Black History Moment: 59 Years Ago Today, Ms. Rosa Parks Refused To Surrender Her Seat On A Montgomery, Alabama Bus. Sparked A Nation.


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Rosa Parks

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (February 4, 1913 – October 24, 2005) was an African-American civil rights activist, whom the United States Congress called “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”. Her birthday, February 4, and the day she was arrested, December 1, have both become Rosa Parks Day, commemorated in both California and Ohio.

 

On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake‘s order that she give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled. Parks was not the first person to resist bus segregation. Others had taken similar steps, including Irene Morgan in 1946,Sarah Louise Keys in 1955, and the members of the Browder v. Gayle lawsuit (Claudette Colvin, Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, and Mary Louise Smith) who were arrested in Montgomery months before Parks.NAACP organizers believed that Parks was the best candidate for seeing through a court challenge after her arrest for civil disobedience in violating Alabama segregation laws, although eventually her case became bogged down in the state courts while the Browder v. Gayle case succeeded.

 

Parks’ act of defiance and the Montgomery Bus Boycott became important symbols of the modern Civil Rights Movement. She became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation. She organized and collaborated with civil rights leaders, including Edgar Nixon, president of the local chapter of the NAACP; and Martin Luther King, Jr., a new minister in town who gained national prominence in the civil rights movement.

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At the time, Parks was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP. She had recently attended the Highlander Folk School, a Tennessee center for training activists for workers’ rights and racial equality. She acted as a private citizen “tired of giving in”. Although widely honored in later years, she also suffered for her act; she was fired from her job as a seamstress in a local department store.

 

Eventually, she moved to Detroit, where she briefly found similar work. From 1965 to 1988 she served as secretary and receptionist to John Conyers, an African-American U.S. Representative. After retirement, Parks wrote her autobiography and lived a largely private life in Detroit. In her final years, she suffered from dementia.

 

Parks received national recognition, including the NAACP’s 1979 Spingarn Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. Upon her death in 2005, she was the first woman and second non-U.S. government official to lie in honor at the Capitol Rotunda.

 

Rosa Parks Lying in Honor

From October 30-31, 2005, Rosa Parks lay in honor in the Capitol Rotunda. Parks was the first woman to lay in honor in the Capitol Rotunda and the second African-American. Parks is best known as a civil rights pioneer. She died on October 24, 2005, in Detroit, Michigan. Authority for use of the Rotunda granted by Senate Concurrent Resolution 61, 109th Congress, 1st Session, agreed to October 29, 2005.

 

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This official Architect of the Capitol photograph is being made available for educational, scholarly, news or personal purposes (not advertising or any other commercial use). When any of these images is used the photographic credit line should read “Architect of the Capitol.” These images may not be used in any way that would imply endorsement by the Architect of the Capitol or the United States Congress of a product, service or point of view. For more information visit www.aoc.gov.

 

Rosa Parks Statue

On February 27, 2013, a statue of Rosa Parks commissioned by Congress was unveiled in National Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol, approximately 100 years after her birth on February 4, 1913. Rosa Parks, whose arrest in 1955 for refusing to yield her seat on a segregated bus to a white passenger helped ignite the modern American civil rights movement. This bronze statue depicts Parks seated on a rock-like formation of which she seems almost a part, symbolizing her famous refusal to give up her bus seat. The statue is close to nine feet tall including its pedestal. It weighs 600 pounds and its granite pedestal, partially hollowed out inside, weighs 2,100 pounds. The pedestal is made of Raven Black granite and inscribed simply with her name and life dates, “Rosa Parks/1913–2005.” More:go.usa.gov/2xJz

 

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This official Architect of the Capitol photograph is being made available for educational, scholarly, news or personal purposes (not advertising or any other commercial use). When any of these images is used the photographic credit line should read “Architect of the Capitol.” These images may not be used in any way that would imply endorsement by the Architect of the Capitol or the United States Congress of a product, service or point of view. For more information visit www.aoc.gov.

 

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Early years

Rosa Parks was born Rosa Louise McCauley in Tuskegee, Alabama, on February 4, 1913, to Leona (née Edwards), a teacher, and James McCauley, a          carpenter. She was of African ancestry, though one her great-grandfathers was Scots-Irish and one of her great-grandmothers was a slave of Native American descent. She was small as a child and suffered poor health with chronic tonsillitis. When her parents separated, she moved with her mother to Pine Level, just outside the capital of Montgomery. She grew up on a farm with her maternal grandparents, mother, and younger brother Sylvester. They all were members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), a century-old independent black denomination founded by free blacks in Philadelphia in the early nineteenth century.

 

McCauley attended rural schools until the age of eleven. As a student at the Industrial School for Girls in Montgomery, she took academic and vocational courses. Parks went on to a laboratory school set up by the Alabama State Teachers College for Negroes for secondary education, but dropped out in order to care for her grandmother and later her mother, after they became ill.

 

Around the start of the 20th century, the former Confederate states had passed new constitutions and electoral laws that effectively disfranchised black voters and, in Alabama, many poor white voters as well. Under the white-established Jim Crow laws, passed after Democrats regained control of southern legislatures, racial segregation was imposed in public facilities and retail stores in the South, including public transportation. Bus and train companies enforced seating policies with separate sections for blacks and whites. School bus transportation was unavailable in any form for black schoolchildren in the South, and black education was always underfunded.

 

Parks recalled going to elementary school in Pine Level, where school buses took white students to their new school and black students had to walk to theirs:

 

I’d see the bus pass every day… But to me, that was a way of life; we had no choice but to accept what was the custom. The bus was among the first ways I realized there was a black world and a white world.

 

Although Parks’ autobiography recounts early memories of the kindness of white strangers, she could not ignore the racism of her society. When the Ku Klux Klan marched down the street in front of their house, Parks recalls her grandfather guarding the front door with a shotgun. The Montgomery Industrial School, founded and staffed by white northerners for black children, was burned twice by arsonists. Its faculty was ostracized by the white community.

 

In 1932, Rosa married Raymond Parks, a barber from Montgomery. He was a member of the NAACP, which at the time was collecting money to support the defense of the Scottsboro Boys, a group of black men falsely accused of raping two white women. Rosa took numerous jobs, ranging from domestic worker to hospital aide. At her husband’s urging, she finished her high school studies in 1933, at a time when less than 7% of African Americans had a high school diploma. Despite the Jim Crow laws and discrimination by registrars, she succeeded in registering to vote on her third try.

 

In December 1943, Parks became active in the Civil Rights Movement, joined the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, and was elected secretary. She later said, “I was the only woman there, and they needed a secretary, and I was too timid to say no.” She continued as secretary until 1957. She worked for the local NAACP leader E.D. Nixon, although he said, “Women don’t need to be nowhere but in the kitchen.” When she asked “Well, what about me?”, he replied “I need a secretary and you are a good one.”

 

In 1944, in her role as secretary, she investigated the gang-rape of Recy Taylor, a black woman from Abbeville, Alabama. Parks and other civil rights activists organized the “Committee for Equal Justice for Mrs. Recy Taylor”, launching what the Chicago Defender called “the strongest campaign for equal justice to be seen in a decade.”

 

Although never a member of the Communist Party she and her husband did attend meetings and the Scottsboro case was a case that had been brought to prominence by the Communist Party.

 

In the 1940s, Parks and her husband were members of the Voters’ League. Sometime soon after 1944, she held a brief job at Maxwell Air Force Base, which, despite its location in Montgomery, Alabama, did not permit racial segregation because it was federal property. She rode on its integrated trolley. Speaking to her biographer, Parks noted, “You might just say Maxwell opened my eyes up.” Parks worked as a housekeeper and seamstress for Clifford and Virginia Durr, a white couple. Politically liberal, the Durrs became her friends. They encouraged—and eventually helped sponsor—Parks in the summer of 1955 to attend the Highlander Folk School, an education center for activism in workers’ rights and racial equality in Monteagle, Tennessee.

 

In August 1955, black teenager Emmett Till was brutally murdered after reportedly flirting with a young white woman while visiting relatives in Mississippi.On November 27, 1955, Rosa Parks attended a mass meeting in Montgomery that addressed this case as well as the recent murders of the activists George W. Lee and Lamar Smith. The featured speaker was T. R. M. Howard, a black civil rights leader from Mississippi who headed the Regional Council of Negro Leadership. The discussions concerned actions blacks could take to work for their rights.

 

Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

 

Montgomery buses: law and prevailing customs

In 1900, Montgomery had passed a city ordinance to segregate bus passengers by race. Conductors were empowered to assign seats to achieve that goal. According to the law, no passenger would be required to move or give up his seat and stand if the bus was crowded and no other seats were available. Over time and by custom, however, Montgomery bus drivers adopted the practice of requiring black riders to move when there were no white-only seats left.

The No. 2857 bus on which Parks was riding before her arrest (a GM "old-look" transit bus, serial number 1132), is now a museum exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum.

The No. 2857 bus on which Parks was riding before her arrest (a GM “old-look” transit bus, serial number 1132), is now a museum exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum.

The first four rows of seats on each Montgomery bus were reserved for whites. Buses had “colored” sections for black people generally in the rear of the bus, although blacks comprised more than 75% of the ridership. The sections were not fixed but were determined by placement of a movable sign. Black people could sit in the middle rows until the white section filled; if more whites needed seats, blacks were to move to seats in the rear, stand, or, if there was no room, leave the bus. Black people could not sit across the aisle in the same row as white people. The driver could move the “colored” section sign, or remove it altogether. If white people were already sitting in the front, black people had to board at the front to pay the fare, then disembark and reenter through the rear door.

 

For years, the black community had complained that the situation was unfair. Parks said, “My resisting being mistreated on the bus did not begin with that particular arrest…I did a lot of walking in Montgomery.”

 

One day in 1943, Parks boarded the bus and paid the fare. She then moved to her seat but driver James F. Blake told her to follow city rules and enter the bus again from the back door. Parks exited the bus, but before she could re-board at the rear door, Blake drove off, leaving her to walk home in the rain.

 

Her refusal to move

After working all day, Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus around 6 p.m., Thursday, December 1, 1955, in downtown Montgomery. She paid her fare and sat in an empty seat in the first row of back seats reserved for blacks in the “colored” section. Near the middle of the bus, her row was directly behind the ten seats reserved for white passengers. Initially, she did not notice that the bus driver was the same man, James F. Blake, who had left her in the rain in 1943. As the bus traveled along its regular route, all of the white-only seats in the bus filled up. The bus reached the third stop in front of the Empire Theater, and several white passengers boarded.

 

Blake noted that two or three white passengers were standing, as the front of the bus had filled to capacity. He moved the “colored” section sign behind Parks and demanded that four black people give up their seats in the middle section so that the white passengers could sit. Years later, in recalling the events of the day, Parks said, “When that white driver stepped back toward us, when he waved his hand and ordered us up and out of our seats, I felt a determination cover my body like a quilt on a winter night.”

 

By Parks’ account, Blake said, “Y’all better make it light on yourselves and let me have those seats.” Three of them complied. Parks said, “The driver wanted us to stand up, the four of us. We didn’t move at the beginning, but he says, ‘Let me have these seats.’ And the other three people moved, but I didn’t.” The black man sitting next to her gave up his seat.

 

Parks moved, but toward the window seat; she did not get up to move to the redesignated colored section. Blake said, “Why don’t you stand up?” Parks responded, “I don’t think I should have to stand up.” Blake called the police to arrest Parks. When recalling the incident for Eyes on the Prize, a 1987 public television series on the Civil Rights Movement, Parks said, “When he saw me still sitting, he asked if I was going to stand up, and I said, ‘No, I’m not.’ And he said, ‘Well, if you don’t stand up, I’m going to have to call the police and have you arrested.’ I said, ‘You may do that.'”

Eyes on the Prize – 01 – Awakenings 1954-1956

Published on Dec 2, 2013

Awakenings focuses on the catalytic events of 1954-1956. The Mississippi lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till led to a widely publicized trial where a courageous black man took the stand and accused two white men of murder. In Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks refused to yield her bus seat to a white man and triggered a yearlong boycott that resulted in the desegregation of public buses. Ordinary citizens and local leaders joined the black struggle for freedom. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference was formed. In response, may white southerners closed ranks in opposition to the burgeoning black rights movement. Racial discrimination finally became a political issue.

 

 

Rosa Parks’ arrest
Booking photo of Parks
Police report on Parks, December 1, 1955, page 1
Police report on Parks, December 1, 1955, page 2
Fingerprint card of Parks

During a 1956 radio interview with Sydney Rogers in West Oakland several months after her arrest, Parks said she had decided, “I would have to know for once and for all what rights I had as a human being and a citizen.”

 

In her autobiography, My Story she said:

 

People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.

 

When Parks refused to give up her seat, a police officer arrested her. As the officer took her away, she recalled that she asked, “Why do you push us around?” She remembered him saying, “I don’t know, but the law’s the law, and you’re under arrest.” She later said, “I only knew that, as I was being arrested, that it was the very last time that I would ever ride in humiliation of this kind…”

 

Parks was charged with a violation of Chapter 6, Section 11 segregation law of the Montgomery City code, although technically she had not taken a white-only seat; she had been in a colored section. Edgar Nixon, president of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP and leader of the Pullman Porters Union, and her friend Clifford Durr bailed Parks out of jail the next evening.

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Montgomery Bus Boycott

Nixon conferred with Jo Ann Robinson, an Alabama State College professor and member of the Women’s Political Council(WPC), about the Parks case. Robinson believed it important to seize the opportunity and stayed up all night mimeographing over 35,000 handbills announcing a bus boycott. The Women’s Political Council was the first group to officially endorse the boycott.

 

On Sunday, December 4, 1955, plans for the Montgomery Bus Boycott were announced at black churches in the area, and a front-page article in the Montgomery Advertiser helped spread the word. At a church rally that night, those attending agreed unanimously to continue the boycott until they were treated with the level of courtesy they expected, until black drivers were hired, and until seating in the middle of the bus was handled on a first-come basis.

 

The next day, Parks was tried on charges of disorderly conduct and violating a local ordinance. The trial lasted 30 minutes. After being found guilty and fined $10, plus $4 in court costs, Parks appealed her conviction and formally challenged the legality of racial segregation. In a 1992 interview with National Public Radio‘s Lynn Neary, Parks recalled:

 

I did not want to be mistreated, I did not want to be deprived of a seat that I had paid for. It was just time… there was opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way I felt about being treated in that manner. I had not planned to get arrested. I had plenty to do without having to end up in jail. But when I had to face that decision, I didn’t hesitate to do so because I felt that we had endured that too long. The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became.

 

On the day of Parks’ trial — December 5, 1955 — the WPC distributed the 35,000 leaflets. The handbill read:

 

“We are…asking every Negro to stay off the buses Monday in protest of the arrest and trial … You can afford to stay out of school for one day. If you work, take a cab, or walk. But please, children and grown-ups, don’t ride the bus at all on Monday. Please stay off the buses Monday.”

 

It rained that day, but the black community persevered in their boycott. Some rode in carpools, while others traveled in black-operated cabs that charged the same fare as the bus, 10 cents. Most of the remainder of the 40,000 black commuters walked, some as far as 20 miles (32 km).

 

That evening after the success of the one-day boycott, a group of 16 to 18 people gathered at the Mt. Zion AME Zion Church to discuss boycott strategies. At that time Parks was introduced but not asked to speak, despite a standing ovation and calls from the crowd for her to speak; when she asked if she should say something, the reply was, “Why, you’ve said enough.”

 

The group agreed that a new organization was needed to lead the boycott effort if it were to continue. Rev. Ralph Abernathy suggested the name “Montgomery Improvement Association” (MIA). The name was adopted, and the MIA was formed. Its members elected as their president Martin Luther King, Jr., a relative newcomer to Montgomery, who was a young and mostly unknown minister of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.

 

That Monday night, 50 leaders of the African-American community gathered to discuss actions to respond to Parks’ arrest. Edgar Nixon, the president of the NAACP, said, “My God, look what segregation has put in my hands!”[32] Parks was considered the ideal plaintiff for a test case against city and state segregation laws, as she was seen as a responsible, mature woman with a good reputation. She was securely married and employed, was regarded as possessing a quiet and dignified demeanor, and was politically savvy. King said that Parks was regarded as “one of the finest citizens of Montgomery—not one of the finest Negro citizens, but one of the finest citizens of Montgomery.”

 

Parks’ court case was being slowed down in appeals through the Alabama courts on their way to a Federal appeal and the process could have taken years.Holding together a boycott for that length of time would have been a great strain. In the end, black residents of Montgomery continued the boycott for 381 days. Dozens of public buses stood idle for months, severely damaging the bus transit company’s finances, until the city repealed its law requiring segregation on public buses following the US Supreme Court ruling in Browder v. Gayle that it was unconstitutional. Parks was not included as a plaintiff in the Browder decision because the attorney Fred Gray concluded the courts would perceive they were attempting to circumvent her prosecution on her charges working their way through the Alabama state court system.

 

Parks played an important part in raising international awareness of the plight of African Americans and the civil rights struggle. King wrote in his 1958 bookStride Toward Freedom that Parks’ arrest was the catalyst rather than the cause of the protest: “The cause lay deep in the record of similar injustices.”[35] He wrote, “Actually, no one can understand the action of Mrs. Parks unless he realizes that eventually the cup of endurance runs over, and the human personality cries out, ‘I can take it no longer.

 

Later years

Rosa Parks Interview (Merv Griffin Show 1983)

Published on Jun 26, 2012

Civil Rights leader Rosa Parks tells Merv the famous story of her refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955 and her subsequent arrest— the event widely regarded as the spark which lit the flames of the Civil Rights Movement. She also talks about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Merv Griffin had over 5000 guests appear on his show from 1963-1986.

 

 

After her arrest, Parks became an icon of the Civil Rights Movement but suffered hardships as a result. Due to economic sanctions used against activists, she lost her job at the department store. Her husband quit his job after his boss forbade him to talk about his wife or the legal case. Parks traveled and spoke extensively about the issues.

 

In 1957, Raymond and Rosa Parks left Montgomery for Hampton, Virginia; mostly because she was unable to find work. She also disagreed with King and other leaders of Montgomery’s struggling civil rights movement about how to proceed. In Hampton, she found a job as a hostess in an inn at Hampton Institute, a historically black college.

 

Later that year, at the urging of her brother and sister-in-law in Detroit, Sylvester and Daisy McCauley, Rosa and Raymond Parks, and her mother moved north to join them. Parks worked as a seamstress until 1965.

 

That year, John Conyers, an African-American U.S. Representative, hired her as a secretary and receptionist for his congressional office in Detroit. She held this position until she retired in 1988.[6] In a telephone interview with CNN on October 24, 2005, Conyers recalled, “You treated her with deference because she was so quiet, so serene — just a very special person … There was only one Rosa Parks.”

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The 1970s was a decade of loss and suffering for Parks in her personal life. Her family was plagued with illness; she and her husband had suffered stomach ulcers for years and both required hospitalization. Then in their 60s, her brother Sylvester and husband were both diagnosed with cancer, as was her mother. Parks sometimes visited three hospitals in the same day. In spite of her fame and constant speaking engagements, Parks was not a wealthy woman. She donated most of the money from speaking to civil rights causes, and lived on her staff salary and her husband’s pension. Medical bills and time missed from work caused financial strain that required her to accept assistance from church groups and admirers.

 

Her husband died of throat cancer on August 19, 1977 and her brother, her only sibling, died of cancer that November. Her personal ordeals caused her to become removed from the civil rights movement. She learned from a newspaper of the death of Fannie Lou Hamer, once a close friend. Parks suffered two broken bones in a fall on an icy sidewalk, an injury which caused considerable and recurring pain. She decided to move with her mother into an apartment for senior citizens. There she nursed her mother Leona through the final stages of cancer and geriatric dementia until she died in 1979 at the age of 92.

 

In 1980, Parks—widowed and without immediate family—rededicated herself to civil rights and educational organizations. She co-founded the Rosa L. Parks Scholarship Foundation for college-bound high school seniors, to which she donated most of her speaker fees. In February 1987 she co-founded, with Elaine Eason Steele, the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, an institute that runs the “Pathways to Freedom” bus tours which introduce young people to important civil rights and Underground Railroad sites throughout the country. Though her health declined as she entered her seventies, Parks continued to make many appearances and devoted considerable energy to these causes.

 

In 1992, Parks published Rosa Parks: My Story, an autobiography aimed at younger readers, which recounts her life leading to her decision to keep her seat on the bus. A few years later, she published her memoir, titled Quiet Strength (1995), which focuses on her faith in her life. On August 30, 1994, Joseph Skipper, an African-American drug addict, entered her home and attacked the 81-year-old Parks in the course of a robbery. The incident sparked outrage throughout the United States. After his arrest, Skipper said that he had not known he was in Parks’ home but recognized her after entering. Skipper asked, “Hey, aren’t you Rosa Parks?” to which she replied, “Yes.” She handed him $3 when he demanded money, and an additional $50 when he demanded more. Before fleeing, Skipper struck Parks in the face. Skipper was arrested and charged with various breaking and entering offenses against Parks and other neighborhood victims. He admitted guilt and, on August 8, 1995, was sentenced to eight to 15 years in prison. Suffering anxiety upon returning to her small central Detroit house following the ordeal, Parks moved into Riverfront Towers, a secure high-rise apartment building where she lived for the rest of her life.

 

In 1994 the Ku Klux Klan applied to sponsor a portion of United States Interstate 55 in St. Louis County and Jefferson County, Missouri, near  St. Louis, for cleanup (which allowed them to have signs stating that this section of highway was maintained by the organization). Since the state could not refuse the KKK’s sponsorship, the Missouri legislature voted to name the highway section the “Rosa Parks Highway”. When asked how she felt about this honor, she is reported to have commented, “It is always nice to be thought of.”

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In 1999 Parks filmed a cameo appearance for the television series Touched by an Angel. It was to be her last appearance on film; health problems made her increasingly an invalid.

 

In 2002 Parks received an eviction notice from her $1800 per month apartment due to non-payment of rent. Parks was incapable of managing her own financial affairs by this time due to age-related physical and mental decline. Her rent was paid from a collection taken by Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit. When her rent became delinquent and her impending eviction was highly publicized in 2004, executives of the ownership company announced they had forgiven the back rent and would allow Parks, by then 91 and in extremely poor health, to live rent free in the building for the remainder of her life. Her heirs and various interest organizations alleged at the time that her financial affairs had been mismanaged.

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Legacy and honors

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  • 2000,
    • her home state awarded her the Alabama Academy of Honor,
    • she receives the first Governor’s Medal of Honor for Extraordinary Courage.
    • She was awarded two dozen honorary doctorates from universities worldwide
    • She is made an honorary member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
    • the Rosa Parks Library and Museum on the campus of Troy University in Montgomery was dedicated to her.

 

 

  • 2005,
    • On October 30, 2005 President George W. Bush issued a proclamation ordering that all flags on U.S. public areas both within the country and abroad be flown at half-staff on the day of Parks’ funeral.
    • Metro Transit in King County, Washington placed posters and stickers dedicating the first forward-facing seat of all its buses in Parks’ memory shortly after her death,
    • the American Public Transportation Association declared December 1, 2005, the 50th anniversary of her arrest, to be a “National Transit Tribute to Rosa Parks Day”.
    • On that anniversary, President George W. Bush signed Pub.L. 109–116, directing that a statue of Parks be placed in the United States Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. In signing the resolution directing the Joint Commission on the Library to do so, the President stated:

      By placing her statue in the heart of the nation’s Capitol, we commemorate her work for a more perfect union, and we commit ourselves to continue to struggle for justice for every American.

    • Portion of Interstate 96 in Detroit was renamed by the state legislature as the Rosa Parks Memorial Highway in December 2005.

 

 

 

 

 

  • 2012, President Barack Obama visited the famous Rosa Parks bus at the Henry Ford Museum after an event in Dearborn, Michigan, April 18, 2012.

 

  • 2012, A street in West Valley City, Utah‘s second largest city, leading to the Utah Cultural Celebration Center is renamed Rosa Parks Drive.

 

  • 2013,
    • On February 1, President Barack Obama proclaimed February 4, 2013, as the “100th Anniversary of the Birth of Rosa Parks.” He called “upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate service, community, and education programs to honor Rosa Parks’s enduring legacy.”
    • On February 4, to celebrate Rosa Parks’ 100th birthday, the Henry Ford Museum declared the day a “National Day of Courage” with 12 hours of virtual and on-site activities featuring nationally recognized speakers, musical and dramatic interpretative performances, a panel presentation of Rosa’s Storyand a reading of the tale Quiet Strength. The actual bus on which Rosa Parks sat was made available for the public to board and sit in the seat that Rosa Parks refused to give up.
    • On February 4, 2,000 birthday wishes gathered from people throughout the United States were transformed into 200 graphics messages at a celebration held on her 100th Birthday at the Davis Theater for the Performing Arts in Montgomery, Alabama. This was the 100th Birthday Wishes Project managed by the Rosa Parks Museum at Troy University and the Mobile Studio and was also a declared event by the Senate.
    • During both events the USPS unveiled a postage stamp in her honor.
    • On February 27, Parks became the first African American woman to have her likeness depicted in National Statuary Hall. The monument, created by sculptor Eugene Daub, is a part of the Capitol Art Collection among nine other females featured in the National Statuary Hall Collection.
Parks and U.S. President Bill Clinton

Parks and U.S. President Bill Clinton

Rosa Parks Transit Center, 360 Michigan Avenue, Detroit, Michigan.

Rosa Parks Transit Center, 360 Michigan Avenue, Detroit, Michigan.

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Anniversary Of ‘Bloody Sunday’ March


 

By Jueseppi B.

 

Bloody_Sunday-Alabama_police_attack

 

 

 

Selma to Montgomery marches

 

The Selma to Montgomery marches, also known as Bloody Sunday and the two marches that followed, were marches and protests held in 1965, that marked the political and emotional peak of the American civil rights movement. All three marches were attempts to march from Selma to Montgomery where the Alabama capitol is located. They grew out of the voting rights movement in Selma, launched by local African-Americans who formed the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL). In 1963, the DCVL and organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) began voter-registration work. When white resistance to black voter registration proved intractable, the DCVL requested the assistance of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, who brought many prominent civil rights and civic leaders to support voting rights.

 

The first march took place on March 7, 1965 — “Bloody Sunday” — when 600 marchers, protesting the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson and ongoing exclusion from the electoral process, were attacked by state and local police with billy clubs and tear gas. The second march, the following Tuesday, resulted in 2,500 protesters turning around after crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

 

The third march started March 16. The marchers averaged 10 miles (16 km) a day along U.S. Route 80, known in Alabama as the “Jefferson Davis Highway”. Protected by 2,000 soldiers of the U.S. Army, 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under Federal command, and many FBI agents and Federal Marshals, they arrived in Montgomery on March 24, and at the Alabama State Capitol on March 25.

 

The route is memorialized as the Selma To Montgomery Voting Rights Trail, a U.S. National Historic Trail.

 

 

 

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Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. Photo: AP

 

 

More than 5,000 people followed Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in the annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma, Ala., on Sunday.

 

The event commemorates the “Bloody Sunday” beating of voting rights marchers — including a young Lewis — by state troopers as they began a march to Montgomery in March 1965.

 

The 50-mile march prompted Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act that struck down impediments to voting by African-Americans and ended all-white rule in the South.

 

 

Fight For the Vote: 1963–64

Selma is the county seat and major town of Dallas County, Alabama. In 1961, the population of Dallas County was 57% black, but of the 15,000 blacks old enough to vote, only 130 were registered (fewer than 1%). At that time, more than 80% of Dallas County blacks lived below the poverty line, most of them working as sharecroppers, farm hands, maids, janitors, and day-laborers.

 

Led by the Boynton family (Amelia, Sam, and son Bruce), Rev. L.L. Anderson, J.L. Chestnut, and Marie Foster, the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL) attempted to register black citizens during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Their efforts were blocked by state and local officials, the White Citizens’ Council, and the Ku Klux Klan. The methods included a literacy test, economic pressure, and violence.

 

In early 1963, SNCC organizers Bernard and Colia Lafayette arrived in Selma to begin a voter-registration project in cooperation with the DCVL. In mid-June, Bernard was beaten and almost killed by Klansmen determined to prevent blacks from voting. When the Lafayettes returned to school in the fall, SNCC organizers Prathia Hall and Worth Long carried on the work despite arrests, beatings, and death threats. When 32 black school teachers applied to register as voters, they were immediately fired by the all-white school board. After the Birmingham church bombing on September 15, black students in Selma began sit-ins at local lunch counters where they were attacked and arrested. More than 300 were arrested in two weeks of protests, including SNCC Chairman John Lewis.

 

October 7, 1963, was one of the two days per month that citizens were allowed to go to the courthouse to apply to register to vote. SNCC and the DCVL mobilized over 300 Dallas County blacks to line up at the voter registration office in what was called a “Freedom Day”. Supporting them were author James Baldwin and his brother David, and comedian Dick Gregory and his wife Lillian (who was arrested for picketing with SNCC activists and local supporters). SNCC members who tried to bring water to the blacks waiting on line were arrested, as were those who held signs saying “Register to Vote.” After waiting all day in the hot sun, only a handful of the hundreds in the line were allowed to fill out the voter application, and most of the applications were denied.

 

On July 2, 1964, President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, which declared segregation illegal, yet Jim Crow remained in effect. When attempts to integrate Selma’s dining and entertainment venues were resumed, blacks who tried to attend the movie theater and eat at the hamburger stand were beaten and arrested.

 

On July 6, John Lewis led 50 blacks to the courthouse on registration day, but Sheriff Clark arrested them rather than allow them to apply to vote. On July 9, Judge James Hare issued an injunction forbidding any gathering of three or more people under the sponsorship of civil rights organizations or leaders. This injunction made it illegal to even talk to more than two people at a time about civil rights or voter registration in Selma, suppressing public civil rights activity there for the next six fateful months.

 

 

 

Planning the First March

With civil rights activity blocked by Judge Hare’s injunction, the DCVL requested the assistance of King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Three of SCLC’s main organizers— SCLC’s Director of Direct Action and Director of Nonviolent Education James BevelDiane Nash, and James Orange—, had been working on Bevel’s Alabama Voting Rights Project since late 1963, a project which King and the executive board of SCLC had not joined.

 

When SCLC officially accepted Amelia Boynton’s invitation to bring their organization to Selma, Bevel, Nash, Orange, and others in SCLC began working in Selma in December 1964. They also worked in the surrounding counties along with the SNCC staff who had been active there since early 1963.

 

The Selma Voting Rights Movement officially started on January 2, 1965, when King addressed a mass meeting inBrown Chapel in defiance of the anti-meeting injunction.

 

Over the following weeks, SCLC and SNCC activists expanded voter registration drives and protests in Selma and the adjacent Black Belt counties. In addition to Selma, marches and other protests in support of voting rights were held in PerryWilcoxMarengoGreene, and Hale counties.

 

On February 18, 1965, C. T. Vivian led a march to the courthouse in Marion, the county seat of Perry County. State officials had received orders to target Vivian specifically, and so a line of Alabama state troopers waited for the marchers at the Perry County courthouse. All the street lights in that location turned off at once, and the state troopers rushed at the protesters and attacked them. One of the protesters with Vivian, Jimmie Lee Jackson, fled the scene with his mother to hide in a nearby café. Alabama State Trooper, corporal James Bonard Fowler, followed Jackson into the café and shot him as he tried to protect his mother. Jackson died eight days later, of an infection resulting from the gunshot wound, at Selma’s Good Samaritan Hospital.

 

Jackson was the only male wage-earner of his household, which lived in extreme poverty. Jackson’s father, wife and children were left with no source of income. After bringing this story to the attention of the SCLC, James Bevel called for a march from Selma to Montgomery to confront Governor Wallace directly about this death. On May 10, 2007, 42 years after the homicide, Fowler was charged with first degree and second degree murder for the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson and subsequently surrendered to authorities.[2] Fowler pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree manslaughter on November 15, 2010.[1] Mr. Fowler apologized for the shooting but insisted that he had acted in self-defense, believing that Mr. Jackson was trying to grab his gun.[1] Fowler was sentenced to six months in prison.[1]

 

Goals of the march

Bevel’s plan was to march to Montgomery to ask Governor George Wallace if he had anything to do with ordering the lights out and the state troopers to shoot during the march in which Jackson was killed. Bevel called the march in order to focus the anger and pain of the people of Selma, some of whom wanted to address Jackson’s death with violence, towards a nonviolent goal.. The marchers also hoped to bring attention to the violations of their rights by marching to Montgomery. Dr. King agreed with Bevel’s plan, and asked for a march from Selma to Montgomery to ask Governor Wallace to protect black registrants.

 

Wallace denounced the march as a threat to public safety and declared he would take all measures necessary to prevent this from happening.

 

 

 

First March: “Bloody Sunday”

On March 7, 1965, an estimated 525 to 600 civil rights marchers headed east out of Selma on U.S. Highway 80. The march was led by John Lewisof SNCC and the Reverend Hosea Williams of SCLC, followed by Bob Mants of SNCC and Albert Turner of SCLC. The protest went smoothly until the marchers crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge and found a wall of state troopers waiting for them on the other side. Sheriff Jim Clark had issued an order for all white males in Dallas County over the age of twenty-one to report to the courthouse that morning to be deputized. Commanding officer John Cloud told the demonstrators to disband at once and go home. Williams tried to speak to the officer, but Cloud curtly informed him there was nothing to discuss. Seconds later, the troopers began shoving the demonstrators. Many were knocked to the ground and beaten with nightsticks. Another detachment of troopers fired tear gas. Mounted troopers charged the crowd on horseback.

 

 

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Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. Photo: AP

 

 

Televised images of the brutal attack presented people with horrifying images of marchers left bloodied and severely injured, and roused support for the U.S. civil rights movement. Amelia Boynton was beaten and gassed nearly to death; her photo appeared on the front page of newspapers and news magazines around the world. Seventeen marchers were hospitalized, and the day was nicknamed “Bloody Sunday”.

 

 

Second March: “Turnaround Tuesday”

Immediately after “Bloody Sunday,” King began organizing a second march to be held on Tuesday, March 9, 1965. He issued a call for clergy and citizens from across the country to join him. Awakened to issues of civil and voting rights by years of Civil Rights struggles — from the Montgomery Bus Boycott to Freedom Summer — and shocked by the television images of “Bloody Sunday,” many hundreds of people responded to King’s call.

 

To prevent another outbreak of violence, the marchers attempted to gain a court order that would prohibit the police from interfering. Instead of issuing the court order, Federal District Court Judge Frank Minis Johnson issued a restraining order, preventing the march from taking place until he could hold additional hearings later in the week.

 

Based on past experience, SCLC was confident that Judge Johnson would eventually lift the restraining order and they did not want to alienate one of the few southern judges who was often sympathetic to their cause by violating his injunction. There was also insufficient infrastructure in place to support a long march, one for which the marchers were ill-equipped. Further, a person who violates a court order may be punished for contempt even if the order is later reversed. But movement supporters, both local and from around the country, were determined to march on Tuesday to protest the “Bloody Sunday” violence and the systematic denial of black voting rights in Alabama. To balance these conflicting imperatives, SCLC decided to hold a partial “ceremonial” march that would cross over the bridge but halt when ordered to do so in compliance with the injunction.

 

On March 9, a day that would become known as “Turnaround Tuesday”, King led about 2,500 marchers out to the Edmund Pettus Bridge and held a short prayer session before turning the marchers back around, thereby obeying the court order preventing them from marching all the way to Montgomery. But only the SCLC leaders were told of this plan in advance, causing confusion and consternation among many marchers, including those who had traveled long distances to participate and put their bodies on the line in nonviolent opposition to police brutality. King asked them to remain in Selma for another attempt at the march once the injunction was lifted.

 

That evening, three white ministers who had come for the march were attacked and beaten with clubs. The worst injured was James Reeb, a white Unitarian Universalist minister from Boston. Selma’s public hospital refused to treat Rev. Reeb, who had to be taken to Birmingham’s University Hospital, two hours away. Reeb died on Thursday, March 11 at University Hospital with his wife by his side.

 

 

Response to the Second March

Blacks in Dallas County and the Black Belt mourned the death of Reverend Reeb as they had earlier mourned the death of Jimmie Lee Jackson. But many activists were bitter that the media and national political leaders expressed great concern over Reeb’s murder, but had paid scant attention to the killing of Jimmie Lee Jackson. SNCC spokesman Stokely Carmichael was reported as saying “What you want is the nation to be upset when anybody is killed… but it almost [seems that] for this to be recognized, a white person must be killed.”

 

 

 

Third March

 

 

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Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, second from right, participating in the civil rights march from Selma to MontgomeryAlabama, on March 21, 1965. First row, from far left: John Lewis, an unidentified nun, Ralph AbernathyMartin Luther King, Jr.Ralph BuncheAbraham Joshua HeschelFred Shuttlesworth. Second row: Visible behind (and between) Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ralph Bunche is Rabbi Maurice Davis.

 

 

 

 

A week after Reeb’s death, March 16, Judge Johnson ruled in favor of the protestors, saying their First Amendment right to march in protest could not be abridged by the state of Alabama:

The law is clear that the right to petition one’s government for the redress of grievances may be exercised in large groups . . . . These rights may . . . be exercised by marching, even along public highways.

 

On March 21, close to 8,000 people assembled at Brown Chapel to commence the trek to Montgomery.Most of the participants were black, but some were white and some were Asian and Latino. Spiritual leaders of multiple races religions and faith marched abreast with Dr. King, including Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Rabbis Abraham Joshua Heschel and Maurice Davis, and at least one nun, all of whom were depicted in a famous photo. In 1965, the road to Montgomery was four lanes wide going east from Selma, then narrowed to two lanes through Lowndes County, and then widened to four lanes again at Montgomery county border. Under the terms of Judge Johnson’s order, the march was limited to no more than 300 participants for the two days they were on the two-lane portion of Highway-80, so at the end of the first day most of the marchers returned to Selma by bus and car, leaving 300 to camp overnight and take up the journey the next day.

 

On March 22 and 23, 300 protesters marched through chilling rain across Lowndes county, camping at three sites in muddy fields. At the time of the march, the population of Lowndes County was 81% black and 19% white, but not a single black was registered to vote. At the same time there were 2,240 whites registered to vote in Lowndes County, a figure that represented 118% of the adult white population (in many southern counties of that era it was common practice to retain white voters on the rolls after they died or moved away).

 

On the morning of the 24th, the march crossed into Montgomery County and the highway widened again to four lanes. All day as the march approached the city, additional marchers were ferried by bus and car to join the line. By evening, several thousand marchers had reached the final campsite at the City of St. Jude, a complex on the outskirts of Montgomery.

 

That night on a makeshift stage, a “Stars for Freedom” rally was held, with singers Harry BelafonteTony BennettFrankie LainePeter, Paul and MarySammy Davis, Jr. and Nina Simone all performing.

 

On Thursday, March 25, 25,000 people marched from St. Jude to the steps of the State Capitol Building where King delivered the speech “How Long, Not Long.” “The end we seek,” King told the crowd, “is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. … I know you are asking today, How long will it take? I come to say to you this afternoon however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long.” After delivering the speech, King and the marchers approached the entrance to the capitol with a petition for Governor Wallace. A line of state troopers blocked the door. One of them announced that the governor wasn’t in. Undeterred, the marchers remained at the entrance until one of Wallace’s secretaries appeared and took the petition.

 

Later that night, Viola Liuzzo, a white mother of five from Detroit who had come to Alabama to support voting rights for blacks, was assassinated by Ku Klux Klan members while she was ferrying marchers back to Selma from Montgomery. Among the Klansmen in the car from which the shots were fired was FBI informant Gary Rowe. Afterward, the FBI’s COINTELPRO operation spread false rumors that Liuzzo was a member of the Communist Party and abandoned her children to have sexual relationships with African Americans involved in the civil rights movement.

 

Response to the Third March

The third march spread the marchers’ message without harassment by police and segregation supporters. These factors, along with more widespread support from other civil rights organizations in the area, made the march an overall success and gave the demonstration greater impact.

U.S. Representative William Louis Dickinson made two speeches to Congress on March 30 and April 27 seeking to slander the movement by making spurious charges of alcohol abuse, bribery, and widespread sexual debauchery at the marches. Religious leaders present at the marches denied the charges, and local and national journalists were unable to substantiate his accounts. The allegations of segregation supporters were collected in Robert M. Mikell’s pro-segregationist book Selma (Charlotte, 1965).

 

 

Hammermill Boycott

During 1965, Martin Luther King was promoting an economic boycott of Alabama products to put pressure on the State to integrate schools and employment. Despite King’s urging’s, Hammermill paper company announced the opening of a major plant in Selma Alabama during the height of violence in Selma. On February 4, 1965, the Company announced construction of a $35 million plant, allegedly touting the “fine reports the company had received about the character of the community and its people.”  On March 26, 1965, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee called for a national boycott of Hammermill paper products, until the company reversed what SNCC described as racist policies. Ibid.

 

King’s organization, SCLC joined in support of the boycott. Ultimately, in cooperation with SCLC, student members of Oberlin College Action for Civil Rights, joined with King’s group SCLC to conduct picketing and a sit-in at Hammermill’s Erie Pennsylvania headquarters. The company responded by calling a meeting of the corporate leadership of Hammermill, SCLC’s C.T. Vivian, and Oberlin student leadership, and the meeting led to the signing of an agreement by Hammermill to support integration in Alabama. As the Company’s history explains:

Days after the project was announced in February 1965, Selma police jailed Martin Luther King, Jr. After protests erupted, Hammermill officials met with civil rights leaders and successfully assured them that the mill would honor its long-standing tradition of being an equal opportunity employer.

 

 

Historical Impact

The marches shifted public opinion about the Civil Rights movement. The images of Alabama law enforcement beating the nonviolent protesters were shown all over the country and the world by television networks and newspapers. The visuals of such brutality being carried out by the state of Alabama helped shift the image of the segregationist movement from one of a movement trying to preserve the social order of the South to a system of state-endorsed terrorism against non-whites.

 

The marches also had a powerful effect in Washington. After witnessing TV coverage of “Bloody Sunday,” President Lyndon Baines Johnson met with Governor George Wallace in Washington to discuss with him the civil rights situation in his state. He tried to persuade Wallace to stop the state harassment of the protesters. Two nights later, on March 15, 1965, Johnson presented a bill to a joint session of Congress. The bill itself would later pass and become the Voting Rights Act. Johnson’s speech in front of Congress was considered to be a watershed moment for the civil rights movement.

Even if we pass this bill, the battle will not be over. What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and state of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause, too, because it is not just Negroes but really it is all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.

 

Many in the Civil Rights movement cheered the speech and were emotionally moved that after so long, and so hard a struggle, a President was finally willing to defend voting rights for blacks. According to SCLC activist C.T. Vivian, who was with King when the speech was broadcast,

…I looked over… and Martin was very quietly sitting in the chair, and a tear ran down his cheek. It was a victory like none other. It was an affirmation of the movement.

 

The bill became law at an August 6 ceremony attended by Amelia Boynton and many other civil rights leaders and activists. This act prohibited most of the unfair practices used to prevent blacks from registering to vote, and provided for federal registrars to go to Alabama and other states with a history of voting-related discrimination to ensure that the law was implemented.

 

In Selma, where more than 7,000 blacks were added to the voting rolls after passage of the Act, Sheriff Jim Clark was voted out of office in 1966 (he later served a prison sentence for drug smuggling).

 

In 1960, there were just 53,336 black voters in the state of Alabama; three decades later, there were 537,285, a tenfold increase.

 

In 1996, the 54 mile Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail was established, preserved by the National Park Service.

 

 

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Vice President Joe Biden, center, leads a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. From left: Selma Mayor George Evans, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., Rev. Jesse Jackson, Biden, Rev. Al Sharpton and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. Photo: Dave Martin

 

 

Spelman’s Independent Scholars Visit Mrs. Ann Cooper by Anissa Douglass, C’2010

 

Uploaded on Oct 8, 2009

On Sunday, September 14, 2009, Young Scholars in Spelmans Independent Scholars (SIS) visited Mrs. Ann Nixon Cooper, the Wisest of the Wise among Women of Wisdom in the SIS Oral History Project the woman then President-Elect Barack Obama lifted up in his acceptance speech on November 4, 2007. As a film artist, I had the privilege of filming this remarkable learning experience.

 

When Mrs. Cooper welcomed my sisters and me into her home, it was apparent that Mrs. Cooper is fortunate to have had and continue to have a great deal of love in her life. She talked about her Aunt Joyce, a very proper lady; about her husband, a successful dentist; and about her daughters, who graduated from Spelman. She told the story about Papa coming home as the wood burned in the fireplace. Although her family did not have much, Mrs. Cooper made it clear that they never had a sense of need or want because they had family and they had love.

 

What I did learn from meeting Mrs. Cooper? That life is long. That choices we make shape our live and impact the lives of others. That happiness and gratitude are choices. That we should choose both. At 107 years of age, Mrs. Cooper defies many of the ageist notions and attitudes that shape American culture.

 

Are you getting these pictures? she asked me. I answered, Yes! with pride. How wonderful that she welcomed the camera and, with her beauty, helped me produce this film, a brief excerpt of our special time with Mrs. Ann Nixon Cooper, Woman of Wisdom in SIS. The longer film has been deposited in the SIS-in-LEADS archive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SIS Oral History Project

 

Uploaded on Mar 7, 2008

What is SIS?

 

Spelman’s Independent Scholars (SIS) Program is a two-semester independent, interdisciplinary and intergenerational learning experience open to students across all majors. In SIS, we enhance our critical writing and critical thinking skills. In weekly seminars we share our research, sharpen our skills and grow in knowledge about oral history. In addition to learning sessions with the SIS faculty mentor, we are privileged to lectures by guest scholars including a gerontologist, two oral historians, a museum curator, an archivist and a physician-researcher in traditional knowledge. The first semester in SIS focuses on research and interviewing. The second semester focuses on transcribing and editing.

 

The concept paper included in our SIS Research Notebook gives a rationale for the learning experience:

Throughout our history in this nation — indeed before we were brought to these shores — older women in our families and in our communities are griots and sages, seers and prophets whom we are taught to honor and revere. Their stories teach us about values and beliefs that shaped their reality and, in immeasurable ways, impact our own. For reason, then, we see their memories, anchored deep in the soil of wisdom, as cherished treasure. It is this truth, as old as time itself, that undergirds the SIS Oral History Project.
As explained by Danielle Phillips, Spelman Independent Scholar

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obama’s victory speech on Ann Nixon Cooper

 

Uploaded on Nov 6, 2008

http://ghillmsian.blogspot.com/
“This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight’s about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

 

“She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons — because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

 

“And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America — the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

 

“At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

 

“When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.”

 

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

 

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that We Shall Overcome. Yes we can.

 

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

 

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

 

Yes we can.

 

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves — if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made? This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

 

 

 

 

 

Ann Nixon Cooper …. ‘The heartache and the hope, the struggle and the progress’

 

 

 

 

 

AP PHOTOS: Anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’ march

 

 

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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks Sunday, March 3, 2013, during the Martin and Coretta King Unity Brunch at Wallace Community College in Selma, Ala. The Selma Bridge Crossing Jubilee commemorates the anniversary of the voting rights march of 1965. Photo: The Birmingham News, Julie Bennett

 

 

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U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., talks with those gathered at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. Thousands crossed the bridge behind Lewis and other lawmakers on the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when Alabama State Troopers beat back marchers when they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Photo: Dave Martin

 

 

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Vice President Joe Biden embraces U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., as they prepare to lead a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. Photo: Dave Martin

 

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FILE – In this March 7, 1965, file photo march leader Hosea Williams, left, leaves the scene as state troopers break up the civil rights voter registration march in Selma, Ala., and put John Lewis, center, of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee on the ground. Hundreds gathered Sunday, March 3, 2013 for a brunch with Vice President Joe Biden, and thousands were expected Sunday afternoon to march across this bridge in Selma’s annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee. The event commemorates the “Bloody Sunday” beating of voting rights marchers by state troopers as they began a march to Montgomery in March 1965. The 50-mile march prompted Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act that struck down impediments to voting by African-Americans and ended all-white rule in the South. Photo: File

 

 

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FILE – This March 21, 1965 file photo shows civil rights marchers crossing the Alabama river on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. to the State Capitol of Montgomery. Hundreds gathered Sunday, March 3, 2013 for a brunch with Vice President Joe Biden, and thousands were expected Sunday afternoon to march across this bridge in Selma’s annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee. The event commemorates the “Bloody Sunday” beating of voting rights marchers by state troopers as they began a march to Montgomery in March 1965. The 50-mile march prompted Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act that struck down impediments to voting by African-Americans and ended all-white rule in the South. Photo: File

 

 

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Martin Luther King III addresses those who gathered for the Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. It is the 48th anniversary since Bloody Sunday. Photo: Dave Martin

 

 

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Vice President Joe Biden and other lawmakers leads a group across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. They were commemorating the 48th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police officers beat marchers when they crossed the bridge on a march from Selma to Montgomery. Photo: Dave Martin

 

 

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Thousands of residents await the arrival of Vice President Joe Biden for the annual Bridge Crossing Ceremony in Selma, Ala., Sunday, March 3, 2013. Biden is traveling to Selma on Sunday to participate in the Bridge Crossing Jubilee. The event commemorates the 1965 march, which prompted Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act and add millions of African-Americans to Southern voter rolls. Photo: Dave Martin

 

 

 

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Black History Moment: The U.S. Postal Service Releases The 2013 Rosa Parks (Forever®) Stamp


By Jueseppi B.

 

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Rosa Parks stamp unveiled

 

Published on Feb 4, 2013

A stamp honoring Rosa Parks has been unveiled on what would have been her 100th birthday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rosa Parks Stamp Issued on Her 100th Birthday

 

 

 

 

Rosa Parks (Forever)

 

The U.S. Postal Service 2013 Rosa Parks (Forever®) stamp honors the life of this extraordinary American activist who became an iconic figure in the civil rights movement. In 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks courageously refused to give up her seat on a municipal bus to a white man, defying the discriminatory laws of the time.

 

The stamp art, a gouache painting on illustration board, is a portrait of Parks emphasizing her quiet strength. A 1950s photograph served as the basis for the stamp portrait.

 

The response to Parks’s arrest was a boycott of the Montgomery bus system that lasted for more than a year and became an international cause célèbre. In 1956, in a related case, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that segregating Montgomery buses was unconstitutional.

 

Soon after the boycott ended, Parks moved to Detroit, Michigan. She joined the 1963 march on Washington and returned to Alabama in 1965 to join the march from Selma to Montgomery. The many honors Parks received in her lifetime include the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1996), the Spingarn Medal (1979), and the Congressional Gold Medal (1999). Upon her death in 2005, she became the first woman and second African American to lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington, DC.

 

Artist Thomas Blackshear II created an original painting for the stamp, which was designed by art director Derry Noyes.

 

The stamp honoring Rosa Parks is one of three stamps in the civil rights set celebrating freedom, courage, and equality being issued in 2013. It is being issued as a Forever® stamp. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.

 

Made in the USA.

Issue Date: February 4, 2013

 

 

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Kansas Birther Drops Complaint On Obama Eligibility….Backlash Is Overwhelmingly Against Him.


 

By Jueseppi B.

 

 

 

 

 

TPMMuckraker

Kansas Birther Drops Complaint About Obama Eligibility

 

By RYAN J. REILLY SEPTEMBER 14, 2012, 5:11 PM

 

A Kansas man dropped his complaint on Friday that could have led to President Barack Obama being removed from the November ballot there.

 

Joe Montgomery of Manhattan, Kan., wrote in an email to state officials that he no longer wanted them to investigate whether Obama was really a natural-born U.S. citizen or eligible to run for reelection. The email said that he, along with his friends and colleagues, faced a significant backlash after a state elections boardtook up his case and agreed to look into whether the president’s birth certificate was real.

 

“There has been a great deal of animosity and intimidation directed not only at me, but at people around me, who are both personal and professional associations,” Montgomery wrote in an email to the office of Secretary of State Kris Kobach, which released it to TPM. “I’m don’t wish to burden anyone with more of this negative reaction, so please immediatley [sic] withdraw any action on this objection.”

 

The Kansas Objections Board — which consists of Kobach, Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer — had agreed to look into Montgomery’s objection on Thursday. The members said they planned to revisit the issue on Monday and wanted to obtain certified copies of Obama’s birth certificate.

 

Kansas election director Brad Bryant told TPM it wasn’t entirely clear what would happen now that Montgomery has withdrawn his complaint but said they committee will likely still regroup on Monday.

 

“They don’t just pick issues out of the air. They only meet when an objection is filed,” Bryant said. “They had one filed, they met, they decided to reconvene Monday, then this afternoon an email was received withdrawing the objection, so it’s really hard for me to predict but one possibility is they’ll come together and say, well, the issue that we were considering has been taken off the table now.”

 

Kobach, an informal advisor to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney,told TPM on Thursday that he did not want to comment on whether he personally believed President Obama was a natural-born citizen. Kobach did not respond to TPM’s request for comment on Friday.

 

Montgomery, who works as communications director for the Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, also did not respond to messages left by TPM at his home and office. But in an interview with the Huffington Posthe said he wanted to start a “constructive dialogue” with his objection and admitted he had “not been successful.”

 

In his 30-page complaint, which was sent on Sept. 10, Montgomery falsely claimed there was “substantial evidence showing that much of Mr. Obama’s alleged birth certificates have been forged or doctored, and have not been confirmed as legally valid, true and accurate.” Most of the complaint centers on the theory that Obama isn’t a “natural-born citizen” because his father wasn’t a U.S. citizen, a standard which would have rendered several former presidents ineligible for office.

 

Montgomery’s complaint cited a biography of Obama that mistakenly said he was born in Kenya and was drudged up by Breitbart.com. It also cited various news stories that mistakenly say Obama was born in Kenya.

 

A lawyer for the Obama campaign blasted Montgomery’s motion in a Sept. 12 letter to Kobach.

 

“Like the scattered remnants of ‘birthers’ in other proceedings, [Montgomery] presents this argument despite a unanimous series of cases in federal and state courts that have unequivocally rejected the same factual and legal contentions, and also despite public records that have been released demonstrating conclusively that the President was born in Hawaii in 1961,” lawyer Kip F. Wainscott wrote. “These tired allegations are utterly baseless, and the Objector’s arguments are entirely without merit.”

 

Additional reporting by Evan McMorris-Santoro.

 

Read Montgomery’s original complaint:

Kansas Birther Complaint

 

 

RYAN J. REILLY 

Ryan J. Reilly is a D.C.-based reporter for TPM. Prior to joining TPM, he worked for a news website covering the Justice Department and was a researcher for Bloomberg News. His email address is ryan(at)talkingpointsmemo.com.

 

 

If you would like to contact the Obama for America campaign, please visit:

 

www.barackobama.com/contact-us.

 

 

At www.barackobama.com/contact-us you can:

 
· Write to us with a question, comment, or feedback.
· Let us know if you have an issue with a donation.
· Let us know if you have any technical difficulties with our website.

 

 

You can also reach us by calling (312) 698-3670.

 

If you’re interested in volunteering, please visit:www.barackobama.com/volunteer.

 

If you are writing regarding an issue with your 2012 Merchandise, please call 1-800-556-5975.

 

For the most up to date information about the campaign, please bookmark http://www.barackobama.com.

 

Thank you,
Obama for America

 

 

If we ever needed to vote & vote DEMOCRATIC, we sure do need to vote DEMOCRATIC now. For us (Black America) the right to vote is not just a Constitutional matter but a right borne out of struggle, out of sacrifice and in some cases out of death. Think for a moment where we are in time and you will understand why: ”If we never ever needed to vote DEMOCRATIC, we sure do need to vote DEMOCRATIC NOW!!”

 

 

 

GottaVote.org

 

Register To Vote 

 

Declare Yourself & Vote 

 

I Want To Vote

 

Voter Participation Center

 

Can I Vote?

 

LongDistanceVoter.org 

 

GottaRegister.com 

 

 

Lyin Paul Ryan & Lyin UnFitt Mitt

Just Say NO To Lies In “NO”vember!

 

 

Just “BARACK” The Vote

 

 

It’s Not Black Versus White. It’s Wrong Versus Right.


By Jueseppi B.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voting rights. I was under the impression we fought this fight 47 years ago. And won. I was wrong.

 

On “Bloody Sunday,” March 7, 1965, some 600 civil rights marchers headed east out of Selma on U.S. Route 80. They got only as far as the Edmund Pettus Bridge six blocks away, where state and local lawmen attacked them with billy clubs and tear gas and drove them back into Selma. Two days later on March 9, Martin Luther King, Jr., led a “symbolic” march to the bridge. Then civil rights leaders sought court protection for a third, full-scale march from Selma to the state capitol in Montgomery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Federal District Court Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., weighed the right of mobility against the right to march and ruled in favor of the demonstrators. “The law is clear that the right to petition one’s government for the redress of grievances may be exercised in large groups…,” said Judge Johnson, “and these rights may be exercised by marching, even along public highways.”

On Sunday, March 21, about 3,200 marchers set out for Montgomery, walking 12 miles a day and sleeping in fields. By the time they reached the capitol on Thursday, March 25, they were 25,000-strong. Less than five months after the last of the three marches, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965–the best possible redress of grievances.

 

Now comes the issue of voter suppression laws passed by 31 states to prohibit certain groups of American voters from having access to the voting booth. Those certain groups being the elderly, minorities, college attending young people, the disabled, the LGBT community…a great number of whom vote Democratic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rev. Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network (NAN), has announced that from March 4-9, NAN and partnering national organizations, congressional leaders, and activists will lead a march from Selma to Montgomery to lead the fight to protect civil and voter rights.

The 5-day march will commemorate the historic 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights march and will begin at the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Sunday, March 4th ending with a rally at the Alabama State Capitol on Friday, March 9. The march is in support of voting rights and to highlight the continuing efforts against voter suppression. This includes the efforts to defeat voter identification laws and reverse anti-immigration laws in the state of Alabama. Congressman John Lewis, who helped lead the march in 1965 with Martin Luther King, will help NAN lead the march in 2012, and over a dozen Black and Hispanic members of Congress have announced their support of the march.

 

“The truth is, it really doesn’t matter who becomes the eventual GOP nominee because all of the contenders and the Republican Party as a whole have proved that they would indeed like to take the country back – back to a time when systematic maneuvers suppressed the votes of people of color and the marginalized. While they try to regress us back, we must do something today for the sake of our collective future,” said Sharpton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You don’t have to be a fan of Rev. Al Sharpton, you don’t have to be a fan of marching or protest. If you are an American who does believe in your American right to vote, without racist suppression of that right, then join in this march against voter suppression.

Do you want to go back to this……..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or this…….

 

 

 

 

 

“America is back. Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you America is in decline or that our influence has wained, doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
This nation is great because we built it together. This nation is great because we world as a team. This nation is great because we get each other’s back.
We need to end the notion that the two parties must be locked in a perpetual campaign of mutual destruction.”

~  President Barack Obama. ~

Go Out On “NO”vember SixthTwenty Twelve &Vote Democratic.

Vote For Barack Hussein Obama.

Four More For Forty Four.

“BARACK” The Vote.

“Disagree Intelligently, Use Facts, Truth & Common Sense.”

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