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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Has end of Civil Rights Movement begun?

Old Ga. state flag - Photo by Tomi Johnson
Are we too afraid to protest - too busy playing video games, worrying about our mortgages, retirement, foreign wars, and our Facebook pages?

Maybe we should contemplate the past. The American Reconstruction Era began in the South after the Civil War. During Reconstruction, former Confederate States were rebuilt under federal government guidance. It occurred on the heels of the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1870 which prohibited denying voting rights to citizen's regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

During this time, many blacks voted, secured land and property, held jobs, and were voted into public office. Violence against black voters was suppressed, however, and the Ku Klux Klan formed and strengthened to counter these rights. This era ended in 1877, and many blacks were disenfranchised.

After much marching, bloodshed and debate, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. looking on. This piece of legislation outlawed discriminatory voting practices against African Americans. In the 21st century, however, many voter ID laws have been proposed to "protect" voting by unauthorized persons.

Then came the Supreme Court decision this week, Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder, Attorney General et al. This decision removes the stipulation that certain states have to receive approval from the federal government before any voting laws are amended or enacted. Some civil rights advocates predict voter's rights will be curtailed, black elected officials will lose their seats, and redistricting will take place.

In Georgia, all this comes while several black officials are being convicted, investigated, and removed from office.  In 2004, former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell was convicted for tax evasion and served two years in federal prison. In March 2013, retired Atlanta School Board Superintendent Beverly Hall was indicted by a grand jury in relation to her role in a cheating scandal as well as several other school officials.

In May 2013, noted civil rights leader and State Representative Tyrone Brooks was indicted by federal authorities for fraud and tax evasion. Brooks claims that the CIA has targeted him for prosecution for his investigation into the lynching of a black couple in 1946. Last week, DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis was indicted on 15 criminal charges. Do we see a pattern here??? The old guard of the civil rights movement are now elderly or resting in their graves. Will new leaders step in to continue King's dream of a free society, of a Beloved Community?

If black leaders have done something illegal, they should be investigated and prosecuted, but if they are being targeted to cool down advances since passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, that's another story. How this movement will be counteracted - whether by boycotts, marching, or strict defense in the courts - will be closely watched by those interested in the political process.


  1. Tomi, it's certainly a Death Knell (if not a Death Blow), signaling the beginning of the end! We're seeing a return to "states rights," and Justice Scalia had the gall to refer to the questioned sections of the Voting Rights Act as "racial entitlement!!!" Ain't that a kick-in-the-head... racial entitlement. I think what's more disturbing is the number of our folk that are flat-out uninformed... even in this age of social-media and 24/7 news services and coverage. And much like you point out, we opt to consume a steady diet of mind-numbing viral videos and games like Angry Birds??!?!??? Without efforts geared toward healing and community (collective) economics, we will continue to lose ground. We are steadily losing political clout and continue to be consumers as opposed to producers. Our presence in particular industries is sorely lacking... Hospitality (lodging/food and beverage), Technology/Communications (Kurk can run circles around Branson and Gates) and other vital areas. Just for an example, how many Brotha's do you know with multiple cell phones laying around??? And I don't even want to get into Rims! Meanwhile, the prisons are filling up with more young Brotha's by the minute. A deal was recently scrapped between Florida Atlantic University and the GEO Group (private prison company) wherein the proposed new stadium would bear the GEO Group name! That's scary stuff.

    The Revolution is clearly Televised, Blogged, Viral and Tweeted!!! But are you really diggin' what's going-on???

  2. Yes, I'm digging it but don't know how to counter it except to pray and stay on the right side of the law which keeps changing.

  3. Hey, favorite sister in law, anarky in this country is just around the corner.
    Pardon any misspelled words. PS. They won't do what is right and honorable.
    Have a great day....

  4. George C says: Hey Tomi, I sent you an article last year by Reverend Kevin Cosby, pastor of St Stephens Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky. The article basically said that it is time for the NAACP and other such organizations to change the narrative from civil rights to civil responsibility, this was in response to the number of black on black crimes we were experiencing here and around the country. I know we have more problems to address than that, but if we can't address that, a lot of us don't stand a chance. Why can't we get Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson, Cornel West, Tavis Smiley or anyone else besides Bill Cosby to talk to talk about our "dirty laundry" ?!!

  5. I believe some progress is possible through exploring how to break cycles. Cycles of poverty, negative contact with law-enforcement, resistance to offers of help through mistrust or other reasons. Something that has also troubled me throughout my career in corrections/criminal justice(twenty-five years and counting), is also a great concern... it seems going to jail and/or prison has become a Rite Of Passage (especially for our young men) within our communities, and it simply has to stop! Take it back to Sly Stone and Family Affair, one child loves to learn, another just loves to burn. It's time to restore the village and re-allign our outlook and way of life.


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