Letter from Birmingham Jail Martin Luther King, Jr., April 16, 1963

April 16th, 2014
I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it
possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil rights leader but as a fellow
clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon
pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities,
and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our
great nation with all their scintillating beauty.
Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963
mlk mug shot 19630416

You’re in love. You can’t stop smiling.

April 16th, 2014


The worst rental affordability crisis this country has ever known Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan New York Times

April 15th, 2014

Here are the 20 cities in the nation where rents are highest relative to median gross income:

housing rental affordability nyt

Read the rest of this story on the front page of the New York Times . . .

53% of residents pay more than 30% of monthly income on housing costs,  according to the City of Los Angeles.

Evictions from rent controlled units are on the rise in Los Angeles, according to the L.A. Times.


Is inequality an inherent contradiction that will hasten the inevitable collapse of capitalism? The Nation

April 14th, 2014

Is inequality an unavoidable byproduct of capitalism? That’s the question at the heart of a new book by French economist Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which The Nation’s Timothy Shenk argues “stands a fair chance of becoming the most influential work of economics yet published in our young century.” Relying on an extensive well of data collected over a decade, Piketty asserts that there is no reason for market-based economies to inherently tend toward equality—quite the opposite, in fact. And if drastic action isn’t taken, we will continue the slide toward a world of increasingly separated haves and have-nots.

On April 16 at 6pm EST, head to TheNation.com to watch Piketty join Joseph Stiglitz (Columbia University), Paul Krugman (Princeton University) and Steven Durlauf (University of Wisconsin–Madison) in conversation at a landmark event organized by the Graduate Center, CUNY. The event will be introduced and moderated by Janet Gornick and Branko Milanovic (The Graduate Center, Luxembourg Income Study Center). The event is co-sponsored by the Luxembourg Income Study Center and the Advanced Research Collaborative.

For more on Piketty’s book, read Shenk’s article in this week’s issue of The Nation, “Thomas Piketty and Millennial Marxists on the Scourge of Inequality.”

WSJ Almost Forgotten Civil War Atrocity Mostly black Union soldiers slaughtered as they tried to surrender to Confederates

April 12th, 2014

On April 12, 1864, the worst war crime ever perpetrated during the Civil War took place on a bluff above the Mississippi River, 65 miles north of Memphis, Tenn. Three years to the day after the firing on Fort Sumter, 1,500 Confederate troops swept over defenses of Fort Pillow and massacred hundreds of surrendering Union soldiers, most of them black.

Read the rest of this article by Fergus M. Bordewich in the Wall Street Journal

Live streaming President Barack Obama LBJ Civil Rights @ 50 Summit April 10 9:30 am PST

April 10th, 2014

LBJ Civil Rights Act @ 50, Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, Fair Housing Act, immigration, gun control, clean air and water

April 9th, 2014

“Johnson represented the high-water mark for American presidents pushing through sweeping legislation — not just the Civil Rights Act, but the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid, the Fair Housing Act and major measures on immigration, education, gun control and clean air and water. No president since has approached that level of legislative success . . . .”

Read the rest of this article in the New York Times . . .

Great Wall of Los Angeles Restoration 2011 L.A. River

Great Wall of Los Angeles Judy Baca SPARC Los Angeles River

Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated April 4, 1968. Why was he in Memphis?

April 4th, 2014

“When you go beyond a relatively simple though serious problem such as police racism . . . you begin to get into all the complexities of the modern American economy.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Why He Was in Memphis” — Most Americans today know that Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was killed 46 years ago — on April 4, 1968 — in Memphis, Tennessee. But fewer know why he was there.  King went to Memphis to support African American garbage workers, who were on strike to protest unsafe conditions, abusive white supervisors, and low wages — and to gain recognition for their union.  During the 1960s, King became increasingly committed to building bridges between the civil rights and labor movements. . . .  King warned about the “gulf between the haves and the have-nots” and insisted that America needed a “better distribution of wealth.” -Peter Dreir


We do not have to be lawyers to understand: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Senate Debate on Civil Rights Act of 1964 began March 30, 1964.

March 30th, 2014

Dignity Is a Constitutional Principle

Consider the great speeches made 50 years ago today as the Senate began its decisive debate on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The bill’s floor managers were the Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey and the Republican Thomas H. Kuchel. As they surveyed the scene on March 30, 1964, it was far from clear that they had the 67 votes required to break a filibuster led by Southern senators. So they were determined to make their case to the larger public and mobilize popular support for a sustained effort to win a cloture vote. . . .

Humphrey began with a remarkable three-and-a-half-hour speech that introduced the central theme of [human dignity and] humiliation by comparing two travel guidebooks: one for families with dogs, the other for blacks. “In Augusta, Ga., for example,” Humphrey noted, “there are five hotels and motels that will take dogs, and only one where a Negro can go with confidence.” He argued that if whites “were to experience the humiliation and insult which awaits Negro Americans in thousands and thousands of such places, we, too, would be quick to protest.” Kuchel followed up with a second major presentation, emphasizing the “urgency” of ending the “humiliating forms of discrimination” confronting blacks. . . .

As we search for guidance on the great constitutional issues of our own time, the place to begin is with the words of Humphrey as he explained why Americans could no longer “justify what we have done to debase humanity.” He argued that we “do not have to be lawyers to understand, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ ”

Bruce Ackerman is a professor of law and political science at Yale, and the author, most recently, of “We the People, Volume 3: The Civil Rights Revolution.” Read the rest of this column Dignity Is a Constitutional Principle in the New York Times . . .

Our world is a better place because César Chávez decided to change it

March 28th, 2014


“Our world is a better place because César Chávez decided to change it.” – President Barack Obama at César E. Chávez National Monument dedication 2012.

This is the first National Monument honoring a Latino born after the 1700s.

A moment like this had never before happened. I took my 16 year old son Sam. For him moments like this will be as natural as day and night, seeing a black man as president and monuments honoring people of color. Without César Chávez this moment would not have happened. Without Barack Obama this moment would not have happened. Without the civil rights movement, none of this would have happened. The struggle continues.

Photo by Sam Garcia