Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Using Google News to help your research project

Some of the most fascinating information you can unearth during any historical research project can be found through Google News.

Over the past several months, Google News has added several links to historical newspapers. Type in your search terms, then look to the left side of the page. Usually, you will be able to find a list of years. If you are researching Emmett Till, for instance, you will be able to click on 1955 and find newspaper articles written at the time of the murder of Emmett Till and the trial of Roy Bryant and E. W. Milam.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Proper use of Wikipedia during third quarter research project

Students during our annual third quarter research project should not use Wikipedia as a source, but it does not mean they should avoid Wikipedia.

In fact, Wikipedia is an important internet destination.

The links at the bottom of Wikipedia pages provide leads to solid resources for your paper. Make sure that you not only check the outside links that are listed, but also the links provided in the footnotes section.

In addition to checking out the Wikipedia page for whatever your subject may be, you should also look at Wikipedia pages for people you come across during your research.

For instance, those researching the Little Rock Nine should also examine the Wikipedia pages for Ernest Green, Daisy Bates, Minnijean Brown, and Orval Faubus, among others.

Those researching the Montgomery Bus Boycott should look at Wikipedia pages for Rosa Parks, Claudette Colvin, E. W. Nixon, and Martin Luther King.

Wikipedia is one of the best friends a serious researcher can have.

Changes in schedule for third quarter research project

Because of weather conditions that have caused us to miss three days over the past two weeks, the schedule for the third quarter research project has been changed.

We will be in the computer lab, Room 300, for the next three days (Friday, Monday, and Tuesday). The thesis statement, which was originally due today, will be due at the end of the day Tuesday.

Otherwise, the project deadlines remain the same.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Greeley, Colorado school board member broadcasting daily attacks against Martin Luther King

As the annual observation of Martin Luther King's birthday nears, a Greeley, Colorado, school board member is causing problems by broadcasting daily attacks against Dr. King:

A member of the Greeley-Evans School District 6 board of education is using his radio station twice daily to broadcast an attack on the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., calling the slain civil rights leader a sexual degenerate, plagiarist and “modern-day plastic god.”

In the broadcast, Brett Reese, owner of 104.7 FM Pirate Radio, reads a letter that he said came from a listener three years ago. He said it does not necessarily reflect his own thoughts or ideas — although he did not disavow the message, either, in an e-mail exchange with the Tribune on Friday — but he said he believes in the open discussion of history. He also said he does not know who actually wrote the letter.

Reese said he will continue to broadcast the recording twice a day until Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 17. The city of Greeley and the University of Northern Colorado are sponsoring the 15th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. March and Celebration on that day.

“He's not a legitimate reverend, he's not a bona fide Ph.D. and his name really isn't Martin Luther King Jr.,” Reese says in the broadcast. “What's left? Just a sexual degenerate, an America-hating communist and a criminal betrayer of even the interests of his own people.”

Fellow school board member Bob Stack said it was inappropriate for Reese, as a board member, to continually broadcast such a message.

Fiftieth anniversary of Freedom Rides celebrated

Three of the fabled Freedom Riders recalled those days during one of several observations of the 50th anniversary of the rides. This one was held in Winchester, Va.

They were bright, ambitious college students willing to risk their future.

Dion Diamond, Reginald Green, and Joan Mulholland stepped onto a bus in the summer of 1961 not for the purpose of getting from one place to another, but for the hope of change.

The three were some of the first men and women who volunteered to take part in the Congress of Racial Equality's effort to desegregate public transportation throughout the South.

The first Freedom Ride took place May 4, 1961, when seven blacks and six whites left Washington, D.C., on two public buses bound for the South to test the Supreme Court's ruling in Boynton v. Virginia (1960), which declared segregation in interstate bus and rail stations unconstitutional.

Many of the passengers were beaten and imprisoned, including Mulholland, Green, and Dion.

Those brave enough to aboard the buses were dubbed Freedom Riders

PBS documentary helps renew interest in Freedom Rides

(The following article came from the January 8, 2011 Los Angeles Times.)


Helen Singleton became a Freedom Rider because of her mother, and her childhood memories of family trips every summer in the 1940s from Philadelphia to her grandparents' farm in Virginia.

"Mother would be up all night over a hot stove, cooking chicken, potato salad, rolls" to sustain eight children over a 14-hour trip along back roads where every restaurant, market and hotel was "whites only."

"We could feel her exhaustion and the tension in the car," Singleton recalled. "And when we got there, there was always some incident — stores we couldn't go in because it's not the right day for blacks to shop.... It marred the joy of our summer vacations. I carried that with me for a long time."

For nigh on 20 years, in fact, she carried that memory of second-class citizenship. Then in 1961, Singleton and her husband, Robert, joined hundreds of college students — black and white, from every region of the country — on "freedom rides" through the Deep South.

The bus rides began in Washington, D.C., with a small group of civil rights activists. Seven were black and six were white. They boarded Greyhound buses in interracial pairs, shared seats and mingled in terminals at each stop.

It was a blatant challenge to Southern codes that mandated racial separatism. The U.S. Supreme Court had declared that segregation was unlawful in interstate travel, but federal officials had refused to enforce that precedent, fearful of political backlash.

The ride from D.C. to New Orleans was supposed to take 14 days. But in Alabama, jeering, violent mobs of whites firebombed the buses and attacked the riders as local law enforcement officers looked on. The wounded activists were forced to abandon their plan.

A group of Nashville college students stepped in, though, and that sparked a national swell of support on college campuses around the country.

In Los Angeles, 17 students — 10 white and seven black — traveled east as Freedom Riders. As head of UCLA's chapter of the NAACP, Robert Singleton was in charge of recruitment.

"I had the names of 42 people," he said. "But most of them got turned down by their parents. It was on the news back then every night — the beatings, the mobs, the fires." He got his bus-full, and they flew to New Orleans, then boarded a train for Jackson, Miss.

The Freedom Ride movement tends to get short shrift in history books. There was no single big-name leader, no symbolic murdered martyr. It was an exercise in courage and cooperation by young people with nothing personal to gain and little in their backgrounds in common.

"We had white kids from wealthy families and black students whose moms and dads had migrated up from the South," recalled Singleton, now a professor of economics at Loyola Marymount University. "Until then, we didn't know what we could do. We came back from there empowered."

They didn't spend much time riding buses or mingling in terminals; they were hauled from the train and sent to Mississippi's notorious Parchman prison, where they spent the next few months. "We could see the death chambers from our cells," Helen Singleton said. "It dawns on you then what you have done."

It took longer to dawn on them what their campaign had done for Los Angeles. There were no "whites only" signs or Jim Crow laws in the city. "But you couldn't get a haircut in a barber shop in Westwood," Robert recalled.

"When we came back from the Freedom Rides, we got a certain amount of respect on campus, from the chancellors and others who had ignored us. They began to cooperate, and we began to organize."

The Freedom Riders' efforts led to a raft of changes at UCLA and beyond — among them the integration of nearby all-white apartments and the introduction of ethnic studies courses on campus.

But the story of their struggle has been mothballed, a footnote in the saga of a civil rights movement that revolves around bright lights like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

That might change this spring, with the PBS release of a documentary that garnered praise at Sundance last year and was nominated this week by the Writers Guild of America as best documentary screenplay.

"Freedom Riders" by Stanley Nelson is a riveting look at the front lines of what Helen Singleton remembers as a "dangerous adventure" — the venom, the courage, the political maneuvers, the rifts in a splintering civil rights movement."

The film will be shown, for free, next Saturday at the Culver City Senior Center, as part of the city's celebration of King's birthday.

In May, it will be televised on PBS, and 40 college students will be selected this month to accompany original Freedom Riders on a reenactment of the experience.I watched it with my college student daughter this week. She aced her class in "Power to the People: Movements of the 1960s" last fall. But the movie's piercing images of frightened college students, their faces bloodied by hate-filled mobs, turned the topic into more than classroom babble.

Her friends remember the exhilaration of their own foray into activism as street soldiers in the Obama campaign, with its promise of historic change.

They Tweeted and Facebooked and made phone calls, camped out on floors and went door-to-door.

And I can't help but be grateful, as a mother now, how different are the front lines, then and now.