The 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Lyndon_Johnson_signing_Civil_Rights_Act,_July_2,_1964
It was late February, the week between when the Arizona state legislature passed S. 1062, allowing a “religious exception” to provide service to people, presumably gay people, and when Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the bill. I was watching JEOPARDY!, in real time. A clue popped up about the Greensboro Four, the young black men who, in February 1960, sat in at a Woolworth’s “whites only” lunch counter.

Suddenly, the Daughter started singing this song, about it, Rosa Parks, and the Little Rock Nine like events, which I had never heard before:

“Some young men in Carolina sat down at a counter and asked for something to eat
Cause they had a dream, yes they had a dream
And when no one served them, they just kept sitting, they never missed a beat
Cause they had a dream, yes they had a dream
They had a dream that all our children could live in harmony
And go to school together and work in the land of liberty”

It was actions such as the Greensboro sit-in, several retaliatory incidents of violence against blacks and of whites who supported them, capped by the peaceful August 1963 March on Washington, that prompted Congress to take action. From the Senate Judiariary committee webpage:

The House Judiciary Committee approved the legislation on October 26, 1963, and formally reported it to the full House on November 20, 1963, just two days before President Kennedy was assassinated. On November 27, 1963, President Lyndon Johnson asserted his commitment to President Kennedy’s legislative agenda, particularly civil rights legislation.

“No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy’s memory than the earliest possible passage of the Civil Rights Bill for which he fought so long.”

The House of Representatives passed a final version of the Civil Rights Act on February 10, 1964…

After a 54-day filibuster of the legislation, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced a compromise bill. The legislation… was ultimately passed on June 19, 1964, by a vote of 73 to 27. On July 2, 1964, the House voted to adopt the Senate-passed legislation… President Johnson signed the bill into law that very afternoon. The Civil Rights Act paved the way for future anti-discrimination legislation, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Here’s another narrative from ten years ago. Check out Bryan Cranston on playing President Lyndon Baines Johnson in the play All the Way.

President Obama has been saluting the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and honoring LBJ for his work to make it so. There is no doubt that the Act irrevocably altered the American landscape, and for the better.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Yet the notion that we could, or should, as a nation, not only allow, but tacitly encourage, discrimination, based on sexual orientation, is quite troubling to me. That we should use religion as the basis of that discrimination is abhorrent to me.

Do we need another Greensboro sit-in, say in Mississippi, which passed a bill, signed by the governor, as onerous as the Arizona bill? Not advocating that (yet), but the thought DID cross my mind.

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13 o’clock: racism in reverse?

RNC1.Screen-Shot-2013-12-03-at-2_08_07-PMEvery Black History Month, I put together some recent articles about race for the adult education class in my church, and how the reason we still have Black History Month is because there’s still weird stuff going on. This year was better/worse than ever, with items like the issue of some noted cases of Shopping While Black or even Working While Black.

Hey, that Duck Dynasty guy said HE never saw any racism when he was growing up with black people, so it’s a good chance that racism never really existed at all.

But this really bowled me over: Study Finds White Americans Believe They Experience More Racism Than African Americans.
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The Obama Presidency: Five Years Down, Three To Go

President Barack Obama Honors TeachersI know judging a two-term presidency with 36 months to go is a dodgy proposition, but what is the point of writing a blog if not to make these brilliant observations?

THE GOOD:
I had great hopes because the very first thing he tackled was wage discrimination. He was stuck with a horrendous economy in freefall, and the stimulus, despite spending that ought to have been better targeted, had overall good effect. GM and Chrysler were saved from almost certain death, which would have had a huge ripple effect on other parts of the economy.

The Affordable Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare, was not what I wanted, as I think his team took the single-payer option off the table WAY too early. Still, the fact that it doesn’t doom persons with pre-existing conditions to, likely, no insurance is a plus, and I appreciate the provision of keeping young adults on their parents’ policies.

Although he may have become more directed on the issue because of something his Vice-President said “too early,” Continue reading

Bumper stickers and spittle

We don’t have any bumper stickers on our cars; never have. My wife doesn’t like them, and that’s fine.

There are some out there that I like, though. The CoExist one. There’s a couple about women empowerment I’d support. One that read, “Straight, but not narrow,” with a little rainbow next to it I would have appreciated more had the not-very-big car not taken up two spaces in my physical therapist’s parking lot.

Overtly partisan political bumper stickers I’m less fond of. Particularly if your candidate loses, it’s kind of embarrassing. Those Michael Dukasis 1988 stickers seemed so sad. The Romney 2012 seem almost disingenuous Continue reading

Race in America, late summer, 1963

NBC News did a very interesting thing last month: it rebroadcast the August 25, 1963 episode of the news panel program Meet the Press, 50 years after the original broadcat. You can read the transcript at the site as well. The guests were Roy Wilkins, head of the NAACP, and Martin Luther King, Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. They were speaking three days before the massive March on Washington.

What I found fascinating is that there are two overriding themes in the questioning. One comes in the first question Continue reading

March on Washington, a half century later

It’s likely you’ll see a LOT of stories about the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Every single one will marvel about how much progress has been made in America in the area of race, since 1963. Almost all will point to a black President, the current Attorney General, and two recent Secretaries of State as examples. The divergence in opinions come on this point: some will claim that we have “reached the promised land,” making sure to paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr. from that day a half century ago – as though he were the only speaker there – while others will suggest that we haven’t quite gotten there yet.

When President Obama suggested that we look at race again in light of the Trayvon Martin case, that Obama could have been Trayvon 35 years ago, some, such as TourĂ© at TIME, thought it was a brave personal observation. He wrote: “The assertion that blacks are hallucinating or excuse-making or lying when we talk about the many very real ways white privilege and racial bias and the lingering impact of history impact our lives is painful. It adds insult to injury to attack all assertions of racism and deny its continued impact or existence.”

Others labelled Obama “racist-in-chief”, playing the “race card” and worse. Continue reading

That equality thing

It’s happening so quickly that I’m having a difficult time keeping track, but marriage equality has moved forward quite a lot in the past year since President Obama had given his support for same-sex marriage. Whether people support it, or not, there seems to be almost a sense of inevitability that it will happen nationwide, sooner or later, regardless of what happens in the Supreme Court this month. (Though if SCOTUS DOESN’T strike down DOMA, it will rather suck for a lot of people right NOW.)

National Basketball Association player Jason Collins comes out as gay this spring, and other than a lot of support, from the President, to other sports figures, on down, the reaction mostly seems to be, “Hey, no big deal.”

All of this worries me.
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This week in Obama political scandal

President Obama is currently embroiled in three situations labelled as political scandal. The IRS scandal is the most problematic in that it involves a highly disliked arm of government that affects almost everyone’s lives. But I agree that the REAL scandal in the IRS issue is that there are lots of political groups on both ends of the political spectrum getting tax-exempt status, when that designation should be limited Continue reading

Presidents Day 2013: books, 1912, and longevity out of office

JEOPARDY! Show #6451 – Monday, October 8, 2012

THE 1912 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

*With his opponents dividing the vote, this Democratic challenger was elected
*This incumbent president accepted the Republican nomination & did no campaigning; electoral votes: 8
*Theodore Roosevelt used this metaphor when announcing his run, hence the button seen here
*Eugene V. Debs garnered almost 1 million votes representing this left-leaning party
*Everyone wanted change even back then; the opposing campaign slogans were The ____ Freedom & The ____ Nationalism (same word)

2012 was a big year for Abraham Lincoln. He was featured in two movies, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and that other one. But he did NOT Continue reading