Civil Rights Icon Fannie Lou Hamer Biopic to be Scripted by “Remember The Titans” Writer Gregory Allen Howard

Fannie Lou Hamer (photo via powerpacplus.org)

by Mike Fleming Jr. via deadline.com

Remember the Titans scribe Gregory Allen Howard has teamed with Chris Columbus1492 production company to tell the story of Fannie Lou Hamer, a sharecropper with a sixth-grade education who became an important voting-rights advocate and founded the first integrated political party in the South in mid-’60s Mississippi.

Hamer grew up in a family of 20 kids and picked cotton for most of her life. After going to a doctor to have a tumor removed, she discovered she was given a hysterectomy at age 47 by a white doctor, without her consent, because of a movement by the state to sterilize women to reduce the number of poor blacks in Mississippi.

Hamer became a Civil Rights activist, surviving assassination attempts

Gregory Allen Howard (photo via deadline.com)

and a near-fatal beating to get her moment at the Democratic National Convention, where she challenged President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968 with her legendary, “Is This America?” speech.

While LBJ hastily called a ruse press conference in the hope of diverting attention away from her speech, Hamer’s powerful words were widely broadcast and reverberated around the world. Howard, who studied Hamer’s accomplishments as a college student, has long been obsessed with bringing her story to the screen. Hamer died in 1977.

To read more, go to: Civil Rights Icon Fannie Lou Hamer Movie; Gregory Allen Howard script | Deadline

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/

President Obama Commemorates 50th Anniversary of Voting Rights Act

Obama-others-slam-ruling-on-Voting-Rights-Act

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama says all Americans owe a debt to the sharecroppers and maids and ordinary Americans who were brave enough to try time and again to register to vote in the face of violence and oppression.

He says without them, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 wouldn’t have been signed into law 50 years ago Thursday.

At a White House event marking the anniversary, Obama said those rights are being whittled away today by voter ID laws and other attempts to discourage voting. He called on Congress to update the law in response to court decisions.

Read President Obama’s full op-ed on the Voting Rights Act on Medium.com here 

But Obama says attacks on their voting rights aren’t the main reason Americans don’t vote — many just don’t bother.

He declared Sept. 22 National Voter Registration Day and urged everyone to get registered.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press via thegrio.com

Obama To Visit Selma in March for 50th Anniversary of Voting Rights Marches

President Barack Obama will visit Selma, Ala., to commemorate the 50th anniversary of historic marches led by civil activists fighting against segregation and seeking to secure African Americans’ right to vote, according to Reuters.

A White House official said Tuesday that the president will make the visit on March 7 as part of his administration’s efforts to highlight the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the report says. Also according to Reuters:

The law, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson 50 years ago this August, banned literacy tests and other tactics used in the U.S. South to block racial minorities from voting. The White House official said more details of Obama’s trip would be announced later.

The 1965 marches from Selma to Alabama’s capital of Montgomery were organized by civil rights leaders including Martin Luther King Jr. to draw national attention to the disenfranchisement of Black voters.

Alabama state troopers tried to stop the protests by attacking the marchers with tear gas and clubs. The violent media images from the marches shocked the nation and eventually spurred the Congress to pass the voting rights legislation.

The marches in 1965 are receiving renewed attention this year after the recent release of the movie, “Selma,” which highlights the campaign leading up to the historic march. On Friday, President Obama hosted a screening of the movie at the White House. Among others, Oprah Winfrey, who produced and had a role in the film, was invited.

article via newsone.com

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Speaks Out Against Supreme Court for Forsaking Fight Against “Real Racial Problem”

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said recent decisions by the high court undermine its role in solving a “real racial problem” in America. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post via Getty Images)Although the U.S. Supreme Court was “once a leader in the world” in the battle for racial equality, recent decisions by the high court undermine its role in solving a “real racial problem” in America, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg explained in an interview with The National Law Journal last Wednesday.

Citing recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and racially biased stop-and-frisk policies, Ginsburg reflected on the perpetuation of racial segregation in America, comparing the challenges with those of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

“Once [gay] people began to say who they were, you found that it was your next-door neighbor or it could be your child, and we found people we admired,” she said. “That understanding still doesn’t exist with race; you still have separation of neighborhoods, where the races are not mixed. It’s the familiarity with people who are gay that still doesn’t exist for race and will remain that way for a long time as long as where we live remains divided.”

But instead of upholding the court’s history as a powerful stalwart against racial discrimination, the Roberts court’s recent decisions upholding affirmative action bans and restricting voting rights have not “helped” the country advance, Ginsburg explained.

“What’s amazing is how things have changed,” Ginsburg said, recalling the landmark 1971 decision of Griggs v. Duke Power Co., in which the Supreme Court unanimously held that employer policies that look neutral on paper can still constitute discrimination if they disproportionately harm minorities in practice. “It was a very influential decision and it was picked up in England. That’s where the court was heading in the ’70s.”

Singling out the Voting Rights Act as the most powerful law “in terms of making people count in a democracy,” Ginsburg reiterated her opposition to the court’s majority 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down a key provision that helped safeguard against racial discrimination in voting laws.

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Statue of Activist Fannie Lou Hamer Unveiled in Mississippi

fannie-lou-hamer-statue

Scores of men, women and children attended the recent unveiling of a statue honoring the late civil rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer in her hometown of Ruleville, Miss.  Hamer, who would have been 95 on Oct. 6, is remembered the world over as a woman who was “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”  At the time of her death, on March 14th, 1977, Hamer was almost penniless, yet her funeral was well attended by celebrities, social activists and political leaders from all walks of life. Continue reading

Today In History: President Lyndon Johnson Signs The 1965 Voting Rights Act

 

Today in history: President Lyndon Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act | theGrio.