Friday, January 13, 2012

MLK Day Celebration Meeting --Linking the Civil Rights Movement with today’s movements

Monday, January 16, from 6:00 to 7:00, ABetterShreveporters will gather, reflect, and commit to rebuilding the American Dream and Dr. King’s dream in 2012. We will honor Dr. King by ensuring the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement stays alive and vibrant in today's struggles for an economy that works for all. We will be at our regular meeting place, room 106 in the Wright Math Building on Woodlawn Ave., one block up from the Gold Dome.

We will watch a 4-minute video and then have a discussion following.

Of all the movements that came after the Civil Rights Movement, which ones have you participated in? What draws you to them?

In recent years, MLK Day has become a day where people provide short-term community service to under-served communities. While these services are well intentioned, they don’t necessarily address systemic causes of poverty and exclusion. What are some meaningful ways we can learn about and address systemic causes of poverty?

History of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King, and Resurrection City

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in 1929 to a family deeply rooted in the African American
Baptist Church. Both his father and his maternal grandfather were Baptist ministers, and also
leaders in the local NAACP chapter in Atlanta, GA. Dr. King was exposed to social and economic
justice work very early on through his family, and while he first resisted his family heritage
rooted in Christianity, he came to accept his religious calling at Morehouse College.

After he became a pastor in Montgomery, Alabama in 1954, Dr. King joined other religious
leaders to protest the arrest of Rosa Parks by organizing a year-long bus boycott. The boycott
eventually led to the Supreme Court ruling that bus segregation was unconstitutional. In 1957,
he co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and coordinated civil rights
activities, and in 1963, organized the Birmingham Campaign to protest for civil rights. In the
same year, he gave his legendary “I Have A Dream” speech at the March on Washington for Jobs
and Freedom to a crowd of over 200,000 people, calling for equality for people of all races and

Massive protests formed a movement that fought for desegregation, economic and political
equality. The protests led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Voting Rights Act of 1965, the
first bills that protected the rights of people of color. Dr. King also spoke out against the
Vietnam War, and in 1967, he formed the Poor People’s Campaign to fight for economic justice
for all, with the goal to strengthen the federal government’s anti-poverty policies. While Dr.
King mobilized the African American Christian base, he also formed alliances with domestic
labor groups and international anti-colonial struggles.

After Dr. King’s assassination in 1968, other SCLC leaders carried on the Poor People’s
campaign. They secured 15 acres of land in Washington, DC, and over 2,800 people camped out
in Resurrection City, managed by Reverend Jesse Jackson. On June 19, 1968, over 50,000
marched to the Lincoln Memorial, where the March on Washington had taken place, to demand
a living wage for every employable citizen. Resurrection City was eventually disbanded by the
police, but it seems it returned in a new form in 2011!

The Civil Rights Movement was a truly extraordinary time that involved thousands of leaders
and millions of everyday people. Decades after the passage of the Civil Rights Act and Voting
Rights Act, communities of color, LGBT, immigrants, and many other organizers continue to
fight for justice and opportunity for all.

1. “King, Martin Luther, Jr. (1929-1968)” King Online Encyclopedia. The Martin Luther King, Jr.
Research and Education Institute at Stanford University.
2. Kelly, John. “Before Occupy DC, there was Resurrection City.” The Washington Post. December 2,

1 comment:

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