Tag Archives: civil rights

Lessons from Civil Rights Legend Timuel Black

It could have been one of life’s passing pleasures, a serendipitous opportunity to spend an evening absorbing the insights of 96-year-old civil rights leader, educator and World War II veteran Timuel Black, Jr. on what it was like to create his own pathways through life.

As we talked, however, it seemed that there must be a purpose to our fortunate table placements beyond my simple fascination with his living history. There were lessons to be gleaned, insights that apply to any young adult but seemed particularly relevant to an intensely dedicated and gregarious African American man who has lived as part of our family between college breaks during the past 18 months.

Graciously, Mr. Black was willing to share during our extended conversation.

Timuel Black, Jr. has both endured and created dramatic events. The grandson of slaves, he survived the Normandy Invasion and Battle of the Bulge during World War II before making a lifelong commitment to human rights after seeing the horrors of the Buchenwald Nazi concentration camp. An educator who received his master’s degree from the University of Chicago, he brought in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for his first Chicago appearance, organized Chicago’s Freedom Trains to the March on Washington, helped elect Chicago’s first African American mayor and introduced around a young man named Barack Obama who became another important first.

His history is extraordinary: his insights are equally important.

“If Demetrius were sitting here instead of me, what would you tell him?” I asked from my seat next to Mr. Black at a fundraising dinner for the Kennedy Forum, a group founded by former Congressman Patrick Kennedy to improve mental health awareness and treatment.

Chicago 96-year-old civil rights legend Timuel Black, Jr. and his wife Zenobia
Chicago 96-year-old civil rights legend Timuel Black, Jr. and his wife Zenobia

“I’d tell him to prepare himself; academically, if academics are the right direction for him. But whatever he wants to accomplish, he needs to be prepared, really prepared. The door of opportunity doesn’t swing open very often. If you’re ready, you’ll find a way through, but you have to be prepared,” Mr. Black replied. “Barack Obama didn’t become President just because he wanted it. He was ready when the time came.

“And I’d also tell him to persevere,” Mr. Black added. “There’s always someone or some institution to stand in the way of your success. If you know what you want to achieve – and you know it’s right – keep working, keep pushing. Don’t give up. You may even achieve beyond your dreams. I didn’t grow up dreaming about a black President. But we persevered. Something greater than my dreams happened.”

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Get On Your Side of the Room, Ladies

As ultra-orthodox religious leaders increasingly insist that women be segregated from men during public events, universities have begun allowing women to be forced to one side of the room. Now the practice is nationally sanctioned, glorified as a better alternative than forcing women to the back of the room.

“Concerns to accommodate the wishes or beliefs of those opposed to segregation should not result in a religious group being prevented from having a debate in accordance with its belief system,” a national organization of administrators stated recently in condoning forced gender segregation at university-sanctioned events.

If it had been orthodox Christians in America making these segregation demands, you certainly would have heard by now. MSNBC might even provide 24-hour coverage of ensuing protests.

The demands, however, originate with Islamic scholars and clerics in the United Kingdom and other Western European nations. Universities UK, a national association of vice chancellors in the United Kingdom, issued the guidance above, stating that free speech rights and religious respect are more important than concerns about gender segregation.

Universities UK at least acknowledges the rights of students and faculty to publicly object to forced gender segregation or, more aptly, gender apartheid given the ultimate goal of some segregation promoters.

“Those opposed to segregation are entitled to engage in lawful protest against segregation, and could be encouraged to hold a separate debate of the issues, but their views do not require an institution to stifle a religious society’s segregated debate where the segregation accords with a genuinely-held religious belief,” the association states in its guidance document on “External speakers in higher education institutions.”

What happens when white or black nationalists, espousing theories supported by a church, demand that their on-campus events be racially segregated?

What happens when hard-core Islamists demand segregation not just by gender, but further demand that Muslims be separated from Jews, Christians and especially anyone who doesn’t follow an Abrahamic faith?

There is a conflict growing between some elements of Islam and western democracies. Western Europe is giving America a preview of the debates heading across the Atlantic.

Forced public segregation is never an acceptable answer. America is already challenged with voluntary re-segregation – by race, political party, language, religion and other factors. If we head down the path argued by Universities UK of saying that publicly forced segregation is acceptable as long as it derives from “genuinely-held religious belief,” where do we stop?

Muslims have the right to practice forced segregation inside their mosques, just as Catholics have the right to not allow female priests. No one, though, has the right to impose forced gender segregation at events supported by public resources, just as no one has the right to impose racial segregation at such events.

In trying so hard to appease all sides of an issue, Universities UK missed that some principles require unwavering support.

Race, Gays, Gender and Segregation

Fifty years after Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech came to describe a nation that might someday no longer face torment from racial segregation, identifying the appropriate government role in facilitating equality remains subject to intense, ongoing debate.

It isn’t always easy to discern which political issues are truly about establishing equal rights versus increasingly common efforts to use equality as a cloak for old-fashioned political payoffs that confer advantages on a favored voting bloc.

Skin color, gender and sexual orientation don't change how the Garden of the Gods appears. Our laws should follow suit.
Skin color, gender and sexual orientation don’t change how the Garden of the Gods appears. Our laws should follow suit.

I’ve been giving these subjects a great deal of thought and study as I work on the third book in the “Melting Point” series, “Doing Unto Others,” because it suggests our policies need to be developed around the concept of “doing unto others as we would have done unto ourselves.” This concept was spoken by Muhammad, is written in the Bible’s Book of Matthew, was taught by Rabbi Hillel and is contained in the teachings of Confucius as well as in Buddhist and Hindu scriptures.

The “Golden Rule,” as it is often called, is a core unifying concept in mankind, yet is frequently ignored in governing the United States and other nations, with the Congressional and IRS exemptions from Obamacare just the latest affront to the concept that government shouldn’t do to its people what it is unwilling to live itself.

To determine which rights should be pursued because they are truly about establishing equal opportunities, I suggest that a simple question leads to the answer: “Does the imposition of equal treatment harm others in a manner they cannot mitigate?”

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Can Islamic and American Values Coexist?

How should the United States handle immigrants who have no intent to follow our laws? In the interest of tolerance and openness, should America welcome immigrants who believe it is their religious obligation to instill gender segregation at every opportunity? Should we ensure immigrants share our commitment to freedoms of speech and religion, along with other foundational rights such as the right of women to vote?

While incidents of gender discrimination occur on occasion inside the United States, gender segregation is becoming a frequent challenge on United Kingdom university campuses where radical Islamist student organizations are becoming increasingly bold in enforcing gender segregation at university events.

In recent years, radical Muslim gangs have begun roaming London streets and entering gay night clubs to beat patrons for their homosexuality, a punishment some who follow Islam believe is their religious duty to administer despite no legal backing in the U.K. or most non-Islamist countries for these heinous actions.

I believe firmly that robust, legal immigration is essential to America’s long-term economic prosperity. We need to welcome people of all races, religions and cultures. But I also think it’s fair to insist that those entering here tolerate Americans, our Constitution and our insistence on equal rights.

There are many of the Muslim faith willing to adapt to America’s legal requirements or whose view of their faith does not contradict compliance with our laws. Many others do not, and it is those individuals we should weed out in the immigration process.

UK universities fall victim to campus segregation trend – The Commentator.

Re-segregating America a Troubling Trend

The linked story below provides more evidence of America’s move to re-segregate, a trend that brings with it troubling implications for our future.

Families increasingly live in places where neighbors look and sound like they do. The absence of school choice in most of the nation prevents many children from pursuing better schools where they might experience multiple cultures. Race is used as a critical factor in drawing congressional and legislative districts. A troubling number of politicians use racially divisive tactics to win elections, often criticizing people who disagree on issues as traitors to their race.

Given all of this, can we be surprised that school segregation is becoming more pronounced than during civil rights days? Melting Point 2040 is a story of what the future holds if we don’t take action soon.

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/50694523/#.URurPaVc_ww