Civil Rights

Setting the record straight

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. family is a major part of our national history, and slander is a necessarily public injustice. Undoing this injustice must, in turn, be public.


Continuing struggle for equality

In countless ways, the problem of racism in America has improved. For example, much of society now accepts that black children ought to think, learn and share ideas in the same classrooms as white children. There is a logical progression — a better education leads to future possibilities and personal empowerment.


Civil rights 2013: From invisible to victimized

The civil rights movement was born out of an intense struggle to enjoy those basic human rights we associate with happiness.

Early leaders of the movement settled on the theory that American society was primarily characterized by racism and that American institutions were grounded in the maintenance of racial privilege. Many of the black politicians who were swept into office on the heels of the movement consciously embodied this organizing principle.


Pause and ponder the progress

Anniversaries are, strictly speaking, not necessary, but neither is art, friendship or many other of the most important things in life. We observe them by taking time out of the present to remember the past. It is a way of “marking time,” of measuring ourselves against the great and the bad who have foregone us.

Right now, the Library of Congress is exhibiting drafts of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in his own hand, in honor of its 150th anniversary. I recommend viewing these profound two pages of Lincoln’s cursive, which show us both the boldness and the vulnerability of the greatest of our leaders.


Why inequality still exists for a large portion of the US black population

Since the end of slavery, there has always existed inequality between the labor force participation of black women and men, which caused an imbalance in the roles of husband and wife, even before desegregation. But since 1980, the black family institution has declined precipitously. The vast majority of blacks born in this country are born into single-parent households, mostly run by single black women.


Affirming marriage equality as the law of the land

Big news from the Supreme Court. Setting itself up for one of the most significant decisions in its history, the court has agreed to hear two cases on the legality of same-sex marriage.

And there’s no doubt how they must rule.

There are still many Americans who base their opposition to same-sex marriage on the Bible. They are dead wrong. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that marriage must be between one man and one woman. Polygamy, in fact, seems to the Bible’s most popular form of marriage. Yet people have a right to be ignorant when it comes to their religious beliefs.


Did President Obama really better race relations in America?

Many people expected that the election of America's first black president in 2008 would finally close the ugly race chapter in American history.  Instead, there appears to be more emphasis on race, poverty, economic disparity, and on what divides us rather than what brings us together. 


Will the racial and racist clock ever expire in America?

Looking at today’s society, systemic racism within the American populace is largely dead, and what little racism remains is likely fomented by government policies that move minorities to the head of the line.

This can only prove destructive and backfire over time. Common sense tells us that affirmative action and other set-aside programs are ultimately destructive, both for the “soft bigotry of low expectations” that they represent, but also for the resentment they create in the larger population in this country, many of whom were born after the civil-rights era and have taught their children by words and example that we must treat all human beings as equals, with respect and dignity, and never make a negative or positive judgment about someone based on their race.


From invisible to victimized?

To this day, many black officeholders depend on the perception of ongoing, widespread racism in order to remain competitive in the electoral process. They underplay the dramatic improvements in economic and social status experienced by many American blacks over the last 40 years. Large numbers of their constituents, particularly those who came of age during the overt racism of the past half-century, continue to believe that the problems confronting the black lower class stem primarily from racism.

Here lies the greatest missed opportunity of the civil rights movement. These leaders never prepared for the day when God would change the hearts of the white establishment and they would have no choice but to start treating their brother with equality, fairness and justice under the law. Their entire public image, their very legitimacy as political and cultural spokesmen, was predicated on the rhetoric of a black-versus-white war. As Justice Clarence Thomas once observed, the civil rights revolution missed a larger point by merely changing the status of minorities from invisible people to victimized people.


The value of an honorary degree

One of the honorary-degree recipients at yesterday's 311th commencement at Yale University was a state Supreme Court judge from Massachusetts who was being honored for her strident defense and advocacy of same-sex marriage.

When that part of the citation was read, the audience burst into enthusiastic screaming and applauding. University President Rick Levin became quite emotional.