Why Civil Rights Vets Keep Pressing On

The first in a series celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The civil rights struggles of the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s were largely led by youth and college students, many who were members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee or the NAACP Student Council. Now in their 70s, 80s and even 90s, some view their civil rights mission as a life’s work with no retirement in the plan. “I still have an interest in my people, …

‘Drumbeat of Activism’ Still Permeates Our Communities

They called it Freedom Summer – 10 weeks in 1964 when more than 700 student volunteers from around the country joined organizers and local activists in a historic effort to end the vestiges of racial oppression across the South, including what PBS described as “one of the nation’s most viciously racist, segregated states.” That state was Mississippi. And before it was over, three men – James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner – were viciously beaten and killed by the …

Ruby and Maya Remind Us: The Arts Helped Blacks to Survive

What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore- And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over- like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode? That poem, among the most famous by Langston Hughes, was written in 1951. A prelude to the civil rights movement, it is among the quintessential examples of how arts …

Ruby Dee, Actress and Civil Rights Activist, Dies at 91

Ruby Dee had impressive versatility as an actress in Broadway dramas, TV soap operas and movies that included Buck and the Preacher (1972) and Do the Right Thing (1989). Dee, who passed away on June 12 at age 92 in New Rochelle, N.Y., had an equally impressive career as a civil rights activist. She and her husband of nearly six decades, actor Ossie Davis, spoke out in the 1950s against McCarthyism; organized a campaign to press the government to restore the …

This Week in Boomer History: Medgar Evers … Pentagon Papers … ‘Hee Haw’

On June 9, 1969, the U.S. Senate confirms President Richard Nixon’s choice of Warren E. Burger to succeed Earl Warren as chief justice of the United States. Though generally conservative, Burger will vote in favor of school busing and abortion rights, and will write the court’s unanimous decision upholding a subpoena for the Watergate tapes. Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc immolates himself on a Saigon street on June 11, 1963, in protest against the government of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem. After losing President …

‘Supermensch’ Starts Off a Summer of Documentaries

  Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (Theaters June 6) Austin Powers star Mike Myers tries documentary filmmaking with a fond look at one of his oldest friends, Hollywood superagent Shep Gordon. Actually, it seems that Gordon is just about everybody‘s oldest friend: He’s the ultimate people person, a guy who got where he is by collecting, repaying and cashing in what he calls “coupons” – favors, acts of kindness and professional courtesies. It’s hard to argue with his results: …