History got the Rosa Parks story wrong

2 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Let us rejoice’: Alabama church cheers Hillary Clinton at Rosa Parks celebration.

Hillary Clinton staked a claim to the southern black vote Tuesday, receiving a warm welcome at one of the country’s most important black churches just a day after Donald Trump failed to win public approval from another group of black church leaders. “This is the day that the Lord has made,” Clinton said at the start of her speech in Montgomery, Alabama, and by the second half of the sentence the congregation had joined in: “Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Elsewhere, Clinton has received criticism from new civil rights activists, like the leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement, who say she isn’t doing enough to address modern concerns.

On Dec. 1, 1955, seamstress and activist Rosa Parks used a bus ride in Montgomery, Ala., to spark interest in a struggle for civil rights that spanned her life. She took the pulpit at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church to commemorate the Montgomery bus boycott that Martin Luther King Jr. had organized there. For the bus riders of Montgomery, who are more predominantly black now than during Parks’s now-famous ride, the continuation of her struggle is literal. Facing a surprisingly robust challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s campaign has constructed a sort of political firewall across the American South to fortify against snags or hitches in New Hampshire or Iowa. She delivered the keynote address at the gathering, which was convened by the National Bar Association, the country’s largest organization of black attorneys.

Obama’s tremendous support among African-American voters hurt her in 2008, and she is working hard to capture the support of the so-called “coalition of the ascendant.” Her jaunt to Alabama, and straight after to Florida for a handful of fundraisers, will help her to maintain appeal with voters of color. She was determined to hear Clinton’s speech, she said, because a woman’s campaign for the presidency of the United States seemed like a civic bookend to Rosa Parks’s action 60 years earlier. Bus rider Callie Greer says that buses are not a priority because they are used by people with low incomes, and according to a 2007 survey by the bus system, 84 percent of bus riders are black. She spoke of a conversation with the civil rights lawyer John Doar, who calmed a raging mob after the murder of Medgar Evers in 1963. (Clinton recounted asking Doar, “Weren’t you afraid?” He replied, she said, “Of course I was, but I was representing the law.

Several shootings of black men by white police officers in major US cities have sparked protest – sometimes violent – and calls for more transparent policing. In her speech, Clinton checked off many of the subjects that she’s been talking about on the stump: her hopes for criminal-justice reform and for a bright and just future for Charlotte, her 14-month-old granddaughter, and Charlotte’s fellow American babies. Clinton then spoke about the evolution of civil rights in more recent years. “There is something profoundly wrong when African American men are far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes, and sentenced to longer prison terms for doing the same thing as a white man,” she said.

Clinton said: “We must strengthen the bonds of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.” To accomplish that, she said, means “we must end the era of mass incarceration”. Crump worked on the seminal cases of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, both prominent instances of violent deaths of young, unarmed black men in recent years. “It’s just an evolution.” Asked whether Clinton, as a presidential candidate, should call for a legal change requiring local police departments to report deaths during confrontations with police, Crump told the Guardian: “Absolutely.

We are going to be nicer,’” she told the group from Boston. “That’s not enough, at least in my book.”) And Clinton lacks Obama’s natural ease, and his oracular power.

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