WBEZ | civil rights movement http://www.wbez.org/tags/civil-rights-movement Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 60th anniversary of Emmett Till's death http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-28/60th-anniversary-emmett-tills-death-112762 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/emmett till.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Mamie Till Mobley was the mother of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Chicago African American who was brutally murdered 60 years ago today while visiting relatives in Mississippi. Despite his badly beaten face and bloated body, Emmett&#39;s mother decided to have an open casket funeral. She&rsquo;s quoted as saying, &quot;There was just no way I could describe what was in that box. No way. And I just wanted the world to see.&quot;</p><p>Emmett Till&rsquo;s murder energized the growing Civil rights movement with scholar Clenora Hudson-Weems characterizing Till as a &quot;sacrificial lamb&quot; for civil rights. His murder is being commemorated today through Sunday with a series of events in Chicago. Airickca Gordon-Taylor, a cousin of Till and founder of the family&rsquo;s foundation, shared her thoughts on Emmett Till&rsquo;s lasting legacy.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Interview Highlights</span></p><p><strong>When was this story first told to you?</strong></p><p>Well, I have a very unique situation because at the age of six months, I went to live in the home with Emmett&#39;s mother and his grandmother and stepfather. And the dynamic was that they all stayed in the same house together. My bedtime stories told to me by his grandmother were true stories about Emmett Till but I didn&#39;t realize that until I got much older, of course. So I learned about Emmett at a very early age.</p><p><strong>Do you remember your reactions to the story?</strong></p><p>Honestly, I didn&#39;t react in shock. I didn&#39;t have the same reaction as somebody on the outside of the family had and that&#39;s because I grew up in the home like their child. Emmett&#39;s mother called me the grandchild she never had and I actually traveled with her and her husband often when she had speaking engagements.</p><p>I was so young. You know when you see the little child lying on the pew, sitting up, not paying attention? That was me. I actually remember understanding the story once, though. I remember when I first understood it and it did kind of frighten me when she started to describe what Emmett looked like. It captured my attention and I was young and I didn&#39;t understand who she was talking about, but what she described &mdash; and she was describing at that time how Emmett looked when she opened the box &mdash; I remember lying on the pew and I was listening and I was frightened. So it frightened me as a child to hear that, but I didn&#39;t know it was Emmett.</p><p><strong>So his mother, Mamie Till Mobley, traveled the country a lot speaking about this. Did you ever talk to her about that &mdash; her dedication, her commitment, to not only keeping the memory of the murder alive, the memory of her son, but what it represented?</strong></p><p>I didn&#39;t really know who she was. I knew she was Emmett Till&#39;s mother, but being on the inside, it didn&#39;t really resonate that &#39;This is Emmett Till&#39;s mother,&#39; like this is <em>Emmett Till&#39;s mother</em>, until the day she died. The day she died, and I saw it on the television, said &#39;The mother of Emmett Till has passed away.&#39; It hit me like a bunch of bricks. Like, the mother of Emmett Till has died. I was like a stranger looking at it on television and at that point, it was just like, Oh my God, we&#39;ve lost Emmett Till&#39;s mother. Not just Mamie &mdash; but we&#39;ve lost Emmett Till&#39;s mother. What are we going to do? How are we going to handle the magnitude of this? And that&#39;s when I went to work. But she invested so much in me and she trained me and she taught me and I watched her and I learned from her to carry her legacy on.</p><p><strong>You had said that Mamie Till Mobley trained you to carry on the work. Talk a little bit about the work that you do and the foundation.</strong></p><p>The foundation was started to continue the work that she did, and that was to mentor youth. We have the Emmett Till Players, she started that to train youth. She trained them in the excerpt of Martin Luther King. And we train the youth in excerpts of others today, so we kind of elevated it to another level. She wanted her children, even from the age of five, to know the words of Dr. King. That is what inspired her and so she wanted children to understand his words to inspire them.</p><p>So we train youth, mentor youth and we also work with families who have also suffered the same tragic loss that we&#39;ve suffered. Mamie would travel the country and she would go work with families and she would connect with families that had lost their loved ones, such as the mother of Amadou Diallo. Ms. Diallo has come to Chicago to be with us, among about 17 or 18 other families. And so Mamie would connect with other families to help fight for justice for their loss. And so that&#39;s what we do. We connect with other families and we work with them to continue to fight for justice for their sons and their daughters, such as Mike Brown, such as Trayvon Martin, or Sandra Bland. We want to work with these families and that&#39;s how we feel that we get justice for Emmett because our family never has received judicial justice for Emmett&#39;s murder and it&#39;s the 60th year anniversary today.</p><p><strong>What activities and events are planned for the weekend?</strong></p><p>This evening we&#39;re having the <a href="http://emmetttill60th.com/youth-empowerment-day/%20">Legacy Lives Emmett Till Remembrance Dinner</a> at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place where the Honorable Minister Farrakhan is the keynote speaker. And we have youth speakers that have come also, such as Makayla Gilliam-Price from Baltimore and we have Martese Johnson, who was a victim of brutal violence on the Virginia campus. And we also have a YOUth EmPOWERment day tomorrow at the Reva &amp; David Logan Center. And then on Sunday we&#39;re going to have the gospel generation, which is a revival, so we can come together with the other families and encourage them as they leave and say, &#39;Hey, you&#39;re not in this alone. We&#39;re still fighting. Be encouraged. The battle is not over.&rsquo; And we&#39;re also going to pay tribute to those that were involved with our family back in 1955.</p><p><strong>What&#39;s your sense of how Emmett&#39;s story is told in schools? Do you get a sense that it&#39;s part of American history in schools?</strong></p><p>Not really. I don&#39;t feel that they tell it because when I go and I speak and when I ask for a show of hands as to how many know about Emmett Till, they don&#39;t raise their hands. Many of our children don&#39;t know about Emmett Till. They talk about Dr. King and they talk about Marcus Garvey, but they don&#39;t talk about Emmett Till, so I don&#39;t feel as though Emmett Till is spoken about or educated about in our school systems. I&#39;m actually an educator and I come from a family of educators, so it&#39;s up to us to teach our children their history.</p></p> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 12:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-28/60th-anniversary-emmett-tills-death-112762 Bayard Rustin: The Civil Rights Movement’s invisible man http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/bayard-rustin-civil-rights-movement%E2%80%99s-invisible-man-98800 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Bayard%20Rustin%20collage%201.jpg" style="height: 187px; width: 620px;" title="From left to right: Civil rights organizer Bayard Rustin, left, appears with writer James Baldwin, calling on President Kennedy to send troops to integrate Alabama schools in 1963; with former Black Panther Kathleen Cleaver in 1976; and with movement leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. after the 1965 L.A. riots. (AP)"></div><p>Look at the above pictures of some of America’s civil rights leaders, and you’ll see faces that are immediately recognizable. At their side, though, is a figure you might not recognize: bespectacled, focused and always in a tie. In one photograph he is Dr. King’s right-hand man and advisor. In another he stands behind Kathleen Cleaver as she defends her husband, Eldridge, former Minister of Information for the Black Panther Party. In &nbsp;the third image, he stands by the side of James Baldwin, one of the era’s most powerful thinkers. The man is Bayard Rustin. He’s little known today, but he had a profound influence on the Civil Rights Movement.</p><p>Rustin was by all accounts a dyed-in-the-wool radical: Raised by his Quaker grandmother, he was a devoted pacifist who traveled to India to study the non-violent teachings of Gandhi and brought those protest techniques to the movement. He helped launch the first wave of Freedom Rides.</p><p>At least a decade before Rosa Parks, Rustin refused to give up his seat at the front of a Tennessee bus. (According to a 1942 essay by Rustin, when police tried to drag him from his seat, he pointed to a white child across the aisle and said, “If I sit in the back of the bus, I am depriving that child of the knowledge that there is injustice here.")</p><p>Additionally, Rustin was a longtime advisor to several movement leaders, including Dr. King and A. Philip Randolph, who organized and led Chicago’s Pullman Porters into the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first predominantly black labor union. Rustin was the lead organizer -- and by some accounts the mastermind-- behind the 1963 March on Washington, during which King made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.</p><p>So why did Rustin, a man who by all accounts was one of the most gifted organizers and public intellectuals of his time, not rise to the same level of prominence and regard as the powerful and influential people he advised? Why was he, as one commenter put it, “expunged” from the pages of history?</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP690401030.jpg" style="height: 314px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Why did Rustin remain in the background? (AP)"></div><p>The wrinkle in Rustin’s story, and one reason you may not have heard of him, was that Rustin was also openly gay. He came out to his family in West Chester, Penn., as early as 1929, decades before it was remotely safe or acceptable to be a gay man in America.</p><p>Rustin’s honesty about his sexual orientation was thus at times a liability to him, even as it was a testament to his remarkable openness. He was arrested in Pasadena in 1953 on a morals charge – committing a sexual act in a public place, in this case, a parked car. He was sentenced to 60 days in prison and the case made headlines around the country.</p><p>According to filmmaker Bennett Singer, the director behind <em>Brother Outsider</em>, the&nbsp;<a href="http://rustin.org/">2003 documentary about Rustin</a>,&nbsp;some people think Rustin was set up. Regardless, the incident was used against him many times, both by enemies of the Civil Rights Movement –North Carolina Congressman and segregationist Strom Thurmond attacked him from the floor of the U.S. Senate—and by his own brothers in arms. According to writings of Rustin’s referenced in the film, powerful U.S. Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, the first black man from New York to serve in Congress, allegedly threatened to spread a rumor that Rustin was having an affair with King if the two men didn’t call off protests planned for the 1960 Democratic National Convention in L.A.</p><p>Friends and family describe the delicate political calculus, both personal and public, that Rustin had to engage in with respect to his identity and his movement commitments. Sometimes he was able to step into the limelight; other times he was forced to take a step back.</p><p>In the audio above, two people close to Rustin discuss the impact this dance had on his legacy and his name recognition. The first is Eleanor Holmes Norton, congressional representative for Washington, D.C., as heard in Singer’s film. Holmes Norton met Rustin as a law student and then became his protégé. The second person is Walter Naegle, Rustin’s partner from 1977 until Rustin’s death in 1987. Both Holmes Norton and Naegle were close to Rustin, but they have very different takes on why he may have chosen to stay in the background.</p><p><a href="../../series/dynamic-range"><em>Dynamic Range</em></a><em> showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified’s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Bennett Singer and Walter Naegle spoke at an event presented by the </em><a href="../../users/chicago-history-museum-0"><em>Chicago History Museum</em></a><em> in February. Click </em><a href="../../story/bayard-rustin-100-rediscovering-forgotten-hero-96507"><em>here </em></a><em>to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Sat, 05 May 2012 10:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/dynamic-range/bayard-rustin-civil-rights-movement%E2%80%99s-invisible-man-98800 Chicago SNCC History Project helps 'Tell the Story' of civil rights movement http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-20/chicago-sncc-history-project-helps-tell-story-civil-rights-movement-9332 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-October/2011-10-20/Sncc_poster-1dovkj7.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Over the weekend, Chicago will expand its collection of civil rights history when the <em>Tell the Story</em> exhibit opens at the <a href="http://www.dusablemuseum.org/" target="_blank">DuSable Museum of African American History</a>. The <a href="http://chicagosncc.org/" target="_blank">Chicago SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) History Project</a> collected the materials from local civil rights efforts in the early 1960s—from posters to oral histories—that were used to assemble the exhibit. The archive is part of the <a href="http://www.chipublib.org/branch/details/library/woodson-regional/p/FeatHarsh/" target="_blank">Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature</a> housed in the Carter G. Woodson Regional Library. The interactive exhibit opens Saturday in honor of Freedom Day, when hundreds of thousands of students boycotted Chicago Public Schools for its segregationist policies. To learn more, WBEZ's Richard Steele spoke with a couple of people behind the project.</p><p>He first visited Sylvia Fischer, a founding member of the Chicago Area Friends of SNCC.&nbsp; They talked in her home where Sylvia hosted meetings in the early 1960s. He also spoke with Michael Flug, the director of the Harsh Archival Processing Project at the Woodsen Library.</p><p>The music heard in the piece is by the Freedom Singers, who be a part of the opening-day festivities for the new <em>Tell the Story</em> exhibit at the DuSable Museum. And comedian Dick Gregory – who was big in the Chicago movement— will be interviewed. But this time, it will be Sylvia Fischer asking the questions!</p><p>Special thanks to <a href="http://kartemquin.com/" target="_blank">Kartemquin Films</a> for additional archival footage.<br> &nbsp;</p><p><em>A correction has been made to this story. A name was misspelled in an earlier version.</em></p></p> Thu, 20 Oct 2011 14:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-10-20/chicago-sncc-history-project-helps-tell-story-civil-rights-movement-9332 Wading into Chicago's segregated past http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-04/wading-chicagos-segregated-past-90113 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-04/241405524_caa4c5c515_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Violence is deeply rooted in Chicago’s history. Racial tensions contributed to that sad truth for years but in 1960s, it was a truth many young people could no longer swallow. They confronted hate with, of all things, non-violent demonstrations. The peaceful but sometimes dangerous strategy became a cornerstone of the Civil Rights Movement. Fifty years ago, Chicago’s beaches were segregated—not by law but by neighbors.<br> So demonstrators decided to wade-in. WBEZ’s<a href="http://www.wbez.org/staff/richard-steele" target="_blank"> Richard Steele</a> brought <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> the story. And one quick warning--- there is strong language in this conversation.</p><p><em>Music Button: Ramsey Lewis, "Wade in the Water", from the Album Hang On Ramsey/Wade in the Water, (BGO Records)</em></p><p>Race relations in America took a decided but difficult turn in the 1960s. Non-violent demonstrations across the country confronted racism, segregation and hatred head on. Young people, students—black and white—took part in sit-ins and freedom rides.</p><p>Though much attention was paid to the Jim Crow South, Chicago had its own racial divide.</p><p>A number of Chicago neighborhoods that had been, “all white,” became integrated—South Shore was one of those neighborhoods. As blacks continued to move in and attempted to use public facilities, like Rainbow Beach, there was a growing resentment stewing among a vocal segment of the white community.</p><p>The tension turned physical in August of 1960. A black policeman and his family were run off Rainbow Beach by other beachgoers. The incident sparked a “call to action” from Velma Murphy, who was president of the NAACP Youth Council; and so she gathered her troops. She turned to another young organizer who had successfully wrangled white support at the University of Chicago. Norm Hill helped integrate the effort—and won Velma’s heart in the process. They married within the year and are still married to this day.</p><p>They knew there was potential for violence but they were young—and brazen. Velma said it was the audacity of young people; that they didn’t think they would be hurt and that the police would protect them. But the police weren’t there and they were hurt—no one more than Velma. She shared her vivid memories of what happened on that hot August day on Rainbow Beach.</p><p>Their demonstration was not met with unconditional support from the civil rights community. Steele spoke to Timuel Black who is a retired college professor, political activist and one of the black community’s most highly respected historians. Black remembered, in fact, being asked to stop the demonstrators.</p><p>But they were young and not easily discouraged. So they went back to the beach—week after week. And Black started going too. At the time, Black was the Chicago president of the American Labor Council. So, he made sure the “city fathers” paid attention and that the protestors were protected by Chicago police officers.</p><p>Many forget about the wade-ins at Rainbow Beach. But Velma Murphy Hill can’t. The summer of 1960 and her experience on the sands of that beach etched deep physical and emotional scars. The events of that day changed Velma’s life forever—and gave it new purpose.</p><p>The memory and importance of the wade-ins of the early 1960s at Rainbow Beach should not be carried out with the tides of time. A coalition of civil rights and labor groups hope to make sure of that.</p><p>Fifty years later, an historic marker will be dedicated at Rainbow Beach on Saturday, Aug. 20—and it is what will ultimately bring Velma back to the beach.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 04 Aug 2011 14:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-04/wading-chicagos-segregated-past-90113 Rev. Jesse Jackson: Civil rights movement under attack http://www.wbez.org/story/rev-jesse-jackson-civil-rights-movement-under-attack-88089 <p><p>The Reverend Jesse Jackson spoke out about employment inequality on Monday, saying the civil rights movement is under attack.</p><p>Jackson spoke in Chicago at the 40th annual Rainbow PUSH conference. He started the Rainbow PUSH Coalition in 1971 to improve the economic conditions of black communities across the United States.</p><p>Jackson said state laws requiring voter identification or laws restricting collective bargaining create unequal opportunities.<br> <br> "This is an ugly season in so many ways, and it's not happening in Illinois because we are the oasis in this desert," he said. "Somewhere between Ohio and Wisconsin and Michigan is Illinois, where the governor's sensitivity has brought some measure of relief."<br> <br> Illinois Governor Pat Quinn attended a luncheon at the conference Monday. He also spoke about the importance of equal employment opportunities.</p><p>The conference kicked off on Saturday and will continue until Wednesday.&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 20 Jun 2011 20:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/rev-jesse-jackson-civil-rights-movement-under-attack-88089