Paying Tribute to an Ancestor Extraordinaire

Deborah Williams of Richfield, Minn., never got to meet her grandfather, Harry Henry Hill. But she knows his story: The black boy who lost his parents in the late 1800s and left school at age 12 became a single dad to six — count ’em, six — daughters and raised them on his own during a period of intense racial discrimination and prejudice against African Americans. Williams’ compelling story about her beloved grandfather is the winner of AARP’s Tribute to …

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 …

Walking Through a Year of Black History

It’s one thing to celebrate Black History Month. But when the organization founded by the father of Black history kicks off its 100th anniversary with an issues forum at the White House, led by America’s first Black president, that’s a Black history moment worth noting. That was the occasion on Feb. 11 as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) had a celebratory Black History Month forum at the White House. As panelists discussed the …

Civil Rights Songs in the Key of Freedom Still Resonate

“Precious Lord, take my hand. Lead me on, let me stand. I am tired. I am weak. I’m worn. Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light. Take my hand precious Lord, lead me on.” In the movie Selma, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. calls Mahalia Jackson, the “Queen of Gospel,” at a moment when he is most discouraged. Over the phone, she sings “Precious Lord” to comfort him. For me, this was one of the …

7 Moments Boomers Will Always Remember

Seven enduring memories from our yearlong ‘Boomer History’ project: Promised a T-shirt and a dollar for showing up, 5,000 fans greet the Beatles at New York’s JFK International Airport on Feb. 7, 1964. The following year, on Aug. 15, “arena rock” is born when a concert by the Fab Four draws more than 55,000 fans to Shea Stadium in Queens, N.Y. But nothing lasts forever. Preparing to release a solo album in April 1970, Paul McCartney says that the Beatles are finished. On March 7, 1965, …