Tag: Civil Rights Movement (1954-68)

Why Protest Movements Are ‘Civil’ Only in Retrospect

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. of the public imagination was a unifying figure who bridged America’s bitter racial divide and peacefully liberated the South from Jim Crow. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who actually existed was spied on and blackmailed by the federal government, arrested roughly 30 times, beaten, stalked and […]

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Why I Took My Young Son to Protest

Last Tuesday evening I took my 6-year-old son, Javier, around our neighborhood in Jersey City and introduced him to all the “mom” cops. Two peaceful marches had dispersed hours before, but at dusk, police still stood on every corner. There has been no curfew here, and marches have been large and nonviolent. Still, businesses had […]

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Trump May Compare Himself to Nixon in 1968, but He Really Resembles Wallace

President Trump said last month that he had “learned a lot from Richard Nixon,” and many interpreted his hard-line response to the street protests of recent days as a homage of sorts to the 1968 campaign. The president’s Twitter feed has been filled with phrases famous from the Nixon lexicon like “LAW & ORDER” and […]

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‘Outside Agitator’ Claim Dates to Civil Rights Era

After demonstrations for racial equality in Alabama were inflamed by the killing of Jimmie Lee Jackson, 26, a black activist who was shot by a state trooper, state officials issued a resolution asking people to stay home, citing “continued agitation and demonstrations led and directed by outsiders.” The resolution was signed by Gov. George Wallace […]

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Emma Amos, Painter Who Challenged Racism and Sexism, Dies at 83

Emma Amos, an acclaimed figurative artist whose high-color paintings of women flying or falling through space were charged with racial and feminist politics, died on May 21 at her home in Bedford, N.H. She was 83. The cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease, said the Ryan Lee Gallery in Manhattan, which represents her. A key […]

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How White Women Use Themselves as Instruments of Terror

At a time of so much death and suffering in this country and around the world from the Covid-19 pandemic, it can be easy, I suppose, to take any incidents that don’t result in death as minor occurrences. But they aren’t. The continued public assault on black people, particularly black men, by the white public […]

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Why Does the U.S. Military Celebrate White Supremacy?

The white supremacist who murdered nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., five years ago dispensed with the fiction that the Confederate battle flag was an innocuous symbol of “Southern pride.” A murderer’s manifesto describing the killings as the start of a race war — combined with photos of the killer brandishing a pistol and a […]

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States Keep Failing Black People

The racially disproportionate effect of the Covid-19 crisis in this country and a recent rash of high-profile senseless killings of black people by the police and vigilantes may seem on their face unrelated. But, in fact, they are related. The two phenomena have collided as a tragic reminder of how consistently and continuously states have […]

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In Ahmaud Arbery’s Hometown, Pain, Anger and Pride in a Shared Racial History

BRUNSWICK, Ga. — A 26-year-old black man stood on the steps of the old brick courthouse on Friday and decried the shooting death of another black man who would have turned 26 that day had he lived to see it. “That could have easily been me,” he said. There was anger and anguish and cries […]

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Terry Lenzner, Sleuth With a Wide-Ranging Career, Dies at 80

Terry F. Lenzner, a bulldog investigator with a Harvard pedigree whose career took him from pursuing civil rights violators in the South through the Watergate hearings and decades of sometimes controversial private investigations, died on Thursday in Washington. He was 80. His daughter, Emily Lenzner, confirmed the death, saying he had pneumonia, leukemia and dementia. […]

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Why Aren’t We Excited About Earth Day Anymore?

In the 1960s, environmental destruction was upfront and personal. It was in your face. Los Angeles was shrouded in smog. The Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire. Three million gallons of oil spilled off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif. New York City dumped raw sewage into the Hudson River. Bald eagles were teetering near […]

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Martin, Malcolm and the Fight for Equality

THE SWORD AND THE SHIELDThe Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.By Peniel E. Joseph What an era that could see the rise to national prominence of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. In his immensely valuable new book, “The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and […]

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Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, Civil Rights Leader and Aide to King, Dies at 98

The Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, a lieutenant to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who helped organize a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement — the bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala. — and who gave the benediction at President Barack Obama’s inauguration more than half a century later, died at his home in […]

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The Christian Response to the Coronavirus: Stay Home

The church, the actual building that houses black bodies and souls, stands at the center of black life and culture. It is a fact hiding in plain sight that one of the first cooperative economic ventures former slaves undertook was the purchase and maintenance of churches. Without the cooperation of the church, many black colleges, […]

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Six Decades After the Banana Boat, Harry Belafonte’s Archive Sails Home

When Harry Belafonte turned 93 on March 1, he celebrated with a tribute at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, which ended with a thunderous audience singalong to a riff on his star-making 1956 hit, “The Banana Boat Song,” complete with the rapper Doug E. Fresh beatboxing over its famous “Day-O!” refrain. It was a fitting […]

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A Painter and Social Activist With an ‘Unruly Nature’

The idea was born in an instant. A curator attending an opening at the Baltimore Museum of Art was immediately captivated by a painting from an artist she had barely heard of, Mary Lovelace O’Neal. Three months later, a five-decade retrospective opened at the Mnuchin Gallery in Manhattan, Ms. Lovelace O’Neal’s first solo show in […]

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‘Bloody Sunday’ Commemoration Draws Democratic Candidates to Selma

SELMA, Ala. — Presidential candidates and prominent social justice activists descended on Alabama on Sunday to commemorate the anniversary of the brutal attack on civil rights marchers here in 1965, one of the most violent episodes in the struggle for black participation in democracy. A who’s who of political figures, including five Democratic presidential candidates, […]

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Why Religion Is the Best Hope Against Trump

The Christian season of Lent, a time of repentance and reflection, is upon us. The weeks that begin with Ash Wednesday culminate in Holy Week, a commemoration of the Passover feast in roughly the year A.D. 33, during which Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem, was condemned and crucified by the Roman authorities, and — in the […]

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No, President Trump: You’ve Weakened America’s Soft Power

President Trump claims he “made America great again.” The facts show just the opposite. The United States has lost credibility since 2017. The president’s looseness with the truth has debased the currency of trust that is needed in a crisis, and his continual disdain for our allies means we have fewer friends. There is clear […]

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The Case for a More Negative Black History Month

Black History Month is traditionally a time to honor black Americans and, theoretically, accord them their proper place in American history. Every February we re-examine the exemplary lives of Harriet Tubman, Charles Drew, Frederick Douglass and those of lesser known but truly significant leaders, artists, scientists, thinkers and others. The occasion has always felt too […]

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Bayard Rustin, Gay Civil Rights Leader, Is Pardoned in California

LOS ANGELES — The civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, whose legacy had been tarnished by a 1953 conviction under laws that targeted L.G.B.T.Q. people, was posthumously pardoned by Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on Tuesday. State lawmakers who lobbied for the pardon had called those old laws unjust tools of oppression. Governor Newsom also announced a […]

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The Journalist and the Murderers

RACE AGAINST TIME A Reporter Reopens the Unsolved Murder Cases of the Civil Rights EraBy Jerry Mitchell In “Race Against Time,” Jerry Mitchell chronicles belated efforts — many of them spurred by his own work as a journalist — to prosecute perpetrators of racially motivated violence in Alabama and Mississippi during the 1960s. Beginning in […]

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The Many Polarizations of America

This month has brought a surfeit of interesting new books about American politics, most of them attempts to explain exactly how we reached our current era of gridlock and demagogy, in which disliked establishments and disreputable populists clash by night. This task means that they are necessarily studies in polarization, in the roots of partisan […]

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The Trump Administration Is Clearing the Way for Housing Discrimination

On Monday, the nation honored the towering legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But the progress he demanded remains unfinished, and nowhere more than in the deeply segregated neighborhoods many of us call home. Dr. King understood that where a person lives determines so many of their opportunities, including access to good […]

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An Effort to Clear Bayard Rustin’s Name

ImageBayard Rustin points to a map showing the path of the March on Washington during a news conference at the New York City headquarters in 1963.Credit…Associated Press (Don’t get California Today by email? Here’s the sign-up.) He worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr. for decades as a planner of the Montgomery bus boycott and as […]

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Democratic Candidates Celebrate Dr. King’s Legacy at South Carolina Events

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Several Democratic presidential candidates, hoping to chip away at former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s support in South Carolina, gathered in the state capital on Monday morning to make remarks honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and take part in an annual holiday march and rally that had election-year […]

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Did the Civil Rights Movement Go Wrong?

THE AGE OF ENTITLEMENTAmerica Since the SixtiesBy Christopher Caldwell In September 2016, a scholar named Angelo M. Codevilla published an article in the conservative Claremont Review of Books ominously titled “After the Republic.” The election, he said, would not change the fact that “the Republic established by America’s founders is probably gone” — kicked aside […]

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