Civil rights attorney Fred Gray will be the keynote speaker at the Barbara Lee and Elihu Harris Lecture Series on Saturday. (Courtesy of the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center)
By Lou Fancher
During the Civil Rights Movement, attorney and preacher Fred Gray practiced patience, peace, and unflagging activism, which still resonate today.
Gray brings his “Where do we go from here?” message Saturday to the Bay Area as featured speaker at the Barbara Lee and Elihu Harris Lecture Series at Oakland Marriott City Center.Patience was the strategy Gray used in the early 1950s, when he left his home in Montgomery, Alabama, a state where black students were barred from entering law school, to attend Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
He earned his degree in 1954 and returned to open a law office in his hometown, determined to eliminate public school segregation in the state. A dedication to peaceful protest and activism were key tactics as Gray tackled civil rights issues beyond education institution reforms. In 1955, he successfully served as the lawyer to Rosa Parks, Claudette Colvin and the Montgomery Improvement Association during the 381-day Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Defending Martin Luther King Jr. on tax evasion charges in 1960, Gray argued and won cases that allowed the Selma to Montgomery March to proceed (depicted by Cuba Gooding Jr. in the 2014 film “Selma”).
Read Full Article Below:
Martin Luther King Jr Freedom Center returns from intensive 30 day civic Voter Engagement Drive
in the Central Valley of California
OAKLAND, CA (August 4, 2016) – Youth, interns, and staff of the Martin Luther King Jr Freedom Center return from 30 days of intensive civic engagement in the Central Valley of California. In addition to voter engagement in homes and community settings with thousands of Kern County Residents, the delegates spent their summer in the study and practice of civic engagement as a means to personal transformation and social change. In addition to sleeping on gym floors, making their own meals, and leaving cell phones and electronic devices at home for a month, the delegation registered 254 citizens to vote, knocked on more than 7,000 doors, and attended 98 hours of civic engagement classes.
Dolores Huerta and Congresswoman Barbara Lee, founder of the center, spoke on the relevancy and impact of the Freedom Center youth voter engagement summer. Dr. Roy Wilson, Executive Director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center, and Camila Chavez, Executive Director of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, also spoke about the results of the classes and the nature of this urban-rural civic engagement collaboration. The report back included stories and lessons learned in the low-voter turnout regions of Bakersfield, Lamont, and Arvin in the Central Valley of California—from the youth delegates who made the journey.
Congresswoman Lee Marks 150th Anniversary of the Thirteenth Amendment along with East Bay Students
Oakland, CA – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee marked the sesquicentennial of the Thirteenth Amendment along with President Obama, her Congressional Black Caucus colleagues, Oakland’s Rabbi Bloom and students from the East Bay’s Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center. She released this statement marking the 150th anniversary of the Thirteenth Amendment:
“Today, our nation pauses to remember one of the most significant dates in American history: the end of slavery with the passage of an amendment to the Constitution. The ratification of this amendment guaranteed freedom for almost four million Americans.
America’s legacy of slavery and racial oppression is a dark and sadly ongoing chapter in our nation’s history. Remembering our history is a critical part of continuing the process of overcoming injustice and discrimination.
One hundred and fifty years ago, the Thirteenth Amendment initiated our nation’s civil rights movement that continues to this day.
As many in our nation come to understand the gross inequalities and systemic racial barriers that are still endemic in our country, this anniversary should challenge policymakers to renew their commitment to ensuring equality and justice for all.
As our nation officially celebrates this important milestone, I am glad to be welcoming the students from the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center and Rabbi Mark Bloom, of Oakland’s Temple Beth Abraham, to Washington D.C. to attend the commemoration.
It’s vital that our nation’s young people have an opportunity to not only learn about our nation’s history but to participate in creating it. I know that these young people will return to the East Bay with a renewed commitment to completing the unfinished work of ensuring equality and justice for all.”###
Congresswoman Lee is a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees, the Steering and Policy Committee, is a Senior Democratic Whip, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. She serves as chair of the Whip’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity.
Oakland: Martin Luther King speaker series
By Lou Fancher Correspondent, Inside BayArea
POSTED: 11/10/2015 02:03:52 PM PST
OAKLAND — Reviewing history to explain how a racially divided United States might move from chaos to community, Stanford University professor and Martin Luther King, Jr. scholar Clayborne Carson said Saturday that young people and women played pivotal roles in the Civil Rights movement — and could again.
Selected by the late Coretta Scott King to edit and publish King's papers, Carson has produced six of a projected 14-volume edition under the auspices of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute he founded at Stanford. Speaking at the Barbara Lee and Elihu Harris Lecture Series at Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, Carson said his exploration of the events of the 1950s and 60s as a participant in the movement and someone who admired but never idolized King, has led him to surprising, not often-heard perspectives.
"Rosa Parks wasn't waiting for a telephone call from Martin Luther King on that bus. She did what she did. And then that forced Martin Luther King to be who he was," Carson said.
Furthermore, Carson said that the civil rights "from the bottom up" movement meant that people — and largely, women — began the sit ins, boycotts, marches and other organized, nonviolent protests. "It was women who led the movement," he said.
"What we need to do as we look to the future is to rethink how we look at Martin Luther King," Carson said. "His agenda cannot be categorized as a civil rights agenda. His mission was to combat unemployment, slums, economic insecurity. Those issues are still there."
Produced by The Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center and Merritt College, the event included a presentation by Clarence B. Jones, who served as legal counsel and speechwriter for King, along with comments from Congresswoman Lee, former Oakland Mayor Harris and rousing introductions from three youth members of the Freedom Center.
One of them, Andres Bustamante, set the night's tone with a four-step lesson he's learned while "lighting a spark" for social justice as a participant in the organization: "Give a greeting, give thanks, state a belief, state it with your leadership and culture."
Carson's belief that King is a symbol of a movement larger than the activism that led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 came with a caveat: casting King as only concerned with racial injustice seriously understates the leader's overriding dedication to issues of poverty and war, he said.
As a young person Carson thought King was too cautious. "Far from a leader, I thought he was following us," he said. But his understanding and appreciation has grown.
Similarly, Jones turned down a job offer when the civil rights leader came to his Southern California home in 1960 seeking black lawyers. Jones said he was an entertainment lawyer and wanted to keep his convertible, swimming pool, and "living large" lifestyle. But after hearing King's speech on the responsibility of African-American professionals to help others less fortunate, Jones changed his mind.
Sharing anecdotes from their time together, he said King was "the 20th century's apostle of non-violence." To reach King's "beloved community," Jones said would require moving beyond asking or begging for civil rights. Voting, he said, is the best way to honor King and other leaders who gave their lives in hopes that the Black Lives Matter movement would never be necessary.
"Vote," Jones said. "The time of beseeching is over."
To learn more about the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center, visithttp://www.mlkfreedomcenter.org/