. Gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson encouraged Dr. King to deliver the most famous line from his speech that day: “I Have A Dream.” He had delivered the “I Have A Dream” line before in Detroit and his advisers didn’t want him to use it again. But Mahalia Jackson, who sang at the ’63 march, yelled out during his speech, “Tell ‘em about the dream, Martin.” And that’s when he started the iconic line with “I still have a dream…”
Today, in the program itself we saw just how far we’ve advanced. We still have work to do but this year, women were surely involved in the program. Check out the short listen of women who spoke at the #LetFreedomRing event.
U.S. Rep. John Lewis is already in the history books for his part in the Civil Rights Movement. And now he’s in the comics. The longtime activist tells his story in comic book form.
The Georgia Democrat’s March: Book One, was released earlier this week and was published by Top Shelf, co-written by Lewis staffer Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Eisner Award-winning artist Nate Powell, reports The Huffington Post.
According to Lewis, the 128-page volume will be part of a trilogy. The first installment focuses on his early life – from raising chickens in Pike County, Alabama, to meeting Martin Luther King Jr. and holding lunch counter sit-ins and civil rights protests in Nashville, reports HuffPo.
“It’s all there,” Lewis said, from his “growing up” to his discovery of the 1957 comic book “Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story.” He even writes about his time as a freedom rider and civil rights leader in the 1960s, during which he was severely beaten while marching for voting rights.
“It was very inspiring … and when I attended the nonviolence workshops in Nashville at a local church, we all had an opportunity to get a copy of this book we called the ‘comic book,’” Lewis told HuffPo. “We were able to digest the essence of the book as we studied and participated in those nonviolence workshops.”
Lewis has made the books more than affordable. They cost just 10 cents!
Do you think kids will read and learn from the books?
Middle of Nowhere director Ava DuVernay is taking over Lee Daniel’s Martin Luther King Jr. biopic. Selma, in which David Oyelowo will play the lead role, will focus on King’s 1965 voting rights campaign. Daniels was originally working on this and the Butler, but ultimately chose to complete the latter due to funding issues.
DuVernay is said to be finalizing the script. There’s no indication when filming will begin.
Read more at Essence.com
Talk about Mandela family values…
According to published reports, Makaziwe and Zenani Mandela, half-sisters and daughters of famed anti-apartheid leader and former South African president Nelson Mandela, are suing three former associates of their grandfather, for ownership of two investment holdings linked to the 94-year-old revered leader. In a dispute, which appears to be playing out in the press as much as it is in the courts right now, Tukwini Mandela, daughter of Makaziwe and granddaughter of Mandela, wrote an open letter to the Associated Press, accusing George Bizos, longtime Mandela associate and the accused in the case, of slandering the Mandela family name with comments he made that the Mandela children were only interested in gaining control of the companies so that they can have control of the money.
Of course, all of this was happening as the former president was in the hospital for a recurring lung infection. And according to the Canadian Globe and Mail, the latest public dispute over money has added fuel to an already growing chorus of disenchanted South Africans, who feel like members of the family are putting their own personal capitalistic interests over the Mandela name. Outside of the investment holdings, which is said to make money from the hand-printed artwork of Mandela, Makaziwe and daughter Tukwini are heading up the House of Mandela wine business, which produces vintage Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from various vineyards chosen by the Mandelas. Tukwini’s brother, Kweku, is a filmmaker, who has made films around the Mandela’s life and legacy. And then there is the reality TV show and the fashion clothing line – the latter of which was at the center of another well-publicized dispute, which resulted in ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and their two daughters, Zindzi and Zenani, boycotting his 90th birthday over not being properly consulted about the clothing line. All the public bickering and money-chasing has inspired one South African newspaper cartoonist to feature the family members in a cartoon where they are playing “Squabble – the Mandela Family Game,” on Mandela’s dormant body.
I am less interested in whether or not the family is right in their case against Mandela’s former attorney, mainly because I don’t know enough to speak on it, and while the public feuding is a mess, it is certainly not exclusive. You can throw a $20 bill in the middle of a circle of my family members and see if a free-for-all doesn’t happen. So I don’t expect anything different from any other family, just because they have a legacy attached to their names. But I do want to discuss this underlying question about whether or not the Mandela family should be profiting off of his image. Without it being expressed as much, I think that this is what is at the center of what irks people most about stories like these involving notable figures. Just ask the descendents of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The King family currently operates his foundation, which also serves as the intellectual properties management of all things Dr. King-related, including providing licensing for the use of his speeches. Most recently, the King family drew scrutiny for its refusal to allow the organization which helped to get the memorial statue built in Washington D.C. to continue to use King’s name. This occurred after the organization, which was called the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation and is now called The Memorial Foundation, had already paid approximately $800,000 in licensing fees. In fact, the King family has a long history of profiting off of the slain civil rights leader’s name, including signing a multimedia publishing deal in 1997 with Time Warner reportedly worth $30 million to $50 million, and their selling of King paraphernalia in private auctions. Also, while the general public may have limited access to the “I Have a Dream,” corporations and media giants alike, those who can afford the King family’s licensing fee can reap the benefits of his legacy to sell things like cell phones.
Since King was a man of the people, folks assume that his image should forever be public domain. I mean, isn’t that what a man, who fought not just for racial equality, but against economic subjugation would have wanted? But it would behoove most to know that once upon a time – in December of 1963 to be exact – King sued Mister Maestro, Inc., a subsidiary of Twentieth Century Fox Records to stop the unauthorized sale of one of his recorded speeches, claiming copyright infringement. So at least it would appear that the patriarch of the family was well aware that his image had to be protected.
And I think that protection, including having a say over who and how an image is used, is probably one of the greatest reasons why family members should retain control. Also, so much of these people’s lives are up for public consumption. And while King or Mandela devoted themselves to the greater good, it probably didn’t lend much in the way of financial security for their family. And despite whatever worldly problems that exist, being able to provide and tend to one’s own household comes first. Therefore, while I may cringe at how the names are used, who am I to tell the family members how they should benefit from their own legacy? I mean, if the family doesn’t get to profit, than who?
Is Black Leadership Dead? The State Of Leadership In The Community And Figuring Out How To Revitalize It
Is black leadership dead?
I find myself intrigued by that question ever since the election of Barack Obama brought about a public debate within some in the black community on whether or whether not he should be considered a black leader. Apparently, Bob Johnson, black billionaire and founder of BET, is just as intrigued, because earlier this month he released the data from his national survey, which he co-commissioned with Zogby, on how African Americans felt about President Obama, the economy, and if their lives were better off having lived under the Obama Administration’s tenure. According to RJ Companies, the website where the data is published, the opinions of 1002 randomly selected black adults were included in this survey and they were polled by both phone and online survey. However, despite the massive promise, the results of the survey offered very little in providing real measurable insight.
Among the non-surprises, this poll revealed that 91 percent of black folks see President Obama as favorable and 72 percent believe that his election has helped them individually. And because of this virtual non-reveal, certain members of the black media didn’t waste any time unmasking the data, including Glen Ford of the Black Agenda Report, who in post called the survey “pretty sloppy work,” which he writes, “didn’t really tell us much useful.” Writes Ford: “What have we learned? That a billionaire, Black or white, can spend all the money he wants asking poorly constructed questions for no other purpose than to remind people that he is still rich.”
I don’t know if I agree with Ford’s conclusion, as I’m pretty sure there is some purpose Johnson is trying to achieve outside of statistically stuntin’ on a Negro. But his point about question construction is noted. And as Ford, I too raise an eyebrow at this particular question from the poll, which asked respondents to choose which of the following people speaks for them most often. The multiple choices include the following:
1. Rev. Al Sharpton
2. Rev. Jesse Jackson
3. Congresswoman Maxine Waters
4. NAACP Chief Ben Jealous
5. Congressman James Clyburn
6. Urban League President Marc Morial
7. Michael Steele, former chair of the Republican Party
You do have to wonder why these particular people were selected out of all the black folks who have ever stepped on a soapbox and did or said something worth being called a leader. First, there are a couple of people on this list I wouldn’t call black household names. Likewise, with the exception of some small nuances in beliefs and Michael Steele – the list’s sole republican – I wouldn’t exactly call this list diverse. Although a polarizing figure, a list of leaders, which excludes Louis Farrakhan is ignorant of his influential reach within the community. I mean, the Million Man March anyone? Bueller? I guess then it should come as no surprise that while Sharpton received 24 percent of the tally, making him the winner of the leaders listed, the vast minority of people – 40 percent – decided that none of the leaders listed best represented their interest.
Problems with the question structure aside, there does seem to be an obsession with declaring a black leader in the community. With the plethora of social, economic and political problems affecting the community, folks understandably yearn for the days of messiah-like figures such as Malcolm X and the and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who could lead our community to greatness. And yet today, as blacks progress further economically and politically and are now welcomed in spaces that they have traditionally been excluded from because of the color of their skin in the past, there seems to be a less identified black leader or message coming from within the community. Or as Kirsten West Savali writes for NewsOne:
“The big reveal of Johnson’s poll is not that there are no clear leaders, but that there are no clear Black agendas from which clear leaders can emerge. When the goal of assimilation becomes primary, the fights of the every-day Black (wo) man become secondary. And the plight of everyday Black people, communalism, was at the heart of of those movements of yesteryear which required leaders to organize the masses. The time of sharing a common goal has faded into the current zeitgeist of simply sharing a common skin tone — and overwhelming pride that someone with like skin tone has become the face of the United States.”
I believe there is a lot of truth to what West- Savali writes. I also think though, that throughout our history in America (and more likely before our ancestors got to the shores), there has never been a clear black agenda or person (s), who represented the ideas and interests of the collective black experience. I’m willing to bet that anytime throughout the history of black folks in this country, a similar question about black representation would produce the same varied responses as what we see in the Johnson/Zogby poll. I know it would have been true for the era of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois; it was true of the era of Malcolm X and the Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr; and it is true for today’s contemporary black leaders. And it is not necessarily centered on the question of should we or shouldn’t we assimilate, but the unresolved question about how to handle women and gay rights in addition to intra-racial class distinctions. Splits and disagreements within both the King-led Civil Rights Movement and the Malcolm-led separatist movement reflected the significance of these sub-contexts. These questions, as well as how black leaders at any given time choose to respond to them, added certain nuances that throughout history tend to make having a sole black agenda unlikely, in addition to increasing the chasm between us intra-racially even further.
Black leadership is not dead, just dormant. Truth of the matter is that there are lots of people of today, who by using traditional modes of organizing, could be considered leaders in a different time. In fact, many of the people listed in the question would qualify. However, times are changing socially. And a new style of leadership is needed to reflect what is a socially evolving community. The time is ripe for a leader to emerge, who can speak fluently and champion the cause of not just black empowerment but black empowerment through gender, sexual orientation and class equality too.
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.”
The morning following last month’s presidential inauguration, you may have scrolled through your Facebook feed only to find the above collage with a caption that read, “Based solely on historical contributions, should Jay and Bey be in this collage?” Call me a progressive-thinker, or maybe it’s because I spend a majority of my days with teens who have to explain to me what words like “trappin’” and “ratchet” mean, but I found myself wondering, “Why wouldn’t they be?” Meanwhile, co-workers and Facebookers truly surprised me with responses like, “They haven’t broken any racial barriers or anything,” and “Beyoncé and Barack don’t even belong in the same category.”
I beg to differ. And the question then becomes, what does it take to be considered “black history”? The significant contributions of those that today’s youth identify with may not be sit-ins for social change or marches breaking racial barriers, but does that make them any less a part of our culture? Yesterday’s Jackie Robinsons are today’s Jay-Zs in their eyes. When you think of black history, American entertainers and famous figures of today could be considered the black history of this generation’s tomorrow. If this is a collage about social change and politics, then maybe Bey and Jay should have a seat. But if we want to talk about African Americans who have made significant contributions to our culture, yes, they are in the same category as our POTUS and FLOTUS. They’ve built brands and businesses and broken records. Barack, Beyoncé and Booker T. Washington have more in common than you think: they’ve all made history and opened many a door.
Just hear me out. I definitely agree our generation is plagued by a frightening disconnect between sacrifices of yesterday’s leaders that are responsible for so many of the opportunities we often take for granted today. One of the reasons why I fell in love with President Obama’s message and mission is because I feel like he truly understands what so many of us fail to grasp: In order to make our youth understand and value the opportunities that have been presented to them, we have to meet them where they are at. How can we expect young people to truly appreciate their history and culture if we fail to acknowledge the idols who have made history during their lifetimes? President Obama got it right when he invited Jay-Z to do a voice over for his campaign ads. One of the reasons why his election was so greatly affected by the high number of young voters was because he understood that they would never hear his message for change if they felt he was someone who couldn’t understand their voice as well.
Let’s be honest, when black history month rolled around, for 28 days throughout our childhoods we saw the same names in rotation: Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Rosa Parks and George Washington Carver, aka, “The Peanut Guy.” And while I could appreciate the paths they had paved, a part of me couldn’t truly identify with their struggle. “You have to know where you came from to know where you’re going,” sounded profound and all, but it’s only as an adult that I’m starting to realize how heavily our present successes rest on the shoulders of our history. When I was in ninth grade, all I cared about was making sure my Timberland sign showed on my boots. I cared more about what I was wearing to school as opposed to the fact the ancestors lost their lives so that I could even attend. When trying to relate anything to our young people from black history to birth control, you have to speak in their language and become familiar with what is important to them before you can attempt to teach what SHOULD be important to them. Acknowledging the contributions to our culture that today’s leaders in entertainment, politics and sports bring to the table doesn’t diminish or throw shade on the foundation that was built from those who fought and died for the belief in something better. We have to do more than throw on the Roots anthology and repeat, “People have died for the rights you take for granted.” We have to find a way to make it relate to the things they are going through today.
Closing that gap requires us to challenge our stagnant way of thinking that says that black history is something that began and ended and acknowledge it as an ongoing process that only continues to grow greater. And as with any culture, that means accepting it in its totality and not just picking the parts we’re personally proud of. What we shouldn’t do is make black history some outdated, pretentious social club that those born before 1960 have the monopoly on and act as though black history isn’t accepting any new members.
Before talking about how Sidney Poitier was the first African American to win an Academy award, try mentioning the fact that Tyler Perry is the first African American ever to launch his own major TV and film studio. Can we show the same love that we showed Jackie Joyner Kersee and Wilma Rudolph, to Serena Williams and Gabby Douglas? Maybe, just maybe, our kids will talk about Alicia Keys like we once talked about Aretha Franklin. And before catching feelings over the bible Barack Obama is using, take a few minutes to consider the fact that we have lived to see our first black president. There’s surely enough pride to go around. The fact that our leaders of yesterday have leaders of today to help bear the burden of uplifting our culture is not a threat but a credit to all of their sacrifices. And although we may not want our kids breaking out at the black history recital with a rendition of “Single Ladies,” it’s as much a part of our culture as “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Like it or not.
How do you define black history?
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog Bullets and Blessings .