Black Press Still Pleading the Cause for African Americans

Growing up in Philadelphia, I remember my father always stopping at the corner store for a copy of the Philadelphia Tribune, our black newspaper. It was my go-to source for school papers and other projects. You could always find it on the coffee table of our home and at the homes of many of our neighbors. Today, the advent of social media, phone cameras and 21st-century technology are often credited for the exposure of police shootings of unarmed black men …

A Salute to the Women Fighting to Maintain Voting Rights

On Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965, the Alabama State Police spared no activists — not even the women — on Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge. They, too, were knocked to the ground, trampled by horses and struck by batons, just like the men — all for standing for the rights of African Americans to vote. As America continues to commemorate the nobility of all of the activists credited for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Women’s History Month is also an …

At 103, Selma Marcher Shows Us All How to Live

The “Bloody Sunday” 50th anniversary march was an event that inspired people across America to stand for justice wherever injustice prevails. In that regard, among the greatest inspirations at the March 7 commemoration was 103-year-old Amelia Boynton Robinson, a foot soldier who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Who would have thought that this heroine, knocked unconscious by the Alabama State Police during the original Bloody Sunday protest, would return 50 years later, marching in a wheelchair alongside Barack …

What Civil Rights Trailblazers Taught About Leadership

The second in a series celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. When introduced to Nelson Mandela in 1994, former AARP CEO A. Barry Rand first noticed the “quiet dignity” that the revered former South Africa president exuded. In a statement upon Mandela’s death, Rand also described the beloved Madiba’s “strong conviction, inspiring confidence, the wisdom of his years and experiences, and a strong moral character.” Rand concluded, “He was a man of purpose at peace with who …

T. Thomas Fortune: He Paved the Way for Civil Rights Organizers

W.E.B. Du Bois. Mary McLeod Bethune. Stokely Carmichael. Malcolm X. Martin Luther King Jr. These are names of civil rights leaders you’re likely to hear during Black History Month. But here’s one you may not: T. Thomas Fortune. You might say that Fortune was the forefather of civil rights organizers. In 1890, he founded the National Afro-American League, the precursor to a host of groups, including today’s powerful National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Fortune was born …

A ‘Shout Out’ for the Man Who Kept a Music Tradition Alive

Lawrence McKiver, who died on April 2 at age 97 in St. Simons Island, Ga., was the guardian of a musical tradition dating to the time when Africans brought in chains across the Atlantic kept their spirits up by lifting their voices in song. With his fellow members of the McIntosh County Shouters, McKiver practiced the ring shout, a vocal genre that gospel music historian W. K. McNeil says grew out of West African religious rituals and “is probably the …