Monique Brizz-Walker at work – NAACP Legal Defense Fund
As we prepare to commemorate another Labor Day, I find myself thinking about everything my grandparents instilled in me about the importance of hard work. They went to great lengths to remind me that job excellence was the highest form of gratitude that I could demonstrate.
There was a time when an African-American woman like me could only dream of having a full-time position with benefits and paid holidays. Of course there are days when I am ready to leave the building and retreat to the comfort of my home, but it does not take me long to realize just how fortunate I am. For me, this quote sums it up.
All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance, and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Happy Labor Day to all. Thank you for the important contributions you make to our great society.
As we prepare to celebrate another Labor Day, I find myself thinking about everything my grandparents instilled in me about work. I was always reminded that job excellence was the highest form of gratitude I could demonstrate.
As we all know, there was a time when an African-American women like me, could only dream of having a full-time job with benefits and paid holidays. Of course there are days when I am ready to leave the building and retreat to the comfort of my home, but it does not take me long to realize just how fortunate I am.
I came across a quote from someone whom we all admire that I would like to share.
All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance,
and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
What an inspiring weekend we just witnessed – the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. I was proud to see so many venerable groups come together, just as they did on August 28, 1963. The first “March,” was the culmination of many hopes and dreams. Fifty years later, we have made great progress, but there is still much work for all of us to do.
On a more somber note, August 28th holds a painful memory that we should pause to remember – the brutal murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year old African-American boy who was killed for reportedly flirting with a white woman. Young Emmett was a native of Chicago, Illinois who was spending the summer with family and friends in Money, Mississippi.
For those who might be familiar with this tragedy, you will also recall the state of his body when he was sent back to Chicago for burial. When his remains arrived Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till Mobley, insisted on viewing her son’s body. She would later state “that the stench was so strong, it was noticeable two blocks away. Despite the gut-wrenching site, she made the decision to have an open casket funeral saying “there was just no way I could describe who, or what was in that box. No way. And, I just wanted the world to see.”
Emmett and Mamie
The same venerable organizations that came together to March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom eight years after Emmett’s murder, stood with Mamie Till Mobley in her fight for justice. Indeed Emmett’s brutal murder was a catalyst for the fight for civil rights that was heard throughout the country. In addition to seeking support from various civil rights groups, Emmett’s mother also turned to the government – her government – for help. Tragically, her plea for justice fell on deaf ears. She tried to meet with President Dwight Eisenhower, but he refused. Her pain was further exacerbated when FBI DirectorJ. Edgar Hoover wrote in a memo:
“There has been no allegation made that the victim (Emmett Till) has been subjected to the deprivation of any right or privilege which is secured and protected by the Constitution and the laws of the United States…”
This was truly a dark time in America’s history and the fight for racial and social justice. However, Emmett’s mother refused to harbor any malice in her heart. She spent her life raising awareness of what happened to her son, and she was an eloquent spokesperson for justice until her death in 2003.
As you go about your day tomorrow, please join Brooklyn Legends in remembering Emmett Till.
In Loving Memory
Background on Emmett Till – Wikipedia
The American Experience – http://www.pbs.org The New York Times – January 7, 2003
Image of Emmett Till – Wikipedia.com
Image of Emmett and his mother – BET.com
Image of Mamie Till Mobley as her son’s remains are brought home – beststarphoto.com
Image of the red rose – smelltheflowersblog.wordpress.com
Today’s Brooklyn Legends’ post is an excerpt from an article written for the Huffington Post by Sonia Grant, Author of Barack Obama – They Said this Day would Never Come
“Where is the political party that will make it unnecessary to march on Washington?” demanded an exasperated John Lewis.
It was 1963, and he stood before a crowd of 250,000 on the Lincoln Memorial for what was to prove to be one of the iconic events of the civil rights era: the March on Washington. However, his question could reasonably be asked again, in 2013, when Lewis would participate in commemorations for the event’s 50th anniversary.
Poignantly, it occurs at an especially challenging time. The demands of the original march for ‘Jobs and Freedom’ remain pertinent and John Lewis could dust off his original speech and it would still sound fresh: black unemployment is double the wider community’s, due to structural inequalities; and the Supreme Court recently struck down and, thereby, effectively dismantled a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.
Then, a passionate 23-year-old chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), John Lewis, was already a seasoned civil rights activist — with fractures and scars as evidence — and caused controversy when an advance copy of his speech was circulated. Denouncement from the Kennedy administration for its ‘militant’ tone resulted in two versions of Lewis’s speech: the original one he proposed to give; and, the other, the one he actually delivered.
We are honored to share John Lewis’ memories from that day.
The Honorable John Lewis is the sole surviving member of civil rights leaders (James Farmer, Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Roy Wilkins and Whitney Young) from the ‘March on Washington’ and personifies how much change has been made — its momentum led to passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act; and how much remains to be done, in order for Martin Luther King’s seminal, I Have a Dream, speech to be realized.
We will never forget the sacrifices!
The Huffington Post and Sonia Grant
John Lewis, holding a photo of the “Big Six” – courtesy of Multichannel.com
John Lewis Video courtesy of YouTube