Tag Archives: John Lewis

Remembering The Terrorist Attack Of Bloody Sunday

007_1000They asked us not to forget the 911 attacks! I would ask them not to forget Tulsa, Oklahoma or the brutal terrorist acts on peaceful black people marching for the promised right to vote and the simple right to exist. One such attack was the Bloody Sunday rampage, and the atrocity at the hands of white bigots might be more appropriate. I’ll add that this act of terror and brutality was under orders of the government issued to the police. If it sounds familiar, we saw the same thing in Ferguson, MO. and Baltimore. So we have not moved very much in terms of racism, particularly when you read the DOJ report and see other racial events around the nation. White Supremacy is still evident, and racism is not dead.

What is lost in the Selma story is that, in large part, it all began as a result of the murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson. Another significant fact is that the bridge is named Edmund Pettus, an enthusiastic champion of the Confederate cause and slavery. Pettus was a delegate to the secession convention in Mississippi and a Grand Wizard of the KKK. Ironic that a staunchly racist and bigoted so-called patriots name is connected with being the spark to give unheard of civil rights to the people he hated.

This was in no way the most horrific crime by the wretched system of racism in America. There was Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma where planes were used to bomb a black community. There were also, by most accounts, nearly five-thousand lynching’s during the first half of the last century with many for the entertainment for the white community. There was also the horrific murder of children like Emmitt Till and the bombing that killed four innocent little girls in a Birmingham church. Appalling and despicable acts of terror perpetrated by America’s homegrown terrorist like the KKK and others the so-called law.

Back to the March, between 1961 and 1964, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) led voting registration campaigns in Selma, Alabama, a small town with a record of consistent resistance to black voting. When SNCC’s efforts were frustrated by stiff resistance from the county’s law enforcement officials and political leadership, meaning the Klan. Dr. Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) were persuaded by local activists to make Selma’s intransigence to black voting a national concern.

SCLC also hoped to use the momentum of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to win federal protection for a voting rights statute. During January and February 1965, King and SCLC led a series of demonstrations to the Dallas County Courthouse. On February 17, protester Jimmy Lee Jackson was fatally shot by an Alabama state trooper. In response, a protest march from Selma to Montgomery was scheduled for March 7. Six hundred marchers assembled in Selma on Sunday, March 7, led by John Lewis and other SNCC and SCLC activists crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River en route to Montgomery.

Just short of the bridge, they found their way blocked by Alabama State Troopers and local police who ordered them to turn around. When the protesters refused, the officers shot tear gas and waded into the crowd on foot and horseback beating the nonviolent protesters with billy-clubs and ultimately hospitalizing over fifty people. What was significant about this was that all of the television networks interrupted programming to televise this horrific terror attack that became known as “Bloody Sunday”. The images were of this day of terror were beamed around the world.

Martin Luther King called for civil rights supporters to come to Selma for a second march. When members of Congress pressured him to restrain the march until a court could rule on whether the protesters deserved federal protection. King found himself torn between their requests for patience and demands of the movement activists pouring into Selma. King, still conflicted, led the second protest on March 9, but turned it around at the same bridge. King’s actions exacerbated the tension between SCLC and the more militant SNCC, who were pushing for more radical tactics that would move from nonviolent protest to win reforms to active opposition to racist institutions.

On March 21, the successful final march began with federal protection, and on August 6, 1965, the federal Voting Rights Act was passed, completing the process that King had wanted. Bloody Sunday was about more than winning a federal act. It highlighted the political pressures King was negotiating at the time, between movement radicalism and federal calls for restraint, as well as the tensions between SCLC and SNCC. In that sense, it was a successful strategy!

In closing, let me bring you back to the present, 50 years later, with this point having seen racism rear its ugly head since the election of the first black president. We’ve seen brutal acts of aggression on black people though laws and its agents, the police. To include stripping the voting rights act and in Ferguson, which is the Selma of today. We see the same issues today as they marched for then. The Republicans are no different than the Citizens Council of Selma’s day.

I get a lot of disparaging racist comment concerning what I write and post about black history. To those people, and I use that loosely; you want me to believe and love the Constitution that says I am 3/5th human and not to forget the holocaust or 911. I say, I will never forget what your ancestors did to my ancestors or believe the whitewashed version of what was done, which continue today. Truth be told, the sins of your fathers are acts of terror that I will never forget! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

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 FERGUSON 2015


Remember: Jimmie Lee Jackson 

3Voltaire said history is a pack of lies played on the dead. This statement has never been more true when it comes to the many civil rights activists who bravely died for the cause of black people. This is the case when it comes to Jimmie Lee Jackson. He was a civil rights activist in Marion, Alabama, and a deacon at the Baptist church. On February 18, 1965, while participating in a peaceful voting rights march in his city, he was beaten by troopers and shot by Alabama State Trooper James Fowler. Jackson was unarmed and died eight days later in the hospital.

Here is a little-known fact, although this is rarely mentioned, but it was his death that was the inspiration for the Selma to Montgomery march in March 1965. This was a major event in the Civil Rights Movement that helped gain Congressional passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This march was made famous by the state government’s terrorist assault that came to be known as Bloody Sunday. History tells us that the march that lead to the police assault was about voting rights – it was not. It was about the police murder of Jimmie Lee Jackson.

The bill was waiting to be signed, and the shameful disgrace of the police tactics on Bloody Sunday mere sped up the signing as an act to lend a positive effect to the shameful act of terror by the police. It is true that the signing of the voting rights act did open the door to millions of black people being able to vote again in Alabama and across the South. In essence regaining participation as citizens in the political system for the first time since the turn of the 20th century, when they were disenfranchised by state constitutions and discriminatory practices.

Now, this shows the disgraceful actions of what they call justice, in 2007, some 42 years after Jackson’s murder, former Trooper Fowler was indicted in Jackson’s death, and in 2010 he pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He was sentenced to six months in prison.

Jackson was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, who had come with other Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) staff to Selma, Alabama, to help local activists in their voter registration campaign. Jimmie Lee Jackson was a deacon of the St. James Baptist Church in Marion, Alabama, ordained in the summer of 1964. Jackson had tried to register to vote for four years, without success under the discriminatory system maintained by Alabama officials. His desire to vote led to his death at the hands of an Alabama State Trooper.

Now, most think it was Dr. King and his group the organized the march, but that is not true. It was the organized by The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, one of the most important organizations of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, at the helm leading the march. Dr. King was called in to assist after the fact to lend his national stature to the SNCC efforts, which thanks to SCLC’s James Bevel to initiate and organize the dramatic Selma to Montgomery marches that that directly contributed to President Johnson calling for, and Congress passing, the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Here is the back story: On the night of February 18, 1965, about 500 people organized by the SCLC activists left Zion United Methodist Church in Marion and attempted a peaceful walk to the Perry County jail, about a half a block away; where young civil-rights worker James Orange was being held. The marchers planned to sing hymns and return to the church. Police later said that they believed the crowd was planning a jailbreak.

They were met at the post office by a line of Marion police officers, sheriff’s deputies and Alabama state troopers. During the standoff, streetlights were abruptly turned off, rather they were shot out by the police, and the police began to beat the protesters. Among those beaten were two United Press International photographers, whose cameras were smashed, and beaten, who was beaten so badly that they were hospitalized. The marchers turned and scattered back toward the church.

Jackson, his mother Viola Jackson, and his 82-year-old grandfather Cager Lee, ran into Mack’s Café behind the church, pursued by state troopers. Police clubbed Lee to the floor in the kitchen; when Viola attempted to pull the police off, she was also beaten. When Jackson tried to protect his mother, one trooper threw him against a cigarette machine. A second trooper shot Jackson twice in the abdomen. State Trooper Fowler later admitted to pulling the trigger, saying he thought Jackson was going for his gun. The wounded Jackson fled the café, suffering additional blows by the police, and collapsed in front of the bus station.

In the presence of FBI officials, Jackson told a lawyer that he was “clubbed down” by state troopers after he was shot and had run away from the café. Jackson died of his wounds at Good Samaritan Hospital in Selma eight days later, on February 26, 1965. Sister Michael Anne, an administrator at Good Samaritan, later said there were powder burns on Jackson’s abdomen, indicating that he was shot at very close range.

As the truth of this story shows, they have been murdering black folk forever and not just today in modern times, but for as long as people were black and the police have been a racist arm of the Klan. Just remember, the police came to be as slave catchers. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

 


Eye Witness To History

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John Lewis has been a committed fighter for civil rights and justice for nearly sixty-years. He fought and nearly died during the struggle for the right to Vote. However, there are many who wrongly think the Voting Rights Act, which he helped to pass is outdated. The attached video explains why they are wrong! Thank you, John Lewis for your sacrifice now and then. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

REMEMBERING SELMA

WATCH THIS VIDEO – THEN REACT!!!


Happy Birthday Dr. Martin Luther King

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On January 15, 1929, the world welcomed a male Negro child who would become the man known to the world as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. the most revered leader of our time. Dr. King’s most notable accomplishments were the Montgomery Bus Boycott, being the founder and first President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the famed March on Washington, and being the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

Dr. King’s main legacy was to secure progress in civil rights for the American Negro and poor people in the United States, and, for this reason, he has become a human rights icon recognized as a martyr. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, a National Holiday, and honored with a monument on the Washington Mall in DC.

He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. who was born “Michael King.” Few people know that Martin Luther King, Jr. was originally named “Michael King, Jr.” until the family traveled to Europe in 1934 and visited Germany. His father soon changed both of their names to Martin Luther in honor of the German Protestant leader Martin Luther. Here is a little-known fact about Dr. King: he sang with his church choir at the 1939 Atlanta premiere of the movie Gone with the Wind.

King married Coretta Scott, on June 18, 1953, on the lawn of her parents’ house in her hometown of Heiberger, Alabama; they had four children. At the age of twenty-five, he became Pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, where his trajectory to greatness was launched in 1954. He skipped both the ninth and the twelfth grade and entered Morehouse College at age fifteen without formally graduating from high school.

In 1948, he graduated from Morehouse with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and enrolled in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1951. King then began doctoral studies in systematic theology at Boston University and received his Doctor of Philosophy on June 5, 1955, with a dissertation on “A Comparison of the Conceptions of God in the Thinking of Paul Tillich and Henry Nelson Wieman.”

King was originally skeptical of many of Christianity’s claims. Most striking perhaps was his denial of the bodily resurrection of Jesus during Sunday school at the age of thirteen. From this point, he stated, “doubts began to spring forth unrelentingly.” However, throughout his career of service, he wrote and spoke frequently, drawing on his experience as a preacher, which he understood to be his purpose. For example, in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” written in 1963, is a passionate statement of his crusade for justice. It was confirmed when he became the youngest recipient to receive the coveted Nobel Peace Prize for leading non-violent resistance to racial prejudice in the United States.

We have been taught to believe that Mrs. Parks’ refusal to give up her seat that day was an anomaly. Many Blacks refused, at one time or another, to give up their seats in the white only section usually resulting in being run out of town. There was a committee silently waiting for an instance where they could take it through the legal system to put an end to this unholy system. For example, in March 1955 a fifteen-year-old school girl, Claudette Colvin refused to give up her bus seat to a white man in compliance with the Jim Crow Laws.  King was on the committee from the Birmingham African American community that looked into the case; the committee decided to wait for a better case to pursue.

On December 1, 1955, the case that they were waiting for appeared. Mrs. Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat. The Montgomery Bus Boycott planned by E. D. Nixon and led by King emerged. The boycott lasted for 385 days crippling the city economically. The situation became so tense that King’s house was bombed, and he was arrested during this campaign. The case ultimately ended with a United States District Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle that ended racial segregation on all Montgomery public buses and throughout the south.

In 1957, Dr. King, Ralph Abernathy, and other civil rights activists founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a group created to harness the moral authority and organizing power of black churches to conduct non-violent protests in the service of civil rights reform. King led the SCLC until his death. Over his career, Dr. King narrowly escaped death as his life was in constant danger, but he remained faithful to a non-violent philosophy modeled by Gandhi’s non-violent techniques. Dr. King believed that organized non-violent protest against the system of southern segregation known as Jim Crow would lead to extensive media coverage of the struggle for black equality and voting rights.

It is my opinion that this was the single most powerful tool in the arsenal of the civil rights movement. This explosive media coverage, both journalistic and television footage of the daily deprivation and indignities suffered by southern blacks, and of segregationist violence and harassment of civil rights marchers produced a wave of sympathetic public opinion. This was in large part what convinced the majority of Americans that the civil rights movement was the most important issue in American politics in the early 1960’s. King organized and led marches for the right to vote, desegregation, labor rights and other basic civil rights. Most of these rights were successfully enacted into law with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

History will most remember Dr. King for his famous “I have a dream speech” during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom that took place on August 28, 1963. Dr. King, representing SCLC, was among the leaders of the so-called “Big Six” civil rights organizations who were instrumental in the organization of this massive event.

The other leaders and organizations comprising the Big Six were Roy Williams from the NAACP, Whitney Young of the Urban League, A. Philip Randolph of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, John Lewis of SNCC, and James Farmer of the Congress of Racial Equality with King’s colleague Bayard Rustin the primary logistical and strategic organizer.

Dr. King’s legacy lives in the souls of all mankind, and his efforts did more for African American life in America than any other man in Negro history in spite of being the most hated man in the world at the time in which he lived. It is hard to fathom today what the world would be like if he never lived. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

 

In His Own Words


Affirm Section 5 Of The Voting Rights Act

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The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was enacted to ensure that African Americans had a right that has almost always been denied since they arrived here in chains. The opposing parties are asking the Court to end a requirement forcing Alabama and other southern states to get Department of Justice approval to change its voting procedures and electoral maps.

The Voting Rights Act already allows governments that have changed their ways to get out from under this humbling need to get permission through a “bailout provision.” Nearly 250 counties and local jurisdictions have done so; thousands more could be eligible based on the absence of recent discriminatory efforts in voting. My question and it should be of every African American is why Section 5 should be removed?

History tells us that after the Civil War when slavery ended, wink, there were very clever measures designed to deny African Americans the supposed most sacred right to vote. There were Amendments to the Constitution that should have been sufficient. However, those Anti-Americans who preached liberty and justice for all found ways to circumvent the law. They used such things as Poll Taxes, Literacy Tests, and when all else failed Terror.

Then there came an era called Reconstruction which resulted in what they called “Separate but Equal” which was nothing more than American Apartheid. Of course that worked out well for the racial extremist. It took one hundred years for America to pass a law that was meaningful to work to some degree, the Voting Rights Act, and now was to dismantle.

Let’s take a look at some very recent history, like last year and last month, to see why this provision should not be removed. In the last election, Republican went to many extremes to suppress minority votes through a myriad of state laws making it a mission to deny their right to vote.  The consequences of those desperate maneuvers, along with the accompanying vitriolic rhetoric, restrictive voter ID laws, encouraged Electoral College gimmickry and professed themselves unconcerned about long wait times at polling places tells us why this act is needed.

The viability of the bailout option could play an outsized role in the Supreme Court’s consideration of the voting rights law’s prior approval provision, although four years ago, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas said the prospect of bailing out had been “no more than a mirage.”

I can vividly remember “Bloody Sunday,” nearly 50 years ago, when 600 peaceful, nonviolent protesters attempting to march from Selma to Montgomery to dramatize the need for voting rights protection in Alabama. As they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, state troopers under orders from the Governor attacked with tear-gassed, clubbed, whipped, and trampled them with horses. Seventeen marchers were hospitalized that day.

In response, President Lyndon Johnson introduced the Voting Rights Act and later signed it into law. It is very clear that America has come a great distance since then, in large part thanks to the act, but efforts to undermine the voting power of minorities did not end after 1965. They still persist today. Just because a man of color is the president does not mean the battle is won.

John Lewis, a Democrat, represents Georgia’s 5th District in the U.S. Housel

Voting rights is still and danger. So let’s not tamper with one of the few laws that have been a beacon to this thing called Democracy. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


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