Monday, November 19, 2018

Springfield, Missouri honors Freedom Rider, former City Councilman

(From the City of Springfield, Missouri)

City Council unanimously passed a resolution honoring former Councilman Denny Whayne for his service on Council and his decades-long commitment to justice and equal rights. The Busch Municipal Building’s fourth-floor conference room is now known as the “Councilman Denny Whayne Conference Room.”

“We felt it was fitting to name this particular meeting space after former Councilman Whayne because it’s where we have our weekly council workshops and council committee meetings and frequent community-wide collaborations occur,” said Mayor Ken McClure. “In the many years I have known Denny, he has always been about bringing communities of people together.”



Whayne was the first African-American elected to City Council since the Council/Manager form of government was adopted in 1953 and served as the Zone 1 representative for two consecutive four-year terms. First elected in 2001, Whayne served until 2009 and was a member of the Finance, Plans and Policies, Administration and Public Involvement committees.





“My time on council was one of the best experiences of my entire life,” Whayne has said. “My mindset on council was to try to move the city of Springfield forward.”

Whayne, who grew up in Springfield, joined the NAACP at 11, later participating in the Freedom Rides of 1961. He continued his civil rights work in Tulsa, where racial tensions were high in the late 1960s. He moved back to Springfield in 1972 and served as president of the Springfield chapter of the NAACP from 1980 until 1988. He worked for the City’s Finance department from 1975 until 1985.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Congressional Gold Medal awarded to Civil Rights icon Rev. James Lawson

(From Missouri Fifth District Congressman Emanuel Cleaver)

This week, I had the privilege, along with my colleagues, of introducing legislation to honor a man who helped changed history.

Reverend James Lawson is one of the most consequential Civil Rights leaders in American history.
I along with, Congressmen Ro Khanna, John Lewis, and James Clyburn, introduced legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the civil rights icon.

Rev. James Lawson was well known for his non-violent stance which influenced the direction of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. His fingerprints can be found on every major civil rights victory.

Among his many feats, he trained young protesters and activists and launched the Nashville, Tennessee sit-ins to challenge segregation in downtown stores. He also helped develop the strategy for the Freedom Riders who rode buses in southern states to challenge segregated seating on public buses.


When you look back at the historic videos and see the protesters withstand food thrown in their faces and the vile name-calling, it is hard to watch. But those determined protesters never lifted a hand in anger. Even when they were punched, kicked and pushed their silence and unwavering stand was their way of fighting back.

This was the teaching of Rev. Lawson who spent three years in India as a missionary and studied Mahatma Gandhi’s strategy of nonviolent struggle before returning to the United States.

He became a leader in the Civil Rights movement and worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to achieve equality through peaceful activism. Dr. King called Lawson the “leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world.”

This year, Rev. Lawson will be celebrating his 90th birthday. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the distinguished Gold Medal.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Life of civil rights pioneer Rev. Oliver Brown to be celebrated during event at Springfield Central High School

(From Springfield Public Schools)

Central High School, Drury University and the Springfield Branch of the NAACP will celebrate a civil rights pioneer at a special public event dedicated to the commemorating the life of Rev. Oliver Brown. Brown was a civil rights leader and local pastor who was the namesake of the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision ending legal racial segregation in American schools.

“We’re excited to partner with Drury University and the Springfield NAACP to celebrate and honor this hero,” says Marty Moore, executive director of learning support and partnerships. “This event will celebrate the life of a man who was an advocate for equity and access to public education for all. We honor his memory today by continuing to commit to removing barriers with our words and our work.”

Hosted by Drury University, “Celebrating the Legacy: Commemorating the 100th Birthday of Rev. Oliver Brown” will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19. The event will begin in the Central High School atrium, featuring a series of speakers, including one of Brown’s daughters, Cheryl Brown Henderson. Brown Henderson is the founding president of the Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research, which works to preserve the legacy of the Brown decision.

About the events, Cheryl Brown Henderson says, “I am honored by this opportunity to represent my family as well as the attorneys, community activists and several hundred plaintiffs in the five cases consolidated by the U.S. Supreme Court under the heading of Brown v. Board of Education. This is an opportunity to recognize the courage of ordinary people who would not be denied their constitutional rights. Their efforts profoundly impacted the lives of every citizen and influenced human rights struggles around the world.”

Central High School also holds a connection to the Brown family. Linda Brown, Rev. Brown’s oldest daughter on whose behalf he joined the class action lawsuit in Topeka, Kansas, graduated from Central High School in 1961.

Following the program at CHS, the event will move one block south to Benton Avenue African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church, where Brown was pastor from 1959 until his death in 1961. After its final services in 2013, Drury University purchased the church in 2014. Drury intends to eventually honor Rev. Brown through re-use of the building as an academic and teaching space.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Missouri nun who spoke at Selma, Ferguson dead at 93

In the accompanying video from KTRS the life of Sister Mary Antona Ebo, who died this week at age 93, is remembered.

In 1965, along with five other nuns and 50 St. Louisans, she went to Selma, Alabama and participated in the voting rights march. She was the only African American among the nuns.

She stepped to the podium and said, "I am here because I am a negro, a nun, a Catholic and because I want to bear witnesses.

Fifty years later, Sister Mary Antona Ebo spoke at a prayer vigil in Ferguson.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

New book aimed for young readers relives Freedom Rides

(News Release)

From the award-winning author of "Black & White," comes the latest in Larry Dane Brimner’s 200 books for young readers. The retired educator has featured both fictional and real people from history in his many books. Although aimed at middle school readers, "Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961" is nonfiction, and it is a revelation for all ages. Booklist calls the book “memorable.”

To celebrate the seventh anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s desegregation decision of Brown v. Board of Education, a diverse group of 13 riders boarded two buses on May 4, 1961, in Washington, D.C., heading for New Orleans. U.S. law allows anyone to sit in the front of the bus, but in the South, only whites are allowed this privilege. When the buses hit Alabama on May 14, Mother’s Day, all hell breaks loose when the black and white riders challenge local customs.

This powerful true story will especially resonate in today’s climate. Voices of Youth Advocates magazine states: “Brimner’s merger of history with photographs imparts the drama and significance of the Freedom Ride of 1961 ... Crucial to the even-handed writing of the text is a controlled tone, free of unnecessary accusations and sensationalism ... An essential addition to public and middle school libraries.”

School Library Journal also recommends "Twelve Days in May". “Brimner, author of several other books about civil rights in this era, knows the material well and presents a straightforward narrative … VERDICT: An essential part of civil rights collections and a worthy addition to all nonfiction shelves.”

Among Brimner’s other Civil Rights books written for middle school readers: "Birmingham Sunday" was a Jane Addams Children’s Honor Book, an NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor Book, and a Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Book of the Year. "We are One" was a Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Winner.

About the Author: Larry Dane Brimner, whose books have been awarded the Robert F. Sibert Honor, the Orbis Pictus Honor, and the Carter G. Woodson Award, among others, is the author of 200 fiction and nonfiction books for young readers. With a special interest in civil rights and social justice, he often focuses on these issues in his nonfiction work, but he also writes about sports, natural science, and other diverse topics. A former high school teacher and college instructor, this Florida native now lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Author’s Website: http://www.brimner.com
Also look for the author’s other new book "Puppy & Bear: The First Day of School."

The compelling new book TWELVE DAYS IN MAY: FREEDOM RIDE 1961 (ISBN: 978-1-62979-586-7) is now available for $18.95 and can be ordered through the publisher’s website:
https://www.boydsmillspress.com/bmp/books/non-fiction/twelve-days-may or at Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com.

***

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Cap worn by Jackie Robinson during rookie year sells for $590K

A cap worn by Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman Jackie Robinson during the 1947 season when he broke the major leagues' color barrier, sold for $590,994 at a recent auction.

Robinson's widow, Rachel Robinson, said the cap included metal plates that were sewn in to protect him from pitches who were throwing at his head intentionally.

Anther Robinson item is scheduled to be auctioned in the near future:

Later this November, Robinson’s historic contract with the Dodgers from 1947 will become available via Goldin Auctions. The bidding will conclude on Nov. 16 at the Jackie Robinson Museum, with 10 percent of the proceeds going to the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

Last May, Robinson’s contract from the 1949 season sold for $276,000. That figure surpassed Robinson’s signing bonus of $21,000 at the time, which approximately equates to $215,000 in today’s economy.

JFK document release includes files on Martin Luther King

Among the items released by the National Archives recently during the recent items from the Kennedy Assassination investigation are pages from FBI documents on civil rights icon Martin Luther King.

Why it was included in items about the JFK assassination was not entirely clear so there was nothing in the material that even mentioned the murdered president.

The items portrayed Dr. King in a negative light, which is not surprising since FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover hated King. The report is from CNN.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Simeon Wright, witness to Emmett Till kidnapping, dead at 74

Simeon Wright, the cousin who was in the same room with 14-year-old Emmett Till when he was kidnapped in 1955, died Monday at age 74, following a long bout with cancer.

From the New York Times obituary:

The two were together when Till allegedly whistled at a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, at the convenience store she owned with her husband, Roy. Wright said Till was “always joking around” and was likely trying to get a laugh out of his cousins. But the whistle struck Wright, who feared the overwhelming presence of the Ku Klux Klan in Mississippi, to the core. Chicago Magazine quoted Wright as saying the joke “scared us half to death … A black boy whistling at a white woman? In Mississippi? No.”

The group promised not to tell Wright’s father about the incident, expecting that he would rush Till out of town if he ever found out.

But it was at 2 a.m. on Aug. 28 that Roy Bryant and his half brother, J.W. Milam, arrived at the Wrights’ home. They snatched Till from the bed he shared with Wright. Till’s beaten body was later found in the Tallahatchie River, along with a 75-pound cotton-gin fan tied to his neck with barbed wire.


Wright told the story in his 2010 book Simeon's Story.

The accompanying National Archives video features an interview with Simeon Wright.