Obama commemorates Martin Luther King day

19 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Selma’ actors lead re-enactment of 1965 march on eve of MLK holiday.

SELMA, Ala. Jan. 18, 2015: Marchers hold up a their cellular phones to record the rapper Common and singer song writer John Legend at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) SELMA, Ala. – Oprah Winfrey, fellow actors from the movie “Selma” and hundreds of others marched to recall one of the bloodiest chapters of the civil rights movement on Sunday, the eve of the national holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

“I really thought the pajamas were in one of these drawers,” she said in the tone of an aunt concerned that her visiting nephew might go without proper sleepwear. The remembrance comes after several incidents in whicháunarmed black men were killed by police in recent months, spurring protests and heightening tensions around the country. In Ferguson, Mo., where one fatal shooting caused weeks of violent protests, leading black members of Congress pressed for further reforms of the criminal justice system in the name of equality. Throughout the D.C. area, there are events and celebrations planned to remember the man who fought for justice and equality with nonviolent marches, protests, and boycotts in the 1950s and 1960s.

In 1964 and 1965, he planned a march from Selma to Montgomery at the home of his friend Sullivan “Sully” Jackson, a black dentist who lived in Selma with his wife, teacher Richie Jean, and their 5-year-old daughter, Jawana. William Lacy Clay at Wellspring United Methodist Church in Ferguson as they took up King’s legacy in light of the recent deaths. “We need to be outraged when local law enforcement and the justice system repeatedly allow young, unarmed black men to encounter police and then wind up dead with no consequences,” said Clay, a St. Louis Democrat. “Not just in Ferguson, but over and over again across this country.” The King holiday, meanwhile, was being met with activities nationwide, including plans for a wreath-laying in Maryland, a tribute breakfast in Boston and volunteer service activities by churches and community groups in Illinois.

There are more formal sites honoring the late leader — the King Center/ the MLK National Historic Site in Atlanta, or the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn. But perhaps none offers a better reminder that the movement King led was made up of real people, in ordinary spaces, unsure of whether the goals they were dreaming of would ever come to pass. Law enforcement officers used clubs and tear gas on March 7, 1965 — “Bloody Sunday” — to rout marchers intent on walking some 50 miles to Montgomery, the Alabama capital, to seek the right for blacks to register to vote. And while Lee does not utterly personify the Civil War in quite the same way—he shares that duty with Lincoln and maybe even Grant—he is certainly the face of the Confederacy.

Montgomery County’s Volunteer Center will coordinate indoor, family-friendly service projects from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, 5701 Marinelli Rd. The bedroom’s walls are painted in the same turquoise color, the bed covered in the same gold duvet — all preserved impeccably, like nearly everything else in the house. Common had a part in the movie and said that song sought to show the link between the struggle of the past and today’s injustices. “We are the ones that can change the world,” Common said afterward. “It is up to us, and it takes all us — black, white, Latino, Asian, native-American, whatever nationality or religious background. Today, the Selma bridge and adjoining downtown business district look much as they did in 1965, though many storefronts are empty and government buildings are occupied largely by African-American officials who are beneficiaries of the Voting Rights Act.

Projects include tying paracord bracelets for members of the military, preparing bagged lunches for County shelters, creating fleece blankets for Montgomery Hospice, making pet toys for local animal shelters, assembling snow day boxes for Meals on Wheels, decorating holiday cards for seniors and assembling care kits for foster children. Lisa Stevens brought her two children, ages 6 and 10, so they could walk the bridge that King walked. “I wanted to bring my children here so they can know their history and for them to participate in this walk,” said Stevens, who moved recently from New York to Greensboro, Alabama.á “It’s a part of their history and I think that they should know.

Other sites with multiple service projects for all ages include the Seneca Creek Community Church located at 13 Firstfield Rd. in Gaithersburg, from 9 to 11 a.m.; and the Silver Spring Civic Building, One Veterans Place, from 10 a.m. to noon. In the late ’60s, I had a high-school English teacher who was, shall we say, getting on in years, and she kept paintings of Lee and Stonewall Jackson hanging on the wall of her classroom.

McLindaáGilchrist, 63, said the movie should help a younger generation understand life for those in the 1960s who opposed racial discrimination. “They treated us worse than animals,” Gilchrist said. “It was terrifying,” recalled Lynda Blackmon Lowery, who still lives in Selma and was the youngest person to march there in 1965 as a teenager. Now a 64-year-old mother and grandmother, she spoke Sunday in New York of a harrowing experience of unarmed marchers going up against rifles, billy clubs and fierce dogs of white officers. In addition, the Bethesda Marriott and Silver Spring locations will also accept new and gently used sleeping bags, blankets and new socks for the homeless.

The moment was captured in a famous Life magazine photograph, and as Jackson now stood in the spot with a copy of the image, the similarities were so uncanny that the only difference between the photo and real life was the absence of King. “He was just sitting there like anyone else would, watching television, even though he was the reason the president was giving the speech,” Jackson said, still marveling at it. She runs a company that sells golf apparel but also spent much of the last three decades ensuring that her parents didn’t change a thing in the Selma home; she has also started a foundation for that purpose. The celebration will include diverse, interactive and multicultural performances by Motion and Vision Contemporary Dance Ensemble, Urban Artistry hip hop dancers, Kiamsha theatrical group, Arte Flamenco, Glorystar Children’s Chorus and more. Her mother died a year ago (Sully died in 2004), and since then, Jackson has been weighing the logistics and finances of — and her appetite for — turning a place of so many private memories into a museum.

Before school integration, the only major social event in which both blacks and whites participated equally was the city’s Christmas parade, and even then there was no mingling. Michael Taff Award will be presented to an individual, organization or business that has helped improve the quality of the lives of people with disabilities. It’s a warm memory, but with a twist. “I learned later from my father that whenever Uncle Martin knew he would see me, he would go see my father first.

He just was never thinking about material possessions.” The family comes off as welcoming in the film, which was directed by Ava DuVernay and produced by Oprah Winfrey. In years past, the parade has been open to other jurisdictions resulting in the participation of over 200 groups as well as dignitaries including Mayor Vincent Gray, DC Council members and local news and television personalities. Police officers would regularly come to the back door warning of potential Ku Klux Klan activity, and there was a go-to escape plan that involved Jackson hiding under a pile of laundry in her uncle’s hearse. George Wallace, still evinces white-black tension. (The city of 20,000 is now 80% black.) In a tangible reminder of a city’s identity battle, the street named for civil rights attorney J.L.

Chestnut was once named for Jefferson Davis; some white locals still refer to it by the Confederate leader’s name. “Treat us fair,” a middle-aged white man said to a reporter in a bar along the Alabama River while, downtown, a group of older black women at a Bible study group made the same request. Each year, Georgetown University awards this special honor to an inspirational local community leader who is striving to solve key issues affecting the District.

Jones has been a stalwart in the war on poverty in the nation’s capital, and through Bread for the City, progress is made every day via its provision of food, clothing, medical, legal and social services for the city’s vulnerable. That’s as it should be, since King did everything he could to make all Americans equal and Lee was on the wrong side of the conflict that more than any other tore the country apart. In my case, it meant growing up around people who occasionally dropped the N-word, which in turn meant reconciling my ideas about people I loved with things I hated.

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