Tag Archives: Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Black History Month 2014: Edgar Nixon

25 Feb

Edgar NixonToday I would like to honor and pay tribute to Edgar Daniel Nixon. As a community based social worker, Nixon caught my attention and my heart, since he dedicated his life to community organizing, activism, and social justice. Nixon was a key figure in organizing the now famous Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955. Nixon played a pivotal role in bailing another civil rights hero, Rosa Parks out of jail. The bus boycott lasted 380 days, presenting over a year-long struggle for African Americans.  As testament to this struggle, Nixon’s home was firebombed and he was indicted for violating a state anti-boycott statute. Fortunately, the bus boycott helped to put an end to bus segregation, an embarrassing mark in US history.

Prior to helping organize the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Nixon was organizing people for voting rights as a part of his dedication to the civil rights movement. In fact, Nixon rallied and led a march of more than 700 people in Montgomery protesting unfair barriers that blocked blacks from voting. Nixon also served as president of his local NAACP chapter. Dr. King referred to Nixon as:

one of the chief voices of the Negro community in the area of civil rights … a symbol of the hopes and aspirations of the long oppressed people of the State of Alabama.

Nixon worked as a Pullman Car Porter ( a porter for sleeping cars on trains).  In the 1940’s he worked to organize a USO Club for black serviceman.  He contacted Eleanor Roosevelt to garner her support. Roosevelt took action and helped to establish a USO Club for African-American servicemen.  By sheer coincidence, Nixon and Roosevelt got to meet on a train where he was working as a porter.

Thank you, ED Nixon! Your legacy of social justice lives on in the many of us you have inspired.

Celebrating Rosa Parks, December 1

1 Dec

Celebrating Rosa Parks

December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks helped to set the Civil Rights Movement in motion when she refused to surrender her bus seat to a white passenger.  Parks’ courageous action sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott; this boycott lead to a national struggle to end segregation and discrimination of public services, since the American people basically ignored Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.

For those that don’t know or remember what segregation looked like, here is a quick synopsis which provides a horrifying glimpse into how we, as a nation, treated African-Americans:

While operating a bus, drivers were required to provide separate but equal accommodations for white and black passengers by assigning seats. This was accomplished with a line roughly in the middle of the bus separating white passengers in the front of the bus and African-American passengers in the back. When an African-American passenger boarded the bus, they had to get on at the front to pay their fare and then get off and re-board the bus at the back door. When the seats in the front of the bus filled up and more white passengers got on, the bus driver would move back the sign separating black and white passengers and, if necessary, ask black passengers give up their seat.

Segregation clearly did not even qualify as separate but equal, as defined by Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896.

We need to remember Rosa Parks and the myriad other civil rights heroes, for the struggle to eradicate racism is far from over.  It was just last year the Tea Party in its infinite insanity produced the birther movement, demanding President Obama’s birth certificate.  My hope is that for all of us that are working to eradicate racism, we take action. We insert ourselves in conversations, we strive to make our black brothers and sisters more visible by ensuring we see black people in positions of power!

Celebrating Black History Month: February 19

19 Feb

A National Treasure

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Nat King Cole. The irony with Cole is that he never intended to become a singer–he trained as a jazz pianist. It was quite by accident that he became a singer and in fact, even today is one of the best known jazz singers in the world. Because Cole never like the sound of his own voice, he took up smoking in hopes it would add a richness to his voice.  Nat King Cole was the first African American to host a television talk show. On November 5, 1956, The Nat King Cole Show debuted on NBC TV.  His show debuted almost a year after Rosa Parks was arrested and the Montgomery Bus Boycott was in full swing, thus causing a great deal of controversy over Cole’s show. Kudos to Ella Fitzgerald, Harry Belafonte, Frankie Laine, Peggy Lee, and Earth Kitt for doing spots on Cole’s show for free to support their friend and to support the vision of seeing African Americans on television. King’s show lasted for only a year and could never secure a national advertiser.  Cole faced the HATE of racism throughout his life, with the Ku Klux Klan burning crosses on his front lawn in Los Angeles, to being assaulted on stage during a performance in Birmingham, Alabama.  While on stage he was attacked by a group of people calling themselves Education of Little Tree, written by Asa “Forrest” Carter, a former KKK member. Despite so much hate and racism, Cole held his head high and carried on with class. Nat King Cole is certainly Unforgettable. In fact, The Very Thought of You, fills me with hope. I thank you for your many gifts Nat King Cole.

 

Women’s History, February 4

4 Feb

Rosa Parks: American Hero

Happy Birthday, Rosa Parks.  Parks, The First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement, was arrested for not obeying bus driver, James Blake, when he ordered her to give up her seat for a white man.  She was 42 years old at that time–nice that we can become activists in our 40s.  This act of civil disobedience happened on December 1, 1955 and sparked the famous Montgomery Bus Boycott. At the time of her arrest, Parks was the secretary of her chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The bus boycott helped to end racial segregation in the south–the power of boycotting.  I only wish I could say it ended racism today in the United States, but we all know that is painfully not true.

Happy Birthday, Betty Friedan. Friedan, a leading figure in the “Second Wave” women’s movement, is best known for her groundbreaking book, The Feminine Mystique. While The Feminine Mystique was groundbreaking and helped the women’s movement, it did not address equality for non-white women, nor did it include lesbians.  Friedan later addresses these disparities in her book, The Fountain of Age and in a new introduction she included in subsequent publications of The Feminine Mystique. Friedan passed away on her birthday in 2006. Her voice is missed now especially when women’s rights are being attacked currently by our government.

Quotes of the day:

I would like to be known as a person who is concerned about freedom and equality and justice and prosperity for all people. –Rosa Parks

The only way for a woman, as for a man, to find herself, to know herself as a person, is by creative work of her own. There is no other way. –Betty Friedan

Enjoy this bit as well: Click Here.

 

 

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