Independence Day For Who? Should African Americans Really Celebrate July 4th?

“This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice must mourn. What to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelly to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour” – Frederick Douglas

American Independence Day is approaching and everyone is getting ready for the barbecues, picnics, fireworks, etc. We’re reminded of the day in 1776 when the “Founding Fathers” decided to break away from mother England. The Revolutionary War lasted until 1781 and the Declaration of Independence was made to stand. The mission was accomplished and the United States of America was born.
However, the celebration and freedom was not for all to enjoy. Only rich white males immediately benefitted from independence. Women were still treated unequally, Native-Americans did not regain their lost land, and poor white men did not enjoy all the rights mentioned in the Declaration and accorded by the new constitution. But worst off were the African-Americans, whom the majority was still enslaved. The newly designated “land of the free” had a large portion of its population still in bondage.
Maybe they saw it coming too. Initially, the American forces did not recruit blacks fearing possible slave revolts. It wasn’t until the British started doing it, promising them freedom, that they too followed suit with similar incentives. Unfortunately for these black soldiers, they were deceived. They found out that, in fact, “not all men were created equal” and that the supposed God-given unalienable rights did not apply to them. And as a result, because they lived a life without liberty, they could not pursue happiness.
It took almost another hundred years and a Civil War before slavery was completely abolished in the country. Come to think of it, since the British abolished slavery in their colonies in the 1830s, maybe black Americans would have been “better off” if the Revolutionary War had failed. They would have been officially free sooner.
But the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t end their unequal treatment. Even the “hero” Abraham Lincoln would have allowed slavery in the South to continue if it could have saved the Union somehow. Blacks suffered from discrimination and inequality for another hundred plus years (after the end of slavery). And today, although the times have changed and we even have a black president, the effects of all these years of slavery, discrimination and mistreatment are still felt. We can see a disproportionate number of African-Americans living in poverty (higher %), in higher education (lower %), in higher-paying jobs (lower %), etc.
Therefore, after the hypocrisy and betrayal of the Founding Fathers, the years of slavery, inequality and discrimination, I wouldn’t be surprised if some African-Americans don’t make a big deal out of the 4th of July. And other Americans shouldn’t be upset and accuse them of being unpatriotic if they choose not to celebrate, because if they learn the true history of the country, they would discover that independence and freedom back then did not apply to all.
There are other countries in the Americas where a similar reasoning could apply. Many broke away from their European masters but kept the institution of slavery and other forms of inequalities in place. As a person judging from outside, I believe African-Americans should celebrate this national holiday, but with some reservation. They should always remember the true history behind it and pass it on to their children. As for those who don’t feel like they should celebrate it at all, I don’t blame them.
july 4
*Originally published on Examiner.

Remembering Meshach Taylor (1947-2014)

Actor Meshach Taylor, best known for his role as the ex-con deliveryman Anthony Bouvier in the CBS sitcom Designing Women, died Saturday at his home in Altadena. He was 67.

The cause of his death was colorectal cancer, said his wife, Bianca Ferguson Taylor.

taylor

Taylor had roles in several TV shows before appearing in what was supposed to be a single episode of Designing Women during its first season in 1986. But his comic scenes with cast members Delta Burke and Dixie Carter went so well, Taylor said in 2011 on The Wendy Williams Show, that the creators of the sitcom kept him on.

He stayed with the show for all seven of its seasons as the only male regular cast member. He was nominated in 1989 for an Emmy for supporting actor in a comedy series.

Taylor also played the flamboyant window dresser Hollywood Montrose in the 1987 hit Mannequin.

mannequin

He was “an activist actor,” said his wife, who as Bianca Ferguson appeared for years as Claudia Johnston Phillips on the ABC daytime soap opera General Hospital.

On Designing Women, he “walked that tightrope of racism and classism every week, week after week,” giving them and millions of viewers a richer, deeper view of African American men. “He showed them what trust was all about, what loyalty and friendship were all about.”

dw

“His last really strong role,” she said, was on Criminal Minds, where he “took an alcoholic veteran from the Vietnam era and made us understand he was a courageous young man who had saved lives.”

Meshach Taylor was born April 11, 1947, in Boston, and grew up in New Orleans and Indianapolis, where he performed with community theater groups.

His first major role was in a national touring company of “Hair.” In the 1970s he appeared in plays with the Goodman Theatre company in Chicago.

Taylor had roles in numerous other movies and TV shows, including Dave’s World, Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide and Dave’s World. On Broadway in 1990, he performed for six months in “Beauty and the Beast.”

In addition to Bianca, his wife of over 30 years, Taylor’s survivors include his daughters Yasmine, Tamar and Esme; his son, Tariq; a sister, Judy; and a brother, Hussein.

Terminally ill and deep in pain, he flew with his children to Indiana last week for the 100th birthday of his mother, Hertha Taylor.

When he returned to hospice care in California, his wife said: “I told him baby, you did your greatest performance at your weakest time.”

Taylor children

*Article originally published on We Love Soaps.

Remembering Bobby Womack (1944-2014)

Bobby Womack, the legendary soul singer whose career spanned seven decades, died Friday at age 70. A representative for Womack’s label XL Recordings confirmed the singer’s death to Rolling Stone, but said the cause of death was currently unknown.

Bobby Womack

Look Back at Bobby Womack’s Incredible Career in Photos

The son of two musicians, Womack began his career as a member of Curtis Womack and the Womack Brothers with his siblings Curtis, Harry, Cecil and Friendly Jr. After Sam Cooke signed the group to his SAR Records in 1960, they released a handful of gospel singles before changing their name to the Valentinos and earning success with a more secular, soul- and pop-influenced sound. In 1964, one month after the Valentinos released their hit “It’s All Over Now,” the Rolling Stones put out their version, which went to Number One on the U.K. singles charts.

womack 1

Three months after the death of Cooke in 1964, Womack married Cooke’s widow, Barbara Campbell, and the Valentinos disbanded after the collapse of SAR Records. After leaving the group, Womack became a session musician, playing guitar on several albums, including Aretha Franklin’s landmark Lady Soul, before releasing his debut album, Fly Me to the Moon, in 1968. A string of successful R&B albums would follow, including Understanding and Across 110th Street, both released in 1972, 1973’s Facts of Life and 1974’s Lookin for a Love Again.

womack married

Bobby Womack (1944-2014): Read Our Full Obituary

After the death of his brother, Harry, in 1974, Womack’s career stalled, but was revived in 1981 with the R&B hit “If You Think You’re Lonely Now.” Throughout most of the Eighties, the singer struggled with drug addiction, eventually checking himself into a rehabilitation center for treatment. A series of health problems would follow, including diabetes, pneumonia, colon cancer and the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, though it was unclear if any of these ailments contributed to his death. Womack was declared cancer-free in 2012.

In 2012, Womack began a career renaissance with the release of The Bravest Man in the Universe, his first album in more than 10 years. Produced by Damon Albarn and XL’s Richard Russell, the album made Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums of 2012 alongside numerous other critical accolades. “You know more at 65 than you did at 25. I understand the songs much better now,” Womack told Rolling Stone at the time. “It’s not about 14 Rolls Royces and two Bentleys. Even if this album never sells a nickel, I know I put my best foot forward.” Upon his death, Womack was in the process of recording his next album for XL, tentatively titled The Best Is Yet to Come and reportedly featuring contributions by Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart and Snoop Dogg.

womack album

Hear Bobby Womack’s 10 Essential Tracks

Womack was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. “My very first thought was — I wish I could call Sam Cooke and share this moment with him,” Womack said. “This is just about as exciting to me as being able to see Barack Obama become the first black President of the United States of America! It proves that, if you’re blessed to be able to wait on what’s important to you, a lot of things will change in life.”

hall of fame

*Article originally published on Rolling Stone.

African Americans Reconnect With Nature With Outdoor Afro!

A couple of weeks ago I was watching News One Now on TV One and happened to catch a guest by the name of Rue Mapp. Ms. Mapp is the founder of Outdoor Afro an organization dedicated to introducing more African Americans to the adventures of the outdoors. As an African American young woman, I recognize that most of us don’t spend a lot of time communing with nature. Regardless of how one feels about braving the elements or finding the right outdoor equipment & supplies, becoming one with nature has its benefits.

outdoorafro

Outdoor Afro is a social community that reconnects African-Americans with natural spaces and one another through recreational activities such as camping, hiking, biking, birding, fishing, gardening, skiing — and more!

Outdoor Afro disrupts the false perception that black people do not have a relationship with nature, and works to shift the visual representation of who can connect with the outdoors.

We remember our history in nature, leverage social media, and support relevant local leadership to create interest communities, events, and partnerships that support diverse participation in the Great Outdoors.

During her childhood, founder Rue Mapp split her time between urban Oakland, California and her families’ working ranch in the Northern woodlands, where she cultivated a passion for natural spaces, farming, and learned how to hunt and fish. As a youth, her participation in the Girl Scouts and Outward Bound broadened her outdoor experiences, such as camping, mountaineering, rock climbing, and road bicycling. But Rue was troubled by the consistently low numbers of African Americans participating in these activities. So for two decades, Rue has used digital media as an important and practical tool to connect with people of color who share her outdoor interests. Outdoor Afro emerged naturally from these experiences.

Rue has a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was inspired by her study of the artistic representation of the American forests. She is also a successful entrepreneur whose game and hobby store start-up (It’s Your Move) remains an important part of the Oakland community. In 2010, Rue was honored to be invited to the White House to participate in the America’s Great Outdoors Conference where President Obama signed an historic memorandum to help reconnect all Americans to the Great Outdoors, and was invited back to take part in a think-tank to inform the launch of the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative. She was also appointed program officer at the Stewardship Council’s Foundation for Youth Investment where she served for two years to manage its grantmaking program.

Recently, Rue was named a Hero in Backpacker Magazine, honored as part of the Root 100 of the top black achievers and influencers for 2012, and received the Josephine and Frank Dunaneck award for her humanitarian efforts. Rue is a proud mother of three active children – Seth, Arwen, and Billy, lives in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area, and especially enjoys hiking, camping, biking, birding, and kayaking.

Some of their key sponsors include:

REIKAPORSIERRA CLUBCLIF BAR

Here is a round-up of resources (in no order of importance) to help connect Outdoor Afros with the outdoors and related topics:

National

Regional

Biking

Camping

Hunting and Fishing

Media

Clubs and Associations

Academic

Conferences

Products/Lifestyle

Farming and Foodways

For more information visit their website: http://www.outdoorafro.com/

Kimye + Vogue = Really?

I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it seems that Kanye West & Kim Kardashian made the cover of next month’s Vogue magazine. If this is true, how in the world did this happen? Wasn’t Vogue supposed to be the premiere international fashion magazine?

According to their company overview Vogue strives to be “thought-provoking, relevant and always influential, Vogue defines the culture of fashion.” But how is allowing Kim Kardashian on the cover ‘defining the culture of fashion’? Nothing that she has said, done or worn has been influential to the typical Vogue reader. Their readership is one of class, style and elegance not trendy, trashy or “common”. Kim’s clothing as of late has been quite underwhelming, as I’m sure most fashionista’s would agree.  I mean her clothing line is in Sears, for pete’s sake! How Vogue worthy is that?

Let’s look at Kim’s accomplishments, shall we? She made a sex tape, dated professional athletes back-to-back with no real job or income, never attended college, has been divorced from two different men all by the age of 30 and  had a baby out of wedlock. How is this Vogue-cover material? Why has she been selected to be on the same magazine as our First Lady Michelle Obama, Academy Award© winner Sandra Bullock, international fashion icon Victoria Beckham and multi-platinum 17-time Grammy winner Beyonce? She doesn’t compare to anyone on that list whatsoever.

April is Autism awareness month. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to let someone like Holly Robinson Peete or Oscar winner Kate Winslet grace the cover instead? Both of them have made great strides in the autistic community & are also known for their stylish dress. Really, anyone else but Kim would’ve made a better cover choice!

So how did Kim get the cover of Vogue? Most people seem to attribute it to her boyfriend, 21-time Grammy award winner Kanye West. He was seen cajoling the Editor-in-Chief, Anne Wintour, for the coveted spot almost a year ago at which time she was less than enthused about putting about Kim Kardashian on the cover of her magazine. According to close sources, it’s pretty well-known that Anna Wintour is NO fan of Kim or any reality star appearing in the pages of the magazine. But she claims that simply isn’t the case. West has said publicly many times that he thinks his girlfriend belongs on the cover of Vogue. He’s even gone so far as saying “No one is looking at what Obama is wearing.”  “Kim is like the most intriguing woman right now. … and collectively, we’re the most influential in clothing.” Why would he say something that crazy?! Not only did he disrespect our First Lady, but he made it sound as if Kim Kardashian has an intimate knowledge of fashion, textiles or even class for that matter!  I guess some women really can sleep their way to the top.

Let’s take a look at some of the reactions from some (now former) Vogue readers:

I cancelled my subscription!” – Michelle A. Morgan

RIP Vogue” – Chris Black

I am loving the big backlash aimed at Anna Wintour for putting Kim Kardashian on the Vogue cover. The issue should come with a barf bag.” – Nikki Finke

Hope the happy couple coughed up a lot of dough to Vogue for the “honor” ’cause I suspect Vogue sales will be at an all-time low very soon, to match their all-time low cover choice.” – nonparieldolls

 “Isn’t it funny how Kanye ended up with the exact same kind of woman he sings about in his song Goldigger? Ironic. These two are hideous!” – Pbj

 “I’m really torn. Am I supposed to admire a woman that is only famous for a sex tape, had a marriage last just over 70 days, got pregnant from another guy before her marriage was dissolved, slept with half the NFL and got engaged to a guy who’s inflated ego could block enough sun to reverse global warming? Or should I applaud Vogue for reminding us that no amount of money will ever buy class?” – Smedley N

“Dear #Vogue there is a difference between controversial and classless. Learn it!” –The Fashion Law

So readers now it’s your turn, let Vogue know what you really think. Use the Twitter hashtag  #WorldsMostTalkedAboutCouple with your comments. You know I already have!

kimye

Here is their other contact info -

Mail: Customer Service, c/o Conde Nast, 4 Times Square, New York, NY 10036
Twitter: http://twitter.com/voguemagazine
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/vogue
Customer Service: http://www.vogue.com/contact/

I Am My Brother’s Keeper

“I’m reaching out to some of America’s leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing especially tough odds to stay on track and reach their full potential.”  – President Barack Obama, January 28, 2014

Last year, President Obama held a press conference shortly after George Zimmerman was found innocent of second-degree murder & manslaughter of unarmed African American teenage Trayvon Martin. In his speech, he mentioned that the ongoing racial injustice in this country has prompted him to foster an initiative that will create opportunities for boys and young men of color throughout his term & once it’s over.

Well now, President Obama is taking action to launch My Brother’s Keeper – a new initiative to help every boy and young man of color who is willing to do the hard work to get ahead. For decades, opportunity has lagged behind for boys and young men of color.  But across the country, communities are adopting approaches to help put these boys and young men on the path to success. The President wants to build on that work. We can learn from communities that are partnering with local businesses and foundations to connect these boys and young men to mentoring, support networks, and skills they need to find a good job or go to college and work their way up into the middle class. And the Administration will do its part by helping to identify and promote programs that work.

That starts by using proven tools that expand opportunity at key moments in the lives of these young people.  The President believes this includes ensuring access to basic health, nutrition, and to high-quality early education to get these kids reading and ready for school at the youngest age.  But that’s not enough.  We need to partner with communities and police to reduce violence and make our classrooms and streets safer.  And we need to help these young men stay in school and find a good job– so they have the opportunity to reach their full potential, contribute to their communities and build decent lives for themselves and their families.

New Presidential Task Force to Expand Opportunity. President Obama will sign a Presidential Memorandum establishing the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, an interagency effort, chaired by Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson, that will help us determine what public and private efforts are working and how to expand upon them, how the Federal Government’s own policies and programs can better support these efforts, and how to better involve State and local officials, the private sector, and the philanthropic community in these efforts.

The Task Force will work across executive departments and agencies to:

  • Assess the impact of Federal policies, regulations, and programs of general applicability on boys and young men of color, so as to develop proposals that will enhance positive outcomes and eliminate or reduce negative ones.
  • Recommend, where appropriate, incentives for the broad adoption by national, State, and local public and private decision makers of effective and innovative strategies and practices for providing opportunities to and improving outcomes for boys and young men of color.
  • Create an Administration-wide “What Works” online portal to disseminate successful programs and practices that improve outcomes for boys and young men of color.
  • Develop a comprehensive public website, to be maintained by the Department of Education, that will assess, on an ongoing basis, critical indicators of life outcomes for boys and young men of color in absolute and relative terms.
  • Work with external stakeholders to highlight the opportunities, challenges, and efforts affecting boys and young men of color.
  • Recommend to the President means of ensuring sustained efforts within the Federal Government and continued partnership with the private sector and philanthropic community as set forth in the Presidential Memorandum.

Investments from Leading Foundations and Businesses to Advance the Achievement of Boys and Young Men of Color.  Leading foundations and businesses have long worked with others in philanthropy to create opportunities for young men and boys of color and today are committing significant resources to research critical intervention points in the lives of boys and young men of color; change the often-damaging narrative about them; and catalyze coordinated investments to seed, replicate, and scale up effective community solutions.

The foundations supporting today’s call to action have already made extensive investments, including  $150 million in current spending that they have already approved or awarded. Building on that, today these foundations are announcing that over the next five years they seek to invest at least $200 million, alongside additional investments from their peers in philanthropy and the business community, to find and rapidly spread solutions that have the highest potential for impact in key areas, including: early child development and school readiness, parenting and parent engagement, 3rd grade literacy, educational opportunity and school discipline reform, interactions with the criminal justice system ladders to jobs and economic opportunity and healthy families and communities.

The foundations will work over the next 90 days to design a strategy and infrastructure for coordination of these investments, which can be aligned with additional commitments from a diverse array of actors from other sectors.

These foundations, who are joining President Obama at today’s announcement, include The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The California Endowment, The Ford Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Open Society Foundations, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and The Kapor Center for Social Impact. Many of the foundations are members of the Executives’ Alliance to Expand Opportunities for Boys and Men of Color – a coalition of philanthropic institutions committed to leveraging philanthropy’s role in improving life outcomes for boys and men of color.

In addition to the leadership from the philanthropic community, the My Brother’s Keeper initiative will leverage participation from the business community and elected officials to support this cross-sector effort.  As part of today’s announcement, President Obama will meet with a number of business leaders – including Joe Echevarria of Deloitte, Magic Johnson of Magic Johnson Enterprises, Glenn Hutchins of Silver Lake Partners, Adam Silver of the National Basketball Association and Thomas Tull of Legendary Entertainment – to discuss ways in which they and their companies can work with the Initiative to improve the life outcomes of boys and young men of color.

The President will also be joined today by public sector leaders including General Colin Powell, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Honorable Michael Bloomberg.  Additionally, several other prominent members of the business community—including Rosalind Brewer of Sam’s Club, Ken Chenault of American Express, and Don Thompson of McDonald’s—have already expressed their support for this effort, and the White House expects additional commitments in the coming days and months.

*  *  *

Data shows that boys and young men of color, regardless of socio-economic background, are disproportionately at risk throughout the journey from their youngest years to college and career.  For instance, large disparities remain in reading proficiency, with 86 percent of black boys and 82 percent of Hispanic boys reading below proficiency levels by the fourth grade – compared to 58 percent of white boys reading below proficiency levels.  Additionally, the disproportionate number of black and Hispanic young men who are unemployed or involved in the criminal justice system alone is a perilous drag on state budgets, and undermines family and community stability.  These young men are more than six times as likely to be victims of murder than their white peers and account for almost half of the country’s murder victims each year.

The effort launched today is focused on unlocking the full potential of boys and young men of color – something that will not only benefit them, but all Americans.  The Task Force and new private sector partnership will take a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach to building ladders of opportunity.  Both the Task Force and the partnership will take action immediately while planning for long-term success.

brothers keeper

Visit The White House for more information for this very important initiative.

READERS: Black History Fact of the Day – 50 Years Ago TODAY The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, is considered one of the crowning legislative achievements of the civil rights movement. First proposed by President John F. Kennedy, it survived strong opposition from southern members of Congress and was then signed into law by Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson. In subsequent years, Congress expanded the act and also passed additional legislation aimed at bringing equality to African Americans, such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

After 12 days of debate and voting on 125 amendments, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by a vote of 290-130. The bill prohibited any state or local government or public facility from denying access to anyone because of race or ethnic origin. It further gave the U.S. Attorney General the power to bring school desegregation law suits. The bill allowed the federal government the power to bring school desegregation law suits and to cut off federal funds to companies or states who discriminated. It forbade labor organizations or interstate commercial companies from discriminating against workers due to race or ethnic origins. Lastly, the federal government could compile records of denial of voting rights. After passage in the House, the bill went to the Senate, which after 83 days of debate passed a similar package on June 19 by a vote of 73 to 27. President Lyndon Johnson signed the legislation on July 2. Later, future Georgia governor Lester Maddox would become the first person prosecuted under the Civil Rights Act.

Leading Up to the Civil Rights Act

Following the Civil War (1861-1865), a trio of constitutional amendments abolished slavery, made the former slaves citizens and gave all men the right to vote regardless of race. Nonetheless, many states–particularly in the South–used poll taxes, literacy tests and other similar measures to keep their African-American residents essentially disenfranchised. They also enforced strict segregation through “Jim Crow” laws and condoned violence from white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

For decades after Reconstruction (1865-1877), the U.S. Congress did not pass a single civil rights act. Finally, in 1957, it established a civil rights section of the Justice Department, along with a Commission on Civil Rights to investigate discriminatory conditions. Three years later, Congress provided for court-appointed referees to help blacks register to vote. Both of these bills were strongly watered down to overcome southern resistance. When John F. Kennedy entered the White House in 1961, he initially delayed in supporting new anti-discrimination measures. But with protests springing up throughout the South – including one in Birmingham, Alabama, where police brutally suppressed nonviolent demonstrators with dogs, clubs and high-pressure fire hoses – Kennedy decided to act. In June 1963 he proposed by far the most comprehensive civil rights legislation to date, saying the United States “will not be fully free until all of its citizens are free.”

The Civil Rights Act Moves Through Congress

Kennedy was assassinated that November in Dallas, after which new President Lyndon B. Johnson immediately took up the cause. “Let this session of Congress be known as the session which did more for civil rights than the last hundred sessions combined,” Johnson said in his first State of the Union address. During debate on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, southerners argued, among other things, that the bill unconstitutionally usurped individual liberties and states’ rights. In a mischievous attempt to sabotage the bill, a Virginia segregationist introduced an amendment to ban employment discrimination against women. That one passed, whereas over 100 other hostile amendments were defeated. In the end, the House approved the bill with bipartisan support by a vote of 290-130.

The bill then moved to the Senate, where southern and border state Democrats staged a 75-day filibuster –among the longest in U.S. history. On one occasion, Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, a former Ku Klux Klan member, spoke for over 14 consecutive hours. But with the help of behind-the-scenes horse-trading, the bill’s supporters eventually obtained the two-thirds votes necessary to end debate. One of those votes came from California Senator Clair Engle, who, though too sick to speak, signaled “aye” by pointing to his own eye. Having broken the filibuster, the Senate voted 73-27 in favor of the bill, and Johnson signed it into law on July 2, 1964. “It is an important gain, but I think we just delivered the South to the Republican Party for a long time to come,” Johnson, a Democrat, purportedly told an aide later that day in a prediction that would largely come true.

Provisions Within the Civil Rights Act

Under the Civil Rights Act, segregation on the grounds of race, religion or national origin was banned at all places of public accommodation, including courthouses, parks, restaurants, theaters, sports arenas and hotels. No longer could blacks and other minorities be denied service simply based on the color of their skin. The act also barred race, religious, national origin and gender discrimination by employers and labor unions, and created an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with the power to file lawsuits on behalf of aggrieved workers.

Additionally, the act forbade the use of federal funds for any discriminatory program, authorized the Office of Education (now the Department of Education) to assist with school desegregation, gave extra clout to the Commission on Civil Rights and prohibited the unequal application of voting requirements. For famed civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., it was nothing less than a “second emancipation.”

After the Civil Rights Act

The Civil Rights Act was later expanded to bring disabled Americans, the elderly and women in collegiate athletics under its umbrella. It also paved the way for two major follow-up laws: the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibited literacy tests and other discriminatory voting practices, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which banned discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of property. Though the struggle against racism would continue, legal segregation had been brought to its knees.

Image

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (1913-2013)

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

-taken from President Nelson Mandela’s inaugural speech (1994)

Nelson Mandela was laid to rest in his childhood village of Qunu. Before arriving in Qunu, the body lay in state for three days in Pretoria. Mandela’s coffin, draped in his country’s flag, lay atop black and white cattle skins in front of a crescent of 95 candles, each marking a year of his life. As the national anthem “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” or “God Bless Africa” drifted over the village, a giant picture of Mandela looked down with a smile. Mourners placed their fists on their chests, some with tears streaming down their faces. “Today marks the end of an extraordinary journey that began 95 years ago,” South African President Zuma said during the ceremony. “It is the end of 95 glorious years of a freedom fighter … a beacon of hope to all those fighting for a just and equitable world order.” “We shall not say goodbye, for you are not gone,” Zuma said. “You’ll live forever in our hearts and minds.” Mourners represented all spheres of Mandela’s life. There were celebrities, presidents, relatives and former political prisoners.

Mandela was jailed for 27 years on Robben Island by the white-minority racist regime which he opposed, emerging from prison in 1990 and becoming president after the country’s first multi-racial elections in 1994. Before the election he won the Nobel Peace Prize, along with FW de Clerk, South Africa’s last apartheid-era president who helped negotiate the end of racial segregation with Mandela. His passing has left a gaping hole in the heart of not just South Africans, but people around the world because of his influence as the architect two decades ago of the historic reconciliation between blacks and whites in the continent of Africa.

After his presidency, Mandela started the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory as a base for his charitable work covering a wide range of endeavors, from building schools to HIV-AIDS work, to research into education in rural areas to peace and reconciliation interventions. Five years later the Foundation began its transition into an organization focused on memory, dialogue and legacy work.

The Center of Memory offers:

  • Locates, documents and promotes the preservation of these scattered resources
  • Collects and curates Mr. Mandela’s personal archive
  • Promotes public access to these resources
  • Facilitates research by individuals and institutions
  • Utilizes an array of information-delivery platforms to make information available to global and local audiences

The Dialogue For Justice offers:

Dialogue is fundamental to the legacy of Nelson Mandela and to South African’s transition from apartheid to democracy. Dialogue is at once a vital instrument for addressing critical social issues and the most effective vehicle for sharing memory, for growing it and for engaging it in the promotion of justice. The Centre of Memory -

  • Provides dialogical platforms for all its memory work
  • Undertakes research and initiates advocacy on critical social issues impacting on its mandate
  • Hosts or convenes dialogue processes
  • Promotes coordination, resource-sharing and collaboration between memory institutions
  • Disseminates the results and lessons learned from dialogue processes

To learn more & donate to the Nelson Mandela fund, click here: http://NelsonMandela.org

mandela

There Are Only Three More Weekends Left In the Year. Use Them Wisely

The first weekend of December just passed, which means that the final month of the year is officially here. With only one more month left, now is a good time to ask yourself: Are you making the most of 2013?

Here are a few last minute (or last-month, I should say) things you should take into consideration before the year ends:

1)      Christmas shopping – The best Christmas deals are going on right now. Whether at the store or online, prepare to depart with some serious cash before the year ends!

2)      Grocery shopping – With friends & family coming in from out of town, the kitchen needs to be fully stocked. Just don’t wait until December 24th to hit the grocery store because we all know how crowded it will be

3)      Make New Year’s plans – It’s time to think about how you want to ring in the new year. If you’re planning on going out of town, now is the time to search for those last minute flights. Or if you are looking to purchase tickets to a New Year’s celebration, now is the time.  The countdown to New Year’s officially begins after Christmas

4)      Gather your belongings for Goodwill – If you’re like me, you probably need all the tax write offs you can get. So get all of your old clothes, knick knacks, etc. and donate them to the Salvation Army or your local Goodwill.  Let someone else enjoy your old stuff in the new year

5)      Get your taxes ready – Ah, yes. Tax season is right around the corner. If you’re cleaning house, be sure to set aside all important receipts and other legal paperwork for next year’s taxes

So, enjoy the remainder of your 2013 and expect more in 2-0-1-4!!

Image