We’ve kind of enlisted the help of the gangs…If your goal is not gang eradication, which none of us knows how to do, but instead violence reduction, and you enlist the gangs as aids, then you begin to change the physics of the neighborhood…We’re doing it with the cooperation of the gangs because they’re so powerful—they control some of the neighborhoods. We get them into classes and training, and we say, if you help us stop the violence, we’re not going to hold your past against you. Everyone agrees we should keep the kids safe… [bloodshed wasn’t just the result of gang identification and drug disputes, but also personal grudges and simply] the power of the barrel of a gun…If you don’t give them a way to exert power legitimately, they’ll do it another way.
Connie Rice, Los Angeles civil rights attorney
In 2003 police brass asked Rice to help them formulate a new strategy for coping with LA’s…gang violence. The effort resulted in the Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development, an initiative housed in the LA mayor’s office that includes recreational programs at night in city parks, intervention with preteen youth in neighborhoods with high gang membership, and appeals to former and current gang leaders to stop retaliatory violence. There’s…an experiment underway to offer…children of gang members a…college education if the kids stay out of gangs.
This milestone shows the power of strong, strategic organizing…It also shows what happens when politicians threaten the rights of current and future African American voters. Across the country, we witnessed a variety of attempts by local, state and federal officials to…make it harder for Black Americans to vote. In response, starting a year before election day, we raised awareness of suppression efforts from the statehouses to the courthouses, organized with other faith and civil rights communities, and turned out at the polls to proclaim victory for our hard-won rights.
art: photo by Dave Darnell of
Dr. Vasco Smith and Maxine Smith…March 8, 1974…”They would stand up for principle and stand up on issues. They were strong moral voices in the community,” said U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen at the time of Vasco Smith’s passing in 2009.
All this makes me question if we’re living in my grandmother’s South. Republican lawmakers in North Carolina want to roll back many of this country’s civil rights achievements with a political agenda that is anti-democracy and anti-justice. They attack poor people, women and the LGBTQ and immigrant communities. If you’re not white, male, straight and Christian, you’re not safe with our state Republican lawmakers. Despite their actions…Every day I feel inspired by North Carolina’s rich history and legacy of freedom struggles…You can’t talk about the civil rights movement and freedom struggles in the United States without talking about North Carolina—the Greensboro sit-ins, SNCC, civil rights icon and pioneer Ella Baker and the Wilmington 10. State lawmakers…ought not forget how our grandmothers fought for freedom and taught us to fight for it too…These lawmakers don’t speak for anyone I know. They don’t speak for the social work students whom I teach and study…They don’t speak for my family of friends in North Carolina, who pay taxes here and who have raised children who are commited to building on what their parents and grandparents started.
Crystal Hayes, at North Carolina’s Indy Week
The widow of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, who was killed by a white supremacist outside his Jackson, Miss., home in 1963, laments that her husband is remembered primarily as an assassination victim. This June, to mark the 50th anniversary of his slaying, a series of events will pay tribute to Evers’ work toward racial equality during his 37 years.
“The Rev. Ralph W. Abernathy, perhaps Dr. King’s closest friend, was just about to come out of the motel room when the sudden loud noise burst out. Dr. King toppled to the concrete second-floor walkway. Blood gushed from the right jaw and neck area. His necktie had been ripped off by the blast.” An emergency surgery failed to save Dr. King’s life. He was declared dead about an hour after being shot.
it was 45 years ago, today.
They rode the streets of Memphis in creaky, dangerous garbage trucks, picking up trash…toiling for a sanitation department that treated them with indifference bordering on disdain. In 1968 those workers took to the streets, marching with civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to demand better working conditions, higher pay and union protection. Forty-five years after King was killed supporting their historic strike, some of the same men who marched with him still pick up Memphis’ garbage—and now they are fighting to hold on to jobs that some city leaders want to hand over to a private company.
art: Bernard Lee clears the way for King and Rev. Ralph Abernathy during a march on behalf of striking Memphis sanitation workers. March 28, 1968. Photo by Sam Melhorne.
Police have made about 5 million stops of New Yorkers in the past decade, mostly black and Hispanic men. The trial, set to begin Monday, will include testimony from a dozen people who say they were targeted because of their race and from police whistleblowers who say they were forced into making slipshod stops by bosses…“When we say stop, question and frisk, we’re not talking about a brief inconvenience on the way to work or school,” said Darius Charney of the Center for Constitutional Rights, the lead attorney on the case. “We’re talking about a frightening, humiliating experience that has happened to many folks.”
more on the federal civil rights trial, here.
art: from this project.
‘Negro for him was not, as the intellectuals liked to say, ‘polluted with stereotypes.’ The word represented not white oppression but civil rights battles fought and won. People spilled blood for the right to be called ‘Negro,’ he reminded me, more than once.
The McComb project…was one of the early battles in a long and bloody war for voting rights in the South, a crucible for future leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who drilled black residents to pass the constitutional literacy tests and in return for their civic engagement were shot at, jailed and beaten. Most people [in McComb, Mississippi now], whites and blacks, agree that that was a very bad time. They also, generally, agree that things are much better now. But on the more specific question on the necessity of Section 5, which requires nine states, most of them Southern, to submit voting changes for federal approval, opinions begin to separate. And by and large, there is a relatively easy test here to tell what a person is likely to think, and it comes down to the person’s skin color.
art: McComb, MIssissippi