GOOD MORNING EVERYONE.
IF YOU WATCH THE OSCARS, SOME OF THOSE ON STAGE BEHIND A MICROPHONE TAKE SO MUCH TIME GIVING BRIEF REMARKS THAT A SIGNAL IS GIVEN TO BRING UP THE MUSIC, THE EQIVALENT OF A HOOK TO PULL THEM OFF STAGE. I DON’T INTEND TO SPEAK VERY LONG THIS MORNING. BUT THOSE OF OU WITH IPODS, IPADS, IPHONES, CELL PHONES OR OTHER DEVICES, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO TURN THEM ON AND KEY UP THE MUSIC IF I DO. HOWEVER, PERMIT ME THIS ASIDE. ANY TIME A LAWYER REFERS TO BRIEF REMARKS, GET READY FOR THOSE REMARKS TO END IN ETERNITY. BUT I PROMISE YOU I WILL NOT TAKE YOU THERE.
THE THEME OF MY REMARKS THIS MORNING IS “LEADERSHIP LESSONS AND LEGACIES FROM AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY AND CULTURE: OF DRUM MAJORS, DRUM LINES, AND DREAMS.”
I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT IN MY MIND THAT EVERYONE IN THIS ROOM HAS HEARD DR. KING’S ‘I HAVE A DREAM” SPEECH. BUT THERE ARE OTHER DREAMS, PRIMARILY FOUND IN THE POEMS OF LANGSTON HUGHES THAT SHOULD BE BUT ARE NOT EQUALLY WELL KNOWN. fOR EXAMPLE, I SUSPECT THAT SOME OF THE FOLKS RUSHING TO GET TICKETS TO SEE DENZEL WASHINGTON AND DIANNA CARROL IN THE BROADWAY PRODUCTION OF LORRIAN HANSBERRY’S “A RAISIN IN THE SUN” DO NOT KNOW THAT THE TITLE COMES FROM “a dream deferred” , by langston huges.
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Langston wrote other poems around dreams
“Hold to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannnot fly”
And of course, the famous dream of freedom
Dream of Freedom
There’s a dream in the land
With its back against the wall
By muddled names and strange
Sometimes the dream is called.
There are those who claim
This dream for theirs alone—
A sin for which, we know,
They must atone.
Unless shared in common,
Like sunlight and like air
The dream will die for lack
Of substance anywhere.
The dream knows no frontier or tongue,
The dream, no class or race.
The dream cannot be kept secure
In any one locked place.
This dream today embattled.
With its back against the wall,
To save the dream for one,
It must be saved for all.
But enough of poetry for now. let’s move onto something a bit more narrative.
i saw a headline recently. at first it shocked me. but as i thought about it, i realized it was probably true. here’s what it said: “ for today’s children, the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s is as remote as the civil war”. if that frightening statement is true, then let me at least say this. Dr. King was a preacher. His father, his grandfather, and his (maternal) great grandfather were preachers. Professor James Washington (Union Theological Seminary) says Dr. King’s life “was his greatest sermon.”Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4, 1968.Dr. King was (posthumously) awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on July 4, 1977. The citation of the award reads as follows;
“Martin Luther King, Jr. was the conscience of his generation. A southerner, a black man, he gazed on the great wall of segregation and saw that the power of love could bring it down. From the pain and exhaustion of his fight to free all people from the bondage of separation and injustice, he wrung his eloquent statement of his dream of what America could be. He spoke out against a war he felt was unjust, as he spoken out against laws that were unfair. He made our nation stronger because he made it better. Honored by kings, he continued to his last days to strive for a world where the poorest and humblest among us could enjoy the fulfillment of the promises of founding fathers. His life informed us, his dreams sustain us yet.”
Those words are as true today as they were then: “his dreams sustain us yet.”
We must constantly work to move the dream forward so that we never return to the time of nightmares.
If the words above about today’s children are true, then I have to give some background on events that led up to the march on Washington and dr. king’s “I have a dream” speech. Some of this background will be familiar to you but I suspect that some of it will be new. I certainly hope so.
“On August 28, more than 2,000 buses, 21 special trains, 10 chartered airliners, and uncounted cars converged on Washington. All regularly scheduled planes, trains, and buses were also filled to capacity. The march began at the Washington Monument and ended at the Lincoln Memorial with a program of music and speakers.
“The march was planned and initiated by A. Philip Randolph, the president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, president of the Negro American Labor Council, and vice president of the AFL-CIO. Randolph had planned a similar march in 1941. The threat of the earlier march had convinced President Roosevelt to establish the Committee on Fair Employment Practice and ban discriminatory hiring in the defense industry.” The mobilization and logistics of the actual march itself was administered by deputy director Bayard Rustin, a civil rights veteran and organizer of the 1947 Journey of Reconciliation, the first of the Freedom Rides to test the Supreme Court ruling that banned racial discrimination in interstate travel”
“March organizers themselves disagreed over the purpose of the march. The NAACP and Urban League saw it as a gesture of support for a civil rights bill that had been introduced by the Kennedy Administration. Randolph, King, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) saw it as a way of raising both civil rights and economic issues to national attention beyond the Kennedy bill. Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) saw it as a way of challenging and condemning the Kennedy administration’s inaction and lack of support for civil rights for African Americans.”
Euchner’s new book, Nobody Turn Me Around: A People’s History of the 1963 March on Washington, tells the story of the march through the eyes and voices of the people who helped make it happen. One of those people was march organizer Bayard Rustin, a veteran civil rights activist who had been a controversial choice to head up the preparations. “He was considered to have three strikes,” says Euchner. “One, he was gay. Two, he was a war evader; he didn’t serve in World War II. And three, he had once been a member of the Communist Youth Party in the U.S.“ Rustin planned the March in two months.
The speech Lewis “planned to give, circulated beforehand, was objected to by other participants; it called Kennedy’s civil rights bill ‘too little, too late’, asked ‘which side is the federal government on?’ and “declared that they would march ‘through the Heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did’ and ‘burn Jim Crow to the ground—nonviolently.” ‘ Now when you talk about Gen. Sherman, them’s fighting words in the South,” Euchner says Washington’s Catholic Archbishop, Patrick O’Boyle, threatened to withdraw his support if Lewis left those passages in his speech.
Euchner says the conflict between Lewis and O’Boyle split the leaders of the march. “Some of the leaders said, ‘You know what, these kids have a right to say what they want to say,’ and others said, ‘We risk driving a wedge right in the heart of our movement.’ ” Ultimately, Lewis allowed parts of his speech to be rewritten, and Euchner says the overall insistence on calm, nonviolent action was what gave the march its power.
There were nine organizations that were the principal organizers of the march on washington. The nine organizations were the Congress of Racial Equality; Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters; the N.A.A.C.P, and the National Urban League; the National Catholic Conference for Interracial Justice; the National Council of the Churches of Christ in America, and the United Auto Workers. Institutionally, “the executive board of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations declined to support the march, adopting a position of neutrality. Nevertheless, many constituent unions attended in substantial numbers.”
“The only female speaker was Josephine Baker, though there were musical performances by Marian Anderson, Joan Baez, Mahalia Jackson, and Mary of Peter, Paul, and Mary.”
The “biggest expenses were printing leaflets and bulletins ($16,626), paying salaries and payroll taxes ($13,382), providing transportation for the marshals ($12,931) and printing buttons and pennants ($11,277). The Washington operation cost a total of $29,563, including $18,838 for sound equipment.”
Rustin had two rules of management.
“His first rule of management was to make lists of every conceivable task. If somebody thinks that something can possibly go wrong, come up with a specific solution, and put it on the list. Organizing anything — a massive march, a union picket, a training program, a newspaper — succeeds or fails because of details.”
“Rustin’s second rule of management was to assign trustworthy people to do these thousands of tasks. Rustin didn’t care so much about training or even experience. He wanted brains and persistence. When he asked Rachelle Horowitz to organize the buses to get at least a hundred thousand people to Washington, she hesitated.
“Are you crazy? I don’t know anything about transportation,” she said. “I can’t drive.”
“My dear, you’re compulsive,” he said. “You won’t lose a bus. You won’t lose a person. Don’t worry, you can do it, and I want you to do it.”
So the compulsive Rachelle Horowitz got to work. She sat on the phone, calling bus companies and local organizers. She made a card for every bus that confirmed. She didn’t book any buses — that was left to local organizers. They also put up the money and recruited marchers. But she explained how things worked and tracked progress….”
“In the week before the march, Horowitz persuaded the Metropolitan Transit Authority to run subways on a rush-hour schedule after midnight, to make sure New Yorkers could get to their buses. And she got the bridge and tunnel authorities to pass out leaflets with march information at tollbooths.”
Horowitz “worked on the second floor with Joyce Ladner. The two women answered calls for each other. ‘Yes, this is Joyce’ Rachelle would say, the Jewish woman from Brooklyn becoming a black woman from Mississippi to keep operations moving briskly.” Joyce Ladner attended a HBCU. She is one of the voices featured in the exhibit, Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow. Let’s take a moment to meet and listen to Joyce. [Insert here and play the audio clip]
Hate is hate. Dr. king once obsered: “The segregationists and racists make no distinction between the Negro and the Jew.” and i need to take some time (but not here this morning) to share some of the extraordinary information in a marvelous exhibit: From Swastika To Jim Crow.
“Since the time of slavery, Blacks have in some ways identified with the Jewish experience. They compared their situation in the American South to that of the Jews in Egypt, as expressed in Black spirituals such as “Go Down, Moses.” The longing for their own exodus inspired the popularity of “Zion” in the names of many Black churches. Black nationalists used the Zionist movement as a model for their own Back-to-Africa movement.
Over the years Jews have also expressed empathy with the plight of Blacks. In the early 1900s, Jewish newspapers drew parallels between the Black movement out of the South and the Jews’ escape from Egypt, pointing out that both Blacks and Jews lived in ghettos, and calling anti-Black riots in the South “pogroms”. Stressing the similarities rather than the differences between the Jewish and Black experience in America, Jewish leaders emphasized the idea that both groups would benefit the more America moved toward a society of merit, free of religious, ethnic and racial restrictions.”
“Discrimination against both Blacks and Jews has the unfortunate distinction of a history that dates back centuries.
“Long before the Nazis existed, anti-Semitism manifested itself most commonly in the form of pogroms – riots launched against Jews by local residents, often supported by authorities. In the 1800s, xenophobic German scholars formed the “Voelkisch movement” to cultivate their conviction that Jews were not “truly German.” German Nationalists feared political movements such as Marxism, Communism, Pacifism, and Internationalism, which they associated with Jewish intellectuals. Now they produced pseudoscientific theories of racial anthropology which found political expression in the formation of the Nazi party in 1919. Leaders in literature, music, medicine, science, finance and academia, German Jews were at the forefront of their country’s culture – they’d fought in World War I and were proud to be thought of as Germans, despite their awareness of growing anti-Semitism”.
In 1931, the SS (named for Schutzstaffel, the elite military unit of the Nazi party) formed the Race and Settlement Office to “investigate” the suitability of potential spouses for SS members. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, they passed the Civil Service Law, calling for the purging of Jews from all government agencies, cultural organizations and state positions. Jews were segregated to the back of public buses and restricted entrance to restaurants. The works of leading German writers such as Bertolt Brecht, Lion Feuchtwanger and Alfred Kerr were ceremoniously burned in Berlin. Economic sanctions limited the rights of Jews to practice their trades. The Law for Preventing Overcrowding in German Schools and Schools of Higher Education took effect in April, 1933. Initially restricting the enrollment of Jews, this law soon resulted in the dismissal of Jewish professors. “
“While few, if any, could imagine that by 1941 the Germans would begin the systematic slaughter of Jews – a slaughter that over the next four years would take the lives of close to six million souls – many of these scholars realized in the early 1930s that Jews had no future in Germany and fled to the United States. Most of the 1,200 refugee scholars who arrived in the U.S. could not find work in their fields. A small number, however, would end up in the historically Black colleges of the American South. In many ways, these scholars discovered that the American South was not unlike Germany had been in the mid-1930s before mass murder became the policy of the German state.”
“Jim Crow’s America
In 1933, America had its own share of troubles. World War I had left its mark in the form of a profound isolationist sentiment. The Depression paralyzed the economy, leaving 25 percent of the workforce unemployed. The Jim Crow Laws, strictly segregating Blacks from Whites, were still in effect in the South and racial tension was high.”
“Like anti-Semitism abroad, discrimination against Blacks in the U.S. had a long and complex history. After the Southern states were defeated in the Civil War and slavery was abolished, Black codes were enacted in 1865 and 1866. Though the codes granted Blacks certain basic civil rights (to marry, to own personal property and to sue in court), they also called for the segregation of public facilities and restricted the freedman’s rights as a free laborer, to own real estate, and to testify in court. These were soon repealed as the radical Republican governments, led by so-called carpetbaggers (Northerners who settled in the South) and scalawags (Southern Whites in the Republican Party), began to rebuild the Southern economy and society. The civil and political rights of Blacks were guaranteed (on paper), and Blacks were – for a brief time – “free” to participate in the political and economic life of the South”.
“Most Southern Whites were very uncomfortable with the former slaves’ new role in society. Social custom persisted, legal obstacles (such as the poll tax and unfair literacy tests) were established, and terrorism was used to keep African Americans and White Republicans from voting. Informal vigilante groups or armed patrols were formed in almost all communities. In Louisiana in 1896 there were 130,334 Blacks registered to vote; by 1905 there were only 1,342. Organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan arose, the radical Republican governments were overthrown, and Reconstruction officially ended in 1877 as all federal troops were withdrawn from the South.”
“Between 1889 and 1918, a total of 2,522 Black Americans were lynched, including 50 women. Often the excuse was used that the accused Black man had supposedly raped a White woman, a popular myth at that time, yet in 80 percent of the cases there were no sexual charges alleged, let alone proved. Hanged, burned alive, or hacked to death, people were lynched for petty offenses such as stealing a cow, arguing with a White, or trying to register to vote. Social critic H.L. Mencken explained, “In sheer high spirits, some convenient African is taken at random and lynched, as the newspapers say, ‘on general principles.'” This practice went unpunished until 1918.”
“The horrors of prejudice became a common thread that could bind these exiled Jewish professors with their black students and colleagues. The film pairs shocking archival footage of the KKK dressed in costume and carrying torches with footage of Nazi salutes and marching German soldiers to compare the barbarity of both ideologies. A picture of a lynching shows a mob of average white citizens standing around casually and looking up at the tree, while photographs of the Holocaust depict emaciated corpses piled on top of each other.”
“Showing the similarities between German anti-Semitism and Southern racism through a rich compilation of interviews, archival film footage, and photographs, From Swastika to Jim Crow shows that both African-American students and their Jewish professors were familiar with prejudice and felt isolated from European American southern society. Their common understanding bonded them together to create a safe haven of interracial, intellectual dialogue and friendship.”
“When Germany forced its Jewish intellectuals to flee, America embraced high-profile thinkers like Albert Einstein, but the vast majority of lesser-known Jewish intellectual refugees struggled in America. Not only were jobs scarce because of the Great Depression, but prevalent anti-Semitism and anti-German sentiments meant the decision to take teaching jobs in the South was not based on the prestige of the positions, but rather because African-American schools had the only slots available to these normally discriminated against German Jews.”
“These Jewish professors brought their proper German teaching style with them to America. They approached the classroom with strict formality, wearing full suits and insisting that students rise when answering questions. Although their students were not accustomed to being treated with such formality in the classroom, with time they grew fond of their professors’ quirks.”
“In addition to developing relationships with African Americans, the Jewish professors often served as a bridge between the African-American and European-American communities. In one instance, a professor organized a dinner with both African-American and European-American families. He asked the African-American guests, who arrived first, to sit in every other chair, so that when the European American guests arrived they would be forced to interact with one another. The professor knew he couldn’t force people to give up their prejudice, but he was committed to doing whatever he could to encourage tolerance.”
“Through these simple acts, the Jewish intellectuals planted seeds that developed into the Civil Rights movement. By treating their African-American students with the respect and dignity they deserved, Jewish professors acted as catalysts for forward thinking that recognizes all citizens as equals.”
“[Art Professor Viktor Lowenfeld] was interested in our inner feelings…. We lived a restricted life of segregation and discrimination, so art became the way that we could speak. Viktor chose Hampton because it was a Black school. He understood racial prejudice in America, and felt that he should cast his lot with those people who were working against racism.”- John Biggers, artist former student, Hampton Institute.
“I’ve heard Dr. Manasse say that when he first came to America as a freshly-minted Ph.D. from one of the most respected and revered institutions in Germany – perhaps in all of Europe – that he found it strange that he encountered nearly as much anti-Semitism here as he did in Europe.” – Eugene Eaves, provost former student, North Carolina Central University
John Hope Franklin:”I shall never forget the first time I witnessed the manifestation of anti-Semitism, when I was a graduate student at Harvard back in 1936. And when I suggested that a certain person in the Henry Adams history club be nominated for president, the other members of the nominating committee said, ‘Well, um, he doesn’t have all of the objectionable qualities of a Jew, but he is still a Jew.’ I was absolutely dumbfounded – speechless.”
John Biggers: “One day, Viktor [Professor Lowenfeld] invited me to go home to have dinner with them. Upon leaving the art center we went by the post office to get his mail. There he received a letter from the State Department. This was a terrible letter. It was announcing members of his family who were burned in concentration camps in Germany. He stopped for a few minutes, along the road, and read the letter aloud. And then he said to me, ‘John, you’re segregated. You have to ride on the back of the bus. You can’t drink water in any building. You don’t have toilet facilities,’ he said, ‘but, they’re not burning you in mass. They just burned these members of my family – and these people did not commit any crime – they were just born, that’s all.’ So this was one of the first lessons for me in what we call race prejudice. And suddenly I realized it went beyond Black and White. I realized this was one of the truly great tragedies of the human family. This I have never forgotten.”
William Jackson:“Dr. Manasse did suggest that I should apply for a Fulbright Scholarship. I think I expressed dismay and disbelief that he could even expect such a thing of me. But Dr. Manasse was a very soft-spoken person, a very, very gentle person, but a very, very persistent person. And this was one thing that he really wanted me to do – he wanted me to apply for a Fulbright. I really did get perturbed when he showed me what the forms looked like, and I, in a not very commendable attitude said, ‘Okay, I will fill out these forms so that you won’t have to bother me about it anymore,’ or something to that effect. And I did. I went and I filled them out and applied for the Fulbright and hoped that he would be satisfied that I had gone through this very, very empty process. And then I got a Fulbright. And I felt about “that big.” I felt that I just could not crawl back to his office low enough with an apology for how I had acted. The remarkable thing is – and I am sure I remember this correctly – never once did he say I told you so.”
Before Mrs. Parks had that earth shaking sit down, she had earlier down something almost equally profound. n 1943, twelve years prior to her refusal to move on the bus in Montgomery, Rosa Parks went to register to vote in Alabama. Because of the Jim Crow laws of the time, African Americans had to pass a literacy test in order to register. Ms. Parks took the test, was told she passed and that she would receive her voting card in the mail. The card never came. When she went back to take the test a second time, officials told her that she had failed the test and denied her the ability to see her results. In 1945 Ms. Parks went back a third time to register to vote. She again took the literacy test and again was told that she passed and that her card would be mailed. This time, however, Ms. Parks would not be denied; she stayed and hand-copied all of the questions and answers to that test to make sure that she would get her card and if not, she would have proof that she did in fact pass the test. Ms. Parks finally received her card, but when she went to vote the poll workers ordered her to pay a poll tax of $1.50, not just for that year but for every year that she had been eligible to vote. At the age of 32, that amount came out to $16.50. In 1945 that was quite a lot of money for a young seamstress to pay. Undeterred, Ms. Parks opened her pocketbook, paid the money and cast her vote. She voted in every subsequent election in her lifetime. ” Rosa Parks sat down so that we could stand up but not so we could stand still.
This recounting is found in several published sources. http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2005/12/b1231847.html
“E.D. Nixon, the black Montgomery lawyer who represented Ms. Parks, was flying on a plane many years after that event. He met a woman on the plane who told him she couldn’t imagine what would have happened to black people if Martin Luther King had not come to Montgomery. Nixon told her “If Ms. Parks had got up and given that white person her seat, you’d never have heard of Rev. King.” 6 And before we forget it, remember this. When Rosa Parks was arrested for not giving up her seat on that bus, and she was sitting there in the jail cell, and if you could have asked her “Who you gonna’ call?”, she would not have answered “Ghost Busters”, or the law firm of “Here-we Come & Wonder-What-We-Gonna’-Do, When We Get There”. She called for her pastor, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In her autobiography, Rosa Parks said: “People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I wasn’t tired physically, or no more tired that I usually was at the end of a working day. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”7
You have to understand or remember the events that took place in Birmingham Alabama to have a full appreciation of the March on Washington that took place on August 28, 1963 and a horrific act of terror that occurred less than a month after the March. Some of that story is found in “Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience”, edited by Kwame Anthony Appiah, and Henry Louis Gates:
“On May 2, children and young adults from age 6 to 16 gathered at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, the movement headquarters, and marched to downtown Birmingham. The police arrested more than 900 and carried them off to jail in paddy wagons and school buses. On the second day, more than 1,000 young people stayed out of school and assembled at the church to march. In an effort to abort the march, the police turned dogs and fire hoses on demonstrators as they left the church. The pressure of the hoses, which was strong enough to strip the bark off trees, slammed children to the ground and sent others sailing over parked cars…With more than 2,000 people in jail, the marches were still growing larger. The next major confrontation with the police occurred several days later in downtown Birmingham. Once again police turned attack dogs and fire hoses on the demonstrators. Television coverage of the brutal assault on children shocked the nation, while news reports quickly spread around the world.
With Birmingham on the brink of a full scale race riot, city businesses began negotiating with King through a Kennedy administration intermediary. A tentative agreement to desegregate downtown stores and employ black clerks sparked a spate of bombings. With federal troops stationed on alert outside the city, Mayor Albert Boutwell finally ratified the agreement and repealed the city’s segregation laws.”
Africana, at 450-451.
“The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham was used as a meeting-place for civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Ralph David Abernathy and Fred Shuttlesworth. Tensions became high when the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) became involved in a campaign to register African American to vote in Birmingham.”
“In the early morning of Sunday, September 15, 1963, Bobby Frank Cherry, Thomas Blanton, Herman Frank Cash, and Robert Chambliss, members of United Klans of America, a Ku Klux Klan group, planted a box of dynamite with a time delay under the steps of the church, near the basement. At about 10:22 a.m., twenty-six children were walking into the basement assembly room to prepare for the sermon entitled “The Love That Forgives,” when the bomb exploded. Four girls, Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Denise McNair (age 11), Carole Robertson (age 14), and Cynthia Wesley (age 14), were killed in the attack, and 22 additional people were injured, one of whom was Addie Mae Collins’ younger sister, Sarah. The explosion blew a hole in the church’s rear wall, destroyed the back steps and all but one stained-glass window, which showed Christ leading a group of little children.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16th_Street_Baptist_Church_bombing
“Civil rights activists blamed George Wallace, the Governor of Alabama, for the killings. Only a week before the bombing he had told the New York Times that to stop integration Alabama needed a “few first-class funerals.“ A witness identified Robert Chambliss, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, as the man who placed the bomb under the steps of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. He was arrested and charged with murder and possessing a box of 122 sticks of dynamite without a permit. On 8th October, 1963, Chambliss was found not guilty of murder and received a hundred-dollar fine and a six-month jail sentence for having the dynamite”.
“The case was unsolved until Bill Baxley was elected attorney general of Alabama. He requested the original Federal Bureau of Investigation files on the case and discovered that the organization had accumulated a great deal of evidence against Chambliss that had not been used in the original trial.”
“In November, 1977 Chambliss was tried once again for the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing. Now aged 73, Chambliss was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. Chambliss died in an Alabama prison on 29th October, 1985.”
“On 17th May, 2000, the FBI announced that the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing had been carried out by the Ku Klux Klan splinter group, the Cahaba Boys. It was claimed that four men, Robert Chambliss, Herman Cash, Thomas Blanton and Bobby Cherry had been responsible for the crime. Cash was dead but Blanton and Cherry were arrested and Blanton has since been tried and convicted”.
Sometimes, like Mrs. Parks you will be faced with your own trial of courage. And by not giving in but going on, you may, like Rosa Parks, be making a way where there is no way. Courage is contagious. And like a drop on the surface of the water, ripples you can create by being courageous can extend far beyond the limits of anyone’s imagination. And to borrow words from the book of Esther, who knows if you have not come into your agency for such a time as this.
I hope that some of the lessons i will be talking about this morning will make the movment less remote and at least as meaningful as lessons learned from the civil war . And i am going to start with something you may not know that happened in 1876. in that year,“ the celebrated orator Frederick Douglas dedicated a monument in Washington, D.C., erected by black Americans to honor Abraham Lincoln. The former slave told his audience that ‘there is little necessity on this occasion to speak at length and critically of this great and good man, and of his high mission in the world. That ground has been fully occupied… The whole field of fact and fancy has been gleaned and garnered. Any man can say things that are true of Abraham Lincoln but no man can say anything that is new of Abraham Lincoln.” 1
THIS MORNING, the same might be said of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., namely that “any man can say things that are true of Dr. King, but no man can say anything that is new of Dr. King.” AND THAT LEADS ME TO the leadership lessons I am going to share with you this morning. In something not quite resembling speed dating, in less than the 15 minutes i have been allotted, i am going to cover 13 leadership lessons. most i will just list. a few i will amplify. the slide deck for my power point presentation contains 17 lessons, but time will not permit me to cover those lessons here.
LEADERSHIP LESSON #1 FROM DR. KING AND FROM FREDERICK DOUGLAS: Stay focused on the Big Picture and Keep your eye on the prize even if you must retreat from the crowd and consult your inner spiritual compass. (See David Baron, Moses on Management) (Jesus did. Ghandi did. Dr. King did. Pretty good examples I think.)
Don’t ever forget who you are, where you come from, where you are going, and who is leading you to fulfill the purpose and plan for which you were created and for which you are called.
And when you find yourself in a time when it seems like you are all alone, remember the question asked in a popular song and the answer it gives. The popular song asks, “What do you do when you’ve done all you can, and it seems like it’s never enough? And what do you say when your friends turn away, you’re all alone? Tell me, what do you do, when you’ve given your all, and it seems like you can’t make it through. You just stand, and be sure. God has a purpose. Yes, God has a plan.”
LEADERSHIP LESSON #2: ( LEARN FROM JAKE SULLY IN THE MOVIE AVATAR AND FROM OUR OWN YOGI BERRA) KNOW WHERE YOU ARE AND WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON.
AND AS SOME OF THE SAINTS WILL TELL YOU: WHAT YOU SEE IS NOT ALWAYS WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON!
LEADERSHIP LESSON #3: Don’t Try To Solve Everything By Yourself; Even Superhereos Have sSdekicks. Don’t Even Attempt To Do It All. . Find Competent People And Give Them Real Responsibilities.” (See David Baron, Moses on Management) Have A Succes Plan as well as a Sucession Plan
Jethro had to teach his son-in –law Moses ABOUT DELEGATION.
LEADERSHIP LESSON #4: MAKE YOUR LEADERSHIP CONTAGIOUS
MONICA WOFFORD’S BOOK ON CONTAGIOUS LEADERSHP HAS NUMEROUS HELPFUL SUGGESTIONS. HERE ARE JUST A FOUR:
- ACT REASONABLY IN EVEN THE MOST UNREASONABLE SITUATIONS
- LET GO OF NEEDING TO BE PERFECT. LET GOOF NEEDING EVERYONE ELSE TO BE PERFECT
- COMMUNICATE WITH OHERS IN A LANGUAGE THAT THEY CAN UNDERSTND
- ENGAGE IN ACTIVE LEARNING EVERY DAY
LEADERSHIP LESSON #5: “P.D.F.P.” IS A FOUR INGREDIENT FORMULA FOR SUCCESS
1 PART PURPOSE (KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT) +
2 PARTS DESIRE (WANT IT SINCERELY AND PASSIONATELY) +
3 PARTS FAITH (FIRMLY BELIEVE YOU WILL GET IT) +
4 PARTS OF PERSEVERANCE (EXERT EVERY POSSIBLE EFFORT TO OBTAIN IT)
LEADERSHIP LESSON #6: THREE ESSENTIALS TO BE A LEADER ARE SELF-CONFIDENCE, UNSHAKEABLE FAITH, AND SOMETIMES SELF-SACRIFICE.
LEADERSHIP LESSON #7:You must have the courage of conviction and not give up when confronted and challenged.
Here is an example.
“in 1943, twelve years prior to her refusal to move on the bus in Montgomery, Rosa Parks went to register to vote in Alabama. Because of the Jim Crow Laws of the time, African Americans had to pass a literacy test in order to register. Ms. Parks took the test, was told she passed and that she would receive her voting card in the mail. The card never came. When she went back to take the test a second time, officials told her that she had failed the test and denied her the ability to see her results. In 1945 Ms. Parks went back a third time to register to vote. She again took the literacy test and again was told that she passed and that her card would be mailed. This time, however, Ms. Parks would not be denied; she stayed and hand-copied all of the questions and answers to that test to make sure that she would get her card and if not, she would have proof that she did in fact pass the test. Ms. Parks finally received her card, but when she went to vote the poll workers ordered her to pay a poll tax of $1.50, not just for that year but for every year that she had been eligible to vote. At the age of 32, that amount came out to $16.50. In 1945 that was quite a lot of money for a young seamstress to pay. Undeterred, Ms. Parks opened her pocketbook, paid the money and cast her vote. She voted in every subsequent election in her lifetime”.
LEADERSHIP LESSON #8:”Keep a sense of humor because some things in life are a laughing matter.
Dr. King was also a drum major with a sense of humor. In a sermon he said, “I got a letter the other day, and it was a new magazine coming out. And it opened, “Dear Dr. King: As you know, you are on many mailing lists. And you are categorized as highly intelligent, progressive, a lover of the arts and the sciences, and I know you will want to read what I have to say.” Of course I did, said Dr. King. After you said all of that and explained me so exactly, of course I wanted to read it!” But though Dr. King was able to laugh, sometimes at himself, helping other people was never a laughing matter with him.
LEADERSHIP LESSON #9:You can not lead anyone further than you have been yourself or further than you are willing to go yourself.
- And you must be responsible for who you are and for what you do. In the words of Edward Everett Hale,
“I am only one
But still I am one.
I can not do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I can not do everything
I will not refuse to do
The something that I can do.”
LEADERSHIP LESSON # 10: YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHO YOU ARE AND FOR WHAT YOU DO.
REPONSIBILITY: NO SINGLE DROP OF WATER THINKS ITS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FLOOD
LEADERSHIP LESSON#11: BE A LID LIFTER
According to JOHN Maxwell, there are times when leaders face a problem or limitation that they can not remove on their own. When some leaders hit those lids, they give up, and they stop growing. That’s the beginning of the end for their organization. But a few leaders, those with the courage and humility to lead, get together with other leaders who are able to be lid lifters in their lives. Clearly, Dr. King joined forces with others and lifted heavy lids.
He lifted others with his words. He was an encourager: “I have a dream”. He raised others with his actions. He lead marches and asked others to join in. He gave up so others could go up. That is he made sacrifices so others could go to another level. There are numerous examples of his sacrifices: being jailed, spending time away from his family, etc.Is there something you are willing to be a lid lifter for? Or a Drum Major? Are you going to march to some music and make a difference or are you just going to make excuses?
LEADERSHIP LESSON #12: BE A DRUM MAJOR AND STRUT YOUR STUFF BUT BEWARE OF THE DESTRUTIVE SIDE OF THE DRUM MAJOR INSTINCT.
IN HIS SERMON, “THE DRUM MAJOR INSTINCT” DR KING SAID”
- “iF YOU WANT TO SAY THAT I WAS A DRUM MAJOR, SAY THAT I WAS A DRUM MAJOR FOR JUSTICE.”
- “SAY THAT I WAS A DRUM MAJOR FOR PEACE.”
- “SAY THAT I WAS A DRUM MAJOR FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
- “I JUST WANT TO LEAVE A COMITTED LIFE BEHIND.”
I challenge everyone here to be a drum major and strut your stuff for justice, strut your stuff for equality, strut your stuff for RIGHTEOUSNESS, STRUT YOUR STUFF FOR EQUAL , AND TO STRUT YOUR STUFF TO CLOSE EVERY GAP THAT SEPARATES FROM BECOMING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY HERE IN MONTCLAIR THAT DR. KING SPOKE ABOUT FOR ALL PEPOPLES. HERE DR KING’S WORDS ABOUT THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:
‘BUT THE END IS RECONCILIAITON; THE END IS REDEMPTION; THE END IS CREATION OF THE BELOVED COMMUNITY. IT IS THIS TYPE OF SPIRIT AND THIS TYPE OF LOVE THAT CAN TRANSFORM OPPOSERS INTO FRIENDS. THE TYPE OF LOVE THAT I STRESS HERE IS NOT EROS, A SORT OF ESTHETIC OR ROMANTIC LOVE; NOT PHILIA, A SORT OF RECIPROCAL LOVE BETWEEN PERSONAL FRIENDS; BIT IT IS AGAPE WHICH IS UNDERSTANDING GOODWILL TOWARD ALL MEN. IT IS AN OVERWHELMING LOVE THAT SEEKS NOTHING IN RETURN IT IS THE LOVE OF GOD WORKING in the LIVES OF MEN. THIS IS THE LOVE THAT MAY WELL BE THE SALVATION OF OUR CIVILIZTION. “(FROM “THE ROLE OF THE CHURCH IN FACING THE NATION’S CHIEF MORAL DILEMMA.”(1957
Dr. King was not only a national hero, he was also a national and an international teacher. He taught us about love, hope, and peace. And those lessons—the ones he spoke about and the ones which he spent his life trying to apply and to get us to apply—are why all of us can and should celebrate the work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Centuries ago, a great teacher—Rabbi Nahman of Brazlav—spoke of peace in a prayer:
“Adon Haolom. May the will come from Thee to annul wars and the shedding of blood from the universe, and to extend a peace, great and wondrous in the universe. Let all residents of the earth recognize and know the innermost truth. That we are not come into this world for quarrel and division, nor for hate, greed and jealousy, contrariness and bloodshed, but we are come into this world to live together in peace and freedom with one another as good neighbors in mutual respect under Thy guiding providence.”
Dr. King dreamed of and worked toward a world in which all people could “live together in peace and freedom with one another as good neighbors in mutual respect.”`
When Dr. King spoke at Lincoln University and when he received the Nobel Peace Prize, his words reflected the feelings of his spiritual brother Rabbi Nahman. Here is what Dr. King said at Lincoln University:
“As long as there is poverty in this world, no man can be totally rich, even if he has a billion dollars. As long as diseases are rampant and millions of people can not expect to live more than twenty or thirty years, no man can be totally healthy.”
AS I LOOK AROUND THIS ROOM, I see a Martin over here and a Corretta King and a Rosa Parks over there, and I want you to be a drum major marching on and make a difference in 2014. And if we can get enough people marching to make a difference, we could end up with a drum line of drum majors making a difference. And for everyone who wants to be a drum major and make the dream come true, you have to remember that:
- Defeat comes from looking back.
- Distraction comes from looking around.
- Discouragement comes from looking down.
- Deliverance comes from looking up.
- And Determination comes from looking forward.
We must hear Dr. King’s words not only with our hearts but we must also heed them with our hands and deeds.
Though you can not go back And make a brand new start my friend
Anyone can start from now And make a brand new end.
Be a drum major for positive change. Be a ”we can drum major.
“We can not choose how many years we will live,
but we can choose how much life those years will have.
We can not control the beauty of our face,
But we can control the expression on it.
We can not control life’s difficult moments,
But we can choose to make life less difficult.
We can not control the negative atmosphere of the world,
But we can control the atmosphere of our minds.
Too often, we try to choose to control things we can not.
Too seldom, we choose to control what we can . . . our attitude.”
Dr. King ONCE SAID: “If I can help somebody as I pass along. If I can cheer somebody, with a word or song. If I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong, Then my living will not be in vain.” How about you? Can somebody say of you that you are a drum major for justice, or peace, or righteousness? And if not these things, what are the positive things for which you are being a drum major or will be a drum major in Montclair in 2014?
I USED TO GIVE A LOT OF THOUGHT TO HOW DR. KING COULD BE SUCH A DRUM MAJOR FOR JUSTICE. i WONDERED WHERE HE GOT THE COURAGE, STRENGTH, FAITH AND CONVICTION TO DO SO. I FINALLY FOUND THE ANSWER. HERE IS MINE. “How could one person be such a drum major making a difference under so many different conditions?” Well, there is an answer. And I believe it is this: If the spirit of the Lord is upon you, you can start to do things, and say things, that move mountains and quiet storms. Now I came here today to give remarks, but in the spirit of the Reverend Dr. King, I may just end up standing still and preaching. Because you know sometimes it’s ok to stand still, especially if you are just “Standing on the Promises!”. And if you Stand on the Promises, you may start to surprise some people when they see you walk and not faint, when they see you run and not be weary. When they see you mount up on the wings of eagles soaring over the insurmountable. And you may really surprise some people when they see you facing tidal waves of worry today and tempest tomorrow, the Bull Connors of belligerence in the streets of the past and George Wallaces of confrontation and of insufferable arrogance in the cyber chat rooms of the present or the future, and they hear you say “Peace be still! Peace be still!”
I conclude by asking you to think about the dream and remember the poem that says:
“Ah, great is the believe
as we stand in youth
by the starry stream.
But a greater thing is
To live life through,
And say at the end,
The dream came true.”
To all the adults here today, I would ask that you rededicate yourselves to setting a good example for all children. Be teachers of peace, love, harmony, mutual respect, cooperation, and understanding. We must set an example for our children. If we lift their eyes to the stars, that’s the direction in which they will head: upward and onward. We must be sure we speak of truth, loyalty, love, perseverance, justice, caring, and compassion so that they will learn the language of triumph, achievement, and commitment. We must speak of our dreams so that they will be able to have visions of a better future that transcends any limitations of the present. When our children see us, they must see people who are involved in education, who read books instead of simply watching videos, who talk about and help bring about good things in the world, who work to change things that are not as good as they should be. I hope our children will form opinions of us based on our active involvement to improve the quality of life rather than on the basis of passive complaining about what is wrong.
The Master of the Universe has given us the power to choose. May we choose to love rather than to hate, to laugh rather than to cry, to create rather than destroy, to persevere rather than to quit, to praise rather than to criticize, to heal rather than to wound, to help rather than to hurt, to go on rather than to give up, to reach out to one another rather than to retreat within ourselves. The One Who Neither Slumbers Nor Sleeps has given each of us the power to decide, the courage to dare, the energy to do, the will power to be determined, the grace to be dedicated, and the patience to be diligent. And I ask this final question: What Do You Choose?