Tag Archives: civil rights movement


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?


First ever Black Lives Matter agenda …

… released today!

A coalition affiliated with BLM issued the following:

CLICK HERE to read entire document!

“We demand an end to the war against Black people. Since this country’s inception there have been named and unnamed wars on our communities. We demand an end to the criminalization, incarceration, and killing of our people. This includes:

“An immediate end to the criminalization and dehumanization of Black youth across all areas of society including, but not limited to; our nation’s justice and education systems, social service agencies, and media and pop culture. This includes an end to zero-tolerance school policies and arrests of students, the removal of police from schools, and the reallocation of funds from police and punitive school discipline practices to restorative services.

“An end to capital punishment.
An end to money bail, mandatory fines, fees, court surcharges and “defendant funded” court proceedings.

“An end to the use of past criminal history to determine eligibility for housing, education, licenses, voting, loans, employment, and other services and needs.

“An end to the war on Black immigrants including the repeal of the 1996 crime and immigration bills, an end to all deportations, immigrant detention, and Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) raids, and mandated legal representation in immigration court.

“An end to the war on Black trans, queer and gender nonconforming people including their addition to anti-discrimination civil rights protections to ensure they have full access to employment, health, housing and education. …  .”

CLICK HERE to read entire document!

At Worcester State University: Dr. Cornell West, Too Smart  

West at WSU. photo: Gordon Davis

By Gordon Davis
Dr. Cornell West spoke at Worcester State University last night. He is a difficult man to understand, but most philosophers are. He certainly stepped on everyone’s toes without any apparent concrete ax to grind.

At first Dr. West talked about love and how it will change the world. By love he means love or the love of human interactions and charity. He feels this should be our primary motivation. He reminded me of a gentleman in Worcester who also says that his enemies will be swept away with this love.

Next Dr. West talked of integrity of the individual and how we should not succumb to the prostitution of ourselves for money and banality. It was almost sermonlike.

Then toes started to get stepped on. He said many of the churches preached the gospel of prosperity or pray to God and you will get rich or be free of material want.

He attacked President Obama, saying we have a Black President, a Black Attorney General and a Black head of Homeland Security, and the racist cops still are not being punished.

Dr. West had a good word for Malcolm X whom he saw as a model of the redemption of the individual, a man who could change his life for the better in terms of social interactions and leadership.

The Constitution of the United took a hit. Dr. West pointed out that the Constitution made legal the exploitative nature of the political bosses of the American Revolution, codifying slavery.  His point, as I understand it, is: the things that are legal are not always just; we should not fall into the trap of thinking legality equals justice.

There was an irony, I suppose, in his analysis of presidential candidate Donald Trump. Dr. West sarcastically called Donald Trump “brother.” He said brother Trump was not yet a fascist. Dr. West thought Trump to be an egomaniac who likes showing off how smart he is. The irony is that Dr. West seemed to be doing the same thing.

Unfortunately, most of West’s audience was Worcester State University students who did not seem to grasp the shock values of Dr. West’s assertions. The terms he used, like “neo liberal,” seemed to confuse many.

From my own experience, terms used by contemporary college students like “intersectionality” go over my head as well.

Dr. West is in his sixties, and a generational gap may be developing with semantics of the 1960s and 2010s. I heard some of the students leaving say that they wanted to cut through the crap and get to the message.

One of the things Dr. West does not have is a cause to fight for. He did not say he wanted to close down Guantanamo. He did not say he wanted a $15/hour minimum wage. He did say he was for a general redistribution of power.

When you do not have a cause, speech becomes more philosophical or ethical.  It is like someone showing off how smart he is. 

What I learned years ago from Dr. Hampsch, one of my philosophy teachers at Holy Cross, is that Karl Marx changed philosophy when he said our job is to make history, not just to study it. That thought came to me as I listened to Dr. West.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfasts have become the pretty faces for the liberals – the face of struggle without the struggle … or: The march to Kelley Square, the New Civil Rights Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Gordon Davis

There were two celebrations on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Worcester:

There was the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast at Quinsigamond Community College on West Boylston Street. At this event an activist, Chris Horton, from the Worcester Anti Foreclosure Team, was slammed to the ground and arrested by police after he started to hand out flyers about predatory lending.

Mr. Horton was allegedly arrested when the MLK Breakfast organizers called the police to force him to stop passing out the flyer. The police charged Mr. Horton with assault and battery on a police officer.

It really did not matter whether Mr. Horton touched a police officer – once a police officer slams you to the ground, there is an automatic charge of assault and battery.

The other celebration in Worcester of Martin Luther King Jr. Day was the March Against Racism at Kelley Square:

Between 60 and 80 people marched down Green Street to Kelly Square. The location was chosen because four Black Lives Matter protesters were arrested there on MLK Day in 2015. They are still on trial.


The march to Kelly Square was organized by radical organizations, much like during the old Civil Rights Movement NAACP and SNCC.  The Progressive Labor, Socialist Alternative, Communities United Collective and Worcester Immigrants Coalition were the main organizing groups. Although diverse, the groups had a common goal of anti-racism, anti sexism, ending racist deportation and economic justice for all. It was clear that this group would not be intimidated by any retaliation by city government.

EPOCA is working to abolish the
$500 fee that is required to obtain a license by ex-prisoners.

Although not an organizer of the march, EPOCA an ex prisoner support group, joined the rally. The speaker from EPOCA talked of the racism and discrimination experienced by many ex prisoners. She also talk of its effort to abolish the $500 fee that is required to obtain a license by an ex prisoner, an almost prohibitive barrier for some.

Many people today do not remember or do not associate the urban rebellions of the 1960s with the old Civil Rights movement.

When Dr. King attempted to organize northern Black people in the cities he was rudely made aware of the militancy that created the Black Panther Party, Malcolm X and the Worcester Black Coalition.

I suppose Dr. King expected the White racism he faced in Cicero, Illinois. He could not have expected that young Black people in Watts would call him Martin “Loser” King.

The old Civil Rights movement in the South was to some extent prettified with men in suits and religious people (all good and brave people). The men in dungarees and those who spoke Geechee were only seen in the background. Dr. King eventually understood the contradictions of such tactics and began to support working-class and poor people, such as the garbage men and their strike in Tennessee. He was in Tennessee supporting them when he was assassinated.

To some extent the Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfasts have become the pretty faces for the liberals – the face of struggle without the struggle.

Please do not get the wrong idea: I think that the people doing these things are good people and well intentioned. I know most of them and I consider them my friends. I am sure some of them would like to disassociate themselves from the new militancy of the BlackLives Matter. This has certainly been the case with some “liberal” people.

BlackLives Matter new Civil Rights movement has given a new face to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Worcester and in the nation.

The blockade of Kelly Square in 2015 by people protesting the killing of Michael Brown by the police added a sharpness and militancy to Dr. King’s Day that has continued through the year in Worcester and many cities and towns in America.

This militancy continued on January 18, 2016, when a coalition of groups and individuals marched against racism at Kelly Square calling out the city government and its police force. It was an action that joined Worcester to the BlackLives Matter civil rights movement.



I’m re-posting this wonderful column ICT contributing writer Parlee wrote last year in honor of MLK, Jr. – prophet of PEACE. Enjoy!
– R. Tirella

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[7]th birthday, and also, the 5[1]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

Listen! NOW! Be transported by the imagery,

… the rhythm, the wisdom, the courage, the life experience of Martin Luther King, Jr. I listened to this entire sermon, his last, yesterday and was so moved! He was so unlike the preachers I was forced to pay attention to in church years ago. Not at all boring and dull or condescending. MLK, Jr. was the kind of pastor you’d follow ANYWHERE because he LIVED his eloquent and passionate sermons. He practiced what he preached! Hearing him for 40+ minutes makes you understand why he was the kind of preacher with whom people marched straight into the depths of Birmingham, Alabama, impervious to attack dogs, billy clubs and fire hoses, the kind of preacher for whom they knowingly risked their lives. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. just made you believe in your natural, God-given … preciousness.
– R. Tirella

February is Black History Month …



Listening to this cd — Mavis Staples, We’ll Never Turn Back. Here are some great, inspiring, brave songs. Click on links below …R. Tirella