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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

63rd Anniversary Of The Montgomery Bus Boycott: Honoring The Unsung HE-roes and SHE-roes

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rosa parks

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.

WPC flyer
Women’s Political Council Flyer

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.

 

Sources:

https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/browder-v-gayle-352-us-903

https://timeline.com/this-unheralded-woman-actually-organized-the-montgomery-bus-boycott-db57a7aa50db

https://www.biography.com/people/jo-ann-robinson-21443551

 

“….Justice For All God’s Children”

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A powerful quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

NOW is the time to make justice a reality for ALL God’s Children.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Mountain Top”: MLK’s Last Speech Before His Assassination

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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 Kings 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 lack of evidence.

Check out the video link to view an excerpt from this historic speech:

Sources:

http://www.thekingcenter.org/assassination-conspiracy-trial

https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/martin-luther-king-jr-assassination

MLK Sanitized To Satisfy……

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Powerful quote from weeklysift.com! Dr. King’s legacy is being both sanitized and euthanized!

We celebrate his birthday and make anniversaries of noteworthy events in his life, but by their very veneration the Powers That Be have sanitized Dr. King’s memory, removing everything they find threatening.” -Weeklysift.com

Source:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/weeklysift.com/2013/09/02/mlk-sanitized-for-their-protection/amp/

MLK Quote

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MLK made this statement in Memphis, TN in 1968. Sanitation Workers there sought his assistance in gaining better working conditions and pay for its black workers.

1963 – MLK LETTER FROM BIRMINGHAM JAIL

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On April 16, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. penned his historic letter from a jail in Birmingham, AL. He initially wrote the letter in the margins of a newspaper, from his jail cell.  

King was intentionally arrested to help garner support for his work in the city.  The letter was written in response to criticism he received from white clergy in Birmingham who openly challenged his approach to fighting segregation through, protests, boycotts, and non violence.  The clergy criticizing King felt that he should operate within the confines of the law to accomplish his goals.  There were also those both black and white that felt King was stirring up trouble that could hinder progress.  King was also criticized for being an “outsider” who was stirring up trouble in the community.  

King eloquently articulated in the letter “why we can’t wait.” In honor of the historic letter, we are sharing two of our favorite quotes contained in the letter. These quotes still ring true today!!  To read the letter in its entirety click here.




Diane Nash – Unsung Hero Of The Civil Rights Movement

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diane-nash1

 

A native of Chicago, IL, Diane Nash (1938-) was one of the pioneering forces behind the Civil Rights movement. Nash and many other women  were champions of the movement.  She became active in the movement in 1959 as a new student at Fisk University in Nashville, TN.  While at Fisk she would encounter the harsh realities of segregation and prejudice that were previously unknown to her.  In 1959 she attended a workshop focused on non-violent protesting. She would quickly become a respected leader of Nashville’s “sit in” movement.  Her efforts were instrumental in organizing the first successful campaign to end segregation of lunch counters.  This effort engaged hundreds of black and white college students as volunteers.  She was also one of the founders of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  SNCC would play a major role in the civil rights movement by engaging young college students in civil rights activism.  These efforts were successful and in 1960, Nashville became first southern city to desegregate lunch counters.  Continue reading “Diane Nash – Unsung Hero Of The Civil Rights Movement”

48th Anniversary – Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Funeral Procession of Martin Luther King Jr
Mule drawn Carriage carries body of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during funeral procession in 1968.

 

Shortly before his death, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had traveled to Memphis, TN to support black sanitation workers in their quest for higher wages and better working conditions. King had become increasingly more vocal about the economic disenfranchisement and discrimination faced by blacks. The rally hoped to draw 6,000 people. On the original date of the march, Dr. King and his supporters withdrew from the march; feeling that the presence of the Black Panther might provoke violence. King later returned to Memphis to attend a second march that was planned. He hoped that this march would be a peaceful one.

Upon arriving, King checked into the Lorraine Motel. Despite security considerations, King chose to stay at the motel. During his earlier visit, he had been criticized for staying at the Holiday Inn because it was viewed as too “lavish”. On the evening of April 4th, King came out onto the balcony of his hotel room on the second floor. He began talking to friends on the ground below. At 6:05pm, a shot suddenly rang out, hitting King. He collapsed immediately. King had been shot by a sniper and was hit in the neck and head. He was pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Memphis. Continue reading “48th Anniversary – Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Moneta Sleet, Jr.: 1st African American To Win Pulitzer Prize For Journalism

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Moneta Sleet, Jr. (1926 – 1996) captured the images and experiences of the civil rights movement and the struggle for equality in the U.S. and Africa. Sleet is perhaps best known for his award winning photo taken at the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. of Coretta Scott King her daughter Bernice who was 5 years old at the time. He received the Pulitzer Prize in journalism for the photo.  He was the first African American to receive the Pulitzer Prize for journalism.  Sleet first began photographing the civil rights movement when he traveled to Montgomery, AL in 1955 to cover the Montgomery Bus Boycott lead by Martin Luther King, Jr. As fate would have it, Sleet would cover both the “birth” of the civil rights movement, as well as the funeral of its leader, and everything in-between. Sleet was also known for his coverage of various independence ceremonies and celebrations in Africa.
Continue reading “Moneta Sleet, Jr.: 1st African American To Win Pulitzer Prize For Journalism”

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