Martin Luther King

Why did the Times Magazine reject Martin Luther King's "Letter From Birmingham Jail"?

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Many years ago the AFL-CIO gave Union Station, the big Beaux Arts train station opposite the Capitol in Washington, D.C., a statue of A. Philip Randolph, the great labor and civil rights leader. Randolph organized and was president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, which waged a 10-year battle to win recognition from the Pullman Company. He was also the person who first conceived what eventually became Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington.

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Lodge 141 of the Fraternal Order of Police is housed, along with 446 jail cells, inside the Mahoning County Justice Center, a forbidding brick and steel hulk at the edge of the frayed downtown of Youngstown, Ohio. It’s a humble office, but its proprietors have embellished it with a number of rather pointed political decorations.

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Peace Out

On a blustery evening last autumn, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh visited Capitol Hill to deliver a lecture. Latecomers filed into the dim Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress, looking harried.

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The 2012 GOP nominating contest has witnessed the final triumph of an unlikely figure. I say “unlikely” because his name hasn’t been invoked much (if at all) by any of the candidates, nor has he been mentioned frequently by the press in its campaign coverage. What’s more, he died in 2007.

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Martin Luther King Day is supposed to get us thinking about how black people have come a long way but still have a long way to go. Okay, but what MLK Day has me as a black person thinking about is Lee Siegel.  Specifically, what’s on my mind is Siegel’s idea, broadcast in the paper of record on Sunday, that Mitt Romney’s appeal is based on his being the “whitest” Presidential candidate in a long time. It’s a hit-generating proposition, to be sure. But it’s also a sign of how very far we've come on race.

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The Awakening

One evening recently in Rangoon, my friend Ko Ye (not his real name) arrived at the apartment where I was staying, brandishing the latest issue of the weekly newspaper he runs. It was, he announced with great fanfare, a landmark edition: For the first time ever, government censors had allowed him to run a photo of Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s most prominent dissident, on the cover. The edition also included other previously banned topics: political analysis of U.S. relations with Burma and an article about Martin Luther King that contained the taboo phrase “human rights” in the headline.

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For years, Ron Paul published a series of newsletters that dispensed political news and investment advice, but also routinely indulged in bigotry. Here's a selection of some especially inflammatory passages, with links to scanned images of the original documents in which they appeared. Race “A Special Issue on Racial Terrorism” analyzes the Los Angeles riots of 1992: “Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began. ... What if the checks had never arrived?

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The Chicago Sun-Times reported earlier this week that White House chief of staff Bill Daley was unable to attend a Chicago-area memorial mass for his dad, onetime Chicago Mayor Richard Daley--not the one who just retired, but the one who told cops "Shoot to kill" when blacks rioted after Martin Luther King's assassination (though the elder Daley had his good points, too)--because Bill was "sidelined in Washington dealing with tax-cut legislation." That amazes me.

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Nearly four years ago, on the eve of the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary, The New Republic published my expose of newsletters published by Texas Congressman Ron Paul. The contents of these newsletters can best be described as appalling.

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