Tag Archives: Honor Martin Luther King Jr!

Happy MLK Jr Day! … Let’s do better, Worcester!

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MLK delivering his I HAVE A DREAM speech to America … and the world.

By Rosalie Tirella

Something happened to Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy when the school teachers got a hold of him (and us). The teachers – that is most of them – were well meaning but hopelessly naive (and fearful?) when it came to the murdered civil rights leader and his legacy. Maybe they got stuck on one speech – only watched or listened to his “I have a Dream” speech and none of his other speeches and sermons, all fiercely political, tough minded and demanding … demanding America to change. In a deep, fundamental way …

Maybe they heard the part in his I Have a Dream speech – a history-making sermon he delivered before 200,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial in D.C. in 1963, before his March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom – and got stuck on one image in the speech – the part when MLK says he dreams of the day little black children can hold hands with little white children in peace. Being school teachers, these words plucked at their heart strings, the image moved them. And so they unwittingly turned MLK into a kind of sweet nursery rhyme character. Milquetoast for the masses – masses of school children who grew up never knowing, hearing the real Martin Luther King Jr.

MLK’s I Have a Dream speech is not, in my opinion, even one of his greater “sermons”! Go listen to MLK on fire!! – go find and listen to his many sermons and speeches on You Tube and YOU WILL BE BLOWN AWAY. You will be awestruck by this tough, courageous, political, loving, religious, funny, brilliant, charismatic, REVOLUTIONARY, ERUDITE preacher man!

Like WOW.

For me, MLK was as great an orator as Lincoln. And, miraculously, he was part of our world – the second half of the 20th century! If you’re a Baby Boomer (like me) or older, you remember him: you got to see, experience his presence on the American scene. And he was Olympian! I remember watching the TV, just a little kid, mesmerized by this Black man with the sonorous voice who could bring thousands of people to their feet – listening to him, singing with him, marching with him. My late mom revered MLK – and Bobby Kennedy. Through the TV news, their speeches to her, to all Americans,  made a difference. These two men, both highly educated, both wealthy, one Black, one Irish American, spoke to my poor single Polish mother in Green Island. They were a balm to her emotional pain, her family’s poverty, the difficulty, sometimes brutality, of her life. Their words, along with her Catholic faith, gave my single working mother strength to keep working those 60 hours at the drycleaners for minimum wage – never getting overtime, always making the extra money under the table. They helped give her the fortitude to make sure her three little girls were well cared for and going to Lamartine Street School EVERY DAY and studying hard and getting those As on their report cards so they could go to college on scholarship! They helped her keep her dreams for a better future alive.  At 45, 55 … 75 years old she would tell me: My Rosalie, I liked the Kennedy’s but Bobby better than Jack [Kennedy]. Bobby was more emotional. He was with the poor. He felt for the poor. …..My Green Island mini history lesson! Besides the hard life lessons I was living/ learning each day!

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Rosalie’s late mom…

MLK and Bobby Kennedy were so special to the poor, the disenfranchised of America! Not just Black folks. These two men knew – KNEW! – how hard it was! They loved us, were fighting for us and we knew it!

But white suburban middle class teachers sometimes don’t get it or maybe these days all Americans – out of complacency or intellectual laziness – don’t get it. Have forgotten the guts, the raw nerve, the visionary goals, the tough messages of MLK and Bobby K. These men were so outside the box they were perceived a threat by the rich, the powerful in this country … the people who called the shots in our small towns and big cities. South AND North. I believe MLK knew he was going to be killed (listen to his sermons!). He just didn’t know when. Which gave his life urgency: SO MUCH TO ACCOMPLISH – so little time to do the work! he must have thought to himself. Genius that he was, he crammed 1,000 lives into his cut-short one. He was just 39 years old when he was shot dead on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel!

Just like Jesus, another revolutionary, who also took the bullet, via crucifixion. Jesus too was tough, political, pro poor folks and outsiders. Hence: Dangerous. He preached about a New World Order, like MLK. Through nonviolence and love. An even bigger threat! Now how do the nefarious Nixons and Romans wrap their heads around that???

Jesus and MLK threatened the status quo on so many levels: racially, politically, economically, and yes, even sexually (remember Mary Magdalene?😉).

Of course, America killed MLK.

And we are killing him still. – today!

On the local front:

Where are the Black school teachers in our lilly white Worcester Public Schools? Many of our elementary schools have 100% all white teacher staff. Have for decades.

Where are our African American librarians in the Worcester Public Library and her branches! Remember: Worcester is becoming a majority-minority city, yet her “public servants” in no way resemble, reflect her public!

Why?

Because white people just  don’t wanna give it up. Share the perks and the power. Just like in 1965.

Shame on Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus for all the lip service but failing to walk the walk!

The Black Lives Matter movement and their peaceful protests here in Worcester?  Squelched.  By City Manager Augustus. Backed by police with guns and the threat of jail! Just like in 1965.

Worcester police beating the crap out of African American men and city leaders are still just thinking about body cameras for cops and for their police cruiser dash-boards. And where’s our civilian review board? How serious are Worcester city councilors taking police brutality? Do they really want to stop police brutality? ….Just like in 1965.

What about the high-ranking City of Worcester employee who called a black person,  as the person was driving into the Worcester City Hall parking garage and he was exiting City Hall, a “Fucking Nigger”? Was he ever fired from his city job? Put on leave?  Was the public even allowed to see the city records on this very public city incident by this public employee whose salary is paid for by the public? Nope. Hush, hush!

Compared to the cities of Hartford or Springfield, cities where I once lived and got to see a TRULY racially integrated city workforce, Worcester is woefully, shamefully behind the times.

But there’s plenty of blame to go around. One of the Worcester people who could have righted some of the injustices, or at least the ones in our public schools, was Stacey Luster. Luster, a prominent city African American, is the former Human Resources Director for the Worcester Public Schools. She was responsible for the hiring of our public school teachers and could have changed Worcester’s school teacher landscape in an important and city-shaping way. Truly diversified the Worcester Public Schools teaching staff! But she didn’t. I learned this early on, strangely enough, not at a public hearing or public meeting at City Hall but outside my old pal, the late Tony Hmura, outside Tony’s sign shop, in his driveway! On Canterbury Street, in the middle of the ‘hood! Stacey and her husband owned a building on Canterbury Street near Tony’s shop and (I learned later from Tony) Tony made a sign for their building.

So…I  was driving into the Leader Sign parking lot to visit Tony and I see Stacey’s husband leaving the shop. An unexpected surprise, in light of the fact the City of Worcester had just hired her to be the new Worcester Public Schools Human Resources Director. Its first African American one. I say to him, right off the bat, because I’m so enthused and happy: HI! ISN’T IT GREAT?! ISN’T IT GREAT THAT YOUR WIFE IS HEADING HUMAN RESOURCES IN OUR SCHOOLS?!! NOW SHE CAN REALLY BRING IN BLACK TEACHERS AND REALLY DIVERSIFY OUR SCHOOLS!!!!

Her husband looks at me and says: We’ve got a mortgage to pay. When she was in public office, but not now.

Translation: His wife wasn’t going to rock any Worcester status quo boats. She wanted to keep her City of Worcester job and her HUGE City of Worcester paycheck. Screw advancing her people, exposing minority kids to important role models …Screw bringing Worcester out of 1965!

Pathetic.

Which should remind us all HOW GREAT Martin Luther King, Jr. was!

He died for his people!

He died so black teachers could teach in Southern schools.

He gave his life so Stacey Luster could have a high status, high paying job in the Worcester Public Schools!

Forget the losers!

Honor, MLK! Celebrate, MLK! But most important, LISTEN TO HIM!!!

His message is UNSTOPPABLE!

P.S. Can you imagine? MLK just stopping by to give a little talk to your junior high school?! Wow.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE STORY OF A BOYCOTT THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

editor’s note: we re-run this ICT column by our old friend Bill Coleman – hoping all is well with Bill and so missing his passion! – R.T.

By William S. Coleman III

He never held a public office, he was never appointed ambassador to the United Nations, and he was not the bishop of his church. The world knew him as a Southern Baptist preacher who was thrust into the national limelight because he saw things that were wrong and he tried to make them right.

The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was an educated man who, like his father, preached the word of God as an ordained minister. He could have been assigned to a middle-class neighborhood where he could have conducted weddings, baptisms, funerals and local fund raisers for its church and its congregations.

He could have lived a simple life, not challenging the local status quo or political leaders. He could have just preached “tranquilize” to his congregants and “gradualism” to those wanting to live in a community where people felt they had the right to live free. Dr. King, as he was known after he received his Doctorate of Philosophy degree from Boston University, was very happy enjoying family life with his wife Coretta and their children.

But there was a storm brewing in his heart that would challenge the times for which he lived. America was about to erupt into a modern day civil war on injustice.

When we research the time and era for which Dr King began his early preaching ministry, we see an America separated by race, gender, class, education, religion, economics and political power.

This was an America where the nation was separated by cultural regions and a living Mason/Dixon line that was alive and taking great tolls. American sports teams in the most prominent colleges in the country were segregated, black and white players could not be on the same sports team. County Sheriffs and local police departments would not hire able and capable African American men to serve in their departments.

It would be hard for young people today to imagine not being able to talk to a friend simply because the color of that friend’s skin or accent in that friend’s voice was not the same as ones of their parents.

We seem to work in a world today of multiple diversities. We can’t imagine drinking from a water fountain that said whites only or use by colored people only. One could not think that going to a movie meant sitting on one side with all white patrons or being up in the nose bleed section of the balcony which was set aside for Negroes as blacks were once called.

As we look back on those times we see that our schools were segregated, our churches were divided and woman’s place was below a man’s. America was on the verge of an uprising that would push the civil rights movement of our nation’s quest for equality and right to challenge the way things were.

The young preacher had no idea what he was about embark on, when a group of church leaders asked him to help stop end the discriminatory practice that forced black Americans to ride in the back of the bus. Dr. King was invited to speak with some community leaders about ending this practice, those established powerful and controlling white male leaders said to Dr. King: we cannot change this practice, it is the way it is.

They warned him not to aggravate and get people all riled up. This practice would stay.

Dr. King, appealing to the good nature of these gentlemen, was polite and said he would bring their message back to his congregation. When he spoke to the crowd and he shared the many meetings he had with the business and city leaders of that day, he was moved to emotional tears when the city’s black population said we will boycott the buses, said we will walk to our jobs, we will carpool to our businesses, our farms and our churches.

Everybody did just that. For one year. Until this bus boycott stopped an unfair and antiquated practice and started a peaceful nonviolent movement for change and acceptance that influences every movement in America and the world today.

Dr. King got the ball started with the help of some powerful black women and powerful back men, working together with common white and black folks wanting so tirelessly to end modern day segregation in America.

My question to you today…For the next generation of community leaders of every race, gender, persuasion, religious belief, height, size, financial status, ability or disability, street educated or academically institutionally educated…Are we there yet?

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A LETTER TO DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

TODAY! Be there! At Worcester State University …

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editor’s note: I’m re-posting this column written by ICT contributing writer Parlee Jones … – R.T.

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Parlee, center, and family

By Parlee Jones

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

– MLK, Jr.

Dear Dr. King,

As we prepare to celebrate your 8[8]th birthday, and also, the 5[2]st Anniversary of the Selma marches, I thought I would write you a letter, to let you know what’s been going on.

I have been thinking a lot about the civil rights movement and the protests that have been happening since the no indictment verdicts came in Ferguson, Missouri, after the murder of Michael Brown and in the murder of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD.

Some people are asking, why are they protesting, what do they want? What do they think protesting and shutting down city streets will do?

My response: What did Dr. King and his supporters think a bus boycott would do? What did they think a 50-mile march would do?

The bus boycott lasted 381 days. For one year and 16 days Black people in Montgomery, Alabama, did not use public transportation! Needless to say, that hit the city in the pocket-book. City officials resisted a long time. Them good old boys did not want those Black folks in the front of their buses. Really!

“Initially, the demands did not include changing the segregation laws; rather, the group demanded courtesy, the hiring of black drivers, and a first-come, first-seated policy, with whites entering and filling seats from the front and African Americans from the rear.

Although African Americans represented at least 75 percent of Montgomery’s bus ridership, the city resisted complying with the demands. To ensure the boycott could be sustained, black leaders organized carpools, and the city’s African-American taxi drivers charged only 10 cents-the same price as bus fare-for African-American riders. Many black residents chose simply to walk to work and other destinations. Black leaders organized regular mass meetings to keep African-American residents mobilized around the boycott.”

This is so powerful!

And then Selma, 10 years later!

Even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbade discrimination in voting on the basis of race, efforts to register black voters met with fierce resistance in southern states such as Alabama .

In early 1965, you and SCLC decided to make Selma, located in Dallas County, Alabama, the focus of a voter registration campaign.

As you well know, Alabama Governor George Wallace was a notorious opponent of desegregation, and the local county sheriff in Dallas County had led a steadfast opposition to black voter registration drives. As a result, only 2 percent of Selma’s eligible black voters (300 out of 15,000) had managed to register.

You won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, and you drew international attention to Selma during the eventful months that followed.

On February 18, white segregationists attacked a group of peaceful demonstrators in the nearby town of Marion. In the ensuing chaos, an Alabama state trooper fatally shot Jimmie Lee Jackson, a young African-American demonstrator. In response to Jackson’s death a massive protest march from Selma to the state capitol of Montgomery, 54 miles away was planned. A group of 600 people set out on Sunday, March 7, but didn’t get far before Alabama state troopers wielding whips, nightsticks and tear gas rushed the group at the Edmund Pettis Bridge and beat them back to Selma. The brutal scene was captured on television, enraging many Americans and drawing civil rights and religious leaders of all faiths to Selma in protest.

You also led another attempt to march on March 9, but turned the marchers around when state troopers again blocked the road.

That night, a group of segregationists beat another protester, the young white minister James Reeb, to death.

Alabama state officials (led by Walllace) tried to prevent the march from going forward, but a U.S. district court judge ordered them to permit it. President Lyndon Johnson also backed the marchers, going on national television to pledge his support and lobby for passage of new voting rights legislation he was introducing in Congress.

Some 2,000 people set out from Selma on March 21, protected by U.S. Army troops and Alabama National Guard forces that Johnson had ordered under federal control.

After walking some 12 hours a day and sleeping in fields along the way, they reached Montgomery on March 25.

Nearly 50,000 supporters-black and white-met the marchers in Montgomery, where they gathered in front of the state capitol to hear you and other speakers including Ralph Bunche (winner of the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize) address the crowd.

“No tide of racism can stop us,” you proclaimed from the building’s steps, as viewers from around the world watched the historic moment on television.

A movie based on the events of SELMA [was released last year]. Can’t wait to see it with my children, family, friends and their children. Because this is a piece of history from which we need to learn.

“We are faced with marches, protests and boycotts as we face the continued brutality of the police force against young people of color, who end up dead instead of in jail. Not only people of color, but the majority are.

We are developing a network of organizations and advocates to form a national policy specifically aimed at redressing the systemic pattern of anti-black law enforcement violence in the US. We are demanding, that the federal government discontinues it’s supply of military weaponry and equipment to local law enforcement. We are advocating for a decrease in law-enforcement spending at the local, state and federal levels and a reinvestment of that budgeted money into the black communities most devastated by poverty in order to create jobs, housing and schools. This money should be redirected to those federal departments charged with providing employment, housing and educational services.” www.BlackLivesMatter.com

Dr. King, the exposure of the injustices via the internet is world wide. It is so hurtful when these police officers are not found guilty of murder, when the murder took place in front of millions of people.

We are still striving to do this non-violently, but the blind are still so blind. We have our demands and are voting and trying to work through the system. A lot of our friends are still silent. We are trying to help our White allies understand their privilege. We are tired of burying our children. Things have improved since the 1950s and 1960s but, unfortunately, we still have a long way to go.

Happy Birthday, Dr. King! Your words still ring true in this day and time. We need your spirit with us, to help guide us, more than ever! Please stay near.

Peace and Blessings,

Parlee Jones

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Worcester news you can use – always in style!

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From Parlee Jones:

Community Kwanzaa Celebration – rescheduled for TONIGHT!

Kwanzaa: a Time of Reflection, Celebration and Family

Join us as we celebrate Kwanzaa! Bring a dish (Potluck) and enjoy entertainment and learn about Kwanzaa!

TONIGHT! Thursday, Jan. 5

6 pm to 8:30 pm

YWCA (One Salem Square, Worcester)

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Parlee, center, and family

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MARK YOUR CALENDARS! MLK JR. YOUTH BREAKFAST at Worcester State University – Saturday, January 14 – 9 a.m.

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