Friday, December 27, 2013

NPR Audio- New book offers a different look at Medgar Evers

In the accompanying audio, NPR interviews Frank X. Walker, author of a new book, Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers, which features poetry told in the voices of those who played important roles in the life of the late civil rights leader.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Courthouse where trial of Emmett Till's killers held is being restored

One of the most notorious trials in American history was the one in October 1955, in which the two men who killed Emmett Till, Roy Bryant and E. W. Milam, despite overwhelming evidence, were found not guilty of his murder.

The courthouse in which that trial was held, the Sumner County, Mississippi Courthouse, is being restored to the shape it was in 58 years ago.

The restoration and improvements, which largely will be completed in the spring, culminate a journey that began more than six years ago with a formal apology from the county to Till's family. It's all part of a process, residents and officials say, to help the community face the tragic legacy of the Till case and move beyond it.
"It's part of our history," said Frank Mitchener, 80, a retired farmer and member of the bi-racial Till commission. "He (Till), of course was the catalyst that started the civil rights movement."
Funded with more than $1.8 million in federal earmark money, plus other grants, the courthouse renovation and associated improvements should lure more of the visitors who already travel to sites made famous during the civil rights struggle, supporters say. Even in its current state, the courthouse has been attracting regular bus tours and school groups.

Friday, December 13, 2013

MSSU plans annual celebration of Martin Luther King

(From Southern News Service)

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
 The quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is at the heart of the annual MLK Day of Service – a call for people to work together to solve problems.
 It will also serve as a central theme for the annual celebration of Martin Luther King at Missouri Southern State University. Set for the week of Jan. 20, 2014, it will include several special events and provide ways for the campus and community to be of service to others.
 The celebration will begin with the annual MLK Breakfast at 8 a.m. Monday, Jan. 20, in Connor Ballroom at Billingsly Student Center.
 “In the past, our guests (brought in for the event) have spoken at the breakfast,” said Faustina Abrahams, MSSU first year advising coordinator and a member of the university’s Diversity Committee, which sponsors the event. “This year, we wanted to focus on a local speaker who has a volunteer background.”
 Jerrod Hogan, founder of Rebuild Joplin – which was formed in the wake of the May 22, 2011, tornado – will be the speaker.
 Those attending the breakfast will have the opportunity to contribute to a community art project. Guests will trace their hands on construction paper, which will then be added to a collage created by Josie Mai, assistant professor of art, and students. At the conclusion of the breakfast, “Healing Hands Community Collage” will be unveiled.
 Cost for the MLK Breakfast is $5 per person. Tickets can be purchased at the MSSU Ticket Office or online
 Sponsorship opportunities for tables at the breakfast are available. There will be six tickets per table, with a table tent on each sponsored table. Company names will be listed in the printed program and mentioned during the event. Call for more information.
 A volunteer fair is planned for 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21.
 Area volunteer and nonprofit organizations will set up tables in Billingsly Student Center with information about getting involved. Students and the community are invited to sign up and give their time to an organization of their choice.
 On Wednesday, Jan. 22, the Campus Activities Board will present two performances by MLK authority and impersonator Greenfair “Brother” Moses III.
 “Let Freedom Ring” will be presented at 1 p.m. in Corley Auditorium. Brother Moses will deliver one of the most powerful speeches of all time. It was a speech that King labored over as he wondered whether or not to use the phrase “I have a dream.”
 Brother Moses will also present King’s sermon known as “A Knock at Midnight” at 7 p.m. in Corley Auditorium.
 “We’d really like to see area churches attend the Wednesday evening program,” said Abrahams. “The MSSU Chamber Singers are going to open it, and we want it to feel like what it could have been like to be there for (the actual sermon).”
 Both programs are free and open to the public. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Plans made to celebrate 50th anniversary of King march through Frankfort

The Kentucky Commission on Human Rights announced plans Wednesday to observe the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s march through Frankfort:

The historic 1964 march in Frankfort advocated for legislation to help end segregation by making discrimination illegal in the area of public accommodations such as stores, restaurants, theaters and hotels, the Commission on Human Rights said in a press release.
King, the Rev. Ralph David Abernathy and baseball great Jackie Robinson were among those who traveled to Kentucky to help lead the marchers to the Capitol and speak to the crowd from the steps.
Gov. Ned Breathitt met with Frank Stanley Jr., owner of the Louisville Defender newspaper and a key organizer of the event, other state civil rights leaders, and King and Robinson, to talk about the urgent need for a state civil rights law. The march helped build support for the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 and helped result in the Kentucky Civil Rights Act of 1966.

Trailblazing civil rights journalist receives honorary degree

(From Youngstown State University)

Trailblazing reporter Simeon Booker, an award-winning black journalist whose coverage of the Mississippi murder of Emmett Till in 1955 is credited with galvanizing the civil rights movement, receives an honorary Doctor of Letters degree on Sunday, Dec. 15, at the Fall Commencement ceremonies of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio.

"We are honored to have Mr. Booker return to Youngstown and Youngstown State and to be recognized for the important role he played on the front lines of the civil rights movement in this country," YSU President Randy J. Dunn said.

Booker, who moved to Youngstown at the age of seven, enrolled in Youngstown College (later renamed Youngstown State University) in 1938, but withdrew after learning that black students at the school were not allowed activity cards. As part of his visit to Youngstown, Booker will be presented with a symbolic YSU activity card at a community dinner and reception Saturday, Dec. 14, on campus.

Booker, long considered the "dean" of black journalists, was the first black staff reporter at The Washington Post and worked for more than 50 years as Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent for Jet andEbony magazines. He covered murders, marches, sit-ins and freedom rides and twice followed black troops to Vietnam. He is the recipient of the Newspaper Guild Award, a Willkie Award and the Nieman Fellowship in Journalism at Harvard University. This past January, Booker was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the National Association of Black Journalists. His book, Shocking the Conscience, was published this year by University Press of Mississippi.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

New book features Freedom Riders' mug shots

A new book, Breach of Peace by Eric Etheridge, features police mug shots of the Freedom Riders:

Discovery of the mug shots taken of those young riders proved to be a photographic gold mine for Etheridge, 57, who mounted an unusual search mission as a result.

 What he did was track down the 328 arrestees after requesting their cooperation. All agreed. He then took photographs of them as they look today — most in their 70s and as committed to equal rights now as they were half a century ago.

 “Working on this project gave me a way back into my own history,” Etheridge said Saturday afternoon during an appearance at Montgomery’s old Greyhound bus station, now known as the Freedom Rides Museum.

Supreme Court will not hear "Mississippi Burning" mastermind's appeal

The U. S. Supreme Court decided this week it would not hear the appeal of convicted "Mississippi Burning" mastermind Edgar Ray Killen.

Killen, 88, is serving a 60-year sentence for his part in the 1964 murders of civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney:

In his appeal, Killen declared that he deserved a new trial because his constitutional rights were violated.On Monday, his attorney, Rob Ratliff of Mobile, Ala., vowed to keep fighting, saying the "legal options are not over. Several other options exist in the course of having proper judicial review of a conviction and sentencing that failed to meet our respected standards."Justices were not asked to rule on substantive issues, but to recognize Killen's constitutional right to due process, Ratliff wrote in an email.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Video: MLK interviewed just before March on Washington

John Lewis: We have come too far

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Martin Luther King Philadelphia speech recovered

(From the National Heritage Society)

Tom Lingenfelter, America's History Detective of Doylestown, Pa., announced the discovery of the 46-year old magnetic quarter-inch audio tape of Dr. King's only major speech in Philadelphia (to an audience of 3500 in the alumni fieldhouse of St. Joseph's University). No other recording of this speech is known to exist.
The recorded speech along with unpublished photographs were found in the forgotten collection of the photographer/journalist who covered the event October 26,1967....all are in excellent condition.
This quintessential hour long speech of carefully measured tone, blend of logic, activism, the Bible and American the passionate desire for a fully integrated society based upon real freedoms; the voice and the reasoning of Dr. King are unmistakable. 
Lingenfelter said the photographs and tape are preserved in a secure facility while plans are being considered for its presentation to the public. 

Read more here:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Missouri to celebrate 50th anniversary of March on Washington

(From the state of Missouri)

The March on Washington, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on Aug. 28, 1963, was a pivotal moment in our nation’s history, a time when our country stood at a crossroads for change and equality. This historic march drew more than a quarter million people who convened on the grounds of the Lincoln Memorial, capturing the attention of billions of people worldwide.
August 28, 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. To commemorate this important date of remembrance, the state of Missouri will participate in the National “Let Freedom Ring” Day with an event from 1-2 p.m. on the grounds of the Missouri State Capitol (in case of rain, the event will be moved indoors to the 1st floor Rotunda of the Missouri State Capitol). The day’s program will include music, poetry, refreshments and more.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

John Lewis talks about the impact of the March on Washington

From this week's Bill Moyers and Company on PBS, an interview with Rep. John Lewis, D-Alabama, the last surviving speaker from the Aug. 20, 1963, March on Washington.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

St. Louis newspaper archives reveal new information about Emmett Till murder

In his latest blog entry, Jackson Clarion-Ledger reporter Jerry Mitchell, whose dogged reporting helped reopen many long-closed civil rights murders and bring the killers to justice, writes about how long-missing files from a St. Louis African-American newspaper have added new information to the Emmett Till murder case:

(A)nother African-American newspaper, The St. Louis Argus, had covered the trial.
He ordered a copy of the Argus microfilm from 1955 — only to find a curious gap where the trial took place. ”Every time I interlibrary loaned the Argus, same gap,” he said. “Every time.”
Finally, an undergraduate student at Florida State, Jessica Primiani, found the missing issues at the State Historical Society of Missouri.
And what a find it was — the Argus’ publisher attended the trial along with a reporter and photographer.
“The Argus was the best represented among a very small contingent of the black press,” Houck said. ”It’s clear in examining the documents that the black community of St. Louis had a special investment in the murder of Emmett Till and the search for justice in the case.”
There are never-before-seen photographs, including a few of Mississippi NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers, who investigated Till’s killing.
Devery Anderson, who is working on a book titled, The Boy Who Never Died: The Saga of the Emmett Till Murder, said the trial coverage helped to answer questions, such as what the African-American business district in this area looked like.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Charles Evers: We have not been forgotten

In this video, civil rights leader Charles Evers, brother of the late Medgar Evers, watches as his brother's widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams, delivers the invocation during Monday's presidential inauguration.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Eugene Patterson, author of famous Birmingham Church Bombing editorial, dead at 89

Former Atlanta Journal-Constitution Editor Eugene Patterson, who as an editor of a southern newspaper showed no fear in condemning the murder of four African-American girls in the bombing of the 15th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., died Saturday at age 89.

Mr. Patterson's commentary is printed below:

A Negro mother wept in the street Sunday morning in front of a Baptist Church in Birmingham. In her hand she held a shoe, one shoe, from the foot of her dead child. We hold that shoe with her.
Every one of us in the white South holds that small shoe in his hand.
It is too late to blame the sick criminals who handled the dynamite. The FBI and the police can deal with that kind. The charge against them is simple. They killed four children.
Only we can trace the truth, Southerner — you and I. We broke those children’s bodies.
We watched the stage set without staying it. We listened to the prologue unbestirred. We saw the curtain opening with disinterest. We have heard the play.
We — who go on electing politicians who heat the kettles of hate.
We — who raise no hand to silence the mean and little men who have their nigger jokes.
We — who stand aside in imagined rectitude and let the mad dogs that run in every society slide their leashes from our hand, and spring.
We — the heirs of a proud South, who protest its worth and demand it recognition — we are the ones who have ducked the difficult, skirted the uncomfortable, caviled at the challenge, resented the necessary, rationalized the unacceptable, and created the day surely when these children would die.
This is no time to load our anguish onto the murderous scapegoat who set the cap in dynamite of our own manufacture.
He didn’t know any better.
Somewhere in the dim and fevered recess of an evil mind he feels right now that he has been a hero. He is only guilty of murder. He thinks he has pleased us.
We, who know better, created a climate for child-killing by those who don’t.We of the white South who know better are the ones who must take a harsher judgment.
We hold that shoe in our hand, Southerner. Let us see it straight, and look at the blood on it. Let us compare it with the unworthy speeches of Southern public men who have traduced the Negro; match it with the spectacle of shrilling children whose parents and teachers turned them free to spit epithets at small huddles of Negro school children for a week before this Sunday in Birmingham; hold up the shoe and look beyond it to the state house in Montgomery where the official attitudes of Alabama have been spoken in heat and anger.
Let us not lay the blame on some brutal fool who didn’t know any better.
We know better. We created the day. We bear the judgment. May God have mercy on the poor South that has so been led. May what has happened hasten the day when the good South, which does live and has great being, will rise to this challenge of racial understanding and common humanity, and in the full power of its unasserted courage, assert itself.
The Sunday school play at Birmingham is ended. With a weeping Negro mother, we stand in the bitter smoke and hold a shoe. If our South is ever to be what we wish it to be, we will plant a flower of nobler resolve for the South now upon these four small graves that we dug.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bible used by Martin Luther King to be used at inauguration

A Bible used by slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. will be used at the inauguration of President Barack Obama Jan. 20:

Martin Luther King Jr. carried a black leather King James Bible on his journeys as a young pastor starting out in Montgomery, Ala. He turned to this “traveling Bible” for inspiration, his family says, as he fought for freedom and equality.President Obama will put his hand over King’s well-worn Bible at his public swearing-in at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 21, the holiday celebrating the birthday of the slain civil rights leader. King’s Bible will be stacked with the burgundy velvet and gilded Bible used by President Abraham Lincoln at his first inauguration.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Finding old newspaper articles for your civil rights research project

The amount of material available online for civil rights research projects has grown incredibly over the past few years as more and more information is put on the internet.

Those seeking newspaper articles from the era can now find them accessible, often at no charge, by looking through the Google News archives.

You can start by typing in a search term such as "Birmingham Church Bombing" on Google. When your results come through, click on news (links for news can be found on the top and left hand sides of the page).

After the news results arrive, click on "archives" on the left side of the page. When you get your results, if you are not wanting to pay (or cannot afford to pay) for articles, hit the "free only" link on the left hand side of the page.

Most often, you will find PDFs of the newspaper pages with the information you are wanting, in this example, the Birmingham Church Bombing, highlighted.

Medgar Evers' widow to deliver invocation at Obama inauguration

Slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers' widow, Myrlie Evers-Williams will deliver the invocation at President Barack Obama's inauguration Jan. 20:

It comes 50 years after her husband was gunned down in the driveway of his Mississippi home. The inauguration falls on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Evers-Williams is a distinguished scholar at Alcorn State University in Lorman, Miss. She was chairwoman of the NAACP from 1995 to 1998.
Inaugural organizers said the Rev. Louie Giglio of Atlanta’s Passion City Church will deliver the benediction for Obama’s swearing-in.
In a statement, Obama says Evers-Williams and Giglio represent ideals of justice, equality and opportunity that he pursues.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Deadlines set for third quarter research project

Deadlines have been set for the third quarter civil rights research project in Mr. Randy Turner's eighth grade communication arts classes at East Middle School.

Internet research- Monday, January 7-Friday, January 11

Library (Book Research) Monday, January 14, Tuesday, January 15

Thesis Statement Due- Friday, January 18

First Draft Due- Monday, February 4

Final Draft Due- Monday,  March 4

(Oral presentations and multi-media will take place between Tuesday, February 5, and Friday, Feb. 22.)