Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 21

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Having read the notion that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has something to do with national service, which seems to me to be far off the mark, I asked a representative 62-year old black woman, namely, Mrs. Dorothy Rozeff, what this day meant in her view. Her response was that Martin Luther King, Jr. led a civil rights movement. She pointed out that the day commemorates a movement that involved a large number of participants and represented a large fraction of Americans. Furthermore, that movement was led by a number of figures that should be acknowledged as important to its successes.  She mentioned A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth, C.T. Vivian, Julian Bond, and Andrew Young. She had met several of these men to talk to and seen them speak (as I have), and they had mentioned that they had genuine fear for their lives during this period.  This brief acknowledgment is by no means meant as an evaluation, libertarian or other, of  their lives, their political agendas, their successes and failures, or those of the civil rights movement, or what became of the civil rights movement. It is meant only to convey this thought of one black person other than the President.

A. Philip Randolph was a very major figure who mobilized support for civil rights through the March on Washington Movement and other organizations. He was instrumental in getting the government to ban discrimination in the defense industries that supplied the government and ending segregation in the armed forces.

Bayard Rustin was a key and early leader in the civil rights movement. He was a strategist, an activist, and a man who recognized King and supported him. He promoted nonviolent resistance.

Fred Shuttlesworth was a civil rights activist in Birmingham and co-founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Several attempts were made on his life.

C.T. Vivian was a “close friend and lieutenant” of King. He led many sit-ins and, like Rustin, adopted nonviolent resistance. Vivian has written a first-hand account of the civil rights movement, Black Power and the American Myth.

Julian Bond was a founding member of SNCC, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. SNCC members were instrumental in the movement in risking their lives in sit-ins, marches and freedom rides. The organization was anti-war. SNCC changed its non-violent stance  starting in 1965 and especially after Stokely Carmichael headed it.

Andrew Young was another key lieutenant of King, executive director of the SCLC starting in 1964, and a mediator between the black and white communities in a number of cities.

 

 

4:51 pm on January 19, 2013