Tag Archives: Dr. Martin Luther King

Links Roundup 1.24.13

As part of today’s festivities, a site called InternetFreedomDay.net was launched. One of the several organizations behind the effort, Fight for the Future, tried to make a point about copyright law by posting a video that included footage of Martin Luther King Jr. delivering his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. Why? Because, as Fight for the Future’s video explained, King’s speech is still under copyright—and therefore sharing it is an act of civil disobedience that honors both Internet Freedom Day and Martin Luther King Day this Monday. Fight for the Future’s video also explained that SOPA would have made streaming the film a criminal offense—a crime like kidnapping, bank fraud, anddownloading too many JSTOR articles in violation of terms of service.

Yet just after 1 p.m. on Friday, the video had been removed from the video sharing site Vimeo, presumably at the request of EMI, which, with the King estate, holds the rights to the speech. You may not realize it, but, as Vice’s Motherboard explained, “You’d be hard pressed to find a good complete video version on the web, and it’s not even to be found in the new digital archive of the King Center’s website. If you want to watch the whole thing, legally, you’ll need to get the $20 DVD.”

“Do you think it’s easier to look beyond race in France?” Most Americans assume this is true, but even from my few days in the country so far, I’d seen evidence to the contrary. Christine’s favorite leftist newspaper Le Canard Enchâiné regularly satirized former president Nicolas Sarkozy and his hardline approach to dealing with immigrants of color.

“Maybe,” she answered. “You’re less ‘not supposed to do something’ than in America. I think the pressure is stronger over there because society is not going to want you to mix in that way. Even inside your family the pressure is going to be stronger. And not every mixed couple lives in Manhattan either. Imagine if you live in Arkansas; your life can be hell! In France it can be the same thing if you live in a small village. Mais, the less you are together, the less they are going to expect you to be together, and in France we are not as apart from each other. You don’t have a separate Black school here where they’re teaching you how wonderful it is to be Black and what Black people did to make humanity grow.”

Some of us matured away from the idea of a Black culture that thinks with only one point of view about things like interracial marriage, and others never would. My opinions now are a lot different than they were before I graduated my own Black college alma mater, but I tried explaining to Christine—the product of a supposedly colorblind society—my younger attitude about preserving and protecting the Black community from being watered down. She laughed.

Many argue that Indian popular culture is full of misogyny, and Bollywood too needs to own up to its role in fuelling this culture. As Ritupurna Chatterjee writes, “it will be highly presumptuous to assume that Hindi cinema is the root cause of a spike in sexual assaults. But Bollywood and regional cinema in equal parts, because of their reach, scope and influence, have a larger role to play in assuming responsibility for the message it sends out to millions of audience — some highly impressionable.” India’s population has now exceeded 1.2 billion, and even though literacy has increased quickly in the past years, a little over 25 per cent of the country’s population is still illiterate.

Is it fair to blame Bollywood, or even expect it to produce movies that adhere to a higher standard? As Bollywood mega star and bad boy Salman Khan argued in an interview — each movie has a good guy and a bad guy. It isn’t Bollywood’s fault that people choose to follow the villain. The superstar also added that if not the death penalty, rapists should be sentenced to life. Others, like director Anurag Kashyap, agree with the general sentiment that Bollywood, being such a huge influence for Indian society, has a responsibility to produce movies that show women in progressive light, but hold that censorship is not a viable way to achieve this goal, tweeting that moralising censorship would create “another kind of Taliban”.

While the film has obviously found its supporters, backlash against it continues to grow. Yesterday, director Kathryn Bigelow defended her film from charges it promotes torture in an Op-Ed for the Los Angeles Times . Bigelow claimed artistic license writing, “those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement.” While this is obviously true, the film goes further than depiction. AsDeepa Kumar wrote the film promotes extra judicial killing and the drone warfare that has become the hallmark of the Obama administration’s “war on terror.”

People like outsourcers and Jeremy Scott greatly affect non-Native people’s perceptions of Native American art and aesthetics. They also impact our economies.

Back in the 1920s and 1930s, non-Native ‘friends of Indians’ noticed that the creation and marketing of Native American arts could have a positive economic impact in Native communities. Thus, the Indian Arts and Crafts Act was enacted to protect Native artists against people who falsely suggested that their artwork was Native-made. This act sought to help protect Native artists who were working to bring money into their communities from companies who would mass-produce cheap knock-offs, and thus produce unfair competition and redirect money into the pockets of a few versus back to where the money was needed to continue these important living artistic cultural practices. Over the years, the IACA hasn’t always been supportive of Native artists and has lost a lot of clout – big companies with big lawyers find ways to circumvent our rights to our cultural capital, imagery and names. Furthermore, the jury is still out on whether or not ‘fashion’ is considered ‘art,’ adding another potential loophole to the mix.

I apologize for the longwindedness, but this legacy is important to note since it continues to affect us today. When companies like Forever 21Urban Outfitters, or Adidas put out tacky images like this, they perpetuate the idea that Native art is in the free bin (as if we have no sense of ownership or artistic legacy when it comes to our art), and anyone can reach in and grab it, tack their name on it, and make a buck – all the while putting forward the idea that our art is ugly and cheap.

Sights And Sounds From The 2013 Inauguration

President Barack Obama gives his second inaugural address. Via ABC News.

Inside the bowels of the Washington Convention Center, where President Obama and his wife would soon dance in front of a well-heeled crowd of supporters, Rosemary Weaver was holding court over a boxed sandwich-and-cookie lunch.

Forget the pundits and the critics who say the magic is missing from Obama’s second inaugural after a tough four-year slog. Don’t try telling that to this exuberant volunteer with an infectious laugh.

“Girl, it ain’t no less exciting,” Weaver tells me as table mates egg her on. “It was important enough for me to come out of my house when it’s cold.”

Suddenly the Maryland publicist stopped joking and collected her thoughts. “You want me to go deep?” she asked. “Our forefathers died for us to be here.”

– The Daily Beast

Continue reading

01-16-12 MLK Day Links Roundup

It’s time for a true celebration of Martin Luther King Day. This week, Americans everywhere will remember the selfless and historic contributions made by one of the most important figures of the 21st century. Rebuild the Dream members are hosting MLK Day Movement Meet-ups to celebrate Dr. King and link the Civil Rights Movement with today’s struggle for an economy that works for all. We will come together to reflect on the struggles of our past, and unite to secure our future.

This is a chance to touch base with people who are passionate about fighting for Dr. King’s dream. Neighbors and friends will gather in schools, libraries, community centers, and living rooms to watch a short video and open up a discussion on how we can strengthen our movement in 2012.

MLK day is a chance to look back and look ahead — let’s reflect on one of the most important movements of our past as a springboard for the ongoing fight for justice. There is a lot left to fight for, and every day people are continuing Dr. King’s struggle. With a powerful movement sweeping the country, we must gather together and ask: What would Dr. King and other civil rights leaders do today? How can we continue their legacy in 2012 and beyond?

Any honest assessment of New Jersey would show that we have much to do. The recession has exacerbated economic disparities between ethnic groups and genders. As of December, one in six black men were unemployed and looking for work. Among white men, one in 13 were in the same position. And according to the latest data, 27.4 percent of African-Americans live in poverty.

Unfortunately, our state’s current policies are failing the African-American community. Tax cuts and incentives for big business have failed to bring the jobs we need. Meanwhile, devastating budget cuts have burdened struggling families. Over the past two years, New Jersey has taken money out of the pockets of the working poor by cutting the Earned Income Tax Credit, slashed property tax rebates for homeowners and tenants, raised bus and train fares and made the dream of a college education more expensive and less attainable. Cuts to municipal aid have led to crime spikes in urban centers such as Newark, Camden and Trenton, and it took the state Supreme Court to guarantee the constitutional rights of students in New Jersey’s cities to a thorough and efficient education.

Meanwhile, cuts to the public sector have had a disproportionate impact on the African-American community. The labor movement has been the pathway to the middle class for people of color and minorities throughout the 20th century, and minorities continue to be the fastest growing part of today’s labor force. With the decline in industrial employment, more than one-fifth of African-Americans now work in a public sector that is facing widespread layoffs and the loss of basic collective bargaining rights for pensions and health benefits.

King’s insights could very well be “mic checked” at any Occupy rally across our nation. They are even more important in this 2012 election, where the Republican candidates, in their desperation to be on top, have not hesitated to play the Willie Horton race card—whether it is Newt Gingrich’s ridiculous racist statement that President Obama is the Food Stamp President, or Rick Santorum’s declaration that he doesn’t “want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”

The fact of the matter is, not so much has changed since 1967. African Americans under the first African American President have watched the bottom fall out of the black middle class. What will the 2012 election change about this situation?

Perhaps it is time for the churches to begin to “Mic Check” MLK’s words on poverty, in addressing all of our branches of government in order to bring about Kings’s Beloved Community.

[Monday,] OWS plans a march from New York’s African Burial Ground to the city’s Federal Reserve Bank, which is located mere blocks from Wall Street. The event, called “Occupy the Federal Reserve,” will be one of thirteen linked protests taking place in every city that has a Federal Reserve Bank, as well as Los Angeles (which doesn’t have a Federal Reserve Bank, but is pretty important anyway).

Asked why OWS has taken aim at the Fed, Holder argues that the institution has become a key driver of economic injustice in America: “The Federal Reserve undermines our democracy. It’s filled with bankers who are pushing for a deflated currency that will help inflate their pockets.”

But ultimately, she notes, Sunday and Monday’s protests will focus on honoring Dr. King’s legacy of social engagement — and making sure that it continues: “We’re hoping to help inspire a new generation of activists and visionaries.”

  • 46.2 million: The number of Americans in poverty in 2010.
  • 76.7 million: Number of people in families who were living below $44,000 for a family of four (two times the federal poverty line).
  • 27.4: Percentage of African Americans in poverty.
  • 26.6: Percentage of Hispanics in poverty.
  • 9.9: Percentage of non-Hispanic whites in poverty.
  • 45.3: Percentage of young adults facing poverty, when they are considered independently of their parents.
  • 5.9 million: Number of young adults living with their parents. Those who aren’t saw a 9 percent decrease in their income.
  • 39.1: Percentage of African American children less than 18 years old in poverty.
  • 12.4: Percentage of white children less than 18 years old in poverty.

To start fixing this problem, it’s important that we grow the country’s number of low-skill jobs, so that those in poverty can begin to find a way out. We also need to maintain a solid safety net for those who can’t work, such as the elderly and the disabled.

In Memoriam: Fred Shuttlesworth & Derrick Bell

By Arturo R. García

Civil rights activism lost two pioneers Wednesday night with the passing of Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and legal scholar Derrick Bell.

The careers of Shuttlesworth – a founding member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Abernathy and Bayard Rustin – and Bell, who would become the first black tenured law professor and dean of Harvard Law School, seemed to dovetail at times.

In 1957, three years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, Shuttlesworth and his wife, Ruby, famously took their children to Phillips High School in Birmingham, Ala., to break the color barrier. The move came a year after Shuttleworth’s house was bombed by members of the Ku Klux Klan. Shuttlesworth escaped the bombing unharmed, but he would not be so fortunate at Phillips, as Ruby was stabbed and, as he recounted for the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in 2003, he was assaulted by a mob:

Each one was hitting and kicking, stomping. I began to realize that on this brilliant day that every time a chain or something would hit my head I would see instant gray. I knew I had to get back to the car.

I noticed that the guy that was sitting next to the car was going to get the last lick with his chain and I felt as if he had having been struck and stomped as much as I had, I probably wouldn’t have been able to get to the car. And I was trying to make up my mind I was just running to him, I don’t know what I was going to do. But anyway I was going to try to get to the car. Here again you must realize you have to figure God does things that you never even thought about. Suppose the door had closed.
Suppose some Klansman had closed the door or suppose as Rev. Woods said, “if it had been me, I would have driven off.” (Laughing) I would have died right there, or if this man had gotten a chance to hit me this one lick I would have been
right there.

But somehow or another as I was struggling being pulled at, tearing my clothes and kicking, the last thing I remember was one guy was standing in front as I was getting ready to go to the door where this man was getting ready to swing, somebody kicked me in the side. And somehow or another as I was falling down I think, another one struck me from in front. I didn’t see the guy with the chain. I wasn’t looking for him. I finally if you remember seeing the film, I fell up into the door with my hand and [a friend] reached over and pulled me into the car. And my feet were sticking out the door. The door was still open as we pulled off to go to the hospital.

Continue reading

Quotable: President Obama at the Congressional Black Caucus

Throughout our history, change has often come slowly. Progress often takes time. We take a step forward, sometimes we take two steps back. Sometimes we get two steps forward and one step back. But it’s never a straight line.  It’s never easy. And I never promised easy.  Easy has never been promised to us. But we’ve had faith. We have had faith. We’ve had that good kind of crazy that says, you can’t stop marching. 

Even when folks are hitting you over the head, you can’t stop marching. Even when they’re turning the hoses on you, you can’t stop. Even when somebody fires you for speaking out, you can’t stop. Even when it looks like there’s no way, you find a way — you can’t stop. Through the mud and the muck and the driving rain, we don’t stop. Because we know the rightness of our cause — widening the circle of opportunity, standing up for everybody’s opportunities, increasing each other’s prosperity. We know our cause is just. It’s a righteous cause.

So in the face of troopers and teargas, folks stood unafraid. Led somebody like John Lewis to wake up after getting beaten within an inch of his life on Sunday — he wakes up on Monday: We’re going to go march. 

Dr. King once said: “Before we reach the majestic shores of the Promised Land, there is a frustrating and bewildering wilderness ahead. We must still face prodigious hilltops of opposition and gigantic mountains of resistance.  But with patient and firm determination we will press on.” 

So I don’t know about you, CBC, but the future rewards those who press on. With patient and firm determination, I am going to press on for jobs.  (Applause.)  I’m going to press on for equality. I’m going to press on for the sake of our children.  (Applause.)  I’m going to press on for the sake of all those families who are struggling right now. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I am going to press on.  (Applause.)

I expect all of you to march with me and press on.  (Applause.)  Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying. We are going to press on. We’ve got work to do, CBC.
- Image and transcript courtesy of BET