So clearly this year’s presidential election has raised some eyebrows. It is obvious that the main candidates (Clinton an Trump) aren’t the best options per se but that doesn’t give us a reason not to vote.
To the people, mainly MY people who are on social media saying they aren’t gonna vote, YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS. Let’s have a little history session, shall we.
Remember learning about those times between forever ago until 1965, when African Americans didn’t have the right to vote? Granted, when blacks were suppose to have the right to vote in 1870, they had to take literacy tests and go through other obstacles that wasn’t necessary. Remember reading and hearing about Martin Luther King Jr and many other demonstrators marching for our right to vote but they were arrested, harmed by weapons and tear gas used on them by police officers, while they peacefully protested? It would be a HARD slap in the face to our ancestors and even our living grandparents, if we didn’t exercise our right to vote. We obviously didn’t have that right to vote once before so it is very important to utilize that right.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Our vote doesn’t count, the electoral college has the last vote for us.” You are absolutely right. But I did find out that some states have do go by the popular vote of that specific state and some don’t. Let’s say that the electoral college members of Missouri DOES go by the popular vote in Missouri, YOUR one vote could possibly count towards them gearing their vote to the candidate you want to win. You see people playing the lottery and the chances of winning are 1 in 13 million, yet some people still bother to play it. Just like voting, still do it! Let’s say the person who you definitely don’t want to win (TRUMP), wins and becomes president. You can’t complain about anything going wrong in the U.S because you didn’t take the time out to vote. It doesn’t cost anything to vote!
Even if you don’t want to vote for Hillary or Trump, there are three other candidates on the ballot: Gary Johnson (Libertarian), Jill Stein (Green Party), and Evan McMullin (Independent Candidate). I can’t tell you their views but I CAN tell you to PLEASE GO VOTE!
Last but not least, and I did save the best for last, fact 20 goes to the courageous Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin was born in Atlanta, Georgia as Michael Luther King Jr, later on he changed his name to Martin. He graduated high school at the young age of 15 and started attending Morehouse College. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Sociology in 1948, then went on to Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, where he was valedictorian of his class in 1951. After his education there, he went to Boston University to obtain his Masters degree, then his doctorate’s degree, which he completed in 1955 at age 25. While at Boston, he met his future wife Coretta Scott. As he was finishing up his doctorate, he followed in his father and grandfather’s footsteps and became a pastor at a church called Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Also during that time, he became a member of the executive committee of the NAACP.
In 1955, the local NAACP wanted to challenge the Montgomery bus policy and they had one case but due to the circumstances, they did not want to subject the 15 year old girl who was also pregnant and had refused to give up her seat. Then another opportunity came about when Rosa Parks had refused to give up her seat to a white man. Since Martin was the leader of the nonviolent demonstration, this was his first case to try out. He and the president of the local NAACP organized a city wide bus boycott. This meant that people would either carpool with others to get to their destination or even walk. After 382 of boycotting and the local transportation companies losing money, the Supreme Court ruled that “racial segregation in transportation was unconstitutional.”
Shortly after the ruling, Martin was elected to become president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. This group helped conduct nonviolent protests in order to promote civil rights reform. The group also tried to press the issue on voting rights by getting African Americans registered to vote. As the leader, Martin traveled all over the United States and spoke over 2500 times to crowds where there was social injustice and discrimination. Martin had protested all over and was arrested a few times because of not leaving businesses.
One of his biggest protests was in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963; that caught attention nationwide because pictures were taken , and it was brutal; blacks were assaulted by dogs and water hoses. Martin, along with several other protesters were arrested and that is what prompted his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.” Later that year Martin organized a massive protest in Washington, D.C combined with other organizations asking for peaceful change. The march was also for equal jobs and freedom and it drew over 200,000 people. This “March on Washington” is where Martin delivered his famous “I have a Dream” speech.
Martin was named “Man of the Year” by Time magazine in 1963 and the following year, he was the youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize. That same year, another accomplishment that Martin was part of was Congress passing the Civil Rights Acts; without Martin protesting around the country, it was have prolonged. The Civil Right Acts eliminated legal racial segregation in the United States. The act made it illegal to discriminate against blacks or any other minorities in education, transportation, hiring and public accommodations. In 1965, Congress also passed the Voting Rights Act, that eliminated barriers that blacks had to overcome just to vote. That same year, another march in Selma led to violence when protesters marched from Selma and attempted to march to Montgomery but they were stopped at the Edmond Pettus bridge by police officials and were attacked. The attacked was televised and the world saw it. Martin was not there but for the future marches, he planned to be in attendance.
On April 4, 1968 Martin’s life was taken when he was outside his hotel room on a balcony, when James Earl Ray shot his with a stray bullet and killed him. His murder angered a lot of people and even sparked a few riots. His killer was sentenced to 99 years in prison and he died in 1998 while there.
Martin’s courageous acts and leadership skills have helped shaped America today. Even though, us African Americans still deal with racism and discrimination, it isn’t nearly as bad as it was when Martin was alive. He will forever be memorized as a leader of nonviolent demonstrations, a pastor, an activist, an educated black man, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and plenty more titles. He also has plaques and even a monument of himself, signifying his importance.
Malcolm Little, known as Malcolm X, born in Omaha, Nebraska ,was the fourth child of eight children to a homemaker mother and a minister. His father Earl was a supporter of the Black Nationalist and with being a supporter came death threats from a white supremacy group called Black Legions. The family received numerous death threats to the point where they had to move twice by the time Malcolm was four years old. They ended up in Lansing, Michigan, which was just as bad because someone set their house on fire and it burned to the ground. When Malcolm was six years old, his father was murdered and his body was found on some trolley tracks. The tragedy broke up Malcolm’s family because his mother had a mental breakdown and was admitted to a mental institute which separated him and his siblings into foster homes.
By the time Malcolm was 15, he dropped out school and started engaging in criminal acts which landed him 6 years in prison on a burglary charge. While incarcerated he educated himself on the Nation of Islam, also known as Black Muslims, and it’s leader Elijah Muhammad; Malcolm’s siblings would visit him and talk to him about their converting to the religion as well. Muhammad’s theories were that the white society tries to keep black people from learning and achieving in the social, political and economic world. He also believed that in order for blacks to succeed, we needed to secure freedom, equality and justice by establishing our own state, separate from white people.
Towards the end on Malcolm’s imprisonment, he changed his last name form “Little” to “X” because he said Little was his slave name. He converted to the religion and traveled to Detroit, Michigan to meet with Muhammad. There, Muhammad appointed him as the minister of Temple number 7 in Harlem and Temple number 11 in Boston. H even started a newspaper column about the Nation of Islam titles Muhammad Speaks. With Malcolm having the newspaper, as well as speaking on radio stations and televisions, the number of members grew for the religion from 500 in 1952 to 30,000 in 1963. Muhammad who was a leader and Malcolm’s mentor, was caught in a secret scandal, impregnating several women of the Islam Nation organization. Malcolm didn’t promise to keep quiet about the secret and was deeply hurt by his deception and betrayal to the religion.
Shortly after the scandal, Malcolm made a bad comment about the assassination of President Kennedy and he was “silenced” by Muhammad for 90 days and was not able to speak about any events. Not too long after that Malcolm left the Nation of Islam and traveled to North Africa and the Middle East. He shared his thoughts and beliefs with different cultures and came back to the United States with a different mindset; being less angry, more optimistic about peaceful resolutions towards races American problems. When he would speak, he would talk talk to all races and not just African Americans.
Since Malcolm had cut ties with Muhammad, there were undercover FBI informants who worked for the Nation that had put a hit out on Malcolm, on behalf of Muhammad. After several attempts, at a speaking engagement, Malcolm was shot 15 times by three men and was dead at the scene. The three men were charged with his murder and he is buried in Hartsdale, New York.
The impact Malcolm made was going from an angry man to a more positive man who wanted all races to get along; which is the same thing Dr. Martin Luther King was doing, plus more but the two had different views of how the racism issues should be handled. Martin was more positive and nonviolent and before Malcolm went overseas, he was more militant and angry. It is unfortunate that the two couldn’t combine their thoughts and beliefs before Malcolm was assassinated. The two only had one meeting and it was at a news conference. The two would have been a great team together but even separate they still got their points across and history has been made on their behalves and the will never be forgotten
featured image photo credit: malcolmxnetwork.tumblr.com
I am dedicating fact 4 of the month to Ms. Rosa Parks, who was born today, February 4. Everyone knows what Rosa did but just a little refresher, On December 1st, 1955, she refused to give up her seat to a white man. She was already sitting in the “colored section” but since the “whites only section” was filled, the bus driver told four black people who were sitting in the first row of their section including Rosa, to give up their seats. Well everyone gave up their seat but Rosa.
Rosa was later arrested and THAT is what initiated the Montgomery Boycott. After Martin Luther King Jr. organized the boycott having blacks walk, carpool with others and even only riding in black-operated cabs. The boycott went on for a year and the bus company suffered financially, because of the lost of business. Due to the financial lost, On December 20, 1956, the City of Montgomery had no other choice but to desegregate the laws on public buses.
In later interviews Rosa Parks said that the reason she didn’t get up , wasn’t because she was physically tired but just “tired of giving in.” With her standing her ground and being brave, she made history.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ROSA PARKS, AND MAY SHE RESPECTFULLY REST IN PEACE.