590 posts categorized "History"

August 28, 2015

Emmett Till would be 74

The horror of racist violence is never more present than when you look at the posthumous photo of Emmett Till, who was murdered 60 years ago at age 14 for allegedly whistling at a white woman. The photo is easy to find online, but I will not inflict it on you. Once seen, it can never be unseen. We only have it because his mother Mamie bravely ordered an open casket and said, "I want them to see what they did to my son." Three months later, Rosa Parks was arrested on a municipal bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and the discipline and determination shown by African Americans in resistance to injustice changed the nation. A new generation is stepping up to contend with the fact that hatred and the violence it fosters continues to plague us.

Jobs and Freedom

August 27, 2015

Jindal tells Obama not to talk about climate during Katrina anniversary visit

A friend writes on Facebook:

I would make sure I said "climate change" and pointed out how Republicans are doing absolute zilch to deal with it as many times as I could to spite the ignorant dumbshit.

Above the Keyboard Warriors’ Din

Keyboard_insert_by_Bigstock

In my Blade column this week, artists and activists overcome the background noise:

Hyenas would be better conversationalists, I sometimes think as I scan political arguments on social media. This is not unlike a Republican presidential debate, where a Bad Lip Reading parody is just as enlightening as the original.

When former president Jimmy Carter spoke candidly and with good humor last week about his cancer, millions were inspired by his serenity, humility, and grace. But the next day, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz attacked him. When I said on Facebook that I recently read Carter's 2006 book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid and found it fair and reasonable, I was met with scorn by someone who had not read it.

This reckless speed is all too common in public forums. So let us look at a few examples of activists and artists rising above the din of the keyboard warriors to propose useful reforms or tell their stories in ways that help us see differently.

After weeks of squabbles by various people over direct-action tactics in the Black Lives Matter movement, policy solutions were issued by activists DeRay Mckesson, Johnetta Elzie, Brittany Packnett, and Samuel Sinyangwe. The effort, called Campaign Zero, is described as a "comprehensive platform to create systems and structures to end police violence." Their detailed plans (see joincampaignzero.org) are informed proposals by practical public policy advocates, notwithstanding sniping and trivializing like that of a self-described anarchist I encountered on Twitter.

The #CampaignZero planning team writes, "Police in England, Germany, Australia, Japan, and even cities like Newark, NJ, and Richmond, CA, demonstrate that public safety can be ensured without killing civilians. By implementing the right policy changes, we can end police killings and other forms of police violence in the United States."

Read the whole thing here.

#CampaignZero #StraightOuttaCompton #BlackLivesMatter #HugoAwards

Alan Turing's Personal Letters Reveal His Sexual Turmoil

Civil rights activist Amelia Boynton Robinson dies at 104

I cannot improve on these Facebook comments by our friend Ernest Hopkins:

A giant in the Civil Rights Movement and U.S. history is gone. Mrs. Boynton Robinson's contributions were critical and immeasurable. Job very well done. R.I.P.

President Obama's statement is here.

August 23, 2015

Islamic State blows up ancient temple at Syria’s Palmyra ruins

These barbarians need to be exterminated before they destroy every intiquity in the Mideast. Astonishing that anyone is willing to embrace any faith or worship any God that demands of them such atrocities.

August 20, 2015

Rauch: It's George Wallace's GOP now

Our friend Jon Rauch summarizes the history of the modern Republican Party in one sentence: "Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller got into an argument and George Wallace won." His elaboration (click on the link) ends with this:

Conservatism is wary of extremism and rage and anti-intellectualism, of demagoguery and incoherent revolutionary rhetoric. Wallace was a right-wing populist, not a conservative. The rise of his brand of pseudo-conservatism in Republican circles should alarm anyone who cares about the genuine article.

Rauch wrote this in 2010, but it could not be more true today.

August 19, 2015

Islamic State beheads leading Syrian antiquities director

Barbarity.

PFAW mourns Julian Bond

The one time I met Julian Bond was a few years ago at the 90th birthday party for Norman Lear held by People for the American Way. Above, PFAW President Michael Keegan pays tribute to the civil rights leader.

(Hat tip: Craig Howell)

August 15, 2015

Stonewall trailer parody

Part of the controversy over the new Roland Emmerich film about the Stonewall riots, of which we have only seen the trailer, is bound up in ongoing battles over historical revisionism and the substitution of favored myths for evidence. For those interested in what really happened, I recommend David Carter's Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution.

August 11, 2015

The Invisible Moor Speaks: Who's afraid of a large black thespian? #americanmoor

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My Blade column this week looks at Keith Hamilton Cobb's tour de force performance in his all-too-timely play, American Moor, now showing at Washington's Anacostia Playhouse:

The lively arts can give us fresh eyes when they beguile us into identification with other people and places. In the body and voice of a living performer, a long-vanished composer or playwright can provoke a flash of recognition. Such moments can bind us together more than political arguments could do. Yet their transformative power flies on delicate wings. It requires collaboration and vision and receptivity and mutual challenge. Our impulse to connect can be thwarted in a hundred ways.

The urge to come together despite difference is brought powerfully and movingly to life in the play American Moor, written and performed by Keith Hamilton Cobb, at Anacostia Playhouse through August 16. The situation is an actor's audition. His agent used to tell him, "You're an actor. You can do anything!" But people didn't buy him as 'anything,' only as one thing. He is invisible, as Ralph Ellison wrote, because people refuse to see him. So the tall black thespian, with unrealized visions of Hamlet, Prince Hal, and Romeo dancing in his head, tries out for Othello.

While waiting, he recalls his student days when he recited Titania's "forgeries of jealousy" speech from A Midsummer Night's Dream. His skeptical teacher asks why he chose Titania. "I like what she says," he answers. "The Faerie Queen?" the teacher mocks. "Yeah, sure." Decades later, his intoxication with Shakespeare still inspires him to climb into selves unlike his own. He channels Desdemona's thoughts of Othello: "For the fact that such as you so much as breathes I am jubilant. I feel you deeply, great and lovely thing, in my heart, and in my throat, and in my belly."

Ironically, the actor himself is caught in a mistaken identity, like an unarmed black man stopped by police on a false suspicion. The young white director's privilege blinds him to the possibility that the tall black actor might understand the tall black character better than he. The actor confronts him: "It will not grace my cause, nor Othello's cause, the play's cause, the American theatre's cause, to pretend that I don't know that you are frightened of me. You are afraid of me. I am afraid that nothing will ever change. And these are the forgeries of jealousy."

Read the whole thing here.

Click here for tickets.

August 07, 2015

Roland Emmerich responds to 'Stonewall' "whitewashing" complaints: see the movie

Emmerich, who is gay, insists that the movie features activists such as Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Ray Castro. I will withhold judgment until I see the movie.

August 06, 2015

Matt Baume: 'The Real Queens and Kings of Stonewall'

More on the Stonewall era.

The horror of Hiroshima, 70 years later

Voting Rights Act at 50

August 05, 2015

"But that I see thee here, thou noble thing!"

KHC_as_Aufidius

Blast from the past--favorite lines from Shakespeare Theatre production of Coriolanus, 1999-2000 season, delivered by Keith Hamilton Cobb (@KeithHamCobb) as Tullus Aufidius:

Let me twine
Mine arms about that body, where against
My grained ash an hundred times hath broke
And scarr'd the moon with splinters: here I clip
The anvil of my sword, and do contest
As hotly and as nobly with thy love
As ever in ambitious strength I did
Contend against thy valour. Know thou first,
I loved the maid I married; never man
Sigh'd truer breath; but that I see thee here,
Thou noble thing! more dances my rapt heart
Than when I first my wedded mistress saw
Bestride my threshold.

(Keith Hamilton Cobb as Tullus Aufidius. Photo by Carol Rosegg.)

Stonewall: in theaters September 25

Above is the trailer, below is a critique of director Roland Emmerich's upcoming film on the Stonewall Riots.

July 31, 2015

'Synthetic marijuana' is nothing like marijuana (so stop calling it that)

July 29, 2015

Furies Collective house nominated for historic landmark status

Interesting development on Capitol Hill. For more information on The Furies, visit Wikipedia and the Rainbow History Project.

(Hat tip: Tim Krepp)

July 20, 2015

The Guardian: Open up the royal archives

I have never understood nor sympathized with the fetish for the British royals on the part of some Americans. But in any case, the coziness that existed between Edward VIII and Hitler is well established. The video of the current monarch as a child giving a Nazi salute is embarrassing, but no reasonable person is going to blame a 6-year-old princess for making a gesture at the instigation of her uncle. The archives should be open. There should be more embarrassment over the persistence of a hereditary monarchy, which will probably survive anything because the Brits cling to it to justify inflating their nation’s importance. This is odd, since the imperial heritage that makes them moist with pride includes the Opium War, the Amritsar Massacre, and Boer concentration camps.

July 16, 2015

John Lewis Recreates Selma march at Comic-Con in full costume

I love this.

July 15, 2015

Log Cabin cynically attacks Obama over Iran nuclear deal

Gregory Angelo says, “Log Cabin Republicans shares the grave concerns about this deal expressed by our allies in Congress." Really? Your allies? The loudest critics in Congress, who condemned the agreement reflexively without bothering to read it, included Speaker Boehner, the quasi-treasonous Sen. Tom Cotton, and the revolting closet case Sen. Lindsey Graham, whose relentless and reckless warmongering seems driven by a need to prove he is a real man. Fine company you are keeping.

The notion that nothing should be done until and unless everything can be done is just as foolish coming from Log Cabin as it was coming from the leftists in 2009 who demanded a single, comprehensive LGBT equality bill immediately--which showed no understanding for the structure and politics of Congress with its multiple committees and power centers, or the different degrees of ripeness of different efforts; nor did it show respect for the many hard-working activists who labor year-in and year-out laying the groundwork for progress. Just "Give us everything right now!" like a baby screaming in a high chair. To suggest that a complex and difficult multilateral nuclear agreement should be halted unless every other concern is simultaneously resolved is sabotage, not serious advocacy.

President Obama is far and away the most pro-gay president in American history. By contrast, his Republican predecessor in 2004 endorsed the anti-gay Federal Marriage Amendment. On May 9, 2012, after Obama publicly endorsed marriage equality, Log Cabin could not pause from its petty partisan sniping for an hour to celebrate the historic breakthrough of the President of the United States taking such a step. Instead, demonstrating that LGBT equality always comes second for Log Cabin, they belittled the president and boasted of how former Vice President Cheney was ahead of him--despite Cheney and his gay daughter having worked to re-elect President Bush after his call for us to be written out of the Constitution. At least Ken Mehlman has apologized for his role in that, and worked on pro-gay Supreme Court briefs.

Notwithstanding Mehlman's efforts, the GOP remains overwhelmingly homophobic. Instead of throwing stones in its glass house, Log Cabin should be working harder to get its so-called allies in Congress to support pro-LGBT measures here at home, and should be battling the virulent bigotry coming from its party's clown car of presidential candidates. And instead of insulting our intelligence with its pinkwashing stance beside the cynical and extreme Bibi Netanyahu, it should demand that he replace his ambassador to Washington with a serious diplomat.

Finally, I would like to note that the fictional Uncle Tom, while no Nat Turner, sacrificed his own life to help a slave girl escape to freedom. While I sympathize with others who criticize Log Cabin, there is no need to insult Uncle Tom by comparing him to moral cowards.

July 14, 2015

NAACP: Let's sand blast Confederate carvings off Georgia mountain

Mandela let the Voortrekker Monument remain. Instead of acting like the Taliban in the Bamiyan Valley, let's focus on stopping police from murdering unarmed black folks.

'No advice on killing mockingbirds'

Memories of the man who inspired Atticus Finch

July 09, 2015

'Take this symbol of hate off these grounds'

Both houses of the South Carolina have voted by overwhelming majorities to remove the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state capitol. WIST News reports.

Above, Republican state Rep. Jenny Horne, a descendant of Confederate States President Jefferson Davis, spoke passionately last night during debate on the removal bill.

July 06, 2015

SC senate votes 37-3 to remove Confederate battle flag

The South Carolina senate today, in the second of three required votes, voted 37-3 to remove the Confederate battle flag from the grounds of the state capitol. The lower house of the legislature is also expected to act this week.

Today I heard Langston Hughes being read in the South Carolina senate. The blood of the Mother Emanuel martyrs is buying an extraordinary moment of grace. The step the senators are about to take, the removal of a flag, will open the way to other steps. It will not magically end the hate (indeed, there were some less-than-enlightened comments on the senate floor today, including anti-gay comments), but it will mark a significant political shift. The name of Clem Pinckney is much on his colleagues' lips. If only we could have him back. His state needs him. May his memory continue to lift his state and nation.

July 01, 2015

The President Sings of Grace

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(David Goldman/AP Photo)

My latest column looks at the momentous events of last week and at how justice comes from recognition, as the president put it, of ourselves in each other. Here's a portion:

President Obama had the best week of his career last week, with victories on trade, fair housing, healthcare and marriage equality that cemented his legacy. But instead of taking a victory lap, he capped his week with a eulogy in the form of a sermon on grace.

Black churches have figured prominently in my thoughts lately. On Stonewall Sunday, going through my Twitter feed, I found a joint Father's Day sermon delivered the week before by the Revs. Otis Moss II and III at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. In addition to being LGBT-affirming, Trinity is famous for its tradition of prophetic preaching, thanks to video loops of its previous pastor, Jeremiah Wright, that roiled the 2008 presidential campaign.

Near the close of Justice Anthony Kennedy's marriage opinion, he gave a nod to Jim Obergefell: "As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death." Outside the court, Obergefell held a photo of his late husband and took a call from the president. The Gay Men's Chorus of Washington sang "The Star-Spangled Banner," tacitly embracing the words above the court's entrance: "Equal Justice Under Law."

The act of domestic terror that took the president to South Carolina later that day was intended by its perpetrator to start a race war. As Obama noted, however, when Dylann Roof murdered pastor and state senator Clementa Pinckney and eight other members of Charleston's Emanuel A.M.E. Church at a Bible study meeting, he did not account for the power of grace.

Read the whole thing here.

June 30, 2015

Charles M. Blow: My murdered cousin had a name

An eloquent piece that reminds us of those who did not live to see this day, and of the disparate impact of hatred.

June 26, 2015

President Obama's eulogy for Clementa Pinckney

Beautiful.

June 24, 2015

Grief

June 23, 2015

Kameny inducted into Labor Hall of Honor

On Tuesday I joined hundreds of other LGBT activists and federal employees at the U.S. Department of Labor for the induction of our late colleague and gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny into the Labor Hall of Honor. It was very gratifying to witness this well-earned recognition. Frank's fellow Mattachine Society of Washington veteran Paul Kuntzler, a co-founder of GLAA, was in attendance and received a standing ovation from the capacity crowd. Thanks to the staff at DOL for the gracious ceremony, including Labor Secretary Tom Perez, as well as Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton.

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(Photo of Rick Rosendall by Michael Beer)

A look at calls to remove confederate symbols across the South

McAuliffe orders Confederate flag off Virginia license plates

June 18, 2015

Ta-Nehisi Coates: Take down the Confederate Flag. Now.

Ta-Nehisi is right.

Clarence Thomas upholds Texas's right to bar Confederate flag on license plates

Every once in a while, Justice Thomas rediscovers his soul and does the right thing.

June 16, 2015

New Ways addresses pope’s message of ‘complementarity’

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(Photo by Associated Press)

Francis DeBernardo at New Ways Ministry writes:

Pope Francis supported heterosexual complementarity in a speech on Sunday given to 25,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for a pastoral conference for the Diocese of Rome.

Though he did not mention lesbian and gay couples, the timing of the speech seemed significant to some since it came a day after tens of thousands of people marched through the streets of the Eternal City to celebrate LGBT Pride and to call for marriage equality in Italy....

It has become part of Francis’ rhetorical style not to criticize lesbian and gay couples directly, but to indirectly cast judgement on them by effusively praising heterosexual complementarity. Yet, his remarks cast aspersions on more than lesbian and gay couples. In praising heterosexual complementarity as the preferred norm for marriage and child-rearing, he is also sending harmful messages to those in heterosexual marriages where abuse occurs, as well as to single-parent families.

Francis’ remark that gender differences are “an integral part of being human” ignores the fact that decades of scientific and social scientific research has shown that what people consider “natural” gender differences are actually the result of cultural biases and stereotypes.

As GayChristian101 points out, the idea of complementarity comes from Plato, who included same-sex couples.

King John and Magna Carta

This reminds me of a scene from The Lion in Winter:

John: My God, if I went up in flames, there’s not a living soul who’d pee on me to put the fire out.

Richard: Let’s strike a flint and see.

June 15, 2015

Magna Carta at 800

Sarah Lyall at NYT discusses the enduring legacy of the great British document.