The Voting Rights Act of 1965, Jonathan Daniels and Why We Must Vote

Though voting rights were given to minorities per the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the US Constitution, many states in the South imposed subversive tactics like secret ballots, poll taxes, literacy tests and other discriminatory practices that made it impossible for most black people to vote.

On August 6th, 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed into law the “Voting Rights Act of 1965, a landmark piece of federal legislation that prohibited racial discrimination in voting.   At the peak of the Civil Rights Movement, this law was designed to enforce the voting rights that were guaranteed by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. Voting_Rights_1965_01
(President Johnson and Martin Luther King, Jr. at the signing of the Voters Act)

Jonathan Daniels, a white young Episcopal seminarian, also believed in Civil Rights for Black people as well as the simple right to vote.  Attending the Episcopal Theological School (now Episcopal Divinity School) in Cambridge Massachusetts, Daniels along with fellow seminarian Judith Upham visited Alabama in March of 1965 responding to a call from Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. requesting that Northern clergy support the current civil rights movement in the South.  They stood for a week but experienced a strong calling that they must return to witness the continuing  struggle for equal rights later that summer.

On August 14th, eight days following the signing of the Voters Right Act of 1965, Daniels and other religious personnel were with organizers who worked to have more minorities registered to vote as well as to protest businesses in Fort Deposit, Alabama that discriminated in hiring as well as unequal treatment of customers and price gauging.

The protestors were met by a crowd of white men armed with clubs, broken bottles and guns.   The protest lasted only a few minutes as the local police quickly arrested everyone, including Jonathan Daniels and loaded them onto a flatbed truck used for collecting trash and taken to the jail in Hayneville, Alabama.

The protestors remained in the jail for six days with no showers or toilets.  Daniels kept spirits positive by leading his fellow captors in hymn singing and prayers. On August 20th, jailers surprising unlocked all the doors and told the protestors they were free to go though no one posted bail or were waiting outside to pick them up.

While outside waiting for a ride, Daniels, a Catholic priest named Richard Morrisroe and two black demonstrators, Joyce Bailey and Ruby Sales, walked to buy soda for the group at Varner’s Cash store where they were met on the steps of the store by Thomas Coleman, a county special deputy and his 12-gauge automatic shotgun.  Coleman told them to get off the property.

Within seconds, Coleman unloaded his shotgun first pointed at Ruby Sales, however Daniels quickly moved and shielded her body and received the blast blowing Daniels backward.  Morrisroe grabbed Joyce Bailey’s hand and began to retreat, but was shot in the back.  Daniels laid motionless on the ground.  Morrisroe would later survive after hours of surgery.

After the incident, Daniels body could not be found.  President Johnson ordered a federal investigation of the shooting and to have the body found and returned back to Daniels family.Jonathan Daniels with Ruby Sales(Jonathan Myrick Daniels stands with his fellow ETS student Judith Upham and Ronnie Fuller, a student at Selma, Alabama’s R. B. Hudson High School. (Virginia Military Institute Archives)

Coleman was brought to trial but was acquitted 40 days after Daniel’s murder by an all  white jury claiming that he, Coleman, acted in self-defense.  As Coleman left the courthouse, all the jury members in celebration shook hands with him.

Daniels once wrote, “I could not stand by in benevolent dispassion any longer without compromising everything I know and value.”  What I believe this young seminarian said is that we can not just pray or send wishes from out comfortable homes that injustices or hatred or prejudice will just go away, for this is the misguided attitude of dispassion, the state of being emotionally uninvolved.  We, as a nation, and more important, as a member of the human race, must act, must be a catalyst for change, and must show an unconditional compassion.

If the weather is bad this Tuesday November 6th and you don’t want to get rained on to vote, or if you don’t want to make the effort to vote even if the weather is pleasant, I want you to remember Jonathan Daniels who gave his life for another so she, Ruby Sales, could see the day when she could freely vote and be treated as an equal.  I want you to think of those protestors who were jailed trying to simply exercise their constitutional right to cast a ballot.  I want you to remember the gun shots, the police brutality, the water hoses that were unleashed on our fellow Americans, our fellow human beings, our brothers and sisters, as they marched for equality.  And then ask yourself, how can I still be dispassionate.

Please act.  Please vote.

The Christian Faith

I no longer want to say that I am of the Christian religion, but of the Christian faith. The word religion causes people to ask for empirical fact, it Carrie’s to much of a burden.

Faith is believing in what can’t be proven, but yet knowing in your soul that it is real, that it has purpose and destiny. It is the will to do what is right when you may sacrifice your own very riches or comfort.

And it is these works that leads us into eternal life, a life of beloved remembrance, a life where we live in the never ending thoughts of others.

This is how we live, forever.

Bill Cosby: Legacy vs Ideals

I always loved Bill Cosby.  I watched his shows, his
cartoons, his Bill_Cosby_1965comedy acts.  Always enjoyed when he was on Johnny Carson and David Letterman.  Cosby broke the stereotype that black characters in comedy sitcoms did not just have to be blue collar or unskilled workers.  He was an advocate for higher education for all races and believed education should start as young as possible.  These are ideals in which I also believe, and for many, many years, Cosby  was my role model.

Cosby was accepted by all of America as America’s Dad while he portrayed fatherly roles in his sitcoms and what seemed to be his unblemished fidelity to his wife Camille and their long-term marriage.

But apparently, his devotion was false, and false by not a one-time mistake, but false as with one with an addiction who was overcome by the momentary but powerful satisfaction that he received by drugging and forcing himself upon his victims.  Cosby was wrong and needs to be punished for what he has done.

Cosby will now be remembered as a felon.  At the age 80, there is not enough sands in the hour glass for complete redemption, perhaps some.  His legacy of America’s Dad, loyal husband is gone, but the ideals discussed above, can still live on,

We can all be advocates on the importance of education, whether it is going to a 4 year college or learning a trade and advancing to various certifications.  We can all believe that learning can start at an early age and does not end at an advanced one.  We can acknowledge that certain races are delegated for not certain jobs but can strive for any profession to which they set their heart.

And we can all believe in long term fidelity, being their for our children, being fun but always being a parent.

These ideals should always live on.

Marching to Pretoria

Yesterday, I had to go to the Veterans Administration to pick up medicine for my 94 year old WWII vet father.  While waiting endlessly for the prescription to be filled (that is another story) a man was walking through the center singing, “We are marching to pretoria.

It was a catchy tune and before long I was singing it in my head, and whistling it in the car driving home, so I had to google it.

I found a video on YouTube of the Smothers Brother’s singing it – doing a beautiful job, but as always, Tom Smothers would ham it up and make it funny, which he was wonderful at doing.

Flashbacks flowed into my mind of the sixties and how these two, though so-clean cut, so conservatively dressed, were so against the war, anti-Nixon, and also upset with then President Johnson who kept soldiers in Vietnam much longer than many Americans wanted.

Maybe it was their way of fooling the public or the Smothers  Brothers did not like long hair and hippie clothing.  But they were smart, intelligent and most good-hearted.  They showed that people could not be labeled for they way they look or even acted.  You could wear a shit and tie and hate the war.  You could have crew cuts and speak of peace. They poked fun at politics, but never hurtful, rude or just plain-down raunchy.

I’m glad I was there when that old Vet sang that song.  It brought back some good memories.  March on to Pretoria to victory!

MEMES MOCKING STUDENT PROTESTORS

To all those who post memes on social media that ridicule and spread lies to the survivors of the mass killings. who saw loved ones being slaughtered, I pray that God somehow brings some sort of humility or compassion to your being.

This insensitive action is what worries me the most about our present existence; the moment when we lose the most basic concern for our fellow human being, especially children. This is the point when one society can enslave or exterminate another without an ounce of remorse or regret.

Before you post your next meme ridiculing protestors, or spreading rumors about them, remember what they have seen, what they have experienced, and what they must live with their entire lives.

This Holy Week, we celebrate the resurrection of one who taught us to lead by love and compassion, please remember that we should do so likewise.

Pray for those who died, were injured, and who have witnessed.

Birth of a Nation – Nat Turner’s Rebellion

I watched the new version of “Birth of a Nation” last night on HBO. Beautifully cinematography, we’ll directed and acted.

Though the outrage is understandable and the taste of the fruits of revenge is momentarily enjoyable, I am not in 100% agreement of what Nat Turner did for two reasons, his actions and actions of his followers ultimately caused the deaths of other slaves not involved in the uprising through revenge by the white slave owners. Second, they not only killed their male slave owners, but wifes, children and babies as well. That was not justice.

And to add, Turner’s belief that he had freed the slaves once the owners were killed, was sadly misconceived.

It was the outcome of the Civil War which justifiably ended slavery. It was the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that corrected the many, many shortcomings.

But there are still many problems to work out. But as stated by Turner’s wife in the move, “those who live by the sword, will die by the sword.” At this point of our evolution process, we should solve problems by discussion and compromise, not by violence.