Happy Birthday RFK

Today is Robert Kennedy’s 88th birthday, had he not died 45 years ago at the age of 43.    Some men accomplish a lifetime of good in just half a lifetime, I believe RFK was one of those men.  Please read/watch/listen to his speech below and let it influence your life, if only for today.

 

NAME: Robert Kennedy
OCCUPATION: Government Official
BIRTH DATE: November 20, 1925
DEATH DATE: June 06, 1968
EDUCATION: Harvard University, University of Virginia Law School
PLACE OF BIRTH: Brookline, Massachusetts
PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California
Full Name: Robert Francis Kennedy
Nickname: Bobby Kennedy
AKA: RFK

Best Known For:  Robert Kennedy was Attorney General during his brother JFK’s administration. He later served as a U.S. Senator and was assassinated during his run for the presidency.

Robert F. Kennedy’s speech on the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. was given on April 4, 1968, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Kennedy, the United States senator from New York, was campaigning to earn the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination when he learned of King’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. Earlier that day Kennedy had spoken at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend and at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Before boarding a plane to attend campaign rallies in Indianapolis, Kennedy learned that King had been shot. When he arrived, Kennedy was informed that King had died. Despite fears of riots and concerns for his safety, Kennedy went ahead with plans to attend a rally at 17th and Broadway in the heart of Indianapolis’s African-American ghetto. That evening Kennedy addressed the crowd, many of whom had not heard about King’s assassination. Instead of the rousing campaign speech they expected, Kennedy offered brief, impassioned remarks for peace that is considered to be one of the great public addresses of the modern era.

Kennedy was the first to publicly inform the audience of King’s assassination, causing members of the audience to scream and wail in disbelief.  Several of Kennedy’s aides were worried that the delivery of this information would result in a riot. Once the audience quieted down, Kennedy spoke of the threat of disillusion and divisiveness at King’s death and reminded the audience of King’s efforts to “replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.”  Kennedy acknowledged that many in the audience would be filled with anger, especially since the assassin was believed to be a white man. He empathized with the audience by referring to the assassination of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, by a white man. The remarks surprised Kennedy aides, who had never heard him speak of his brother’s death in public.  Quoting the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus, whom he had discovered through his brother’s widow, Jacqueline Kennedy, Kennedy said, “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”  Kennedy then delivered one of his most well-remembered remarks: “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness, but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black. To conclude, Kennedy reiterated his belief that the country needed and wanted unity between blacks and whites and encouraged the country to “dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and to make gentle the life of this world.”  He finished by asking the audience members to pray for “our country and our people.”  Rather than exploding in anger at the tragic news of King’s death, the crowd dispersed quietly.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’m only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some — some very sad news for all of you — Could you lower those signs, please? — I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it’s perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black — considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible — you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization — black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill with — be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond, or go beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poem, my — my favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King — yeah, it’s true — but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love — a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We’ve had difficult times in the past, but we — and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it’s not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.

And let’s dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.

Thank you very much.

Despite rioting in other major American cities, Indianapolis remained calm that night after Kennedy’s remarks, which is believed to have been in part because of the speech.  In stark contrast to Indianapolis, riots erupted in more than one hundred U.S. cities including Chicago, New York City, Boston, Detroit, Oakland, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore, killing 35 and injuring more than 2,500. Across the country, approximately seventy thousand army and National Guard troops were called out to restore order.

Two months later, Robert Kennedy was shot while exiting the ballroom through kitchen of The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.  He died early the next morning

The speech itself has been listed as one of the greatest in American history, ranked 17th by communications scholars in a survey of 20th century American speeches.

Banned Books That Shaped America: The Autobiography of Malcolm X

The Library of Congress created an exhibit, “Books that Shaped America,” that explores books that “have had a profound effect on American life.” Many of the books in the exhibit have been banned/challenged.  Give yourself the gift of a beautiful story and read one and them imagine what your life would be like if you were never given that gift.

Fight censorship.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Malcolm X and Alex Haley, 1965 (Grove Press)

Objectors have called this seminal work a “how-to-manual” for crime and decried because of “anti-white statements” present in the book. The book presents the life story of Malcolm Little, also known as Malcolm X, who was a human rights activist and who has been called one of the most influential Americans in recent history.

MalcolmX

Malcolm x was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on May 19, 1925, and spent much of his life fighting for equal rights for African Americans. Freedom for African Americans was supposed to have come with the end of the Civil War in 1865, but their struggle to attain equality persisted well into the next century, and continues today. Despite freed slaves’ legal and political gains during the period just after the Civil War, known as Reconstruction, they and their children suffered blows to their rights in the last decades of the nineteenth century. For example, in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that segregation, in the form of “separate but equal” public facilities, was constitutional. Legalized racism across America, especially in the South, continued through the first half of the twentieth century.

Suffering from discrimination, economic oppression, and violence at the hands of whites, African-American communities rallied around several different political leaders. Booker T. Washington (1856–1915) encouraged blacks to gain political power by earning the respect of white people through hard work and humble conduct. W.E.B. DuBois (1868–1963) demanded political empowerment and spiritual rebirth. Marcus Garvey (1887–1940) urged a return to Africa, contending that black people should rely upon their own unity and create their own means of empowerment. Garvey’s fiercely nationalist ideas influenced many African Americans, among them Earl Little, Malcolm X’s father, a preacher who spread Garvey’s ideas in his small Michigan community.

During the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, Malcolm X gained national and international prominence. Often distancing himself from the movement’s leaders, he was perhaps the most controversial leader of the period. Malcolm X’s separatism and militancy contrasted with the desegregation efforts and nonviolent tactics of Martin Luther King, Jr. Historians credit Malcolm X as the spiritual father of the Black Power movement of the late 1960s. At the time of Malcolm X’s murder in 1965, his views and commitments were undergoing a great change. He was demanding unity and self-determination for black people, whose struggle he viewed in the context of oppressed peoples all over the world. He was also abandoning the hard-line anti–white prejudice of his early years.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X is the result of a collaboration between Malcolm X and journalist Alex Haley. Over a period of several years, Malcolm X told Haley his life story in a series of lengthy interviews. Haley wrote down and arranged the material in the first person, and Malcolm X edited and approved every chapter. Thus, though Haley actually did the writing, it is reasonable to consider the work an autobiography. The work is one of the most important nonfiction books of the twentieth century, as it offers valuable insight into the mind of a key figure on a core issue of twentieth-century America. In 1965, a New York reviewer wrote of Malcolm X, “No man has better expressed his people’s trapped anguish.” The autobiography continues to be relevant to efforts to combat racism. Equal rights activists fighting against oppression of African Americans revived Malcolm X’s philosophy in the 1980s, and Spike Lee released the movie Malcolm X in 1992, shortly after the infamous beating of black motorist Rodney King by white police officers.

Fight all forms of censorship.

Fight all forms of censorship.

Robert F. Kennedy’s Indianapolis Speech

Robert F. Kennedy’s speech on the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. was given on April 4, 1968, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Kennedy, the United States senator from New York, was campaigning to earn the 1968 Democratic presidential nomination when he learned of King’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee. Earlier that day Kennedy had spoken at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend and at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Before boarding a plane to attend campaign rallies in Indianapolis, Kennedy learned that King had been shot. When he arrived, Kennedy was informed that King had died. Despite fears of riots and concerns for his safety, Kennedy went ahead with plans to attend a rally at 17th and Broadway in the heart of Indianapolis’s African-American ghetto. That evening Kennedy addressed the crowd, many of whom had not heard about King’s assassination. Instead of the rousing campaign speech they expected, Kennedy offered brief, impassioned remarks for peace that is considered to be one of the great public addresses of the modern era.

Kennedy was the first to publicly inform the audience of King’s assassination, causing members of the audience to scream and wail in disbelief.  Several of Kennedy’s aides were worried that the delivery of this information would result in a riot. Once the audience quieted down, Kennedy spoke of the threat of disillusion and divisiveness at King’s death and reminded the audience of King’s efforts to “replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand with compassion and love.”  Kennedy acknowledged that many in the audience would be filled with anger, especially since the assassin was believed to be a white man. He empathized with the audience by referring to the assassination of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, by a white man. The remarks surprised Kennedy aides, who had never heard him speak of his brother’s death in public.  Quoting the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus, whom he had discovered through his brother’s widow, Jacqueline Kennedy, Kennedy said, “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”  Kennedy then delivered one of his most well-remembered remarks: “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness, but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black. To conclude, Kennedy reiterated his belief that the country needed and wanted unity between blacks and whites and encouraged the country to “dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and to make gentle the life of this world.”  He finished by asking the audience members to pray for “our country and our people.”  Rather than exploding in anger at the tragic news of King’s death, the crowd dispersed quietly.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’m only going to talk to you just for a minute or so this evening, because I have some — some very sad news for all of you — Could you lower those signs, please? — I have some very sad news for all of you, and, I think, sad news for all of our fellow citizens, and people who love peace all over the world; and that is that Martin Luther King was shot and was killed tonight in Memphis, Tennessee.

Martin Luther King dedicated his life to love and to justice between fellow human beings. He died in the cause of that effort. In this difficult day, in this difficult time for the United States, it’s perhaps well to ask what kind of a nation we are and what direction we want to move in. For those of you who are black — considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible — you can be filled with bitterness, and with hatred, and a desire for revenge.

We can move in that direction as a country, in greater polarization — black people amongst blacks, and white amongst whites, filled with hatred toward one another. Or we can make an effort, as Martin Luther King did, to understand, and to comprehend, and replace that violence, that stain of bloodshed that has spread across our land, with an effort to understand, compassion, and love.

For those of you who are black and are tempted to fill with — be filled with hatred and mistrust of the injustice of such an act, against all white people, I would only say that I can also feel in my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.

But we have to make an effort in the United States. We have to make an effort to understand, to get beyond, or go beyond these rather difficult times.

My favorite poem, my — my favorite poet was Aeschylus. And he once wrote:

Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.
What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer for the family of Martin Luther King — yeah, it’s true — but more importantly to say a prayer for our own country, which all of us love — a prayer for understanding and that compassion of which I spoke.

We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times. We’ve had difficult times in the past, but we — and we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; and it’s not the end of disorder.

But the vast majority of white people and the vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings that abide in our land.

And let’s dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world. Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.

Thank you very much.

Despite rioting in other major American cities, Indianapolis remained calm that night after Kennedy’s remarks, which is believed to have been in part because of the speech.  In stark contrast to Indianapolis, riots erupted in more than one hundred U.S. cities including Chicago, New York City, Boston, Detroit, Oakland, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore, killing 35 and injuring more than 2,500. Across the country, approximately seventy thousand army and National Guard troops were called out to restore order.

Two months later, Robert Kennedy was shot while exiting the ballroom through kitchen of The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.  He died early the next morning

The speech itself has been listed as one of the greatest in American history, ranked 17th by communications scholars in a survey of 20th century American speeches.

Police Firehose Student Activists: A Proud Heritage: Photos From the Civil Rights Movement

At least 1,000 youth gathered and marched to face the police outside the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on May 2, 1963. The police tried to intimidate them and eventually used firehoses to chase the protestors away.

The Birmingham campaign was a strategic movement organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to bring attention to the unequal treatment that black Americans endured in Birmingham, Alabama. The campaign ran during the spring of 1963, culminating in widely publicized confrontations between black youth and white civic authorities, that eventually pressured the municipal government to change the city’s discrimination laws. Organizers, led by Martin Luther King, Jr. used nonviolent direct action tactics to defy laws they considered unfair. King summarized the philosophy of the Birmingham campaign when he said: “The purpose of … direct action is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation”.

In the early 1960s, Birmingham was one of the most racially divided cities in the United States, as black citizens faced legal and economic disparities as well as violent retribution when they attempted to bring attention to their problems. Protests in Birmingham began with a boycott to pressure business leaders to provide employment opportunities to people of all races, and end segregation in public facilities, restaurants, and stores. When business leaders resisted the boycott, SCLC organizer Wyatt Tee Walker and Birmingham native Fred Shuttlesworth began what they termed Project C, a series of sit-ins and marches intended to provoke mass arrests. After the campaign ran low on adult volunteers, high school, college, and elementary students were trained by SCLC coordinator James Bevel to participate, resulting in hundreds of arrests and an instant intensification of national media attention on the campaign. To dissuade demonstrators and control the protests the Birmingham Police Department, led by Eugene “Bull” Connor, used high-pressure water jets and police dogs on children and bystanders. Media coverage of these events brought intense scrutiny on racial segregation in the South.

Not all of the demonstrators were peaceful, despite the avowed intentions of the SCLC. In some cases, bystanders attacked the police, who responded with force. Scenes of the ensuing mayhem caused an international outcry, leading to federal intervention by the Kennedy administration. King and the SCLC were criticized for putting children in harm’s way. By the end of the campaign, King’s reputation surged, Connor lost his job, the “Jim Crow” signs in Birmingham came down, and public places became more open to blacks.

The Birmingham campaign was a model of direct action protest, as it effectively shut down the city. By attracting media attention to the adverse treatment of black Americans, it brought national force to bear on the issue of segregation. Although desegregation occurred slowly in Birmingham, the campaign was a major factor in the national push towards the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited racial discrimination in hiring practices and public services in the United States.

Rosa Parks’ Bus Incident: A Proud Heritage: Photos From the Civil Rights Movement

Rosa Parks sits inside a bus on December 21, 1956, the same day Montgomery’s public transportation system was legally integrated. Behind Parks is Nicholas C. Chriss, a UPI reporter covering the event.

On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake‘s order that she give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. Parks’ action was not the first of its kind to impact the civil rights issue. Others had taken similar steps, including Lizzie Jennings in 1854, Homer Plessy in 1892, Irene Morgan in 1946, Sarah Louise Keys in 1955, and Claudette Colvin on the same bus system nine months before Parks, but Parks’ civil disobedience had the effect of sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Parks’ act of defiance became an important symbol of the modern Civil Rights Movement and Parks became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation. She organized and collaborated with civil rights leaders, including boycott leader Martin Luther King, Jr., helping to launch him to national prominence in the civil rights movement.

At the time of her action, Parks was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and had recently attended the Highlander Folk School, a Tennessee center for workers’ rights and racial equality. Nonetheless, she took her action as a private citizen “tired of giving in”. Although widely honored in later years for her action, she suffered for it, losing her job as a seamstress in a local department store. Eventually, she moved to Detroit, Michigan, where she found similar work. From 1965 to 1988 she served as secretary and receptionist to African-American U.S. Representative John Conyers. After retirement from this position, she wrote an autobiography and lived a largely private life in Detroit. In her final years she suffered from dementia, and became involved in a lawsuit filed on her behalf against American hip-hop duo OutKast on the song “Rosa Parks”.

Parks eventually received many honors ranging from the 1979 Spingarn Medal to the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal and a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. Upon her death in 2005, she was the first woman and second non-U.S. government official granted the posthumous honor of lying in honor at the Capitol Rotunda. She was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 2008.

Police Using Dogs to Attack Protesters: A Proud Heritage: Photos From the Civil Rights Movement

It was April 3, 1963 when the youth activists in Birmingham, Alabama started to gather along the streets to protest against segregation. During the protest, Parker High School student Walter Gadsden was attacked by the police’s K-9 dog.

The Birmingham campaign was a strategic movement organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to bring attention to the unequal treatment that black Americans endured in Birmingham, Alabama. The campaign ran during the spring of 1963, culminating in widely publicized confrontations between black youth and white civic authorities, that eventually pressured the municipal government to change the city’s discrimination laws. Organizers, led by Martin Luther King, Jr. used nonviolent direct action tactics to defy laws they considered unfair. King summarized the philosophy of the Birmingham campaign when he said: “The purpose of … direct action is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation”.

In the early 1960s, Birmingham was one of the most racially divided cities in the United States, as black citizens faced legal and economic disparities as well as violent retribution when they attempted to bring attention to their problems. Protests in Birmingham began with a boycott to pressure business leaders to provide employment opportunities to people of all races, and end segregation in public facilities, restaurants, and stores. When business leaders resisted the boycott, SCLC organizer Wyatt Tee Walker and Birmingham native Fred Shuttlesworth began what they termed Project C, a series of sit-ins and marches intended to provoke mass arrests. After the campaign ran low on adult volunteers, high school, college, and elementary students were trained by SCLC coordinator James Bevel to participate, resulting in hundreds of arrests and an instant intensification of national media attention on the campaign. To dissuade demonstrators and control the protests the Birmingham Police Department, led by Eugene “Bull” Connor, used high-pressure water jets and police dogs on children and bystanders. Media coverage of these events brought intense scrutiny on racial segregation in the South.

Not all of the demonstrators were peaceful, despite the avowed intentions of the SCLC. In some cases, bystanders attacked the police, who responded with force. Scenes of the ensuing mayhem caused an international outcry, leading to federal intervention by the Kennedy administration. King and the SCLC were criticized for putting children in harm’s way. By the end of the campaign, King’s reputation surged, Connor lost his job, the “Jim Crow” signs in Birmingham came down, and public places became more open to blacks.

The Birmingham campaign was a model of direct action protest, as it effectively shut down the city. By attracting media attention to the adverse treatment of black Americans, it brought national force to bear on the issue of segregation. Although desegregation occurred slowly in Birmingham, the campaign was a major factor in the national push towards the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited racial discrimination in hiring practices and public services in the United States.

African-American Students at Florida A&M Boycott the Buses: A Proud Heritage: Photos From the Civil Rights Movement

On June 1, 1956, students at the Florida A&M College gathered and boycotted the buses in their protest against racial segregation.

The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a political and social protest campaign that started in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, United States, intended to oppose the city’s policy of racial segregation on its public transit system. Many important figures in the civil rights movement were involved in the boycott, including Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph Abernathy, and others, as listed below. The boycott caused crippling financial deficit for the Montgomery public transit system, because the city’s black population who were the principal boycotters were also the bulk of the system’s paying customers. The campaign lasted from December 1, 1955, when Rosa Parks, an African American woman, was arrested for refusing to surrender her seat to a white person, to December 20, 1956, when a federal ruling, Browder v. Gayle, took effect, and led to a United States Supreme Court decision that declared the Alabama and Montgomery laws requiring segregated buses to be unconstitutional.

‘You may do that.’

On this date in 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus. The Montgomery bus segregation policy at that time dictated that the black and white sections were fluid based on need; whites were guaranteed at least the first four rows, but the boundary between the sections was wherever the dividing sign was at any given moment. If the bus was crowded with a lot of white passengers, the black section was pushed farther back toward the back of the bus. Sometimes the driver would eliminate the black section altogether; whenever this happened, the black passengers were forced to leave the bus and wait for another. Also, if there were white passengers in the front of the bus, black passengers weren’t allowed to walk past them to take their seats; they could board the front of the bus to pay their fare, but then had to get off and board by the back entrance, and it wasn’t uncommon for the bus to pull away before they had a chance to do so.

On this day, Parks, an African-American seamstress, sat down in the front row of the black section on her way home from work. All was well until the bus became more crowded with white passengers, and the driver moved the divider back; now Parks was seated in the white section. The driver demanded that she give up her seat to a white man, and she refused. She was tired from working all day, but she was also fed up; this had happened to her several times before. Years later, she recalled, “When that white driver stepped back toward us, when he waved his hand and ordered us up and out of our seats, I felt a determination cover my body like a quilt on a winter night.” She refused to give up her seat. “When he saw me still sitting, he asked if I was going to stand up, and I said, ‘No, I’m not.’ And he said, ‘Well, if you don’t stand up, I’m going to have to call the police and have you arrested.’ I said, ‘You may do that.'”

Parks’ arrest was the catalyst that the newly formed Montgomery Improvement Association needed to organize a boycott of the city’s buses on December 5. A 26-year-old pastor named Martin Luther King Jr. emerged as the protest’s leader; on the first night of the boycott he came forward and said, “The great glory of the American democracy is the right to protest for right.” The boycott continued for over a year, and ultimately the United States Supreme Court ruled that the segregation policy was unconstitutional.

Parker

It’s the birthday of writer and satirist Dorothy Parker, born in West End, New Jersey (1893). She was clever even as a little girl — she got kicked out of Catholic school for describing the Immaculate Conception as “spontaneous combustion.”

Almost every day from 1919 until 1929, a group of clever writers and actors met for lunch at the Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan. They called themselves the Algonquin Round Table, and eventually, “The Vicious Circle.” Dorothy Parker was one of the founding members of the group, along with people like Harold Ross, who founded The New Yorker, and journalist George S. Kaufman, and there were frequent guests, like Tallulah Bankhead, Frank Sullivan, and Harpo Marx. They played word games and card games, they made fun of other writers and actors, they played pranks on each other, and they wrote about each others’ clever comments in newspaper columns, so that their witticisms and pranks became national news.

She moved to Hollywood in the 30’s to screenwrite. With Robert Carson and Campbell, she wrote the script for the 1937 film A “Star is Born,” for which they were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing – Screenplay. She wrote additional dialogue for “The Little Foxes” in 1941 and received another Oscar nomination, with Frank Cavett, for 1947’s “Smash-Up, The Story of a Woman,” starring Susan Hayward.

Parker died of a heart attack at the age of 73 in 1967 in New York City. In her will, she bequeathed her estate to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. foundation. Following King’s death, her estate was passed on to the NAACP. Her ashes remained unclaimed in various places, including her attorney Paul O’Dwyer’s filing cabinet, for approximately 17 years. In 1988, the NAACP claimed Parker’s remains and designed a memorial garden for them outside their Baltimore headquarters. The plaque reads, “Here lie the ashes of Dorothy Parker (1893–1967) humorist, writer, critic. Defender of human and civil rights. For her epitaph she suggested, ‘Excuse my dust’. This memorial garden is dedicated to her noble spirit which celebrated the oneness of humankind and to the bonds of everlasting friendship between black and Jewish people. Dedicated by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. October 28, 1988.”

“The Flaw in Paganism” in Death and Taxes (1931)

Drink and dance and laugh and lie,
Love, the reeling midnight through,
For tomorrow we shall die!
(But, alas, we never do.)

“Haters Gonna Hate” -Martin Luther King Jr.

I more or less loathe every post I read on facebook and I am beginning to realize why: there is no thought put into them. They are reactionary, they are spur of the moment comments, they are poorly thought through opinions. It is the nature of the media, an instant update of what the poster is thinking at that very moment. I am the first to admit that I have a lot of bullshit ideas in my head and if I tweeted all of them, I would be locked up to protect me from others as well as myself.

I post less and less. I dumped my twitter account because I know no one cares what I am eating and I do not have anything to sell or promote. I post less and less because I fear my opinions are as annoying to someone as theirs are to me. I post photos a lot. I post humorous little anecdoetes. Then I write somewhere else. I write drafts and drafts before they are read by anyone else. They are sometimes heartfelt, sometimes humorous, and sometimes a call to action for the readers, but they are always planned, researched, and interesting to me.

I see people celebrating winning sports teams, royal weddings, and terrorist’s deaths and realize that I almost never “WOO HOO!” In the Homer Simpson application of it, not in the Sims 2 (ya, I read Urban Dictionary too).

It got me to thinking about what/who I would totally lose my mind over and I cannot think of any specific incidents. I have looked through my listed “heros” on facebook and all of them are dead except Jimmy Carter so, I guess would totally loose my business cool if I ever met him. But since the others are dead, I would probably be pretty freaked out to meet them too.

Today is the birthday of William Inge, born in 1913 in Independence, Kansas. He came to be known as the “Playwright of the Midwest,” and credits his keen understanding of human nature to growing up in a small town: “I’ve often wondered how people raised in our great cities ever develop any knowledge of humankind. People who grow up in small towns get to know each other so much more closely than they do in cities.”

While working as a drama critic for the St. Louis Star-Times, Inge met Tennessee Williams, who invited him to a production of The Glass Menagerie. Inge was inspired to write a play of his own, Farther Off from Heaven (1947), which Williams recommended for production. He wrote a string of hits — Come Back, Little Sheba (1950), Picnic (1952) for which he received a Pulitzer Prize, Bus Stop (1955), and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1957) — all of which would later be turned into movies. He enjoyed less success and acclaim in the 1960s, however, with the sole exception being his screenplay for Splendor in the Grass (1961). He won an Oscar for it, but his five final plays were box office flops, and he killed himself in 1973, convinced he could no longer write.