Tag: U.S. Rep. John Lewis

March in Memphis to Honor Martin Luther King Jr. on 50th Anniversary of his Death

People hold signs resembling the signs carried by striking sanitation workers in 1968 as they join in events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (photo via eurweb.com)

by Errin Haines Whack, Adrian Sainz & Kate Brumback, Associated Press via blackamericaweb.com

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. remembered him as “the apostle of nonviolence” as admirers marked the 50th anniversary of his assassination Wednesday with marches, speeches and quiet reflection.

The Rev. Bernice A. King recalled her father as a civil rights leader and great orator whose message of peaceful protest was still vital decades later. “We decided to start this day remembering the apostle of nonviolence,” she said during a ceremony to award the Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize held at the King Center in Atlanta.

In Memphis, where King died, hundreds of people bundled in hats and coats gathered early in for a march led by the same sanitation workers union whose low pay King had come to protest when he was shot.

Dixie Spencer, president of the Bolivar Hardeman County, Tennessee, branch of the NAACP, said remembrances of King’s death should be a call to action. “We know what he worked hard for, we know what he died for, so we just want to keep the dream going,” Spencer said. “We just want to make sure that we don’t lose the gains that we have made.”

The Memphis events were scheduled to feature King’s contemporaries, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, along with celebrities such as the rapper Common. In the evening, the Atlanta events culminate with a bell-ringing and wreath-laying at his crypt to mark the moment when he was gunned down on the balcony of the old Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968. He was 39.

Wednesday’s events followed a rousing celebration the night before of King’s “I’ve Been To the Mountaintop” speech at Memphis’ Mason Temple Church of God in Christ. He delivered this speech the night before he was assassinated.

Inside the church, Bernice King called her older brother, Martin Luther King III, to join her in the pulpit, and she discussed the difficulty of publicly mourning their father — a man hated during his lifetime, now beloved around the world.

“It’s important to see two of the children who lost their daddy 50 years ago to an assassin’s bullet,” said Bernice King, now 55. “But we kept going. Keep all of us in prayer as we continue the grieving process for a parent that we’ve had yet to bury.”

A gospel singer led a rousing rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and the gathering took on the air of a mass meeting.

Lee Saunders, a national labor leader, recounted how on that night in 1968, King made an unplanned appearance to deliver the famous speech without notes after his aides saw how passionate the crowd was: “There was one man they wanted to hear from.”

But Saunders stressed that the purpose of the week’s commemorations was not just to look to the past.

“Dr. King’s work — our work — isn’t done. We must still struggle; we must still sacrifice. We must still educate and organize and mobilize. That’s why we’re here in Memphis. Not just to honor our history, but to seize our future,” he said.

Some of the sanitation workers who participated with King in a 1968 strike sat in the front row and were treated like celebrities, with audience members stopping to take photos with them before the event started.

To read more: https://blackamericaweb.com/2018/04/04/many-march-in-honor-of-martin-luther-king-jr-s-death/

Selma “Foot Soldiers” from 1965 Civil Rights Marches Receive The Congressional Gold Medal

Aided by Father James Robinson, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., center, and John Lewis of the Voter Education Project, a crowd estimated by police at 5,000, march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma, Alabama Saturday, March 8, 1975. The march commemorated the decade since the violent struggle for voting rights began in 1965 with “Bloody Sunday” at the bridge as police tried to stop a march to Montgomery. (AP Photo)
Aided by Father James Robinson, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., center, and John Lewis of the Voter Education Project, a crowd estimated by police at 5,000, march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma, Alabama Saturday, March 8, 1965. The march commemorated the decade since the violent struggle for voting rights began in 1965 with “Bloody Sunday” at the bridge as police tried to stop a march to Montgomery. (AP Photo)

article via newsone.com

On Wednesday, Congressional leaders honored the “Foot Soldiers” of the Selma to Montgomery Marches in 1965 with the nation’s highest civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal.

Anecdotally, Paul Ryan – Speaker of the House of Representatives, who also spoke during the ceremony and praised the foot soldiers for their part in the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – will not act on a bill to restore the Voting Rights Act that was essentially gutted by the Supreme Court nearly two years ago.

The ceremony, held in the U.S. Capitol’s Emancipation Hall, featured speeches by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), and Rev. Frederick D. Reese, the former president of the Dallas County Voters League.

Thursday morning, Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL), who introduced the bill to honor the foot soldiers; Charles Mauldin, former president of the Student Movement; and Joyce O’Neal, a member of the Student Movement, joined Roland Martin on NewsOne Now to discuss the award.

Rep. Sewell told Martin, “Yesterday was about making sure this nation’s history is righting a wrong, they (the foot soldiers) should be given all of the credit [for] forcing this nation to live up to its ideals of equality and justice for all.”

Congresswoman Sewell continued, “I think it’s up to us, this generation and future generations, to continue the fight,”because there is so much more needed to be done to “strengthen the Voting Rights Act.”

In reflecting on yesterday’s ceremony, Mauldin thanked Congresswoman Sewell for introducing the bill and said, “This is probably the first time in about 51 years in my being involved in things that we’ve gotten recognition” from government officials.

He added, “We are certainly invited to the protests to demonstrate, but seldomly invited to the celebration. This is the first time that people like us have been invited to the celebration.”

To read more, go to: http://newsone.com/3359436/selma-foot-soldiers-receive-the-congressional-gold-medal/

Obama Heads To Selma For 50th Anniversary Of Voting Rights March on Saturday

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Fifty years ago, several hundred peaceful protesters marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery to underscore the need for Black voting rights.

Demonstrators were brutalized and beaten by White police officers in what has become known as “Bloody Sunday.” This weekend, scores of civil rights leaders, clergy, elected officials, and peaceful demonstrators will converge on Selma to mark the 50th anniversary of the march that helped spark a movement.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) will be there just as he was on March 7, 1965, when he was hit on the head, left bloody and unconscious. He will be accompanied Saturday by President Barack Obama. A second march, organized by local leaders, is scheduled for Sunday.

The event comes at a time when voting rights are once again under attack in the U.S., especially after the Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. It also comes at a time when protesters have launched an online petition to change the name of the historic bridge, which was named for Edmund Winston Pettus, a Confederate general and U.S. senator who lived in Selma after the Civil War.

“Fifty years ago this week, brave activists embarked upon the Selma to Montgomery March to bring attention to the fight for voting rights,” NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks said.

The Selma to Montgomery Jubilee is more than a commemorative occasion—ever present in our minds is that voting rights continue to be impinged,” Brooks continued. “And this new assault on voting rights is being ignored by the same lawmakers who are coming to Selma to celebrate the jubilee. Selma is now—and the NAACP will not rest until every American has unfettered access to the ballot box. I stand with NAACP state leadership in demanding that our most vulnerable voters be protected by the law—in every state.”

Lewis said in an interview last month with USA Today that he and U.S. Reps. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and Martha Roby (R-Ala) have assembled what will be the largest congressional delegation participating in the pilgrimage to Selma in its 17-year history. The delegation will participate in a series of civil rights-related events in Birmingham on March 6, Selma and Marion on March 7, and Montgomery on March 8, the report says.

“When President (Bill) Clinton came (in 2000) we had more than 20,000 people,” Lewis said, according to USA Today. “With President Obama, it could be many more. It’s going to be wonderful.”

article by Lynette Holloway via newsone.com