Tag Archives: ~ Culture & History

I have been to the Mountaintop: April 3 ~ 4,1968


April 4, 1968, The civil rights leader was in Memphis to support a sanitation workers’ strike and was on his way to dinner when a bullet struck him in the jaw and severed his spinal cord. King, pronounced dead after his arrival at a Memphis hospital. He was 39 years old.

In the months before his assassination, Martin Luther King became increasingly concerned with the problem of economic inequality in America. He organized a Poor People’s Campaign to focus on the issue, including an interracial poor people’s marchon Washington, and in March 1968 traveled to Memphis in support of poorly treated African-American sanitation workers. On March 28, a workers’ protest march led by King ended in violence and the death of an African-American teenager. King left the city but vowed to return in early April to lead another demonstration.

On April 3, back in Memphis, King gave his last sermon, saying, “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop…And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”

One day after speaking those words, Dr. King was shot and killed by a sniper. As word of the assassination spread, riots broke out in cities all across the United States and National Guard troops were deployed in Memphis and Washington, D.C. On April 9, King was laid to rest in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. Tens of thousands of people lined the streets to pay tribute to King’s casket as it passed by in a wooden farm cart drawn by two mules.

The evening of King’s murder, a Remington .30-06 hunting rifle was found on the sidewalk beside a rooming house one block from the Lorraine Motel. During the next several weeks, the rifle, eyewitness reports, and fingerprints on the weapon all implicated a single suspect: escaped convict James Earl Ray. A two-bit criminal, Ray escaped a Missouri prison in April 1967 while serving a sentence for a holdup. In May 1968, a massive manhunt for Ray began. The FBI eventually determined that he had obtained a Canadian passport under a false identity, which at the time was relatively easy.

On June 8, Scotland Yard investigators arrested Ray at a London airport. He was trying to fly to Belgium, with the eventual goal, he later admitted, of reaching Rhodesia. Rhodesia, now called Zimbabwe, was at the time ruled by an oppressive and internationally condemned white minority government. Extradited to the United States, Ray stood before a Memphis judge in March 1969 and pleaded guilty to King’s murder in order to avoid the electric chair. He was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

Three days later, he attempted to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming he was innocent of King’s assassination and had been set up as a patsy in a larger conspiracy. He claimed that in 1967, a mysterious man named “Raoul” had approached him and recruited him into a gun running enterprise. On April 4, 1968, he said, he realized that he was to be the fall guy for the King assassination and fled to Canada. Ray’s motion was denied, as were his dozens of other requests for a trial during the next 29 years.

During the 1990s, the widow and children of Martin Luther King Jr. spoke publicly in support of Ray and his claims, calling him innocent and speculating about an assassination conspiracy involving the U.S. government and military. U.S. authorities were, in conspiracists’ minds, implicated circumstantially. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover obsessed over King, who he thought was under communist influence. For the last six years of his life, King underwent constant wiretapping and harassment by the FBI. Before his death, Dr. King was also monitored by U.S. military intelligence, which may have been asked to watch King after he publicly denounced the Vietnam War in 1967. Furthermore, by calling for radical economic reforms in 1968, including guaranteed annual incomes for all, King was making few new friends in the Cold War-era U.S. government.

Over the years, the assassination has been reexamined by the House Select Committee on Assassinations, the Shelby County, Tennessee, district attorney’s office, and three times by the U.S. Justice Department. The investigations all ended with the same conclusion: James Earl Ray killed Martin Luther King. The House committee acknowledged that a low-level conspiracy might have existed, involving one or more accomplices to Ray, but uncovered no evidence to definitively prove this theory. In addition to the mountain of evidence against him–such as his fingerprints on the murder weapon and his admitted presence at the rooming house on April 4–Ray had a definite motive in assassinating King: hatred. According to his family and friends, he was an outspoken racist who informed them of his intent to kill Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He died in 1998.

Maya Angelou … Shine On


Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Author, Poet, Mom, Singer, Dancer, Actor,  Activist

Maya Angelou is an American author and poet. She has published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning… wikipedia.org

44 Women Who Have Run for President


 

Women Presidential Candidates

Women Who Ran for President

Who were the early women candidates for president? Hillary Clinton in her 2008 run for the Democratic nomination for US President came the closest so far that any woman has come to winning the nomination of a major political party in the United States. But Clinton is not the first woman to run for United States President, and not even the first to run for a major party’s nomination. Here’s a list of the female presidential candidates, arranged chronologically by each woman’s first campaign for the office. The list is current through the 2012 election; women running in 2016 will be added after that election’s over.

Who was the first woman to run for president?

What woman ran for US president first? And which women have run since?

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American feminist politician and radical Victoria Claflin Woodhull and her sister Tennessee Claflin attempt to assert their right to vote in New York and are denied, circa 1875. Kean Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Victoria Woodhull

Equal Rights Party: 1872
Humanitarian Party: 1892

Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for president in the United States. Frederick Douglass was nominated as Vice President, but there’s no record that he accepted. Woodhull was also known for her radicalism as a woman suffrage activist and her role in a sex scandal involving noted preacher of the time, Henry Ward Beecher. More »

Belva Lockwood - Courtesy of the Library of Congress. Modifications © 2003 Jone Johnson Lewis.

Belva Lockwood. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. Modifications © 2003 Jone Johnson Lewis.

Belva Lockwood

National Equal Rights Party: 1884, 1888Belva Lockwood, an activist for voting rights for women and for African Americans, was also one of the earliest women lawyers in the United States. Her campaign for president in 1884 was the first full-scale national campaign of a woman running for president. More »

Laura Clay

Democratic Party, 1920Laura Clay, a Southern women’s rights advocate who supported state suffrage amendments so that the Southern states could limit suffrage to white women, had her name placed in nomination at the 1920 Democratic National Convention, to which she was a delegate. More »

Grace Allen

Surprise Party: 1940Comedian and actress, partner with husband George Burns on the George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, Grace Allen ran for president in 1940 as a publicity stunt. She was not on the ballot — it was, after all, a stunt — but she did get write-in votes.

Margaret Chase Smith

Republican Party: 1964She was the first woman to have her name placed in nomination for president at a major political party’s convention. She was also the first woman elected to serve in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. More »

Charlene Mitchell

Communist Party: 1968Nominated by the (tiny) Communist Party in 1968, Charlene Mitchell was the first African American woman nominated for president in the United States. She was on the ballot in two states in the general election, and received less than 1,100 votes nationally.

Shirley Chisholm Announcing Her Run for the Presidency 1972 - Don Hogan Charles/New York Times Co./Getty Images

Shirley Chisholm Announcing Her Run for the Presidency 1972. Don Hogan Charles/New York Times Co./Getty Images

Shirley Chisholm

Democratic Party: 1972A civil rights and women’s rights advocate, Shirley Chisholm ran for the Democratic nomination in 1972 with the slogan, “Unbought and Unbossed.” Her name was placed in nomination at the 1972 convention, and she won 152 delegates. More »

Patsy Takemoto Mink

Democratic Party: 1972She was the first Asian American to seek nomination as president by a major political party. She was on the Oregon primary ballot in 1972. She was at that time a member of the U.S. Congress, elected from Hawaii.

Bella Abzug in 1971 - Tim Boxer/Getty Images

Bella Abzug in 1971. Tim Boxer/Getty Images

Bella Abzug

Democratic Party: 1972One of three women to seek the Democratic Party nomination for president in 1972, Abzug was at the time a member of Congress from the West Side of Manhattan. More »

Linda Osteen Jenness

Socialist Workers Party: 1972Underage for the Constitution’s requirements for the presidency, Linda Jenness ran against Nixon in 1972 and was on the ballot in 25 states. In three states where Jenness was not accepted for the ballot because of her age, Evelyn Reed was in the presidential slot. Their vote total was less than 70,000 nationally.

Patricia Robert Harris ~ Women’s History Month



National Museum of African American History and Culture
Lonnie Bunch, museum director, historian, lecturer, and author, is proud to present A Page From Our American Story, a regular on-line series for Museum supporters. It will showcase individuals and events in the African American experience, placing these stories in the context of a larger story — our American story.
A Page From Our American Story
A Higher Standard: Patricia Roberts Harris
Patricia Roberts Harris sworn in as US Ambassador to Luxembourg
Patricia Harris in her swearing in ceremony
to be the U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg.
Provided by the U.S. State Department.

Black women have always served a critical role in the African American community, from the names we all know — Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Rosa Parks — to today’s young mother fighting for educational opportunities for her children. Others have quietly broken barriers to open doors that were once closed to people of color.

Patricia Roberts Harris is one of those quiet warriors whose life stands as a testament to excellence, tenacity, and commitment to change.

She was born on May 31, 1924, the daughter of Hildren and Bert Roberts, in Mattoon, Illinois. A product of Illinois public schools, Harris attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., on scholarship and graduated summa cum laude in 1945. From early in her life as a brilliant scholar at Howard, she went on to become the first African American woman to serve as a United States ambassador and later the first African American woman to serve as a Cabinet Secretary. Harris was a powerful influence in American politics and a major figure during the Civil Rights Movement.

After graduation from Howard, she went back to the mid-west and began graduate work at the University of Chicago in 1946. But the opportunity to become actively involved in working for social justice drew her back to Washington, D.C. She continued her graduate work at American University, and, at the same time, served as assistant director for the American Council of Human Rights. She also served as the first national executive director of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., of which she was a member.

At the encouragement of her husband, William Beasley Harris, a prominent attorney in the District, Harris enrolled in The George Washington University Law School, where she graduated in 1960, first in her class.

During this time, while still active in the fight for civil rights, Harris became increasingly involved in the Democratic Party. Her ability to organize and manage did not go unnoticed. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy selected Harris to co-chair the National Women’s Committee for Civil Rights, described as an “umbrella organization encompassing some 100 women’s groups throughout the nation.”

In October of 1965, President Lyndon Johnson appointed Harris ambassador to Luxembourg, making her the first African American woman to be chosen as a United States envoy. For Harris the historic moment was bittersweet, saying, “I feel deeply proud and grateful this President chose me to knock down this barrier, but also a little sad about being the ‘first Negro woman’ because it implies we were not considered before.”

With the change of administration in 1968, Harris’ diplomatic role ended. She returned to Washington, D.C., and became the first woman to serve as Dean of Howard University’s School of Law.

In the early 1970s, Harris’ involvement in the Democratic Party culminated in her being named chairman of the powerful credentials committee and an at-large-delegate to the Democratic National Convention.

The election of Jimmy Carter in 1976 thrust Harris into the spotlight, again for another “first.” Shortly after taking office in 1977, Carter selected Harris to become Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Again Harris made history, this time by not only becoming the first African American woman to become a Cabinet Secretary, but also the first to be in the line of succession to the Presidency, at number 13.

During her confirmation hearing, Senator William Proxmire challenged her nomination and asked her if she felt capable of representing the interests of the poor and less fortunate in America. By this time in Harris’ life she had established herself as not only a recognized leader for civil rights, but also as a prominent corporate lawyer and businesswoman. Some, including a few black leaders, wondered if Harris had grown out of touch with the very people she was charged with serving.

Harris’ answer silenced her critics and perhaps best explains what motivated her throughout her life:

“Senator, I am one of them. You do not seem to understand who I am. I am a black woman, the daughter of a dining car waiter. …a black woman who could not buy a house eight years ago in parts of the District of Columbia. I didn’t start out as a member of a prestigious law firm, but as a woman who needed a scholarship to go to school. If you think I have forgotten that, you are wrong…if my life has any meaning at all, it is that those who start out as outcasts may end up being part of the system.”

 

US Postal Stamp of Patricia Roberts Harris

During her tenure as HUD Secretary, she helped reshape the focus of the department. A staunch supporter of housing rehabilitation, Harris funneled millions of dollars into upgrading deteriorating neighborhoods rather than wiping them out through slum clearance. She developed a Neighborhood Strategy Program that subsidized the renovation of apartments in deteriorated areas. In addition, she expanded the Urban Homesteading Plan and initiated Urban Development Action Grants to lure businesses into blighted areas. She poured millions of dollars into renovating deteriorating housing projects throughout the nation.

Harris was so effective in her post, that when HUD was split to create two new entities — the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — Carter moved quickly to name Harris secretary of HHS, a position she held for the remainder of his administration.

In 1982, following an unsuccessful bid to become mayor of Washington, D.C., Harris became a full-time professor at The George Washington University National Law Center. She passed away on March 23, 1985 at the age of 60.

In January, 2000, the U.S. Postal Service honored Ms. Harris with a commemorative postage stamp bearing her likeness. Dignitaries from around the nation attended the unveiling ceremony at Howard University, her alma mater, to pay tribute and recognize her contribution to the nation. In addition, Howard created the Harris Public Service Program in her honor to augment its course offerings in public policy and to encourage students to consider careers in public service.

Patricia Roberts Harris’ life is a powerful chapter in our American story. “I am one of them…,” she said at her 1977 hearing to become HUD Secretary. Those words underscored her commitment to social justice and her sense of responsibility to the African American community and to the nation. Those words serve as testament to her life and legacy: political pioneer, successful businesswoman, educator, and champion for civil and equal rights.

All the best,
Lonnie Bunch, Director

Lonnie Bunch
Director
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the newest member of the Smithsonian Institution’s family of extraordinary museums.

The Museum will be far more than a collection of objects.
The Museum will be a powerful, positive force in the national discussion about race and the important role African Americans have played in the American story — a museum that will make all Americans proud.

Selma ~ In Memory of ~ 55 years ago


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  March on Selma

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the 1965 marches in Selma, Alabama — a moment in American history that is layered with bravery, fear, hope, hatred, violence, perseverance, and triumph.

In many ways, Selma is the quintessential American story of people banding together against all odds to stand up for the promise of freedom and fairness. It is a story that deserves to be told, explored and understood by every American in this country.
Whether we realize it or not, every one of us was touched by this courageous moment that is often considered the emotional and political peak of the Civil Rights Movement.

It is because of events like the Selma marches … and the entire Civil Rights Movement … that makes the completing of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall so important.

The construction of the Museum is more than halfway complete. But to ensure we can open the Museum’s doors in early fall of next year as scheduled requires additional support from those of us who understand the importance of building this place of remembrance, celebration and reconciliation. Please help keep us on track with a donation of $ 25 or more today.

When I think of African American history, I often think of Selma, Alabama and the Civil Rights crusaders who made the historic marches and all of the African-American heroes, famous and not famous, and the white supporters who came together to push freedom forward.

I’m thinking of people like Amelia Boynton who was beaten, tear-gassed, and left for dead during the Bloody Sunday March. Ms. Boynton lived to tell her story and she is now 103 years old. But it is up to people like you and me to build our Museum to make sure her brave story lives on forever.

That is why the Museum embarked on the very important task of interviewing people who were foot soldiers in the Civil Rights Movement, to give them the chance to tell their stories and have them preserved and shared in ways that resonate with people from all backgrounds.

So as we spend this month commemorating the heroes who courageously marched from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, please take your celebration one step further by making a special contribution of $ 25 or more to the Museum that will forever share this important history with the world.

On behalf of the entire Museum, thank you again for your leadership and support.
All the best,

Lonnie_Signature.jpg
Lonnie G. Bunch
Founding Director