Dead men tell no tales and grand jury proceedings are secret — except in the case of the St. Louis County grand jury.
Prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced the foregone decision Monday night about the fatal confrontation between Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson and the young man he shot to death, Michael Brown, supposedly in self defense. (I learned about the grand jury’s decision on Twitter before McCulloch even opened his mouth.)
The media already had access to the reams of evidence that the grand jury considered. After spending several months listening to 70 hours of testimony and viewing volumes of other information, the panel of nine white and three black members came to the only logical conclusion based on the facts without judicial guidance or a real prosecutor: they could find no reason to indict Officer Wilson of any crime in shooting the 18-year-old Brown.
The carefully-orchestrated release of the information, even McCulloch’s unusual night-time press conference, was the way criminal justice powers that be in St. Louis chose to tell the world, “There’s nothing to the claims of a racially-motivated, extrajudicial killing here, people, so let’s move along.”
But people are not getting over it. Nor is life moving along as usual. The smoldering embers of charred police cars and buildings in Ferguson, the thousands of people across the country who flooded the streets over the grand jury’s no-bill are the exasperated outpouring of rage and grief over the handling of the Wilson-Brown case and, by extension, every other case involving police officers who’re killing unarmed black and brown civilians, seemingly without any accountability.
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The last item on Dr. Martin Luther King’s agenda was economics. He spoke about it the day before he was assassinated.
As a young reporter many years ago, I asked Harry Belafonte after this MLK Unity Breakfast speech, what would have been the next phase of the Civil Rights Movement had Dr. King lived. He said the economic agenda.
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Last year after the Trayvon Martin verdict, I reposted the writing of Donald Watkins, a successful African American businessman by any measure and parent who loves his children. He found himself expressing age-old advice to his sons who were supposedly living in “post-racial America,” led by the nation’s first openly known African American president.
And now, virtually a year later, after the Jordan Davis trial, more black parents and their sons are expressing the same fears that haunted the steps of their forefathers. Like Donald Watkin’s piece, I felt compelled to share the blog post of another young black male who questions how to navigate in his own country. What follows are the thoughts of Miles Ezeilo:
I get scared every time I turn on the news now. My thoughts on the verdict of Jordan Davis, the 17-year-old young African American man who was shot to death by Michael Dunn are simple: as a black boy in this day and age, my trust and sense of safety is dwindling as I write this. Continue reading →
I am a sports ignoramus. It’s my blind spot, a subject for which I have little interest, a very scary attitude for someone in the media business to have. So when I came to Birmingham two decades ago, the Magic City Classic held, well, no magic for me. Eventually, that changed. Continue reading →
Fifty years ago today, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech, the last one delivered on August 28, 1963, the day more than a quarter million supporters of civil rights converged in the nation’s capital for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Alas, I did not get to D.C. for the 50th year commemorative events. Instead, I lived vicariously through the stories of friends who did. I enjoyed news accounts of those who returned 50 years later to marvel at far the country has come since the historic march, and how much further we have to go to realize the powerful words in Dr. King’s speech. Continue reading →
Martin Luther King, Jr. began writing his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” 50 years ago today. He wrote it as he sat in the city’s jail, arrested on Good Friday – April 12, 1963 – during one of the street protests and boycotts that his national Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth’s Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (an SCLC affiliate) organized to actively oppose racial segregation and its evils.
Locked in solitary confinement, the good reverend doctor had a lot of time on his hands. His aides brought him a newspaper, where he read an article by eight white clergymen of Christian and Jewish faiths. The Birmingham ministers criticized the Movement’s mayhem in the city, calling on King to stop the “untimely” protests.
The letter he wrote in response – scribbled around the edges of newspaper and on toilet tissue, then later transcribed by his aides into a formal document — is considered one of the most brilliant piece of protest literature. It powerfully and clearly demonstrates Dr. King’s intellectual discipline and moral authority on the issue of racial injustice. His famous “Letter” is read and studied around the world. Continue reading →
On this day in 1963, the Birmingham Campaign, “Project C,” officially began. What happened here over the course of six weeks literally changed the world.
Rev. Wyatt T. Walker, executive director of the Southern Leadership Conference under Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said the first day of direct non-violent action was aimed at the heart of Birmingham’s economy.
So the first groups of demonstrators headed for the segregated lunch counters at Woolworth’s, Loveman’s, Pizitz, Kress and Britt’s, all located on 19th Street North. Instead of serving their African American customers, the managers closed the counters for the day. Continue reading →
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 →