Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Selma to Montgomery
On the 50th Anniversary of the Bloody Sunday March
Photo Credit Associated Press
On 2 January 1965 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and SCLC joined the SNCC, the Dallas County Voters League, and other local African American activists in a voting rights campaign in Selma where, in spite of repeated registration attempts by local blacks, only two percent were on the voting rolls. (See a voter registration form designed to keep African Americans off the rolls) SCLC had chosen to focus its efforts in Selma because they anticipated that the notorious brutality of local law enforcement under Sheriff Jim Clark would attract national attention and pressure President Lyndon B. Johnson and Congress to enact new national voting rights legislation.
The campaign in Selma and nearby Marion, Alabama, progressed with mass arrests but little violence for the first month. That changed in February, however, when police attacks against nonviolent demonstrators increased. On the night of 18 February, Alabama state troopers joined local police breaking up an evening march in Marion. In the ensuing melee, a state trooper shot Jimmie Lee Jackson, a 26-year-old church deacon from Marion, as he attempted to protect his mother from the trooper’s nightstick. Jackson died eight days later in a Selma hospital.
In response to Jackson’s death, activists in Selma and Marion set out on 7 March, to march from Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery. While King was in Atlanta, his SCLC colleague Hosea Williams, and SNCC leader John Lewis led the march. The marchers made their way through Selma across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, where they faced a blockade of state troopers and local lawmen commanded by Clark and Major John Cloud who ordered the marchers to disperse. When they did not, Cloud ordered his men to advance. Cheered on by white onlookers, the troopers attacked the crowd with clubs and tear gas. Mounted police chased retreating marchers and continued to beat them.
Photo Credit Spider Martin
That evening King began a blitz of telegrams and public statements, ‘‘calling on religious leaders from all over the nation to join us on Tuesday in our peaceful, nonviolent march for freedom’’ (King, 7 March 1965). While King and Selma activists made plans to retry the march again two days later, Federal District Court Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr. notified the movement attorney Fred Gray that he intended to issue a restraining order prohibiting the march until at least 11 March, and President Johnson pressured King to call off the march until the federal court order could provide protection to the marchers.
Forced to consider whether to disobey the pending court order, after consulting late into the night and early morning with other civil rights leaders and John Doar, the deputy chief of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, King proceeded to the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the afternoon of 9 March. He led more than 2,000 marchers, including hundreds of clergy who had answered King’s call on short notice, to the site of Sunday’s attack, then stopped and asked them to kneel and pray. After prayers they rose and turned the march back to Selma, avoiding another confrontation with state troopers and skirting the issue of whether to obey Judge Johnson’s court order. Many marchers were critical of King’s unexpected decision not to push on to Montgomery, but the restraint gained support from President Johnson, who issued a public statement: ‘‘Americans everywhere join in deploring the brutality with which a number of Negro citizens of Alabama were treated when they sought to dramatize their deep and sincere interest in attaining the precious right to vote’’ (Hear the President Johnson’s Statement 2:10:14). Johnson promised to introduce a voting rights bill to Congress within a few days.
That evening, several local whites attacked James Reeb, a white Unitarian minister who had come from Massachusetts to join the protest. His death two days later contributed to the rising national concern over the situation in Alabama. Johnson personally telephoned his condolences to Reeb’s widow and met with Alabama Governor George Wallace, pressuring him to protect marchers and support universal suffrage.
On 15 March Johnson addressed the Congress, identifying himself with the demonstrators in Selma in a televised address: ‘‘Their cause must be our cause too. Because it is not just Negroes, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome’’ (Johnson, ‘‘Special Message’’). The following day Selma demonstrators submitted a detailed march plan to federal Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., who approved the demonstration and enjoined Governor Wallace and local law enforcement from harassing or threatening marchers. On 17 March President Johnson submitted voting rights legislation to Congress.
The federally sanctioned march left Selma on 21 March. Protected by hundreds of federalized Alabama National Guardsmen and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, the demonstrators covered between 7 to 17 miles per day. Camping at night in supporters’ yards, they were entertained by celebrities such as Harry Belafonte and Lena Horne. Limited by Judge Johnson’s order to 300 marchers over a stretch of two-lane highway, the number of demonstrators swelled on the last day to 25,000, accompanied by Assistant Attorneys General John Doar and Ramsey Clark, and former Assistant Attorney General Burke Marshall, among others.
On 6 August, in the presence of King and other civil rights leaders, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Recalling ‘‘the outrage of Selma,’’ Johnson called the right to vote ‘‘the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men’’ (Johnson, ‘‘Remarks’’). In his annual address to SCLC a few days later, King noted that ‘‘Montgomery led to the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and 1960; Birmingham inspired the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Selma produced the voting rights legislation of 1965’’ (King, 11 August 1965).
1965 Selma to Montgomery March Fast Facts
February 18, 1965 - During a march in Marion, state troopers attack the demonstrators. State trooper James Bonard Fowler shoots and kills Jimmie Lee Jackson. Fowler was charged with murder in 2007 and pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2010.
March 7, 1965 - About 600 people begin a march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama, led by John Lewis and Hosea Williams. Marchers demand an end to discrimination in voter registration. At the Edmund Pettus Bridge, state and local lawmen attack the marchers with billy clubs and tear gas, driving them back to Selma.
March 9, 1965 - Martin Luther King, Jr. leads another march to the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The march is largely symbolic; as arranged previously, the crowd turns back at a barricade of state troopers. Demonstrations are held in cities across the U.S. to show solidarity with the Selma marchers.
March 9, 1965 - President Lyndon Johnson speaks out against the violence in Selma and urges both sides to respect the law.
March 9, 1965 - Unitarian Universalist minister James Reeb, in Selma to join marchers, is attacked by a group of white men and beaten. He dies of his injuries two days later.
March 10, 1965 - The U.S. Justice Department files suit in Montgomery, Alabama asking for an order to prevent the state from punishing any person involved in a demonstration for civil rights.
March 17, 1965 - Federal District Court Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr. rules in favor of the marchers. “The law is clear that the right to petition one’s government for the redress of grievances may be exercised in large groups.”
March 18, 1965 - Governor Wallace goes before the state legislature to condemn Johnson’s ruling. He states that Alabama cannot provide the security measures needed, blames the federal government, and says he will call on the federal government for help.
March 19, 1965 - Governor Wallace sends a telegram to President Johnson asking for help, saying that the state does not have enough troops and cannot bear the financial burden of calling up the Alabama National Guard.
March 20, 1965 - President Johnson issues an executive order federalizing the Alabama National Guard and authorizes whatever federal forces the Defense Secretary deems necessary.
March 21, 1965 - About 3,200 people march out of Selma for Montgomery under the protection of federal troops. They walk about 12 miles a day and sleep in fields at night.
March 25, 1965 - The marchers reach the state capitol in Montgomery. The number of marchers grows to about 25,000.
Garrow, Protest at Selma, 1978.
Johnson, ‘‘Remarks in the Capitol Rotunda at the Signing of the Voting Rights Act,’’ 6 August 1966, in Public Papers of the Presidents: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965, bk.2, 1966.
Johnson, ‘‘Special Remarks to the Congress: The American Promise,’’ 15 March 1965, in Public Papers of the Presidents: Lyndon B. Johnson, bk. 1, 1966.
Johnson, ‘‘Statement by the President on the Situation in Selma, Alabama,’’ 9 March 1965, in Public Papers of the Presidents: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1965, bk. 1, 1966.
King, ‘‘Address at Conclusion of the Selma to Montgomery March,’’ in A Call to Conscience, Carson and Shepard, eds., 2001.
King, Annual report at SCLC convention, 11 August 1965, MLKJP-GAMK.
King, Statement on violence committed by state troopers in Selma, Alabama, 7 March 1965, MLKJP-GAMK.
King to Elder G. Hawkins, 8 March 1965, NCCP-PPPrHi.
Lewis, Walking with the Wind, 1998.
Roy Reed, ‘‘Alabama Police Use Gas and Clubs to Rout Negroes,’’ New York Times, 8 March 1965.
A Century of Black Life, History and Culture
Over the past century, African American life, history, and culture have become major forces in the United States and the world. In 1915, few could have imagined that African Americans in music, art, and literature would become appreciated by the global community. Fewer still could have predicted the prominence achieved by African Americans, as well as other people of African descent, in shaping world politics, war, and diplomacy. Indeed, it was nearly universally believed that Africans and people of African descent had played no role in the unfolding of history and were a threat to American civilization itself. A century later, few can deny the centrality of African Americans in the making of American history.
This transformation is the result of effort, not chance. Confident that their struggles mattered in human history, black scholars, artists, athletes, and leaders self-consciously used their talents to change how the world viewed African Americans. The New Negro of the post-World War I era made modernity their own and gave the world a cornucopia of cultural gifts, including jazz, poetry based on the black vernacular, and an appreciation of African art. African American athletes dominated individual and team sports, changing baseball, track-and-field, football, boxing, and basketball. In a wave of social movements, African American activism transformed race relations, challenged American foreign policy, and became the American conscience on human rights.
While the spotlight often shines on individuals, this movement is the product of organization, of institutions and of institution-builders who gave direction to effort. The National Urban League promoted the Harlem Renaissance. The preservation of the black past became the mission of Arturo Schomburg and Jesse Moorland, leading to the rise of the Schomburg Research Center in Black Culture and Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center. The vision of Margaret Boroughs and others led to the African American museum movement, leading to the creation of black museums throughout the nation, culminating with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Student activism of the 1960s resulted in the Black Studies Movement and the creation of black professional associations, including the National Council of Black Studies, and a host of doctoral programs at major American universities.
At the dawn of these strivings and at all points along the road, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) has played a vital role. When he founded the Association in 1915, Carter G. Woodson labored under the belief that historical truth would crush falsehoods and usher in a new era of equality, opportunity, and racial democracy, and it has been its charge for a century. In honor of this milestone, ASALH has selected “A Century of Black Life, History, and Culture” as the 2015 National Black History theme.
FEBRUARY IS AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH
Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.
ORIGINS OF BLACK HISTORY MONTH
The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. That September, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by black Americans and other peoples of African descent. Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures.
In the decades the followed, mayors of cities across the country began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing Negro History Week. By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the Civil Rights Movement and a growing awareness of black identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses. President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture will be a place where all Americans can learn about the richness and diversity of the African American experience, what it means to their lives and how it helped us shape this nation. A place that transcends the boundaries of race and culture that divide us, and becomes a lens into a story that unites us all.
Resources for Children, Youth and Educators
National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) is an HIV testing and treatment community mobilization initiative for Blacks in the United States and across the Diaspora.
There are four specific focal points: Get Educated, Get Tested, Get Involved, and Get Treated.
The focus of NBHAAD is to get Blacks educated about the basics of HIV and AIDS in their local communities.
Testing is at the core of this initiative and is critical for prevention of HIV in Black communities. It is hoped that Blacks will mark February 7 of every year as their annual or bi-annual day to get tested for HIV.
This is vital for those who are sexually active and those at high risk of contracting HIV.
Getting Blacks involved to host and participate in NBHAAD events is another key focus area. Whether it is organizing a testing and awareness event at a local college, speaking about the importance of HIV prevention and treatment at your local faith-based organizations, or supporting a local AIDS service provider, it is key that you get involved.
For those who have HIV, the connections to treatment and care services are paramount. Seeing a doctor and receiving care, and taking prescribed HIV medicines helps individuals stay healthy and reduces the risk of transmitting the virus to others. Without treatment, HIV leads to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) and can lead to early death.
MCC Celebrates Historic and Modern African American LGBTQ Persons During 2015 Black History Month
Photo Credit: Kwanzaa Guide
Photo Credit: dasugahoneyicedt
Dr. Maulana Karenga, professor and chairman of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach, created Kwanzaa in 1966. After the Watts riots in Los Angeles, Dr. Karenga searched for ways to bring African-Americans together as a community. He founded US, a cultural organization, and started to research African “first fruit” (harvest) celebrations. Karenga combined aspects of several different harvest celebrations, such as those of the Ashanti and those of the Zulu, to form the basis of Kwanzaa.
The name Kwanzaa is derived from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits” in Swahili. Each family celebrates Kwanzaa in its own way, but celebrations often include songs and dances, African drums, storytelling, poetry reading, and a large traditional meal. On each of the seven nights, the family gathers and a child lights one of the candles on the Kinara (candleholder), then one of the seven principles is discussed. The principles, called the Nguzo Saba (seven principles in Swahili) are values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing community among African-Americans. Kwanzaa also has seven basic symbols which represent values and concepts reflective of African culture. An African feast, called a Karamu, is held on December 31.
This year we will focus on proverbs new and old.
Proverbs are the distilled genius of cultures. They identify and dignify a culture, bringing life into wisdom and wisdom into life. The purpose of African proverbs, just like any others, is to give people a sense of what’s right and wrong and teach them how to behave in a society. Proverbs have many uses in African societies. They may express an eternal truth. They may be a warning against foolish acts or a guide to good conduct. They may also bring special meaning to certain situations and may even solve particular problems. All of them, share common ground because they are here to teach us the same values and to help us have judgment. Even though some proverbs might seem as though they have absolutely nothing in common, in the end, they are all trying to achieve the aforementioned purpose. Both the “individual psychology” and the “community” code of conduct talk about how individuals or groups should act toward each other are expressed in proverbs. African proverbs express the wisdom of the African people and are a key to understanding the ways of life in the past, present and future.
Note: Each of the seven principles, is accompanied by a proverb and its explanation. It is paired with a short documentary related to the principle and proverb. It is our hope that the film will spark conversation at your gathering.
Photo Credit: dasugahoneyicedt
Unity : Umoja (oo–MO–jah)
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
Proverb: There is strength in unity, but weakness in division.
Proverb Explanation: Unity is strength, division is weakness.
Massacre at Murambi
05:10 min | Documentary | Director: Sam Kauffmann | Producer: Sam Kauffmann
During the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, a newly built secondary school on a hill named Murambi was the site of one of the world’s most horrifying mass murders. This film informs us about the events that took place at Murambi and explores the link between Rwanda and Darfur, Sudan.
Photo Credit: dasugahoneyicedt
Self-determination: Kujichagulia (koo–gee–cha–goo–LEE–yah)
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
Proverb: If you borrow someone’s legs, you will go where they direct you.
Proverb Explanation: If one is too heavily indebted to someone, one will lose one’s independence.
What Does It Mean To Be An African American Woman Who Loves Hip Hop?
8:01 min | Documentary | Directed By Briana Noble & Free Spirit Media |
Exploring the hip-hop community through the lens of an African-American woman.
Photo Credit: dasugahoneyicedt
Collective Work and Responsibility: Ujima (oo–GEE–mah)
To build and maintain our community together and make our sibling’s problems our problems and to solve them together.
Proverb: A bundle cannot be fastened with one hand.
Proverb Explanation: No person is completely self-sufficient. We have need of each other.
I Am Sean Bell
10:36 min | Documentary | Director: Stacey Muhammad | Producer: Stacey Muhammad
When I chose to do the Sean Bell film, I was extremely disturbed by the verdict and wanted to hear from the children, particularly young black boys, about their thoughts, fears and concerns regarding violence against black men. Most of the topics that interest me are those that give a voice to those often unheard populations of people, who indeed have stories to tell and victories to celebrate.
Photo Credit: dasugahoneyicedt
Cooperative Economics: Ujamaa (oo–JAH–mah)
To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
Proverb: A bird builds with the feathers of others.
Proverb Explanation: No one can be totally self-sufficient.
A Loud Color
6:34 min | Documentary | Director: Brent Joseph | Producer: Brent Joseph
This film follows Louis Harding as he rebuilds the community center he opened just one month before Hurricane Katrina hit and destroyed his work. Despite the setback, 72-year-old Harding refuses to give up on his mission to combat poverty in New Orleans. He discusses the importance of history, heroes and self-esteem in the black community and explains why making his dream a reality is more important now than ever before.
Photo Credit: dasugahoneyicedt
Purpose: Nia (nee–YAH)
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
Proverb: The ruin of a nation begins in the homes of its people.
Proverb Explanation: The destruction of the community nation starts in the home. Therefore, develop strong and productive families.
A Girl Like Me by Kiri Davis
07:08 min | Youth Documentary | Director: Kiri Davis | Producer: Reel Works Teen Filmmaking
Color is more than skin deep for young African-American women struggling to define themselves. Kiri explores the way racial stereotypes influence the self-image of African American young women and children. Davis interviews teenage black women about their experience with racialized standards of beauty, and replicates the Kenneth Clark Doll Test, to show how black girls and boys to this day associate whiteness with beauty and virtue and blackness with ugliness and vice. Running Time 7:15 minutes
Photo Credit: dasugahoneyicedt
Creativity: Kuumba (koo–OOM–bah)
To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
Proverb: To stumble is not to fall, but to go forward faster.
Proverb Explanation: Mistakes are a part of the learning and creative process. If you learn from your mistakes, you will achieve at a faster pace.
06:00 min | Documentary | Director: Nick Parker, Jazmin Jones | Producer: Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC)
The Apollos is about the struggle of a high school senior class to pass a bill making Martin Luther King’s birthday a nationally recognized holiday. The idea behind The Apollos came from us wanting to increase youth involvement in social issues, so we decided to use a powerful example. By combining the different interviews into one powerful story we created a non-traditional hybrid interview style to show the union of new and old ideas working towards the same goal. Hopefully today’s youth will learn from The Apollos and flex that metaphoric bicep in today’s adult run society. We want youth around the world to know they too are world citizens and have a voice. USE IT!
Photo Credit: dasugahoneyicedt
Faith: Imani (ee–MAH–nee)
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
Proverb: Hope is the pillar of the world.
Proverb Explanation: Hope is a stronghold in a world of fluctuating circumstances.
07:44 min | Documentary | Producer: The Educational Video Center’s Youth Organizers Television (YO-TV) Program
Still Standing is an intimate portrayal of the challenges faced by Hurricane Katrina survivors six months after the storm. Ms. Gertrude, a determined New Orleans homeowner and grandmother, travels regularly from temporary housing in Houston, TX to what remains of her home. Caught in the midst of a real-estate frenzy without insurance money or federal assistance, Ms. Gertrude fights for the right to rebuild. Her story reveals familiar issues in urban American communities: the neglect of poor and minority neighborhoods, the inadequacy of public assistance to provide long-term solutions, and the struggles necessary to make positive change.
Photo Credit: Our Heritage Magazine
Photo Credit: Dickson University
The Symbols of Kwanzaa: http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/symbols.shtml
Greetings, Gifts, Decorations: http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/greetings_and.shtml
Photo Credit: ourthings
The Celebration: http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/celebrating.shtml
The Day of Meditation: http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/meditation.shtml
Kwanzaa crafts: http://www.activityvillage.co.uk/kwanzaa-crafts
A Kwanzaa / Black History Service – Rev. Vickey Gibbs
“How Long, Not Long” is the popular name given to the public speech delivered by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on the steps of the State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama, after the successful completion of the Selma to Montgomery March on March 25, 1965.
Reader One: My dear and abiding friends and to all of the distinguished Americans seated here on the rostrum, and to all of the freedom-loving people who have assembled here and those assembling all over our nation and all over the world. Fifty years ago, more than eighteen million of us started on a mighty walk. We have walked through desolate valleys and across the trying hills. We have walked on meandering highways and rested our bodies on rocky byways. Some of our faces are burned from the outpourings of the sweltering sun. Some have literally slept in the mud. We have been drenched by the rains. Our bodies are tired and our feet are somewhat sore.
All: How long? Not long!
Reader Two: But today as I stand before you and think back over that great march, I can say, as Sister Pollard said—a seventy-year-old Negro woman who lived in during the bus boycott — and one day, was asked while walking if she didn’t want to ride. And when she answered, “No,” the person said, “Well, aren’t you tired?” And with her ungrammatical profundity, she said, “My feets is tired, but my soul is rested.” (Yes, sir. All right) And in a real sense this afternoon, we can say that our feet are tired, (Yes, sir) but our souls are rested.
All: My feets is tired, but my soul cannot yet rest!
Reader Two: They told us we wouldn’t get there. And there were those who said that we would get there only over their dead bodies, and all the world today knows that we are not there yet as we still stand before the forces of power saying,
All: “We ain’t goin’ let nobody turn us around!”
Reader Three: Now it is not an accident that one of the great marches of American history terminate in Montgomery, Alabama. As in 1955, in that very city, a new philosophy was born of the Negro struggle. Montgomery was the first city in the South in which the entire Negro community united and squarely faced its age-old oppressors. Out of this struggle, more than bus [de]segregation was won; a new idea, more powerful than guns or clubs or official oppression was born. Negroes took it and carried it across the South in epic battles that electrified the nation and the world.
All: We shall overcome!
Reader Four: Yet, strangely, the initial climactic conflicts always were fought and won on Alabama soil. After Montgomery’s, heroic confrontations loomed up in Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, now Missouri, Florida, New York and elsewhere. But not until the colossus of segregation was challenged in Birmingham did the conscience of America begin to bleed. White America was profoundly aroused by Birmingham because it witnessed the whole community of Negroes facing terror and brutality with majestic scorn and heroic courage. Today that same conscience of America must bleed again as we face new waves of oppression. May the wells of that democratic spirit arise anew, such that the nation finally forces Congress to write legislation in the hope that it would eradicate the stain of injustice through wrought through official oppression by our militarized police forces, mandatory minimum are eradicated, stand your ground laws are repealed, the school to prison pipeline is dismantled and congressional gerrymandering is no more. Yes, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave Negroes some part of their rightful dignity, but without these injustices addressed.
All: It is dignity without strength.
Reader Five: Once more it is time for the community to mobilize and unsheathe from its scabbard, the weapon of nonviolence resistance, to confront the adversary. And again the brutality of a dying order shrieks across the land. As Selma, Alabama, became a shining moment in the conscience of a nation, may Staten Island, New York, Ferguson, Missouri, Cleveland, Ohio and Miami Gardens, Florida. If the worst in American life lurked in these dark streets, the best of American instincts must arose passionately from across the nation to overcome it. This is the moment in American history for all honorable and more inspiring clergy and laity of every race and faith pouring into than the pilgrimage of Selma to face danger (Yes) at the side of its embattled Negroes.
All: The confrontation of good and evil compressed in the tiny community of Selma generated the massive power to turn the whole nation to a new course. The confrontation of good and evil in Florida, Missouri, New York, Australia, Brazil, the United kingdom can again generate the power necessary to turn the whole world towards a new course.
Reader Six: On our part we must pay our profound respect to our allies, white Americans, who cherish their democratic traditions over the ugly customs and privileges of generations and come forth boldly to join hands with us. Racial segregation as a way of life did not come about as a natural result of hatred between the races immediately after the Civil War. There were no laws segregating the races then. And as the noted historian, C. Vann Woodward, in his book, The Strange Career of Jim Crow, clearly pointed out then and Michelle Alexander in her book, The New Jim Crow, the segregation of the races was really a political stratagem employed to keep the southern masses divided and southern labor the cheapest in the land. You see, it was a simple thing to keep the poor white masses working for near-starvation wages in the years that followed the Civil War. Why, if the poor white plantation or mill worker became dissatisfied with his low wages, the plantation or mill owner would merely threaten to fire him and hire former Negro slaves and pay him even less. Thus, the southern wage level was kept almost unbearably low. Yet toward the end of the Reconstruction era, something very significant happened. That is what was known as the Populist Movement.
All: Jim Crow still lives
Reader Seven: The leaders of this movement began awakening the poor white masses and the former Negro slaves to the fact that they were being fleeced by the emerging corporate interests. Not only that, but they began uniting the Negro and white masses into a voting bloc that threatened to drive the corporate interests from the command posts of political power in the South. To meet this threat, the southern aristocracy and capitalists began immediately to engineer the development of a segregated society.
All: Jim Crow still lives.
Reader Eight: I want you to follow me through here because this is very important to see the roots of racism. Through their control of mass media, they revised the doctrine of white supremacy. They saturated the thinking of the poor white masses with it, thus clouding their minds to the real issue involved in the Populist Movement. They then directed the placement on the books of the South laws that made it a crime for Negroes and whites to come together as equals at any level. And that did it. That crippled and eventually destroyed the Populist Movement of the nineteenth century.
All: Let us pledge to revive the Movement and end Jim Crow forever!
Reader Nine: If it may be said of the slavery era that the white man took the world and gave the Negro Jesus, then it may be said of the Reconstruction era that the southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow. He gave him Jim Crow. And when his wrinkled stomach cried out for the food that his empty pockets could not provide, he ate Jim Crow, a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was at least he was a white man, better than the black man. And he ate Jim Crow. And when his undernourished children cried out for the necessities that his low wages could not provide, he showed them the Jim Crow signs on the buses and in the stores, on the streets and in the public buildings. And his children, too, learned to feed upon Jim Crow, their last outpost of psychological oblivion.
All: How long O Lord, how long?
Reader Ten: Thus, the threat of the free exercise of the ballot by the Negro and the white masses alike resulted in the establishment of a segregated society. They segregated southern money from the poor whites; they segregated southern mores from the rich whites; they segregated southern churches from Christianity; they segregated southern minds from honest thinking; and they segregated the Negro from everything. That’s what happened when the Negro and white masses of the South threatened to unite and build a great society: a society of justice where none would pray upon the weakness of others; a society of plenty where greed and poverty would be done away; a society of brotherhood where every man would respect the dignity and worth of human personality.
All: We shall unite, we shall overcome!
Reader Ten: We’ve come a long way since that travesty of justice was perpetrated upon the American mind. James Weldon Johnson put it eloquently. He said:
Congregational Song: Lift Every Voice and Sing
Reader One: Today I want to tell the city of Selma, today I want to say to the state of Alabama, today I want to say to the people of America and the nations of the world, that we are not about to turn around. We are on the move now and no wave of racism can stop us. We are on the move now. The burning of our churches will not deter us. The bombing of our homes will not dissuade us. We are on the move now. The beating and killing of our clergymen and young people will not divert us. We are on the move now. The wanton release of their known murderers would not discourage us. We are on the move now. Like an idea whose time has come, not even the marching of mighty armies can halt us. We are moving to the land of freedom and justice.
All: We are moving, we are marching!
Reader Two: Let us therefore continue our triumphant march to the realization of the American dream. Let us march on segregated housing until every ghetto or social and economic depression dissolves, and we ALL live side by side in decent, safe, and sanitary housing. Let us march on segregated schools until every vestige of segregated and inferior education becomes a thing of the past, and we ALL study side-by-side in the socially-healing context of the classroom.
All: Let us march!
Reader Three: Let us march on poverty until no American parent has to skip a meal so that their children may eat. March on poverty until no starved man walks the streets of our cities and towns in search of jobs that do not exist. Let us march on poverty until wrinkled stomachs in Mississippi are filled, and the idle industries of Appalachia are realized and revitalized, and broken lives in sweltering ghettos are mended and remolded. Let us march on ballot boxes, march on ballot boxes until race-baiters disappear from the political arena. Let us march on ballot boxes until the salient misdeeds of gerrymandering will be transformed into the calculated good deeds of orderly citizens. Let us march on ballot boxes until the Wallaces’ of our nation tremble away in silence. Let us march on ballot boxes until we send to our city councils, state legislatures, and the United States Congress, people who will not fear to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.
All: Let us march!
Reader Four: Let us march on ballot boxes until community becomes more than a meaningless word in an opening prayer, but the order of the day on every legislative agenda. Let us march on ballot boxes until all over the world God’s children will be able to walk the earth in decency and honor. There is nothing wrong with marching in this sense. The Bible tells us that the mighty men of Joshua merely walked about the walled city of Jericho and the barriers to freedom came tumbling down. I like that old Negro spiritual, “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho.” In its simple, yet colorful, depiction of that great moment in biblical history, it tells us that:
Congregational Song: Joshua Fit The Battle Of Jericho
Reader Five: These words I have given you just as they were given us by the unknown, long-dead, dark-skinned originator. Some now long-gone black bard bequeathed to posterity these words in ungrammatical form, yet with emphatic pertinence for all of us today. The battle is in our hands. And we can answer with creative nonviolence the call to higher ground to which the new directions of our struggle summons us. The road ahead is not altogether a smooth one. There are no broad highways that lead us easily and inevitably to quick solutions. But we must keep going. Let us now add to this list the names of all those who have fought and, yes, died in the nonviolent army of our day and through stand your ground laws and police brutality: Medgar Evers, three civil rights workers in Mississippi last summer, William Moore, the Reverend James Reeb, Jimmy Lee Jackson, and four little girls in the church of God in Birmingham on Sunday morning, Travon Martin, Micahel Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice (Pause for names to be added and the names are scrolled on screen from the Stolen Lives Project) Yet in spite of this, we must go on and be sure that they did not die in vain. The pattern of their feet as they walked through Jim Crow barriers in the great stride toward freedom is the thunder of the marching at Jericho, and the world rocks beneath their tread.
All: We must keep marching!
Reader Six: My people, my people, listen. The battle is in our hands. The battle is in our hands in Mississippi and Alabama and all over the United States and around the world. I know there is a cry today When will we be allowed to return to normalcy?” I have a message that I would like to leave this evening. That is exactly what we don’t want, and we will not allow it to happen, for we know that it was normalcy in Marion that led to the brutal murder of Jimmy Lee Jackson. It was normalcy in Birmingham that led to the murder on Sunday morning of four beautiful, unoffending, innocent girls. It was normalcy on Highway 80 that led state troopers to use tear gas and horses and billy clubs against unarmed human beings who were simply marching for justice. It was normalcy by a cafe in Selma, Alabama, that led to the brutal beating of Reverend James Reeb. It was normalcy that allowed for the Stand Your Ground to be used to justify the deaths of Travon Martin and Sherdavia Jenkins and Daniel Amore. It was normalcy for the police to brutalize Keyarika Diggles and Anastasio Hernandez-Rojas. It was normalcy that led to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
All: The battle is in our hands..
Reader Seven: It is normalcy all over our country which leaves the people of color perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of vast ocean of material prosperity. It is normalcy for voter ID laws to prevent people of color from voting. No, we must not allow a return to normalcy. The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy that recognizes the dignity and worth of all of God’s children. The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy that allows judgment to run down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. The only normalcy that we will settle for is the normalcy of siblinghood, the normalcy of true peace, the normalcy of justice.
All: No, we must not allow a return to normalcy.
Reader Eight: And so as we go away this afternoon, let us go away more than ever before committed to this struggle and committed to nonviolence. I must admit to you that there are still some difficult days ahead. We are still in for a season of suffering in many of the black belt. I must admit to you that there are still jail cells waiting for us, and stark and difficult moments. But if we will go on with the faith that nonviolence and its power can transform bleak yesterdays into bright tomorrows, we will be able to change all of these conditions. And so I plead with you, as we move ahead: remain committed to nonviolence. Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate, but to win understanding and justice. We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. And that will be a day not of white or brown or black. That will be the day of humanity as humanity.
All: We are committed to the struggle!
Reader Nine: I know you are asking today, “How long will it take?” Somebody’s asking, “How long will prejudice blind the visions of men, confuse their understanding, and drive wisdom from her sacred throne?” Somebody’s asking, “When will wounded justice, lying prostrate on the streets and in communities all over the world, be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of humanity?” Somebody’s asking, “When will the radiant star of hope be plunged against the nocturnal bosom of this lonely night, plucked from weary souls with chains of fear and the manacles of death? How long will justice be crucified, and truth bear it?”
All: Yes, how long O Lord, how long?
Reader Ten: I come to say to you, however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long because “truth crushed to earth will rise again.” How long? Not long, because “no lie can live forever.” How long? Not long, because “you shall reap what you sow.” How long? Not long: truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne, yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown, standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above thine own.
How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.
How long? Not long, because:
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
God is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
God has loosed the fateful lightning of the terrible swift sword;
God’s truth is marching on.
You have sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
You are sifting out the hearts of all before Your judgment seat.
O, be swift, my soul, to answer ! Be jubilant my feet!
Our God is marching on.
Glory, hallelujah! Glory, hallelujah!
Glory, hallelujah! Glory, hallelujah!
God’s truth is marching on.
Congregational Song: Glory Glory Hallelujah!
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.1964
This is a draft of the article “A Look to 1964” written by Dr. King. Published on January 1, 1964 in the New York Amsterdam News. In the article, Dr. King addresses the strides the African American people have taken towards the struggle for equality.
18 Jan – King meets with President Lyndon Johnson
23 Jan – Ratification of 24th Amendment
The Twenty-fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.
Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The Twenty-fourth Amendment was proposed on August 27, 1962, and ratified on January 23, 1964. It prohibits the federal government or the states from making voters pay a poll tax before they can vote in a national election. A poll tax, also called a head tax, is a tax collected equally from all voters. The amendment was proposed as a Civil Rights measure because southern states had used the poll tax to keep African Americans from voting.
poll taxes were commonly imposed in the United States at the time the Constitution was adopted but had fallen into disuse by the mid-nineteenth century. After the ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870, the poll tax was revived in the South as a way to prevent African Americans, who were mostly poor, from voting. The poll tax also denied poor whites the right to vote. Typically, the unpaid fees would accumulate from election to election, making it more difficult for poor persons to find the economic resources to qualify for voting.
In Breedlove v. Suttles, 302 U.S. 277, 58 S. Ct. 205, 82 L. Ed. 252 (1937), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that poll taxes, by themselves, did not violate the Fourteenth or Fifteenth Amendments. Breedlove led to the introduction of the first poll tax constitutional amendment in 1939 and to efforts to abolish the poll tax through State Action. By 1960 only five southern states still had poll taxes.
The abolition of the poll tax was not a controversial issue, even at a time of fierce southern resistance to racial desegregation. The amendment was limited to federal elections, however, leaving state elections outside its scope. Following the ratification of the Twenty-fourth Amendment, the Supreme Court abandoned the Breedlove precedent. In Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections, 383 U.S. 663, 86 S. Ct. 1079, 16 L. Ed. 2d 169 (1966), the Court struck down poll taxes in state and local elections, ruling that such taxes violated the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.
Louis Allen, witness to the September 25, 1961 killing of Mississippi voting rights proponent Herbert Lee, is shot to death near McComb, Mississippi. Allen had been attempting to provide new evidence about Lee’s murderers.
The killing of Mr. Allen has never been solved.
3 Feb - NYC school boycott
In one of the largest demonstrations of the Civil Rights movement, hundreds of thousands of parents, students and civil rights advocates took part in a citywide boycott of the New York City public school system to demonstrate their support for the full integration of the city’s public schools and an end to de facto segregation. The idea for a boycott began in the early 1960s, when Milton Galamison, a Presbyterian minister and former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) Brooklyn branch, brought parents, teachers, and local civil rights activists together in a coalition called the Parents’ Workshop for Equality in New York City Schools. The organization’s sole objective was to render the racial imbalance of African American and Puerto Rican schools by persuading the New York City Board of Education to implement integration timetables. After years of unsuccessful lobbying, the Parents’ Workshop for Equality decided to take direct action against the school board and called upon Bayard Rustin to organize a one-day protest and boycott of the city’s public school system. With the boycott set for February 3, 1964, Rustin worked with local Civil Rights organizations to plan the boycott, as well as local ministers who established freedom schools for participating students to attend. Response from the African American and Puerto Rican communities was overwhelming as more than 450,000 students refused to attend their respective schools on the day of the boycott. In addition, thousands of demonstrators staged peaceful rallies at the Board of Education, City Hall and the Manhattan office of Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Despite enjoying broad support, the boycott failed to force the city’s school board to undertake immediate reform.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was joined by other legends of the American civil-rights movement in the march on Frankfort, Ky., on March 5, 1964.
The event helped solidify support for Kentucky’s 1966 enactment of a civil-rights law.
The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights and kindred civil-rights organizations have announced plans for a commemorative march in Frankfort on March 5 to mark the 50th anniversary of the first demonstration.
The commemorative march and an accompanying rally will be from 10 a.m. to around noon on that date. Assembly is planned at Second Street and Capital Avenue at 9:30 a.m. to line up to proceed to the State Capitol.
Participation is open to anyone “who is proud of Kentucky’s historic role in helping to end segregation by becoming the first state south of the Mason-Dixon Line to have a state Civil Rights Act,” said John Johnson, the state Human Rights Commission’s executive director.
The historic March 5, 1964, march on Frankfort drew more than 10,000 people who walked to the Capitol to urge passage of a law that would help end segregation by making discrimination illegal in the areas of public accommodations such as stores, restaurants, theatres, and hotels.
Civil rights leaders, citizens of all races, and celebrities participated. In addition to King, marchers included the Rev. Ralph Abernathy and baseball great Jackie Robinson, who broke the major league baseball color barrier. The folk group Peter, Paul and Mary led songs about freedom in front of the Capitol.
Johnson said the event next March is also intended to promote such contemporary justice-related issues as working to end poverty and restoring voter rights to former felons after their release.
The Kentucky General Assembly will be in session in March, Johnson noted.
Six months after the March on Washington, he discussed the obligations of “the Negro” in an integrated society, non-violence, and having eggs thrown at him in Harlem.
On March 18, 1964, Pulitzer Prize winning poet and novelist Robert Penn Warren sat down with Martin Luther King Jr. in King’s offices in Atlanta to interview him for what would become Warren’s 1965 book Who Speaks for the Negro? Warren, a Kentuckian who in the 1940s had been one of America’s first poet laureates (then called the consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress), was going around the country interviewing civil-rights leaders and grassroots organizers, such as King, Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin, and Ralph Ellison. The tapes remained in Warren’s archives, and were scattered between universities for decades until a young scholar in 2006 sparked a conversation that led, six years later, to a unified collection of the tapes and other research materials for the Warren book at one university, in a digitized format that made them easily accessible online for the first time.
24 Mar – Southern Christian Leadership Conference campaign in St. Augustine, Fla.
In the spring of 1964, as St. Augustine, Florida, prepared to celebrate its 400th anniversary, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) launched a massive campaign supporting the small local movement to end racial discrimination in the nation’s oldest city. King hoped that demonstrations there would lead to local desegregation and that media attention would garner national support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was then stalled in a congressional ﬁlibuster.
Organized demonstrations reached St. Augustine in the summer of 1963, when Robert B. Hayling, a local dentist and advisor to the Youth Council of the city’s branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), led pickets and sit-ins against segregated businesses. The Ku Klux Klan and other whites responded with violence against demonstrators, which escalated through the fall of 1963, when Hayling and three other NAACP members were severely beaten at a Klan rally, then arrested and convicted of assaulting their attackers. In December 1963, after a grand jury blamed the racial crisis on Hayling and other activists, the NAACP asked for Hayling’s resignation. St. Augustine activists then turned to SCLC for support. Read more…
26 Mar - King meets Malcolm X
After press conference at U.S. Senate, King briefly meets Malcolm X for the first and only time. King says of the encounter, “He (Malcolm X) is very articulate, but I totally disagree with many of his political and philosophical views–at least insofar as I understand where he now stands.”
On April 20, 1964, an estimated 60,000 black children stayed away from district schools in a boycott organized by a group of ministers and civil rights activists known as the United Freedom Movement. That represented about 85 percent of black students in a district that then had more than 150,000 students overall.
Between 35,000 and 45,000 boycotting students — roughly the size of the entire district today — attended special schools set up by the UFM that day in churches, homes and community centers. They received lessons on the achievements of black people in government and the arts and lessons on the importance of education, all taught by volunteer housewives, social workers and former teachers from other districts.
“A loud voice representing hundreds of thousands of Cleveland citizens today shouted, ‘Segregated schools in Cleveland must go,'” UFM coordinator Harold Williams told The Plain Dealer at the end of that day.
The UFM’s most immediate complaint may strike many as odd today: the district’s plan to build new schools in black neighborhoods. But the group viewed that as a way to keep schools segregated.
The district ran neighborhood schools, so segregated neighborhoods had segregated schools. In some cases, black students at overcrowded schools were bused to other neighborhoods. That drew complaints and led to voters approving a school construction program in 1962.
The UFM protested construction of the new schools since that would prevent busing and integration, according to Plain Dealer accounts.
Two weeks before the boycott, the Rev. Bruce Klunder, a Presbyterian minister, had been killed when he tried to block a bulldozer with his body at a school construction site in Glenville.
Because of these and other protests, the school board agreed to bus black students to promote integration, according to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. But the disputes over busing and integration led to federal court oversight of the district, which did not end until the 1990s.
By the spring of 1964, movements in New York City against racial discrimination had reached a fevered pitch. Minimal advancements from previous campaigns led activists to abandon non-violent direct action protests that had sought to fight racism from within the city’s liberal reform institutions. With its plan for a traffic stopping “stall-in” on the opening day of the 1964 World’s Fair, Brooklyn’s chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) initiated a new approach in its fight against racism: instead of working within the municipal system to negotiate change in power structures, it would force biased labor unions, the segregated education system, and an indifferent government administration to meet its demands immediately, or it would disrupt the entire city. Protests from the summer of 1963 illustrate the activists’ frustrations with token advancements.
“No movement characterized Florida’s political and social life in the 1960s as much as did civil rights for the state’s long-neglected and much-abused African-American population,” writes Michael Gannon in Florida: A Short History. Emboldened by various legal successes against segregation in the preceding years, such as the Tallahassee bus boycott of 1956 and the desegregation of Dade County schools in 1959 and 1960, the state’s African-American citizens became more aggressive in pursuing equality and integration in all aspects of life. This irresistible force for change collided with the immovable traditions of Jim Crow during 1963 in St. Augustine, as the city was preparing for its 400th anniversary of settlement. The “Ancient City” soon found itself in the national spotlight as outsiders from both camps, as well as members of the national media, descended on this quaint and peaceful town of 20,000.
In 1964, civil rights organizations including the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) and Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organized a voter registration drive, known as the Mississippi Summer Project, or Freedom Summer, aimed at dramatically increasing voter registration in Mississippi. The Freedom Summer, comprised of black Mississippi’s and more than 1,000 out-of-state, predominately white volunteers, faced constant abuse and harassment from Mississippi’s white population. The Ku Klux Klan, police and even state and local authorities carried out a systematic series of violent attacks; including arson, beatings, false arrest and the murder of at least three civil rights activists.
5 Jun – King’s book Why Can’t We Wait is published Dorothy Cotton authors the introduction to the text. Cotton, who worked closely with King, was the Education Director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and explains being present when King decided to proceed with a protest that would land him in prison. Cotton notes, “Martin’s decision to go to jail was a crucial turning point for the civil rights struggle.” Yet, as King himself explains, the decision to be incarcerated allowed him to demonstrate his belief in the importance of freedom and justice. Cotton explains how Freedom Songs bolstered the hope of her and other supporters, and concludes with the assertion that the messages from Why We Can’t Wait are relevant and as urgent today as they were in Birmingham in 1963.
Legendary civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spent a night in the jail on a trespassing charge after he and others were arrested after they attempted to eat in the Monson Restaurant on June 11, 1964. The arrest was reported in The St. Augustine Record and is included in the state legislative committee’s investigative report, “Racial & Civil Disorders in St. Augustine,” February 1965. King was one of many civil rights protestors and demonstrators who were arrested and held in the county jail in 1963 and 1964, according to a commemorative plaque placed outside the old jail.
….Hosea Williams hit on the perfect plan, one that would help us beat the heat and challenge segregation at the same time: We would integrate the motel swimming pools.
“But how will we do that?” I asked. ” As soon as we walk down the street with our bathing suits on, the
“It’s easy,” said Hosea. “I’ve already got it worked out. A couple of our white friends will register at the
On June 21, 1964, three civil rights workers—two white students from the north and one black local—disappeared shortly after being arrested in Philadelphia, Miss. The three had been killed by two local policemen and a group of Klansmen who objected to their campaign to register black voters.
28 Jun – Malcolm X speech at founding rally of the Organization of Afro-American Unity
30 Jun –
Dr. King spoke at a civil rights rally at the San Francisco Cow Palace for the Northern California Council of Churches.
2 Jul – King & Johnson
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the nation’s benchmark civil rights legislation, and it continues to resonate in America. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Passage of the Act ended the application of “Jim Crow” laws, which had been upheld by the Supreme Court in the 1896 case Plessy v. Ferguson, in which the Court held that racial segregation purported to be “separate but equal” was constitutional. The Civil Rights Act was eventually expanded by Congress to strengthen enforcement of these fundamental civil rights.
Dr. King explains “a sizable number of Negro voters” will register for the 1964 presidential election, recognizing the significance of political participation.
The bodies of three civil rights workers missing for six weeks have been found buried in a partially constructed dam near Philadelphia, Mississippi.
Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation found the three young men – two white and one black man – about six miles from the town in a wooded area near where they were last seen on the night of 21 June.
They were Michael Schwerner, aged 24, Andrew Goodman, 20, both from New York and James Chaney, 22, from Meridian, Mississippi. All were members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) dedicated to non-violent direct action against racial discrimination.
President Lyndon B Johnson wrote:
My fellow Americans:
On this occasion the American people and our American system are making history.
For so long as man has lived on this earth poverty has been his curse.
On every continent in every age men have sought escape from poverty’s oppression.
Today for the first time in all the history of the human race, a great nation is able to make and is willing to make a commitment to eradicate poverty among its people.
Whatever our situation in life, whatever our partisan affiliation, we can be grateful and proud that we are able to pledge ourselves this morning to this historic course. We can be especially proud of the nature of the commitments that we are making.
This is not in any sense a cynical proposal to exploit the poor with a promise of a handout or a dole.
We know–we learned long ago–that answer is no answer.
The measure before me this morning for signature offers the answer that its title implies–the answer of opportunity. For the purpose of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 is to offer opportunity, not an opiate.
Dr. King addresses the Democratic National Committee urging them to stand up against the inequities that prevent Negro participation in the political process in the state of Mississippi.
24-27 Aug – 1964 Democratic National Convention
After the Supreme Court struck down legal segregation in schools with the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, the fight for equal access in other arenas intensified. In Montgomery, Alabama, African Americans boycotted segregated buses; people filed suit to desegregate schools. Civil rights activists organized “Freedom Rides” to challenge Southern states’ authority to mandate segregation on interstate travel. As the experiences of Freedom Riders revealed the entrenchment of segregation, volunteers traveled to the South to help register African Americans to vote. In 1964, African Americans in Mississippi who had been denied the right to vote formed their own political party, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. Members traveled to New Jersey to attend the Democratic National Convention, and one of their delegates, Fannie Lou Hamer, spoke at the convention.
On May 17, 1954, the U. S. Supreme Court held in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), that segregated public schools was unconstitutional. Prior to the Court’s decision, African American students in Virginia and across the South were educated in a dual school system, one Black and one white, in abysmal school conditions. The curricula, textbooks, equipment, and school buildings were substandard. African American schools were without gymnasiums, restrooms, cafeterias, lockers, or auditoriums with fixed seating, and students were issued textbooks that were in utter disrepair and discarded by white schools.
In an act of defiance to the landmark Supreme Court decision, Virginia, followed by other Southern states, enacted numerous laws designed to deliberately nullify, obfuscate and delay the ruling and to minimize desegregation wherever it occurred. Virginia embarked upon a public policy of “Massive Resistance” to public school desegregation, which earned the Commonwealth the dubious distinction of depriving thousands of African Americans and white students of an education. In fact, all levels of government demonstrated intense resistance to compliance with the Brown decision and Virginia exhausted every possible means to avoid desegregation. The resistance lasted 10 years. Public schools were first closed in Warren County, and then in Charlottesville, Norfolk, and Prince Edward County. In Arlington, state public education funds were rescinded because the county’s public schools did not remain segregated. When public schools were eventually re-opened in some areas of the Commonwealth, African American students, and there were very few, attending white schools were harassed, threatened, isolated, humiliated, and treated with contempt.
In Prince Edward County, public schools remained closed for five years until the Supreme Court ordered the re-opening of the county’s public schools in 1964. The General Assembly responded to the 1964 U. S. Supreme Court decision in Griffin v. School Board of Prince Edward County by repealing the laws it had enacted to protect segregated schools and by dismantling the legislative architecture of Massive Resistance.
In September 1964, at the invitation of Willy Brandt (then West Berlin’s mayor, later West German chancellor) 35-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr. traveled to West Berlin to speak at a ceremony commemorating the assassinated US president John F. Kennedy who had visited West Germany in 1963.
During his brief visit to East Berlin in 1964, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a sermon here in the Protestant St. Marienkirche. PHOTO © Hyde Flippo
Early in the morning of September 13, the day after King’s arrival at Tempelhof Airport, East German border guards had shot and wounded 21-year-old Michael Meyer as he was trying to escape from East Berlin. He swam across the Spree River along the Berlin Wall but found he was still in East Berlin. After being struck by several bullets, Meyer was rescued by an American soldier who heroically managed somehow to pull him over the Wall to safety. When King learned of the incident, he hurried to the Kreuzberg district to witness the scene of the rescue himself.
PHOTO: Landesarchiv Berlin
The Wall was then only three years old. (In September 2010, a memorial plaque was placed at the site of the Berlin Wall shooting on Stallschreiber Straße to commemorate Dr. King’s visit there in 1964.)
The man who once headed the nation’s most violent Ku Klux Klan organization admitted he thwarted justice in the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers and said he didn’t mind going to prison because a fellow Klansman got away with murder.
“I was quite delighted to be convicted and have the main instigator of the entire affair walk out of the courtroom a free man,” Sam Bowers, former imperial wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, said in a secret taped interview he gave more than a decade ago to state archives officials. “Everybody – including the trial judge and the prosecutors and everybody else – knows that that happened. This hurts the imperial authority when they have to stoop to conquer, and I think that I did make them stoop to conquer.”
Bowers’ interview, contained on three tapes about an hour each, sheds new light on the Klan’s killings of civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney in 1964 near Philadelphia.
13 Nov – KING at Duke University
Dr. King addresses the issues of poverty, unemployment, education, health, and housing disparities within the nation. Granted, many strides have been made but there is still more work to be done. Equality has still not come full circle in regards to these social issues. Dr. King urges the people to continue the fight of social justice in all aspects of inequality.
King’s 1964 speech at Duke (Audio)
14 Nov – KING Wins Nobel Peace Prize
African American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent resistance to racial prejudice in America. At 35 years of age, the Georgia-born minister was the youngest person ever to receive the award.
Martin Luther King, Jr., was born in Atlanta in 1929, the son of a Baptist minister. He received a doctorate degree in theology and in 1955 organized the first major protest of the civil rights movement: the successful Montgomery Bus Boycott. Influenced by Mohandas Gandhi, he advocated nonviolent civil disobedience to racial segregation. The peaceful protests he led throughout the American South were often met with violence, but King and his followers persisted, and their nonviolent movement gained momentum.
Dr. King believes that there are lessons in understanding the process of history, that evil carries the seed of destruction and that militarism is ultimately suicidal. Dr. King states that “history teaches the lesson that all reality hinges on moral foundations.”
Martin Luther King Jr. receives the Nobel Peace Prize. Image credit: Bettmann/Corbis
http://ww4.hdnux.com/photos/01/76/10/516671/5/628×471.jpg Photo Credit STF
On December 17, 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King was honored by the people of New York for his unparalleled contributions to the civil rights movement in a City Hall ceremony presentation of the Medallion of Honor.
Just six days earlier, Dr. King had stood before an audience at the University of Oslo and become the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. King ultimately donated the prize money of over $54,000 to various civil rights organizations, including the Unity Council and Southern Christian Leadership Conference and established a non-violence education fund.
11 Dec – The Quest for Peace and Justice
It is impossible to begin this lecture without again expressing my deep appreciation to the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Parliament for bestowing upon me and the civil rights movement in the United States such a great honor. Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meaning can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart. Such is the moment I am presently experiencing. I experience this high and joyous moment not for myself alone but for those devotees of nonviolence who have moved so courageously against the ramparts of racial injustice and who in the process have acquired a new estimate of their own human worth. Many of them are young and cultured. Others are middle aged and middle class. The majority are poor and untutored. But they are all united in the quiet conviction that it is better to suffer in dignity than to accept segregation in humiliation. These are the real heroes of the freedom struggle: they are the noble people for whom I accept the Nobel Peace Prize.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
1964: 50 Years Ago
I Still Believe
A Litany based on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1964 Nobel Price for Peace Acceptance Speech.
One: I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history.
All: I believe that there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow.
One: I refuse to accept the idea that the “is-ness” of humanity’s present nature makes us morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal “ought-ness” that forever confronts us.
All: I believe that what the self-centered have torn down the other-centered can build up.
One: I refuse to accept the idea that we are mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround us.
All: I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.
One: I refuse to accept the view that humanity is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of isms that the bright daybreak of peace and equality can never become a reality.
All: I still believe that one day we will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over hate, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land.
One: I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.
All: I believe that wounded justice can reign supreme.
One: This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.
All: I still believe that We Shall overcome!
One: And with this faith, we can face the uncertainties of the future.
All: May it give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom, equality and justice , where the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every one shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.”.
The King Center http://www.thekingcenter.org/
Embracing Dr. King’s philosophy and strategy of nonviolence to eliminate poverty, racism and violence, The King Center is determined to have a positive impact on the continuing struggle to fulfill his great dream for America and the world. The King Center’s mission is designed to meet this challenge.
King Holiday Observance – 2014 will be held from
Friday, January 10, 2014 – Monday, January 20, 2014
To view PDF versions of the events pamphlet click here
January 20, 2014 will mark the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday. This milestone is a perfect opportunity for Americans to honor Dr. King’s legacy through service. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, bridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community.
MLK Drum Majors for Service are the helping hands who perform extraordinary everyday acts of service with reliability and commitment, but who seldom receive recognition. The MLK Drum Major for Service recognition is an opportunity to acknowledge that work and share stories of those leaders in your community. Learn more.
There are many ways to get involved on MLK Day. Below, you can use the All for Good search widget to find an opportunity near you. We’ve also included a photo gallery of images from previous MLK Day projects, an inspiring video, and links to our social media channels where you can engage with others before, during, and after MLK Day.
Everybody Can Serve A Call to Worship
One: Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness.
If you want to be important, wonderful.
If you want to be recognized, wonderful.
If you want to be great, wonderful.
But recognize that the One who is greatest among you, shall be your servant.
One: That’s a new definition of greatness.
The thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great.
One: Because everybody can serve.
One: You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.
All: All right.
One: You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.
You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve.
You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve.
You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve.
One:You only need a heart full of grace.
All: Yes, and Amen
One: A soul generated by love.
One: And you can be that servant.
All: Amen and amen.
(Litany from the Ordination Service of Vickey Gibbs as adapted from Dr. King’s The Drum Major Instinct)
A UCC Litany
The ultimate measure of humankind, according to Martin Luther King Jr., is not where we stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where we stand in times of challenge and controversy.
O God, we pray, give us courage to be counted among those who will work for justice.
In 1963, in his challenging letter to complacent white clergy in the South, Dr. King wrote, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people. In the end,” he said, “we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
O God, we pray, transform our stillness into action, our fear into courage.
Inspired by the nonviolent teachings of Jesus, Thoreau, and Gandhi, King taught that nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon because it “cuts without wounding and ennobles the one who wields it. Nonviolence is a sword that heals.”
O God, we pray, heal this nation through the work of our hands.
In 1964, in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, he said that “unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. Right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
O God, we pray, may we always trust in the strength of your goodness.
In 1967, King wrote that, in the wealthiest nation in the world, the solution to poverty is simply this: “We must abolish it!”
O God, we pray, rearrange the priorities of peoples and nations so that all will receive in equal measure.
And on the day before his death, Dr. King described his ministry succinctly: “I just want to do God’s will.”
O God, we pray, raise up prophets among us who will lead us in your ways.
Adapted by Rev. Vickey Gibbs, Office of Emerging Ministries
: a group of people who live outside the area
in which they had lived for a long time
or in which their ancestors lived
: the movement, migration, or scattering
of a people away from an established
or ancestral homeland
: people settled far from
their ancestral homelands
Smithsonian Folkways – Sing For Freedom: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement Through Its Songs – Various Artists and Related Lesson Plans: “South Africa, Free At Last:The Freedom Songs of South Africa and the Civil Rights Movement in America”
Between 1840 and 1860, before the American Civil War, enslaved Africans followed the North Star on the Underground Railroad to find freedom in Canada.
It was through the dynamic created by the resistance of Africans, both enslaved and free, and the position of others opposed to slavery based on ideas of equality, that the abolition of enslavement was finally achieved throughout the British controlled world, including Canada, on August 1, 1834.
Black History Month provides an opportunity to share and learn about the experiences, contributions and achievements of peoples of African ancestry. It was initiated in Canada by the Ontario Black History Society, which was founded in 1978.
The old folks tell me that, if I don’t know where I come from, it is impossible to chart where I am going. There is a lot of wisdom (and years of therapy) in that idiom. We are perpetually in a state of becoming as People of African Descent. Taken from the West Coast of Africa and shipped around the world as though we were farming implements, it is sometimes difficult to look back because of the scaring to the psyche that remembering the past reveals. Yet look back we must if we are to live into our God given potential.
The more I live, the more I understand another idiom — “we are the children of those who chose to survive.” My back, though scarred, is not bowed but strengthened. My mind, though wounded, is not diminished but honed.
Join me on the voyage through the African Diaspora (see resources below) and onward to the MCC Conference for People of African Descent 15-17 May 2014 ( padconference.mccchurch.org). Regardless of your ethnicity, let us together discover something new about how broadly the seeds of life from People of African Descent have been sown, about ourselves as the fruit of that wide planting, and the potential harvest to come from Be(ing) the Change the world so desperately needs.
I will Be the Change I can be in this world. Will you join me?
Rev. Vickey Gibbs, Office of Emerging Ministries
As an African American girl growing up in Newark, Ohio, Julieanna Richardson recalls that the sum of her education about contributions of black Americans had to do with “slavery and George Washington Carver.” Her experience motivated her to found The HistoryMakers, a non-profit research and educational organization committed to preserving and making widely accessible the untold personal stories of both well-known and unsung African Americans. Today The HistoryMakers houses the nation’s largest African American oral history collection of its kind. You can search the rich database and view biographies and oral histories of a variety of well-known and lesser-known people who have made rich contributions to our nation’s history.
The People of African Descent Diasporia – Black in Latin America
The African Heritage in Latin America
Primary and secondary sources related to the African presence in Latin American countries.
Fordham University | The Internet Modern History Sourcebook
Primary and secondary sources related to Colonial Latin America, 19th-century Latin America, and 20th-century Latin America.
Latin American Resources
A collection of online sources compiled by Dr. Antonio Rafael de la Cova.
New York University | Lesson Plan: Race and Government Policy in Revolutionary Cuba
A lesson plan created by by Karen Michels, of the Beacon School, as part of the CLACS (Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies) Teacher Residency Program.
University of Texas | LANIC: Latin American Network Information Center
A detailed list of Latin American resources, indexed by country and by topic.
University of Washington | History: Latin America
A research guide to primary and secondary sources for Latin American history.
Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. Black in Latin America. New York: NYU Press, 2011.
Andrews, George Reid. Afro-Latin America 1800-2000. Oxford University Press, 2004.
Barnet, Miguel. Afro-Cuban Religions. Markus Wiener Publishing Inc., 1995.
Bronfman, Alejandra. Measures of Equality: Social Science, Citizenship, and Race in Cuba, 1902-1940. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2004.
Brown, Karen McCarthy. Mama Lola: a Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn. Berkeley: University of California, 2001.
Candelario, Ginetta E. B. Black behind the Ears: Dominican Racial Identity from Museums to Beauty Shops. Durham: Duke University Press, 2007.
Davis, Darien J. (ed). Beyond Slavery: the Multilayered Legacy of Africans in Latin America and the Caribbean. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007.
Dubois, Laurent, and John D. Garrigus. Slave Revolution in the Caribbean, 1789-1804: a Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2006.
Ferrer, Ada. Insurgent Cuba: Race, Nation, and Revolution, 1868-1898. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1999.
Fuente, Alejandro De La. A Nation for All: Race, Inequality, and Politics in Twentieth-Century Cuba. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2001.
Gonzalez, Anita. Afro-Mexico: Dancing between Myth and Reality. Austin: University of Texas, 2010.
Guridy, Frank Andre. Forging Diaspora: Afro-Cubans and African Americans in a World of Empire and Jim Crow. The University of North Carolina Press, 2010.
Hanchard, Michael George. Racial Politics in Contemporary Brazil. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1999.
Hernández, Cuevas Marco Polo, and Jackson, Richard L. African Mexicans and the Discourse on Modern Nation. Dallas: University of America, 2004.
Klein, Herbert S. and Vinson, Ben. African Slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean. Oxford University Press. 1988.
Minority Rights Group (eds). No Longer Invisible: Afro-Latin Americans Today. London: Minority Rights Publications, 1995.
Moore, Robin. Nationalizing Blackness: Afrocubanismo and Artistic Revolution in Havana, 1920-1940. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh, 1997.
Moya, Pons Frank. The Dominican Republic: a National History. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2010.
Nicholls, David. From Dessalines to Duvalier: Race, Colour, and National Independence in Haiti. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1996.
Pérez-Sarduy, Pedro & Stubbs, Jean. Afro-Cuban Voices: On Race and Identity in Contemporary Cuba. University Press of Florida, 2000
Sawyer, Mark Q. Racial Politics in Post-revolutionary Cuba. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
Scott, Rebecca J. Slave Emancipation in Cuba. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 2000.
Simmons, Kimberly Eison. Reconstructing Racial Identity and the African past in the Dominican Republic. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida, 2009.
Telles, Edward Eric. Race in Another America: the Significance of Skin Color in Brazil. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2004.
Thomas, Hugh. The Conquest of Mexico. London: Pimlico, 1994.
Velázquez, Gutiérrez María Elisa. Mujeres De Origen Africa no En La Capital Novohispana, Siglos XVII Y XVIII. México, D.F.: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2006.
Vinson, Ben, and Matthew Restall. Black Mexico: Race and Society from Colonial to Modern Times. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico, 2009.
Wucker, Michele. Why the Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians, and the Struggle for Hispaniola. New York: Hill and Wang, 2000.
The Zuna Institute (a national advocacy organization for Black lesbians)
National Black Justice Coalition (a Black GLBT civil rights advocacy group)