Why Did Michael Brown Die in Ferguson? - According to the police of Fergusson, Missouri it was because he reached for an officer's weapon, necessitating that he be shot multiple times as he ran away empty handed. Eyewitness tell a different story. Whatever happened the killing has prompted demonstrations and looting. Ferguson police responded in full force, firing teargas and wooden rounds into crowds of protestors and sealing the area off from the media. In the wake of the tragedy questions of racial profiling, the paramilitarization of police and media depictions of black shooting victims have been raised. Meanwhile the shooter has not been named to preserve his safety.
In 1964, less than 7% of Mississippi’s African Americans were registered to vote, compared to between 50 and 70% in other southern states. In many rural counties, African Americans made up the majority of the population and the segregationist white establishment was prepared to use any means necessary to keep them away from the polls and out of elected office. As Mississippian William Winter recalls, “A lot of white people thought that African Americans in the South would literally take over and white people would have to move, would have to get out of the state.”This summer fifty years ago well over a thousand volunteers went to Mississippi to help register as many African-Americans as possible to vote, in the Freedom Summer, which would end with at least seven people murdered for their support for the campaign. For PBS's American Experience series, director Stanley Nelson has created a movie about the campaign, which you can watch online. A transcript, introduction and other resources are also available.
For twenty years, the belief that the sex provision was a monkey wrench that unintentionally became part of the machine was the conventional wisdom about Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964]. But when scholars—including Michael Gold, Carl Brauer, Cynthia Deitch, Jo Freeman, and Robert Bird—dug into the archives they not only learned that the real story of the sex amendment was quite different; they essentially uncovered an alternative history of women’s rights.—The Sex Amendment by Louis Menand tells the story of "how women got in on the Civil Rights Act." It focuses especially on the role of the National Women's Party, led by septuagenarian suffragette Alice Paul. Here is a long interview with her which focuses on her activist youth.
This week's Glenn Greenwald revelation is that Britain's GCHQ JTRIG intelligence organization offers its agents and planners tools with abilities to increase the search ranking of chosen web sites, “change outcome of online polls”, “masquerade Facebook Wall Posts for individuals or entire countries”, and accomplish “amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (Youtube).” [more inside]
Today is the 50th anniversary of the signing of the civil rights act, and to commemorate, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library hosted in April a Civil Rights Summit, featuring dozens of civil rights luminaries as well as Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and President Barack Obama. [more inside]
James Chaney. Andrew Goodman. Michael Schwerner. Murdered by the KKK 50 years ago today, in one of the galvanizing events of the struggle for civil rights in the South. (previously 1, 2, 3) [more inside]
65 to 70 million U.S. adults, 3 or 4 of every 10, have an arrest or conviction record, greatly reducing their chances of getting a job, if they even get an interview, as many job applications ask applicants to check a box if they have a criminal record. "Ban the Box" is the slogan used by groups who are trying to counter this practice. The ban is spreading with cities and states around the country "banning the box" from government job applications, and some jurisdictions are forcing private employers to ban the question, too. A few major companies have removed such questions from their applications ahead of the local and state requirements, with Target following Wal-Mart's decision (previously).
Tomorrow, is the 60th Anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision (pdf) in Brown v. Board of Education [more inside]
Inside the Kafkaesque World of the US’s "Little Guantánamos" We sat together on her couch, her small, eight-year-old hands clutching a photo of her father, Yassin Aref. “My daddy only held me twice before I was five,” Dilnia told me. For the first five years of her life, she only knew him as the man on the other side of a plexiglass window in a communication management unit in an Indiana federal penitentiary. Prisoners describe the communication management units, or CMUs, as “Little Guantánamos.” In 2006, the Bureau of Prisons created two of these units to isolate and segregate specific prisoners, the majority of them convicted of crimes related to terrorism. The bureau secretly opened these units without informing the public and without allowing anyone an opportunity to comment on their creation, as required by law.
Debo Adegbile was selected by President Obama to be assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The Senate, aided and abetted by seven Democratic senators, killed his nomination. Why? Because he’s fought for civil rights.
Happy Valentine's day from Justice Scalia: (video) how his dissent in DOMA case US v. Windsor (PDF here) helped lead to recent rulings against state gay marriage bans.
This will be a very short diary. It will not contain any links or any scholarly references. It is about a very narrow topic, from a very personal, subjective perspective. The topic at hand is what Martin Luther King actually did, what it was that he actually accomplished. The reason I'm posting this is because there were dueling diaries over the weekend about Dr. King's legacy, and there is a diary up now ... entitled, "Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Dream Not Yet Realized." I'm sure the diarist means well as did the others. But what most people who reference Dr. King seem not to know is how Dr. King actually changed the subjective experience of life in the United States for African Americans. And yeah, I said for African Americans, not for Americans, because his main impact was his effect on the lives of African Americans, not on Americans in general. His main impact was not to make white people nicer or fairer. That's why some of us who are African Americans get a bit possessive about his legacy. Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy, despite what our civil religion tells us, is not color blind. [more inside]
Franklin McCain, one of the Greensboro Four, has died. McCain was a freshman at North Carolina A&T College when he, along with fellow students Joseph McNeil, Ezell Blair Jr. (later Jibreel Khazan), and David Richmond (who died in 1990), walked into their local Woolworth's on February 1, 1960, and sat down at a whites-only lunch counter. This spontaneous act of civil disobedience (previously) sparked what would come to be known as the sit-in movement to dismantle Jim Crow.
Following the state Supreme Court's decision in Griego v. Oliver [pdf], New Mexico has become the 17th U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. [more inside]
Earl Sampson has been stopped and questioned by Miami Gardens police 258 times in four years. He’s been searched more than 100 times. And arrested and jailed 56 times. Almost every citation was issued at the same place: the 207 Quickstop, a convenience store on 207th Street in Miami Gardens. But Sampson isn’t loitering. He works as a clerk at the Quickstop.
The civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, as described in the New Yorker by Renata Adler in 1965. [more inside]
Fifty years ago this morning, Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Denise McNair (age 11), Carole Robertson (age 14), and Cynthia Wesley (age 14) lost their lives when a bomb set by the KKK went off in the basement of their church in Montgomery, Alabama. [more inside]
Brandan Odums makes important and beautiful art in the ruins of New Orleans's 9th Ward [more inside]
How often does a great story dominate the headlines, only to be dropped from the news cycle? How often do journalists tell us of a looming danger or important discovery – only to move quickly to the next new thing? What really happened? How did these events change us? And what are the lingering consequences that may affect our society to this day? These are the questions we are answering at Retro Report, an innovative documentary news organization launched in 2013 as a timely online counterweight to today’s 24/7 news cycle. Combining documentary techniques with shoe-leather reporting, we peel back the layers of some of the most perplexing news stories of our past with the goal of encouraging the public to think more critically about current events and the media in ~10 minute segments. [more inside]
From Protest to Politics by Bayard Rustin, the civil rights leader almost erased from history. "From Protest to Politics" talks about the difficulty of moving beyond symbolic victories into lasting justice for the Civil Rights Movement.
Thanks to the FBI, he has a vast — and accurate — archive of the time. "If I have a fuzzy memory or hazy memory, I look at it, and there's a verbatim transcript of the conversations. Clarence Jones, Dr Martin Luther King's legal advisor, talks to NPR about working with Dr King, the metaphor he supplied to the "I have a dream" speech and the extent of the surveillance of King and his associates by the US security establishment. [more inside]
Fifty years ago, another bus-centric race dispute took place. Despite "Just 12 miles away in Bath, black crews were working on buses. London Transport recruitment officers had travelled to Barbados specifically to invite workers to come to the capital" ...non-whites found it impossible to obtain employment working on buses in Bristol, England. [more inside]
What makes a movement work in the first place? Why do some movements like the struggle for civil rights take off while others like Occupy Wall Street wilt? Four ways to beat 'The Man'.
Robert Penn Warren's book Who Speaks for the Negro? was a collection of interviews with various men and women involved in the Civil Rights Movement published in 1965. Vanderbilt University has made all the interviews available as audio and transcripts, taken from the original reel-to-reel recordings. Among the interviewees were Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Septima Poinsette Clark, Ralph Ellison, Stokely Carmichael, James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin. On the page for each interview there are links to related documents, such as letters, photos and contemporary news articles.
"The success of the campaign made the three activists wonder: Could they replicate it on a grand scale by getting themselves detained on purpose? Inside immigration detention facilities, they would surely find dozens, if not hundreds, of low-priority detainees like de los Santos whom they could help. At the same time, they could publicize the fact that it wasn’t just criminals who were being deported, as the Obama administration kept insisting. “We realized we could be more effective if we just went straight to the source,” Abdollahi says. Doing so would flip the script on immigration agents; the activists would be taking advantage of their undocumented status and thus could be detained and deported. Deportation was unlikely, because they were Dreamers without serious criminal records. Even so, this would make the risk they’d taken in Charlotte look like nothing. But Saavedra, Abdollahi, and Martinez had been growing more fearless, and more radical, since they’d met." -- Los Infiltradores: How three young undocumented activists risked everything to expose the injustices of immigrant detention—and invented a new form of protest.
Why the students at one prominent South African university, once a model of racial harmony, chose to resegregate. "UFS hadn’t remained segregated after apartheid’s end—it had integrated and then resegregated later. I wanted to know why the white students raised those ancient flags, and why the black students had left Karee. I uncovered a tale of mutual exhilaration at racial integration giving way to suspicion, anger and even physical violence. It seemed to hold powerful implications well beyond South Africa, about the very nature of social change itself. In our post–civil rights struggle era, we tend to assume progress toward less prejudice and more social tolerance is inevitable—the only variable is speed. But in Bloemfontein, social progress surged forward. Then it turned back."
In December 2012, school district officials informed the family of Coy Mathis, a girl who was assigned male at birth, that she would no longer be allowed to use the girls' bathrooms at school. The Mathis family filed suit. Today, they won. [more inside]
Jury acquits escort shooter. Texas Penal Code s. 9.42 has been interpreted to possibly allow the shooting of sex workers who accept money at night but do not then perform sexual services, and Ezekiel Gilbert was therefore found to have the legal right to shoot at a sex worker over a $150 dispute. This interpretation of the defence of property has come under some criticism, and although the jury may have reached their decision on a different ground, the possibility of this defence under state law appears to be sound.
The French Right Marches against Gay Marriage. Last month, France became the thirteenth nation to recognize same-sex marriage. A large religious and political movement continues to protest loudly against the Socialist government's "Mariage Pour Tous" (Marriage For All) law. [more inside]
Starting on Jan 14th, 1963, with George Wallace's pledge for "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" there followed a year that included 930 demonstrations and over 20,000 arrests, the year ended with a conversation between Martin Luther King Jr. and President Lyndon Johnson on December 3rd, only two weeks after the assasination of John F. Kennedy. It was the beginning of a long struggle, Susan Glisson, director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi said it well with the statement, "It took grass roots — women and children and men — to lead the effort for social change, and it was much harder in Mississippi than other places. And that story needs to be told. It's not just this easy, Martin stood up and Rosa sat down and everybody's free." [more inside]
Will Campbell, the only white person present at the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, friend of Klansmen, and iconoclast preacher, has died at age 88. [more inside]
In 1964, Goldwater campaign strategist Clif White made a 28-minute long film called "Choice." Once Senator Goldwater saw it, it was never shown publicly. Now it's on YouTube! [more inside]
Third-grader Asean Johnson schools Rahm Emmanuel on the mayor's plan for Chicago's public schools. (YT) [more inside]
What Does D-Day, MLK JR and Tennessee Williams have in common? NO, not that D-Day. The other D-Day. [more inside]
When police carried out a routine stop-and-search of her boyfriend on the London Underground, Gemma Atkinson filmed the incident. She was detained, handcuffed and threatened with arrest. She launched a legal battle, which ended with the police settling the case in 2010. With the money from the settlement she funded the production of this animated film, which she says shows how her story and highlights police misuse of counterterrorism powers to restrict photography. [more inside]
You know, Stingrays killed the Crocodile Hunter... During the case of United States v. Rigmaiden it was revealed that the DOJ had been using Stingray cell phone trackers concealed in other warrants/without explicit warrants. [more inside]
The national Republican Party still continues to oppose same-sex marriage, one of the factors of social conservatism that lost it the youth vote in the 2012 election and may have caused Romney's defeat. Many Republicans, however, have been arguing for a sea change to revitalize the party. They may have found it, in an unlikely appeal that "The party of Lincoln should stand with our best tradition of equality and support full civil marriage for all Americans.". A large number of prominent Republicans have signed onto an amicus brief opposing same-sex marriage bans in the Proposition 8 case currently before the Supreme Court - and some believe that the Republican support may allow the justices the political and legal support to rule for national marriage equality.
Joe Arpaio has followed the NRA's suggestion and tasked a 3,500 man volunteer armed posse with patrols of 59 elementary, middle and high schools in the Phoenix area. The journalist details his experience of posse training, and the article notes that the same force may previously have been involved in the shooting of a surrendering burglar. History bonus: there's already too much Arpaio previously on Mefi to individually detail.
A confidential Justice Department memo concludes that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” -- even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the U.S.
Gomer Pyle got married to his partner of 38 years, Stan Cadwallader, last week. Jim Nabors, aka Gomer Pyle of Mayberry and of the U.S.M.C., also of many records featuring his inimitable voice, particularly this rendition of "The Impossible Dream,", and the national anthem, married his partner of 38 years, Stan Cadwallader, last week in Seattle. [First link opens a news window, which can be loud.] [more inside]
"Better known as the “Jane Roe” in the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, Norma McCorvey has led a conflicted life. Forty years ago, she was at the center of the court decision that famously legalized abortion. Today, she is a zealous anti-abortion advocate." Why did McCorvey turn against the cause she once championed? Tracing the life of an Accidental Activist. Via
Jennie Linn McCormack "isn’t the only woman in recent years to be prosecuted for ending her own pregnancy. But her case could change the trajectory of abortion law in the United States": The Rise of DIY Abortions. [more inside]
"Claims of institutional racism against black people have dogged the World Bank for decades. The current president has a real opportunity to end the scourge." [more inside]
Gideon Oliver spoke to me of the devastating effect this kind of surveillance has had on activists. “People fear that detectives are following them around. They panic. It’s a movement-dismantling tactic.” Most Occupy protesters are new to activism and are emotionally unprepared to deal with this kind of intimidation. Nor, so far as I have seen, are they inclined to seek the advice of older activists who were under surveillance in the 1960s and 1970s, before the protections of the original Handschu Decree, which prohibited political spying, were put in place. Those activists nevertheless found ways to continue their political work.From an article on the NYPD's Intel Division. [more inside]
The 14 year old Pakistani diarist and feminist activist Malala Yousafzai (ملاله یوسفزۍ) has been shot in the head in a targeted attack by the Taliban [NewsPakistan] [AFP]. She is presently in hospital, and in a stable condition. The attack was in apparent reprisal for passing her diaries regarding the Taliban's ban on female education to the BBC in 2009 [original BBC diary story], but also her continued activism and pressure for women and girls' rights. The attempted killing is part of a wider conflict over women's rights within Pakistan, and Pakistani feminism in general tends to be bound up with religion and the shifting boundaries of having to argue against both the patriarchal government and the Taliban itself.