There's a natural tendency when
reviewing politicians and their actions to be critical or over-critical. So
it's nice to point out something that is moving in the right direction.
President Barack Obama wants Americans to dig deeper into our pockets to
expand college education. Let's update college indoctrination done in the
name of education.
The Miss-Lou’s breaking news:
Several dozen candidates have qualified for
local elections. March is Natchez Powwow time.
New Centreville hospital will be opening soon. New airport director
is ready to take over.
The Advice Goddess:
She is a 30-something woman, and her
best friend is a guy. They talk and text day and night, and she truly adores
Terry Savage on money:
A 401k or another employer sponsored
retirement program can be considered the backbone of your retirement
McAllister on health:
Telling an older person she or he
should no longer drive is difficult. It can be a devastating blow to the
senior, who may resist vigorously.
Thomas Sowell thinking clearly:
Guiliani said he did not think President Obama loves America. An
overwhelming cascade of criticism engulfed the former mayor.
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Civil Rights Movement changed the legal landscape
by Charlie Mitchell
Just as an obituary sums up a person’s whole life in a few sentences, time
compresses history into headlines.
• The British were
oppressive, so American colonists threw off the yoke and created the
United States of America.
• Hitler, Mussolini
and the emperor of Japan wanted to
control the world, but the Allied powers put an end to their nefarious ways.
• White Americans,
especially in the South and overwhelmingly in
Mississippi, were racists until the Civil Rights
Movement came along and made everybody equal.
Wait. Is that last
one right? Let’s see if it can be worded a little more precisely. Let’s
resist the temptation to overly condense.
The Declaration of
Independence came 281 years after European settlement of the
New World began. Lots happened.
conquering of Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito didn’t eliminate evil from the
Just as certainly
the Civil Rights Movement did not cleanse the nation of racism.
anniversaries of so many events of that movement, including the whopper
remembrance of the march at Selma, Ala.,
there’s cause (and opportunity) to dig deeper.
Try this as a more
• Jim Crow laws
institutionalized racism by keeping black Americans from voting, by keeping
schools, hotels and public transit racially segregated and by allowing
racial discrimination in housing and employment until the Civil Rights
Movement resulted in federal laws and court rulings overcoming such official
acts and business practices.
That’s better. It
makes clear that the movement’s main target was the law. That’s where it
hearts and minds was a side benefit. It was good that so many who thought
segregation was OK thought things through and came to a different
understanding, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. advocated. It was good that so
many “saw the light” as a result of atrocities such as the unprovoked
beatings and bloodshed at Selma.
Not a lot of people
who were in that march are still around. U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., is. He
sustained a skull fracture. In a story about the anniversary events, he was
asked about linkage between the violence at Selma
in 1965 and the violence that followed the killing of Michael Brown in
Mo., last year. He told The
Associated Press there was one distinction: “The only thing that is so
different (is that) today, I don’t think many of the young people have a
deep understanding of the ways of nonviolent direct action.”
Andrew Young, in
the same story, elaborated: “There was nothing magic about
Selma,” said the aide to Dr. King who went on to be ambassador to
the United Nations and mayor of Atlanta. “Selma just gave us the right to vote. But if
you don’t vote, and don’t take advantage of that right, you’re living in a
If you didn’t get
Young’s point, read his quote again. It’s profound. It asks, “What has been
done with the freedom’s won?”
The sad answer? In
where two-thirds of residents are black, voter turnout in the mayoral
election three months after Brown was killed, according to the AP story, was
12.2 percent. About one of 10 people voted.
meant nothing — zero, zip nada — to them.
Again, the Civil
Rights Movement resulted in new legal barriers and legal consequences for
those engaging in racism, but did nothing to end it. People, regardless of
age or color, are as individually free in 2015 as they were in 1965 to adopt
and hold racist beliefs.
It is equally
accurate to say that practicing the full rights that come with American
citizenship is as optional as it ever was, except for a wider array of
Americans. People choose whether to work for and seek education, choose
whether to create and sustain families and choose whether to work
constructively to improve their communities.
For minorities, the
Civil Rights Movement removed legal impediments, those artifices that said
it was OK to open doors to some people and not to others. But to paraphrase
Young, the decision to walk through, just like the decision to engage in
racism, is still up to the individual.
History should not
lead us to believe the Civil Rights Movement had the purpose or the effect
of any direct or forced change to anything other than the law.
The Voting Rights
Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Lyndon Johnson a mere
five months after the bloodshed near the Edmund
Bridge. But absent
constructive, personal use of the freedoms won, the anniversary is
Charlie Mitchell is a Mississippi journalist. Write to him at