Welcome To The Black Mail Blog and Podcast! At Black Mail, we bring you, Black History: Special Delivery.
Our topic today is the 1962 Second Emancipation Proclamation.
In 1962 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders urged President Kennedy to issue a Second Emancipation Proclamation Order. The first Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863, to free the enslaved. This second proclamation was being prompted as a call to action for ending racial segregation.
King announced the idea in a New York City press conference in 1961. At the press conference, King reminded the crowd of President Lincoln’s statement that the United States could not exist being “half-slave and half-free.” Bringing the issue forward to the present-day, King asserted that the Kennedy administration should recognize that the nation cannot continue being half segregated. and half segregation free.
As we commemorate the 2021 MLK Holiday, The Black Mail Blog has been sharing some little known facts and quotes from Dr. King. We hope you have enjoyed these posts.
In his book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos To Community, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. addresses the “unequal” distribution of power between black and white people. Where Do We Go From Here challenges the nation at a time of both intense struggle and opportunity. King was very concerned that white liberals in particular were perhaps more interested in symbols rather than substance of the movement. He questioned whether or not they truly were invested in equal distribution of power. A powerful quote from the book, “There is nothing essentially wrong with power. The problem is that in America power is unequally distributed.”
It took 15 years of advocating before the King holiday was signed into law. The late Congressman John Conyers of Michigan first introduced a bill for a federal holiday in 1968 just 4 days after King’s assassination. Each year for 15 years, Conyers with the support of the Congressional Black Caucus continued to advocate for the holiday. Finally, in 1983, the King holiday was approved. It would take until the year 2000 for all 50 states to adopt the holiday.
Dr. King’s assassination was not the only tragedy to occur at the Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968. After witnessing his assassination Lorraine Bailey, (wife of the owner) had a stroke and later died. She was also the switchboard operator. This is partially why there was a delay in getting an ambulance to the hotel. The motel was African American owned and operated and hosted many black celebrities and influential figures.
Today our nation celebrates the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday! To honor the legacy of Dr. King, we bring you another quote from Dr. King’s book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos Or Community. Published in 1967, it was Dr. King’s 4th book and the last one he wrote before his assassination in 1968.
In Where Do We Go From Here, King looks forward as the civil rights movement transitions into a new phase. King was certain that this new phase would also bring on new challenges as African Americans would expect to see the rights they had fought to achieve continue to remain enforced by the U.S. government. King also believed that the fight for equality would continue with the African American community continuing its struggle for living wages, fair housing, and education.
Our second quote being shared from Where Do We Go From Here is: “In the days ahead we must not consider it unpatriotic to raise certain basic questions about our national character.” -Dr. Martin Luther, King, Jr.,
In honor of the 2021 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday commemoration Black Mail will be sharing a 3 part compilation of quotes from “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos To Community”. Published in 1967, Where Do We Go from Here was King’s evaluation of the state of race relations in the U.S. following ten years of the U.S. Civil Rights movement.
King wrote the final draft of the book while vacationing in Jamaica in January and February 1967. During this time King stayed in Ocho Rios, Jamaica where he rented a home with no telephone. This marked one of only a very few times when he was completely isolated from the day to day leadership of the civil rights movement. In this environment he was able to focus on completion of the book. 50+ years later, the book still holds some powerful parallels to our current political climate.
It is important for the liberal to see that the oppressed person who agitates for his rights is not the creator of tension….How strange it would be to condemn a physician who, through persistent work and the ingenuity of his medical skills, discovered cancer in a patient. Would anyone be so ignorant as to say he caused the cancer? Through the skills and discipline of direct action we reveal that there is a dangerous cancer of hatred and racism in our society. We did not cause the cancer; we merely exposed it. Only through this kind of exposure will the cancer be cured.”– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?
December 5, 2018 marks the 63rd anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. On May 21, 1954, just a few days after the groundbreaking Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision (declaring segregated schools unconstitutional) Jo Ann Robinson penned a letter to the mayor of Montgomery, AL on behalf of the Women’s Political Council (WPC). The WPC was a civic organization for black women. It was originally started because the local chapter of the League of Women Voters refused to accept black women as members. Robinson’s letter demanded better conditions and treatment for African American riders on city buses. She threatened a boycott if conditions did not improve.
On December 1, 1955, just a year and a half later, Rosa Parks, a then 42 year old seamstress and NAACP field secretary refused to give up her seat on a city bus in Montgomery. Her courageous effort was an act of planned and deliberate resistance. Of her efforts, activist, Eldridge Cleaver said, “somewhere in the universe a gear in the machinery shifted.” Parks was arrested and fined $10. Though Parks is historically recognized as the face of the boycott, there were many other unsung individuals who were critical to the success of the boycott.
Jo Ann Robinson and the Women’s Political Council had long been civil rights advocates; even before the Montgomery Bus Boycott galvanized leaders such as Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others. The role that women played in the Montgomery Bus Boycott deserves more recognition. Many women, at that time were employed as domestic workers and used the bus for transportation; more so than men in the community. This often made them targets of mistreatment. The WPC began taking action even before the “Montgomery Improvement Association” had selected Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr as its leader. On the night of Rosa Parks’ arrest they began distributing flyers calling for a boycott. Their efforts were an essential catalyst for the boycott. The majority of the 50,000 African Americans living in Montgomery refused to ride the buses during the 54 week long bus boycott. Instead they walked, bicycled and carpooled.
The revenue lost by the City of Montgomery due to the boycott was significant. While the boycott was under-way, the constitutionality of segregating public transportation was was being litigated in U.S. District Court (Browder vs. Gayle). On June 5, 1956, a panel of judges ruled 2 to 1 that segregation was unconstitutional citing the president set by the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was the President of the Montgomery Improvement Association at the time. It was the organization that was coordinating the efforts of the boycott. Dr. King refused to end the boycott until the ruling was fully implemented. This occurred on November November 13, 1956. The City of Montgomery appealed the decision. Their appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court.
Today we salute not only the heroic efforts of Rosa Parks, and also the unsung efforts of Jo Ann Robinson, The Women’s Political Council (WPC), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the thousands of men, women, and children participated in the boycott.
MLK QUOTE: “Be concerned about your brother……either we go up together or we go down together.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
MLK made this quote on, April 3, 1968, during what would be his last speech at Mason Temple Pentecostal Church in Memphis, TN. King was in town to support black sanitation workers who were seeking better pay and working conditions. In this famous “mountain top” speech, some felt King seemed to be keenly aware that his life might be cut short.
On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel. Originally, James Earl Ray was arrested and convicted of King’s murder. He later recanted his confession. However many felt Ray was not King’s killer and that there was a conspiracy between the US government and the mafia to murder King. An initial ruling found that conspiracy was proved. However, the ruling was later dismissed by the Department of Justice due to a lack of evidence.
Check out the video link to view an excerpt from this historic speech: