US students can see ‘Selma’ for free

19 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A different take on Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

This year, the holiday celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision for America falls on the birthday of Robert E. Azamgarh-born Frank Islam was given the annual award yesterday by the president of the Memorial Foundation, Harry Johnson, for working to keep the “dream alive.” Islam said he was proud and humbled to have received the award. It was a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement, coming three days after the assassination of Malcolm X in New York and a month before the historic marches in Selma, Ala., where police violence against peaceful protesters would ultimately galvanize the country. “I hope nothing happens to me,” King told a Times reporter upon his arrival in L.A.

Speaking to more than 1,100 people at the YMCA’s 21st annual event, Benjamin Jealous acknowledged that there is much in the United States circa 2015 that King “would find unfamiliar and would inspire pride in him.” But, Jealous told the crowd at the Charlotte Convention Center, “there is much about our time that Dr. On the eve of the federal holiday honoring King, the synagogue on Sunday evening held a celebration to remember his visit 50 years ago and the sermon he delivered to a full house on Feb. 26, 1965. I have given to numerous causes to support humanitarian efforts and to advance the interests of the under-served in the world,” Islam said during his speech.

King had the keen moral insight, the strategic sense to understand the benefits of nonviolence, an adeptness at shaping media and the wisdom to direct his message not simply to African Americans but also to all Americans. He also singled out North Carolina, where, because restrictive laws enacted by the legislature, “the ugly ghost of voter suppression comes to life in a very forceful way.” Jealous also mentioned economic inequality, an issue King was shifting to at the time of his murder in 1968 and one President Barack Obama is expected to address in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address. What contemporary leaders — both President Obama and gadflies on the far right — fail to appreciate is that directing your message primarily to your own base and demonstrating contempt for the other side immediately deprives you of moral standing and political credibility. Islam sold of his IT company in 2007 to spend the rest of his life in philanthropy, both in India and the US, and lends his palatial house for fund raising activities — for both political and charitable events.

This gulf between and haves and have-nots has widened, Jealous said. and remains an affront to what he called America’s destiny to be “the most perfect example of the unity and dignity of the human family that the world has ever known.” Though the number of African Americans in the upper middle class have quadrupled since King’s time, Jealous said, the percentage of blacks in poverty has stayed the same. The breakfast has become one of the premier events on the state’s political calendar, both for long-time incumbents and those eyeing a future run for office.

He is a board member of several think-tanks, academic and cultural organisations including Kennedy Centre for Performing Arts, the Brookings Institute and US Institute of Peace. Jealous called on his listeners to do what he did years ago: Draw up a list of the things that upset them about the country or the world, pick at least one that they want to act on – and then get to it. He pointed to the example of Jotaka Eaddy, a 16-year-old worker at McDonald’s in Johnsonville, S.C. who decided one day she would work to end the death penalty for juveniles.

Just the United States.) Now, Republicans, in his telling, want us to drink dirty water and proponents of Iran sanctions are driven by “donors and others.” You cannot lead a country as diverse as ours by vilifying half of it. Bernice King,” he said, addressing King’s daughter. “I only stepped into his shoes for a moment, but I asked myself, ‘How did he do it?'” Oyelowo said. The flip side of King’s legacy, as “The Bill of the Century” vividly portrays, is that significant change has to energize a wide array of people who don’t necessarily share much in common. He explained that he, like King, has four children and said he cannot imagine walking through life knowing there are people who wanted to take their lives or that of his wife.

It was the legions of brave African Americans organized by numerous civil rights entities plus religious leaders both Jewish and Christian, the business organizations (who quietly met with the Justice Department well before the bill passed to ease the way for desegregation), liberals like Sen. Jealous urged those in the crowd ask themselves: “Have I done anything in this life to make the world better?” And, then, he said, “figure out what that one thing is,” and get about working for change.

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. He asked the congregation to help push society forward past “stagnant complacency and deadening pacifity.” “We’ve been in the mountain of racial injustice long enough,” King said. “And now it is time for us to move on to that great and noble realm of justice and brotherhood.” On Sunday, Rose and others honored King with a multicultural musical rendition of his speech at the temple. Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.), Justice Department lawyers, House Judiciary Committee ranking member William McCulloch (R-Ohio), students, retirees, enlightened judges — the list is endless — whose efforts (sometimes not quite in harmony with one another) achieved a magnificent transformation in American society. Medallion Award was presented to Jermaine Nakia Lee for his work with PowerHouse Project, a local program that helps gay and bisexual men living with or at risk of contracting AIDS. None of this diminishes King’s role; to the contrary, it illustrates how inspired leadership ripples through society affecting seemingly disparate elements of society.

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. Lee called on the audience, which included many people from churches, to “not allow our faith beliefs to interfere with our compassion” for those with AIDS. “Our black and brown children are quietly dying from this disease.” King and his legacy are also a reminder of how entirely wrong and anti-constitutional is the notion (be it on gay marriage, on immigration, etc.) that public officials are free to disregard the Supreme Court or duly passed laws. Because the high school was located in the geographical center of the city, the student body was made up of black and white, rich and poor and middle-class kids.

It is the same “rule of law” that says Richard Nixon had to turn over the tapes, the president needs to execute duly passed immigration laws, county clerks have to issue marriage licenses once the courts have spoken, and places of accommodation and employers could not discriminate after passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The administration and much of the faculty, especially the older teachers, seemed to view integration more grudgingly, as though it were a trick played on them. 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. And there are buildings and bridges named for legislators such as Stennis and Eastland, who number among the most intransigent racists of the last century. 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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