Archive for January 20th, 2014

20
Jan
14

Martin Luther King Jr: Revolutionary

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Alex Haley: Alex Haley’s 1965 Playboy Interview With Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Haley: As one who grew up in the economically comfortable, socially insulated environment of a middle-income home in Atlanta, can you recall when it was that you yourself first became painfully and personally aware of racial prejudice?

King: Very clearly. When I was 14, I had traveled from Atlanta to Dublin, Georgia, with a dear teacher of mine, Mrs. Bradley; she’s dead now. I had participated there in an oratorical contest sponsored by the Negro Elks. It turned out to be a memorable day, for I had succeeded in winning the contest. My subject, I recall, ironically enough, was “The Negro and the Constitution.” Anyway, that night, Mrs. Bradley and I were on a bus returning to Atlanta, and at a small town along the way, some white passengers boarded the bus, and the white driver ordered us to get up and give the whites our seats. We didn’t move quickly enough to suit him, so he began cursing us, calling us “black sons of bitches.” I intended to stay right in that seat, but Mrs. Bradley finally urged me up, saying we had to obey the law. And so we stood up in the aisle for the 90 miles to Atlanta. That night will never leave my memory. It was the angriest I have ever been in my life.

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I shall never forget the grief and bitterness I felt on that terrible September morning when a bomb blew out the lives of those four little, innocent girls sitting in their Sunday-school class in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. I think of how a woman cried out, crunching through broken glass, “My God, we’re not even safe in church!” I think of how that explosion blew the face of Jesus Christ from a stained-glass window. It was symbolic of how sin and evil had blotted out the life of Christ. I can remember thinking that if men were this bestial, was it all worth it? Was there any hope? Was there any way out?

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Haley: Do you still feel this way?

King: No, time has healed the wounds—and buoyed me with the inspiration of another moment which I shall never forget: when I saw with my own eyes over 3,000 young Negro boys and girls, totally unarmed, leave Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church to march to a prayer meeting—ready to pit nothing but the power of their bodies and souls against Bull Connor’s police dogs, clubs, and fire hoses. When they refused Connor’s bellowed order to turn back, he whirled and shouted to his men to turn on the hoses. It was one of the most fantastic events of the Birmingham story that these Negroes, many of them on their knees, stared, unafraid and unmoving, at Connor’s men with the hose nozzles in their hands. Then, slowly the Negroes stood up and advanced, and Connor’s men fell back as though hypnotized, as the Negroes marched on past to hold their prayer meeting. I saw there, I felt there, for the first time, the pride and the power of nonviolence.

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Haley: Your dissatisfaction with the Civil Rights Act reflects that of most other Negro spokesmen. According to recent polls, however, many whites resent this attitude, calling the Negro “ungrateful” and “unrealistic” to press his demands for more.

King: This is a litany to those of us in this field. “What more will the Negro want?” “What will it take to make these demonstrations end?” Well, I would like to reply with another rhetorical question: Why do white people seem to find it so difficult to understand that the Negro is sick and tired of having reluctantly parceled out to him those rights and privileges which all others receive upon birth or entry in America? I never cease to wonder at the amazing presumption of much of white society, assuming that they have the right to bargain with the Negro for his freedom. This continued arrogant ladling out of pieces of the rights of citizenship has begun to generate a fury in the Negro. Even so, he is not pressing for revenge, or for conquest, or to gain spoils, or to enslave, or even to marry the sisters of those who have injured him.

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What the Negro wants—and will not stop until he gets—is absolute and unqualified freedom and equality here in this land of his birth, and not in Africa or in some imaginary state. The Negro no longer will be tolerant of anything less than his due right and heritage. He is pursuing only that which he knows is honorably his. He knows that he is right. Few white people, even today, will face the clear fact that the very future and destiny of this country are tied up in what answer will be given to the Negro. And that answer must be given soon.

More of this powerful and enlightening interview here

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TheObamaDiary: Like a beacon, MLK Day in the middle of all those GOP hate days…

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Martin Luther King Jr. sits for a police mugshot after his arrest for directing a citywide boycott of segregated buses on February 24, 1956.

20
Jan
14

Service

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President Barack Obama and his daughter Sasha join fellow volunteers as they fill burritos at the DC Central Kitchen charity in honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday

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Continue reading ‘Service’

20
Jan
14

Martin Luther King Jr.: Leader, Icon, Man Of The People

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WSBTV: 29 Facts About Martin Luther King Jr.

He was born Jan. 15, 1929, as Michael King Jr. His father was Michael King Sr. But in the early 1930s, after a trip to Germany, he changed his name to Martin Luther, in honor of the theologian who initiated the Protestant Reformation. His son thus became Martin Luther King Jr. His family members would continue to call him Mike or M.L.

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On Sept. 20, 1958, King was in Harlem signing copies of his first book, Stride Toward Freedom. A 42-year-old Georgia native named Izola Ware Curry, walked up to him and asked if he was Martin Luther King Jr., to which he replied yes. “I have been looking for you for five years,” Curry said, before plunging a letter opener into King’s chest. It was never clear why Curry, who was committed to a hospital for the criminally insane, stabbed King. On April 3, 1968, King fully recounted the event in his historic “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” speech, which included the famous passage: “The X-rays revealed that the tip of the blade was on the edge on my aorta, the main artery, and once that’s punctured you drown in your own blood. That’s the end of you. It came out in the New York Times the next morning that if I had merely sneezed, I would have died.”

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King married Coretta Scott on June 18, 1953. King met Scott during his first year at Boston University. She was a New England Conservatory of Music. Martin Luther King Sr. performed the ceremony in the yard of the Scott home in Perry County, Alabama. After the reception, the new couple spent their honeymoon night in a black funeral home in Marion, Al., because no white hotel would register them. They would have four children — Yolanda, Martin Luther King III, Dexter and Bernice. Coretta Scott King, who carved a significant legacy in her own right, died in 2006. Yolanda King died in 2007.

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In 1964, King won the Nobel Peace Prize. At the age of 35, he was the youngest person to ever win the Peace Prize. He remains the youngest man ever honored. He donated the $54,000 prize money — about $400,000 today — to the ongoing civil rights movement.

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King is a Grammy winner. He posthumously won in 1971 for Best Spoken Word Album for “Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam.” The speech from which the album was made was delivered April 30, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York City.

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In 1963, following the likes of Charles Lindbergh, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and his spiritual mentor Mahatma Gandhi, King became the first African-American to be named Time magazine’s Man of the Year. Ethiopian leader Haile Selassie was named in 1936. The only other African-American to get the honor was Barack Obama, who was named twice.

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King is the only non-president to have a memorial installed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Covering four acres, the memorial opened to the public on Aug. 22, 2011, on the edge of the Tidal Basin, near the Lincoln Memorial.

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In the summer of 1944, at the age of 15, King and a group of Morehouse students traveled to Simsbury, Conn. to work on a tobacco farm. The students were paid for their work and were able to spend the summer in the North and in a non-segregated society, which played a significant role in King’s early development. He would later write: “After that summer in Connecticut, it was a bitter feeling going back to segregation. It was hard to understand why I could ride wherever I pleased on the train from New York to Washington and then had to change to a Jim Crow [racially restricted] car at the nation’s capital in order to continue the trip to Atlanta.” He returned in the summer of 1947.

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In late March of 1968, King — against the recommendations of most of his staff — went to Memphis to support striking sanitation workers. A riot broke out during a rally and King returned to Atlanta. Fearing that he would be associated with violence, King returned to Memphis on April 3. As a thunderstorm raged outside, he delivered his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” speech at Mason Temple. On April 4, at about 6 p.m., while he was getting ready to go to dinner, King stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel and told musician Ben Branch to play his favorite song, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty.” A King biographer said those were his last words. At 6:01 p.m., a bullet fired from a flop house across the street, cut King down.

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King was arrested more than 30 times for his civil rights activities, including a particularly rough arrest in Birmingham on April 12, 1963. In response to the ongoing protests, a group of white clergy penned a “Call to Unity,” in the local paper. In it, they called King an outsider and agreed that while social injustices existed, the best way to battle racial segregation was through the courts, not in the streets. King responded with his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” which he initially started writing in the margins of the newspaper. The letter famously stated: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly… Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider.”

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According to his biographer Clayborne Carson, King wrote three major books during his life: “Stride toward Freedom,” his first book in 1958, focused on his work in Montgomery. “Why We Can’t Wait,” came out in 1964, followed by “Where do we go from here: Chaos or Community?” in 1968. Between that time he also release two books made up of meditations and sermons. In his lifetime, Carson estimates that King produced or played a role in producing some 300,000 documents about his life in the form of sermons, letters, speeches and even federal surveillance. One of the largest collections of his papers is at Morehouse College and will soon be housed in the upcoming Civil and Human Rights Museum. Boston University’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center is the home to 80,000 pages of writings, letters and notes that King donated to the school in 1964. Dozens of biographies have been written about King. Many of the FBI’s surveillance records, written and audio records, concerning King are currently held in the National Archives, but are sealed from public access until 2027.

More of this extraordinary human being’s and gifted soul’s life here

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20
Jan
14

Reflections on Martin Luther King, Jr

The birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was first celebrated as a national holiday in 1986. Its celebration was resisted by many states, for reasons too obvious to delineate here. By the year 2000, all states of the Union officially celebrated Dr. King’s birthday.

The fact that it took 14 years for a handful of recalcitrant states to celebrate the holiday is very telling. Dr. King, like Nelson Mandela, has had myth and legend encased on his memory, both in his life and after his death. And these myths tend to obscure the real man, the man of flesh and bone, the man with passion and thought.

We all remember and revere his stance for peace. But we cannot forget that he wielded peace like a weapon. His peace wasn’t a comfortable peace. To quote from another time, he wasn’t asking “Can’t we all just get along”.

He stood against a racial apartheid as pernicious as that which exiled South Africa from the community of nations. He stood against establishment assumptions of American empire and American militarism. He stood against the received wisdom of American capitalism.

He is too often seen now as an anodyne figure, someone who spoke to the better angels of our nature, someone who can be embraced by both left and right. (Well, some of the right. Some of them are beyond redemption.)

Peace was his tactic, and his belief. But it served something which was radical. Although he and Malcolm X spoke in different metaphors, they had much of the same view of the corrupted American experiment. It was an experiment which, at its inception, relegated slaves and the freed children of slaves to oppression and denigration. It was an experiment which depended upon keeping down the working class. It was an experiment which thrived by pitting natural allies against each other, based on culture, religion, race. It was an experiment which arrogated to itself the rights of empire as natural, exporting its system as a panacea for what ailed the world, blind to its own glaring failings.

Continue reading ‘Reflections on Martin Luther King, Jr’

20
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

Five Years Ago Today

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Today:

1:30 EST: The President and First Lady participate in a service project, Washington, DC area

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Washington Post: Martin Luther King Jr. And The Catalyst Of Change

MARTIN LUTHER King Jr. preached nonviolence, practiced it and led a great movement guided by its principles. Yet surely he knew, as did most of his followers, that what they were doing would lead to violence. One need only look at the old black-and-white photos of civil rights protests, at the hatred, scorn and, perhaps most important, fear on the faces of some of the white people there to confront the demonstrators to understand how such simple acts as sitting down in a bus or entering a restaurant, seeking the right to vote or go to a better school, could lead to the worst sorts of violence — a bitter truth that followed King to the day of his death.

Yet out of that violence came new understanding of a sort: People who had been all but invisible to much of the United States came to be seen through the newspapers and television as individual human beings : women and children being firehosed; war veterans returning home to be subjected to all the humiliations and restrictions of the time (or to be murdered, like Medgar Evers); polite young men trying to get a sandwich at a lunch counter; a dignified woman who refused to give up her seat on a bus; the children killed by a bomb in a Birmingham church. For many Americans, this marked the first time they had come face to face, or had allowed themselves to come face to face, with the cruelty of racial separation and oppression, a century after the official end of slavery.

More here

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John Blake: The Greatest MLK Speeches You Never Heard

‘Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community’ King’s fifth book was published in 196Why it’s important: This is King’s last — and most radical — book. By 1967, he was organizing a “Poor People’s Campaign,” a plan to dispatch an interracial army of poor people to occupy Washington and force the U.S. government to address poverty.

What he said: He takes on black nationalists who ridiculed nonviolence. He says the passage of civil rights laws is not enough. The country must institute a “massive, new national program” to attack poverty. He predicts the civil rights movement will go international as oppressed peoples in other countries adopt nonviolent tactics to combat America’s “economic colonialism.”

Signature lines: “White Americans must recognize that justice for black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society. The comfortable, entrenched, the privileged cannot continue to tremble at the prospect of change of the status quo. … This is a multiracial nation where all groups are dependent on each other. … There is no separate white path to power and fulfillment, short of social disaster, that does not share power with black aspirations for freedom and human dignity.”

What others say: “I get so tired of people turning Dr. King into a dreamer,” says Doreen Loury, a sociology professor at Arcadia University in Pennsylvania, who says she was blown away by the book when she first read it in the 1960s. “They made him safe. He was a revolutionary.”

More here

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AP: MLK Discusses Kennedy In Rediscovered 1960 Tape

As the nation reflects on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., an audiotape of an interview with the civil rights leader discovered in a Tennessee attic sheds new light on a famous phone call John F. Kennedy made to King’s wife more than 50 years ago. Historians generally agree that Kennedy’s phone call to Coretta Scott King expressing concern over her husband’s arrest in October 1960 — and Robert Kennedy’s work behind the scenes to get King released — helped JFK win the White House that fall.

King himself, while appreciative, wasn’t as quick to credit the Kennedys alone with getting him out of jail, according to a previously unreleased portion of the interview with the civil rights leader days after Kennedy’s election. “The Kennedy family did have some part … in the release,” King says in the recording, which was discovered in 2012. “But I must make it clear that many other forces worked to bring it about also.”

“I think Dr. King was aware in the tape that he probably did more for John F. Kennedy than perhaps John F. Kennedy did for him,” said Keya Morgan, a New York-based collector and expert on historical artifacts. John Kennedy didn’t actually commit to the movement until a few months before his assassination when civil rights leader Medgar Evers was gunned down by a Klansman outside his Jackson, Miss., home just after midnight on June 12, 1963. “There were a lot of black folks who … weren’t fully committed to his campaign,” said Winbush, who is also a historian and psychologist. “That call he made to Coretta moved black folks.”

More here

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Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr., registering African-Americans to vote in Greenwood, Miss. on July 21, 1964

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Ned Resnikoff: Four Ways Martin Luther King Jr. Wanted To Battle Inequality

1. Ratify an economic bill of rights: In 1968, members of King’s premier civil rights group, the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC), drafted a letter demanding “an economic and social bill of Rights” that would promise all citizens the right to a job, the right to an adequate education, and the right to a decent house, among others.

“It cannot take more than two centuries for it to occur to this country that there is no real right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for people condemned by the accident of their birth to an existence of hereditary economic and social misery,” wrote the letter’s drafters. While the SCLC was specifically concerned with the ways in which economic inequality perpetuates racial inequality, they made clear that the rights they proposed would apply to all citizens. It sounded radical at the time.

In fact, the effort echoed a proposal made by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during his 1944 State of the Union Address, when he called for a “second Bill of Rights,” to guarantee all citizens a “useful and remunerative job” and “adequate medical care.

More here

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ZDF German news interview with President Obama from Friday

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Steve Kornacki: US Attorney Inquiry Into Christie Widens

The New Jersey mayor who publicly claimed this weekend that Gov. Chris Christie’s administration tried to withhold hurricane relief funds met Sunday in private with the U.S. attorney for the state of New Jersey. “This afternoon I met with the U.S. Attorney’s office for several hours at their request and provided them with my journal and other documents,” Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer said in a statement Sunday. “

As they pursue this investigation, I will provide any requested information and testify under oath about the facts of what happened when the Lieutenant Governor came to Hoboken and told me that Sandy aid would be contingent on moving forward with a private development project.”

Zimmer said Saturday in an interview with MSNBC that she would be willing to sign a sworn statement and testify under oath that she had been threatened by the governor’s staff to approve a development project or risk hurricane relief funding for her town of Hoboken, which was devastated by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.

More here

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BBC: UN Invites Iran To Syria Peace Talks

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has invited Iran to take part in preliminary Syrian peace talks this week in Switzerland, an offer Tehran has accepted. Mr Ban said he had received assurances that Iran would play a positive role in securing a transitional government. The preliminary talks will open in Montreux on Wednesday and then continue in Geneva two days later.

Syria’s government and the main political opposition group earlier agreed to attend the meeting. The three-year conflict in Syria has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people. An estimated two million people have fled the country and some 6.5 million have been internally displaced.

More here

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White House: Statement by NSC Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden on Ukraine

We are deeply concerned by the violence taking place today on the streets of Kyiv and urge all sides to immediately de-escalate the situation. The increasing tension in Ukraine is a direct consequence of the government failing to acknowledge the legitimate grievances of its people. Instead, it has moved to weaken the foundations of Ukraine’s democracy by criminalizing peaceful protest and stripping civil society and political opponents of key democratic protections under the law.  We urge the Government of Ukraine to take steps that represent a better way forward for Ukraine, including repeal of the anti-democratic legislation signed into law in recent days, withdrawing the riot police from downtown Kyiv, and beginning a dialogue with the political opposition.  From its first days, the Maidan movement has been defined by a spirit of non-violence and we support today’s call by opposition political leaders to reestablish that principle. The U.S. will continue to consider additional steps — including sanctions — in response to the use of violence.

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Finally got around to reading the New Republic article on Snowden, Greenwald and Assange – ironically written by a character who has ‘Obama Derangement’ issues himself.

Not sure there’s anything new in it, but the section on Snowden says it all about his agenda and motivation:

…. by the end of Bush’s second term, Snowden certainly held the president in low esteem. But not, apparently, his intelligence policies. Nor, it seems, was he drawn to insiders who exposed details of these programs. Quite the opposite: Snowden vilified leakers and defended covert intelligence ops.

In January 2009, Snowden lambasted The New York Times and its anonymous sources for exposing a secret Bush administration operation to sabotage Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Such infuriating breaches had occurred “over and over and over again,” Snowden complained. The Times, he railed, was “like wikileaks” and deserved to go bankrupt; sources who leaked “classified shit” to the Times ought to “be shot in the balls.” When an online interlocutor suggested that it might be “ethical” to report “on the government’s intrigue,” Snowden replied emphatically: “VIOLATING NATIONAL SECURITY? No.” He explained, “that shit is classified for a reason.”

Surprise, surprise:

… nearly as soon as Obama took office, Snowden developed a deep aversion to the new president …. he became furious about Obama’s domestic policies on a variety of fronts. For example, he was offended by the possibility that the new president would revive a ban on assault weapons. “See, that’s why I’m goddamned glad for the second amendment,” Snowden wrote, in another chat. “Me and all my lunatic, gun-toting NRA compatriots would be on the steps of Congress before the C-Span feed finished.”

And this from the ‘progressive’ hero:

At the time the stimulus bill was being debated, Snowden also condemned Obama’s economic policies as part of a deliberate scheme “to devalue the currency absolutely as fast as theoretically possible.” (He favored Ron Paul’s call for the United States to return to the gold standard.) The social dislocations of the financial collapse bothered him not at all. “Almost everyone was self-employed prior to 1900,” he asserted. “Why is 12% employment [sic] so terrifying?” In another chat-room exchange, Snowden (TheTrueHOOHA) debated the merits of Social Security:

<TheTrueHOOHA> save money? cut this social security bullshit

<TheTrueHOOHA> Somehow, our society managed to make it hundreds of years without social security just fine

….. Later in the same session, Snowden wrote that the elderly “wouldn’t be fucking helpless if you weren’t sending them fucking checks to sit on their ass and lay in hospitals all day.”

What a classy guy.

Snowden’s disgruntlement with Obama, in other words, was fueled by a deep disdain for progressive policies …. Contrary to his claims, he seems to have become an anti-secrecy activist only after the White House was won by a liberal Democrat who, in most ways, represented everything that a right-wing Ron Paul admirer would have detested.

Full article here

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On This Day:

Jan. 20, 2009 – Pete Souza: “President-elect Barack Obama was about to walk out to take the oath of office. Backstage at the U.S. Capitol, he took one last look at his appearance in the mirror.”

Continue reading ‘Rise and Shine’

20
Jan
14

Early Bird Chat

On This Day, 2009: My Favorite Photo Ever.

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