Thursday, August 18, 2016

MLK: Born To Lead

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Boston University
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Boston University
1959 (BU Photo Services)

Exceptional performance was the prize for Martin Luther King--education, credentials and awards--that demonstrate preparation for leadership of the Civil Rights Movement. 

We might as well face it. Most of us are not prepared for the type of leadership it takes to change the world. There seems to be a growing attitude of automatic acceptance of personal ordinariness today, complacence, "Oh, whatever." And people, including children, seem to be growing up willing to accept the notion of "mediocre" as normal, worthy of a trophy for simply signing up for the team--no field time and certainly no outstanding play, which is not just a sports theory. This applies to all areas of once-competitive activity. 

However, unsubstantiated accomplishments of unworthily-trophied team members can be smashed in a second when faced with the dedication of real performance and competition; for instance, a Spelling Bee smack down! Unfortunately, many students avoid participation if they are required to participate in strenuous preparation. 

"Oh, well, whatever." Give 'em a trophy anyway for signing up.

Unearned trophies promote the feeling that doing better makes no more difference than doing worse. Why try harder, when there will be a trophy at the end for simply putting on the uniform or signing on the dotted line. So what if no effort goes into it? Could that be a cause of personal low expectations? At the end of the game, only the player really knows if he or she played his or her best game--the moment of realization.
  • Do people know if they played their best game? 
  • If they know they did not play their best game, what is their attitude? 
  • Do they pretend they did their best? 
  • Knowing they didn't do their best, do they make a plan to improve?
  • Or do they dismiss the whole thing with, Oh, whatever."

Lyndon Johnson & Martin Luther King
Lyndon Johnson
& Martin Luther King
Dr. Martin Luther King prepared for leadership. He was more than a gifted speaker; he was a highly intelligent man, proof of which showed in his education, academic credentials and power of persuasion. It took more than a notion to convince those in power to support his civil rights efforts. All said and done: He was a hard worker. I'd put money on that.

"There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right." MLK

The kind of conviction espoused in the quote above requires preparation of the ultimate kind. We might as well face it. Most of us are not prepared for the type of leadership it takes to change the world. Changing the world means getting things done and being good at those things, striving for excellence, whether achieving excellence or not, not being discouraged, continuing to move forward with conviction toward a goal. 

Early in his education, King skipped both ninth and twelfth grades, tested his way out of high school at age 15 before graduation. He entered Morehouse College, where he earned Bachelor's degree in sociology. He received a Bachelor of Divinity from Cozier College, while also studying at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1955, three months before Rosa Parks sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott and hurled King into national prominence, he received his Doctorate of Philosophy in Systematic Theology from Boston University.

Preparation takes hard work.

Honorary Degrees from U.S. and international colleges and universities. During his lifetime and posthumously, Dr. King also was awarded:

1957 - Doctor of Humane Letters, Morehouse College; Doctor of Laws, Howard University; Doctor of Divinity, Chicago Theological Seminary
1958 - Doctor of Laws, Morgan State College; Doctor of Humanities, Central State College
1959 - Doctor of Divinity, Boston University
1961 - Doctor of Laws, Lincoln University; Doctor of Laws, University of Bridgeport
1962 - Doctor of Civil Laws, Bard College
1963 - Doctor of Letters, Keuka College
1964 - Doctor of Divinity, Wesleyan College; Doctor of Laws, Jewish Theological Seminary; Doctor of Laws, Yale University; Doctor of Divinity, Springfield College
1965 - Doctor of Laws, Hofstra University; Doctor of Human Letters, Oberlin College; Doctor of Social Science, Amsterdam Free University; Doctor of Divinity, St. Peter's College
1967 - Doctor of Civil Law, University of New Castle Upon Tyne; Doctor of Laws, Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa

Oslo, Norway

At age 35, Dr. King was the youngest man in history to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The second American after Theodore Roosevelt, Dr. King is also the second African American in history to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The first African American to win the Nobel Peace Prize was Ralph Bunche in 1950 and the third black recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize is President Barack Obama.

Scholarly and Leadership Awards received below and others listed in the Archives of the Martin Luther King, Center for Nonviolent Social Change, Inc. in Atlanta, Georgia.

1957 - Among Time’s most outstanding personalities
1957 - Who's Who in America
1957 - NAACP Spingarn Medal Recipient
1957 - National Newspaper Publishers’ Russwurm Award
1958.- Guardian Association of the Police Department of New York, Second Annual Achievement Award
1959 - Among New Delhi, India, Link Magazine’s sixteen world leaders who contributed most to the advancement of freedom
1963 - Time Man of the Year
1963 - Laundry, Dry Cleaning, and Die Workers International Union’s American of the Decade
1964 - United Federation of Teachers’ John Dewey Award
1964 - Catholic Interracial Council of Chicago John F. Kennedy Award
1968 - Jamaican Government Marcus Garvey Prize for Human Rights (posthumously)
1968 - Southern Christian Leadership Conference Rosa Parks Award (posthumously)

Leadership is more than standing in front of a crowd and giving a speech. Leadership means teaching by example. 

MLK Arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, 1958
MLK Arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, 1958
We might as well face it. Most of us are not prepared for the type of leadership it takes to change the world. And we will never deliver an I Have a Dream Speech. But we can prepare ourselves and our children to do better than our parents, grandparents and other ancestors were able to do with Jim Crow on their backs.

After all, didn't Dr. King expect us to do just that? 

If not, what was it all for?


Monday, August 15, 2016

Jesse Owens, Jim Crow and the Berlin Olympics

African American Track Star, Jesse Owens, won four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and won a victory for civil rights. 

Jesse Owens 1936 Berlin Olympics Track and Field Star
Jesse Owens
1936 Berlin Olympics

Jesse: The Man Who Outran Hitler, Jesse Owens

The 1936 Olympics belonged to track and field star, Jesse Owens, who hoped his track and field victories would change race relations in America.

With all that gold being earned at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, we should remember the first African Americans to win Olympic gold medals, lest we forget who fought Jim Crow in sports and helped lay the groundwork for black gold medalists in the 2016 Summer Olympic in Rio.

After Jesse Owens' victories, British radio and newspapers fueled racism by circulating a rumor that lives on to this day claiming that Hitler snubbed Owens after his Olympic victories. 

Radio and newspapers reported Hitler refused to shake Owens' hand, an alleged gesture that angered civil rights groups around the world. Equally bothersome to other Olympics observers was the fact that two black women who qualified in track and field for the 1936 Berlin Olympics were replaced at the last minute with white runners by U.S. Olympic officials. 

Back in 1929, the all-black school, Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University, had started one of the first women's track and field teams in the United States. In 1932, Tydie Pickett and Louise Stokes qualified for the Los Angeles Olympics on the 400-meter relay track team, but were replaced at the last minute by white runners they had beaten. Again in 1936, Pickett and Stokes qualified for the women's U.S. track and field team but Olympic officials replaced them at the last minute with white runners they had previously defeated. Some observers credit the change to racist Jim Crow laws in the United States. The U.S. blamed Hitler's regime for the Owens snub and U.S. civil rights groups blamed Jim Crow laws for the women's team replacements. 

The dynamics of the Berlin Olympics were troublesome to U.S. race relations.

Jesse Owens had another impression of what happened in Germany. Owens said, "Hitler didn't snub me—it was [FDR] who snubbed me. The president (Franklin D. Roosevelt) didn't even send me a telegram,” quoted from the book, Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler's Olympics by Jeremy Schaap, about the 1936 Olympics. Owens said he was treated well at the Berlin Olympics and that Hitler sent him an inscribed photograph to congratulate him on his victories. Years later, Owens' widow confirmed the account. [source: The Hitler Snub Myth, The New Stürmer, 2003]

While in Berlin for the Olympics, Owens was not discriminated against by Jim Crow laws or separated from other athletes based on the color of his skin as Jim Crow laws required in the United States. Jesse Owens stayed in the same hotels, rode public trains, ate in restaurants and enjoyed friendships with white members of his own team and other international Olympians like Lutz Lang, German athletic star and European long-jump record holder. 

Back home for a post-Olympic ceremony at New York's Waldorph Astoria Hotel, however, track and field star Jesse Owens was not permitted to stay in the hotel or eat in the hotel restaurant and was forced to use the hotel freight elevator so as not to be seen by white hotel guests. 

Many people think the struggle for civil rights was unnecessary in northern states, especially New York, where race was not as much of an issue as it was in the South. However, northern U.S. states were slave states in early New England and continued a long and painful legacy of Jim Crow laws and treatment of African Americans, and other non-white groups and whites of a different ethnicity. The first slave auction held in New York took place in 1655, 300 years before Rosa Parks led the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Slaves in New York were not formally freed until 1827, ending bondage but not discrimination. 

Sojourner Truth
Sojourner Truth
Abolitionist, civil rights and women's activist, Sojourner Truth, born a slave in New York, wrote extensively about her experiences in her autobiography. The first U.S. Census indicates that the slave population in New York grew to 21,324 by 1790, making New York the largest slave-owning state north of the Mason Dixon line, a distinction New York held throughout the two centuries the state practiced slavery; this from: New York Slave Law Summary and Record. Slavery in southern states like Alabama, the birthplace of Rosa Parks, and Georgia, the birthplace of Martin Luther King, was more brutal and lengthy, and did not end until 1865.

Rosa Parks and  the Montgomery Bus  Boycott (Lucent Library  of Black History)
Rosa Parks and 
the Montgomery Bus 
Boycott (Lucent Library 
of Black History)

Jesse Owens was born in Alabama in 1913, the same state and year as Rosa Parks. It would be easy to conclude that Rosa Parks and Jesse Owens may have experienced similar consequences of Jim Crow laws growing up and in adulthood.

Although many Americans observed Owens' victory at the 1936 Berlin Olympics as the birth of the Civil Rights Movement, it was nearly 20 years later, in 1955, that Owens' accomplishment was acknowledged by the White House when U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower honored Owens by naming him “Ambassador of Sports.” 

Jesse Owens' U.S. Sports Ambassadorship included meeting with school, government and sports officials in India, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, and talking to underprivileged school children in those countries and the U.S. Audrey Patterson, the first African American woman to win a medal in Olympics history said, she felt that 1936 Olympic gold medal winner, Jesse Owens, was speaking to her in 1944 when he told a group at her school, Gilbert Academy in New Orleans, "There is a boy or a girl in this audience who will go to the Olympics."

Jesse Owens, 1958  & Vice President Richard Nixon
Jesse Owens, 1958
Vice President Richard Nixon
Jesse Owens was born in Alabama in 1913, the same state and year of Rosa Parks' birth. It easy to conclude that they experienced the same consequences of Jim Crow laws. However, in 1955, they both began historic journeys against racial discrimination. Although many observed Owens' victory at the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936 as the birth of the Civil Rights Movement, it was nearly 20 years later, in 1955, that his accomplishment was acknowledged by the White House when U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower honored Owens by naming him “Ambassador of Sports,” touring India, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines, meeting with government and sports officials and talking to underprivileged children.

The year Jesse Owens was invited to the White House, 1955, was the same year that Rosa Parks ignited the Montgomery Bus boycott in Owens' home state of Alabama and officially kicked off the modern Civil Rights Movement with Martin Luther King being hurled into the spotlight on national television as the leader of the Civil Rights Movement, which eventually led to Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream Speech in Washington D.C. in 1963 during the Poor People's March. It took many years before the Civil Rights Movement accomplished it goals, and still, some goals seem unfulfilled.

In 1956, Jesse Owens became President Eisenhower's personal Olympic Games representative in Australia. That was the year that the Montgomery Bus Boycott, led by Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, ended with the Supreme Court striking down Jim Crow laws, set into legal motion with the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Plessy v Ferguson.

Remember Jesse Owens for his Olympics victories and for his role in civil rights, although several decades passed before President Lyndon Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Black Female Olympic Gold and Jim Crow

Black Female Olympic Gold Medal Winners helped to change the world's perception of black Women. 

Tydie Pickett (far left) and Louise Stokes (far right)  Track and Field, 1936 Olympic Games
Tydie Pickett (far left) and Louise Stokes (far right) 
Track and Field, 1936 Berlin Olympic Games

With all that gold having been earned by African American women at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, we should remember the first African American women to win Olympic medals, lest we forget who fought Jim Crow in sports and helped lay the groundwork for black female gold medalists in the 2016 Summer Olympic in Rio. 

In 1929, the all-black school, Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University, started one of the first track and field programs for women in the United States. In 1932, when violent Jim Crow traditions gripped the nation attempting to put down a growing Civil Rights Movement, Tuskegee Institute sent Louise Stokes and Tydie Pickett to Los Angeles, California, where the two female college track and field stars qualified for the U.S. Olympic 400-meter relay track and field team. However, the two black women were replaced by white runners they had beaten.

"By 1936, the year Alpine skiing was opened to women in the XI Olympiad in Berlin, Germany, the first African-American women, Louise Stokes and Anna “Tydie” Pickett, were permitted to compete in the games.[vi] Stokes and Pickett were initially qualified for the 1932 Olympics held in Los Angeles, California, but they were disqualified based on..." Read more at the Merry Dressmaker.

Rosa Parks Booking Photo Montgomery Bus Boycott
Rosa Parks Booking Photo
Montgomery Bus Boycott

Rosa Parks, a seamstress and not a track star, ran a race that lifted court rulings from paper to real life. 

The year the first two black American women were allowed to compete in the 1936 Berlin Olympics,  23-year-old Rosa Parks started her journey toward becoming "Mother of the Civil Rights Movement." This was during a time in American Jim Crow history that every positive move an African American made was used to fight discrimination and oppression. Eventually, Rosa Parks would spend 1955-56 leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott with Martin Luther King to start the demise of Jim Crow laws with a Supreme Court ruling. 

Audrey "Mickey" Patterson, President Harry S. Truman The White House 1948
Audrey "Mickey" Patterson
President Harry S. Truman
The White House 1948

Audrey Patterson

The Olympic Games were cancelled in 1940 and 1944 as many Americans were glued to the radio listening for developments of war with Germany. After Stokes and Pickett in 1936, the next time a black American woman competed in the Olympics was in 1948At this time, Rosa Parks had already started her long career with the Montgomery, Alabama, branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). 

At the 1948 London Olympics, Audrey "Mickey" Patterson of Tennessee State became the first African American woman in Olympic history to win a medal. She won a bronze medal for the 200-meter dash, the first time the 200-meter race was included for female competitors. 

Alice Coachman first African American woman Olympic gold medal winner
Alice Coachman (1923-2014)
High Jump Gold Medal Winner 
1948 Summer Olympics in London, England

Days after Audrey Patterson won bronze, Alice Coachman became the only U.S. female athlete of any race to win gold at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London.

Coachman's gold medal provided more fuel for the civil rights struggle against Jim Crow in the U.S. and around the world.

Wilma Rudolph, first U.S. female to win three gold medals in track and field
Wilma Rudolph,
1960 Olympic Summer Games, Rome

Wilma Rudolph

In 1960, Wilma Rudolph of Tennessee State, who had overcome polio, made national headlines in radio, television, the black media and mainstream newspapers when she became the first U.S. female to win three gold medals in track and field at the 1960 Rome Olympics, picking up the athlete's civil rights struggle against Jim Cow where Alice Coachmen left off at the 1948 London Olympics.

Florence "Flo Jo" Griffith-Joyner and President Ronald Reagan
Florence "Flo Jo" Griffith-Joyner (1959-1998)
and President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004)

Florence “Flo Jo” Joyner

National television loved Florence Joyner of California State University, Northridge, as much as any African American actress in the movies in young black Hollywood. Joyner’s flashy, stylish speed at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, won her the title of the fastest female in the world and most glamorous woman in track.

Dominique Dawes, first African American gymnast to win Olympic gold medal
Dominique Dawes
1996 Olympic Games, Atlanta

Dominique Dawes

In the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, Dominique Dawes became the first African American gymnast to win Olympic gold, and remained the only gymnastics star until the 2012 London Olympics when Gabby Douglas, became the first African American gymnast to win the Olympic Individual All-around gold medal.

President Barack Obama  and 2012 U.S. Olympic gymnastics Fierce Five L-R: Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas,  McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross, Jordyn Wieber
President Barack Obama
and 2012 U.S. Olympic gymnastics Fierce Five
L-R: Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas,
McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross, Jordyn Wieber

Gabby Douglas

Gabrielle Christina Victoria "Gabby" Douglas was in 1995 in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where she began gymnastics at age six. At age eight, Douglas had won the Level-4 all-around gymnastics title at the 2004 Virginia State Championships. At age 14, Douglas moved from Virginia Beach, Virginia to West Des Moines, Iowa, to live with a host family, be home schooled and trained under Liang Chow, the former coach of 2007 World Champion and 2008 Summer Olympics gold medalist, Shawn Johnson.

In the 2012 London Olympic Games, Douglas won gold medals in both the team and individual all-around competitions. Douglas is the first African-American and first woman of color in Olympic history to become the individual all-around Olympic champion, and the first American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics. 

Serena and Venus Williams

Serena Williams and Venus Williams won third women's doubles Olympic Tennis gold medal. The doors for the sisters were opened on July 6, 1957, by Althea Gibson, the first African American woman to win the All-England Tennis Championships at Wimbledon. That was three decades before Venus and Serena were born in the 1980s.

Althea Gibson

Althea Gibson

Althea Gibson began tennis lessons at age 14 and fought her way through a segregated career during the Jim Crow era. When touring, she was denied rooms in hotels, tables in restaurants and comfortable accommodations while traveling in the United States. Her persistence made careers possible for other African American tennis players, including Arthur Ashe and the William sisters.

Gibson defeated fellow American, white tennis player, Darlene Hard, then teamed up with her former opponent to win the women’s doubles title. The following year, Gibson successfully defended her singles title at Wimbledon. Gibson and was named Woman Athlete of the Year in 1957 by the Associated Press, earning the honor again the following year.

Ora Washington ( 1898–1971)
Ora Washington

Ora Washington

The door for Althea Gibson was opened by black female tennis star, Ora Washington, who picked up a tennis racket and won her first American Tennis Association (ATA) singles title in 1929. She won the ATA's national singles title eight times in nine years and held the title until 1937, a record that stood until 1947, when Althea Gibson won 10 straight titles. Washington of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, known as the "Queen of Tennis," also won 12 straight doubles championships.

This has been a review of a few female African American Olympians and their contributions to the Civil Rights Movement and the improvement of U.S. race relations through Olympic victories, social activism and politics. There are many other black females with amazing stories from the history of the Olympic Games and there will be many more to come.

Sunny Nash
Sunny Nash
Bigmama Didn't Shop  At Woolworth's by Sunny Nash
Bigmama Didn't Shop
At Woolworth's

by Sunny Nash

Hard Cover
Bigmama Didn't Shop 
at Woolworth's

Amazon Kindle
Bigmama Didn't Shop 
at Woolworth's
Sunny Nash is the author of Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's (Texas A&M University Press), about life in the with her part-Comanche grandmother during the Civil Rights Movement. Nash’s book is recognized by the Association of American University Presses as essential for understanding U.S. race relations; listed in the Bibliographic Guide to Black Studies by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York; and recommended by the Miami-Dade Public Library System in Florida for Native American collections.

Nash is also a producer, photographer, blogger and a leading writer on race relations in America--writes books, blogs, articles and reviews, and produces media and images on U.S. history and contemporary American topics, ranging from Jim Crow laws to social media networking, using her book, Bigmama Didn't Shop at Woolworth's, chosen by the Association of American University Presses for its value to understanding of U.S. race relations, to relate experiences about life with her part-Comanche grandmother.

Sunny Nash produces blogs, media, books, articles and images on history and contemporary topics, from slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow and civil rights to post racism, social media, entertainment and technology using her book, Bigmama Didn’t Shop At Woolworth’s, as a basis for commentary and research.

"My book, 'Bigmama Didn't Shop At Woolworth's,' began in the 1990s. I was writing for Hearst and Knight-Ridder newspapers. The stories are about my childhood with my part-Comanche grandmother, Bigmama, my parents, relatives, friends, and others; and my interpretation of the events surrounding the Jim Crow South before and during the Civil Rights Movement.

Robin Fruble of Southern California said, "Every white person in America should read this book! Sunny Nash writes the story of her childhood without preaching or ranting but she made me realize for the first time just how much skin color changes how one experiences the world. But if your skin color is brown, it matters a great deal to a great number of people. I needed to learn that. Sunny Nash is a great teacher," Fruble said.

© 2012-2016 Sunny Nash. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
~Thank You~

Sunny Nash – Race Relations in America