With Black History Month behind us and Women’s History month coming to an end, it is an appropriate time to call attention to the intersectional pioneers who deserves more credit than they may have gotten.
In this past month I have researched a few of the women in the struggle for human rights. They each have their own story and we do not want those stories to be lost. One common trait they had in common, regardless of their cause or profession, was their burning determination. I learned a lot from their personal stories and gained a few insights. Most all the women that were reported on, fought for several causes. When slavery was abolished, they demanded the vote and control over their bodies, then them wanted equal rights in the workplace; they did not give up!
This speaks to the lesson number one; when these women spoke out they become stronger. Activism itself, seemed to generate power and it can become contagious. Diane Nash, the civil rights activist from the 60s, said “There is a power in each of us that we do not realize until we take responsibility.”
Old build in Olde Towne East, Columbus, OH, an overpopulated, rundown area a decade or two back
The renovation or removal-and-replacement of older structures is a worldwide phenomenon. This report focuses on gentrification in the US, with local examples drawn mainly from Columbus, OH.
At its most innocent, gentrification means ‘fixing up neighborhoods and making them attractive,’ the kind of place ‘the gentry’ would like to live. Who can argue with that?
Certainly, not the developers rebuilding whole neighborhoods, often with tax rebates as incentives. Nor the bankers. Nor can the architects, construction workers, materials suppliers and truckers needed for the job. Nor the handymen who rehab older homes. The landscapers. The furniture and appliance merchants. The nearby eateries that feed all this activity. Not the passing motorists who note how satisfying it is to see that run-down area get a new lease on life. And certainly not the politicians who approve the plans and whose campaigns benefit from grateful donors.
In fact, not too many people object to gentrification, even the development-driven kind, apart from the original residents who are uprooted from familiar homes or who, if they manage to stay on, have to adjust to change and new neighbors. The folks who appreciate heirloom architecture, about to be razed for that new condo array, aren’t too happy. And then there those activists who connect the dots.
The three marches in Alabama from Selma to Montgomery in March 1965 (only the third march actually made it to Montgomery) were the culmination of years of grass roots and national struggles for the right to vote for African Americans in the South. This was finally achieved by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 signed by President Johnson on August 6, 1965. One of the greatest moments in American history was when the third march reached the Alabama state capitol in Montgomery with about 25,000 people and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made his “How long? Not long.” speech to the nation and world.
The struggles were led by:
- SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) led by John Lewis, and others
- DCVL (Dallas County Voters League) led by Amelia Boynton Robinson, Samuel William Boynton, and others
- SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Hosea Williams, James Bevel, Andrew Young, Ralph Abernathy, and others
- NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People)
- CORE (Congress of Racial Equality)
These were the three marches in March 1965 to go from Selma to Montgomery, the state capital of Alabama, to demand voting rights for African Americans and for all citizens:
- The first march “Bloody Sunday” on March 7 was stopped by violent state trooper and local police at the Edmund Pettis Bridge.
- The second march “Turnaround Tuesday” on March 9 only went as far as the Edmund Pettis Bridge where it turned around when met by state troopers and local police.
- The third march on March 21 had the support of federal troops. It crossed the Edmund Pettis Bridge and reached its final destination on March 25 at the Alabama state capitol in Montgomery.
Democrats Abroad Global Black Caucus fully supports the March For Our Lives events taking place around the world on March 24th, in solidarity with the students and families who will take to the streets of Washington DC to demand that our lives and safety become a priority, and that we must end this epidemic of mass shootings and killings.
For many decades, black Americans have advocated for gun control. There are dramatic racial, economic and geographic disparities in American gun violence. Black children 17 and under are 10 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than white children. About half of America’s gun murder victims each year are black. The census tracts show that the worst gun violence in 2015 represented about 1.5% of the country’s total population, but 26% of the total gun homicides.Read more
Paula A. Johnson, born in 1959, Brooklyn, N.Y. native, is a cardiologist, researcher, professor and public-health expert. She is a product of the New York public school system and a graduate of Radcliffe College at Harvard University. Johnson continued her studies at Harvard, successfully completing her studies with an M.D. and M.P.H (Master of Public Health) in 1985.  Her entire career reflects these two pursuits.
In September 2016, Doctor Johnson became the 14th President of Wellesley College and the first African American to hold this position. The appointment is a testament to her qualifications, international reputation and commitment to improving the lives of women. Wellesley chose her to empower and lead the next generation of Wellesley graduates and those beyond. This achievement is of note when one considers the history of Black Americans having been denied education. Reading and writing were punishable with death, yet African American women like Paula Johnson have led by achieving academic excellence, indeed teaching. Johnson also notes that she has been successful by taking “less traditional routes”.Read more
Ruby Nell Bridges Hall (born September 8, 1954) is an American civil rights activist. She was the first African-American child to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis in 1960.
Ruby Bridges grew up on the farm that her parents and grandparents sharecropped in Mississippi. She came into the public view at age 6, in 1960. Her parents responded to a request from the NAACP and volunteered her to participate in the integration of the New Orleans school system. They was so much difficulty surrounding her admission that a child psychiatrist, Robert Coles, volunteered to provide counseling to Bridges during her first year. The Bridges family also suffered for their decision to send her to William Frantz Elementary. Her father lost his job, the grocery shop would no longer let them shop there. Her grandparents, who were sharecroppers in Mississippi, were turned off their land. However, it was noted that many others in the community, both black and white, showed support in a variety of ways. Some white families continued to send their children to Frantz despite the protests and boycott. A neighbor provided her father with a new job, and local people walked in support behind the federal marshals' car on the trips to school.
Ruby Bridges Hall, lives in New Orleans with her husband, Malcolm Hall. They have four sons. She is now chair of the Ruby Bridges Foundation, which she formed in 1999 to promote "the values of tolerance, respect, and appreciation of all differences". Describing the mission of the group, she says, "racism is a grown-up disease and we must stop using our children to spread it.”
In October 2006, the Alameda Unified School District in California dedicated a new elementary school to Ruby Bridges, and issued a proclamation in her honor, and in November that year she was honored in the Anti-Defamation League's Concert Against Hate. On July 15, 2011, Bridges met with President Barack Obama at the White House, and while viewing the Norman Rockwell painting on display he told her, "I think it's fair to say that if it hadn't been for you guys, I might not be here and we wouldn't be looking at this together.” In 2014, a statue of Bridges was unveiled in the courtyard of William Frantz Elementary School.Read more
Black Americans mostly left behind by progress since Dr. King's death
On Apr. 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, while assisting striking sanitation workers.
That was almost 50 years ago. Back then, the wholesale racial integration required by the 1964 Civil Rights Act was just beginning to chip away at discrimination in education, jobs and public facilities. Black voters had only obtained legal protections two years earlier, and the 1968 Fair Housing Act was about to become law.
African-Americans were only beginning to move into neighborhoods, colleges and careers once reserved for whites only.
I’m too young to remember those days. But hearing my parents talk about the late 1960s, it sounds in some ways like another world. Numerous African-Americans now hold positions of power, from mayor to governor to corporate chief executive – and, yes, once upon a time, president. The U.S. is a very different place than it was 50 years ago.
Or is it? As a scholar of minority politics, I know that while some things have improved markedly for black Americans since 1968, today we are still fighting many of the same battles as Dr. King did in his day.Read more
Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of blacks in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” which was started by the noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. It is celebrated annually in the United States and Canada in February, as well as in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in October.
This year, Black History Month is more important than ever. We have an overtly racist, sexist, homophobic government that wants to take America back to a time that never existed. Black history is American history, not a footnote. In 2018 it is still important to highlight this information because many people still don’t realize how much Black Americans have done to move America forward and make life better. Black people have slaved, created, invented, and entertained, making the America we know and remember. At the same time white supremacy has worked very diligently to keep black people from getting the credit and lives we deserve.Read more
We have created an interactive multimedia journey of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
The idea of a Global Black Caucus (GBC) was initially conceived by Black leaders from around the globe in London at the 2013 DA Global Meeting. Many of the members of this group were heavily committed to their local and country chapters in France, Italy, South Africa, Sweden and the UK. It wasn’t until August 7, 2017, during a conversation between me and Shari Temple, the Democrats Abroad (DA) Global IT Team Chair and a DA Germany Voting Representative, I asked the question, why isn’t there a Black Caucus? Shari told me no one has volunteered to start it, so I volunteered and off we went. This really illustrates how DA is truly a grassroots organization. All of our members can participate in working for positive change. If you want to do something that will further progressive causes, DA is there to support you.Read more