Archive for civil rights

Civil Rights Activists Dorothy Height Dies

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE, NEWS with tags , , , on April 20, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Dorothy Height, former president of the National Council of Negro Women and leading female voice in the 1960’s died today at the age of 98.Height spoke at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, when King gave his “I have a dream” speech. She fought for school desegregation, employments opportunities, voting rights, and public accommodations. As a teenager she marched in New York’s Times Square, shouting “Stop the lynching!”

In 1989, on using the terms African American and Black, Dorothy Height said,

“As we move ahead into the 21st century and look at a unified way of fully identifying with our heritage, our present and our future, our use of African-American is not a matter of putting down one to pick up the other. It is recognition that we’ve always been African and American, but we are now going to address ourselves in those terms and make a unified effort to identify with our African brothers and sisters and with our own heritage. African-American has the potential of helping us to rally. But unless we identify with the full meaning, the term won’t make a difference. It becomes merely a label.

When we started using the term “Black” it was more than a color. It came at a time when our young people in marches and sit-ins made the cry “Black Power.” It represented the Black experience in the United States and the Black experience of those throughout the world who were oppressed. We are at a different point now. The struggle continues, but it’s more subtle. Therefore, we need in the strongest ways we can to show our unity as a people and not just as a people of color.”

Dorothy Irene Height also served as the director of the Center for Racial Justice of the national YWCA. You would find her by the sides of people such as; the head of core, James Farmer, the Urban League director, Whitney Young, of course Dr. King, and more.

16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

Posted in HISTORY, Humanity, North America with tags , , on February 15, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Civil right meetings were often held in churches in the early 60’s. The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama drew national attention as being a gathering point for demonstrations. On September 15, 1963, the church was bombed for this reason. Five young girls were in the basement ladies room preparing for the Youth Day activities. At 10:22 a.m. a blast that shook the entire church killed four of them.

Denise McNair, 11, Addie Mae Collins, 14, Carole Robertson, 14, and Cynthia Wesley, 14, were found in the mist of the crumbled bricks and shattered glass. The fifth girl, Sarah Collins, 12, staggered out of calling for her sister.

News of the bombing provoked riots and that lead to the deaths of two more youths. Dr. Martin Luther King delivered the funeral oration. Dr. King said, “These children-unoffending, innocent and beautiful-were the victims of one of the most vicious, heinous crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.”

NAACP Celebrates 100 Years

Posted in Awareness, CULTURE, HISTORY, North America with tags , on February 7, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

February 12th commemorates the founding of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, the NAACP, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

On February 3rd, 2010, the Library of Congress honored the NAACP with a new online exhibition and symposium of almost 70 heirlooms from the NAACP’s 100-year history.

On February 26, 2010, the NAACP will celebrate with a VIP breakfast, a keynote address, and a reflection of 20th century events.

“For more than a century, courageous men, women, and children have dedicated and some cases given their lives in the fight for freedom, justice, and equality for all”, said Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP.

Stay updated at

Emmett Till

Posted in Awareness, HISTORY, North America with tags , , on February 6, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

In the summer of 1955, Emmett Till was a fun loving 14 year-old, who was brutally murdered for whistling at a white woman in a Mississippi store. Emmett was from Chicago and unfamiliar with Jim Crow. Simeon Wright, his cousin, says that Emmett was alone in the store for only a minute before he was sent in by relatives. Jim Crow, a racial caste system, was like an out of control pit bull.  People of African descent had different rules to follow and the pit bull (Jim Crow) enforced them. Emmett’s cousin was sent in to be sure that Emmett followed the rules of Jim Crow.

Jim Crow allowed a claim of the teen putting his arm around storekeeper Carolyn Bryant, as a defense for the men that killed him. Sixty-seven year-old Wright, told Smithsonian magazine reporter, Abby Callard, that during the time that he was with Emmett, Bryant was behind the counter. He said it was impossible for Emmett to have had his arm around her. He said as they were walking from the store, Bryant went to her car. It was then that Emmett whistled at her.

“You guys might be afraid to do something like this, but not me.” Young Emmett’s words showed that he had no idea of the consequences of his action. “When he saw our reaction, he got scared too.” Wright said.

That night Emmett was drugged from his bed by Roy Bryant, J. W. Milan, and other men. He was forced at gun point to get into a truck. The men asked the person inside the truck if they had the right boy. Emmett’s mother and cousin could hear a woman’s voice say that they did.

The men were found not guilty, but later confessed. Emmett’s mother wanted his body viewed in a glass top coffin to show the world how they had beaten her son.//

Malcolm X, the Educator

Posted in Awareness, HISTORY, North America with tags , , , on January 28, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Malcolm X is remembered by most as a radical militant. Due to the movie or his autobiography, people associate Malcolm with the Nation of Islam during the 60’s or Black Nationalism. His birthday is not honored as a national holiday. Rarely is he mentioned during Black History month, yet Malcolm’s role in African American history is notable. Malcolm is responsible for so much more than what he is accredited.

Before James Brown sung “Said it loud, I’m black and I’m proud”, Malcolm X taught what he referred to as “knowledge of ourselves.” It might sound strange today, but before the Black Nationalism, there was no unity of who African Americans are as a race, thus explaining the evolution of terms; Colored, Negro, Afro-American, and African American. Other African American leaders of the time, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., were still referring to themselves as Negroes.

Malcolm encouraged African Americans to understand the history of slavery years before Alex Haley wrote Roots. It was Malcolm’s influence that encouraged Alex Haley to write Roots and to also write the Auto-biography of Malcolm X.

Malcolm was born Malcolm Little. He replaced “Little” with an “X” for the unknown.  He later changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. It was his example that encouraged millions of African Americans to change their names to reflect their African heritage.

Photo by Herman Miller

Remembering MLK

Posted in Awareness, HISTORY, North America with tags , , on January 23, 2010 by Mijiza Zeyzey

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of an awareness that most people do not remember. In his “It’s a Dark Day in Our Nation” speech, on why he was against the Vietnam War, he called attention to the applause he received in his non-violent response to the violence he met on the sit-ins, marches, and Freedom rides. He pointed out the inconsistency in praising his rejection of resorting to violence to make a change while the nation resorted to violence to make a change. He spoke of a “revolution of values” that will cause question of the fairness and justice of a system that did not recognize a nation that had fought for their independence.

People remember Dr. King’s Dream, yet they forget what he had proclaimed was needed to achieve it. Dr. King did not say we will wake up one day to his dream. He distinctly said more than once that a “revolution of values” was needed in order to find a “just way of settling differences.”  Dr. King wanted us to follow through on the revolution that Western nations had initiated.  A revolutionary spirit is not something solely belonging to 1776, Marxism, or communism. He wanted to see a revolutionary spirit rise to rid the world of “hostility, poverty, racism, and militarism.”

Dr. King pointed out how more money is spent on killing someone during a war than is spent on feeding someone during peace. Dr. King was not a dreamer. He had a plan. He had wisdom and awareness.

photo by Dick DeMarsico