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Reflections for the 50th Anniversary Mass in Honor of the Selma to Montgomery March
by Fr. Manuel Williams, CR
At some point 50 years ago in the midst of that arduous and dangerous journey from Selma to Montgomery the marchers must have sung: We’re marching, marching, marching to beautiful Zion We’re marching onward to Zion, the beautiful City of God. (more)
Straddling History and Hope in Selma
by Ralph McCloud
Selma represented a turning point in the march towards justice, and Catholic had a role then, just as they do today. Read Catholic Campaign for Human Development director Ralph McCloud's refection on his journey to Selma on Justice, Peace and Human Development's blog To Go Forth.
How the Civil Rights Movement Influenced U.S. Immigration Policy
By Todd Scribner
Standing before Congress on January 8, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson delivered his State of the Union Address. Here he called for the
abolition of all forms of racial discrimination—calls that anticipated
the passage of the Civil Rights Act some six months later—and committed
his Administration to “lifting by legislation the bars of discrimination
against those who seek entry into our country.” Americans
often think of civil rights legislation of the following years as being
only pertinent to the African American community, but it in fact had
important implications for the formation of migration policy. (more
Fifty Years Since Historic Civil Rights Legislation: There Are No “Minority” Americans
By The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., STD
Fifty years since historic Civil Rights Legislation there should be no “Minority” Americans. Are there really “minority” Americans and “minority” Catholics? I have never used this term in reference or to any group of American citizens or American Catholics. I believe it is erroneous and counter-productive. If we think carefully about what it means to be an American and to be a Catholic, we can see why these are questionable expressions. (more)
The Glories of the Past and the Hopes of Tomorrow
By Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory
Our nation is in the midst of observing a series of uniquely important historic moments that mark the 50th or 60th anniversaries of the Civil Rights movement. Last year we recalled the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, this year we marked the 60th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling Brown vs. the Board of Education that outlawed school segregation, and soon we will recall the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Bill. (more)
My Transformative Experiences Growing Up in the Civil Rights Era
By Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN
Growing up in New Haven, Connecticut as an African American young teenager in the turbulent times of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s was exciting and challenging. The impact of institutional racism was felt daily in the Elm Haven Projects where we saw people of color struggle to meet basic human needs... (more)
Pax Christi USA Continues the Vision of the Civil Rights Era
By Sr. Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN
As we commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the modern Civil Rights era, Pax Christi USA, (PCUSA), the national Catholic peace and justice movement, continues its commitment to confront the evil of racism and all forms of oppression, as we witness to the Gospel call of nonviolence and peace with justice... (more)
Poetry in the Civil Rights Era
By Angela Redmond-Theodore
In an interview for the PBS News Hour’s “Where Poetry Lives” series, U.S. poet laureate Natasha Trethewey said that “A commitment to social justice always undergirds my poems.” This could stand as the mission statement for all artists, including African American writers, who have put words to our society’s deepest longings and highest calling... (more)
What Must Never Be Forgotten
By Shannen D. Williams, PhD
As I reflect on the realities of institutional racism, sexism and economic inequality on this fiftieth anniversary year of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, I wonder about the role the Catholic Church will play in America’s moral future... (more)
50 Years Ago...
50 years ago…The first episode of the game show Jeopardy aired and Freedom Summer
brought 1000 activists by bus to Mississippi to help African Americans
exercise their rights and duties as citizens. What’s the winning
50 years ago…The Mississippi
Freedom Democratic Party formed to challenge the all-white official
Democratic party. Its delegates attended the Democratic National
Convention in Atlantic City NJ, until they were forcibly removed. Is
the right to vote secure today?
50 years ago…Baby boomers enjoyed watching Bewitched, The Addams Family, Gilligan’s Island and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
On television they also watched police dogs, fire hoses and billy clubs
beat back their fellow citizens seeking the right to vote and equal
opportunity for employment, housing and education. Which made a bigger
impact on your life?
The African American Affairs’ 50th Anniversary Initiative
provides a platform for probing the impact of this historic moment on
African American Catholics, the Church and U.S. society today. For a
quick look back, view the Catholic News Service video, Equality for All: Catholic Reflections on the Civil Rights Act.
More food for thought is available in America Magazine.
See the July 7-14, 2014 issue (Reference Vol. 211 No. 1; Whole No.
5055). Read reflections of African American Catholics on the theme, “Black and Catholic: On Race, Faith and Freedom.” Share your own reflections on USCCB Facebook and
Connecting to the Past:
Remembering Freedom Summer
Diversity launches the 50th Anniversary Initiative in June 2014, by
remembering Mississippi Freedom Summer. In the Diocese of Jackson MS, a
conference on June 24 – 29, 2014
provides an opportunity to learn about and better understand Freedom
Summer and the Freedom School movement. We invite you to mark this
historic moment. Listen to the voices
of those who participated 50 years ago and reflect on the significance
of those experiences today. Recognize and if necessary, recommit to
understanding citizenship – it’s rights and responsibilities.
a year and a half later, Vatican II opened windows and doors within the
Catholic Church to receive the fresh breath of God through inspired
words including these:
“Obligations of justice and
love are fulfilled only if each person, contributing to the common good,
according to his own abilities and the needs of others, also promotes
and assists the public and private institutions dedicated to bettering
the conditions of human life.”
– (#30 Gaudium et Spes, The Church in the Modern World)
this same spirit of brotherhood, in June of 1964, hundreds of activists
of different races and denominations from the Northeast who crossed the
Mason-Dixon Line by bus to help African Americans register to vote in
Mississippi. The project also established dozens of Freedom Schools
that provided classes in citizenship and other related topics. Freedom
Summer, as we now know it, accelerated the movement toward racial
justice in the United States.
Three years prior, in the Spring of
1961, Freedom Riders tested the waters of desegregation on bus trips
from Washington DC to New Orleans LA. In ways that are difficult to
imagine today, all of the Freedom Rides and other voter registration
efforts were perilous, unprecedented and caught many Americans by
surprise. Resulting beatings, bombings and deaths raised the nation’s
consciousness about the realities of segregation and terror of Jim Crow
policies around the country.
Fast forward to May 2011 when 40
college students joined several original Freedom Riders in retracing
the 1961 Freedom Rides. Among them was Karl Kumodzi, the Catholic
Campaign for Human Development’s 2012 Cardinal Bernardin Award winner.
View Karl’s statement and meet the other riders from every region of the country.
Dr. Robert P. (Bob) Moses,
an architect of the Freedom Summer project in Mississippi, recently
spoke at the opening of the Mississippi Department of Archives and
History exhibit, “Stand Up!: Mississippi Freedom Summer 1964.”
There a numerous other observances and chances to learn more.