Tag: Civil Rights Movement

ACM: The Black & White of the Civil Rights Movement Then and Now: Is It About Justice or “Just Us?”

by Geminijen

Finally saw the movie Selma last week, right after the MLK Day march. Found it to be an exhilarating fictionalized rendition of one of the more important moments in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. It is, above all else, a reminder that this struggle is primarily of, by and for black folks. And yet, most of the press, even prior to the movie opening, was about how it was historically inaccurate and, more importantly to these critics,  misrepresented and denigrated (I chose my words carefully here) the role of Lyndon Baines Johnson who was president at the time of the struggle.

In Politico’s “What Selma Gets Wrong,” (12/22/14), LBJ Presidential Library director Mark Updegrove charged that the fictional film’s depiction of the epic voting-rights battle in the Alabama town portrayed the relationship between [Martin Luther] King and President Lyndon Baines Johnson as “contentious.” This served, Updegrove scolded, to “bastardize one of the most hallowed chapters in the civil rights movement by suggesting that the president himself stood in the way of progress.” Johnson adviser Joseph Califano struck next in the Washington Post (12/26/14)suggesting that in fact, Selma was LBJ’s idea.” Califano asks of the filmmakers: Did “they” [quotes are mine] feel no obligation to check the facts? You even had Post columnist Richard Cohen (1/5/15) lamenting that Selma is a lie that tarnishes Johnson’s legacy to exalt King’s.

get link Without getting too much into the details of the controversy and who gets to determine “facts”, the accusation here is that the black female director Ava Devernay (and by implication the black community)was willing to distort the history of the white role in the civil rights movement to promote black biases of black importance in the struggle. In other words, the black community doesn’t care about accuracy, about truth and “justice,” but only about “just us” (i.e.the black community promoting its own importance in history).

There is, in fact, evidence to support DeVernay’s representation of LBJ and I would submit that it is the white supremist myth of white people bringing justice to the poor downtrodden blacks that is the bias that DuVernay is challenging and has caused all the criticism of the film. That the “us” in “just us” is really white folks angered that it is the myth of white moral superiority that is being challenged and that DeVarnay’s film provides a healthy corrective.

It is important to note why the fight about Selma The Movie is so important now.  The deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner highlight the increase in police violence in low income nonwhite communities or perhaps it has just increased the exposure of police brutality due to the new technologies of cell phones and social media. Either way, it has increased racial tensions. At the same time, the Supreme Court’s recent ruling gutting the Voting Rights Act of 1965 combined with efforts to roll back voting rights with new voter suppression laws in many states, has also contributed to increased awareness of racial inequality. In volatile times, society and the dominant culture are especially interested in how they can control the “story” to maintain the status quo.

While there are many documentaries which present an excellent and accurate record of the civil rights struggle (notably in my mind, “Eyes on the Prize”) this is more about how popular cultural representations shape a society’s perspective. I would venture to say that most Americans’ deepest emotional beliefs about their identity and place in history and the world are formed at least in part, if not wholly, through the cultural representations around them rather than through academic research and factual reasoning. In this context it appears that most white Americans still believe that white people are innately superior to black people by virtue of our role in helping black people escape their oppression and poverty (the cause of which is conveniently vague –oh yeah, there was slavery, but I wasn’t alive then so its not my fault, besides we were the good guys in WW!! saving the Jews from the Nazis–which gets two weeks in most American high school curricula while slavery gets one day).

Of course these days popular and social media far outweigh what you learn in school as the social arbiters so I would like to take a moment here to put Selma in the context of the factual history vs. the other fictionalized media accounts of racial struggle and racial advancement in the last few years.

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Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship: A Review

I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.  John 15:15, NLT.

For white liberals of a certain generation, the Civil Rights Movement will always be front and center.  A struggle for racial equality made significant progress regarding relations between whites and blacks.  Though a success, though by no means was it a landslide victory.   Nonetheless, many apply a coat or two of heavy gloss, choosing to  remember the successes alone, while overlooking the multitude of eyesores that still tarnish our cultural landscape.  Every gathering and, indeed, every person must continually resist and overcome.  A  famous passage, also in the Gospel of John, proclaims that it is Truth that will set us free, not nostalgia.

         

Greensboro Again: A Little-Noted Lesson

This week marks 50 years since the Greensboro, NC, sit-ins, the historic protest which launched the Black Freedom Struggle in this country onto a new trajectory. We are seeing a lot of celebration of the courage of the four students who first sat down at the Woolworth’s lunch counter and of the chain reaction it set off.

I posted such a tribute here my own self two days back. In the course of refreshing my fading memory, via Google, to complete that piece, I found another facet of the Greensboro story. It’s one I had never come across, and one that will, I think, resonate with anyone who has spent much time in the activist trenches.

Many of us know the story of how four students on February 1 became dozens and, by February 4, hundreds, as students across North Carolina and the South girded to emulate them and launch the wave of struggles that finally killed Jim Crow.

The other side of the story has to do with the five months it took to crack the management at Woolworth’s and S.H. Kress and the rest of the Greensboro power structure.

The multiplication of protesters in that first week is now at the heart of the legend. But that level of activity was hard to sustain, especially as the students’ demands remained unmet and white hostility grew more intense.

Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil remained part of the organizing core from Day One. McCain recalls:

What people won’t talk (about), what people don’t like to remember is that the success of that movement in Greensboro is probably attributed to no more than eight or 10 people. I can say this: when the television cameras stopped rolling and we didn’t have eight or 10 reporters left, the folk left. I mean, there were just a very faithful few. McNeil and I can’t count the nights and evenings that we literally cried because we couldn’t get people to help us staff a picket line.

I don’t know about you, but I can recall lulls in more than one campaign for justice when fatigue, frustration, setbacks and doubt had me in tears. When it happens again, and it will, I hope I remember to draw on this part of the lesson of Greensboro, not the audacity and the courage of the students, but the dogged persistence of the core they built.

source Crossposted from Fire on the Mountain.

The ’60s, Our ’60s, Began Fifty Years Ago Yesterday

Nothing to do with rock & roll. Nothing to do with JFK.

It has to do with what happened in Greensboro, NC, the day before, February 1, 1960. Four young men–Ezell A. Blair Jr., David Richmond, Joseph McNeil and Franklin McCain–went to the lunch counter at the Woolworth’s department store near the school where they were underclassmen, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

The four sat down and awaited service. They ignored Woolworth’s policy of serving food only to African-Americans who remained standing or took it elsewhere. They defied North Carolina law and the Jim Crow culture which pervaded, indeed defined, the South of the United States. The four sat, unserved, from 4:30 in the afternoon until management closed the store, early, at 5:00.

You can find much written that dates the decade of upsurge, promise and change we call the Sixties from that day.

I’ll argue for the next day, February 2, 1960, 50 years ago yesterday.

That’s the day that really counts, because that morning David Richmond, Joseph McNeil, Ezell A. Blair Jr., and Franklin McCain went prednisone 20 mg source url back to the lunch counter at the Greensboro Woolworth’s and sat down again. So did 21 other young men and four young women from traditionally Black schools in the area.

The next day, February 3, 63 of the 65 seats at the Woolworth’s counter were occupied and on February 4 a sit-in began at S.H. Kress, another department store, and the protesters had been joined by three white students from Woman’s College. At the same time racist whites in increasing numbers gathered to heckle and harass the disciplined and determined protesters.

On February 7, Black students in Winston-Salem and Durham, NC held sit-ins at lunch counters. On February 8, Charlotte, NC. On February 9, Raleigh, NC.

It took five long months before the Greensboro establishment caved in and ended segregation in dining facilities. Once the original burst of enthusiasm and defiance passed, it was a long hard slog for the ones who started it and the small core that had formed in the struggle. McCain recalls:

McNeil and I can’t count the nights and evenings that we literally cried because we couldn’t get people to help us staff a picket line.

But even as they undertook the long painful battle to bring the victory home, their example had spread the tactic of sit-ins to hundreds of localities, including solidarity protests at chain stores in the North and West. Even more important, their action in sitting down at that counter, and returning the next day had spread the determination to smash Jim Crow and fight for justice to the hearts of millions.

And the Sixties, accutane side effects years after use http://whenwaterwaseverywhere.com/?x=buy-no-rx-viagra our Sixties, were underway.

see A version of this was posted here last year, and it is crossposted from Fire on the Mountain.

The Dead of Birmingham

Denise McNair.

Carole Robertson.

Addie Mae Collins.

Cynthia Wesley.

For many of us who came up in the ’60s, these names will always be instantly recognizable, impossible to read or to hear–no matter how long it has been–without a deep emotional pull, an admixture of sorrow and anger and, most of all, a profound sense of loss.

Forty-six years ago today, a bomb planted by Ku Klux Klan murderers took the lives of four young teenage girls as they prepared for the first ever Youth Day at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. I write this to acknowledge their deaths, sacrifices in the long and painful struggle for Black Freedom, burnt offerings in a conflagration that wound up helping to consume the system of Jim Crow segregation in the Black Belt South.

I write also to memorialize two other young African Americans who died in Birmingham that day. Their names do not have the same resonance, but they died at the hands of white supremacy in this country as surely as did the young women in the basement of Sixteenth Baptist, and their deaths are the kind of deaths that the system still deals out to young Black men in this country.

For all the hold that the Civil Rights Movement’s non-violent ideology had in Birmingham, which had been a battleground against segregation, the killings sparked intense fury in the Black community and the area around the church seethed in near-riot all afternoon. The cars of white gawkers coming past had a hard time of it. When sixteen-year-old Johnnie Robinson saw one marked up with slogans like “Negro, Go Back To Africa,” he chucked a rock at it.

Seeing cops, he fled. As Johnnie ran down an alley, Birmingham cop Jack Parker shot him. In the back. With a shotgun. Johnnie was DOA at University Hospital. An all-white grand jury failed to indict Parker for anything.

The final death was that of thirteen-year-old Virgil Ware, “Peanut” to his family. His father and uncles were coal miners, working at the Docena mine, and Virgil and two brothers shared a paper route. Riding home on the handlebars of his brother James’s bicycle, Virgil crossed paths with Larry Joe Sims and Michael Lee Farley, two sixteen-year-old white Eagle Scouts, who had just attended a rabid segregationist rally where an effigy of Attorney General Bobby Kennedy was burned.

Riding with Farley on his red motorbike decorated with a confederate flag picked up at the National States’ Rights Party headquarters and pieced up with Farley’s pearl-handled pistol, Sims fired at the bike twice.

Virgil fell off the bike and James cried, “Get up, Virge. You trimmin’ me.”

“I’m shot,” Virgil replied. He was, through the lung and the aorta. He died, the sixth victim of a racist murder in Birmingham that day.

The Birmingham press treated it as a tragedy–for the killers. “These two raw, grieved untutored boys who have had this unfortunate thing come into their lives at their age,” was how their high-priced lawyer put it. Both were charged with first degree murder. A Birmingham jury convicted Sims of second degree manslaughter and Farley pleaded to the same. Wallace Gibson, a white judge, the only kind on the bench in Alabama at the time, completed the travesty by suspending their sentences in favor of two years probation.

When we remember Addie, Carole, Denise and Cynthia, it behooves us to remember Johnnie and Virgil as well.

Because young African Americans are still being shot in the back by cops, like Oscar Grant in Oakland last year. Because cops still routinely get a slap on the wrist, if that, for outrageous shootings. Because the “criminal justice system” in the US still treats the killing of a young Black man as a lesser crime than other murders. Because today there are racists every bit as rabid, and as desperate, as those who attended the rally on the day of the church bombing, and they too are burning effigies, waving the Confederate flag and hiding behind talk of states’ rights.

http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=accutane-users Crossposted from Fire on the Mountain.

The Other Lesson of the Greensboro Sit-Ins

http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=viagra-generico-25-mg-pagamento-online-a-Napoli Crossposted from Fire on the Mountain.

This week marks 49 years since the Greensboro, NC, sit-ins, the historic protest which launched the Black Freedom Struggle in this country onto a new trajectory. Next year we will see a lot of celebration of the courage of the four students who first sat down at the Woolworth’s lunch counter and of the chain reaction it set off. Or at least I sure hope we will.

I wrote such a tribute myself, yesterday. (You can read it directly below the fold.) In the course of refreshing my fading memory, via Google, to complete the task, I found another facet of the Greensboro story. It’s one I had never come across, and one that will, I think, resonate with anyone who has spent much time in the activist trenches.

Many of us know the story of how four students on February 1 became dozens and by February 4, hundreds, as students across North Carolina and the South girded to emulate them and launch the wave of struggles that finally killed Jim Crow.

The other side of the story has to do with the five months it took to crack the management at Woolworth’s and S.H. Kress and the rest of the Greensboro power structure.

The multiplication of protesters in that first week is now at the heart of the legend. But that level of activity was hard to sustain, especially as the students’ demands remained unmet and white hostility grew more intense.

Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil remained part of the organizing core from Day One. McCain recalls:

What people won’t talk (about), what people don’t like to remember is that the success of that movement in Greensboro is probably attributed to no more than eight or 10 people. I can say this: when the television cameras stopped rolling and we didn’t have eight or 10 reporters left, the folk left. I mean, there were just a very faithful few. McNeil and I can’t count the nights and evenings that we literally cried because we couldn’t get people to help us staff a picket line.

I don’t know about you, but I can recall lulls in more than one campaign for justice  when fatigue, frustration, setbacks and doubt had me in tears. When it happens again, and it will, I hope I remember to draw on this part of the lesson of Greensboro, not the audacity and the courage of the students, but the dogged persistence of the core they built.