Category Archives: Civil rights

Doing well by doing good: MLK and the Kennedys, 1960

This is a political feel-good story for the day, as least for Democrats.

“How JFK Saved MLK’s Life And So Won The Presidency” by Greg Palast, 1/15/18, shows that a few days before the 1960 election that gave JFK a narrow victory over Richard Nixon, MLK was arrested and sentenced to hard labor in Georgia, a sure death sentence for him given the conditions and racial strife of the time. MLK Sr. called then Vice President Richard Nixon, whom he had endorsed, but got no reply. MLK’s wife Coretta King, however, called Harris Wofford, who was a member of JFK’s campaign staff; Wofford called Bobby Kennedy, who with JFK’s approval proceeded to get MLK out of jail.

The Kings then endorsed JFK and may well have determined the result of the whole election. Wofford went on to be JFK’s Special Assistant to the President for Civil Rights, founder of the Peace Corps, President of Bryn Mawr College, US Senator from PA from 1991-94, and much more. In 2006, Rick Santorum, who had defeated Wofford in 1994, was in turn defeated by current Senator Bob Casey.

Read more at Greg Palast and (about Wofford) in Wikipedia.

Congressional Black Caucus to Donald Trump

From executive summary of “WE HAVE A LOT TO WE HAVE A LOT TO LOSE: SOLUTIONS TO ADVANCE BLACK FAMILIES IN THE 21ST CENTURY,” the March 2017 Congressional Black Caucus‘s reply to the question “What do you have to lose”:

…The CBC calls on the Trump Administration to strengthen voter protections and reform the criminal justice system from end-to-end. We call on this Administration to address the expanding wealth and income gaps between the rich and the poor in this country and strengthen the ladders that lift millions of Americans out of poverty. We call on the Trump Administration to commit to basic principles of humanity and decency, mainly that every child should have access to a high-quality education and every life deserves affordable, quality health care. The CBC calls on this Administration to improve the circumstances of the American worker and prepare our nation’s workforce for the challenges of the future. We call on the Trump Administration to guarantee that every American has equal access to clean air, water, and soil. Finally, we call on the Trump Administration to address the unique challenges in Rural America and help revitalize these oft forgotten communities.

If President Trump is sincere in his interest in advancing the Black community, this document should be the guiding post of his Administration….

download the full report at Congressional Black Caucus

Presidential Proclamation — Martin Luther King, Jr., Federal Holiday, 2017


When the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., shared his dream with the world atop the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, he gave mighty voice to our founding ideals. Few could have imagined that nearly half a century later, his iconic profile would forever be memorialized in stone, standing tall and gazing outward, not far from where he stirred our collective conscience to action. In summoning a generation to recognize the universal threat of injustice anywhere, Dr. King’s example has proven that those who love their country can change it.

A foot soldier for justice and a giant of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King lifted the quiet hopes of our Nation with the powers of his voice and pen. Whether behind his pulpit in Montgomery, at a podium on the National Mall, or from his jail cell in Birmingham, he beckoned us toward justice through non-violent resistance and oratory skill. Dr. King fought not merely for the absence of oppression but for the presence of opportunity. His soaring rhetoric impelled others to take up his cause, and with struggle and discipline, persistence and faith, those who joined him on his journey began to march. America was watching, and so they kept marching; America was listening, and so they kept sounding the call for justice. Because they kept moving forward with unwavering resistance, they changed not only laws but also hearts and minds. And as change rippled across the land, it began to strengthen over time, building on the progress realized on buses, in schools, and at lunch counters so that eventually, it would reverberate in the halls of government and be felt in the lives of people across our country. Continue reading

A thought for an anniversary

“We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.”

—Martin Luther King, Jr., from the “I Have a Dream” speech, Washington DC, August 28, 1963.