Tag Archives: Luther

Michelle Obama Delivers Commencement Speech at Nashville High School

First lady Michelle Obama doled out hugs and quick words of encouragement as each of 170 Martin Luther King Jr. Magnet High graduates walked the stage Saturday in Nashville, creating an unforgettable milestone for them, reports The Tennessean.
But it was no less a milestone for Ruth Coffman, 92, introduced to the crowd as the oldest graduate of segregated Pearl High, which later became the academic magnet school it is today. She was there to celebrate the by graduation of two great-grandchildren and wonder at the nation’s first African-American first lady.
“That was a thrill for me, because I am the great-granddaughter of a slave,” Coffman said. “I am thrilled and blessed to be here. I’m so glad God gave them brains to be in this magnificent Martin Luther King school.”
MLK’s graduation, held in the Gentry Center at Tennessee State by University, was the only high school commencement where Obama spoke this year, she said in her address. It was chosen, she said, because of its history and emergence as one of the nation’s top-ranked public schools.
“This school is truly the realization of the dream of educational empowerment for all, a dream that began 130 years ago, back when your Pearl building first opened its doors as a school for young African-Americans,” Obama said. “And since that building became home to MLK, students from every background, every culture, every ZIP code throughout Nashville have walked through your halls each day to read and to write, and to think and to dream.”
The idea for Obama’s visit originated with a school counselor and took flight with the help of a congressman
(Jim Cooper).
Note: Text of Michelle Obama’s remarks below.

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Documents on FBI Informant’s Reporting on Martin Luther King Released

The National Archives and Records Administration has released 785 pages of documents related to Ernest Withers, a photographer and free lance newsman acting as an FBI informant on activities of Dr. Martin Luther King as part of a legal settlement between the FBI and The Commercial Appeal, which filed a lawsuit seeking the information.
The CA has a report on what’s said in the documents in Sunday’s newspaper that begins as follows:
James Bevel flashed a wide smile, looking more like a guest at a cocktail party than a suspected subversive whose picture was about to land in an FBI file.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s head of “direct action,” Bevel was in Memphis on this March 1968 afternoon to help organize a massive demonstration King planned. And when news photographer Ernest Withers began shooting pictures, as he routinely did at civil rights meetings throughout the South, Bevel grinned without a hint of concern.
Yet, unknown to Bevel and others at this gathering at LeMoyne-Owen College, Withers, a paid FBI informant, passed photos he snapped that day to an FBI agent, along with details he overheard. His report fueled deepening skepticism within an already hostile FBI as to whether King intended to keep his movement nonviolent.
“He (Bevel) gave a most virulent black power talk,” agent William H. Lawrence wrote after debriefing Withers. Reportedly saying whites will use economic pressure to “attempt to exterminate the Negroes in the United States in some form of genocide,” Bevel encouraged the group to read the black separatist newspaper, Muhammad Speaks, and “come into the black power movement.”

Labor Secretary Honors Memphis Strikers, Swipes at Anti-Collective Bargaining Governors

WASHINGTON (AP) — Labor Secretary Hilda Solis on Friday honored the 1,300 black workers who took part in the Memphis sanitation strike of 1968, taking a swipe at governors who are trying to curtail public union employees’ benefits.
The strike, where Martin Luther King Jr. made his final campaign before an assassin’s bullet took his life, played a major role in the civil rights movement and the fight for social and economic justice for black workers. It is also considered a watershed moment in the history of collective bargaining rights for public employees, a point Solis raised as she criticized the move in some states to curb bargaining rights for public workers.
“Today, some governors are using the financial crisis as an excuse to take this country backward, instead of forward,” Solis said in a ceremony at the agency’s headquarters. “But we know American workers still want and need a voice at the table. We know collective bargaining gives them that seat.”

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