Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Atlanta newspaper travel story notes importance of Selma

A travel story in today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution relates the history of the Selma March of 1965 and some of the landmarks of that march which are still available to those who want to see them:

The events of March 1965, however, left a more residual mark on this small city in the heart of Dixie. One hundred years after the Confederacy lost the “Battle of Selma,” nonviolent protesters determined to gain equal access to the voting booth staged a march to Montgomery that met violent resistance at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The images broadcast worldwide forever ingrained the term “Bloody Sunday” in the national conscience. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led the ensuing peaceful march to the state capital, which ended up turning the tide of American history. Edifices of this glorious and infamous past remain intact, including that famous bridge. The highway into town from Montgomery — U.S. 80 — is now a National Historic Trail.

(Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife Coretta (right) are among those leading the Selma march for voting rights. Associated Press photo)

Mississippi FBI building may be named after slain civil rights workers

The new FBI headquarters in Mississippi may be named after slain civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, who were murdered during Freedom Summer in 1964:

The Jackson City Council will vote today on a resolution supporting the move. Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman were killed June 21, 1964, while participating in Freedom Summer, an intensive voter registration drive aimed at breaking Mississippi's resistance to civil rights for African Americans.

The three men were investigating the burning of a black church in Neshoba County when they were arrested by a county deputy, held for several hours and then disappeared.

Their bodies were discovered weeks later. National reaction to the deaths was used as leverage for the passage of landmark civil rights legislation, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

A similar resolution to name the FBI field office in Jackson, the state capital, after the civil rights workers was passed by the Hinds County Board of Supervisors in August after officials with the Mississippi branch of the NAACP approached Supervisor George Smith.

"It could send a signal to the rest of the nation that we at least understand some of the things that have happened in the past and realize that this is in tune of correcting some of the negatives back then," Smith said.

FBI spokeswoman Deborah Madden said the agency will defer to Congress for a final decision on naming the building, which the federal government is leasing.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Former attorney for Malcolm X dead at 89

Percy Sutton, the former attorney for Malcolm X, died Saturday at age 89. The following statement was issued by the White House:

His life-long dedication to the fight for civil rights and his career as an entrepreneur and public servant made the rise of countless young African-Americans possible," Obama said.

A native of Texas, Sutton served as an intelligence officer for the famed Tuskegee Airmen during World War II before becoming an attorney. He represented Malcolm X until the onetime Nation of Islam leader's 1965 assassination, and continued to represent his widow, Betty Shabazz, until her death in a 1997 fire. He then defended Shabazz's 12-year-old grandson, who admitted to starting the fatal blaze.