“We often hear it said here that while the Negro drive for equality is a justifiable movement, in the last year the Negroes have been pushing too hard and too fast….”
NBC News did a very interesting thing last month: it rebroadcast the August 25, 1963 episode of the news panel program Meet the Press, 50 years after the original broadcat. You can read the transcript at the site as well. The guests were Roy Wilkins, head of the NAACP, and Martin Luther King, Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. They were speaking three days before the massive March on Washington.
Most years I would go visit the AIDS quilt, in part to see if the quilt for my friend Vito Mastrogiovanni, who died in May 1991, was there; it was, at least twice in my viewing.
December 1 is World AIDS Day, with the current theme “Getting to zero: zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths”.
It’s also the date, in 1955, that the Montgomery Bus Boycott began in Alabama, which, for me, signified the beginning of the modern civil rights era. Yes, Truman integrated the armed forces before that, and the Supreme Court had integrated the schools. The bus boycott, though, was a mass mobilization of many “ordinary” people to not sit in the back of the bus.
Booker noted: “I shudder to think what would have happened if the civil rights gains, heroically established by courageous lawmakers in the 1960s, were instead conveniently left up to popular votes in our 50 states.”
President John Kennedy, and his brother Robert, the Attorney General, needed to be prodded into action, just as President Barack Obama needs political pressure applied to continue on the right path.
While praising New York state lawmakers as they debated legalizing gay marriage, President Barack Obama stopped short of embracing it. Instead he asked gay and lesbian donors for patience. “I believe that gay couples deserve the same legal rights as every other couple in this country,” the president said at a Manhattan fundraiser [last Thursday], his first geared specifically to the gay community.
Last week, my Internet buddy Arthur posited the question: Has President Obama done enough for gay rights? He included a news video. “Let me be clear: President Obama is dead wrong on marriage equality: Civil unions are not a substitute for real marriage. It’s time for the president to stop “evolving” and get there and support full equality for GLBT people.
“However, Dan Choi is also wrong, possibly because he doesn’t know history. As Brian Ellner of the Human Rights Campaign says, this president has done more than any other president for GLBT equality than any other president in history.”
And this reminded me of a program I watched on PBS last month called Freedom Riders.
From May until November 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives—and many endured savage beatings and imprisonment—for simply traveling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the Deep South. Deliberately violating Jim Crow laws, the Freedom Riders met with bitter racism and mob violence along the way, sorely testing their belief in nonviolent activism. Continue reading “Freedom Riders: An Appreciation”