by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)
Now that the government shutdown is over and national museums are open again (unless that mess happens again), Black History Month is an especially poignant time to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) if you are in the D.C. area.
I had the good fortune to visit NMAAHC two years ago, and still remember acutely its “Making a Way out of No Way” exhibit, which focusses on the six avenues African-Americans pursued post-slavery to gain equity and agency in the United States – Activism, Enterprise, Organization, Education, Faith, and… the Press.
Because of my lifelong interest in journalism, I am personally drawn to stories about the Black Press, which has existed in some form since antebellum times (the first black publication of record is the Freedom Journal in 1827), and exists to this day.
Yet so many don’t know about its rich history and how its presence and its reporters not only served often unrecognized communities, but also were (and still are) deeply involved in activism and social justice at every turn in every era on local, state and national levels.
Enter Ethel Lois Payne.
Long before former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer attempted to call out American Urban Radio Networks’ correspondent April Ryan for giving him what he thought was a disrespectful headshake while simply trying to do her job, Ethel Payne was agitating White House officials in the press room on a daily.
Payne set the standard in the 1950s when she became one of only three black journalists to be credentialed as a member of the White House Press Corps.
Known as the “First Lady of the Black Press,” Payne was a columnist, lecturer, and freelance writer. She combined advocacy with journalism as she reported on the Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 1960s, and was known for asking questions others dared not ask.
It was just unheard of for blacks to be standing up and asking presidents impertinent questions and particularly a black woman. – Ethel Payne
Payne became the first female African-American commentator employed by a national network when CBS hired her in 1972. In addition to her reporting of American domestic politics, she also covered international stories, and questioned every president from Eisenhower to Reagan.
As Payne’s biographer, James McGrath Morris, who wrote Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press says, “Her not being known today is really a legacy of segregation, in that she was iconic to a large segment of the U.S. population, but like most black institutions, the Chicago Defender was entirely invisible to white Americans. So the notion of discussing civil rights with the President of the United States, in that case Eisenhower, she felt she was part of ‘the problem’ and couldn’t pursue typical objective reporting. Instead she adopted a measure of being fair. It may seem like a small distinction but it wasn’t. Her questions were laden with an agenda.”
Born in Chicago, Illinois, the granddaughter of slaves, Payne’s father worked as a Pullman Porter, one of the best jobs open to African Americans in those times. He died at age forty-six after contracting an deadly infection from handling soiled linens and clothes on the train, when Ethel was fourteen years old. Her mother then took various domestic jobs to support the family, which made it difficult to educate all of her children.
Ethel spent her childhood in the predominantly black neighborhood of West Englewood bit attended Chicago public schools, notably the mostly white Lindblom Technical High School. Payne longed to be a writer and pushed to continue her education at Crane Junior College and the Chicago Training School for City, Home, and Foreign Missions.
by Fisher Jack via eurweb.com
Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat 62 years ago was only the beginning.
Premiering on TV One in February, Behind the Movement offers a closer look at how the history-making Montgomery Bus Boycott was planned in just three days and ultimately led to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
A new trailer released today, provides a glimpse into Mrs. Parks’ thoughts as she sat on the bus that December evening.
“It was reported that I was tired and that wasn’t true,” states Meta Golding as Rosa Parks in the trailer. “I was tired of all the injustice, all the fear and indignity that they were putting us through. That’s the truth.”
Starring Meta Golding (“The Hunger Games”) as Rosa Parks, Isaiah Washington (“The 100”) as E.D. Nixon, Loretta Devine (“Waiting to Exhale”) as Jo Ann Robinson, Roger Guenveur Smith (“American Gangster”) as Raymond Parks and Shaun Clay as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Behind the Movement reveals the untold story of how a group of everyday people decided this incident was the right time to take a stand for their civil rights and demand equal treatment.
Premiering during Black History Month, this original made-for-television movie honors the contributions of many unsung heroes of this watershed moment in the Civil Rights struggle. The film recounts the inner workings and behind the scenes preparation that took place during three intense days between the fateful evening when Parks refused to give up her seat through the launch of this significant protest. While Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a prominent leader of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, there was a chorus of lesser-known heroes, including Rosa Parks, who galvanized the most successful boycott of its time.
Behind the Movement is written by Katrina M. O’Gilvie and directed by Aric Avelino. For TV One, Karen Peterkin is Director of Scripted Original Programming and shares Executive in charge of production duties with Tia A. Smith, Sr. Director of Original Programming & Production. Donyell McCullough is Senior Director of Talent & Casting; Robyn Greene-Arrington is VP of Original Programming, and D’Angela Proctor is Head of Original Programming and Production.
Public television’s WORLD Channel will present the complete Emmy-Award winning Eyes on the Prize I and II starting tonight, January 17, 2016. A 30-minute special feature, Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now, will launch the encore presentation of this historic two-part series and explore its impressive relevance today.
Eyes on the Prize, created by Executive Producer Henry Hampton, is a critically-acclaimed and in-depth documentary series on civil rights in America. With the current national spotlight on issues of race and inequality—as well as the marking of the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott—the time is right for this series about the nation’s civil rights history to be front and center as part of an essential dialogue.
America continues to struggle with the recurring crisis of race-related violence; Eyes on the Prize I and II can provide perspective for a new generation and be a touchstone for citizens who lived through the decades that the films depict. Journalist and writer Al Letson hosts new introductions to each episode.
“We are elated that this landmark series will once again be broadcast across the country, reaching millions of viewers—many of whom may never have seen the original airing. The series focuses on solutions to the conflicts that we face today. Eyes on the Prize shows leadership, grass roots organization and personal sacrifice as the recipe that can create lasting change. It is our hope the television programs together with our comprehensive outreach campaign will spark a national dialogue about this critical topic,” says Judi Hampton, president of Blackside, and sister of the late Henry Hampton (1940-1998).
The WORLD Channel presentation, made possible with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Ford Foundation, includes Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now, a new, original 30-minute special, which will lead into the premiere January 17 of Eyes on the Prize, setting the groundbreaking documentary series in the context of today. Narrated by music artist Aloe Blacc, Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now features Eyes on the Prize filmmakers, present-day activists, human rights leaders, and scholars. The special revisits key historical moments and explores commonalities with current national events.
“The WORLD Channel is honored to be presenting this signature series,” says Chris Hastings, Executive Producer of the WORLD Channel. “It’s a history that must be understood. With Eyes on the Prize: Then and Now, we ask questions and draw comparisons about the struggle to achieve equality today. As conflicts and challenges continue, Eyes on the Prize remains essential viewing for all Americans.”
As part of the initiative, WGBH Education is developing a digital resource collection supporting Eyes on the Prize and civil rights themes in history and social studies curricula, to help the civil rights movement come alive for students today. This collection will be available on PBS LearningMedia in January.
Based at WGBH Boston, the national public media producer, WORLD Channel delivers the best of public television’s original documentary films and news to US audiences through local public television stations, including America ReFramed, AfroPop, POV and Local, USA. The special Eyes on the Prize presentation also will be made available to all public television stations for local broadcasts (check listings) after the WORLD premiere.
EYES ON THE PRIZE I and II
Almost three decades since its premiere, the groundbreaking series Eyes on the Prize I and II will return to PBS this January. Eyes on the Prize I will premiere on The WORLD Channel six consecutive Sundays – January 17, 24, 31 and February 7, 14, 21 at 9:00 p.m. (EST). Eyes on the Prize II will air eight consecutive Sundays—February 28, March 6, 13, 20, 27, and April 3, 10, 17 at 9:00 p.m. (EST).
Produced by Blackside, Eyes on the Prize tells the definitive story of the Civil Rights era from the point of view of the ordinary men and women whose extraordinary actions launched a movement that changed the fabric of American life and embodied a struggle whose reverberations continue to be felt today. This multi-part Academy Award nominated documentary is the winner of numerous Emmy Awards, a George Foster Peabody Award, an International Documentary Association Award, and a Television Critics Association Award.
Through contemporary interviews and historical footage, Eyes on the Prize I and II, traces the civil rights movement from the Montgomery bus boycott to the Voting Rights Act; from early acts of individual courage through the flowering of a mass movement and its eventual split into factions. The late Julian Bond, political leader and civil rights activist, narrates. Descriptions of each episode follow below:
On March 22, 1956, the 27-year-old Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was having a horrible day. He’d just been convicted for his role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and sentenced to pay $1,000 or spend 386 days in jail. After the ruling and motion to appeal, he walked out of the courthouse a temporarily free man, but his spirit was shaken.
All of a sudden, his wife Coretta rushed at him, threw her arms around him, and kissed him in front of about 300 people who’d gathered outside. The biggest smile ever captured on King swept across his face, and his eyes lifted to the heavens with the giddiness of a young man in love.
In the photo that caught this moment, we see a side of him that sometimes gets lost in our remembrances. For all the important things that Dr. King would go on to do in his life, that day he was just a regular young man whose rough day was made better by a little sugar from the one he loved.
Remembering King as a man, not just a legend
Today, the nation pauses for a moment to pay homage to the legacy of Dr. King. During his less than fifteen years in the national spotlight, he became the voice and embodiment of the Civil Rights Movement in America. Our perception of him is deeply influenced by the iconic pictures and films of King delivering powerful speeches, leading marches in the Deep South, and with his hand outstretched towards the sea of people at the 1963 March on Washington.
These many images and the society-shifting changes that his efforts helped bring about have elevated him to a heroic status with a larger-than-life character. This deification pushed him into a place in our memories that sometimes feels beyond our reach of comprehension as fellow mortals. Continue reading “MLK Day 2014: Humanizing a King to Celebrate Him”
“This morning, we celebrate a seamstress slight in stature but mighty in courage,” the president said. “In a single moment, with the simplest of gestures, she helped change America and change the world.”
Parks is the first African-American woman to have a statue placed in the hall. “As the first African-American woman to be honored in Statuary Hall of the United States Capitol, Mrs. Parks’ dedication to ensuring no human being is treated like a second class citizen in this country will be remembered and discussed for generations to come,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chair Marcia Fudge.
Each state donates two statues of their most prominent citizens to Statuary Hall. The 109th Congress authorized this tribute in 2005. Parks will represent the state of Alabama, where she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus and became the “mother of the civil rights movement.”
Related Articles: Rosa Parks Stamp on American History
original article via bet.com
George Bridges/Getty Images
Today, to honor the Feb. 4 centennial of the birth of Rosa Parks, the United States Postal Service has issued a Rosa Parks stamp. Last year, a stone carving of Parks was added to the National Cathedral. In 2005, she became the first woman and second African American to lie in honor in the nation’s Capitol and, through a special act of Congress, a statue of her was ordered placed in the Capitol.
Yet these tributes to Rosa Parks rest on a narrow and distorted vision of her legacy. As the story goes, a quiet Montgomery, Ala., seamstress with a single act challenged Southern segregation, catapulted a young Martin Luther King Jr. into national leadership and ushered in the modern civil rights movement. Parks’ memorialization promotes an improbable children’s story of social change — one not-angry woman sat down, the country was galvanized and structural racism was vanquished.
This fable diminishes the extensive history of collective action against racial injustice and underestimates the widespread opposition to the black freedom movement, which for decades treated Parks’ political activities as “un-American.” Most important, it skips over the enduring scourge of racial inequality in American society — a reality that Parks continued to highlight and challenge — and serves contemporary political interests that treat racial injustice as a thing of the past.
Civil Rights Activist Rosa Parks (Photo: CBS/Landov)
The late Rosa Parks continues to make history. Her likeness will be depicted in a statue later this year at Capitol Hill’s Statuary Hall, making her the first African-American woman to achieve the mark.
Each of the 50 states donates two statues of their most prominent citizens to Statuary Hall. Rosa Parks will be representative of the state of Alabama where she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus and became the “mother of the civil rights movement.” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced the statue would be revealed in late 2013. As chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, he is also in charge of artwork in the Capitol.
Congress passed an order to place the statue in the hall in 2005. In 2008, the National Endowment for the Arts announced a design competition calling artists to submit designs for the statue. The U.S. Postal Service is also commemorating the life of Rosa Parks. On Feb. 4, the postal service is issuing a special “Historic Forever” stamp in honor of Parks’ 100th birthday.
Detroit will be the first city to sell the Rosa Parks stamp.
article by Natelege Whaley via bet.com
Eartha Kitt (left); Dizzy Gillespie (Ebony Collection)
You’ve heard the expression “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Photos have the ability to tell complex stories, convey important information and elicit emotional responses from viewers who may know nothing of the subject matter. One frame can change the world. Think of the iconic photographs that have come to symbolize a movement, a way of being or a slice of life.
Joe Rosenthal’s “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima“; Moneta Sleet Jr.’s “Deep Sorrow,” featuring Coretta Scott King at the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr.; James Van Der Zee’s photo of black nationalist and pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey; Elizabeth “Tex” Williams’ war photographs; Art Kane’s “A Great Day in Harlem“; Gordon Parks’ “American Gothic“; Carrie Mae Weems’ “Kitchen Table Series“; and Jean Moutoussamy-Ashe’s photo book, Daddy and Me, featuring images of her late husband, tennis legend and civil rights activist Arthur Ashe, with their daughter, Camera.
Photos offer us a peek into unknown worlds and, in some cases, worlds we know all too well. Chronicling our lives and society, they capture history and the profound experiences of a complex world. The Johnson Publishing Co.’s Ebony Collection, now available to the public for the first time, does just that. This historic photo archive offers 2,000 photos taken over the last 70 years, documenting the rich and layered black experience in the United States.