WBEZ | Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. http://www.wbez.org/tags/dr-martin-luther-king-jr Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago civil rights film gets National Film Registry recognition http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-12/chicago-civil-rights-film-gets-national-film-registry-recognition-109435 <p><p dir="ltr">The year 2013 is ending on a high note for Chicago film. Cicero March, a short film documenting a historic local civil rights march, was selected by the Library of Congress for its National Film Registry.</p><p dir="ltr">The library selects 25 films each year for the registry, and most tend to be significant theatrical productions. This year is no different, as the <a href="http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2013/13-216.html">big, popular films on the list</a> include Gilda, Pulp Fiction, The Magnificent Seven, and Judgement at Nuremberg.</p><p dir="ltr">But tucked among those titles was Cicero March -- a short independent documentary from the Chicago-based <a href="http://www.chicagofilmarchives.org/collections/index.php/Detail/Object/Show/object_id/689">Film Group</a> that details a significant moment in the region&rsquo;s history.</p><p dir="ltr">On Sept. 4, 1966, Robert Lucas of the <a href="http://www.congressofracialequality.org/">Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)</a> led protestors on a march through Cicero, located on the city&rsquo;s western border and then racially segregated.</p><p dir="ltr">The march was supposed to be led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. King had been in Chicago since January, and along with other activists, had faced many mobs in white communities such as Marquette Park.</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/women%20watching.png" style="height: 258px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Cicero residents photograph a historic anti-segregation march through the Chicago suburb in 1966 (photo courtesy Chicago Film Archive)" />But in August of that year, a <a href="http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_chicago_campaign/">&ldquo;summit&rdquo; </a>was held between King, then Mayor Richard J. Daley, the city&rsquo;s housing authority, and various real estate interests. Out of that emerged an agreement on open housing.</div><p dir="ltr">CORE was based in Chicago and well-seasoned by its efforts against segregation in Chicago public schools. And CORE activist Lucas <a href="http://digital.wustl.edu/e/eii/eiiweb/luc5427.0872.098marc_record_interviewee_process.html">considered the housing agreement a sham</a> and decided to go ahead with the march.</p><p dir="ltr">Once again, protestors were confronted by angry residents who lined the route, shouting, swearing, and threatening violence.</p><p dir="ltr">But as the Film Group documented, the marchers, flanked by police and armed National Guardsmen, were not afraid to respond.</p><p dir="ltr">As helicopters hovered overhead, residents hurled taunts such as, &ldquo;You should have washed before coming here,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Hey, the Brookfield Zoo is that way!&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">In response one of the marchers yells, &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t stop, just keep it coming, just keep coming, don&rsquo;t stop. You fat punk, I think I see what you&rsquo;re made of. You fat punk -- and your momma, too!&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Cicero March is in the collection of the <a href="http://www.chicagofilmarchives.org/">Chicago Film Archive</a> (CFA). [Disclosure: The writer is on the advisory board of the CFA.]</p><p dir="ltr">The original print was a well-worn circulating copy from the Chicago Public Library&rsquo;s collection of 16mm films. After contacting Mike Grey and William Cottle of the Film Group, the CFA raised money to restore one of its prints of the film.</p><p dir="ltr">Anne Wells, the CFA&rsquo;s collections manager, says this was the third year in which the organization submitted Cicero March to the Library of Congress for consideration.</p><p dir="ltr">She finds it incredible that the footage even exists.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They were the only news cameramen there,&rdquo; said Wells. &ldquo;So to the best of our knowledge, this is the only moving image footage of this civil rights march.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Wells thinks inclusion in the National Film Registry is a well-deserved nod to non-commercial Midwestern filmmaking, and recognition that this moment in history happened.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s ugly,&rdquo; said Wells. &ldquo;But you don&rsquo;t want to hide that past. It&rsquo;s a very emotional film, that this happened here.&rdquo;</p><p>All of the films selected for the National Film Registry have been deemed &ldquo;culturally, aesthetically or historically&rdquo; significant.</p><p><em><a class="underlined" href="http://www.wbez.org/users/acuddy-0" rel="author">Alison Cuddy </a> is the Arts and Culture reporter at WBEZ. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy"> Twitter </a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison"> Facebook </a> and <a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport"> Instagram</a>. </em></p></p> Tue, 24 Dec 2013 09:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-12/chicago-civil-rights-film-gets-national-film-registry-recognition-109435 Staple Singers' anthem a call for civil rights and reparations http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-08/staple-singers-anthem-call-civil-rights-and-reparations-108515 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-08-24 at 9.30.53 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p>One of the more stirring and heartfelt songs from the civil rights era is <em>When Will We Be Paid</em>, by the Chicago soul and gospel group The Staple Singers.</p><p>In plainspoken but soulful terms Mavis Staples unpacks the backbone of American prosperity: black slave labor.</p><p><em>We worked this country<br />From shore to shore<br />Our women cooked all your food<br />And washed all your clothes<br />We picked cotton and laid the railroad steel<br />Worked our hands down to the bone at your lumber mill</em></p><p>The Staples released the song in 1970 on <em>We&rsquo;ll Get Over</em>, their second album on the Stax label. The great performance of the song above comes from the film <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0244807/">Soul to Soul</a>, which documents a 1971 concert in Ghana, featuring mostly American R&amp;B, soul and jazz performers.</p><p>The song itself <a href="http://blog.kexp.org/2010/02/17/kexp-documentaries-civil-rights-songs-%E2%80%93-when-will-we-be-paid-for-the-work-weve-done/">was inspired by a passage</a> in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr&rsquo;s <em>I Have a Dream Speech</em>, given at the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom which took place 50 years ago this month.</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence they were signing a promissory note &hellip; a promise that all men, yes black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked insufficient funds.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Despite those credentials, and the Staples&rsquo; role in the civil rights movement, <em>When Will We Be Paid</em> is not recalled alongside some of the other great anthems of the era, like <em>We Shall Overcome</em>, <em>Go Tell it on the Mountain</em>, and <em>People Get Ready</em>. And neither the song nor the album were a hit for the Staples.</p><p>I wonder if that&rsquo;s in part because the song can be read as an argument for what&rsquo;s proven a controversial topic: reparations. That idea has been around <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reparations_for_slavery_debate_in_the_United_States">since the end of the Civil War</a>, that direct descendants of slaves, either individually or as a group, deserve some kind of monetary compensation for the wrongs suffered by their ancestors.</p><p>Of course the meaning of <em>When Will We Be Paid</em> is also much broader. Following Dr. King&rsquo;s logic, the &ldquo;bad check&rdquo; is a metaphor for the failure to achieve full equality for blacks in America. And the Staples double down on notion by invoking &ldquo;women&rsquo;s work,&rdquo; arguing that equality will only be paid in full if it also extends to black women.</p><p>But the litany of abuses in <a href="http://contreinfo.info/article.php3?id_article=480">the lyrics</a>, the claim that &ldquo;Anytime we ask for pay or a loan/That&rsquo;s when everything seems to turn out wrong,&rdquo; the repeated refrain of &ldquo;When will we get paid/For the work we&rsquo;ve done&rdquo; suggests the song speaks not just of the political but the economic forms of redress required to make the check good.</p><p>If the Staples did have reparations in mind, they&rsquo;d be in good company, at least when it comes to Chicago and Illinois. Many of the more recent arguments for reparations have come from here, made by activists like <a href="http://www.ncobra.org/">N&rsquo;COBRA</a> and the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and by <a href="http://www.finalcall.com/national/reparations5-30-2000.htm">politicians like Dorothy Tillman</a>, Jan Schakowsky, Bobby Rush and Danny Davis. Reparations even came up as a <a href="http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/02/10/mayoral-candidates-spar-over-reparations/">topic for debate</a> in Chicago&rsquo;s last Mayoral election.</p><p>Davis was part of a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_National_Coalition_of_Blacks_for_Reparations_in_America">Congressional group</a> charged with studying the idea of reparations in 2001. He thinks there is something unique about Chicago&rsquo;s position on reparations.</p><p>&ldquo;Chicago sent the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_De_Priest">very first African American</a> to become a member of Congress after the period of Reconstruction,&rdquo; said Davis. &ldquo;Illinois has been the state that has elected two [African American] United State Senators. So Chicago has had a level of progression related to issue raising that many other places in the country have not experienced.&rdquo;</p><p>Though his own group came to naught in terms of serious discussion or recommendations, and never gained broader support from Congress, Davis doesn&rsquo;t think the issue has gone away.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think anyone can deny that slavery has had an adverse effect on many of its descendants,&rdquo; Davis said. &ldquo;People whose relatives or foreparents were enslaved are still feeling the impact and are still being disadvantaged as a result.&rdquo;</p><p>But that is exactly what&rsquo;s proven so controversial about reparations: is payment required to repair that damage? And if so, how much, to whom, and why African Americans, and not other disadvantaged groups?</p><p>Davis thinks reparations don&rsquo;t have to mean paying people outright. He has in mind special incentives like education and training to lift people out of poverty, all of which he thinks can &ldquo;in a sense be called reparations.&rdquo; But reaching consensus on what those would look like has proven no less complex.</p><p>As for The Staple Singers, Davis say&rsquo;s he is a great fan of the group and has been since seeing them as a child in Crossett, Arkansas. To him, the song evokes a key claim for blacks, one that has yet to be fully answered.</p><p>&ldquo;The notion of when will we be paid, or when will we really reach the point when there is full citizenship, with no barriers, no prohibitions, with nothing that holds us back and reminds us of this previous condition of servitude, when will that happen -- if it will?&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alison Cuddy is WBEZ&rsquo;s Arts and Culture reporter and co-host of <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wbezs-changing-channels/id669715774?mt=2">Changing Channels</a>, a podcast about the future of television. Follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezacuddy">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/cuddyalison?ref=tn_tnmn">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://instagram.com/cuddyreport#">Instagram</a></em></p></p> Sat, 24 Aug 2013 09:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2013-08/staple-singers-anthem-call-civil-rights-and-reparations-108515 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 Chicagoans reflect on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. http://www.wbez.org/story/chicagoans-reflect-dr-martin-luther-king-jr-95553 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-13/AP Photo Charles Knoblock.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have turned 83 this week were he still alive today. On Friday Chicago's department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events held a breakfast honoring Dr. King for civic, business and religious leaders.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel was among the program's speakers. He highlighted the role of education in civil rights, stressing the need for Chicago's schools to provide equal opportunity to all students and blamed adults for "failing our children."</p><p>Emanuel remarked that over the last 50 years, Chicago has been a crucible for civil rights in America.</p><p>"It is no coincidence that the city of Chicago and the struggles we've had with civil rights gave birth to a mayor like Harold Washington. It is no coincidence that Illinois has more African American officers and has elected more African American officers statewide than any other state of the union. And it is also no coincidence, given it's history and struggles, no accident that Chicago and Illinois put President Barack Obama on his path to the White House. In the eyes of the world, Chicago is a city no longer defined by its divisions," Emanuel said.</p><p>U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn also gave remarks. The keynote speaker was Melody Spann-Cooper of Midway Broadcasting Corporatoin and WVON Radio.</p><p>Meanwhile, a number of King-related events are scheduled for today in Chicago, including an Occupy Chicago protest at 3 p.m. in front of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.&nbsp; The Occupy event is part of a national day of action involving at 13 Fed banks around the nation marking the King holiday.</p><p>The Rev. Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition are hosting an annual Martin Luther King Day Jr. scholarship breakfast.</p><p>Officials with Jackson's civil rights organization say the goal is to highlight how large gaps in wealth and education persist among different populations.</p><p>Jackson has made poverty awareness a theme of commemorative events this year.</p><p>He announced Sunday his plans to spend the night at Pacific Garden Mission, a Chicago homeless shelters. Jackson says the millions of Americans living in poverty is a moral disgrace.</p><p>Also Monday, Chicago's Joffrey Ballet is offering an African dance class in commemoration of the holiday and the Bronzeville Children's Museum in Chicago will have a program featuring crafts.</p><p>Here's a sampling of other King-related events in Chicago scheduled for Monday:</p><p>City Year Chicago plans Day of Service for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 9 a.m. opening ceremony at Henry Ford Academy, 931 S. Homan Ave.; 10:30 a.m. service at Bethune School of Excellence, 3030 W. Arthington St.</p><p>Community groups plan city-wide canvassing to target homeowners facing foreclosure, 10 a.m. 2655 N. Melvina Ave. and 1401 E. 75th St.; 11 a.m. 7463 N. Ridge Blvd.</p><p>Teens and World War II veterans gather to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, 10 a.m. Renaissance Court Senior Center, 77 E. Randolph St.</p><p>Bronzeville Children's Museum hosts King Dream Quest Program for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, 11 a.m. 9301 S. Stony Island Ave.</p><p>Service to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day with 44 members of the clergy, 11 a.m. South Park Baptist Church, 3722 S. Martin Luther King Drive.</p><p>Chicago Sinfonietta present "The Journey, The Dream," tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., 7:30 p.m. Orchestra Hall of Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan Ave.</p><p>WBEZ asked Chicagoans who gathered at the breakfast to honor Dr. King, what&nbsp; he would have thought of our city today. You can click above to hear the responses of Barbara Klein, Dennis Talison, Corliss Garner and Dr. Carmelita Green.</p></p> Mon, 16 Jan 2012 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicagoans-reflect-dr-martin-luther-king-jr-95553