Top: Civil rights leader Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. waves to supporters on the Mall in Washington, D.C. during the “March on Washington,” on August 28, 1963. King said the march was “the greatest demonstration of freedom in the history of the United States.”
Center-left: Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk, burns himself to death on a Saigon street to protest alleged persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government, on June 11, 1963. (Credit: AP/Malcolm Browne)
Center-right: Firefighters turn their hoses full force on civil rights demonstrators in Birmingham, Alabama, on July 15, 1963. (Credit: AP/Bill Hudson)
Bottom: Three-year-old John F. Kennedy Jr. salutes his father’s casket in Washington on November 25, 1963. Widow Jacqueline Kennedy, center, and daughter Caroline Kennedy are accompanied by the late president’s brothers Senator Edward Kennedy, left, and Attorney General Robert Kennedy. (Credit: AP)
As natural as Obama’s statement may have sounded, his words were as carefully chosen as the interview. The testimonial to the gay men and women in his life; the discussion of values and the Golden Rule; the remarkable fact that America’s first black president, discussing an issue many see as a modern civil-rights struggle (with a black interviewer, no less), made no reference to civil rights — these were all talking points straight out of the new playbook of the gay-rights movement.
Read more. [Image: Getty]
Framing the gay marriage debate from both a legalistic and educational standpoint proved successful for Democrats in 2012, but what exactly prevents it from being framed as civil rights issue?
If there is one thing this election has proven, if there is one thing I have come to know, it is that Americans don’t like it when their right to vote is threatened. The very people whose votes the Republicans sought to suppress came out to vote. In places like Akron and Orlando and Denver and Milwaukee, they came. They waited in long lines and endured the indignities of poll workers. Yet they were not cowed. Today is their day. A day when they can look at one another and appreciate that they are truly a part of the history of civil rights in this country.
Read more. [Image: Philip Andrews]
Welcome, Dennis Lieberman and Tom Ritchie Sr., to what surely is a select group in history — election officials who get threatened with dismissal for trying to help voters vote. The two men work in Montgomery County, Ohio, and today they are fighting for their jobs. The men are Democrats and are involved in a political fight with the Ohio Secretary of State, a Republican named Jon Husted. On Friday, Husted suspended Lieberman and Ritchie for disregarding a recent early-voting directive from his statewide office.
What was the transgression that could cost the two men their positions? Lieberman and Ritchie had the temerity to propose that county election officials should continue to offer early-voting hours on weekends to registered Ohio voters so that more of those voters could more easily cast their votes.
Read more. [Image: Library of Congress]
In late March, three civil rights groups filed a class action lawsuit against the New York City police department, alleging that a little-known crime-fighting program violated the constitutional rights of tens of thousands of New Yorkers.
The program, called Operation Clean Halls, permits police to conduct vertical patrols inside and around private residences, seeking out trespassers and drug crime. The lawsuit, which was filed by the NYCLU, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and the Bronx Defenders, questions whether the police have overstepped their Fourth Amendment boundaries while implementing the program. The suit alleges that officers have used Clean Halls to make baseless stops and trespassing arrests in primarily black and Latino neighborhoods, cuffing residents in their own hallways as they stepped out to buy a bottle of ketchup, or while they waited outside a girlfriend or sister’s building.
The suit is part of a larger public outcry against the NYPD, which is also under fire for its surveillance of American Muslims, its dealings with Occupy Wall Street protesters, and its increasingly frequent practice of stopping and frisking black and Latino men. But few have pointed to the thick information wall surrounding Operation Clean Halls, which has been in existence, in some form, since 1991.
Read more. [Image: Julie Turkewitz]
Mrs. E. Jackson wrote to the House Judiciary Committee the day after Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965, in Selma, Alabama. She was reacting to scenes of police brutality during a voting rights march that many Americans witnessed on television news programs. The interlined handwriting in pencil is likely that of House Judiciary Chairman Emanuel Celler, who was Mrs. Jackson’s representative in Congress and an active supporter of voting rights legislation in the House. Interested in teaching or learning more about Voting Rights Act of 1965? Visit our web-lesson, Congress Protects the Right to Vote: the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Letter from Mrs. E. Jackson, 3/8/1965, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives (ARC 2173239)
The Voting Rights Act of 1965
“This act flows from a clear and simple wrong. It’s only purpose is to right that wrong. Millions of Americans are denied the right to vote because of their color. This law will ensure them the right to vote. The wrong is one which no American, in his heart, can justify. The right is one which no American, true to our principles, can deny.”
-President Lyndon B. Johnson
Tomorrow will mark 46 years since LBJ signed the Voting Right Act into law. The Act outlawed the discriminatory voting practices adopted in many southern states after the Civil War, including literacy tests as a prerequisite to voting.
Here’s President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders look on. August 6, 1965
Obit of the Day: “Thirteen Cokes, Please.”
Clara Luper, an Oklahoma history teacher, ordered those Cokes at Katz Drugstore in Oklahoma City on August 19, 1958 for herself and twelve children, ages 6 to 17. Lunch counters in Oklahoma, like much of the South, were segregated. This wasn’t just a request for drinks, but a request for civil rights.
Waitresses ignored them. Other patrons did not: leaving the restaurant, pouring drinks on them, cursing at them. (Did I mention there were children as young as six?) The group left after a few hours without a drink. They returned the next day and were served their Cokes, and burgers, too.
“Within that hamburger was the whole essence of democracy.” - Clara Luper
Note: This took place a year and a half before the much more famous sit-in at the Greensboro (SC) Woolworth’s on February 1, 1960.
Luper would continue her fight to desegregate public spaces in Oklahoma City. She was arrested 26 times between 1958 and the passage of Oklahoma law to desegregate. (Passed two days after the Civil Rights Act.)
(Fantastic image is courtesy of Black Past.)