Leelee Jackson and Geoffrey Stone are hardly household names in diversity circles. But in 2019, my interactions with Jackson, a talented young playwright, and Stone, a passionate defender of free speech, helped illuminate the challenging complexities of diversity and expression.
As a fellow of the University of California National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement, I have been examining the myriad tensions created when two laudable principles collide: the defense of robust speech and the effort to create greater inclusivity. This intersection has generated considerable controversy, including among diversity advocates.
Continue reading Diversity and Speech Part 4: Navigating the N-Word – by Carlos E. Cortés
Sigh, here we are again folks. Race…America…2019!
Like those meddlesome spring dandelions in the front yard, the specter of race keeps coming up as a slap upside the head reminder of how far we’ve come yet how far we need to go. One step forward, two, three, four, five steps back.
Here’s the latest “what the heck was he thinking” moment; one, I add with disgust, broke in the headlines on the first day of African American History Month in a state where 400 years ago the first slaves were hauled off in chains onto the shores in Virginia.
Continue reading When Nobody’s Looking: the Northam Moment! – by Terry Howard
Too many Millennials and members of their younger cohort, Generation Z, consider civil rights history as ancient history at the dawn of a new millennium. However, there are profound and poignant lessons which today’s young people need to learn. The most important lesson is how to make major changes in society through the type of peaceful means championed by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his fellow civil rights leaders of the time.
A term of significance for young people to comprehend is: “civil disobedience.”
In the early morning of October 16, 2018, I was awakened by the muffled voices of my parents who were scurrying around their home. I could hear them speaking but did not know what they were talking about. Besides, I was interested in getting a bit more sleep. At approximately 7:00am one of them appeared in the doorway. She told me what time it was and that we were evacuating. Initially I thought, is it that serious? Nevertheless, I immediately got out of bed and put on some jeans and tennis shoes, grabbed my Vera Bradley duffle and put a few toiletries into the matching cosmetics bag. I was visiting, so my bags were readily available. It took very little time and we were out the door and into the driving rain.
Continue reading The Great Flood – by Lydia Taylor
When I arrived at Chattanooga’s Second Missionary Baptist Church, A true Southern gentleman, The Rev. Paul McDaniel, met me personally met at the door. Born in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Pastor McDaniel has been part of the Southern landscape and its African American community for most of his life. After attending Morehouse College in Atlanta, he received a Masters of Divinity degree from Colgate-Rochester Divinity School and a Masters of Arts degree from the University of Rochester in New York. A Chattanooga resident since 1966, Rev. McDaniel stepped down from his post at the Second Missionary Baptist Church after almost 50 years of service. A larger-than-life figure in the community, I share our conversation in his honor.
Continue reading Pastor Paul McDaniel and the Interfaith South — by Deborah Levine
NOTE: This article was originally published on The Huffington Post.
On what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday the world will revisit his extraordinary leadership after his 1990 release from twenty-seven years in prison. Yet, Mandela’s influence was far-ranging long before the 1990s when he pulled together the South Africa that we know today, negotiated a rainbow nation, and became its first black president. I want to honor Mandela’s early impact and emphasize the global involvement in South Africa’s apartheid government and in its demise. The role of international financial institutions in the Mandela story is key for me both historical and personal. Lobbying the banks to divest in South Africa was the catalyst for my involvement not only in the anti-apartheid movement, but in the advocacy of civil rights over a life time.
Continue reading Mandela’s Legacy – Personal, Pivotal, & Pioneering – by Deborah Levine
When Jessica’s father bought her a one-way ticket to the States from Guatemala when she was 25, that was his way of saying, “I believe in you, hija, and I expect you to truly ‘be ‘somebody’.’” Now go do it.
Continue reading From Guatemala to the US — La Paz
DATELINE: Police questioned a black graduate student who fell asleep while studying in a dormitory common room.
I picked up a local newspaper and was confronted by this headline: “Harassment for ‘being black’ gains attention.”
My blood started to boil.
I took in a deep breath, cussed to myself, and slowly exhaled.
There’s not a day that goes by without more evidence of how tough it is for many African Americans to go about their daily activities – any activity it seems. We’ve gone from DWB (Driving While Black), to SWB (Shopping While Black), to BWB (Barbequing While Black), to SISWB (Sitting in Starbucks While Black), to SIADWB (Sleeping In A Dorm While Black). Insanity is too mild a word to describe this racial mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.
Continue reading Dialing 911 on Black Folks – By Terry Howard
When I started teaching civil rights in graduate school, I developed a timeline of civil rights events in the United States. I included positive ones as well as tragedies, and tried to include more than African-American connected events, to represent a fuller picture of American history than is usually represented. I also included some world events to provide context and some removal from a “calculus of suffering” so often indulged in by one group comparing its history with anothers. The timeline makes no promises of completeness, and is a work in progress. It is generally referenced, and is fairly reliable. This timeline proved to be popular with students, who mostly had been raised and educated on the myth of progress, American Dream, and City on a Hill themes. They were surprised by the uneven progression of social equity in American history, with its frequent “one step forward, two steps back” meme. I’ve chosen some examples from just one year in this timeline for black History Month.
Continue reading One Year in the Life of the American Dream: To help us wake up during Black History Month – by Marc Brenman
Although traditionally the month of February has celebrated famous African-Americans throughout history, maybe it’s time to augment how that history is told with our personal history stories, ones that define and shape who we are today.
The neighborhood I grew up in conjures up images of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” Hal Rauch’s “Our Gang” with scenes of Mayberry from the “Andy Griffin Show” added to the mix. The folks in my neighborhood were caring, creative and resourceful because we had to be. Our survival depended on it.
Continue reading My Neighborhood: African-American History Month – by Terry Howard