Today is not just any Wednesday—it's the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech. All of today's links are about the impact of the speech and the civil rights issues we still face today.
• What problems still limit equality in our country? This piece sums it up: "It's about systematically cutting off certain groups of people from the right to vote, to earn a living wage, to make choices about their own bodies, to recognize and provide for their families." [Advocate]
• The name of the original march was actually the "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom." We've made progress promoting civil rights, but many of the march's original goals for creating economic equality have been forgotten. [PolicyMic]
Ella Baker is best known for her involvement in the civil rights movement during the late 1950s and 1960s, when she helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. These organizations were indeed pivotal, but, as Baker herself said, "One of the things that has to be faced is the process of waiting to change the system, how much we have got to do to find out who we are, where we have come from and where we are going." Baker believed that a revolution entailed an ongoing process rather than a finite blueprint; her accomplishments and ideology then, should be studied as a transformative trajectory rather than as discrete events.
One might have hoped that, by this hour, the very sight of chains on black flesh, or the very sight of chains, would be so intolerable a sight for the American people, and so unbearable a memory, that they would themselves spontaneously rise up and strike off the manacles. But no, they appear to glory in their chains; now, more than ever, they appear to measure their safety in chains and corpses. -James Baldwin to Angela Davis.*
This year, an unprecedented wave of voter suppression bills hit statehouses across the country, and garnered very little media attention in response, even as voting rights activists decried the shift. In 27 states, bills that will demand voters show identification, bills that require proof of citizenship, bills that will change processing of provisional ballots, and bills that are aimed directly at students were all introduced or moved through the legislative process. GOP proponents of these bills claimed they were simply protecting elections against fraud. This seems specious at best, given that there are no reports of system-wide fraud at the polls in the 2008 or 2010 elections.
Wisconsin passed its new voting law, rescinding the ability of neighbors to vouch for each others' residency, and requiring an approved identification card be shown at the polls—and perhaps not surprisingly, a University of Wisconsin ID does not count as valid.
Today's Martin Luther King Jr. Adventures in Feministory focuses on Bayard Rustin, one of the most important individuals in the Civil Rights Movement, and a life-long activist for human dignity, but whose contributions are are overlooked (then and now) because he was gay.
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. day, and our Adventures in Feministory takes us to Fannie Lou Hamer, who like many women activists of the American Civil Rights Movement (and social movements in general), is often overlooked despite her staggering contributions to social change.
At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime — with the abuser usually someone known to her. Violence against women and girls is a universal problem of epidemic proportions. Perhaps the most pervasive human rights violation that we know today, it devastates lives, fractures communities, and stalls development.