Last week, two key events in the arena of civil rights took place within days of each other, though one received much more attention than the other. On Thursday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder released a stinging report on the practices of the Ferguson, Missouri police department. Three days before, a presidential task force submitted a report offering recommendations for building trust between communities and the police. Here in Michigan, a sustained effort to create that sense of trust has been quietly underway for years.
This month, Michigan State University is reflecting on a landmark moment in its 16-decade history. On February 11, 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior came to campus to launch a fundraising drive for a program that would send volunteers on an educational outreach mission to Mississippi. During that speech, Dr. King called for what would later become the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
We remember the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. today. Cities across America are holding various events, including in Lansing. In 2015, the day seems to resonate with even greater impact than usual, following a tumultuous year of unrest. We've seen events like the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner in New York and Tamar Rice in Cleveland. You could feel the echoes of the 1960’s, when protests and violence were much more widespread.
At the start of today's Current State, we heard from Henry Thomas, one of the original 13 “Freedom Riders” who rode through the Deep South in 1961 to defy Jim Crow laws. Now, on this Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, we end with an essay from one of our mid-Michigan citizens who remembers the sting of segregation. Sandra Seaton is a local playwright who spent part of her childhood in Tennessee.
On Friday, our nation celebrates its 238th birthday. But today, America is also observing the passage of one of the most significant laws ever crafted in its history. On July 2, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law that forbids discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin was born in an era of violence and intolerance in America.
This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of a tragic and historic turning point in the fight for civil rights. The night of June 21, 1964, three young civil rights workers were shot and killed near the community of Philadelphia, Mississippi. They were there organizing and working to register African-Americans to vote during 10 violent and controversial weeks remembered as the “Freedom Summer.”
This year marks the anniversary of two crucial moments in our country’s long history of inequality. Sixty years ago, the Supreme Court handed out its landmark decision in Brown versus the Topeka Board of Education, which effectively ended legal segregation of our nation’s public schools. And 50 years ago this year, the Civil Rights Act was signed into law.
"Today, human rights are under attack in many parts of the world. But there is a pathway to building a just, humane, and peaceful future: The power of the past." That's how the organization Sites of Conscience explains its mission on its website.
The Michigan Department of Civil Rights is calling for a review of an apparent murder dating back to 1970. The incident, still unsolved, took the life of one of the department’s own, its first executive director.