50th anniversary of march on washington

We’re too celebratory of civil rights these days. We have these 50th anniversaries and everyone is happy and everybody is celebrating. Nobody is talking about the hardship.

It’s almost as if the civil rights movement was this three-day event: On Day 1, Rosa Parks didn’t give up her seat on the bus. On Day 2, [the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.] led a march on Washington. And on the third day, we signed all of these laws. And if you think about that history in that way, you minimize the trauma, the damage, the divides that were created. You can’t segregate and humiliate people decade after decade without creating long-lasting injuries.

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Bryan Stevenson 

Hear his interview.

Gloria Richardson going in at 91!

August interview with Democracy Now ~

AMY GOODMAN: Where is the movement today? For example, were you invited to speak at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington?

GLORIA RICHARDSON: Oh, no! I just spoke to somebody the other day who had two invitations, but one they rescinded, and now he didn’t know what he was supposed to do. That was in Washington. No. I don’t think—I think Malcolm could make the same speech. I’m sure people would be horrified. I think the people that went are OK, and I’ve just seen something in the last day where there was a disconnect between the speeches and the energy and wishes of the crowd coming behind them. And I can’t—I just don’t understand, because they said that the police went and took away from a group of people the signs that said “the new Jim Crow.” That’s ridiculous in 2013. And then people like to strut around the street and say they have a black president. And he’s going to speak tomorrow. It’s going to be interesting to see what he says.

AMY GOODMAN: What is your assessment of President Obama?

GLORIA RICHARDSON: Oh, I think he’s a nice man, but nice men don’t make good presidents. I wasn’t particularly fond of John Kennedy. His brother, yes. He was hard-nosed. He knew what he had to do; he did it.

AMY GOODMAN: Robert Kennedy.

GLORIA RICHARDSON: Yes. But I don’t think—part of it’s probably not his fault. He did not—he did not go to grammar school and high school here. He went to upscale, royal private schools in Hawaii and Indonesia, and then came to Columbia. And I don’t think he’s really gone through the kinds of things that small, little small black boys have to go through growing up into that kind of position.

AMY GOODMAN: How do you think that determines his presidency today?

GLORIA RICHARDSON: Well, I don’t—I don’t think—like when he, on national TV, said, with his two children standing beside him, there was no need for affirmative action for them because they were smart. Affirmative action was never about people being smart. It was about people that were smart not being able to get into the system.

AMY GOODMAN: What about women? Fifty years ago, where were women in the movement when your mic was being snatched?

GLORIA RICHARDSON: Well, it looks like the same place now. Myrlie Evers spoke, and then I saw her in another panel.

AMY GOODMAN: Right, Myrlie Evers spoke at the 50th anniversary march.

GLORIA RICHARDSON: Yeah, and she spoke the other day. And then I saw her at a—in another setting, where she was explaining she was very bitter about the first thing. I’m not sure she was—because I think she has a foundation and stuff. I’m not sure she’s that pleased with this. But it was, I guess, a little better.

AMY GOODMAN: Her message, this 50th anniversary, was that people should—should embrace the term “stand your ground,” not the laws, but take it back and say, “stand your ground,” the idea that people should stand their ground.

GLORIA RICHARDSON: What?

AMY GOODMAN: Not the laws. Not the laws, the current set.

GLORIA RICHARDSON: I understand what you mean.

AMY GOODMAN: But she’s saying people should take a stand today.

GLORIA RICHARDSON: Oh, but she didn’t use “stand your ground.”

AMY GOODMAN: No, she was saying that it should be—right.

GLORIA RICHARDSON: Oh, oh, OK. Oh, no, but I don’t think people understand. I think they’re waiting for somebody, some preacher, to rise up in the middle and save them. I don’t think they understand that they can go out and make mistakes and do it themselves, that it has to be some special kind of person.

AMY GOODMAN: What is the message of the Cambridge movement that you came out of? I mean, you came out of eastern Maryland. Eastern Maryland is where Frederick Douglass was born.

GLORIA RICHARDSON: Oh, yes, about five minutes from me, and Harriet Tubman, where now the hip-hop people have now put on a pornographic movie about her. And this guy—I forgot his name, McBride or something, The New York Times is in there with this glowing two-page review of his book, talking about Frederick Douglass was a drunk, and John Brown was crazy, and isn’t that funny? So, I think now there’s some kind of concerted effort in the cultural environment to make fun of anything that historically would give people any kind of courage or nerve or desire to fight. I don’t think it’s
accidental.

AMY GOODMAN: The Cambridge movement was controversial even 50 years ago, maybe, you were saying, part of why they took the mic from you. What was the message of the Cambridge movement? What was it that you were doing in Maryland?

GLORIA RICHARDSON: We weren’t going to stop until we got it, and if violence occurred, then we would have to accept that.

AMY GOODMAN: Until you got what?

GLORIA RICHARDSON: Until we got our five demands, which we did.

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Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.

Today, a nation remembers and honors the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whose struggle for civil rights continues to inspire on his 85th birthday anniversary.

King’s landmark moment was perhaps the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which was celebrated just last year during its 50th anniversary.

As Vernon Watkins, a march attendee, recollected:

“He just leaned into the moment,” Watkins said. “Looked out at the crowd the way Baptist preachers do and gave them what they needed: that idea of the dream. You might have to wait, but if you fight for dignity, everything is going to be OK.”

King prodded him to imagine an America racially unified instead of divided. Still, it was the entire afternoon, taken together, that left the most lasting impression: the camaraderie, the thoughtfulness, the feeling that if a gathering like this could take place, it was time for Watkins to expand his horizons.

Photos: Gene Herrick, Charles Gorry / Associated Press, Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images

Julian Bond

Please join HRC in sending your support, positive thoughts, and kind words in memory of civil rights leader and long-time LGBT ally Julian Bond, who passed away this weekend at the age of 75.

In addition to his lifetime of work within and on behalf of the African American civil rights movement, Bond was a passionate and stalwart supporter of the equal rights of LGBT Americans.

In 2011, Bond highlighted his support of marriage equality through a video for HRC’s Americans for Marriage Equality and joined HRC in 2015 at the Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges. In 2013, he wrote “LGBT rights are human rights” in a blog post on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.

Throughout the first half of this year, Bond wrote multiple opinion pieces in support of LGBT equality, including those that highlighted the need for equal treatment in the South, against anti-LGBT religious refusal legislation in state legislatures, and in strong support of comprehensive, federal LGBT non-discrimination protections.

Bond also delivered impassioned speeches at HRC’s Gala Dinner in Los Angeles in 2009 and again at HRC’s National Dinner in 2013.

Human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson spoke to Fresh Air last fall about changing the conversation about race:

“Our newest project at the Equal Justice Initiative is really trying to change the conversation about race in this country. We’ve done a very poor job at really reflecting on our legacy of racial inequality. … You see it in the South, but it’s everywhere.

And we want to talk more about slavery and we want to talk more about this era between Reconstruction and World War II, which I call “An Era of Racial Terrorism” — of racial terror and violence that shaped attitudes. I want to talk more about the civil rights era, not through the lens of celebration. We’re too celebratory of civil rights these days. We have these 50th anniversaries and everyone is happy and everybody is celebrating. Nobody is talking about the hardship.

It’s almost as if the civil rights movement was this three-day event: On Day 1, Rosa Parks didn’t give up her seat on the bus. On Day 2, [the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.] led a march on Washington. And on the third day, we signed all of these laws. And if you think about that history in that way, you minimize the trauma, the damage, the divides that were created. You can’t segregate and humiliate people decade after decade without creating long-lasting injuries. …

Our newest project is really trying to introduce some concept of what transitional justice requires: some commitment to truth and reconciliation.”

Stevenson’s memoir is called Just Mercy

Photo: South Carolina governor calls for confederate flag’s removal. 

Happy Birthday, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968

Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking.], 08/28/1963

Rowland Scherman, photographer. From the Records of the U.S. Information Agency

See all our previous Martin Luther King, Jr. posts, and the recent series from the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Martin Luther King may not have had a vote in Congress, but he and the movement he helped lead were integral to getting the civil rights bill introduced. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of that bill, now known as the Civil Rights Act.

Among other things, the act outlawed discrimination in public accommodations — including restaurants, hotels and motels — ending the era of legal segregation in those places.

Our guest, Todd Purdum, is the author of the book, An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Two Presidents, Two Parties and the Battle for the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Photo:  Martin Luther King, Jr. waves to supporters on the Mall in Washington, D.C. during the “March on Washington,” on August 28, 1963. King said the march was “the greatest demonstration of freedom in the history of the United States.”(AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

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Today is International Archives Day! Across the globe, our colleagues are working to preserve your history.

Here are two of our favorite images that show the importance of archives for everyday citizens.

Veterans

The 12th Armored Association met at the National Archives at St. Louis  for their 67th annual reunion in 2013. Veterans of this famed World War II division came to the National Personnel Records Center for a tour of the facilities. Preservation staff met with the vets and their families to explain the work being done to treat records damaged in the 1973 fire.

Preservation staff also explained how they treat records salvaged from the USS Arizona. Mike Pierce, in the white coat, explained the unique damage that occurred to the personnel records on board the Arizona as a result of the attack.

Image and text via the preservearchives.tumblr.com/ To order a military record, go to: http://go.usa.gov/jdBJ

Civil Rights

For many years, Edith Lee-Payne had no idea that her photograph was in the National Archives–or that she was one of the most iconic faces of the March on Washington.

In August of 2013, she saw her own face on display for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. “I’ve been in history all these years,“ declared Edith Lee-Payne after seeing the photograph taken by Rowland Scherman.

You can learn more about her story in our blog (http://ow.ly/ogFwY) and in a video (ow.ly/odrhQ )

youtube

Sanders recorded this video for the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. It covers his work against segregation in Chicago and the south, and the fact that he participated in the March on Washington where the speech was delivered.

Video founded by bendoernberg