Civil Rights Movement

Recent Articles

Closer to the finish line on educational equity

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By Marian Wright Edelman

Contributing Commentator

With opportunity gaps widening for poor children and children of color, new guidance from the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education offers new hope and protection from discrimination. For the first time in 13 years, the Department now makes clear that states, school districts, and schools must make education resources equally available to all students without regard to race, color, or national origin. It prohibits schools and school districts from discriminating in their allocation of courses, academic programs and extracurricular activities, teachers and leaders, other school personnel, school facilities, and technology and instructional materials, and offers steps to level the playing field. This is some of the unfinished business of the Civil Rights Movement and a giant step forward for poor children, often children of color, currently taught at higher rates by inexperienced, unqualified, or out-of-field teachers and provided far fewer resources than their wealthier peers. Our responsibility now is to ensure that children left behind truly benefit from these protections. Continue Reading →

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Freedom Summer revisits Mississippi’s voting rights history

Award-winning filmmaker credits his career to those who risked their lives for change
 

By Charles Hallman
Staff Writer

An oft-overlooked but important part of the Civil Rights Movement is the focus of Freedom Summer, which premiers on American Experience Tuesday, June 24 and will be shown locally on TPT Channel 2 at 8 pm. Bob Moses, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) local secretary, came up with a plan in 1964 to bring over 700 student volunteers, mostly from the North, to the South for a 10-week stint during the summer to help locals fighting for voting rights for Blacks in Mississippi. That state’s Black registered voters were less than seven percent at that time compared to 50-70 percent in other southern states. Later known as “Freedom Summer,” the Mississippi Summer Project was also intended “to force the media and the country to take notice of the shocking violence and massive injustice taking place in Mississippi.” Sadly, the country did take notice as, after a week into the program’s start, three volunteers went missing and were later found brutally murdered. Moses, NAACP Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond and U.S. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton are among the 32 individuals filmmaker Stanley Nelson interviews in Freedom Summer. Continue Reading →

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NAACP, St. Paul teachers team up to address Brown’s unfinished business

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

The St. Paul NAACP branch and the St. Paul Federation of Teachers (SPFT) recently have joined forces to work on local education issues. “We started talking this [past] winter” with the NAACP on working on “big picture” issues around education, says SPFT President Mary Cathryn Ricker. Last month the SPFT and NAACP jointly held a series of recognition events to mark the 60th anniversary of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, including lesson plans written by William Mitchell College of Law students and taught to all St. Continue Reading →

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Living with White people for 238 years has jinxed us

By Willie Johnson

Guest Commentator

 

Black people, guess what — we are still as Black today as we were yesterday. Same story, different page — sleepy, dumb, tired and broke, just hoping for any kind of help. It’s the middle of the month and I’m broke with my head in my hands. Listening to the nightly news makes you think the whole world is crazy. I feel sorry for the foreigners, but Black America has its own problems. There hasn’t been a policy to help Blacks in America in over 30 years. Continue Reading →

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Blacks will suffer a ‘great hangover’ after Obama

Activist predicts a steep price to pay for the ‘catastrophe of mis-leadership’
 
By Mel Reeves 

Contributing Writer

 

Glen Ford, executive editor and chief of Black Agenda Report, will be speaking at Minneapolis North High School this Saturday as part of the first effort on the part of people of the Twin Cities to honor and educate people about the life and legacy of Malcolm X.

Ford is no stranger to the stage, having become in high demand in leftist and progressive circles. He was in Seattle last month supporting that city’s effort and the national movement for a $15 minimum wage, the $15 NOW movement. He will speak at a $15 NOW rally/meeting on Sunday in Minneapolis, and he will also speak Saturday evening at Minneapolis North High to Twin City educators about the attempt to privatize public education, on “the legacy of Brown vs. Board of Education 60 years later.”

Ford has been trying to reach people through radio and through his writing for years. “I used to use the slogan early in my career ‘merging the media, the masses and the movement.’” Ford was the Washington Bureau chief of one of the largest Black radio outlets in the country in the early ‘70s. Continue Reading →

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A Fierce Green Fire details the history of the environmental movement

By Charles Hallman
Staff Writer

 

A toxic waste landfill in Warren County, North Carolina, a predominantly Black community that “galvanized the nation to talk about environmental racism,” was among the toxic dump sites featured in a recent PBS documentary on the environmental movement, which started in the 1960s. “A Fierce Green Fire” premiered nationally on April 22 on PBS as part of the network’s American Masters series. The one-hour film was inspired by the book of the same name by environmental journalist Philip Shabecoff, who’s also featured in the documentary. “You could say this was the biggest movement the world has ever seen,” said Oscar-nominated director Mark Kitchell, who wrote, produced and directed the film, in a recent MSR phone interview. “I really wanted to be the first to put it all together” on film, he added. Continue Reading →

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Current NBA stars honor their Black Fives predecessors

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we approach the wind-down days of Black History Month 2014, it’s refreshing to see other Black contributors besides the usual few names often presented — such as overlooked Black athletes who labored in virtual obscurity during the Jim Crow era. Thanks to the nonprofit Black Fives Foundation in New York for “tell[ing] the story of the pre-1950 history of African Americans in basketball.” The “Black Fives” name comes from the all-Black basketball teams that played in Brooklyn, Harlem, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Pittsburgh, Newark and Los Angeles. These teams “ushered in the Harlem Renaissance period, smashed the color barrier in pro basketball and helped pave the way for the Civil Rights Movement,” wrote founder Claude Johnson on the foundation’s website (www.blackfives.org). Johnson and director Loren Mendell teamed up with Fox Sports Net, which broadcasts NBA games for 13 teams including the Minnesota Timberwolves, to create a series of 30-second TV vignettes honoring Black Fives era pioneers during Black History Month. They are aired during halftime of the telecasts. Continue Reading →

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Is time the key to healthy families?

We often hear about the importance of quality time in relationships. Time is important in development and success within anything we do. This is what the whole notion of practice is about. You must put in the effort, which requires time, to get the result you would like to see. This is important to understand for the development of a community, something that, if we are honest, has gotten away from our focus and agenda since the end of the Civil Rights Movement and (so-called) integration. Continue Reading →

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PBS commemorates television show that featured the best in gospel music

 

 

By Charles Hallman
Staff writer

 

Over the course of three decades, the late Sid Ordower brought the greats and some-to-be greats in gospel music each week on local Chicago television. The likes of Albertina Walker, Mahalia Jackson, Mavis Staples — along with her sisters and their father, James Cleveland, and Otis Clay routinely appeared on Jubilee Showcase, a half-hour long show that ran from 1963-1984. Beginning November 30 and throughout the month of December, PBS will air a 50th anniversary commemorative television special on Jubilee Showcase, said his son Steve Ordower in a recent MSR phone interview. “He was an owner-operator [of his shows], which was pretty rare back in those days,” he explains. “Unfortunately, the first 13 episodes were erased, and he was livid. Continue Reading →

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“Ask What You Can Do For Your Country”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Marian Wright Edelman

Contributing Writer

 

“It should be clear by now that a nation can be no stronger abroad than she is at home. Only an America which practices what it preaches about equal rights and social justice will be respected by those whose choice affects our future. Only an America which has fully educated its citizens is fully capable of tackling the complex problems and perceiving the hidden dangers of the world in which we live.” — From the speech President John F. Kennedy planned to deliver on November 22, 1963.  

I was a brand new law school graduate in my first months of work with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York City on that fateful November day 50 years ago. I had begun the day visiting a young Black male death row client in a rural Georgia prison accused of killing a White farmer and had returned to Atlanta where I was sitting in a courthouse library researching how many Blacks and Whites had been executed in Georgia’s history. Continue Reading →

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