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Posts Tagged ‘civil rights history’

Margaret Buckner Young Died Saturday, Widow of Whitney M. Young Jr., Noted Civil Rights Leader

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

The accomplished widow of noted civil rights leader Whitney M. Young Jr, Margaret Buckner Young, has died at age 88.  Among the long list of her contributions, talents, and achievements, were authoring children’s books about African-American history, writing biographies of prominent African-Americans for Parent Magazine, and serving as a long-time educator.

Additionally, Young also served a capacity on the U.S. delegation to the United Nations.  Vernon Jordan, noted civil rights leader who advised President Bill Clinton and was head of the National Urban League after Whitney Young spoke fondly of her,

“She was a loving mentor to me,” he recalled, “She always had sound advice, such as ‘Think about this,’ “

Whitney Young, who was Margaret's husband, died in 1971.

Whitney Young, who was Margaret's husband, died in 1971.

In the 50’s, Margaret was a professor in the psychology departments at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA.  When her husband drown in 1971 in Nigeria, she then became the executive director of the Whitney M. Young Jr. Foundation – named for her late husband – an organization that helped academics studying in the arena of race relations, and promoted equal opportunity.  In the New Rochelle, NY public school system, she helped parents make the transition when their children’s schools integrated.

In the 1980’s, Margaret was active in both the arts and in business; she was on the board of NY’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center, and the Dance Theater of Harlem – and also was one of very few African-American women to serve on corporate boards (NY Life Insurance Co & the Philip Morris Co.).

Margaret was a 1942 graduate of Kentucky State, and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

Both the unfortunate loss of her husband nearly 40 years ago, and Margaret’s passing are deeply felt losses to the civil rights community.  What these people contributed to the fight for equality in society, education, and beyond for the future African-Americans is beyond what words can describe.  Sojourn students can only hope to be lead by the footsteps the Youngs blazed on their brave paths.

James Armstrong, Civil Rights Foot Soldier, Dies at Age 86

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

As we tweeted last Wednesday, James Armstrong, the Birmingham barber and Civil Rights leader who iconically carried the American flag to lead the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march, has died of heart failure.  The United States Civil Rights community has truly lost one of its pivotal, historic members in his passing.

James Armstrong, pictured here at the 40th anniversary re-enactment of the Selma Voting Rights March to Montgomery, known as Bloody Sunday.

James Armstrong, pictured here at the 40th anniversary re-enactment of the Selma Voting Rights March to Montgomery, known as Bloody Sunday.

One of his most notable and long-standing actions was that Armstrong was the catalyst in initiating the 1957 class-action lawsuit to integrate area schools after wanting to enrolls his sons in the all-white Graymont Elementary school.  Speaking to his dedication to the cause, and to his persistence in the fight for equal rights, when interviewed at one of the anniversary marches that he regularly attended in Selma that commemorate the now-famous march, he’s quoted as saying “I’ll keep coming back as long as I can walk.  One day, I may even come in a wheelchair.

Armstrong was a WWII army veteran – having been drafted to fight at age 18 – but his greatest fight may have been right here on American soil.  He ran his own business, the barber shop that boasted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as a loyal customer, was beneficial to conduct sit-ins and other demonstrations without fear of retribution from an employer.

Perhaps his biggest disappointment – per Shirley Gavin Floyd, the business manager for the Civil Rights Activist Committee in Birmingham – was that he had to cancel his trip to DC this past winter for the inauguration of President Barack Obama, whose election he saw as a culmination of his efforts.

Civil Rights Spotlight: Jerry Mitchell on the Colbert Report

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

Back in September, we wrote a blog about Jerry Mitchell and his amazing story about how he’s been devoting much of his career to tirelessly reporting on unresolved Civil Rights crimes from decades past.  For said work, he was this year awarded one of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius Grants’.

In case anyone missed it, we just wanted to make sure we made mention of his appearance on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report last month.  This was just absolutely wonderful exposure for the results of so many years of hard work, due to the humorous, tongue-in-cheek pundit’s large national following.

Watch the video online at Colbert Nation:

The Colbert ReportMon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Jerry Mitchell
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

Murdered Civil Rights Martyr Evers Honored with Named Naval Supply Ship

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Friday, prominent Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers – who was murdered in 1963 in his own driveway after meeting with NAACP lawyers – was honored with the naming of a Navy Supply Ship after him. This follows a Navy tradition of giving ships in the support fleet names of honored pioneers, explorers, and other notables.

Medgar Evers, Civil Rights Activist and Honoree

Medgar Evers, Civil Rights Activist and Honoree

The announcement was made during former Mississippi governor and current Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’s speech at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi.

Evers, who was the NAACP’s first field secretary for the state of Mississippi, was integral during the Civil Rights Movement in MS, in organizing nonviolent protests, voter registration drives, and boycotts. And, his tragic death was the impetus that prompted President John F. Kennedy to ask Congress for a comprehensive civil rights bill.

An administration statement that was released in conjunction with the Navy’s announcement said the following of Evers:

“At a time when our country was wrestling with finally ending segregation and racial injustice, Evers lead civil rights efforts to secure the right to vote for all African-Americans and to integrate public facilities, schools and restaurants.”

Medgar Evers was thirty-seven years old when he was shot, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Sojourn to the Past remembers, recognizes, and honors Civil Rights activists who came before us like Mr. Evers. We hope to continue his legacy of nonviolent, educated actions in the fight for equality for all.

Sojourn Students: Giving New Meaning to 'Student Union'

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009
As the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) 2009 Convention presses on this week in Pittsburgh, it’s an opportune time to stop and reflect what can be accomplished when people with common visions power together to work towards common goals. Unions – through their storied history in the United States – are, by definition, alliances of people or parties formed in mutual interest or benefit. ALF-CIO, a national trade union center, is the single largest federation of unions in the United States and Canada, representing more than 10 million workers in North America in all types of occupations from Air Traffic Controllers to Utility Workers.
Wade Henderson, President of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights

Wade Henderson, President of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights

As the Convention was calling to a vote on organizing, the President of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) Wade Henderson told members that union freedoms are, indeed, an issue related to civil rights. And, in addition he urged Congress to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, assuring that the civil rights community would work in conjunction with union representatives to see that happen. “Union participation can begin to lift the dead weight of decades of discrimination. For African Americans, women and Latinos the best way to build a better life is to join together with others to form a union,” said Henderson. Need proof? The advantage of being in a union is obvious to Henderson, who cited that African American union members earn 28 percent more than their nonunion counterparts.

Student Alumni of Sojourn to the Past will always share common ground.

Student Alumni of Sojourn to the Past will always share common ground.

The past student participants of Sojourn to the Past are not unlike a union in many ways. They shared a similar experience that establishes common ground. They have a bond that even though they may not personally know those who have gone before them or after them, they look to them as a teammate. They know that together their voices are much louder than any single one of them screaming at the cause all alone. And they are committed to pushing and pulling each other through triumphant and difficult times, taking turns leading if another stumbles. The Sojourn alumni, perhaps most importantly, believe in perpetuation – they are not acting solely on their own behalf, but for the betterment of the lives of the generations to come.
Check out some of the things that students who have made the Sojourn journey have to say here and be inspired!

Current Events: Equal Education Opportunities

Monday, May 25th, 2009








Fifty-five years after the Supreme Court ruled that all of America’s children are entitled to an equal education, the nation’s most vulnerable — minority children and children from low income families — are still sometimes subject to a substandard educational system.

Troubled that millions of students are left behind because they don’t have access to the resources required for a high quality education, Congressman Chaka Fattah (from Pennsylvania) has introduced the Student Bill of Rights to address the inadequacies and inequities in educational opportunity. “America is the land of opportunity,” Fattah said. “It is a national scandal to deprive poor children of a decent education simply because they live in a certain neighborhood.”

The Student Bill of Rights is similar to legislation previously introduced by Fattah and calls for states to provide highly effective teachers, early childhood education, college prep curricula and equitable instructional resources to all students who attend public schools. Current law requires that schools within the same district provide comparable educational services; this bill would extend that basic protection to the state level by requiring comparability across school districts.

What can you do to help? If you also believe in equal rights for students, speak out and make your voice heard! Write to your local government officials and let them know that you, too, would like to see ample opportunities for education across the country.


Civil Rights Resource Center