This is Your Time Rwanda - Book on Rwandan Feminism and Resourcefulness

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Aretha Franklin Civil Rights Legacy

Queen of Soul also leaves a powerful civil rights legacy


By ERRIN HAINES WHACK, AP National Writer


Aretha Franklin, who was born and rose to fame during the segregation era and went on to sing at the inauguration of the first black president, often used her talent, fortune and platform to inspire millions of black Americans and support the fight for racial equality.
"The earth lost a lot of music when she went home today, but the heavens rejoice. Heaven has a new lead singer for the gospel choir," said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a longtime friend who visited her the day before her death. "She gave so much to so many people, from Dr. King, to Mandela, to Barack Obama."
Franklin, who died Thursday at 76, was a close confidante of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and a financial lifeline to the civil rights organization he co-founded, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The Queen of Soul's commitment to civil rights was instilled by her father, the Rev. C.L. Franklin, who also knew King and preached social justice from his pulpit at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit.
The church, in fact, was the first place King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963. Among those in the congregation were Aretha Franklin and Mahalia Jackson. It was Jackson who later urged the civil rights leader to "tell them about the dream, Martin" at the March on Washington, where he delivered the oration for which he is most famous.
Franklin recorded "Respect" on Valentine's Day 1967. Black Americans had already won federal legislation outlawing segregation and protecting their voting rights, particularly in the Deep South.
But blacks were still a year away from the Fair Housing Act. And just months after the song was recorded, urban centers, including Franklin's hometown of Detroit, would burn, exposing police brutality and unequal living conditions and job opportunities.
"Her songs were songs of the movement," Andrew Young, the former King lieutenant and U.N. ambassador, said Thursday. "R-E-S-P-E-C-T. ... That's basically what we wanted. The movement was about respect."
The SCLC often struggled financially, but Franklin played an important roles in keeping the movement afloat.
"Almost every time we needed money, there were two people we could always count on: Aretha Franklin and Harry Belafonte," Young said. "They would get together and have a concert, and that would put us back on our feet."

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Brown Vs. Board of Education Girl Pioneers



The Girls Who Paved the Way


The true heroes of school desegregation were the girls and women who laid the foundations for Brown v. Board of Education.

By Gabrielle Levy Political Reporter
June 1, 2018


BROWN V. BOARD OF Education of Topeka, the landmark 1954 schools desegregation Supreme Court decision, has been called on of the most consequential court rulings in American history.

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But aside from a handful of main players – Thurgood Marshall, the founder of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund, who argued Brown v. Board before the court and eventually became its first black associate justice, and perhaps Ruby Bridges, one of the "desegregation firsts" whose integration of a New Orleans school was commemorated in a Norman Rockwell painting – few of those who worked to strike down school segregation are known to the general public.

In her new book, "A Girl Stands at the Door: The Generation of Young Women Who Desegregated America's Schools," historian Rachel Devlin illuminates the largely unknown lives of the girls who made up the vast majority of plaintiffs in desegregation cases, and the women who battled racist school officials, their skeptical neighbors and sometimes even the NAACP to force desegregation into the public consciousness. Devlin recently spoke to U.S. News about the unsung but critical role these young women played in changing the course of American history.

Excerpts:


Many people would be surprised to learn that the desegregation of public schools was so largely driven by girls and women. What about this fight made it so attractive to women – or unattractive to men working in other areas of civil rights?

Women and girls showed a stronger commitment to the idea or the ideal of school desegregation. To them it seemed very simple: they said, 'It was just wrong,' 'It had to change.' They were able to articulate their commitment to school desegregation in part because they could envision themselves in white schools.

To them it was a form of radical social optimism to imagine what at that point was unimaginable. Black and white students had never gone to school together before, and most people, including African-Americans, believed that there was too much hostility between the races, and coexistence in the school was a dream. That's why when girls approached these schools and attempted to walk through the front door, such large crowds would gather, because it was truly radical to see a black child attempting to walk into a white school.

People are used to men and boys in general, men and young men, being historical subjects. We're used to thinking of civil rights leadership as being male. Fundamentally, they were not interested in this work and some of it was that they didn't have the skills that they needed. It was really grueling and grinding work. If you've ever spent any time with a lawyer, these are terribly boring meetings, and talking to white school officials, testifying in court, then in the process of desegregating, sitting in classrooms with white students for seven hours of the day, nine months of the year. A lot of black young men, when it came to desegregating the high school, said, I don't think it's worth it, or I'm not interested in that job.


A Girl Stands at the Door book cover

(BASIC BOOKS)


What made girls better suited for the task?

They were taught from an early age to be self-possessed, poised, polite, diplomatic, to smile, to always look adults in the eye. Their daily lives were full of insults, surveillance, harassment, sexual harassment, from white men on the streets, from men and boys in the houses where they worked, and from adults in general. Black girls were really never left in peace, and so their parents and ministers and school teachers and relatives constantly instilled in them the necessity of having what they called correct behavior. Girls knew they had these skills, and that gave them the confidence to be able to approach these schools. Black girls were taught to act as if they were socially open, while remaining in fact, somewhat emotionally closed.

Unlike lunch counters or public transportation, which involved fleeting interactions, schools desegregation was only the first step in an arduous process. Describe what it was like for these first girls after they were allowed through the doors?

"Desegregation firsts" often used war analogies. They called themselves soldiers, they called themselves warriors, and it was a state of high alert every single day in the school. Every moment, someone was trying to make you collapse and get you to withdraw: The students would trip these girls, kick these girls, hit these girls. The young men as well, but actually girls received more violence, which is counterintuitive to some people, but it was because they were smaller and easier targets. The worst things that students would do is spit on them and spit in their food, and the sabotage was ongoing.

[ READ: ON BROWN V. BOARD ANNIVERSARY, SEGREGATION STILL STANDARD ]

Many of these white students were being instructed by white Citizens' Councils in the South to harass the black students in an effort to make school desegregation impossible. Teachers encouraged and refused to discipline students who attacked these girls, refused to call on the girls in class. The girls told me about how they would go through the entire school day without speaking and how eerie it was to not talk. Everybody agrees that the worst part was not the violence but the ostracism that hurt the most. Eventually they would fight back physically; when students tampered with their lockers and their books, sometimes they retaliated and tampered with the white kids' books. Girls often started to speak in class whether or not they were called on.

All of these high schools sang "Dixie" or "Old Uncle Joe" and they had confederate flags, rebel flags, that they would wave at pep rallies. You were supposed to stand up and pledge allegiance to that flag and to a person, these girls all refused to stand for that flag, so that was a form of resistance as well.

And all of the ways in which they fought back and spoke back to teachers and to principals helped them survive the experience.

Why was the national NAACP reluctant to take up the cases of these young girls, particularly those in grade school but also Ada Sipuel, the woman whose lawsuit against the University of Oklahoma paved the legal groundwork for Sweatt v. Painter that desegregated graduate school education?

Had it been young men that had been filing these suits, they would have taken them more seriously. I can say that with confidence because Thurgood Marshall really did not take Ada Sipuel's case seriously, and when Pauli Murray tried to apply to the University of North Carolina, the NAACP did not take her lawsuit seriously. They much preferred to file lawsuits on behalf men. All of the cases that went to the Supreme Court would have been cases that were originally filed on behalf of girls, except in the last minute they switched from a girl to a boy. Thurgood Marshall did the same thing with Oliver Brown in Brown v. Board: The rest of the plaintiffs were women, so the Topeka Branch was told to find a father with a last name at the beginning of the alphabet, so a father could be at the top of the docket. But to be fair, this was the late 1940s, early 1950s. Society took men more seriously, period.

The other issue too was that Thurgood Marshall and the Legal Defense Fund did not feel prepared to take grade school desegregation to the Supreme Court in the late 1940s. They knew how radical it was, how socially explosive it was, and how difficult it was going to be, and they wanted to go slow. So when Sweatt v. Painter was decided by the Supreme Court in 1950, and that case outlawed segregation in graduate education, they did turn at that point to grade school education, but it was only because these cases were being filed all over the South. They felt they had no choice, that if they didn't take it on, somebody else would.

At the time, there was a raging debate within the black community over whether to push for desegregation or equalization, separate but equal school facilities. More recently, some have charged that desegregation has actually made it more difficult for some black students to receive a quality education. Are these criticisms valid?

Many in the black community have regrets about Brown v. Board, but I would suggest that is not because of the failures of Brown, but because Brown has slowly been reversed. In 1974, the Supreme Court ruled that integration could not take place across district lines, but the real blow came in 2007, in Parents vs. Seattle School District No. 1, that racial classifications could not be used in school admissions. Brown v. Board as we knew it no longer exists. Schools were desegregating at a good clip, and they reached the height of desegregation in 1988, where half of all African-Americans were in desegregated or mixed schools. But ever since then, the numbers have gone down and black students are increasingly in high-poverty schools that are anywhere from 90 to 100 percent African-American, and those schools are in terrible shape.

When there are no white students in a building, state and local governments disinvest from those schools. As one "desegregation first" said, at her black high school, if something broke it stayed broke, whereas when she went the white high school, if something broke they were fixing it the next day. For her, that was about where money is allocated and being in a place where you could be assured that resources will be aimed at that school.

There's a lot of evidence that students of color in predominantly white schools actually do better, and there's also a lot of research that shows white students do better in diverse settings, both academically and socially. What we're seeing now is tragic. The resegregation of schools has, as predicted, disproportionately affected poor African-American, inner-city students. Chief Justice John Roberts' court has reversed a lot of the progress that was made. School districts all over are trying to secede from larger districts: There are lawsuits from Alabama to New Jersey where wealthier, smaller parts of the town are trying to secede from larger school districts so that they can create all-white schools. In New Jersey, the racism is a little more subtle, but it's there.

[ PHOTOS: The Big Picture – May 2018 ]

Why aren't these women's stories better known?

Historians don't think of women as historical actors, and certainly not children, and they were both. That they were not seen is in part a function of how "real" history is viewed. Historians have focused on Thurgood Marshall and some of the other lawyers who litigated these cases in the courts, and they've assumed that Brown v. Board was borne of NAACP strategy, that a group of crusading lawyers got together and hatched this plan. That blinded them to the grassroots, the groundwork of young women and girls.

I really hope that people can begin to adjust their gaze, and see the work, the courage, the sacrifice and the leadership of young women and girls. It's hard to get your head around, but social change was enacted on the backs of children, young women and girls predominantly, and they performed a political, social and legal service for this country. The transformations in race relations since Brown, in the schools and outside of them are the result of their hard work. To put it simply, they're heroes, and they need to be put up there alongside other heroes of American history. We should know their names – we should all know their names.

Gabrielle Levy, Political Reporter

Gabrielle Levy covers politics for U.S. News & World Report. Follow her on Twitter (@gabbilevy)... READ MORE »

Tags: history, civil rights, Supreme Court, K-12 education, race, children, gender bias

Friday, October 7, 2016

Desmond Tutu Right to Die

Desmond Tutu: I want right to end my life through assisted dying

The Guardian | Harriet Sherwood


Desmond Tutu has said he would like the option of ending his life through assisted dying as he called on politicians, lawmakers and religious leaders to take action on the issue.


In an article published on his 85th birthday on Friday, and following several spells in hospital this year for recurring infections, the emeritus archbishop of Cape Town and anti-apartheid activist reiterated his support for assisted dying, first disclosed in the Guardian in 2014.
“With my life closer to its end than its beginning, I wish to help give people dignity in dying,” he wrote in the Washington Post.
“Just as I have argued firmly for compassion and fairness in life, I believe that terminally ill people should be treated with the same compassion and fairness when it comes to their deaths,” he added.
“Dying people should have the right to choose how and when they leave Mother Earth. I believe that, alongside the wonderful palliative care that exists, their choices should include a dignified assisted death.”
Tutu had changed his mind over assisted suicide two years ago after a lifelong opposition but had remained ambiguous about whether he personally would choose such a death.

He said: “Today, I myself am even closer to the departures hall than arrivals, so to speak, and my thoughts turn to how I would like to be treated when the time comes. Now more than ever, I feel compelled to lend my voice to this cause.”

He believed in the sanctity of life but also that terminally ill people should not be forced to endure terrible pain and suffering, he wrote. Instead they should have control over the manner and timing of their death.
He added: “I have prepared for my death and have made it clear that I do not wish to be kept alive at all costs. I hope I am treated with compassion and allowed to pass on to the next phase of life’s journey in the manner of my choice.”
Tutu pointed to laws in California and Canada that permit assisted dying for terminally ill people. But “there are still many thousands of dying people across the world who are denied their right to die with dignity”.

Desmond Tutu: ‘For those suffering unbearably and coming to the end of their lives, merely knowing that an assisted death is open to them can provide immeasurable comfort.’ He further said: “For those suffering unbearably and coming to the end of their lives, merely knowing that an assisted death is open to them can provide immeasurable comfort.”

He concluded: “In refusing dying people the right to die with dignity, we fail to demonstrate the compassion that lies at the heart of Christian values. I pray that politicians, lawmakers and religious leaders have the courage to support the choices terminally ill citizens make in departing Mother Earth. The time to act is now.”
Tutu, who won the Nobel peace prize in 1984, has been admitted to hospital several times, most recently in September, for recurring infections as a result of surgery for prostate cancer.
Assisted dying is legal in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Albania, Colombia and Japan as well as Canada. Several US states have enacted measures on assisted dying, including Washington, California, Oregon, Vermont and New Mexico.
In September last year, the UK parliament rejected a bill to allow assisted dying for the terminally ill, with 330 MPs voting against it and 118 backing the measure, despite anopinion poll showing it was supported by 82% of the public. The same poll suggested that 44% of people would break the law to help a loved one to die, risking a jail sentence of up to 14 years.
Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, who sits in the House of Lords, urged MPs to reject the bill along with other faith leaders.
Former archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has argued for assisted dying to be lawful, saying such a move would be “profoundly Christian and moral”. Tutu wrote: “His initiative has my blessing and support – as do similar initiatives in my home country, South Africa, throughout the United States and across the globe.”
Tutu has also been a vocal advocate for women’s rights, a staunch opponent of homophobia, a campaigner on poverty, for people with HIV/Aids and on climate change. He headed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in post-apartheid South Africa. Nelson Mandela described him as the “voice of the voiceless”.

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Ghost Writer, Inc. - Book Ghostwriter Karen S Cole

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Karen S. Cole

Executive Director

karen@rainbowriting.com


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