The Struggle Continues!
SCOPE50.org January 2019
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
Let Us Continue His Work
Two Freedom Fighters
Two freedom fighters in the Civil Rights Movement (Richard Smiley and Lanny Kaufer) went on the road together in January and shared their experiences with a new generation, as part of remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Both are SCOPE50 board members. For Richard, it was a homecoming to his high school alma mater – Midland School in Los Olivos, California. They spent two days at Midland. The first day they talked about their work in the Movement, and the second day they led the students through a workshop on activism and nonviolence.
Sex, Race and Religion Flood the Streets of Washington, DC Over MLK Weekend (excerpts of a posting by Jo Freeman on www.seniorwomen.com
Sex, race and religion marched through the streets of Washington, DC over the long holiday weekend dedicated to the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King. There wasn’t much brotherly (or sisterly) love, which would have been a more fitting tribute to Dr. King’s memory; neither was there any physical violence, though there were some confrontations.
that it has become an annual event. For the third march, protestors were urged to come to Washington DC again, this time on Saturday, January 19, but were told they could march at home if they preferred. By now there are enough local organizations to do just that.
Ironically, it followed by one day the , which has also become an annual event, held on a weekend near the January 22, 1973 decision by the Supreme Court to limit the state’s ability to restrict a woman’s access to abortion. (Roe v. Wade) It always meets on the Mall for an hour before marching to the Supreme Court.
This year it conflicted somewhat with a new event. met at the Dept. of Interior at 8:00 a.m. with prayers and songs. Afterward, participants marched to the Lincoln Memorial where there were some unpleasant encounters with other protestors. As if this wasn’t enough, on Monday, DC held its 40th local march on MLK day, a long ways from the Mall. Mother Nature was not kind to any of the marchers, as all four days were cold and grey, with intermittent rain.
NOW () asked sympathizers to join it on the Supreme Court sidewalk to hold up pro-choice signs while pro-lifers walked by. Feminists have been doing this for years, but this was the smallest counter-protest that I have (barely) seen. While walking around that sidewalk looking for them, I shot photos of the other signs. I went to the end of the block and crossed the street. On the other side, I could see a few pro-choice signs facing the street; their backs to the Court. I also found a couple CodePinkers, who were only observing. I hadn’t intended to spend two hours shooting the (I’ve done that before) but I had such a good photo spot, with the Supreme Court in the background, that I just stayed and clicked. The US Capitol Police lined both sides of the street to keep anyone on the sidewalk from going into the street. They started doing that after Stop Patriarchy blocked the street in 2015 and 2016 just as the lead March for Life banner approached the Supreme Court. I chatted with one of the cops, who let me leave the curb long enough to take photos of some of the signs as they passed. I always came back to my spot.
The Catholic Church, where male celibates hold the power, is the major people provider for the March for Life. are more likely to oppose abortion than Catholics, it is Catholic schools and dioceses who fill their busses with parishioners and students for a trip to Washington, DC. It’s their signs that dominate the march.
Those going to the had to pay their own way. Many local groups organized buses for marchers, but they weren’t subsidized. There was a last minute change of location from a march on the Mall with a rally at Lincoln Memorial to Freedom Plaza. That space was too small; people packed the Plaza and flowed into the streets. Many were wearing pink pussy hats that had been popularized by the 2017 March.
The view is overlooking Freedom Plaza, looking down Pennsylvania Ave. toward the Capitol. Credit: Jo Freeman
At 11:00 a.m. the march stepped off for a short walk down Pennsylvania Ave., turning on 11th St. at the Trump International Hotel and again on E St. Barely five blocks, the walk took a long time because the street was packed and people moved very slowly. Banners were often hidden in the crowd. As marchers returned to the Plaza for the rally, most people left. Many had come as family groups; it was cold and there was no place to sit other than at nearby restaurants. On their way out, many went to the White House where they posed for photos and left their signs in the barricades the police had erected to keep protestors from getting too close.
Less than a thousand people actually heard the speakers live, or watched them on jumbotrons. At the other end of Freedom Plaza (only a block away), a group of Native Americans played their drums and chanted. On Pennsylvania Ave. itself, pro-lifers set up their large posters showing dismembered fetuses. Feminists stood in front, using their signs to block the posters. A different opposition group had staked out territory on the sidewalk on the march route. DC Police created a protest pen with yellow crime tape and guarded them to be sure there were no physical confrontations. The message on their signs was a combination of fundamentalist Christianity and anti-feminism.
As was true in 2017, many of the signs carried by marchers had an anti-Trump theme, but the percentage was smaller. Some were professionally printed, but many were homemade with personal sentiments. Anti-Trumpism was not a theme in the few speeches I listened to. While the marchers themselves were significantly white, those on the stage were not. Many races and religions were represented. Speakers trumpeted themes particular to their own groups, such as Black Lives Matter.
Major news coverage before the march focused on whether or not some march leaders were anti-Semitic, largely ignoring the created for this march. Instead of asking about policy, reporters wrote about "associations." One response was to create a group of to march as a bloc. Several hundred held a Sabbath service at the nearby New York Ave. Presbyterian Church before marching with identifying signs. The other major bloc of non-white marchers were those attending the at the hotel a couple of miles away. The AFL bussed them to its headquarters where they held a labor rally and picked up Union signs before walking to Freedom Plaza to join the women’s march. It bussed them back around 2:00 p.m.
There are no official estimates of crowd size anymore. Sometimes march organizers give out their own figures which are usually grossly exaggerated. Newspaper reporters also make their own estimates. Using all of these, my best guess is that there were a few hundred participants in the Indigenous March, two-hundred thousand in the March for Life and one-hundred thousand in the Women’s March.
Numbers have more meaning in context. The Indigenous March didn’t have a large base or finances. The MLK march is a local march, rather hard to get to without a vehicle, which was held on the coldest day of the weekend. The 46th March for Life was held on the least cold of those days. It has drawn as many as half a million, but not every year. The Woman’s March numbers will always be lower than the roughly one million people who came in 2017; there haven’t been enough of these for there to be a "normal."
The Supreme Court may take a chunk out of MLK’s legacy (from a Jan. 20 article on CNN.com)
“One is called the “child of the storm.” Another is “the crown jewel.” The third was dubbed “the voice of justice.” They are the three great laws of the civil rights movement: the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. A new conservative bloc on the Supreme Court though may soon treat them as something else: outdated “racial entitlements” that need to be put back in their place.
“That’s the dreaded future some experts envision for these landmark laws now that Justice Brett Kavanaugh has joined the Supreme Court. They warn that, for the first time, the high court has five firmly conservative judges who were groomed to dismantle the legal legacy of these laws, which have stood for 50 years. “They will chip, chip away at these laws until there is nothing left,” says Carol Anderson, author of One Person, No Vote; How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy.
“Such steady erosion would halt what some call the “Second American Civil Rights Revolution.” It would also destroy a central plank in the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. When the nation celebrates the King holiday on Monday, much of the focus will be on his stirring speeches and dramatic marches. But these three laws are as central to King’s legacy as his “I Have a Dream” speech. While he wasn’t the only person who fought and died for these laws – there were countless others who did the same – King’s role in their passage was indispensable.
“Today these laws touch virtually every American. They have changed everything from how women are treated in the workplace to protecting people with disabilities. Yet few realize these laws came about only because of a brutal struggle. And even fewer may be aware how a new high court could unravel them – all while claiming to honor the civil rights leader.” (For more information, read the full article at https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/20/us/mlk-legacy-supreme-court/index.html .)
Most of us who know Brother Jacobs as one of our own, perhaps do not know of his history with NASA’s space program. NASA has honored him as one of its innovators and unsung heroes (https://www.nasa.gov/50th/50th_magazine/unsungHeroes.html ). As Project Manager of the Apollo-Soyuz orbiter, Shelby designed instrumentation that would capture one of the most repeated images in space history: the separation between the first and second stages of the Apollo 6 spacecraft in 1968.
From an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, “After three years of testing and perfecting, the cameras recorded the famous footage just seconds after the launch on April 4, 1968. Jacobs said the video proved the viability of the Saturn V rocket separation process. It was also the first time video had captured the curvature of Earth from space. But the mission’s success was overshadowed by another event that day: the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. It was a troubling full-circle moment for Jacobs. Inspired by King’s marches for voting rights in 1965, Jacobs spent two weeks in Georgia that summer canvassing neighborhoods to register black voters.” (Note: Shelby was one of the SCOPE workers in Fort Valley, Georgia.)
From the Columbia Memorial Space Center website: “The Columbia Memorial Space Center, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is hosting an exhibit that honors Shelby Jacobs, the engineer who developed the camera systems that captured amazing images during the Apollo missions. Jacobs’s contribution to space exploration and his achievements revolving around work and life as an African American aerospace engineer in the 1960s is showcased in Achieving the Impossible: The Life and Dreams of Shelby Jacobs. The exhibit runs through Spring 2019.
An unsung hero, Jacobs gave the world the famous “Blue Marble” image that provided definite proof that the Earth was round.”
Additional information can be found at the following websites:
Rise Up: The Movement that Changed America
Another SCOPE member – Jim Keck – appears in a documentary about Dr. King which is available for viewing via the History Channel Vault through March 3. In the 60s, Jim was an SCLC field organizer in Chicago under the tutorage of James Bevel and Jerry Herman. Later, in the 70s and 80s, he was a professional community organizer in Chicago.
January 5 would have been Hosea Williams’ 93rd birthday. At the last meeting of the SCOPE50 Board, the decision was made to honor Hosea on his birthday. We would like to reprint here, for those who may not have seen it, the biographical information that appears on our SCOPE50 brochure:
We pay tribute to Hosea L. Williams, the Director of the SCOPE Project. “Hosea” was a renowned Civil Rights leader who played a crucial role in sustaining demonstrations that led to the Movement’s greatest legislative accomplishments – the 1964 Civil Rights Bill and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. A Field General for Martin Luther King Jr., he was inspired by King’s teachings to “clothe the naked and feed the hungry” and founded Hosea Feed the Hungry and Homeless in 1970, currently the largest direct-to-client food service organization in the Southeast and a provider of medical and educational aid in Haiti and Philippines.
Over 125 arrests and numerous beatings during civil disobedience and direct action protests throughout the South, Washington, DC, Chicago, and New York City. In 1987, he organized the largest march since the sixties in segregated Forsyth County, GA. Hosea was inducted in the inaugural ceremony of the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site.
Hosea was born, just prior to the Great Depression, on January 5, 1926 to a blind, single, teen-aged mother, the daughter of sharecroppers, and a student at the “Macon School for the Colored Blind,” whose death left him orphaned at ten years old. He died November 5, 2000.
He was awarded the Purple Heart after being wounded in World War II by a Nazi bombing, which caused a year-long hospitalization in Europe. During his discharge trip, a near-fatal attack for violating “Jim Crow” laws at a “White Only” water fountain in his home state resulted in a second hospitalization.
He earned a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry under the GI Bill and became a Research Chemist with the US Department of Agriculture, one of the first Blacks hired in this capacity. Awarded Honorary Doctor of Laws and Distinguished Alumni Award by Morris Brown College.
He represented the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) on a “Worldwide Brotherhood Tour” to seventeen nations in 1971, including traveling to the People’s Republic of China, before President Nixon, as the ninth American admitted in half a century.
Hosea served in all levels of state elected office – Georgia General Assembly, Atlanta City Council, and County Commissioner – as well as a businessman, newspaper publisher, television host, and sole contributor of the Hosea L. Williams Papers, 1958-2000.
Civil Forfeiture in South Carolina
In a joint investigation, The Greenville News and Anderson Independent Mail looked at every South Carolina civil asset forfeiture case (4,000+) from 2014 to 2016. Their examination was “aimed at understanding this little-discussed, potentially life-changing power that state law holds over citizens – the ability of officers to seize property from people, even if they aren’t charged with a crime.” The investigation yielded a clear picture of what is happening. Police are systematically seizing cash and property – many times from people who aren’t guilty of a crime – netting millions of dollars each year. Over the three years, law enforcement agencies seized $17 million from people in South Carolina they thought had gotten the money through illegal means. South Carolina law enforcement profits from this policing tactic: the bulk of the money ends up in its possession. Several examples of the police seizure of property/cash were given.
An Atlanta businessman was stopped on I-85 for speeding. He was not criminally charged in the 2016 incident. However, deputies discovered $29,000 in his car and decided to keep it. In another case, when a woman dropped a friend off at a Myrtle Beach sports bar, drug enforcement agents swarmed her car and found $4,670 in the car. Her friend was wanted in a drug distribu-tion case, but the woman was not involved. She had no drugs and was never charged in the 2014 bust. She worked as a waitress and carried cash because she didn’t have a checking account. She spent more than a year trying to get her money back.
These seizures leave thousands of citizens without their cash and belongings or reliable means to get them back. They target black men most, the investigation found – with crushing consequences when life savings or a small business payroll is taken. About 65 percent of the people targeted for civil asset forfeiture in SC from 2014 to 2016 were black males in a state where African-American men make up just 13 percent of the population. Nearly 20 percent of the more than 4,000 people who had money or items seized over three years were never charged with a crime and another one in five were found not guilty or had charges dismissed.
Many people never get their money back. Or they have to fight to have their property returned and incur high attorney fees. The average time between when property is seized and when a prosecutor files for forfeiture is 304 days, with the items in custody the whole time. Often, it’s far longer, well beyond the two-year period state law allows for a civil case to be filed. The entire burden of recovering property is on the citizens, who must prove the goods belong to them and were obtained legally. Since it’s not a criminal case, an attorney isn’t provided. Citizens are left to figure out a complex court process on their own. Once cases are filed, they have 30 days to respond. Most of the time, they give up.
Many other states are reforming their forfeiture process. Fifteen states now require a criminal conviction before property can be forfeited. Although South Carolina lawmakers have crafted reform bills, none have made it out of committee.
Atlanta Oral History Gathering
It was announced in the last SCOPE50 Newsletter that the Atlanta gathering would take place Jan. 31-Feb. 1. Unfortunately, that had to be cancelled due to the unavailability of hotel rooms because of the Super Bowl that weekend.