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All People Matter

Young People Marching Off As If To War At King Parade

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I believe Martin Luther King would have been sad to see young people marching as if off to war at a parade in his honor. This picture is from the MLK parade in Houston last week.

These are young people involved with the R.O.T.C. I have no problem with kids trying to do well in a tough world.

But can’t we imagine and create a more hopeful society? I did not see marching groups of academic or vocational standouts at this parade.

It would just take a little thought and action to offer something better for our people and for ourselves.

Here is my Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List.

January 30, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Gandhi At Houston Martin Luther King Day Parade

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Here is Gandhi marching at the Martin Luther King Parade I attended here in Houston on King Day.

Here is a brief biography of Gandhi. 

Here is the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Non-Violence at the University of Rochester. 

Here is my Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List.

January 22, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Houston 2013 Martin Luther King Day Events—Let’s Have The Honor Roll March With Books In Hand Instead Of The ROTC With Rifles

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Martin Luther King Day for 2013 will be Monday, January 21 2013.

(Above–A picture I took at an MLK parade in Houston in 2011.)

What 2013 Martin Luther King Day events will be taking place in the Houston area?

Here are some listings—-

The big parade will be the Martin Luther King Grande Parade which begins at 10 AM on King Day.

Here is the web site for this parade.

Here is how the parade route is described on the web site— Originate In Mid-Town @ San Jacinto St & Elgin Street N/B On San Jacinto To Webster St.

There are two King parades in Houston each year. The folks who organize the parades have long been in a dispute that reflects no credit on anybody. The parade I have linked to above is the larger of the two parades and is the one  I go to each year.

While this is the best of the two King parades, a yearly disappointment is the participation of school ROTC groups displaying fake rifles at the parade. I have no problem with the young people who take part in the ROTC. But the fact is that King hated war and would have been sad to see young people with weapons—fake or otherwise—at a parade in his honor. It would just take some imagination and new thought to have honor roll and other academic and vocational standouts march in the parade instead of young people brandishing arms in celebration of a man of peace.

Another event in Houston that will mark King Day will be held at noon at the Children’s Museum of Houston.

There will be a Peace Day rally at the Children’s Museum along with a choir, oratorical events and other activities.

Houston radio station KROI has a list of King events for Martin Luther King Day weekend. They list the other King parade which also begins at 10 AM. That they don’t list both parades is maybe evidence of the ongoing contention between the parade organizers. Also frustrating  is that both of these parades begin at 10 AM. Why not have them at different times for people who would like to see both events?

Here is a King Weekend event at Rice University

“The Rice Black Student Association will hold its annual candlelight vigil and program Jan. 20. The outdoor vigil will begin at 7 p.m. in Rice Memorial Center’s Ray Courtyard, followed by a program at Rice Memorial Chapel.” 

The Houston Public Library will having events marking King Day.

Here is an event taking place in Galveston on Sunday, January 20—

“Galveston Historical Foundation’s African American Heritage Committee and Old Central Cultural Center, Inc. will honor winners of their annual essay contest at 3 p.m., Sunday, January 20th at Old Central Community Center, 2627 Avenue M. The event is free and open to the public with a complimentary lunch provided to attendees by Clary’”

Here is my 2013 Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List. It is the best such resource on the web.

If there are events in the Houston area that I have missed, please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to add them to this list.

January 16, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First Day Of Autumn For 2012 Is September 22—What Is Fall?

September 22 is the first day of fall for 2012.

(Above–The 1890 painting Autumn Rain by Julian Alden Weir.)

What exactly is fall?

Here is a definition.

From that defintion–

“The autumnal equinox marks the first day of the fall season. On this day, the Sun is again directly over the earth’s equator, and daylight lasts 12 hours in the Northern Hemisphere and decreasing. This day is typically recognized as September 22 in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, the first day of spring is recognized on September 23.”

Though I imagine we all get the idea no matter the specific definition. Even if it is our own idea of fall that we get.

The seasons mean different things to different people and the seasons mean different things depending on where you live.

Here are facts about why leaves change color from the United States National Arboretum.

The seasons may also mean something totally different from what we take them to represent in everyday thought.

Martin Luther King once said this—

“The sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.”

Here is the link to my 2012 Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List.  This is the best such resource on the web.

Metaphor gives life substance.

Above is a picture taken by Wing-Chi Poon of the Lost Maples State Natural Area in Texas.

This park is in Bandera and Real counties in Texas.  It is yet another resource provided by government for the good of the general public.

I turned 45 a few days ago. I don’t suppose that it is yet the autumn of my years. Maybe it is mid to late summer.

For those who don’t want summer to ever end—No need to worry.

Climate change is real and it will stay warmer more and more as the years pass by.

Houston is often very hot and first day of fall does not mean so much. It’s greatest meaning may be that hurricanes rarely strike this part of the country after the third week of September.

How should we note the first day of fall? Should we conduct a sacrifice?

No. I think that would be somewhat severe.

Instead, let us mark the new season by being kind to others.

I think that would be best for all seasons of the year.

(Below—Autumn at Tsaritsyano Park in Moscow. Picture taken by Корзун Андрей.)

September 15, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List

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(Blogger’s Note—Today is the 44th anniversary of the day Martin Luther King was shot. That is not so pleasant. Better is my Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List that I update each year here on the blog. There is always something hopeful and useful to learn from the life of Martin Luther King.)

While it is always instructive to watch a rebroadcast or listen to a recording of the I Have A Dream speech, there is a next level for someone who wants to better understand Martin Luther King and his message.

Reverend King asked serious questions about America as a war criminal nation in Vietnam. He asked if America merited divine judgement as a wicked nation of racism and social inequality.  These questions are as relevant as ever as America is engaged in endless war and as income inequality grows.

It is within your power to bring about a better world. You have the ability to understand complex things. Learn about what a true prophet of justice Martin Luther King was in our society. After you learn more about Dr. King, take action yourself  to address the great pressing social problems of American life, and to address adverse conditions in our world as a whole.

Here is an admittedly incomplete, but I hope useful, Martin Luther King viewing, visiting, listening, and reading list.

An excellent book is Martin & Malcolm & America—A Dream Or A Nightmare by James H. Cone. This book follows the words and the careers of both these men. The premise of the book, which holds up in the telling, is that Dr. King and Malcolm X were not as far apart as often portrayed. Malcolm was a man with a broader vision than one of simple racial solidarity, and King was in many respects a fierce and almost apocalyptic critic of America.

( Below–Martin & Malcolm)

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I’m glad to say I bought my copy of Cone’s book at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia.  This site is operated by the National Park Service. You can tour Martin Luther King’s boyhood home at this location. You’ll also want to tour the Auburn Avenue Historic District around the King home.

(Below—Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. This was King’s home church.)

In Washington, when you visit the Lincoln Memorial (photo below), you can find a small marker indicating the exact spot where Rev. King made the “Dream” speech. It is a good place to stand.

The best one volume work on King’s life is David Garrow’s Bearing The Cross—Martin Luther King, Jrand the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Bearing The Cross was the 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner for biography.  You can’t help but feel the deep-sea like pressure on Dr. King in the final years of his life. I wondered if towards the end of his life King felt  death would be the only true escape from the exhaustion, the misunderstandings and the conflicts.

An interesting DVD is King–Man Of Peace In A Time Of War. Much of the hour long presentation is a rehash of King biography. What makes this special is a roughly 15 minute interview Dr. King did with afternoon television host Mike Douglas.  Mr. Douglas asked tough questions about Dr. King’s stance against the Vietnam War and about the effect of that opposition on the Civil Rights movement. Dr. King is calm, cool and collected. You could see how King was a leader who could speak anywhere and to anyone.

A solid explanation of Reverend King’s theology and a good analysis on the failure of Southern segregationists to mount an even more aggressive opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, can be found in A Stone Of Hope—Prophetic Religion And The Death Of Jim Crow by David L. Chappell.

A Testament Of Hope—The Essential Writings And Speeches Of Martin Luther King, Jr is needed for a complete King library. In honesty though, I’ve always found this book to be sprawling and without  clear focus. It consists of King sermons, some interviews and excerpts from his books. You need to have it on your shelf, but there are more concise ways to get at the “essential” King.

(Photo below is Rev. King with Coretta Scott King.)

New Listings for 2009

A quality children’s book on King is Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport. The writing in this book is clear and concise and respectful of the intellect of children. It’s a great introduction to King and a gateway to further studies by young people.

A comprehensive examination of King’s radical views on economic questions can be found in From Civil Rights to Human Rights—Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice by Thomas F. Jackson. King had leanings towards forms of socialism and came to see the fight for fair wages as an essential element in the fight for full human rights. It should not be forgotten that King died in Memphis fighting for striking sanitation workers.

A web resource to learn about King is the Martin Luther King, Jr, Research and Education Institute that is run by Stanford University. There are King sermons and addresses you can read and a link to a King Online Encyclopedia.  (These things said, there is nothing as good as having you own printed collection of King sermons that you can take anywhere.)

New Listings for 2010—

Beacon Publishing in Boston has re-released two titles written by King. The books are available in both paperback and hardcover and are attractively  presented.

The titles are

Stride Toward Freedom–The Montgomery Story.

Where Do We Go From Here–Chaos Or Community?

Beacon describes Where Do We Go From Here in this way—

“In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., isolated himself from the demands of the civil rights movement, rented a house in Jamaica with no telephone, and labored over his final manuscript. In this significantly prophetic work, which has been unavailable for more than ten years, we find King’s acute analysis of American race relations and the state of the movement after a decade of civil rights efforts. Here he lays out his thoughts, plans, and dreams for America’s future, including the need for better jobs, higher wages, decent housing, and quality education. With a universal message of hope that continues to resonate, King demanded an end to global suffering, powerfully asserting that humankind-for the first time-has the resources and technology to eradicate poverty.”

Construction has begun in Washington of a King Memorial on the National Mall. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2011.

The Memorial has a web home. At this site, you can find a video of what the memorial will look like and a history of the project.

New Listings for 2011–

King–-The Photobiography Of Martin Luther King, Jr by Charles Johnson and Bob Adelman is a top-notch photo record of the life of Rev. King. It’s necessary that you read Dr King’s words and understand what he was saying.  It also has great value to see King as he battled the Southern sheriffs and as he marched with the people.

Powerful Days—The Civil Rights Photography of Charles Moore helps place Dr. King in context as part of a much larger movement.  We can’t forget that the Civil rights movement was, when all was said and done, led by average Americans who demanded that our nation finally live up to its founding ideas.

Going Down Jericho Road–The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King’s Last Campaign by Michael Honey reminds us that King died in Memphis fighting for the rights and wages of city sanitation workers. As I write this in early 2011, public employees are being blamed by some for the economic hard times we are facing. Don’t be tricked. Public employees are our fellow working people and Martin Luther King gave his life to make sure that they would be treated with dignity and respect.

New Listings for 2012—

Malcolm X–A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable was one of the N.Y. Times best books of 2011. It offers a new and expanded view on another great figure of the civil rights era.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is consistent with the focus of King’s final years on economic inequality. I cannot know for sure, but I believe King would have strongly supported Occupy Wall Street. Economic justive was an essential part of Martin Luther King’s work.

The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth died in 2011. Rev. Shuttlesworth was a leader of the Birmingham Civil Rights campaign. Here is Shuttlesworth’s obit from The Birmingham News.  This link also ofers additional links to learn more about the Birmingham campaign.

There are three reference sources on Dr. King that stand out as best.

Here are the three—

Strength To Love is the best collection King sermons. It is a concise manageable book. You can cram it in your back pocket or in your purse. ( A larger purse at least.) I think you could read nothing but this one 158 page book, and know everything you need to know about Martin Luther King.

The audio collection of King’s sermons called  A Knock At Midnight might change your life. Stick the CD’s in your car stereo or listen to them at home and you’ll hear  King just as he was—Mighty and frail at the same time. I’ve listened to the sermons on Knock many times and they never get old. You can’t help but learn something or see an old question a new way each time you listen.

The definitive books on Martin Luther King’s life and the Civil Rights era are found in Taylor Branch’s three-volume America In The King Years series.

These three books are the Pulitzer Prize winning  Parting The Waters 1954-1963Pillar Of Fire 1963-1965, and At Canaan’s Edge, 1965-1968.

(Photo below of Rosa Parks with M.L.K. in the background. Here are facts about the Montgomery Bus Boycott.)

These books stand not only at the top of King biography, they stand as great examples of American biography. The picture of Dr. King is complete. You get the good and the bad. There will be times you’ll shake your head and ask yourself how Rev. King could have said that or done that.

You’ll also see how brave King was and how brave the Civil Rights marchers and protesters were. You’ll get a clear sense of the obstacles faced not just from whites, but from status quo blacks as well.  Mr. Branch offers a great deal of context for King’s life and experiences. He provides full portraits of other great Civil Rights leaders.

I can’t recommend all three volumes strongly enough. Read them and you’ll be an expert.

Please click here for a Texas Liberal post on King’s sermon Unfulfilled Dreams

April 4, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

I’ll Be On Cincinnati’s WAIF FM-88.3 On Saturday, March 3rd—Trash Flow Radio

I always enjoy telling folks about my every-so-often public schedule.

I recall that Martin Luther King once said that attention is “Vitamin A for the ego.”

Here is the 2012 Texas Liberal Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List. This is the best such resource on the web.

I’ll be in-studio and on the radio on Cincinnati’s community radio station WAIF-FM 88.3 on Saturday, March 3.

( Above—A radio. Here is some history of radio.) 

I’ll be on Trash Flow Radio with my friend Ken Katkin from 3-5 PM Eastern Time on that date.

You can hear the show on the WAIF livestream. 

Here are some recent archives of Trash Flow Radio.

I was a weekly host on WAIF for a few years in the 1980’s. I co-hosted the punk rock show Search & Destroy with Handsome Clem Carpenter.

It was fun.

Here is a description of Trash Flow Radio from the host–

“Avant-garde punk, pop avant-garde, sad songs with loud guitars, loud songs with sad guitars, anti-Beatle exuberance,  pro-drug psychedelia, bargain-bin outsider music, revisionist rock history, music made by teenagers with “sXe” tattoos, and timeless DIY. Absolutely no major label recording artists (except the Ramones). Music from the catholic school, not the parochial.Gushes and rants, stark realism and surrealism, dangerous audio stunts, irritainment, and bad puns. Faint echoes of H.L. Mencken, Coyle & Sharpe, Jorge Luis Borges, Thurgood Marshall, Ron Rosenbaum, Jean Shepard, Lester Bangs, Kim Philby, J.D. Salinger, Bob Lassiter, Carl Reiner, and Eugene V. Debs. Hopefully, some guests. It’s always something. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”

I’m looking forward to be being on the air with Ken.

(Below–My appearance on WAIF allows me to run my publicity photo. You see me here identifying with the 99% as I enjoy a lobster in Rhode Island in 2011. )

February 17, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Houston School Board Member Manuel Rodriguez Got Away With His Anti-Gay Campaign—He Had A Lot Of Help

At Houston’s Gallegos Elementary School on Harrisburg Drive, they appreciate School Board Member Manuel Rodriguez.

We know this is true because–at least as of 2 days ago–there was a sign in front of the school that said so. You see that sign above.

In contrast to the views expressed on the sign, I am uncertain that Mr. Rodriguez is a good example for school children or for any resident of our community.

Mr. Rodriguez circulated anti-gay campaign materials in his recent successful reelection effort. Please click this link to see what Mr. Rodriguez circulated. The bottom right corner of the circular is where you will find the hate.

Here is what the Houston Chronicle reported at the time

“Rodriguez, who is seeking re-election to the District III seat, noted in the brochure that his challenger, Ramiro Fonseca, has “spent years advocating for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender rights … not kids.”  The ad also points out (Ramiro) Fonseca’s endorsement by the Houston GLBT political caucus and underlines the words “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights.” Rodriguez describes himself in the flyer as a “family man” who is married to his high school sweetheart and is the father of four and the grandfather of five. The ad says Fonseca has a male partner and no children”

There were some protests regarding Mr. Rodriguez.

A website was set-up to draw attention to the issue. There was also a Facebook page.

While the people who organized the protests and set up the website are to be commended for the work they did, these protests were not able to be sustained.

This failure is an indictmant of our entire city of Houston.

If local civil rights groups and advocacy groups had spoken out, maybe the protests could have been sustained.  Maybe it only matters when people in your own group are attacked.

If local political leaders had spoken up, maybe the protests could have been sustained. Many of these officials seek the endorsement of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, yet they were no place to be found when a school board member responsible for the education of children used anti-gay words.

If the Houston GLBT Political Caucus had focused on the issue, maybe the protests could have been sustained.

In a previous post on this subject I noted that news of Mr. Rodriguez’s deeds were not on the Caucus website.  This is still the case.

Yet Mr. Rodriguez is still on the board and is still making decisions about our Houston schools.

There is a measure of irony in the absence of Rodriguez issue from the Houston GLBT website. The Houston GLBT Caucus endorsement questionnaire for local candidates is well-known for having very many questions and for taking a long time to complete.

Candidates for public office are expected to take hours to complete that form in the middle of a campaign, but the Caucus itself can’t take a few minutes to update a website when a school board member responsible for the education of children attacks gay folks and remains on the board.

I update this blog each day.

If the parents and all the other folks who live in Mr. Rodriguez’s district had spoken up, maybe the protests could have been sustained.

If everyday people in Houston had spoken up, maybe the protests could have been sustained.

Instead–What has happened is that Mr. Rodriguez communicated a terrible message and got away with it just fine. If you motor on down Harrisburg Dr., you’ll know Mr. Rodriguez as nothing other than a great guy helping out school kids.

Sure.

On the back of the sign at the top of this post was a reminder that Martin Luther King Day was approaching. I have no idea if the incongruity of this was considered at a place where people are supposed to be learning history.

You see this side of the sign at the bottom of this post.

Here is former NAACP chairman Julian Bond speaking in support of gay marriage. Coretta Scott King supported gay marriage. 

The work of freedom and justice is up to each of us. You can’t wait for somebody else.

If you are a gay kid in our Houston schools— or any freedom loving young person who sees that all people are created equal—you just got a lesson from all sides of the aisle.

Regretfully, one of the most valuable things you can learn from your elders is very often how not to be like them.

January 19, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Car For Economic Freedom And Justice At Houston Martin Luther King Day Parade—Move To Amend

Here is a great car that was in the 2012 Houston Martin Luther King Day parade.

This car is correct. Corporations and money do rule the nation.

Martin Luther King died in Memphis, Tennessee fighting for the rights of working people. He died fighting for striking sanitation workers in Memphis.

Here is Occupy Wall Street.

Here is Occupy Houston.

Here is Move to Amend. Move to Amend is fighting the pernicious idea that corporations are people.

People are people. Corporations are not people.

January 17, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

ACLU At Houston Martin Luther King Day Parade

Local members of the American Civil Liberties Union were at the 2012 Martin Luther King Day parade.

Above you see them marching.

Here is the ACLU of Texas. 

Here is the national ACLU. 

The Houston ACLU also has a Facebook page.

With attacks on our freedoms coming from both government and the private sector, the work of the ACLU is essential.

January 17, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Houston Roller Derby At Martin Luther King Day Parade

The good folks from the Houston Roller Derby were at the 2012 Houston Martin Luther King Day Parade.

I’ve seen these ladies at the parade for at least the last 3 or 4 years. They always seem friendly.

Here are facts about roller derby. 

Here is a history of roller derby from the National Museum of Roller Skating. 

Here is the Roller Derby Foundation. 

January 17, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Everyday Is Martin Luther King Day If We Act With Goals, Self-Discipline And Care For Others.

Today is Martin Luther King Day.

Today is a good day–as is every day–to recall that fact that Martin Luther King died fighting for striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee.

Treat working people well today. Tip well. Treat working people well as a measure of respect for yourself and respect for others.

We are part of the 99%

Today is–as is every day–a great day to learn more about Martin Luther King. The Martin Luther King Reading & Reference list I post each year on the blog is a good place to start to learn more about Rev. King.

Today is–as is every day–a great day to use the example of Martin Luther King to take political action to make America and the world a more just and humane place.

Every American has the ability to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family, start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor, volunteer for candidates and causes, engage in acts of civil disobedience, and to run for public office.Everyday is a great day to treat each other with respect.

Everyday is a great day to treat others and ourselves with respect. Everyday is a great day to learn. Everyday is a great day to take action.

Everyday is Martin Luther King Day if we act with goals, self-discipline, and care for others.

January 16, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

When Is The Houston 2012 Martin Luther King Day Parade?—How About More Honor Roll Kids Marching And Less ROTC?

When is the 2012 Martin Luther King Day Parade in Houston?

The Martin Luther King Grande Prade begins at 10 AM on Monday, January 16.

Here is how the parade route is described—“Originate In Mid-Town @ San Jacinto St & Elgin Street N/B On San Jacinto To Webster St.”

The website of the parade says that the parade route is 1 mile long and that it will last 2 hours.

I go to this parade each year. Each year I wish that the many high schools who send students to march in the parade would show a little more imagination.

There are always many marching ROTC. squadrons brandishing fake rifles. While I’ve got no problem with the young people marching, the fact is that Martin Luther King opposed war and would have been surprised to see young people marching in a parade in his honor as if to go to war.

Where are the honor roll kids or the young people in the debate club or on the student newspaper?

It would just take a bit more thought and a little courage to best remember Rev. King in this parade.

Here is the website of the 2012 M.L.K. Parade here in Houston.

Below is my 2012 Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List. Learn about King on your own. Go to the parade if you like–I’ll be there myself—but learn about Rev. King on your own and share that knowledge.

Here is a link to MLK Day events in Houston.

After you learn more about King–Follow his example and take action for a better and more just nation.

Here is the reference list—

Continue reading

January 11, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 4 Comments

2012 Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List

File:Martin-Luther-King-1964-leaning-on-a-lectern.jpg

(Blogger’s Note–This is the fifth annual Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List. There are 3 additions for 2012. Martin Luther King Day for 2012 is January 16.)

While it is always instructive to watch a rebroadcast or listen to a recording of the I Have A Dream speech, there is a next level for someone who wants to better understand Martin Luther King and his message.

Reverend King asked serious questions about America as a war criminal nation in Vietnam. He asked if America merited divine judgement as a wicked nation of racism and social inequality.  These questions are as relevant as ever as America is engaged in endless war and as income inequality grows.

It is within your power to bring about a better world. You have the ability to understand complex things. Learn about what a true prophet of justice Martin Luther King was in our society. After you learn more about Dr. King, take action yourself  to address the great pressing social problems of American life, and to address adverse conditions in our world as a whole.

Here is an admittedly incomplete, but I hope useful, Martin Luther King viewing, visiting, listening, and reading list.

An excellent book is Martin & Malcolm & America—A Dream Or A Nightmare by James H. Cone. This book follows the words and the careers of both these men. The premise of the book, which holds up in the telling, is that Dr. King and Malcolm X were not as far apart as often portrayed. Malcolm was a man with a broader vision than one of simple racial solidarity, and King was in many respects a fierce and almost apocalyptic critic of America.

( Below–Martin & Malcolm)

File:MLK and Malcolm X USNWR cropped.jpg

I’m glad to say I bought my copy of Cone’s book at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia.  This site is operated by the National Park Service. You can tour Martin Luther King’s boyhood home at this location. You’ll also want to tour the Auburn Avenue Historic District around the King home.

(Below—Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. This was King’s home church.)

In Washington, when you visit the Lincoln Memorial (photo below), you can find a small marker indicating the exact spot where Rev. King made the “Dream” speech. It is a good place to stand.

The best one volume work on King’s life is David Garrow’s Bearing The Cross—Martin Luther King, Jrand the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Bearing The Cross was the 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner for biography.  You can’t help but feel the deep-sea like pressure on Dr. King in the final years of his life. I wondered if towards the end of his life King felt  death would be the only true escape from the exhaustion, the misunderstandings and the conflicts.

An interesting DVD is King–Man Of Peace In A Time Of War. Much of the hour long presentation is a rehash of King biography. What makes this special is a roughly 15 minute interview Dr. King did with afternoon television host Mike Douglas.  Mr. Douglas asked tough questions about Dr. King’s stance against the Vietnam War and about the effect of that opposition on the Civil Rights movement. Dr. King is calm, cool and collected. You could see how King was a leader who could speak anywhere and to anyone.

A solid explanation of Reverend King’s theology and a good analysis on the failure of Southern segregationists to mount an even more aggressive opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, can be found in A Stone Of Hope—Prophetic Religion And The Death Of Jim Crow by David L. Chappell.

A Testament Of Hope—The Essential Writings And Speeches Of Martin Luther King, Jr is needed for a complete King library. In honesty though, I’ve always found this book to be sprawling and without  clear focus. It consists of King sermons, some interviews and excerpts from his books. You need to have it on your shelf, but there are more concise ways to get at the “essential” King.

(Photo below is Rev. King with Coretta Scott King.)

New Listings for 2009

A quality children’s book on King is Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport. The writing in this book is clear and concise and respectful of the intellect of children. It’s a great introduction to King and a gateway to further studies by young people.

A comprehensive examination of King’s radical views on economic questions can be found in From Civil Rights to Human Rights—Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice by Thomas F. Jackson. King had leanings towards forms of socialism and came to see the fight for fair wages as an essential element in the fight for full human rights. It should not be forgotten that King died in Memphis fighting for striking sanitation workers.

A web resource to learn about King is the Martin Luther King, Jr, Research and Education Institute that is run by Stanford University. There are King sermons and addresses you can read and a link to a King Online Encyclopedia.  (These things said, there is nothing as good as having you own printed collection of King sermons that you can take anywhere.)

New Listings for 2010—

Beacon Publishing in Boston has re-released two titles written by King. The books are available in both paperback and hardcover and are attractively  presented.

The titles are

Stride Toward Freedom–The Montgomery Story.

Where Do We Go From Here–Chaos Or Community?

Beacon describes Where Do We Go From Here in this way—

“In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., isolated himself from the demands of the civil rights movement, rented a house in Jamaica with no telephone, and labored over his final manuscript. In this significantly prophetic work, which has been unavailable for more than ten years, we find King’s acute analysis of American race relations and the state of the movement after a decade of civil rights efforts. Here he lays out his thoughts, plans, and dreams for America’s future, including the need for better jobs, higher wages, decent housing, and quality education. With a universal message of hope that continues to resonate, King demanded an end to global suffering, powerfully asserting that humankind-for the first time-has the resources and technology to eradicate poverty.”

Construction has begun in Washington of a King Memorial on the National Mall. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2011.

The Memorial has a web home. At this site, you can find a video of what the memorial will look like and a history of the project.

New Listings for 2011–

King–-The Photobiography Of Martin Luther King, Jr by Charles Johnson and Bob Adelman is a top-notch photo record of the life of Rev. King. It’s necessary that you read Dr King’s words and understand what he was saying.  It also has great value to see King as he battled the Southern sheriffs and as he marched with the people.

Powerful Days—The Civil Rights Photography of Charles Moore helps place Dr. King in context as part of a much larger movement.  We can’t forget that the Civil rights movement was, when all was said and done, led by average Americans who demanded that our nation finally live up to its founding ideas.

Going Down Jericho Road–The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King’s Last Campaign by Michael Honey reminds us that King died in Memphis fighting for the rights and wages of city sanitation workers. As I write this in early 2011, public employees are being blamed by some for the economic hard times we are facing. Don’t be tricked. Public employees are our fellow working people and Martin Luther King gave his life to make sure that they would be treated with dignity and respect.

New Listings for 2012—

Malcolm X–A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable was one of the N.Y. Times best books of 2011. It offers a new and expanded view on another great figure of the civil rights era.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is consistent with the focus of King’s final years on economic inequality. I cannot know for sure, but I believe King would have strongly supported Occupy Wall Street. Economic justive was an essential part of Martin Luther King’s work.

The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth died in 2011. Rev. Shuttlesworth was a leader of the Birmingham Civil Rights campaign. Here is Shuttlesworth’s obit from The Birmingham News.  This link also ofers additional links to learn more about the Birmingham campaign.

There are three reference sources on Dr. King that stand out as best.

Here are the three—

Strength To Love is the best collection King sermons. It is a concise manageable book. You can cram it in your back pocket or in your purse. ( A larger purse at least.) I think you could read nothing but this one 158 page book, and know everything you need to know about Martin Luther King.

The audio collection of King’s sermons called  A Knock At Midnight might change your life. Stick the CD’s in your car stereo or listen to them at home and you’ll hear  King just as he was—Mighty and frail at the same time. I’ve listened to the sermons on Knock many times and they never get old. You can’t help but learn something or see an old question a new way each time you listen.

The definitive books on Martin Luther King’s life and the Civil Rights era are found in Taylor Branch’s three-volume America In The King Years series.

These three books are the Pulitzer Prize winning  Parting The Waters 1954-1963Pillar Of Fire 1963-1965, and At Canaan’s Edge, 1965-1968.

(Photo below of Rosa Parks with M.L.K. in the background. Here are facts about the Montgomery Bus Boycott.)

These books stand not only at the top of King biography, they stand as great examples of American biography. The picture of Dr. King is complete. You get the good and the bad. There will be times you’ll shake your head and ask yourself how Rev. King could have said that or done that.

You’ll also see how brave King was and how brave the Civil Rights marchers and protesters were. You’ll get a clear sense of the obstacles faced not just from whites, but from status quo blacks as well.  Mr. Branch offers a great deal of context for King’s life and experiences. He provides full portraits of other great Civil Rights leaders.

I can’t recommend all three volumes strongly enough. Read them and you’ll be an expert.

Please click here for a Texas Liberal post on King’s sermon Unfulfilled Dreams

January 9, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Arrests At Occupy Houston—First Amendment Protections For Some But Not For Others

A number of people were arrested at Occupy Houston last night.

They were arrested for having a tarp out in the rain and for jaywalking.

Here is video of the arrests from the Houston Chronicle.

Here is a report from TV station KHOU.

Here is a report from TV station KPRC. 

If members of Occupy Houston could come up with a lot of money and bundle it into large anonymous donations so as to legally bribe politicians, that would have been protected speech under the Citzens United case.

Also–correctly–protected by the Supreme Court are the anti-gay protests of the Westboro Baptist Church at military funerals.

In Houston however, the presence of a tarp during rain and jaywalking merits arrest.

It would be great to see conservatives  speak up about the use of state power to stifle First Amendment protections.

The office of Houston Mayor Annise Parker released following on November 4—

“Here’s a statement Mayor Parker tweeted last night regarding Occupy Houston: “There has been misinformation spread regarding the Occupy Houston protests. We have not made plans to ‘evict’ the participants. The City and Occupy Houston have a working relationship to allow protesters to exercise their first amendment rights without endangering public health or safety”

Sure.

Occupy Houston held a press conference this morning about the arrests and I attended.

I took some pictures at the press conference to run here on the blog.

Below—The press conference. Many Houston media outlets were interested in what had taken place.

Below—Two Occupy Houston participants being interviewed. In the background is a sign with a quote from Martin Luther King that reads—“Reconstruction of society itself is the real issue to be faced

Below—A member of the National Lawyer’s Guild speaking to the press.  The Guild has been helping Occupy efforts across the nation with legal issues. The building is the foreground with the American flag on top is Houston City Hall. City Hall is dwarfed by the corporate tower in background.

Here is the Occupy Houston website.

Here is the Occupy Wall Street website.

My understanding is that the interactions with Houston police will be YouTube at some point soon.

Houston police officers are everyday working people no different from anybody else.

You can also find Occupy Houston, Occupy Wall Street and many other Occupy efforts on Facebook and on the web.

The placement of tarps and the actions of peaceful protesters were the most important things that Houston police had to deal with last night?

Occupy Houston protestors merit jail while the bank and financial executives who did so much to cause this recession with lies and fraud run free?

How can any person of any ideological viewpoint not be concerned with what is taking place with the arrests in a number of cities of Occupy protestors?

First it will be somebody else. Next time it will be you.

November 9, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth Is Dead—Major Figure Of The Civil Rights Movement

Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth of Birmingham, Alabama and Cincinnati, Ohio died on October 5, 2011 at age 89.

(Above–Rev. Shuttlesworth.)

Rev. Shuttlesworth was one of the most significant figures of the Civil Rights movement.

Rev. Shuttlesworth called Martin Luther King to Birmingham and was beaten severely fighting for the cause of equal rights for all Americans.

Rev. Shuttlesworth’s death was overshadowed by the death the same day of Steve Jobs.

While I’m sorry Mr. Jobs died at only 56 years old, the revolution that Rev. Shuttlesworth was part of the more significant event in our history.

I was lucky enough to know Fred Shuttlesworth.

In Cincinnati I ran the office of former City Councilmember Tyrone Yates. Tyrone knew Rev. Shuttlesworth and sometimes the Reverend would come by the office at Cincinnati City Hall.

This was in the early 1990’s.

Tyrone and I once took a chartered bus to Birmingham to attend the opening of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.

As part of our time in Birmingham, Reverend Shuttlesworth led us and members of his church in Cincinnati on a tour of civil rights sites in Birmingham.

Among the places we saw was the jail where Martin Luther King wrote his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

I wish I’d had an iPhone at the time. If I had an iPhone I might have taken pictures of the tour that I could use on this blog post today.

Of greater significance however than even the iPhone, are the Civil Rights gains of the past 50 years.

Though there is still so much work to be done for the freedom and equality of all people in these hard times and at all times.

October 7, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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