Opera’s Jessye Norman Finds Her Voice in ‘Stand Up Straight and Sing!’

Jessye Norman’s once-in-a-century voice has carried her from 1960s segregated Augusta, Ga., to the opera houses and recital halls of Europe, Asia and America. Norman tells her extraordinary story in a just-published memoir, Stand Up Straight and Sing! Despite racism, Norman describes a happy childhood. She grew up in Augusta surrounded by a large, loving family and a warm community of neighbors and teachers. At the center stood their church. Her parents and older siblings were active in the civil rights …

This Week in Boomer History: G.I. Joe … People Magazine … Rodney King

Notable events from our shared experience Speeding on March 3, 1991, leads to a high-speed Los Angeles police chase for Rodney King and ends with a severe beating that is videotaped. When three of the officers are acquitted of charges a year later, riots break out in South Los Angeles. Mia Farrow appears as The Great Gatsby’s Daisy Buchanan on the cover of People Magazine‘s premier issue, dated March 4, 1974. Other notables in the issue: Marina Oswald, Gloria Vanderbilt …

Pushed Out of the Workplace

Have you ever felt like an employer was holding your age against you? If so, you aren’t alone. In these tough economic times, more and more Americans believe they are facing age-based discrimination at the office. In fact, a 2013 AARP study found that nearly 2 in 3 workers ages 45-74 said they have seen or experienced age discrimination in the workplace. Of those, a whopping 92 percent said it was very or somewhat common. Nearly 20 percent of the …

Mildred Loving: She Blazed a Trail for Marriage Equality

In 1964, Mildred Loving wrote a letter to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy that she couldn’t have realized at the time would launch a campaign for marriage equality that continues 50 years later. In her letter, Loving asked Kennedy if the Civil Rights Act of 1964 might be the vehicle that allow her and her husband to return to their home state of Virginia, from which they had been banished for the “crime” of being married. Slide show: 10 women …

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 …

Franklin McCain: He Integrated Woolworth’s Lunch Counter

On the afternoon of Feb. 1, 1960, 19-year-old Franklin McCain – accompanied by David Richmond, Joseph McNeil, and Ezell Blair Jr., three of his North Carolina A&T classmates – walked into an F.W. Woolworth store in Greensboro, N.C. After buying a few small items, he and the others sat down at the lunch counter. When they tried to order coffee, the white waitress refused them. “We don’t serve colored here,” she explained, according to a contemporary New York Times account. “I …