Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. in books

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Allan Levine: The film ‘Selma’ — riveting drama, lousy history.

At the recent 2015 Golden Globe Awards, show host Tina Fey delivered one of the most poignant and effective jokes of the evening in regard to the multi-nominated film “Selma,” based on the Dr.Hundreds gathered this morning for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. memorial breakfast, the nation’s longest-running event held in honor of the slain civil rights leader.The final words of his final speech, delivered from the pulpit of the Mason Temple Church of God in Memphis on April 3, 1968, eerily foreshadowed the next day’s catastrophe. “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life,” the Rev.The president, first lady Michelle Obama, and daughter Malia helped paint murals and assembled “literacy kits” for children that included flash cards and books.

Topper Carew, an architect and civil rights advocate, delivered the keynote address, recalling his childhood in Roxbury and his summer as a Freedom Rider in Mississippi in 1964. Had he not been assassinated in 1968, King would have marked his 86th birthday on Jan. 15. “Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-63” (1986), “Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-1965” (1998), “At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68” (2006) and “The King Years: Historic Moments in the Civil Rights Movement” (2013), all by Taylor Branch.

Other aides — senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson — also participated in the event at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington. The 45th annual breakfast, which drew several hundred people to the Boston Convention Center, kicked off a series of local events held to honor King, who was assassinated in April 1968 at the age of 39.

At a time when waves of civil unrest continue to ripple across America in light of Michael Brown’s and Eric Garner’s deaths at the hands of police under what can safely be called murky circumstances, citizens are taking to the streets (and in some cases, popular brunch spots) in protests that have become more common than in years past. Activists are also planning a 4-mile march in Boston to coincide with dozens of other cities across the country to protest police brutality and call for law-enforcement reform. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!” Thoughts of his mortality were understandably on King’s mind. Cole were already there, having penned the moving song, “Be Free” last August after Michael Brown was shot dead by police officer Darren Wilson on the streets of Ferguson, Mo., using a December appearance on “Late Night With David Letterman” to perform the track instead of promoting one from his recently released and chart-topping album, “2014 Forest Hills Drive.” “There ain’t no drink out there that can numb my soul,” he sang in the stirring performance. “All we want to do is take the chains off/All we want to do is be free.” Reclusive R&B artist D’Angelo was moved to rush-release his long-awaited (more than 14 years long, to be exact) third full-length album, “Black Messiah,” after a grand jury chose not to indict Darren Wilson for Brown’s death. While not overtly political in content, D’Angelo contends in the liner notes that the album is “about people rising up in Ferguson and in Egypt and in Occupy Wall Street and in every place where a community has had enough and decides to make change happen.” Other artists have taken a more direct and personal approach, none more so than hip-hop super-group Run the Jewels and rapper Michael “Killer Mike” Render in particular.

At least in theory, no U.S. male citizen, white or black, could be denied the right to vote “on account of race, colour, or previous condition of servitude.” Southern officials, however, employed black codes and Jim Crow laws to enforce grandfather causes, poll taxes and literacy tests on the former slaves. A woman had stabbed him deep in the chest, and as King recounted to his Memphis audience, the papers reported that had he sneezed before doctors could remove the blade, he would have died. And because it’s so pervasive and so subtle, it is is hard to pinpoint what the issues are…we are here to attack the system.” At this morning’s breakfast, Governor Charlie Baker remembered King as a man of “peace, faith, and strength.” Quoting King’s famous words, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Baker urged the audience to honor his legacy. Nearly a hundred years later, little had changed in the small city of Selma, Alabama, 80 km west of Montgomery, where, as the film shows, Selma’s white legal authorities led by the unsavory Sheriff Jim Clark ignored Supreme Court rulings and federal government law to enforce segregation and prevent its African-American citizens — a majority of the population locally — from registering to vote.

This year, 50 years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the landmark civil rights legislation, King’s memory “resonates more than ever,” said Martin J. The key moment in Selma is the bloody confrontation on the city’s Edmund Pettis Bridge on March 7, 1965, when King and about 600 supporters on a peaceful march from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital, were attacked by Clark and his deputies, state troopers and deputized Ku Klux Klan men on horseback. Instead of the group’s show opening to the strains of Queen’s classic rock song, “We Are the Champions,” Render delivered an emotional address to the audience: “I have a 20-year-old son and a 12-year-old son, and I am so afraid for them today,” he admitted while choking back tears.

To read (or listen to) King’s final speech, knowing that he was just 39 and would be murdered the next day, is to marvel that America could have produced so extraordinary a liberator. In a recorded video message, US Senator Elizabeth Warren pledged to continue the “fight for full equality.” While the country has made progress, “we can’t ignore reality,” she said. In a rousing speech that received a standing ovation, US Senator Ed Markey said the American Dream remains out of reach for too many people, and that deep racial disparities persist. Frady’s slender volume, part of the Penguin Lives biography series, provides a streamlined overview of King’s life and work. “Reporting Civil Rights: American Journalism 1941-1963” and “Reporting Civil Rights: American Journalism 1963-1973” anthologies by the Library of America.

Sonia Chang-Diaz, a state senator from Boston, praised those who have protested the killings of unarmed black men in Missouri and New York City, describing them as a “new generation of activists coming to the fore.” Proceeds from the event fund student scholarships and community programs sponsored by the Union United Methodist Church and St. Edgar Hoover of the FBI (Hoover erroneously believed that King was a communist and attempted to blackmail him with details of his extra-marital affairs obtained from wire taps on King’s hotel rooms), LBJ was committed to extending African-American civil rights, more than any other 20th century president up to that point. Authors include Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, John Steinbeck, Charlayne Hunter, John Hersey, Joan Didion, Gordon Parks and Earl Caldwell, the only reporter to witness the assassination of King. “Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. While a song is not going to end racism in America, music and musicians can inspire people to take matters into their own hands and work toward a better, safer and more just world to live in and leave behind for generations to follow.

Whether writing behind bars from a Birmingham jail, or preaching to 250,000 civil rights marchers at the Lincoln Memorial, or accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in the presence of Norway’s royal family, King always located his true north within the American tradition. But I think that you can contribute a great deal by getting your leaders and you yourself, taking very simple examples of discrimination where a man’s got to memorize Longfellow [in order to vote] or whether he’s got to quote the first 10 Amendments or he’s got to tell you what amendment 15 and 16 and 17 is, and then ask them if they know and show what happens.” After “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, King and his supporters were finally able to complete the march to Montgomery under armed federal guard.

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