In the NY Times, I see that on this day in 1964, three civil rights workers disappeared in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Their bodies were found six weeks later. As a result of this crime, 8 members of the Ku Klux Klan went to prison on federal conspiracy charges; none served more than six years. Redemption?
Maybe the good ol’ days of the good ol’ boy network are over. Maybe it’s the beginning of the end. I would like to see that, in my lifetime. Redemption.
The Civil Rights movement in the US remains a serious issue, with good reason. The United States was founded with slavery of African “black” people, and it took hundreds of years for black folks to begin seeing the freedoms guaranteed to white males. The US Declaration of Independence claimed the God-given inalienable rights of men, but it excluded men of color. The US Constitution didn’t actually outlaw slavery until 1865. Also, the Civil Rights struggle is not unrelated to the historical absence of women’s rights. The founding fathers of my country were, like every US President after them, very white males.
Since that time, white and black-skinned folks have been having and causing trouble in America. Today, everyone is angry about something and no one wants to talk about it because it only makes everyone angry.
Now this black dude appears out of nowhere and makes it to the Democratic ticket. That’s a big, fat, super-size deal. For black folks everywhere in world, that must be such an uplifting life experience; to see this happen in the country that once legalized segregation (hey boy, that water fountain is for white people only). For this white male, it’s an uplifting life experience.
Atlanta’s High Museum of Art is hosting a first-ever photography show of the US Civil Rights movement called Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956–1968. Back in those days, if you even sympathized with the blacks, you could disappear, get beaten or killed. Listen carefully to Billy Holiday as she sings the song Strange Fruit to catch the true meaning of the strange fruit and the fate of many black men living in the southeast US at that time.
It’s proper to have this art show in Atlanta, since many of the strongest voices of the Civil Rights movement, including Martin Luther King, lived and/or worked out of Atlanta. King was a Reverend. A preacher. He was a man of God who received death threats from people who worshipped the same God.
I hope that this ugly chapter of American history now stares us in the face every time we look at the Presidential candidates. It’s about time.