Tag: Bayard Rustin

Yale University to Name Residential College After Civil and Women’s Rights Activist Anna Pauline Murray

Anna Pauline Murray
Anna Pauline Murray

article via naacp.org

Yale University is naming a new residential college after African-American Yale alumna and civil rights activist Anna Pauline “Pauli” Murray.  Pauli Murray is best known as a staunch civil rights and women’s rights advocate, lawyer and ordained Episcopal priest.  Ms. Murray’s lifelong commitment to ensuring a fair and just society for everyone serves as an inspiration and role model to NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks as well as many civil rights lawyers.

In 1938, Ms. Murray was denied admission to the University of North Carolina’s law school because she was African American – all schools and public facilities in the state were segregated.  Influenced by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and his practice of nonviolent civil disobedience, she joined with Bayard Rustin, George Houser and James Farmer to form the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).  While a student at Howard Law School, she participated in sit-ins to challenge the discriminatory seating policies of area restaurants.  These sit-ins preceded the more widespread and well-known sit-ins of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.

After graduating from law school, Ms. Murray sought to continue her study of the law at Harvard University but was rejected because of her gender.  Her experiences with racism and gender inequality fueled her activism in the civil rights and women’s rights movements.  She authored a book, “States Laws on Race and Color” in 1951. Thurgood Marshall, then chief counsel at the  NAACP, described her book as the Bible for civil rights lawyers.  Upon completion of her doctorate in 1965, she became the first African American woman to be awarded a J.D.S from Yale University. Continue reading “Yale University to Name Residential College After Civil and Women’s Rights Activist Anna Pauline Murray”

Remembering the Legacy of Union Leader A. Phillip Randolph on Labor Day

A. Phillip Randolph (AP Photo)
A. Phillip Randolph (AP Photo)

“We are the advance guard of a massive moral revolution for jobs and freedom. This revolution reverberates throughout the land, touching every village where black men are segregated, oppressed and exploited,” the 74-year-old A. Philip Randolph told the estimated 250,000 people gathered at the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom fifty years ago on August 28, 1963.

Although today Dr. King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech often symbolizes the March for many, it was very much a stand for black workers with longtime labor leader Randolph at the forefront. He was so committed that neither advanced age nor the death of his wife shortly before the March could keep him home.

More than twenty years before, it was Randolph who had conceived the massive demonstration.  Scheduled to take place July 1, 1941, the original March was intended to protest discrimination against black employment in defense industries and federal bureaus and demand that President Franklin D. Roosevelt issue an Executive Order to end such practices.

So, on June 25, 1941, when Roosevelt, after exhausting all means, including personal appeals from his wife Eleanor to Randolph, to call off the march which anticipated 100,000 participants, issued Executive Order 8802 creating the Fair Employment Practices Committee and barring discrimination in defense industries and federal bureaus, Randolph called off the March in victory.  Merging the philosophies of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois by setting economic justice as the foundation of civil rights, Randolph would not stop or even begin here.

Born Asa Philip Randolph, the second of his parents’ two sons, on April 15, 1889 in Crescent, Fla, near Jacksonville where he later grew up, service was a consistent message in his childhood. His father, the Rev. James W. Randolph, in keeping with the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) philosophy, ministered to his congregation’s social and spiritual needs. Rev. Randolph and his wife Elizabeth, who hailed from a once enslaved family who were also AME members, taught their sons racial pride and self-respect. Encouraging young Asa Randolph’s healthy thirst for knowledge, Rev. Randolph filled the family’s home.

Tall, handsome, popular and smart, Randolph sang in the choir, was a star baseball player and a great speaker. Despite graduating valedictorian from Cookman Institute (later incorporated into Bethune-Cookman in Daytona Beach, Fla.) in 1907, there was not suitable employment for him in Jacksonville. Not wishing to follow in his father’s footsteps as minister, Randolph hired himself out as a hand on a steamship and headed for New York City in 1911, shortly after he turned 22, with dreams of becoming an actor.

In New York, he worked several jobs, including elevator operator, porter and waiter, while also studying English Literature and Sociology at City College at night. Despite organizing the Shakespearean Society in Harlem and playing several roles, including Hamlet, Othello and Romeo, Randolph was clearly destined to make his mark on a different stage. With kindred spirit Chandler Owen, a Columbia University student, Randolph founded the employment agency, the Brotherhood of Labor, where the two tried to unionize black workers.

Continue reading “Remembering the Legacy of Union Leader A. Phillip Randolph on Labor Day”

Oprah Winfrey, Ernie Banks and Bayard Rustin to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

barack_obama-1According to ABC News, Oprah Winfrey, baseball great Ernie Banks and 1960s civil rights leader Bayard Rustin are among the 16 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom that President Obama will honor at the White House later this year.

“The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours,” the president said in a written statement. “This year’s honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent, but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world.”

Fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy established the Medal of Freedom as the nation’s highest civilian honor. Since then, more than 500 people have been recognized with the award for their contributions to all corners of society.  This year’s recipients include musicians, athletes, journalists, lawmakers, advocates and scientists.

In addition to Winfrey, Banks and Rustin (who is receiving his award posthumously), Obama will honor former President Bill Clinton as well as the Washington Post’s former executive editor, Ben Bradlee, who oversaw the newspaper’s coverage of Watergate and the end of the Nixon presidency, former University of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith, feminist pioneer and political activist Gloria Steinem, country music legend Loretta Lynn, and Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut to travel to space, among others.

Below is the full list of recipients from the White House:

Continue reading “Oprah Winfrey, Ernie Banks and Bayard Rustin to Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom”