“Letter from a Birmingham Jail”

20140722-213001-77401848.jpgRecreation of Martin Luther King’s cell in Birmingham Jail at the National Civil Rights Museum

For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

But my question to the new generation is why are we still

WAITING

to open the door when it’s been unlocked already??!!

John Robert Lewis : A Man To Be Celebrated

20140716-091416-33256078.jpg John Robert Lewis (born February 21, 1940) is an American politician and civil rights leader. He is the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district, serving since 1987, and is the dean of the Georgia congressional delegation. The district includes the northern three-quarters of Atlanta.

Lewis is the only living “Big Six” leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, having been the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), playing a key role in the struggle to end legalized racial discrimination and segregation. A member of the Democratic Party, Lewis is a member of the Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives and has served in the Whip organization since shortly after his first election to the U.S. Congress.

He is Senior Chief Deputy Whip, leading an organization of chief deputy whips and serves as the primary assistant to the Democratic Whip. He has held this position since 1991.

Lewis was educated at the Pike County Training High School, Brundidge, Alabama, and also American Baptist Theological Seminary and at Fisk University, both in Nashville, Tennessee, where he became a leader in the Nashville sit-ins. While a student, he was invited to attend non-violence workshops held in the basement of Clark Memorial United Methodist Church by the Rev. James Lawson and Rev. Kelly Miller Smith. There he became a dedicated adherent to the discipline and philosophy of non-violence, which he still practices today. The Nashville sit-in movement was responsible for the desegregation of lunch counters in downtown Nashville. Lewis was arrested and jailed many times in the struggle to desegregate the downtown area of the city. Afterwards, he participated in the Freedom Rides sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality or CORE, led by James Farmer and ultimately became a national leader in the struggle for civil rights and respect for human dignity.

In an interview, John Lewis said

“I saw racial discrimination as a young child. I saw those signs that said “White Men, Colored Men, White Women, Colored Women.”…”I remember as a young child with some of my brothers and sisters and first cousins going down to the public library trying to get library cards, trying to check some books out, and we were told by the librarian that the library was for whites only and not for “coloreds.”

20140716-092332-33812419.jpg By 1963, he was recognized as one of the “Big Six” leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, along with Whitney Young, A. Phillip Randolph, James Farmer and Roy Wilkins. In that year, Lewis helped plan the historic March on Washington in August 1963, the occasion of Dr. King’s celebrated “I Have a Dream” speech. Currently, he is the last remaining speaker from the march. Lewis represented SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and at 23 was the youngest speaker that day.