Immorally deprived of our rights—to vote, to economic equality, to share public spaces, to live lives free from fear and intimidation from racist segregationists, we built a mighty coalition of blacks, whites and browns, men and women—in the era which became known as "the Civil Rights Movement." It is spoken of as "history" as if the battle was won and ended—with racism defeated and social and political injustices vanquished. Yes, we won battles, yes we got new legislation—like the Civil Rights Act of 1964—and of those victories we can be proud.
But the war is not won—yet.
Some of the early voices have been silenced—by assassination—like those of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, though their words and deeds ring on in a clarion call for justice. Other powerful voices passed into the arms of death like Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer and Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth, having fought the righteous fight—aware they had passed on the torch to a younger generation.
Follow me below the fold for the history and how you can join, support and take action.
Rising up out of the south which birthed the first movement are new voices, meshed with those of veterans of earlier struggles.
This powerful movement is growing stronger day by day.
Next stop on the justice train is Raleigh, North Carolina, where a massive demonstration will be held on February the 8th.
The call is out for everyone of faith, of conscience, of good will, to rise up once again and move forward together to demand our rights to live in a just and equitable society, stripped of racism, sexism, homophobia and economic inequality.
We have recently mourned, honored the accomplishments of and celebrated the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., one of the most powerful voices and leaders of the movement.
They have tried to silence mighty voices, but new ones always rise up in their stead.
One of the most powerful voices today is that of Rev. Dr. William Barber—head of the North Carolina NAACP, and a leader of this growing movement.
Back in 2012, I watched a live stream of the NAACP National Convention, which was held in Houston, Texas. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney showed up. He received a polite, but lukewarm welcome, and then some boos. I continued viewing. Romney was followed by a man I had never heard before.
I sat listening, and after his introduction, when he began to speak and preach, the hair literally stood up on my arms. The people at the convention were lifted up out of their seats cheering wildly. I rushed to try to find a video I could use to share this man with readers here, who I knew were probably not watching the live stream.
I posted a rushed diary, and a Kossack, dewtex, was able to grab most of the live stream and make it into a video. Meanwhile, another Kossack, TrueBlueMajority, stayed up into the wee hours to write out a transcript. I updated the diary, and since that time another video has been made of Rev. Barber's speech "If we ever needed to vote" which has circulated on the Internet, but if you have never listened to it, I urge you to do so now, followed the next year by his "Old South vs. New South: The 3rd Reconstruction," part of Annabel Park's "Story of America Project."
I have heard many movement activists speak and preach in my 66 years on this planet. From Paul Robeson (my earliest memory) to Harry Belafonte, Dr. King, Fred Hampton, Malcolm X, Mrs. Hamer, Stokely Carmichael, John Lewis, James Forman, Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, Reies Tijerina, Yuri Kochiyama, Felipe Luciano, Amiri Baraka, Russell Means, John Trudell and Daniel Berrigan ... in the streets, at rallies, and in Congress like the powerful voice of Barbara Jordan.
I have never been as moved by spirit as that first time hearing Rev. Barber. After searching for more about him and his work in NC, I couldn't understand why more of us on the left weren't paying attention to this man and those he was working alongside. I later contacted Dr. Barber, and his associate, longtime activist and veteran civil rights attorney Al McSurely, and after gathering as much information as I could I started writing about him, and this movement, as did other writers here on Daily Kos. Though the national media wasn't focused, bloggers began to listen and take note.
Bill Moyer's selected him as "an activist to watch."
His NAACP bio, doesn't tell the whole story since no words on paper can convey his ability to speak to the hearts and minds of people and move them to organize.
(photo Peggy Franklin)
COLUMBIA, SC — In a speech of fire and thunder Sunday evening, one of today’s best-known civil rights activists denounced what he said was narrow-minded political and religious thinking that has “put extremism on steroids.”Rev. Barber has taken on conservatives on every issue, and his support of marriage equality and LBGT rights surprised many on the left who tend to write off all evangelicals as right wing. Hear him preach on this.
“We must not give up the so-called high moral ground to the right-wing extremists,” said the Rev. William Barber II, 50, president of the N.C. NAACP, to about 300 at Zion Baptist Church in downtown Columbia.
Issues such as voting, health care, environment and education “are moral issues, faith issues,” Barber said in a pre-Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech to Columbia and S.C. NAACP members and guests.
“Any profession of faith that doesn’t promote justice and standing against wrong is a form of heresy,” said Barber, adding that pastors who obsess about topics like prayer, homosexuality and abortion while neglecting justice, poverty, fair play and equality issues “are just running their mouths.”
Well, listen or not, pay attention or not, the movement is growing day by day, arrest by arrest, demonstration by demonstration.
Look at the coalition they have formed.
Listen to the voices of women in "Ain't I a Woman?!", a promo just released for the upcoming march.
When the movement in NC was beginning, Al McSurely wrote:
This time around, as we rebuild our Movement, we will not be split or stopped. This time around, our dry bones are going to keep walking around, building an exceeding great army of people whose ancestors worked this land for centuries before immigrants from Europe, slaves from Africa, and people looking for work from Asia and Latin America all got together at the beginning of the 21st Century and decided they would risk working with each other to dismantle the systems of militarism, racism and poverty and create a new society based on respect, love and productive work.
Come to Raleigh in 2014!
Help us move forward together.
You can distribute flyers.
You can put a banner on your facebook page.
Spread the word. Organize a Moral Monday.
And if you can—join the march.