Rosa Parks, Revisited by Charles M. Blow, New York Times:
On the verge of the 100th anniversary of her birth this Monday comes a fascinating new book, “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks,” by Jeanne Theoharis, a Brooklyn College professor. It argues that the romanticized, children’s-book story of a meek seamstress with aching feet who just happened into history in a moment of uncalculated resistance is pure mythology.
As Theoharis points out, “Rosa’s family sought to teach her a controlled anger, a survival strategy that balanced compliance with militancy.” …
Parks, like many other Americans who over the years have angrily agitated for change in this country, had been sanitized and sugarcoated for easy consumption.
As Theoharis writes: “Held up as a national heroine but stripped of her lifelong history of activism and anger at American injustice, the Parks who emerged was a self-sacrificing mother figure for a nation who would use her death for a ritual of national redemption.”
Fortunately, this book seeks to restore Parks’s wholeness, even at the risk of stirring unease.
The Rosa Parks in this book is as much Malcolm X as she is Martin Luther King Jr.
Happy Black History Month.
“Give light and people will find the way.”
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
After 60 years of labor law heavily tilted toward employers, it’s time to rebalance the scales by making labor organizing a civil right. Rand Wilson’s proposal for state “just cause” laws is one approach to reforming the law, but we also need federal legislation and a campaign that can gain allies outside of unions.
Our proposal takes the conversation about labor law reform out of the technical and often confusing arena of labor law and into the realm of civil rights. The notion of civil rights has a moral grounding that resonates with a far greater number of Americans than just those in unions.
A proposal for labor law reform must be simple and show promise of surviving intact after a sustained attack by conservative and corporate interests.
A civil rights framework holds that promise because it does not pit corporations against unions — a fight that is too often mischaracterized as one between two special interests. A civil rights approach focuses on the individual and her basic right to be treated as a human being in the workplace.
As we outline in our new book, Why Labor Organizing Should Be A Civil Right, workers who suffer discrimination for labor activity would be allowed to move their cases from the National Labor Relations Board to federal court. This is similar to the existing right of workers who suffer job discrimination on gender, race, age, and other grounds to remove their cases from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to federal court.
The time an employee would have to park her case at the NLRB would likely be short — perhaps just 30 days — because in the context of a union organizing drive and election, the six months that the EEOC makes workers wait would be far too long.
It’s right to be skeptical of entrusting the federal judiciary, which has a long history of animosity towards labor. But few federal civil cases ever make it to a judge or jury. Most are settled without a trial — and the settlement process is a forum for workers to make demands.
Teresa Fox Bettis is executive director of the Center for Fair Housing in Mobile, Alabama. She recently spoke with Bridge the Gulf and the Institute for Southern Studies for the report Troubled Waters: Two Years After the BP Oil Disaster, a Struggling Gulf Coast Calls for National Leadership for Recovery. Bettis discussed how her fair housing work extends into the fields of community development, environmental justice, and mental health; and how her vision for the Gulf Coast’s future lies in green jobs and inclusive communities.
From The Advocate:
Bayard Rustin’s contributions to the world far outweighed his credits – and his 100th birthday is an opportunity to appreciate how his lifelong fights for equality live on today.
Rustin was the key strategist in every campaign waged by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the architect of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and a passionate advocate for pacifism, workers’ rights, and freedom for marginalized peoples around the world. There is not one American movement for social change that his leadership did not touch.
Rights to vote, to join a union, or to marry the person one loves are today at the forefront of the struggle to build an America that reflects its ideals. And Rustin was reliably positioned at the vanguard of these battles from the 1930s until his passing in 1987. So it’s only appropriate that we take this opportunity to pause and reflect on where our movements have traveled over 100 years and to look ahead to our future.
From The New York Times:
By agreeing to hear a major case involving race-conscious admissions at the University of Texas, the court thrust affirmative action back into the public and political discourse after years in which it had mostly faded from view. Both supporters and opponents of affirmative action said they saw the announcement — and the change in the court’s makeup since 2003 — as a signal that the court’s five more conservative members might be prepared to do away with racial preferences in higher education.
The consequences of such a decision would be striking. It would, all sides agree, reduce the number of African-American and Latino students at nearly every selective college and graduate school, with more Asian-American and white students gaining entrance instead.
See also: Grutter v. Bollinger