Tag Archives: Martin Luther King

Sep 15, 1963: Four black schoolgirls killed in Birmingham ~ Women’s History Month


The four girls killed in the bombing (Clockwis...
The four girls killed in the bombing (Clockwise from top left, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On this day in 1963, a bomb explodes during Sunday morning services in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young girls.

With its large African-American congregation, the 16th Street Baptist Church served as a meeting place for civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., who once called Birmingham a “symbol of hardcore resistance to integration.” Alabama’s governor, George Wallace, made preserving racial segregation one of the central goals of his administration, and Birmingham had one of the most violent and lawless chapters of the Ku Klux Klan.

The church bombing was the third in Birmingham in 11 days after a federal order came down to integrate Alabama’s school system. Fifteen sticks of dynamite were planted in the church basement, underneath what turned out to be the girls’ restroom. The bomb detonated at 10:19 a.m., killing Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Addie Mae Collins–all 14 years old–and 11-year-old Denise McNair. Immediately after the blast, church members wandered dazed and bloodied, covered with white powder and broken stained glass, before starting to dig in the rubble to search for survivors. More than 20 other members of the congregation were injured in the blast.

When thousands of angry black protesters assembled at the crime scene, Wallace sent hundreds of police and state troopers to the area to break up the crowd. Two young black men were killed that night, one by police and another by racist thugs. Meanwhile, public outrage over the bombing continued to grow, drawing international attention to Birmingham. At a funeral for three of the girls (one’s family preferred a separate, private service), King addressed more than 8,000 mourners.

A well-known Klan member, Robert Chambliss, was charged with murder and with buying 122 sticks of dynamite. In October 1963, Chambliss was cleared of the murder charge and received a six-month jail sentence and a $100 fine for the dynamite. Although a subsequent FBI investigation identified three other men–Bobby Frank Cherry, Herman Cash and Thomas E. Blanton, Jr.–as having helped Chambliss commit the crime, it was later revealed that FBI chairman J. Edgar Hoover blocked their prosecution and shut down the investigation without filing charges in 1968. After Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley reopened the case, Chambliss was convicted in 1977 and sentenced to life in prison.

Efforts to prosecute the other three men believed responsible for the bombing continued for decades. Though Cash died in 1994, Cherry and Blanton were arrested and charged with four counts of murder in 2000. Blanton was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Cherry’s trial was delayed after judges ruled he was mentally incompetent to stand trial. This decision was later reversed. On May 22, 2002, Cherry was convicted and sentenced to life, bringing a long-awaited victory to the friends and families of the four young victims.

history.com

On “Bloody Sunday” March 1965 600 civil rights marchers took to US Rte 80 ~ In Memory


Selma-to-Montgomery MarchWWW.NPS.GOV

Edmund Pettus Bridge The Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma, Alabama
Photograph courtesy of the Alabama Historical Commission

Marchers meet the Police Alabama Police confront the Selma Marchers
Federal Bureau of Investigation Photograph

The Selma-to-Montgomery March for voting rights ended three weeks–and three events–that represented the political and emotional peak of the modern civil rights movement. On “Bloody Sunday,” March 7, 1965, some 600 civil rights marchers headed east out of Selma on U.S. Route 80. They got only as far as the Edmund Pettus Bridge six blocks away, where state and local lawmen attacked them with billy clubs and tear gas and drove them back into Selma. Two days later on March 9, Martin Luther King, Jr., led a “symbolic” march to the bridge. Then civil rights leaders sought court protection for a third, full-scale march from Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery. Federal District Court Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., weighed the right of mobility against the right to march and ruled in favor of the demonstrators. “The law is clear that the right to petition one’s government for the redress of grievances may be exercised in large groups…,” said Judge Johnson, “and these rights may be exercised by marching, even along public highways.” On Sunday, March 21, about 3,200 marchers set out for Montgomery, walking 12 miles a day and sleeping in fields. By the time they reached the capitol on Thursday, March 25, they were 25,000-strong. Less than five months after the last of the three marches, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965–the best possible redress of grievances.

The Selma-to-Montgomery March, National Historic Trail & All-American Road is one of the subjects of an online lesson plan, The Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March: Shaking the Conscience of the Nation, produced by Teaching with Historic Places, a program that offers classroom-ready lesson plans on places listed in the National Register of Historic Places. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.

In 1996 the Selma-to-Montgomery National Historic Trail was created by Congress under the National Trails System Act of 1968. Like other “historic” trails covered in the legislation, the Alabama trail is an original route of national significance in American history. An inter-agency panel of experts recommended, and the Secretary of Transportation designated the trail an “All-American Road”–a road that has national significance, cannot be replicated, and is a destination unto itself. This designation is the highest tribute a road can receive under the Federal Highway Administration’s National Scenic Byways Program, created by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991.

Civil Rights Groups Expect Swell of Support ~Black History Month


          The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gestures during his "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963. Some at the National Urban League conference have called for another such march in the wake of the Trayvon Martin verdict and the Supreme Court's decision on the Voting Rights Act.
Leaders at the National Urban League convention say recent Voting

Rights Act decision and Trayvon Martin case have galvanized many

By Elizabeth Flock

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gestures during his “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington on Aug. 28, 1963. Some at the National Urban League conference have called for another such march in the wake of the Trayvon Martin verdict and the Supreme Court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act.

PHILADELPHIA – The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington was intended to be a look back on the historic march of 1963 and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech during the height of the civil rights movement.

But the recent Supreme Court decision that struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act coupled with the “not guilty” verdict in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin has lent new urgency and more participants to the anniversary event, according to groups involved.

[PHOTOS: Joe Biden Leads Re-enactment of Voting Rights March]

In Philadelphia, where the National Urban League is holding its annual conference on Thursday and Friday, president Marc Morial says that both the conference and march have changed in focus and in tenor because of “what’s happened in the last 30 days.”

“The Voting Rights Act decision [and] the Trayvon Martin tragedy [have] created a different mood among the people who are here. It’s a different kind of focus in their hearts and minds,” he says. “It’s a different enthusiasm.”

Some of that emotion, he says, has shown itself in the form of renewed distrust in the criminal justice system. Several panels at the conference also expressed frustration with the Supreme Court. And in a speech at the conference Thursday morning, Barbara Arnwine, executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, was greeted by frustrated cheers when she told the crowd she’d better see them at the 50th anniversary march next month.

[READ: Holder Says Texas Must Get Pre-Approval Before Changing Voting Laws]

But Morial hopes those frustrations can be channeled into calls for action at the march: for a congressional fix to the Voting Rights Act, a hard look at the criminal justice system after the Trayvon Martin case and a plan for dealing with the lack of employment in minority communities.

The National Urban League is just one of some two dozen civil and human rights groups involved in the event. Five participating groups took part in the original 1963 march, but many more are new, including Rev. Al Sharpton‘s National Action Network, which has 40 chapters across the country, the National Council of Churches, which includes 100,000 local congregations, and the National Park Service.

“There were 250,000 people in 1963,” says Morial. “It remains to be seen this time… [But] these recent events have been encouragement for more people to attend.”

“I Have a Dream Speech” 8/28/1963


 

On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr., delivered a speech to a massive group of civil rights marchers gathered around the Lincoln memorial in Washington DC.  The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom brought together the nations most prominent civil rights leaders, along with tens  of thousands of marchers, to press the United States government for equality.   The culmination of this event was the influential and most memorable speech of Dr. King’s career.  Popularly known as the “I have a Dream” speech, the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. influenced  the Federal government to take more direct actions to more fully realize racial equality.

Mister Maestro, Inc., and Twentieth Century Fox Records Company recorded the speech and offered the recording for sale.   Dr. King and his attorneys claimed that the speech was copyrighted and the recording violated that copyright. The court found in favor of Dr. King. Among the papers filed in the case and available at the National Archives at New York City is a deposition given by Martin Luther King, Jr. and signed in his own hand.

RIP

-Nativegrl

The March on Washington is a people’s movement … ~~NAACP ~ ~


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The Supreme Court decision in Shelby County vs. Holder this summer shook
the very foundation of the Voting Rights Act. The very same Voting
Rights Act that brought tens of thousands of activists to march on
Washington in August, 1963.

On that hot summer day, people from every corner of our country united
for a momentous event, rallying around a shared message of civil
liberty, civil rights, and economic freedom and opportunity for all.

Fifty years later, it’s time for us to march again. The NAACP, along
with the National Action Network, Realizing the Dream, and many other
conveners will host a march in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the 50th
anniversary of the March on Washington.

We remain inspired by the titans of our movement — Wilkins, Parks, King
and more — who marched at a pivotal time in the fight for civil rights.
And if our experience this year has shown us anything, it’s that we are
at another pivotal moment in history.

Discriminatory laws cripple the chances of too many people, of all ages
and backgrounds, who want nothing more than a shot at the American
Dream.

Voter disenfranchisement prevents far too many Americans from having
free and unfettered access to the ballot box, and keeps our most
vulnerable citizens from having proper representation in government.

And far, far too many of our children are gunned down in senseless acts
of violence every day. We march in the name of Trayvon Martin and other
victims of racial profiling and gun violence.

We’ve made incredible progress, but we have a long way to go. We must
carry the torch of freedom and equality forward for the next generation.
So we march again on August 24th. We march for those who have been
trampled by injustice, and for all our heroes who marched 50 years ago.
This grassroots movement belongs to you.
The size, the strength, and the power of our movement depends on you.

 

Thank you,
Ben
Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO
NAACP