Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Rosa Parks

There is no one who embodies standing up to inequality better than Rosa Parks.Rosa Parks sacrificed her freedom for others. She did this by refusing to give up her seat to a white person, which sent her to jail.

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks is forever a historical icon. She was black woman who has inspired me in my life. She represented courage and social activism. Long before the Montgomery Bus Boycott, she was always active to help black people. One common myth (as shown by many people) is that Rosa Parks only refused to get on the back on the bus. The truth is that Rosa Parks throughout her life was a dedicated social activist who fought for the freedom of black people and the rest of the human race. Rosa Parks loved the people. Her family loved her humanity and she constantly supported her family in monumental ways. By the 1960's, she was involved in progressive politics in order for the world to change. She lived in Detroit during the latter years of her life. Her spirit was strong and her intellect was amazing. Rosa Parks stood up despite the obstacles in order for change to come. She lived a long life and she loved her family a great deal. This work will outline information about her life, so we can be reminded on the comprehensive consciousness that she possessed. She led people and Rosa Parks is a great black woman of the ages. Rosa Parks also knew Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Rosa Parks was her own woman. We, as black people, have a God given right to not only speak up for our rights, but to stand up and fight for our rights too. We have done greatness in the past and in the present. We will continue to advance greatness in the future. We celebrate her life by learning lessons and reaching others to see their own human value.

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Early Years

Rosa Parks was born in Tuskegee, Alabama on February 4, 1913. Her original name was Rosa Louise McCauley. Her mother, Leona (nee Edwards) was a teacher. His father was James McCauley and he was a carpenter. She was a small child. She dealt with chronic tonsillitis. Her parents separated. So, she moved with her mother to Pine Level. That is located just outside of the state capital of Montgomery. She grew up on a farm with her maternal grandparents, mother, and younger brother Sylvester. They were all members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). The AME is an over century old independent black denomination. It was founded by free black people in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the early nineteenth century. Rosa Parks attended rural schools until she was 11. She was a student at the Industrial School for Girls in Montgomery. She took academic and vocational courses. For secondary education, she went to a laboratory schools set up by the Alabama State Teachers College for Negroes. She dropped out in order for her to care for her grandmother and later her mother. They were both ill. Her early life was filled with Jim Crow oppression. By the turn of the 20th century, the former Confederate states (which included Alabama) established new constitutions. These new constitutions and electoral laws disfranchised black voters including poor white voters in Alabama too. Jim Crow laws were passed by Democrats who regained control of southern legislatures. Racial segregation was abundant. It was imposed in public facilities and retail stores in the South. Public transportation was segregated too. It was so bad that bus and train companies endorsed seating policies with separate sections for black people and white people. School bus transportation was non-existent for black schoolchildren of the South. Black education was underfunded.

Rosa Parks spoke about going into the elementary school in Pine Level. School buses took white kids to their new school and black students had to walk to theirs. She said that: “…I'd see the bus pass every day... But to me, that was a way of life; we had no choice but to accept what was the custom. The bus was among the first ways I realized there was a black world and a white world…” Although Parks' autobiography recounts early memories of the kindness of white strangers, she could not ignore the racism of her society. When the Ku Klux Klan marched down the street in front of their house, Parks recalls her grandfather guarding the front door with a shotgun. The Montgomery Industrial School, founded and staffed by white northerners for black children, was burned twice by arsonists. Its faculty was ostracized by the white community. Repeatedly bullied by white children in her neighborhood, Parks often fought back physically.

She later said that "As far back as I remember, I could never think in terms of accepting physical abuse without some form of retaliation if possible." During the early 20th century, she was involved in social activism for justice. By 1932, she married Raymond Parks. Raymond was a barber from Montgomery. He was also a member of the NAACP. The NAACP back during that time period was collecting money to defend the Scottsboro Boys. They were a group of black men who were falsely accused of raping 2 white women. Rosa Parks worked in many jobs. She was a domestic worker and she was a hospital aide. She was urged by her husband to finish her high school studies in 1933.  By December 1943, Rosa Parks was active in the Civil Rights Movement.  In that year, she joined the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, and was elected secretary. She later said, "I was the only woman there, and they needed a secretary, and I was too timid to say no." She continued as secretary until 1957. She worked for the local NAACP leader Edgar Nixon, even though he maintained that "Women don't need to be nowhere but in the kitchen." Of course, I disagree with Edgar Nixon as women have the right to work outside of the kitchen if she wants to period. When Parks asked "Well, what about me?", he replied "I need a secretary and you are a good one." It is always important to defend the human rights of women. In 1944, in her capacity as secretary, she investigated the gang-rape of Recy Taylor, a black woman from Abbeville, Alabama.

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Parks and other civil rights activists organized the "Committee for Equal Justice for Mrs. Recy Taylor", launching what the Chicago Defender called "the strongest campaign for equal justice to be seen in a decade." Sister Recy Taylor was a victim of rape and the racists in Alabama refused to prosecute the 6 white racist rapists back during the 1940's and the 1950's. Rosa Parks wasn’t a Communist Party member, but she attended meetings with her husband. The Communist Party brought up the Scottsboro case in fighting racism. During the 1940’s, Rosa Parks and her husband joined the Voters’ League. She worked briefly in 1944 at the Maxwell Air Force Base. It was found in Montgomery, Alabama, but it didn’t have racial segregation since it was on federal property.  She rode on its integrated trolley. Speaking to her biographer, Parks noted, "You might just say Maxwell opened my eyes up." Parks worked as a housekeeper and seamstress for Clifford and Virginia Durr, a white couple. Politically liberal, the Durrs became her friends. They encouraged—and eventually helped sponsor—Parks in the summer of 1955 to attend the Highlander Folk School, an education center for activism in workers' rights and racial equality in Monteagle, Tennessee.  The veteran civil rights organizer Septima Clark mentored Parks at the Highlander Folk School. Anne Braden, Martin Luther King, Jr., James Bevel, Hollis Watkins, Bernard Lafayette, Ralph Abernathy and John Lewis in the mid- and-late 1950's were trained or had links to the Highlander School. In 1945, despite the Jim Crow laws and discrimination by registrars, she succeeded in registering to vote on her third try. In August of 1955, a black teenager named Emmett Till was brutally murdered by white racist criminals. This came after he was near a young white woman while visiting relatives in Mississippi. Recently, the white woman (whose name is Carolyn Bryant Donham) admitted that she lied about Emmett Till.

By November 27, 1955 (which was four days before she would make her stand on the bus), Rosa Parks attended a mass meeting at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery. The meeting addressed the case and the recent murders of the activists George W. Lee and Lamar Smith.  The featured speaker was T. R. M. Howard, a black civil rights leader from Mississippi who headed the Regional Council of Negro Leadership. Howard brought news of the recent acquittal of the two men who had murdered Till. Parks was deeply saddened and angry at the news, particularly because Till's case had garnered much more attention than any of the cases she and the Montgomery NAACP had worked on—and yet, the two men still walked free. This was the early life of the hero Rosa Parks.

~ Rosa Parks -- (Graphic: Credo Mobile)

The Montgomery Bus Boycott

Rosa Parks had a large involvement in the Montgomery Bus boycott movement. Before the boycott, oppression against black bus drivers was overt and abundant. In 1900, Montgomery had passed a city ordinance to segregate bus passengers by race. Conductors were empowered to assign seats to achieve that goal. The law back then wanted no passenger would be required to move up or give up their seat and stand if the bus was crowded and no other seats were available. Over time and by custom, however, Montgomery bus drivers adopted the practice of requiring black riders to move when there were no white only seats left. The first four rows of seats on each Montgomery bus were reserved for whites. Buses had “colored” sections for black people generally in the rear of the bus. Although, black people were more than 75% of the ridership. The sections were not fixed but were determined by the placement of a movable sign. Black people would sit in the middle rows until the white section was filled. If more whites needed seats, black people were to move to seats in the rear, stand, or, if there was no room leave the bus. Black people could not sit across the aisle in the same row as white people. The driver could move the "colored" section sign, or remove it altogether. If white people were already sitting in the front, black people had to board at the front to pay the fare, then disembark and reenter through the rear door. This was an unfair system. Black Americans opposed this injustice. Rosa Parks have said that, “My resisting being mistreated on the bus did not begin with that particular arrest. I did a lot of walking in Montgomery.” By 1943 on one day, Rosa Parks boarded a bus and paid the fare. She then moved to her seat but driver James F. Blake told her to follow city rules and enter the bus again from the back door. When Parks exited the vehicle, Blake drove off without her. Parks waited for the next bus, determined never to ride with Blake again.

After working all day, Rosa Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue Bus. This was a General Motors Old Look bus. It belonged to the Montgomery City Lines. At around 6 pm., Thursday, December 1, 1955, in downtown Montgomery, she paid her fare and sat in an empty seat in the first row of the back seats. These seats were reserved for black Americans and they were in the “colored” section. Near the middle of the bus, her row was directly behind the ten seats reserved for white passengers. Initially, she didn’t notice that the bus driver was the same man was James F. Blake. Blake was the one who had left her in the rain in 1943.  As the bus traveled along its regular route, all of the white only seats in the bus filled up. The bus reached the third stop in front of the Empire Theater. Several white passengers boarded. Blake noticed that two or three white passengers were standing, as the front of the bus had filled to capacity. He moved the “colored” section sign behind Parks and demanded that four black people give up their seats in the middle section, so that the white passengers could sit.

Years later, in recalling the events of the day, Parks said, "When that white driver stepped back toward us, when he waved his hand and ordered us up and out of our seats, I felt a determination to cover my body like a quilt on a winter night." By Parks' account, Blake said, "Y'all better make it light on yourselves and let me have those seats."  Three of them complied. Parks said, "The driver wanted us to stand up, the four of us. We didn't move at the beginning, but he says, 'Let me have these seats.' And the other three people moved, but I didn't."  The black man sitting next to her gave up his seat. Rosa Parks moved, but toward the window seat, she didn’t get up to move to the redesignated colored section.

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Parks later said about being asked to move to the rear of the bus that, “I thought of Emmett Till and I just couldn't go back." Blake said, "Why don't you stand up?" Parks responded, "I don't think I should have to stand up." Blake called the police to arrest Parks. When recalling the incident for Eyes on the Prize, a 1987 public television series on the Civil Rights Movement, Parks said, "When he saw me still sitting, he asked if I was going to stand up, and I said, 'No, I'm not.' And he said, 'Well, if you don't stand up, I'm going to have to call the police and have you arrested.' I said, 'You may do that.'" During a 1956 radio interview with Sydney Rogers in West Oakland several months after her arrest, Parks said she had decided, "I would have to know for once and for all what rights I had as a human being and a citizen."

In her autobiography, My Story she said: “…People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in…” When Parks refused to give up her seat, a police officer arrested her. As the officer took her away, she recalled that she asked, "Why do you push us around?" She remembered him saying, "I don't know, but the law's the law, and you're under arrest." She later said, "I only knew that, as I was being arrested, that it was the very last time that I would ever ride in humiliation of this kind..."  Parks was charged with a violation of Chapter 6, Section 11 segregation law of the Montgomery City code, although technically she had not taken a white-only seat; she had been in a colored section. Edgar Nixon, president of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP and leader of the Pullman Porters Union, and her friend Clifford Durr bailed Parks out of jail that evening.

Afterwards, the boycott happened. Nixon talked with Jo Ann Robinson. Jo Ann Robinson was an Alabama State College professor. She was also a member of the Women’s Political Council (WPC). They talked about the Parks case. Robinson believed that it was important to seize the opportunity and stayed up all night mimeographing over 35,000 handbills announcing a bus boycott. The Women’s Political Council was the first group to officially endorse the boycott. On Sunday, December 4, 1955, plans for the Montgomery Bus Boycott were announced at black churches in the area. There was a front page article in the Montgomery Advertiser. That newspaper helped to spread the word. At a church rally that night, those attending agreed unanimously to continue the boycott until they were treated with the level of courtesy that they expected, until black drivers were hired and until the seating in the middle of the bus was handled on a first come basis. The next day, Rosa Parks was tried on charges of disorderly conduct and violating a local ordinance. The trial lasted 30 minutes. After being found guilty and fined $10, plus $4 in court costs, Parks appealed her conviction and formally challenged the legality of racial segregation. In a 1992 interview with National Public Radio's Lynn Neary, Parks recalled: “…I did not want to be mistreated, I did not want to be deprived of a seat that I had paid for. It was just time... there was opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way I felt about being treated in that manner. I had not planned to get arrested. I had plenty to do without having to end up in jail. But when I had to face that decision, I didn't hesitate to do so because I felt that we had endured that too long. The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became…”

On the day of Parks' trial — December 5, 1955 — the WPC distributed the 35,000 leaflets. The handbill read, “We are ... asking every Negro to stay off the buses Monday in protest of the arrest and trial ... You can afford to stay out of school for one day. If you work, take a cab, or walk. But please, children and grown-ups, don't ride the bus at all on Monday. Please stay off the buses Monday.” It rained that day. The black community preservered in the boycott. Some rode in carpools, while others traveled in black operated cabs that charged the same fare as the bus, 10 cents. Most of the remainder of the 40,000 black commuters walked. Some walked as far as 20 miles (30 km). That evening after the success of the one day boycott, a group of 16 to 18 people gathered at the Mt. Zion AME Zion Church to discuss boycott strategies. At the time, Parks was introduced, but not asked to speak. She received a standing ovation and calls from the crowd for her to speak. When she asked if she should say something, the reply was “Why, you’ve said enough.” Also, many black people refused to go in the back of the bus before Rosa Parks too like Claudette Clovin (who was pregnant during the time) on March 2, 1955. She was a dedicated civil rights activist. Claudette Clovin was just as dedicated to justice as anyone else. Clovin fought for freedom as well and her sacrifice should always be acknowledged and respected. Elizabeth Jennings Graham fought segregation in NYC streetcars during the 19th century. She worked as a civil rights leader to end segregation in New York City transit systems. Ellen Anderson fought discrimination during the 1800's too.

The group, involved in the Montgomery bus boycott movement, agreed that a new organization was needed to lead the boycott effort if it were to continue. Rev. Ralph Abernathy suggested the name of Montgomery Improvement Association or the MIA. The name was adopted and the MIA was created. Its members elected as their president Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King was a newcomer to Montgomery, who was young and a mostly unknown minister of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. That Monday night, 50 leaders of the African-American community gathered to discuss actions to respond to Parks' arrest. Edgar Nixon, the president of the NAACP, said, "My God, look what segregation has put in my hands!" Parks was considered the ideal plaintiff for a test case against city and state segregation laws, as she was seen as a responsible, mature woman with a good reputation. She was securely married and employed, was regarded as possessing a quiet and dignified demeanor, and was politically savvy. King said that Parks was regarded as "one of the finest citizens of Montgomery—not one of the finest Negro citizens, but one of the finest citizens of Montgomery."

Dr. King gave his historic speech about the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 in the following terms:

"...As we stand and sit here this evening and as we prepare ourselves for what lies ahead, let us go out with a grim and bold determination that we are going to stick together. We are going to work together. Right here in Montgomery, when the history books are written in the future somebody will have to say, "There lived a race of people a black people, 'fleecy locks and black complexion’, a people who had the moral courage to stand up for their rights. And thereby they injected a new meaning into the veins of history and of civilization." And we're gonna do that. God grant that we will do it before it is too late. As we proceed with our program let us think of these things.

But just before leaving I want to say this. I want to urge you. You have voted [for this boycott], and you have done it with a great deal of enthusiasm, and I want to express my appreciation to you, on behalf of everybody here. Now let us go out to stick together and stay with this thing until the end. Now it means sacrificing, yes, it means sacrificing at points. But there are some things that we've got to learn to sacrifice for. And we've got to come to the point that we are determined not to accept a lot of things that we have been accepting in the past.

So I'm urging you now. We have the facilities for you to get to your jobs, and we are putting, we have the cabs there at your service. Automobiles will be at your service, and don't be afraid to use up any of the gas. If you have it, if you are fortunate enough to have a little money, use it for a good cause. Now my automobile is gonna be in it, it has been in it, and I'm not concerned about how much gas I'm gonna use. I want to see this thing work. And we will not be content until oppression is wiped out of Montgomery, and really out of America. We won't be content until that is done. We are merely insisting on the dignity and worth of every human personality. And I don't stand here, I'm not arguing for any selfish person. I've never been on a bus in Montgomery. But I would be less than a Christian if I stood back and said, because I don't ride the bus, I don't have to ride a bus, that it doesn't concern me. I will not be content. I can hear a voice saying, "If you do it unto the least of these, my brother, you do it unto me."

And I won't rest; I will face intimidation, and everything else, along with these other stalwart fighters for democracy and for citizenship. We don't mind it, so long as justice comes out of it. And I've come to see now that as we struggle for our rights, maybe some of them will have to die. But somebody said, if a man doesn't have something that he'll die for, he isn't fit to live..."

Rosa Parks’ court case was being slowed down in the appeals through the Alabama courts on their way to a federal appeal. The process could have taken years. They held to a boycott for a long time.

In the end, black residents of Montgomery continued the boycott for 381 days. Dozens of public buses stood idle for months. It severely damaged the bus transit company’s finances until the city repealed its law requiring segregation on public buses following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle that it was unconstitutional. Rosa Parks was not included as a plaintiff in the Browder decision because the attorney Fred Gray concluded the courts would perceive that they were attempting to circumvent her prosecution on her changes working their way through the Alabama state court system. Rosa Parks played a big role in raising the international awareness of the plight of African Americans and the civil rights struggle in general. Dr. King wrote in his 1958 book, “Stride Toward Freedom,” that Parks’ arrest was the catalyst rather than the cause of the protest:  "The cause lay deep in the record of similar injustices." He wrote, "Actually, no one can understand the action of Mrs. Parks unless he realizes that eventually the cup of endurance runs over, and the human personality cries out, 'I can take it no longer.'" Rosa Parks was a hero for the ages.

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In Detroit

After her arrest in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks became an icon of the Civil Rights Movement. Yet, she experienced many obstacles. Economic sanctions came against activists. She lost her job at the department store, because of her civil rights activism. Her husband quit his job after his boss forbade him to talk to about his wife or the legal case. Rosa Parks traveled the country to speak on many issues extensively. By 1957, Raymond and Rosa Parks left Montgomery. They came into Hampton, Virginia. They came into Virginia, because she couldn’t find a job. She also disagreed with Dr. King and other leaders of Montgomery’s civil rights leaders about how to proceed. She received constant death threats. In Hampton, she worked as a hostess in an inn at Hampton Institute (now Hampton University), which is a historically black college. Later, Rosa and Raymond Parks including her mother moved north into Detroit. They were inspired do so by Sylvester and Daisley McCauley (her brother and sister-in-law). Many leaders in Detroit wanted to promote a progressive reputation to the city. Yet, Rosa Parks encountered many signs of discrimination against African Americans. In Detroit back then, schools were heavily segregated. Many services in black neighborhoods were substandard. By 1964, Rosa Parks told an interviewer that, “I don't feel a great deal of difference here... Housing segregation is just as bad, and it seems more noticeable in the larger cities." She regularly participated in the movement for open and fair housing. Rosa Parks assisted the first campaign for Congress by John Conyers. She persuaded Dr. Martin Luther King (who was very reluctant to endorse local candidates) to appear before Conyers. Therefore, this boosted the novice candidate’s profile. Conyers was elected. He hired her as a secretary and receptionist for his Congressional office in Detroit. Rosa Parks held this position until she retired in 1988.

In a telephone interview with CNN on October 24, 2005, Conyers recalled, "You treated her with deference because she was so quiet, so serene — just a very special person ... There was only one Rosa Parks." Rosa Parks did much of the daily constituent work for Conyers. She focused on socio-economic issues like welfare, education, job discrimination, and affordable housing. Rosa Parks visited schools, hospitals, senior citizen facilities, and other community meetings. She kept Conyers (Coyners has been accused of sexual misconduct and I oppose any form of sexual misconduct and I oppose sexual harassment period. I want to make that clear) grounded in community concerns and activism. Rosa Parks continued to be involved in civil rights activism during the mid-1960’s. She traveled to support the Selma to Montgomery Marches, the Freedom Now Party, and the Lowndes County Freedom Organization. She befriended Malcolm X, who she regarded as a personal hero. Rosa Parks was concerned about housing issues like other Detroit black human beings. She lived in Virginia Park, which has been damaged by highway construction and urban renewal.

By 1962, policies caused the destruction of 10,000 structures in Detroit. 43,096 people were displaced. 70 percent of them were African Americans. Rosa Parks lived about a mile from the epicenter of the 1967 Detroit rebellion. She considered housing discrimination a major reason on why the rebellion took place in the first place. After the rebellion, Rosa Parks worked with members of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers and the Republic of New Afrika. She wanted to expose the police brutality in Detroit. She served on a “people’s tribunal” on August 30, 1967. This investigated the killing of three young men by the police during the 1967 rebellion. This was the Algiers Motel incident. She created the Virginia Park district council to help rebuild the area. The council helped to build the only black owned shopping center in the country. Rosa Parks worked in the Black Power Movement. She attended the Philadelphia Black Power conference, and the Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana. She also supported and visited the Black Panther school in Oakland.

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The 1970's and the 1980's

During the 1970’s, she worked in the prison rights movement. She wanted cases of self-defense to be worked out. She helped found the Detroit chapter of the Joann Little Defense Committee. Rosa Parks supported the Wilmington 10, the RNA-11, and Gary Tyler. Following national outcry around her case, Little succeeded in her defense that she used deadly force to resist sexual assault and was acquitted. Gary Tyler was finally released in April 2016 after 41 years in prison. During the 1970’s, it was a sad time for her in many ways. Her family experienced illnesses. She and her husband had stomach ulcers for years. They were both hospitalized. She had fame and constant speaking engagements. Yet, she wasn’t a wealthy woman. She donated most of the money from speaking to civil rights causes. She lived on her staff salary and her husband’s pension. Medical bills and time missed from work caused financial strain. That is why she received aid from church groups and admirers. Her husband died of throat cancer on August 19, 1977. Her brother and only sibling died of cancer that November. Her personal ordeals caused her to work with her family more. She learned from a newspaper of the death of Fannie Lou Hamer, once a close friend. Parks suffered two broken bones in a fall on an icy sidewalk, an injury which caused considerable and recurring pain. She decided to move with her mother into an apartment for senior citizens. There she nursed her mother Leona through the final stages of cancer and geriatric dementia until she died in 1979 at the age of 92.

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Later Years

In 1992, Rosa Parks published “Rosa Parks: My Story.” This book was an autobiography that was geared to younger readers. It shows her life leading to her decision to keep her seat on the bus. Years later in 1995, she published Quiet Strength. This book was her memoir, which focused on her faith. At the age of 81, she was robbed and assaulted in her home in central Detroit on August 30, 1994. The assailant, Joseph Skipper, broke down the door but claimed he had chased away an intruder. He requested a reward and when Parks paid him, he demanded more. Parks refused and he attacked her. Hurt and badly shaken, Parks called a friend, who called the police. A neighborhood manhunt led to Skipper's capture and reported beating. Parks was treated at Detroit Receiving Hospital for facial injuries and swelling on the right side of her face. Parks said about the attack on her by the African-American man, "Many gains have been made ... But as you can see, at this time we still have a long way to go." Skipper was sentenced to 8 to 15 years and was transferred to prison in another state for his own safety. She had anxiety. So, she moved into Riverfront Towers. This was a secure high rise apartment building. Learning of Parks' move, Little Caesars owner Mike Ilitch offered to pay for her housing expenses for as long as necessary.

In 1994, the Ku Klux Klan applied to sponsor a portion of United States Interstate 55 in St. Louis County and Jefferson County, Missouri, near St. Louis, for cleanup (which allowed them to have signs stating that this section of highway was maintained by the organization). Since the state could not refuse the KKK's sponsorship, the Missouri legislature voted to name the highway section the "Rosa Parks Highway." When asked how she felt about this honor, she is reported to have commented, "It is always nice to be thought of." In 1999, Parks filmed a cameo appearance for the television series Touched by an Angel.  It was her last appearance on film. Health problems made her increasingly an invalid. In 2002, Rosa Parks received an eviction notice from her $1800 per month apartment due to nonpayment of rent. She had age related physical and mental decline, so she had difficulty paying for her financial affairs. Her rent was paid from a collection taken by Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit. When her rent became delinquent and her impending eviction was highly publicized in 2004, executives of the ownership company announced they had forgiven the back rent and would allow Parks, by then 91 and in extremely poor health, to live rent free in the building for the remainder of her life.  Elaine Steele, who manages the nonprofit Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute, told the newspaper that Parks gets proper care and eviction notices were sent in error in 2002. Her heirs and various interest organizations alleged at the time that her financial affairs had been mismanaged. During the later years of Rosa Parks’ life, she continued to live her life.

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Her Passing and Funeral

Rosa Parks passed away in Detroit as a result of natural cases on October 24, 2005. She was 92 years old. She was in her apartment on the east side of the city. She outlived her only sibling. She was survived by her sister-in-law (Raymond's sister), 13 nieces and nephews and their families, and several cousins, most of them residents of Michigan or Alabama. City officials in Montgomery and Detroit said on October 27, 2005 that the front seats of their city buses would be reserved with black ribbons. They wanted to show honor of Rosa Parks. Her coffin was flown to Montgomery and taken in a horse drawn hearse to the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church. It stayed in repose at the altar on October 29, 2005. It was dressed in the uniform of a church deaconess. There was a memorial service held there the following morning. One of the speakers in the memorial was United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She said that if it had not been for Rosa Parks, she would probably have never became the Secretary of State. She is right. It is important to note why Condoleezza Rice said those words. Condoleezza Rice was born in Birmingham, Alabama in November 14, 1954. Her family and herself were victims of racism and discrimination. Condoleezza Rice played the piano as a youth. She was eight when her schoolmate Denise McNair (aged 11) was killed by racists in a mostly black Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on September 15, 1963. She was right to say that the terrorists who bombed the church failed to bury her aspirations. Her parents taught her show excellence despite the existence of racism and her parents were right. I have ideological disagreements with Rice on some issues, but it is true that Condoleezza Rice has made many excellent contributions in society by her own merit and effort.

In the evening the casket of Rosa Parks was transported to Washington, D.C. and transported by a bus similar to the one in which she made her protest, to lie in honor in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. Since the founding in 1852, the practice of lying in state in the rotunda, Rosa Parks was the 31st person to lay in state (she was the first American who had not been a U.S. government official and the second private person after French planner Pierre L’Enfant to be honored in this fashion). She was the first woman and second black person to lie in state in the Capitol. There was a memorial service that was held on that afternoon at Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, D.C. The speakers in the Washington, D.C. service included Oprah Winfrey, actress Cicely Tyson, NAACP chair Julian Bond, civil rights pioneer Dorothy Height, Parks’ childhood friend Johnnie Carr, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and then NAACP President Bruce Gordon.

Her body and casket returned to Detroit for 2 days. It lay in repose at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American history. Her funeral service was 7 hours long. It was held on November 2, 2005 at the Greater Grace Temple Church in Detroit. The service in Detroit had a diversity of speakers like Al Sharpton, then Senator Barack Obama, Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, Louis Farrakhan, and others. After the service, an honor guard from the Michigan National Guard laid the U.S. flag over the casket and carried it to a horse drawn hearse. This was intended to carry it in daylight to the cemetery. As the hearse passed the thousands of people who were viewing the procession, many clapped, cheered loudly and released white balloons. Parks was interred between her husband and mother at Detroit's Woodlawn Cemetery in the chapel's mausoleum. The chapel was renamed the Rosa L. Parks Freedom Chapel in her honor. Parks had previously prepared and placed a headstone on the selected location with the inscription "Rosa L. Parks, wife, 1913–." Rosa Parks personified courage, determination, and a gentle, strong spirit.

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"I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free... so other people would be also free."

-Rosa Parks


Throughout her life, Sister Rosa Parks inspires us all. Rosa Parks lived for almost a century on this Earth. She has seen so much from the existence of World War II, the end of Jim Crow, and to the beginning of the 21st century. She had a spirit of love and strength. She stood up against injustice involving segregated buses in the Deep South and housing discrimination in the North including the Midwest. She spoke her mind consistently. Also, Rosa Parks loved her family and cared for her relatives a great deal. She was a key person in the black freedom struggle who always had a strong political consciousness. She honored Malcolm X. She joined Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on many endeavors. Rosa Parks spoke up in favor of the Poor People's Campaign. Not to mention that she was an early opponent of the Vietnam War from the early 1960's.

Rosa Parks was part of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and she was a supporter of the Winter Soldier hearings in Detroit (which exposed the brutality found in the Vietnam War that harmed the lives of so many Americans and Vietnamese human beings) and the Jeannette Rankin Brigade protest in D.C. Rosa Parks was more than a woman who refused to sit in the back of the bus. She worked in collective groups in order for us to witness freedom in so many areas of our lives. She supported the human rights of political prisoners. Also, it is important to note that she had a militant, revolutionary ethos as she believed in self-defense. During the Montgomery Bus Boycott, her family had a gun at the house. His husband, Raymond, was politically active too. By the early 1980's, Rosa Parks was a public opponent of apartheid. She protested a South African embassy in America and opposed U.S. policies in Central America during the 1980's. After 9/11, she endorsed peace. Also, it is important to acknowledge the good news in the black community too. The murder rate in the black community has declined since 1980 nationwide. There is a lower teen pregnancy rate in the black community since 1992. Black people having new HIV/AIDS diagnoses have declined recently. Tons of black people are hardworking in America, pay taxes, and do many great contributions. Rosa Parks was always a revolutionary, heroic black woman. Her life should always motivate our lives too in the cause of human equality and social justice.

Rest in Power Sister Rosa Parks.

By Timothy

The following link has this information including more information:


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

50 Years after the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1968-2018)


There are many people in human history who have enacted an international impact in how society will change for the better. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was one man who changed history forever. He sacrificed his time and his life for social and racial justice. He believed in equality for all human life and he wanted economic justice too. Also, he wasn't just a civil rights leader. He was a man with great intellect, he had a great sense of humor (as attested by his family and friends), and he loved to inspire others to reach their highest potential. We honor his contributions that justly and rightfully helped humanity. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 1929. His father, grandfather, and great grandfather were preachers. His father was Martin Luther King Sr., who was stern and a person who wanted his children to express a steadfastness against injustice. His mother was Alberta Williams King. She believed in equality and instilled great values in her children too. His father opposed injustice and he was a well-known preacher in Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. Dr. Martin Luther King Sr. was an active proponent of racial justice in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s middle class childhood was filled with experiences of accomplishments, joy, tragedy, and racism. He was forced to stand up in a bus (because of Jim Crow laws) after he was involved in a childhood academic competition (he said that the incident was the time when he felt the most angry in his life). He saw his father experiencing racism.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. played sports (like football and basketball) and he was gifted with great intelligence. He graduated from Booker T. Washington high school at the age of 15 and he went to Morehouse College in September 20, 1944 in Atlanta. 2 years later, he published a letter to the Atlanta Constitution that stated that black people “are entitled to the basic rights and opportunities of American citizens.” Dr. King decided to be a minister and delivered his first prepared sermon in the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta during the Summer of 1947. He was 18 years old. He was ordained and appointed assistant pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta in February 25, 1948. He was naturally gifted to be a great orator. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology from Morehouse College in June 8, 1948. Later, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. studied theology in Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania and in Boston. In these universities, he believed in Personalism and he questioned capitalism in his letters. He loved to synthesize information. In other words, he evaluated philosophies in a meticulous fashion.

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Early Life

Around this time, he met Coretta Scott King. Coretta Scott King was from Alabama. She was her own woman and a great singer. Coretta Scott King was a political activist too who believed in peace, nuclear disarmament, and civil rights for decades. She wanted to be a singer and she at first wasn’t initially attracted to Dr. King until Dr. King shown his intellect about politics, civil rights, economics, etc. They both were very intelligent and they loved each other. Both of them married at the Scott home near Marion, Alabama in June 18, 1953. The Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 and the evil murder of Emmett Till in 1955 galvanized even more people in America to stand up and fight back against oppression in the Deep South and throughout the Earth. In 1954, he was a preacher in Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. The Montgomery Bus Boycott came about and King was chosen as President of the Montgomery Improvement Association or the MIA. He was chosen since he was new to Montgomery and he wasn't tied up in the city's politics so strongly. 

Many men and women worked hard for the boycott to be successful. Claudette Colvin, Rosa Parks, Mary Louise Smith, Jo Ann Robinson, Ralph Abernathy, E.D. Nixon, and many other heroes stood up to make the boycott great too. Georgia Gilmore, midwife and cook in Montgomery, Alabama, was prominently involved in the 1955 citywide bus boycotts. She started her own home-based restaurant and established The Club From Nowhere, selling fresh baked goods and the proceeds went to the MIA (Montgomery Improvement Association). The club name allowed them to earn money for the movement without raising the suspicion of white officials and members of the Klan. Dr. King's home was bombed and he received threatening phone calls (one such call in January 27, 1956 caused him to bow before his knees to pray to God. According to him, a voice told him to keep on going and that he or God will never forsake him never). Dr. King was influential in causing an end to the bigoted practice of segregated buses in Montgomery. The boycott ended by the Supreme Court decision ending segregated buses in Montgomery, Alabama by December of 1956.

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The Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC)

Dr. King was transformed into unconditionally supporting Gandhian nonviolence (as he once owned a gun in his home and he had armed bodyguards with him. Bayard Rustin was one man who inspired him especially to advance the pacifist action of nonviolence). He was influenced by black people, white liberal theologians, pacifists, Gandhi, and tons of other social activists who inspired him. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a pacifist, a Baptist clergyman, and he criticized capitalism. He spoke positively about democratic socialism. By the late 1950’s, Dr. King traveled the country to speak in favor of civil rights. He traveled into Ghana (with his wife Coretta Scott King) to celebrate its independence from colonialism. Ghana's independence was very important since it signified the beginning of the end of overt colonialism in the Motherland of Africa. He traveled with Coretta Scott King into India to study India and the nonviolent philosophy. By the late 1950's, the SCLC or the Southern Christian Leadership Council was established in order to create voter registration, to fight poverty, to build education, to promote workers' rights, and to ultimately end Jim Crow. In February 18, 1957, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was featured on the cover of TIME's magazine. Dr. King's book "Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story" was published by September 17, 1957. The late 1950's saw a not very strong Civil Rights bill passed and the evil of McCarthyism flourishing, but activism for change continued unabated.

Dr. King was the President of the SCLC for the rest of his life. The SCLC organization moved from Montgomery to Atlanta in 1960. In February 1, 1960, the modern sit in movement existed in Greensboro, North Carolina (though sit-ins existed long before 1960) by young black college students (their names are David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair, Jr., and Joseph McNeil). The sit-in happened in the Woolworths restaurant. In February 1960, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his family moved into Atlanta where he served as assistant pastor to his father at Ebenezer Baptist Church.

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The Civil Rights Movement Grows

In 1960, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. met privately with then Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy. JFK won the election with the majority of the black vote, because he spoke in favor of civil rights. Yet, for most his Presidency, JFK would act slow or in a gradual fashion on civil rights matters. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would at times publicly criticize JFK for his slow, moderate response to civil rights issues too. He or the President JFK would advocate a Civil Rights Bill in June of 1963 (after he was pressured by social activists to do something about what was going on in Birmingham, etc.). The beginning of the 1960’s saw more sit-ins in stores and the Freedom Riders developed (The Freedom Riders were people who wanted to integrate bus terminals). The Freedom Riders wanted to enforce existing integration laws on interstate bus travel. Attorney General Robert Kennedy during the early 1960's had a contentious, angry relationship with the Freedom Riders and the civil rights movement since RFK wanted to use the law to solve problems without massive demonstrations. RFK was wrong since an unjust law is no law at all and any person has the right to express demonstrations and use militant action in fighting oppression. The May 24, 1963 meeting between Attorney General Robert Kennedy and black civil rights activists (like James Baldwin, Harry Bealafone, Lorraine Hansberry, Jerome Smith) was antagonistic as RFK wanted a more moderate approach to try to solve racial discrimination in America. The civil rights activists wanted RFK to see that token moderation is no solution and that revolutionary action is necessary to establish justice for black people. By the late 1960's, Robert Kennedy changed and became more progressive on issues (to his credit. RFK by the late 1960's would oppose apartheid, support gun control, and opposed LBJ's policies involving the Vietnam War).  

Dr. King wanted John F. Kennedy to issue a second Emancipation Proclamation to eliminate racial segregation in October 16, 1961. By 1962, Dr. King worked in Albany, Georgia to fight for justice. The Albany Movement in general lasted from October 1961 to August 1962. SNCC (with people like Charles Sherrod, Cordell Reagon, and Charles Jones), NAACP, SCLC, Negro Voters League, Federation of Women's Clubs, Ministerial Alliance, and other groups were involved in the Albany campaign. Dr. King wanted to end segregation in public facilities, theaters, schools, etc. in Albany. People also wanted voting registration and voting rights in general. SNCC wanted Dr. King to go and be more aggressive in Albany. This was one of the first times when SNCC questioned Dr. King's militancy. The Albany Chief of Police Laurie Pritchett (a segregationist) read Dr. King's literature. He used the slick tactic of not being as provocative as in other places in order to neutralize the Albany movement. Many members of the FBI in Albany and in other places of the South stood by and did nothing when black people being assaulted by white racists. Dr. King rightfully spoke out against the FBI evil, dubious actions. When Dr. King was in jail in Albany, he was released quickly and the movement didn't grow momentum until later on. People in this campaign used protests, sit-ins, protests, and boycotts. Albany would eventually end Jim Crow, but the Albany campaign ended in not a massive success.

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Ultimately, Dr. King learned lessons from his experience in Albany in order for him to do much better in the Birmingham campaign. In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King worked in Birmingham, Alabama (which was heavily segregated, racist, and black people faced massive oppression) to fight segregation, discrimination, racism, poverty, and economic deprivation in general. Pastor Frederick Lee "Fred" Shuttlesworth was one of the many leaders of the Birmingham movement. He suffered assaults and other injustices, but he continued forth as a man to stand up for his human rights. He promoted demonstrations and was jailed in April of 1963. Dr. King wrote the famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” while he was in a Birmingham jail to refute moderate Jewish and Christian clergymen (who wanted Dr. King to be patient and be a token moderate in waiting for change). Dr. King’s letter was eloquent and refuted their words. In that letter, Dr. King wrote that waiting for justice is not feasible since a person's freedom should never be given based upon time. Freedom ought to be enacted by birthright and immediately since all people are born free and all people are created equal. In May 7, 1963, the racist Bull Connor (the Police Commissioner) used police dogs, clubs, water hoses, and cattle prods to brutalize and harm black men, women, and children protesters in downtown Birmingham. This caused outrage worldwide. On June 12, 1963,  Civil Rights Leader Medgar Evers (who advocated social justice and voting rights) was assassinated in front of his home in Jackson, Mississippi. 

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On August 28, 1963, the March on Washington came about. It included people from across America to promote civil rights and economic justice. It fulfilled the Dream of A. Philip Randolph who wanted such a march for decades (he wanted a march in World War II. FDR issued an executive order that banned discrimination in some aspects of jobs. This was the Executive Order 8802 from  June 25, 1941, which prohibited racial discrimination in the national defense industry. It was the first federal action, though not a law, to promote equal opportunity and prohibit employment discrimination in the United States). The 1963 March on Washington was organized by A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, and so many other people. Civil rights groups, labor rights groups, and religious groups were involved in the march. Almost 250,000 people were in the March of Washington. Women and men were crucial in organizing and executing the March on Washington movement. The march explicitly called for: 'JOBS AND FREEDOM.' Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. In the speech, he gave the famous words of:

"...But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition...I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!..And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

After the march, he and other civil rights leaders visited President John F. Kennedy and Vice President Lyndon Johnson. Dr. King published his second book entitled, "The Strength to Love" on September 1, 1963. In the midst of such profound inspiration, comes more tragedy. On September 15, 1963, four innocent little girls were killed by white racists as a product of the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. Their names are Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Dianne Wesley. These little girls just wanted to worship God peacefully.

Dr. King delivered the eulogy. Angela Davis and Condoleezza Rice knew the four victims. In October 10, 1963, U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy authorized the FBI to wiretap King’s home phone, which was wrong. JFK would be assassinated in November 22, 1963 in the midst of him moving in a more progressive direction as compared to 1961. Time Magazine called Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Man of the Year” on January 3, 1964. Dr. King continued onward. He supported the War on Poverty. He fought for change in St. Augustine, Florida. He also met Malcolm X for the first and only time in the Washington, D.C. Congress building in March 26, 1964. Both of them were monitoring the Congressional debates on the Civil Rights Bill. In June 4, 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. published his third book called, "Why We Can't Wait." He supported the group of CORE including the SCLC individuals organizing the Mississippi Freedom Summer campaign (which wanted black people in Mississippi to vote by registration and they wanted to end racial injustice. This happened during the Summer of 1964. Freedom Summer included both black and white young people who worked together in solidarity in desiring equality, freedom, and justice). The FBI via Hoover slandered the civil rights movement as Communist inspired, which was a slander. The movement for black liberation existed long before Karl Marx was ever born. Hoover was the ultimate hypocrite since he lectured others on law and integrity, but he executed illegal surveillance against people who disagreed with his backward political views. 

Also, people have the right to be non-Communist, a Communist, a socialist, etc. if they want to in a truly free society. People have the right to the freedom of speech and the freedom of association. Paul Robeson and Claudia Jones were Communists, but they were great, lifelong advocates for justice. J. Edgar Hoover was a notorious liar, a hypocrite, and he violated the law on many times to violate the human rights of the people from the progressive movement, etc. On June 21, 1964, three civil rights workers (who worked in Freedom Summer, which was a multiracial movement that wanted black people in Mississippi to vote, to get educational opportunities, and live their lives in total freedom. This movement started in the Summer of 1964) disappeared. James Chaney, a young black Mississippian and plasterer's apprentice; and two Jewish activists, Andrew Goodman, a Queens College anthropology student; and Michael Schwerner, a CORE organizer from Manhattan's Lower East Side, were found weeks later. They were murdered by white racists. This tragic story caused more people to join the cause of racial justice. The historic Civil Rights Act was signed on July 2, 1964. It banned discrimination in public places. In 1964, organizers launched the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) to challenge the all-white official Democratic Mississippi party. Sister Ella Baker said that the MFDP was open to all people irrespective of color. When Mississippi voting registrars refused to recognize their candidates, they held their own primary. 

They selected Fannie Lou Hamer, Annie Devine, and Victoria Gray to run for Congress, and a slate of delegates to represent Mississippi at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. The mainstream Democratic Party leadership wanted MFDP to compromise, but the MFDP rightfully refused to do so. Fannie Lou Hamer gave he famous speech in Atlantic City, New Jersey (in the 1964 Democratic National Convention) to condemn injustice. Fannie Lou Hamer said the following words: 

"...I was in jail when Medgar Evers was murdered. All of this is on account of we want to register, to become first-class citizens. And if the Freedom Democratic Party is not seated now, I question America. Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, where we have to sleep with our telephones off the hooks because our lives be threatened daily, because we want to live as decent human beings, in America? Thank you..."

Johnson offered the MFDP a "compromise" under which it would receive two non-voting, at-large seats, while the white delegation sent by the official Democratic Party would retain its seats. The MFDP angrily rejected the "compromise." Later, many activists from those from SNCC felt disillusionment about bourgeois politics (as the Democratic and the Republican capitalist parties have oppressed black people, etc. for decades and centuries) and left the Democratic Party to be more politically independent. The MFDP continued to exist until 1968.

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received the Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in Oslo, Norway in December 10, 1964 (for the cause of civil rights in advancement of nonviolence). He sent every penny of the $54,000 award to the civil rights movement. Coretta Scott King was there with him in Norway as well. Back in the States, Dr. King worked in Selma to fight for voting rights by early 1965. The movement of Selma, Alabama is the peak of the mainstream civil rights movement of the 1960’s in terms of collective unity among organizations. Malcolm X, James Forman, Coretta Scott King, John Lewis, Amelia Platts Boynton Robinson, and others supported the Selma voting rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X were great people of the black freedom movement. They disagreed on nonviolence. Malcolm X believed in self-defense and he refused to be a pacifist in the face of white racist terrorism. Malcolm X was a famous leader in the Nation of Islam (in that organization, he believed in a separate black state, he denounced the civil rights movement, and he spoke courageously against police brutality) and he left in 1964. He left Elijah Muhammad, because Malcolm X believed that the NOI in his mind was not doing enough in terms of political activism to cause real social change for black people (and because of the accusations of Elijah Muhammad committing adultery, etc.). Malcolm X felt betrayed. After his Hajj, Malcolm X was changed forever. He believed in judging a person on a person’s conscious behavior not on skin color. He formed Muslim Mosque Inc. to accept Muslims in the course of spiritual matters. In 1965, Malcolm X said that he didn't believe in segregation and he believed in freedom for black people along with the right of self defense. 

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Malcolm X also formed the OAAU (or the organization of Afro-American Unity) in 1964 to unite black people regardless of religion to fight for the human rights of black people in America including the world (as Malcolm X believed in pan-African unity). Malcolm X also supported the 1964 boycott of New York City public schools, because the schools had discriminatory policies against Black and Puerto Rican students. Both Dr. King and Malcolm X did agree on many issues though. They agreed that Black is Beautiful, they opposed the Vietnam War, they opposed the deception shown by many in the mainstream media (in how some in the media falsely portray the victim as the criminal and how some of them falsely presented the oppressor in positive terms), and they expressed reservations about capitalism (by their own words). They both wanted total equality, freedom, and justice for all black people. Malcolm X would be more progressive and he supported the rights of women. In 1965, Malcolm X supported the Selma campaign. He was assassinated in February 21, 1965. We know how the NYPD, BOSSI, and the CIA monitored Malcolm X. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. expressed great sadness and sympathy over his assassination and he gave condolences to Sister Betty Shabbaz (or the wife of Malcolm X). Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. mentioned these words on Malcolm X:

"...He was an eloquent spokesman for his point of view and no one can honestly doubt that Malcolm had a great concern for the problems that we face as a race. While we did not always see eye to eye on methods to solve the race problems, I always had a deep affection for Malcolm and felt that he had the great ability to put his finger on the existence and root of the problem..."

RIP Brother Malcolm X.

Bloody Sunday happened in Selma when the police brutalized innocent protesters at the Edmund Pettis Bridge in Selma. They or the marchers tried to march to Montgomery. Dr. King didn’t go into the next march across the bridge, but he did after the judge ended the injunction and allowed demonstrations to conduct their march to the Capitol of Alabama. Dr. King gave a great speech in Montgomery, Alabama after the third successful march. The Voting Rights Act was signed in August 6, 1965. 

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A New Era (The Movement in the North and the West)

After Selma (which started a new phrase of the civil rights movement), Dr. King worked on civil rights endeavors and he discussed on what to do next. On August 11-12, 1965, the Watts Rebellion erupted in California when thirty-five people died. The National Guard had been called in to calm down the situation. The rebellion in Los Angeles represented the need for economic and civil rights concerns to be taken more seriously in the West Coast, the Midwest, and in the North. People in Los Angeles back then were tired of oppression. Many of the West Coast were victims of racism, police brutality, and economic oppression. The rebellion of Watts represented a new era in American history. Martin Luther King Jr. worked more in the North and the Midwest by 1966-1967 in Cleveland, New York City, Milwaukee, and Chicago (to battle against de facto discrimination, to fight against poverty, to desire fair wages, to desire better health care for all people, to fight for housing rights, and to fight against slums). 

De jure segregation is Jim Crow or segregation that was promoted via unjust laws. De facto discrimination was segregation made by practice not necessarily by unjust laws. Dr. King wanted great housing too for human beings, so human beings can live out the full capacity of their happiness. He made great victories in Cleveland in 1967 and the victory wasn’t big in Chicago though in 1966 (though something is better than nothing). Dr. King worked with the Black P. Stone Rangers (which was a Chicago black gang) in order to inspire them to promote nonviolence (plus reject intraracial gun violence) and advance the Chicago Freedom Movement in constructive ways. SCLC's Operation Breadbasket (which wanted to promote job and economic opportunities for black people and punish racist corporations via boycott if they refused to be fair in their dealings with black Americans) was Dr. King’s famous activist organization to fight for economic justice for human beings, especially black people. 

Dr. King criticized the Vietnam War as early as 1965 and by January 1966, he went into Chicago. He wanted to end housing discrimination in Chicago. He also wanted to abolish poverty and slums in Chicago. He led protests, but a reluctant local city government (headed by Chicago mayor Richard Daley) forced Dr. King to make an agreement. That agreement was heavily moderate. Federal Housing legislation would come late in 1968. In February 23, 1966, he met with the Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. They met at Elijah Muhammad's Chicago home. Both men had similarities. Each were born in Georgia, both were sons of Baptist preachers, both were victims of racism, both were leaders of their respective organizations (which was either the SCLC or the Nation of Islam), both were anti-war, and both were illegally spied by the FBI (The COINTELPRO document explicitly targeted Dr. King and Elijah Muhammad as a potential "Black Messiah"). The purpose of the Dr. King and Elijah Muhammad 1966 meeting was for them to fight slums in Chicago where poor black people suffered horrible conditions of poverty, economic exploitation, police brutality, and struggling schools. Dr. King joked with Elijah Muhammad about both of them being "Georgia boys" since they were from Georgia. Dr. King didn't agree with the NOI on every issue, but Dr. King did found common ground in the meeting to fight against slums, to promote self-determination in the black community, and to end colonialism.

In the March against Fear march from Memphis to Jackson, Mississippi (by 1966), Dr. King heard Kwame Ture of SNCC speak about Black Power. Floyd McKissick of CORE also supported Black Power. They marched in Mississippi after James Meredith was shot and wounded near Memphis. Roy Wilkins and Whitney Young didn't participate in the march in Mississippi, because of their disagreements with Kwame Ture. Kwame Ture wanted Dr. King to wholeheartedly embrace the concept of Black Power. Dr. King took a nuisance view of Black Power. He believed in black people organizing economic and political power and he believed in the value of blackness, but he rejected separatism. Dr. King told his staff on November 14, 1966 that Black Power ‘‘was born from the wombs of despair and disappointment. Black Power is a cry of pain. It is in fact a reaction to the failure of White Power to deliver the promises and to do it in a hurry.… The cry of Black Power is really a cry of hurt." In his last written book entitled, "Where Do We Go From Here," Dr. King wrote the following words:

“Black Power, in its broad and positive meaning, is a call to black people to amass the political and economic strength to achieve their legitimate goals.  No one can deny that the Negro is in dire need of this kind of legitimate power.  Indeed, one of the great problems that the Negro confronts is his lack of power.  From the old plantations of the South to the newer ghettos of the North, the Negro has been confined to a life of voicelessness and powerlessness. …The plantation and the ghetto were created by those who had power both to confine those who had no power and to perpetuate their powerlessness.  The problem of transforming the ghetto is, therefore, a problem of power – a confrontation between the forces of power demanding change and the forces of power dedicated to preserving the status quo.”  (Where Do We Go From Here, pp. 36-37).

On July 18-23, 1966, The National Guard are called in when Summer rebellions break out in Chicago, Illinois, Cleveland, Ohio, and Omaha, Nebraska. In the same year, the Black Panther Party existed to promote self defense and oppose police terrorism in Oakland including all over America. Dr. King also focused more on poverty and developed a class analysis in seeing that poverty affects people of every color and a radical redistribution of political and economic power must come about to end poverty in America.

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Opposition to the Vietnam War

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. issued public statements against the Vietnam War as early as 1965. He took a vacation in Jamaica in January 1967 in order for him to relax and work on his final book entitled, "Where do we go from Here?" In Jamaica, he talked with Bevel and later after seeing images of napalmed Vietnamese children in the Rampant magazine, he fully was dedicated to oppose that evil, unjust war in Vietnam. He returned into the States from Jamaica with a firm determination. By early 1967, he opposed the Vietnam War in public in a higher level. He was later heavily criticized by the moderate civil rights leaders, by the President Lyndon Baines Johnson, by far right reactionaries (who have a morbid fear of Communism instead of a love of racial justice), and by the mainstream media for his anti-war stance. He continued onward regardless. Whitney Young and Dr. King had an argument about the war in Long Island, NY. Later, both men would continue their discussion. Whitney Young would continue to support the war until after Dr. King's assassination. He gave his famous “Beyond Vietnam” speech to a group of Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967, which as one year to the day before his assassination. He wanted the U.S. to end the Vietnam war and send U.S. troops home. In that speech in Riverside Church, he condemned the anti-religious liberty actions of Diem (who brutalized Buddhists. He also condemned the corrupt General Ky). Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. condemned the United States government as the greatest purveyor of violence in the world. He wanted an end to militarism, materialism, economic exploitation, and racism. He wanted colonialism to end and he desired capitalistic exploitation to cease.  Here is part of that courageous, historic speech which was said in NYC:

"Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war, 'This way of settling differences is not just.' This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending menhome from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

-A Time to Break Silence, Speech by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. April 4, 1967

Immediately after Dr. King's historic Riverside Church speech in New York City, the political and media establishment harshly and unfairly criticized Dr. King. One editorial from the NY Times criticizing Dr. King for trying to unite the peace and civil rights movements. Someone from the Washington Post criticized him. Life magazine slandered him too. Carl Rowan (he was a black man with ties to the United States Information Agency) in reader's Digest criticized Dr. King for his views on opposing the Vietnam War. The leadership of the NAACP was pro-Vietnam War (like Roy Wilkins until after Dr. King was assassinated) and they didn't want to make waves against Lyndon Baines Johnson. Yet, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was courageous to stick by his anti-war convictions and he refused to back down. Dr. King answered the press's questions about his opposition to the Vietnam War. He goes from NYC to Los Angeles, San Francisco. By April 14, 1967, Dr. King goes into Palo Alto, California where he gives a speech. He later participates in the Mobilization March from Central Park to the United Nations.

Many people like Levison (his close adviser) didn't want him to go to the march because they didn't want him associated with those deemed more "radical" like Kwame Ture and other anti-war activists. Dr. King takes James Bevel's advice to join the Mobilization March. Dr. King on April 15, 1967 participated in the march with Harry Belafonte, Kwame Ture, Dr. Benjamin Spock, and Dave Dellinger. The protesters numbered in 125,000 people. Kwame Ture gave his speech. The crowd marched to the United Nations and Dr. King also gives a speech in front of the United Nations building. He encourages people to be a conscientious objector. On April 30, 1967, Dr. King gave his historic "Why I am Opposed to the Vietnam War" speech in Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. King invited Kwame Ture to the church and he agrees to come. After the speech, Kwame Ture applauded Dr. King heroic, courageous words. Dr. King spoke the following words in the sermon on April 30, 1967:

"...For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence I cannot be silent. Been a lot of applauding over the last few years. They applauded our total movement; they've applauded me.] America and most of its newspapers applauded me in Montgomery. And I stood before thousands of Negroes getting ready to riot when my home was bombed and said, we can't do it this way. They applauded us in the sit-in movement--we non-violently decided to sit in at lunch counters. The applauded us on the Freedom Rides when we accepted blows without retaliation. They praised us in Albany and Birmingham and Selma, Alabama. Oh, the press was so noble in its applause, and so noble in its praise when I was saying, Be non-violent toward Bull Connor; [when I was saying, Be non-violent toward [Selma, Alabama segregationist sheriff Jim Clark. There's something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that will praise you when you say, Be non-violent toward Jim Clark, but will curse and damn you when you say, "Be non-violent toward little brown Vietnamese children. There's something wrong with that press!...With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when the lion and the lamb will lie down together, and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid because the words of the Lord have spoken it. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when all over the world we will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we're free at last!" With this faith, we'll sing it as we're getting ready to sing it now. Men will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. And nations will not rise up against nations, neither shall they study war anymore. And I don't know about you, I ain't gonna study war no more."

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a constant traveler. He used jets and planes constantly to travel nationwide and worldwide to spread his message of peace, justice, and nonviolence. Dr. King traveled into Louisville, Kentucky on May 10, 1967 to join with his younger brother A.D. King (and others) to fight housing discrimination. Many landlords were discriminating against people based upon race and that is wrong. He told 75 white people in Louisville's South End to promote equality. The whites there became angry and almost hit him with a rock. Photojournalist Ken Rowland provided more context to the encounter in “Freedom on the Border: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky,” a collection by Catherine Fosl and Tracy E. K’Meyer. Rowland was at the corner of Central and Taylor, waiting for King to arrive, when King’s car pulled up and he began speaking to two little white girls.

Rowland mentioned this information: “And all of a sudden, one of the kids spit at King. Little white girl. Neighborhood kids. And one little girl said, “I hate you.” And I heard King say, “I love you.” The rock (that almost hit Dr. King) fell into the car, and King took it with him to the podium, where he addressed a West End church later that night, saying “Upon this rock, we are going to build an open city.”

By the end of 1967, Louisville would finally pass an open housing ordinance. Frankfort (in KY) would do the same in 1968. Louisville is Muhammad Ali's hometown. By this time, Ali is overtly against the Vietnam War and Dr. King supports his decision. Both Muhammad Ali and Dr. King were friends.

By the third week of May 1967, he traveled into South Carolina (from Savannah, Georgia. Tom Barnwell greets him). He came into St. Helena Island as a place to relax and discuss strategy with the SCLC. About 70 SCLC staff members were there. There are young people there who want changes. In the meeting, Frieda Mitchell talked to Dr. King. She was a teacher who would be the first black school board member of Deaufort County, South Carolina (in Penn Center). She talks about her unjust mistreatment by racists and Dr. King inspires her. Other members in the discussion debate tactics, money, and some want to just focus on the Poor People's Campaign. In the meeting, Dr. King warned that the road ahead would be much harder.

“It is necessary for us to realize that we have moved from the era of civil rights to the era of human rights ... when you deal with human rights, you are not dealing with something clearly defined in the Constitution,” Burton quotes King as saying at Penn in May 1967. “They are rights that are clearly defined by the mandates of humanitarian concern ... We are talking about a good, solid, well-paying job. We are talking about a good, sound, sanitary house. We are talking not merely about desegregated education, but we are talking about quality education.”

The early Six Day War in the Middle East of June of 1967 shocked the world. Israel executed a quick preemptive strike against Egyptian plus other Muslim forces. Israel receives an easy victory in a matter of days. Many people celebrate and others don't. Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Syria were defeated. It also relates to the African American and Jewish relationship in America. Many black people and Jewish people were united in civil rights. Yet, many younger black people viewed Israel with suspicion and view it as an imperial force against Palestinians. One person who believed in this view was of course Kwame Ture. Christian theologians signed a document calling for Johnson to back Israel. Yet, Dr. King (in private) said that he didn't read the text and he wouldn't have signed it if he known of its contents. FBI wiretaps recorded this conversation with his ally Stanley Levison. On June 6, 1967 (which was a day after the Six Day War started), Dr. King said the following words:

"...Did you seen the ad in the New York Times Sunday [June 4)? This was the ad that they got me to sign with [John C.] Bennett. I really hadn't seen the statement. I felt, after seeing it, it was a little unbalanced and pro-Israel. It put us in the position almost of setting turning hawks on the Middle East while being doves on Vietnam and I wouldn't have given a statement like that at all."

On June 18, Dr. King appeared on the ABC Sunday interview program, “Issues and Answers.” He answered the question on whether Israel should give back the land it has taken in the conflict without certain guarantees of security. Dr. King gave the following answer: “Well, I think these guarantees should all be worked out by the United Nations. I would hope that all of the nations, and particularly the Soviet Union and the United States and I would say France and Great Britain, these four powers can really determine how the situation is going. I think that the Israelis will have to have access to the Gulf of Aqaba. I mean the very survival of Israel may well depend on access to not only the Suez Canal, but the Gulf and the Strait of Tiran. These things are very important. But I think for the ultimate peace and security of the situation, it will probably be necessary for Israel to give up this conquered territory because to hold on to it will only exacerbate the tensions and deepen the bitterness of the Arabs.”

 Dr. King supported Israel’s right to exist, but he didn’t want it to hold onto territories that it conquered. Dr. King believed in a Marshall Plan to help those of Arabic descent in the Middle East. The day after the case-fire, Dr. King told his advisors that Israel “now faces the danger of being smug and unyielding.” Dr. King canceled his trip to Israel in late 1967, because he wanted to be balanced in his approach to Middle Eastern affairs (while having solidarity with Africa and Asia.). He planned for a new trip to Israel in 1968, but it never came because of his assassination. Therefore, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted a balanced, moderate approach to Middle East affairs in acknowledging the humanity among both sides.

On June 13, 1967, President Johnson nominated Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court following the retirement of Justice Tom C. Clark, saying that this was "the right thing to do, the right time to do it, the right man and the right place." He was appointed by August 30, 1967. A lot of people don't know that Marshall didn't like Dr. King on many issues. Marshall criticized Dr. King because of his policies of civil disobedience and social activism in the streets. He said that Dr. King benefited from his legal efforts. Marshall was the man who argued in the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954. While Thurgood Marshall was right to support many progressive causes, he supported Johnson's policies in Vietnam. Dr. King rightfully opposed the Vietnam War. While Marshall worked with Hoover in eliminating Communists in the NAACP, Dr. King opposed Hoover's extremism and Hoover illegally wiretapped Dr. King (and his advisors). Marshall said that Dr. King was a bad organizer and he opposed Malcolm X in harsh terms. Now, you know the truth. Still, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. took the high road. When other black leaders and white reactionaries attacked Dr. King, he didn't respond in kind. Dr. King maintained his principles while not demonizing his critics in public. That takes a lot of strength and courage.

In 1967, more rebellions happened in Detroit, Newark, Cincinnati, Buffalo, and Cambridge (in Maryland). Dr. Martin Luther King condemned violence, but he said that a riot is the language of the unheard. We have to know the causes of the rebellions (which included poverty, police occupation, desperation, hurt, discrimination, etc.) in order for anyone to establish solutions. Dr. King wants Congress to pass federal legislation to address the needs of black people suffering in the ghettos of America. The FBI continued to illegally monitor Dr. King, other civil rights leaders, and the rest of the progressive movement (which included the Black Panthers, SNCC, the NAACP, other anti-war activists, student activist groups, the SDS, labor rights groups, women rights groups, Native American groups, Hispanic rights groups, etc.). The anti-war movement was diverse and international in its influence too. 

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The Poor People's Campaign

He published his “Where do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community” book on June 1967. The book was ahead of its time and it was very enlightening. It would be his final book that he would write. By August 2, 1967, Dr. King tried to travel via airplane from Atlanta to Louisville to call for voter registration. He missed his flight, but is encouraged by his wife Coretta Scott King to keep on moving forward and people believe in him. He takes another flight to go into Louisville. In August 1967, he addressed black radio deejays to talk about racism, contrasting the views of Booker T. Washington to active social activism, and calls for justice. On August 31, 1967, Dr. King attended the National Conference of New Politics (in the Chicago Coliseum). It was a metting of the New Left, black activists, and other progressives in trying to form a strategy for a possible third party movement. It was organized by Martin Peretz. It was used to try to organize the anti-war movement, but it failed. In recent years, Dr. King's speech there has been praised as revolutionary (as it was since it criticized capitalism, it exposed FBI illegal surveillance, it condemned the Vietnam War, and called for economic justice). It was one of his most radical speeches. Yet, back then, many people booed him and disrespected him for no reason. 

On September 1, 1967, he gave another speech for the American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C. It is called, "The Role of the Behavorial Scientist in the Civil Rights Movement." It talked about the psychological harm racism has done to black children, complex explanations of the rebellions in the cities of America, opposition to the Vietnam War, and his call for justice. By mid-September 1967,he goes into Warrenton, Virginia at the Airlie Center to plan for the future with his staff. Funds are short, so the SCLC uses a fundraising efforts to get economic funds. He received a honorary degree on November 13, 1967 at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in England. Also in 1967, track stars Tommie Smith, Lee Evans, John Carlos and others were organizing the Olympic Project for Human Rights arguing that African-American athletes should boycott the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Their demands were to have Muhammad Ali's title restored, to have apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) disinvited from the Olympics, to hire more African- American coaches and to see IOC president Avery Brundage removed after 32 years of iron rule.

Many moderate civil rights leaders viewed this proposed boycott as unpatroitic, but Dr. King supported the young athletes 100%. Dr. King offered his unwavering support saying, "This is a protest and a struggle against racism and injustice and that is what we are working to eliminate in our organization and in our total struggle ... No one looking at these demands can ignore the truth of them. Freedom always demands sacrifice and ... they have the courage to say, 'We're going to be men and the United States of America have deprived us of our manhood, of our dignity and our native worth, and consequently we're going to stand up and make the sacrifices ..." By November 1967, Eugene McCarthy declares his candidacy for President, which was before Robert Kennedy doing it.

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He formed the Poor Peoples’ Campaign in Washington, D.C. (which was inspired from Marian Wright Edelman and so many other human beings) to try to force the government to end poverty with living wages, economic rights given to people, and an end to racial injustice. Marian Wright Edelman was a civil rights advocate and a children's rights advocate too. She allowed Robert F. Kennedy to witness the massive poverty in America firsthand in the Deep South. The Poor People’s Campaign was progressive, multiracial, and it was very inspirational. He went in Mississippi and in other places of America to gain funds and resources to develop it. The problem is that many people opposed it, even some of his closest advisers. 

On early December 1967, he travels to Bimini in the Bahamas. He relaxes and meets Adam Clayton Powell. By this time, Powell supports Black Power and rejects nonviolence as a way of life. Dr. King also spoke in support of imprisoned anti-war activists in Santa Rita, California on December 14, 1967. In that speech, he expressed support and solidarity with people from the peace movement (with people like Joan Baez, Dr. Spock, and others. Some anti-war activists were imprisoned at the Santa Rita rehabilitation center) in eloquent terms. In that speech, he said the following accurate words: "...There can be no justice without peace and there can be no peace without justice...." This December 14, 1967 speech was part of a broadcast narrated by Colin Edwards of Pacifica Radio and was aired on January 14, 1968. On Christmas Eve 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. expressed his sermon on peace (as recorded by the Massey Lectures). He spoke of this sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church (in Atlanta, Georgia). He talked about the interrelatedness of humankind and how we have to either have nonviolence or nonexistence. His famous Christmas sermon would be his last Christmas sermon in his life. Some of his words in the sermon include the following:

 "...And the leaders of the world today talk eloquently about peace. Every time we drop our bombs in North Vietnam, President Johnson talks eloquently about peace. What is the problem? They are talking about peace as a distant goal, as an end we seek, but one day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. All of this is saying that, in the final analysis, means and ends must cohere because the end is preexistent in the means, and ultimately destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends.

Now let me say that the next thing we must be concerned about if we are to have peace on earth and good will toward men is the nonviolent affirmation of the sacredness of all human life. Every man is somebody because he is a child of God. And so when we say "Thou shalt not kill," we're really saying that human life is too sacred to be taken on the battlefields of the world. Man is more than a tiny vagary of whirling electrons or a wisp of smoke from a limitless smoldering. Man is a child of God, made in His image, and therefore must be respected as such. Until men see this everywhere, until nations see this everywhere, we will be fighting wars. One day somebody should remind us that, even though there may be political and ideological differences between us, the Vietnamese are our brothers, the Russians are our brothers, the Chinese are our brothers; and one day we've got to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. But in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile. In Christ there is neither male nor female. In Christ there is neither Communist nor capitalist. In Christ, somehow, there is neither bound nor free. We are all one in Christ Jesus. And when we truly believe in the sacredness of human personality, we won't exploit people, we won't trample over people with the iron feet of oppression, we won't kill anybody..."

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Memphis and the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On January of 1968, in Atlanta, his staff celebrates his final Birthday on Earth as a thirty-nine year old man. Andrew Young is with him along with a black woman sending him a cup in a funny way to make light of the War on Poverty. He continues to try to gain funds for the Poor People's Campaign, but many of his closest advisers are skeptical of his plan. Some want to focus on voting, some want to deal with Operation Breadbasket, and some want to delay the march to Washington for months after April 1968. Yet, Dr. King is steadfast in working on his goals. Dorothy Cotton is one of his closet friends too. On February 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. preached ‘‘The Drum Major Instinct’’ from the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. This was one of his great speeches and it would be two months before his assassination. In his speech, he outlined the great definition of leadership. Leadership is not about egoism, but Dr. King wanted to stress the point that the greatest leader is the person who serves the people and the interests of the people too. He used biblical imagery in his sermon and other concepts in conveying his message. For example, Dr. King described the life of Jesus Christ as a person who wasn't rich, was harmed, and he was rejected by many, but he was a great leader. The reason was that Jesus Christ served his community, helped the sick, and transformed the lives of fellow people in a great way with his compassion love for the human race.

Love being a powerful force can make a way to social renewal and a transformation of society. He also wanted his congregation to know that he was a drum major for justice, for peace, and for helping the hungry. He wanted to imagine if his funeral took place and people wanted to decipher his legacy. It was a sermon that wanted human beings to realize that material possessions are not more important than helping humanity in positive ways. On February 8, 1968, Dr. King was on Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show. Harry Belafonte is the host. Dr. King shows humors and talks about politics. Belafonte asks Dr. King does he fears for his life. Dr. King responds in the following words: "... I'm far more concerned about doing something for humanity and what I consider the will of God than longevity. Ultimately it isn't an important how long you live. The important thing is how well you live." He's right on that point. Afterwards, Dr. King traveled into Philadelphia and learns more about the Memphis sanitation strike in February 1968. At February of 1968, he also was in a preacher's conference in Miami.

On March 14, 1968, Dr. King takes a plane to Detroit and goes into the suburb of Grosse Point, Michigan. He gives a speech at Grosse Point high school. He speaks at the Human Relations Council. The audience is mostly white and many people don't like him. Protesters have signs that say "Traitor!" and "Commie!" because of his anti-Vietnam War stance. Many in the crowd heckle him, but he keeps his composure and gives his message. Rosa Parks was in attendance too. In his speech, he promotes racial justice, opposes the Vietnam War, he promotes the beauty of the color black, and desires social change. In the speech, he said the following words:

"...Secondly, we've got to get rid of two or three myths that still pervade our nation. One is the myth of time. I'm sure you've heard this notion. It is the notion that only time can solve the problem of racial injustice. And I've heard it from many sincere people. They've said to the negro and/to his allies in the white community you should slow up, you're pushing things too fast, only time can solve the problem. And if you'll just be nice and patient and continue to pray, in a hundred or two hundred years the problem will work itself out. There is an answer to that myth. It is the time is neutral. It can be used either constructively or destructively. And I'm sad to say to you tonight I'm absolutely convinced that the forces of ill will in our nation, the forces on the wrong side in our nation, the extreme righteous of our nation have often used time much more effectively than the forces of good will and it may well be that we may have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words of the bad people who will say bad things in a meeting like this or who will bomb a church in Birmingham, Alabama, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say wait on time. Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability, it comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals who are willing to be co-workers with God and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation. And so we must always help time and realize that the time is always right to do right..."

In March of 1968, he is involved in supporting striking sanitation workers in Memphis, TN. The Memphis sanitation workers movement inspired him and he spoke out in favor of labor rights. The March 28, 1968 demonstration ended when the atmosphere was filled with violence, property being damaged, and police brutality. A 16 year old teenage boy was killed by the police. Businesses had their windows broken. Tear gas was everywhere. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was falsely scapegoated for the violence by reactionary politicians like Robert Byrd of West Virginia and many in the media. Dr. King was rushed from the scene. Yet, he promised to make another peaceful march in Memphis. He was very depressed during this time, because he felt that his actions could do little to resolve the Memphis sanitation workers' strike. He showed his melancholy attitude to his closest friends. Yet, he never gave up and he continued in his cause of nonviolence and social justice.

On March 30, 1968, he and his advisers had an emergency meeting at the Ebeneezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Many of his advisers wanted to focus on opposing the Vietnam War. Some wanted to focus on the Operation Breadbasket Campaign. Others wanted to end the Memphis involvement. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. decided to continue to be involved in the Memphis movement for labor rights. Dr. King believed that if the Memphis sanitation protest was successful then that would cause a higher level of success for the Poor Peoples Campaign. On Sunday of March 31, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his historic speech in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. It is called, "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution." It was an eloquent sermon and speech that discussed about a diversity of issues. The speech wanted to oppose the Horatio Alger myth that a bootless man must get up by his own bootstrap to survive. It desires to support the revolutionary movements of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. It wanted an end to the unjust Vietnam War and a promotion of the Poor Peoples Campaign (in defeating poverty and having a radical redistribution of wealth). He expressed empathy to the suffering of the poor in Marks, Mississippi, in Africa, in Asia, and in Latin America. In that speech, Dr. King was very emotional and wanted to lift his spirits and the spirits of his audience in that historic church.

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On April 3, 1968, he spoke at an evening rally at Mason Temple in Memphis. Ralph Abernathy called Dr. King from the Lorraine Hotel in order for him to come into the Temple. He gave his final speech entitled, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.” In that speech, he talked about history, boycotts, the dignity of the sanitation workers, and carrying on the struggle. Also, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. advocated building up black institutions in that great speech too. The speech galvanized the crowd. He was emotional and excited at the future. During his speech, Dr. King said the following words:

"...Now we've got to go on in Memphis just like that. I call upon you to be with us when we go out Monday. (Yes) Now about injunctions. We have an injunction and we're going into court tomorrow morning (Go ahead) to fight this illegal, unconstitutional injunction. All we say to America is to be true to what you said on paper. [Applause] If I lived in China or even Russia, or any totalitarian country, maybe I could understand some of these illegal injunctions. Maybe I could understand the denial of certain basic First Amendment privileges, because they haven't committed themselves to that over there. But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read (Yes) of the freedom of speech. (Yes) Somewhere I read (All right) of the freedom of press. (Yes) Somewhere I read (Yes) that the greatness of America is the right to protest for right. [Applause] And so just as I say we aren't going to let any dogs or water hoses turn us around, we aren't going to let any injunction turn us around. [Applause] We are going on. We need all of you..Now not only that, we've got to strengthen black institutions. (That's right, Yeah) I call upon you to take your money out of the banks downtown and deposit your money in Tri-State Bank. (Yeah) [Applause] We want a "bank-in" movement in Memphis. (Yes) Go by the savings and loan association.

I'm not asking you something that we don't do ourselves in SCLC. Judge Hooks and others will tell you that we have an account here in the savings and loan association from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. We are telling you to follow what we're doing, put your money there. [Applause] You have six or seven black insurance companies here in the city of Memphis. Take out your insurance there. We want to have an "insurance-in." [Applause] Now these are some practical things that we can do. We begin the process of building a greater economic base, and at the same time, we are putting pressure where it really hurts. (There you go) And I ask you to follow through here. [Applause]...And they were telling me. [Applause] Now it doesn't matter now. (Go ahead) It really doesn't matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane–there were six of us–the pilot said over the public address system: "We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong on the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we've had the plane protected and guarded all night."

And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out (Yeah), or what would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers.

Well, I don't know what will happen now; we've got some difficult days ahead. (Amen) But it really doesn't matter to with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. (Yeah) [Applause] And I don't mind. [Applause continues] Like anybody, I would like to live a long life–longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. (Yeah) And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. (Go ahead) And I've looked over (Yes sir), and I've seen the Promised Land. (Go ahead) I may not get there with you. (Go ahead) But I want you to know tonight (Yes), that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. [Applause] (Go ahead, Go ahead) And so I'm happy tonight; I'm not worried about anything; I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. [Applause]..."

After his great speech, Dr. King meets with his brother, A.D. King, and Kentucky state senator Georgia Davis. The day of April 4th started with Dr. King feeling joyful. He talks with friends. He gave his secretary Dora McDonald an idea about his future sermon in Atlanta on "Why America may go to hell." He calls his relatives. He feels that victory is imminent involving the Memphis sanitation strike.  Dr. King plans to eat dinner with his advisers and friends. He stands on the balcony and talks with Jesse Jackson. On April 4, 1968, he was murdered by one bullet while he was standing on the balcony of the Lorraine motel in Memphis. The bullet came from a rifle and it hit his jaw. He was only 39 years old. The nation mourns and cities throughout America experience massive rebellions (which are the largest since the Civil War in over 100 cities).

He was buried in Atlanta on April 9, 1968. James Earl Ray was arrested in London by authorities and he was convicted. Questions abound about how he received a passport and money to travel from America to Canada, and then to the UK in such a short span of time when he was a poor convict. That is why many people (including the family of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) believe that a conspiracy involved the assassination of Dr. King. We know that the FBI and the NSA illegally and unjustly monitored Dr. King constantly. A historic 1999 court case found the government complicit in the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. President Johnson signed the Civil rights Act of 1968 on April 10, 1968, which prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin. It also made it a federal crime to "by force or by threat of force, injure, intimidate, or interfere with anyone … by reason of their race, color, religion, or national origin."

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Years later, we see some progress, but we have a long way to go. We see the rise of the black middle class and the black wealthy (some of the rich have unfortunately mocked the poor and refuse to develop a class analysis on issues), but income inequality has grown since 1968. We still have massive poverty (which is why the Fight for 15 movement is in existence today), struggling schools, the mass incarceration state, sexism, health care issues,  environmental problems, imperialism, and policy brutality in the world. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was much more than the "I Have a Dream Speech." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a revolutionary, radical person. He criticized capitalism, he condemned white racism, he opposed the death penalty, he wanted total nuclear disarmament worldwide, and he believed in social justice. If Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was alive today, he would call out the corporate mainstream media, Donald Trump, Mitt Romney, and other reactionary extremists. Dr. King said that Black is Beautiful in public. He said the following words in a rare speech:

"Somebody told a lie one day. They couched it in language. They made everything Black ugly and evil. Look in your dictionaries and see the synonyms of the word black. It’s always something degrading and low and sinister. Look at the word white, it’s always something pure, high and clean. Well I want to get the language right tonight. "I want to get the language so right that everyone here will cry out: ‘Yes, I’m Black, I’m proud of it. I’m Black and I’m beautiful.”

With the events in Iran with the Americans going home, it shows that peaceful diplomacy can cause positive results in international affairs. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught us that love, tolerance, and nonviolent actions are not weak actions. They are stridently powerful deeds which have historically enriched the lives of the human race. We believe in justice for the poor. Mutual cooperation, anti-imperialism, and helping the poor are strong concepts and strong actions that should be executed in order to make the world better. The current Resistance movement is a further example of progressive heroes continuing the aim of making the Dream into a reality.  Dr. King wanted peace and goodwill to exist in the world. No human is perfect and Dr. King admitted his imperfections, but God wants us to learn from others so we can be better people overall. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was right to advocate for economic justice. He was right to advance love for humanity. He was right in opposing Jim Crow apartheid. He was right to oppose the unjust Vietnam War. One of his greatest accomplishments was his articulation of the concept of love in powerful, eloquent, and real terms. He showed the world that Love is not a weak force, but a strong force which can develop social change in the midst of oppression. That is why we believe in Love since Love can harbor the influence to establish true peace and justice. So, we are inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King.

We will work in service and social activism, so the Dream can be made real for all.

By Timothy

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Rest in Power Brother Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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