Walking While Black: A Parent’s Survival Rules in Trayvon Martin’s America

Since George Zimmerman’s acquittal on all charges stemming from his fatal confrontation with unarmed Black teenager Trayvon Martin last year, Black American parents are holding their sons particularly tight. Continue reading →

Black Leaders Are Who The People Make Them

The Nation of Islam’s Minister Louis Farrakhan sure can pull a crowd. And controversy.

His appearances in Birmingham and other Alabama cities last week with the National Coalition of Leaders to Save Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act drew at least 200 people to Kelly Ingram Park. Of course, this hallowed ground was the site of the famous dogs-and-hoses confrontation between nonviolent protesting children and Police Commissioner Eugene “Bull” Connor.

Social media was aflutter with arguments about whether it was appropriate for Farrakhan to be associated with Birmingham’s powerful civil rights heritage, which is centered on Christian principles of love and nonviolence. Continue reading →

What Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.s’ 50 Year Old Jail “Letter” Says Today

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 →

The Birmingham Campaign Began 50 Years Ago Today

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 →

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 →