“Where the jazz makes you cry, the funerals make you dance, and the bayou makes you believe all kinds of things.”
President Barack Obama holds a child as he greets residents in the the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans for the 10th anniversary since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Tremé is one of the oldest black neighborhoods in America
President Barack Obama with Mayor Mitch Landrieu
President Barack Obama sits for lunch at Willie Mae’s restaurant with young men from My Brother’s Keeper initiative
President Barack Obama participates in a roundtable on Hurricane Katrina at the Andrew P. Sanchez Community Center in New Orleans
President Barack Obama speaks during an event to mark the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina on August 27, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. President Obama spoke at the Andrew P. Sanchez & Copelin-Byrd Multi-Service Center located in the Lower 9th Ward, a largely African-American neighborhood that was one of the hardest hit by the storm
‘We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union. …’’ It’s a cruel irony that the words that set our democracy in motion were used as part of the so-called literacy test designed to deny Rosanell and so many other African-Americans the right to vote. Yet more than 70 years ago, as she defiantly delivered the Preamble to our Constitution, Rosanell also reaffirmed its fundamental truth. What makes our country great is not that we are perfect, but that with time, courage and effort, we can become more perfect. What makes America special is our capacity to change. Nearly three decades after Rosanell testified to her unbroken faith in this country, that faith was vindicated.
The Voting Rights Act put an end to literacy tests and other forms of discrimination, helping to close the gap between our promise that all of us are created equal and our long history of denying some of us the right to vote. The impact was immediate, and profound — the percentage of African-Americans registered to vote skyrocketed in the years after the Voting Rights Act was passed. But as Rutenberg chronicles, from the moment the ink was dry on the Voting Rights Act, there has been a concentrated effort to undermine this historic law and turn back the clock on its progress. I am where I am today only because men and women like Rosanell Eaton refused to accept anything less than a full measure of equality. Their efforts made our country a better place. It is now up to us to continue those efforts. Congress must restore the Voting Rights Act.
We celebrate his singular life each time we
think of his good works
and the hope and change he brought.
We commemorate his birth in January.
We visit his memorial on the mall
We tell his remarkable story
to the little children of today.
We’d rather leave the marking of the date
he was assassinated in Memphis
to the history books.
But all of it is what we were given
and what he was given.
And, this year, as we recall it was
forty-seven years ago on April 4
that his “four little children”
lost him …
Let us not forget about them
as we rejoice that he belonged to the world
for as long as he did
as we examine the “content of his character”
around the globe, as long as we all still do.
In our minds, we will remember him
and that our voices must keep
challenging the injustices
as we keep yearning for equality for all.
Robert Kennedy suggested
we dedicate ourselves
to what the Greeks had written
many years before:
“To tame the savageness of man and
make gentle the life of this world.”
A man named Barack Obama,
also in our hearts,
became our President,
surely has dedicated himself to
“taming the savageness of man”
throughout the world
and to a “more perfect union”
here at home.
This year, no matter our religious beliefs
it seems quite fitting somehow,
if only for the history books,
that the date we recall sits between
Good Friday and Passover and Easter
while prayers from other faiths are also
around the clock,
all over the globe,
in the interests of the human race.
Dr. King, always in our hearts.
Hope and change, always on the horizon,
to “make gentle the life of this world.”
President Barack Obama smiles while speaking during an event marking the 5th anniversay of the Affordable Care Act at the South Court Auditorium of Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC.
This day, many hadn’t come
But all that was for naught
Because no one really noticed.
Those who came could have
Closed their eyes and still felt
The singular beauty of the place.
Could have still heard the silenced voices
Of the old warriors, and could have
Heard the sound the old bridge made
With the wind softly moving through it
And the shoes passionately walking over it
All voices still silent.
See and hear the beauty of the place
Look out into the rivers of time
Touch each other in
And feel the beauty of the day.
The remarkable memories it brought
Were enough. I wouldn’t change a thing.
No need to change the name of the bridge, either
That bridge belongs to everyone and no one, anyway.
It is a rare honor in this life to follow one of your heroes. And John Lewis is one of my heroes.
Now, I have to imagine that when a younger John Lewis woke up that morning fifty years ago and made his way to Brown Chapel, heroics were not on his mind. A day like this was not on his mind. Young folks with bedrolls and backpacks were milling about. Veterans of the movement trained newcomers in the tactics of non-violence; the right way to protect yourself when attacked. A doctor described what tear gas does to the body, while marchers scribbled down instructions for contacting their loved ones. The air was thick with doubt, anticipation, and fear. They comforted themselves with the final verse of the final hymn they sung:
No matter what may be the test, God will take care of you;
Lean, weary one, upon His breast, God will take care of you.
Then, his knapsack stocked with an apple, a toothbrush, a book on government — all you need for a night behind bars — John Lewis led them out of the church on a mission to change America.
President Bush and Mrs. Bush, Governor Bentley, Members of Congress, Mayor Evans, Reverend Strong, friends and fellow Americans:
There are places, and moments in America where this nation’s destiny has been decided. Many are sites of war — Concord and Lexington, Appomattox and Gettysburg. Others are sites that symbolize the daring of America’s character — Independence Hall and Seneca Falls, Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral.
Selma is such a place.
In one afternoon fifty years ago, so much of our turbulent history — the stain of slavery and anguish of civil war; the yoke of segregation and tyranny of Jim Crow; the death of four little girls in Birmingham, and the dream of a Baptist preacher — met on this bridge.
It was not a clash of armies, but a clash of wills; a contest to determine the meaning of America.
And because of men and women like John Lewis, Joseph Lowery, Hosea Williams, Amelia Boynton, Diane Nash, Ralph Abernathy, C.T. Vivian, Andrew Young, Fred Shuttlesworth, Dr. King, and so many more, the idea of a just America, a fair America, an inclusive America, a generous America — that idea ultimately triumphed.
As is true across the landscape of American history, we cannot examine this moment in isolation. The march on Selma was part of a broader campaign that spanned generations; the leaders that day part of a long line of heroes.
We gather here to celebrate them. We gather here to honor the courage of ordinary Americans willing to endure billy clubs and the chastening rod; tear gas and the trampling hoof; men and women who despite the gush of blood and splintered bone would stay true to their North Star and keep marching toward justice.
They did as Scripture instructed: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” And in the days to come, they went back again and again. When the trumpet call sounded for more to join, the people came — black and white, young and old, Christian and Jew, waving the American flag and singing the same anthems full of faith and hope. A white newsman, Bill Plante, who covered the marches then and who is with us here today, quipped that the growing number of white people lowered the quality of the singing. To those who marched, though, those old gospel songs must have never sounded so sweet.
In time, their chorus would reach President Johnson. And he would send them protection, echoing their call for the nation and the world to hear:
“We shall overcome.”
What enormous faith these men and women had. Faith in God — but also faith in America.
The Americans who crossed this bridge were not physically imposing. But they gave courage to millions. They held no elected office. But they led a nation. They marched as Americans who had endured hundreds of years of brutal violence, and countless daily indignities — but they didn’t seek special treatment, just the equal treatment promised to them almost a century before.
After a life filled with transformation, Malcolm X found himself in February 1965 in the throes of yet another. He had been a fringe figure, known mostly to a small circle of black Muslims and big-city sophisticates, but now he was branching out — seeking allies at home and abroad to help him become a part of the Southern civil rights movement. He had plans to take the cause to the United Nations, charging the U.S. government with failure to protect its black citizens from racist white terrorism. 50 years after he was gunned down by an assassin in Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom, Malcolm X is getting another look. His issues — particularly those that occupied the last year of his life — and his tactics speak to the current conversation.
Police brutality? Malcolm would have been on point amid the protests in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island. “Whenever something happens, 20 police cars swarm on one neighborhood,” Malcolm told an interviewer during his crusade against anti-crime bills. “This force . . . creates a spirit of resentment in every Negro. They think they are living in a police state and they become hostile toward the policeman.” Voting rights? Once again in the spotlight, as activists challenge photo ID laws that they say hinder minority voters, and definitely a preoccupation for Malcolm. “When white people are evenly divided, and black people have a bloc of votes of their own, it is left up to them to determine who’s going to sit in the White House and who’s going to be in the doghouse,” he said in 1964.
As people across the world commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, EBONY asked some of our favorite thought leaders to reflect on how “our Black shining prince” impacted their worldview, cultural identity and work: “He taught me what it meant to publicly be a work in progress, to publicly admit when you were wrong, all in a lifelong effort to be the best person he could be for his people, his family, and himself. I take him with me everywhere I go.“-Rembert Browne, writer. “I remember the first time I heard Brother Malcolm’s speech when he asked, “Who taught you to hate yourself?” I was 15. For me, there was a healing in his truth-telling. His words gave me permission to always call it as I see it. And without apology. “-Yaba Blay, scholar/author
“As a Black man, Malcolm X was one of my first glimpses into what it meant to be proud of your Blackness on your terms; as a storyteller, his book taught me the value in honesty and owning your truth, no matter how messy it might look in the rear view mirror.”-Michael Arceneaux, writer. “The more I learned the truth about Malcolm X, the more I began to love myself. His unwavering courage is how I attempt to show up in the world and in my work.” -Wade Davis, former NFL player/Executive Director, You Can Play Project. “Malcolm wasn’t perfect, but he strived to be, and do, better—to be his best possible self for his people. That is the true worth of a freedom fighter.” -Jason Parham, writer/editor. “Malcolm X’s life taught me that being angry about injustice is an opportunity to use my voice to speak out and use my gifts to spark change.”-Ebonie Johnson Cooper, philanthropist
Rabbi David Saperstein claps as President Obama approaches to sign an executive order to protect LGBT employees from federal workplace discrimination
Surrounded by LGBT supporters, including Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, President Barack Obama signs executive orders to protect LGBT employees from federal workplace discrimination in the East Room of the White House. President Obama’s executive orders prohibit discrimination against gay and transgender workers in the federal government and its contracting agencies, without a new exemption that was requested by some religious organizations
President Obama arrives to make a statement on the situation in Ukraine and Gaza
President Obama attends a town hall meeting to discuss his My Brother’s Keeper initiative while at the Walker Jones Education Campus in Washington. President Obama announced that leaders of 60 of the largest school systems have pledged to expand minority boys’ access to better preschools and advanced classes and to try to prevent grade retention, suspensions and expulsions
President Obama bestows former Army Staff Sergeant Ryan M. Pitts with the Medal of Honor in the East Room of the White House. Pitts is the ninth living recipient of the nation’s highest decoration for battlefield valor for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan
• • •
Chips butting in on Nerdy’s post:
A year ago today, the weirdest thing happened: Manchester United and Chelsea teamed up.
Yup, it’s exactly 12 months since Chelsea Girl took over the running of TOD with me, and I don’t have to tell you how much she has contributed since then, or how much work she has put in to the site with wonderful posts like this, every single day. And without her, TOD honestly wouldn’t even exist any more.
Thank you for everything – your intelligence, your energy, your passion, your determination, your dedication, your friendship, and your support.
It was a very, very happy day when you came in to TOD’s life, and mine.