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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Two things caught my eye culturally this week both related to the Civil Rights Movement, exciting considering its not Black History Month. As we know, the Civil Rights Movement had a built-in national stage with the advent of the 30 minute news TV show in the 1960s bringing graphic images to every suburban living room in the nation.

In New York, where all things fabulous live, the Bronx Museum of the Arts is hosting the International Center of Photography‘s show entitled “Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement, 1956-1968.” The original show from ICP “For All the World to See: Visual Culture and the Struggle for Civil Rights” contains photographs, video as well as clippings from newspapers, magazines and posters among other things. (Slideshow of images from the NY Times)

Also in a new book, Breach of Peace, photojournalist Eric Etheridge found as many freedom riders as possible and compared their mugshots to their current photos. Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor at The Atlantic, writes about a 19- year-old white girl in the book, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, who had a canister of sugar dumped all over her while she sat protesting at a Woolworth counter.

Coates reminds us to avoid talking about what “we would have done” when racism and segregation was the law of our land. There are so many people who didn’t do anything back then when the revolution was not only knocking on their front door but came in and had a seat at their kitchen table.

These two cultural gems are worth checking even if you just pursue the images online. Enjoy.

Photo: Danny Lyon/Magnum Photos, via High Museum of Art

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Thomas Hagan, the only man who admitted his role in killing Malcolm X, was paroled Tuesday after 44 years… and I say that’s not quite long enough. Not only did he kill one of the most compelling leaders in history, he’s a traitor. I finally watched Valkyrie last week (I’m telling you, Netflix has changed my life) and saw what happens to traitors…whether they’re in the right or not. They get shot by a firing squad and while I don’t wish death on anyone, I’m not sure Mr. Hagan really understands the full scope of his actions. And how could he?

He was a weak man, following in line with a group of people whose jealousy of Malcolm X’s power and influence allowed them to be manipulated into murder. What’s done is done but I wonder what would be different today if Malcolm X hadn’t have been killed, if his beliefs about Black on Black crime were actually followed…if he didn’t threaten the entire structure of this country which unfortunately disproportionately benefits some.

I wonder if Mr. Hagan walks around Harlem, if he passes by the Audubon Ballroom and wonders how different life could have been. I wonder if he realizes what he stopped, the movement he halted and the millions of lives that he affected. I wonder if he feels bad that he left a wife without a husband, four beautiful girls without a father and a race without its prince.

Under these circumstances, Mr. Hagan is a man we should gladly pay our taxes to keep in jail. Picking a side doesn’t have to be about black and white, in fact once Malcolm realized that, that’s when his assassination became of the utmost importance. It was fine when his thinking was limited to race, but once he expanded his thinking in terms of all mankind he became too dangerous. Once he began to understand that not every Black person was his friend and not every white person was his enemy, he chose the side of equality, of fairness… of everything our Constitution proclaims. So when I call Mr. Hagan a traitor I’m talking about his inability to see the big picture, his inability to pick the right side.

And that’s not a quality that’s helpful or needed in our society. Some are angry, wondering if Mr. Hagan had participated in the killing of a white iconic figure, would be have been released? But to me, that’s a pointless discussion. I think Mr. Hagan’s will never be free of his demons, after all when it really mattered, he chose the wrong team.

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