Saturday, March 7, 2020

African-American trail marker to be unveiled in Springfield, Missouri

(From the City of Springfield, Missouri)

The organizers of Springfield’s African American Heritage Trail project will unveil the Springfield-Greene County African-American Heritage Trail’s third marker at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 8.

The ceremony will take place near Gibson Chapel Presbyterian Church, 536 E. Tampa, and will commemorate the southern area of a “church square” that includes two historically African-American churches.

The southern area of the square includes Gibson Chapel, located on corner of Tampa and Washington Ave., was formed as the First Negro Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1865 by a freed slave named Reverend Peter Lair (later spelled Lear) with aid from a white minister. The frame building was constructed on the south side of the Jordan River (Jordan Creek) at the foot of Washington Avenue.

In 1891, a new brick church was built on the corner of Washington Avenue and Pine (now 536 E. Tampa Street). The church was renamed Gibson Chapel after the death of Reverend H. A. Gibson, who worked tirelessly to get the new structure erected.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Bipartisan Congressional group calls for Curt Flood to be inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame

(Press Release)

A bipartisan and bicameral coalition of Members of Congress called for All-Star baseball player Curt Flood’s induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Flood’s courageous challenge to Major League Baseball’s (MLB) reserve system, which helped create free agency within the MLB and transformed professional sports.

Led by Representative David Trone (D-MD), Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Reps. William Lacy Clay (D-MO) and Ann Wagner (R-MO), the Members announced that they will send a letter to the Chair of the Board of the National Baseball Hall of Fame urging the induction of Curt Flood. The letter currently has more than 100 signatures.

The effort has been endorsed by the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA), the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA), and the Major League Soccer Players Association (MLSPA). It has also been endorsed by UNITE HERE, a labor union that represents 300,000 working people across Canada and the United States in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries.

Also in attendance at the event:

Judy Pace Flood, widow of Curt Flood
Xavier James, Chief Operating Officer, MLBPA
Chris Capuano, former Major League Baseball (MLB) player and Director of Operations, MLBPA
Don Fehr, Former Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) Executive Director and current National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) Executive Director
Andre Collins, Former NFL player (Washington Redskins) and Executive Director, Professional Athletes Foundation, National Football League Players Association (NFLPA)
Dylan Mabin, Cornerback for the Raiders
Clarence Nesbitt, General Counsel, National Basketball Players Association (NBPA)
Johnny Andris, Staff Counsel, Major League Soccer Players Association (MLSPA)
Amir Lowery, former MLS player and current member of Player Relations team (MLSPA)

“Retired and current players owe a debt of gratitude to Curt Flood,” said Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO). “His legacy as a Cardinals player, advocate, and leader for the sport is still being felt today, and it is clear he has earned his spot in the Hall of Fame. I am proud to join with Curt’s widow, Judy, and my colleagues Senator Blunt, Congressman Clay and Congressman Trone in honoring a great American ballplayer and urging the Golden Era Committee to nominate and induct Curt Flood into the Hall of Fame. The three-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove winner amazed a generation of Cardinals fans with his talent and athleticism, while also changing the way the game was played and how the players were treated. I hope our effort today will allow him to join other Cardinal greats who have made their mark on America’s pastime.”

“Curt Flood changed the game of baseball when he courageously spoke truth to power in the name of what was right,” said Rep. David Trone (D-MD), who organized the efforts behind the Congressional letter. “Flood sacrificed his own career so players after him could have free agency, leaving one of the biggest impacts on the game to this day. It’s about time we all come together to recognize these distinctly American actions and induct Curt Flood into the Hall of Fame.”

“A copy of the letter Curt Flood wrote in 1969 is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame and he should be there too,” said Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO). “As a lifelong Cardinals fan, I have always admired the talent he brought to the game and his bravery off the field. He deserves to be honored with his rightful place alongside America’s greatest baseball players.”

“Curt Flood’s courage struck a giant blow for freedom when he stood up to the Reserve Clause and demanded to be treated like a man, instead of a piece of property,” said Rep. Wm. Lacy clay (D-MO). “He was a brilliant center fielder, a perennial All-Star, a two-time World Series Champion…but more than that, he was a symbol of courage who stood up against injustice and changed the game forever. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.”

“Curt Flood’s historic challenge of the reserve clause a half century ago transcended baseball,” said the Players Associations in a joint statement. “He courageously sacrificed his career to take a stand for the rights of all players in professional sports, bringing the issue of free agency to the forefront of national discussion. His accomplishments on the field and off warrant induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.”

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Suffering from pancreatic cancer, civil rights icon John Lewis returns to Edmund Pettus Bridge

Despite suffering from Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, returned to Selma, Alabama to observe the 55th anniversary of the voting rights march that resulted in his being brutally beaten.

"I thought I was going to die on this bridge" Lewis said. "But somehow, some way, God Almighty kept me here.

"We cannot give up now. We cannot give in. We must keep the faith. Keep our eyes on the prize and vote like we've never ever voted before."

Monday, May 20, 2019

Sen. Moran on Brown v. Board of Education anniversary: I ask every American to commit to racial justice and equal opportunity

(From Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas)

On Friday, we recognized the 65th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education that started the legal process of integrating schools across the nation. On this critical day in American history, we remember the legacy left behind by Linda Brown, her parents, and the 13 Kansans whose courage and persistence shifted our nation toward equality.

Honoring this legacy requires all Americans to uphold the self-evident truth that all people are created equal. Let us remember Brown v. Topeka Board of Education, and in doing so, I ask every American to commit to racial justice and equal opportunity.

I also joined the Kansas delegation in introducing a resolution recognizing the 65th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision and its importance to Kansas and our country. Following this introduction, I took to the Senate floor to honor these Kansans and their historic contributions to racial justice and equality. To watch these remarks, click here.

In 2004, on the 50th anniversary of this landmark decision, I welcomed President George W. Bush to Topeka to participate in events recognizing this day and the celebrating the grand opening of the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site. During his remarks, President Bush said the following: "America has yet to reach the high calling of its own ideals. Yet we're a nation that strives to do right. And we honor those who expose our failures, correct our course, and make us a better people. On this day, in this place, we remember with gratitude the good souls who saw a great wrong, and stood their ground, and won their case. And we celebrate a milestone in the history of our glorious nation."

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.