Civil Rights

Grace Lee Boggs photo
Flickr - Kyle McDonald

Civil Rights icon Grace Lee Boggs will celebrate her 100th birthday on Saturday. Celebrations will be held in Detroit to honor her work.

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.

WKAR/Kevin Lavery

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.

Kevin Lavery/WKAR

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.