Posts Tagged ‘civil rights’

Out of order: Despair and the American way

May 1, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 1, 2015

There have been a handful of days in my life that have shaken my belief in America, the nation that has sheltered and nurtured me. Two of them have come in the last six months.

The earliest such occasion was March 30, 1981, when I came home from school and learned that someone had attempted to kill President Ronald Reagan. It was the first time since 1963 that an assassin had seriously jeopardized the life of the leader of the free world.

The next world-shattering day was Jan. 28, 1986, when the seven people aboard the space shuttle Challenger were killed by an explosion 73 seconds into their ascent. It was the first time in history that an American space mission which had cleared the gantry had resulted in the loss of lives. I got out of school early because of testing and spent the afternoon in the basement of my friend Eric’s house watching coverage of the catastrophe on CNN and other TV channels. The deaths seemed entirely at odds with my belief in the United States (and in adults) as technologically competent.

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Marching toward equality: Ava DuVernay’s powerful ‘Selma’ retells a key episode in the American civil rights movement

February 7, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Feb. 7, 2015

Selma, the 2014 film directed by Ava DuVernay and written by Paul Webb, is a moving chronicle of the civil rights struggle in Selma, Ala., in 1965.

The film’s protagonist is the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the iconic American and civil rights leader, and the movie’s focus is on his effort to stage a march from Selma to Montgomery. At the time, King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) were attempting to register blacks to vote, a right theoretically granted them by the Constitution but thwarted in reality by bigoted state and local officials.

The conference chose Selma as the backdrop to their 1965 protests because the Dallas County sheriff, Jim Clark, was a deep-seated bigot and notorious hothead in a state led by Gov. George Wallace, a fervent segregationist. King and other movement leaders believed that law enforcement officials, especially Clark, could be goaded into acts of brutality that would shock the consciences of people around the nation and the world.

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On equality and America: Rush Limbaugh vs. the historical record

May 30, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
May 30, 2014

I have no sermonizing for you today; simply snippets of transcripts and documents.

I ask, dear reader, that you do one thing: Contrast the way in which conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh describes the founding principles of the United States (particularly the passage that I’ve highlighted below) with actual historical evidence about how America’s founders and esteemed citizens viewed and treated the African-Americans who labored for them.

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“The story of humanity on Planet Earth since the beginning of time has been tyranny and bondage. Most people who have lived did not have very much freedom or liberty.

“They did not have the right to own property, and they certainly didn’t have a whole lot of economic opportunity. The vast majority of people who have lived on this planet have had really hard lives. They lived under tyranny, authoritarianism, dictatorship, you name it. There never was a nation before the United States, which founded itself and organized itself on the belief that the citizen was the center of the universe.

“The free, liberated citizen was the engine. Every other nation on earth that had been formed or every other population — even if it was not a nation with borders, just any population group — was always dominated by brutal, tyrannical, dictatorial leaders who led by intimidation, punishment, brutality. The United States came along and was the exception to all of that.

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