Alabama Needs to Stay On Its Voting Rights Medication

Thank goodness that in 2013 we’re commemorating the Civil Rights milestones achieved through the sacrificial work of brave men and women who forfeited the pursuit of their own happiness to defend their constitutional rights and those of fellow citizens.

If it weren’t for the heightened awareness of history, those of us under 50 might not understand the inherent danger of Shelby County’s daring decision to challenge a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that requires Alabama officials to get federal pre-clearance on any voting rule changes. Continue reading →

The Meaning of Black History Month, For Now

A Facebook acquaintance asked on his page, “is (Black History Month) still necessary or has it reached the point where we no longer need to recognize the month of February as such?” Apparently, he overheard some discussion about the topic and queried his FB friends for their comments.

I got in the first few posts, basically saying “is this a rhetorical question? Until the average American can easily rattle off the names of Black scientists, sculptors, entrepreneurs, educators, philosophers, writers, inventors, architects – besides the actors, musicians and sports stars that most people tend to know – as easily as he or she can name people of other ethnic groups or peoples, yes, we still need it. Continue reading →

Milestones and Millstones: Stepping Toward the Future

The circle is complete, the Dream now realized.

Barack H. Obama entered his second term as President of the United States, taking an oath to uphold its Constitution with a hand on two Bibles. One had belonged to the Emancipator, President Abraham Lincoln. The other was owned by the Dreamer and Civil Rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By doing so, Obama signaled his personal commitment to their ultimate cause – freedom of oppressed people and equality under the law for all. He essentially said as much in his second inaugural speech. And he said it on the national holiday observance of Dr. King’s birthday and in a year loaded with special historical significance.

Now that the first openly Black President sits in the world’s most powerful office, things are now normal, and we can all forget the past and move ahead toward a brave new world.


If only it were that easy. Continue reading →

The Emancipation Proclamation and the Birmingham Movement: The 150-Year Birth of a Notion

I went to see the Stephen Spielberg movie, Lincoln, on New Year’s Day, the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Turned out the movie was more about President Abraham Lincoln’s resolve and political savvy in leveraging the bloody Civil War into a masterful move to weaken the South morally and economically so as to end both the war and African American slavery. The politics and change it started 150 years ago trickled down to today. And for that, I’m grateful. Continue reading →

2012 Election Season Reveals Racial “Insanity”

Before I left my house to walk to my polling spot this November Election Day, I put on this button that says, “Birmingham 1963 Foot Soldiers Reunion: Inspired by What We Did for Ourselves – And the World.”

I rode a bus to President Barack Obama’s Inauguration in 2009 with some of those ordinary but heroic men and women called Foot Soldiers, who as children had taken part in the 1963 demonstrations during the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement.

The button reminds me that they, and thousands of others I don’t know, paid a heavy price just so that they and I — we — had basic civil rights, including the right to vote. After 50 years, it sounds bizarre that people who looked like me were denied the voting right and other rights due to any U.S. citizen, particularly in the larger Southern society, just because of skin pigmentation. Continue reading →

Journalism’s Future? It Will Be Fine and So Will We

I thoroughly enjoyed the energy and conversation during a packed-house community discussion about the future of journalism, a forum sponsored by NPR station WBHM-90.3. I was honored to be one of the four panelists asked to speak last night about the future of journalism, given the recent upheavals in this digital age. Thanks for all the tweets and retweets of my comments and those of my fellow panelists Andre Natta, Kyle Whitmire and Bob Sims.

But, in case I didn’t say it clearly enough last night, I want to do so today: journalism – the storytelling and recording of events in our community and our world – will, happily, survive the current chaos. Continue reading →

Gentle Giant Paved the Way for Today’s Freedoms

The more I learn about the Civil Rights Movement here in Birmingham, the more I stand in awe. It took sheer nerve and raw power for those who put themselves in harm’s way to relentlessly pursue the true spirit of the American ideals, even when those ideals did not apply to them.

They truly believed in the Declaration of Independence’s towering words, “We,” meaning the founders of what would become the United States of America, “hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Continue reading →