Tag Archives: Jr.

Exploring the Legacy of MLK in the Digital Age

Long ago I learned from my friend Marvin Roger Anderson that commemoration of the MLK birthday holiday should involve community building, connecting with friends and neighbors to share celebrate the dream.  He insisted that public libraries should throw open their doors to serve as gathering sites. MLK’s birthday, he reminded us, is the only holiday that’s not about family or gifts or escape but an occasion to experience, share and build community committed to MLK’s dream.

Those who have the day off and no home obligations might well heed Marvin’s wise counsel. There are mega-gatherings today at the Convention Center, the Minnesota History Center, the Cathedral as well as less formal events in neighborhoods, places of worship, colleges and public places.   For the homebound our community engagement can be a virtual learning adventure.

Public media do a good job of sharing their audio and video rich resources – in yesterday’s post I mentioned one of many.

Less well known are the vast digital resources to which digital age armchair learners enjoy unprecedented access.  Many of these resources are collected, preserved, digitized and shared by agencies of the federal government, the most prominent of which is the Library of Congress.  LC is digitizizing humungous collections of documents, photos, recordings, diaries, artifacts, virtually anything that helps to tell the story of this nation.  Further, the Library produces online guides to resources of a host of other collections within and outside the federal bureaucracy.

MLK Day provides a great opportunity for a digital dip into the treasures of LC.  The problem is that to dip may be to drown.  A significant problem in using digital resources is that the tidal wave is too much and the searcher washes ashore.

One approach is to start with a guide that LC created in 2010 to complement The African-American Mosaic exhibit.  Click here: (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/african/afam001.html) .  When you search under “Martin Luther King” the guide will send you to two sites:

Your learning curve has just begun.  Within LC lie countless caches of digitized history including, for example, the American Folklife Center (http://www.loc.gov/folklife/aboutafc.html) as well as the Afro-American Genealogical Research collection, the National Women’s History Project, the records of the NAACP, and the National Museum for African American History and Culture (http://nmaahc.si.edu)  still a work-in-progress set to open next year

The guide will lead you beyond the walls of the Library of Congress (not that walls matter to the armchair searcher).  The National Archives and Records Administration (http://archives.gov) is the repository of the records of the government itself.   “Celebrating MLK’s Legacy and Birthday” offers a quick glimpse of the National Archives resources on the King era – a smidgeon with links (http://blogs.archives.gov/blackhistoryblog/)

Armchair searching of the photos, videos, artifacts, posters, diaries, pamphlets – the stories — is a healthy addiction.  For some, the story of the process itself is as important as the stories that emerge from the records.  Such digital enthusiasts will enjoy this YouTube intro to digitization: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkzWN9t1alk)

With African American History Month just weeks away venturing into the MLK stories may whet the appetite for more – including, perchance, another post.  In the meantime, this just popped up on Twitter – take a minute to click, read and listen:

http://www.npr.org/2014/01/20/264226759/a-promise-unfulfilled-1962-mlk-speech-recording-is-discovered?ft=1&f=1001&utm_content=socialflow&utm_campaign=nprnews&utm_source=npr&utm_medium=twitter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections and Resources for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2014

First I was aggravated at Oliver Stone for throwing in the towel on the much-touted film on the eve of the Martin Luther King holiday.  He knew the announcement would grab the headlines and further sully the great man’s name.

Then I turned my anger to the keepers of the MLK legacy, the King family and their advisers.  Why not just admit that MLK had feet of clay that are far less relevant than his leadership of a movement that has forever restructured the political, social and cultural contours of this nation.

When I turned on the radio for my Sunday morning ritual listen to On Being I was delighted to realize that the gurus at MPR had wisely chosen to air a conversation that Krista Tippett shared some weeks ago with Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons and Lucas Johnson.  Listening to that thoughtful discussion relieved my angst and inspired reflections far more appropriate to the occasion.  Though my original intent was to share the podcast and transcript, a click on the website disclosed that the interview was actually videotaped in December in front of a live audience at National Public Radio in Washington, DC.

Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, an early black power feminist, is the older of the two guests.  She well remembers blatant racism, picketing and marching, the subtleties of the leaders’ philosophies and the distortion of the facts over time.  She has written about her experience as a SNCC activist in Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC.  Today Dr. Simmons is assistant professor of religion at the University of Florida.  She is also a member of the National Council of Elders (about which I want to learn more.)

Dr. Lucas Johnson, a younger man, speaks more of the impact of the civil rights movement on him personally and on his generation.  He is Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation.  His conversation revolves around the impact of the civil rights movement on current issues of peace, non-violence and reconciliation.

  • MPR has posted a short video discussion starter based on MLK’s I Have a Dream speech. View the video here:  http://vimeo.com/64079741

MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail – Reflections at 50 Years

When the hour came we lived up to our promise ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote these words from Birmingham Jail a half century ago.  His Letter from Birmingham Jail is a powerful reminder of how the struggle for civil rights had its start.   Those who remember King’s words and who remain vigilant in defense of the civil rights for all will observe the fiftieth anniversary of King’s Letter on April 16, 2013.

The worldwide observance will include public programs in libraries and museums, schools and universities, places of worship, work places, public parks, bookstores, coffee houses and anywhere people committed to justice and equality gather.

Observations are scheduled for dozens of sites ranging from the Apartheid Museum and the Steve Biko Foundation in Johannesburg to Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland to a host of sites in Birmingham Alabama and in cities and towns throughout the U.S.  Participating organizations, institutions, even informal gatherings are encouraged to register their participation.  At this writing no Minnesota participants are listed.

The observance is a social media event with a presence on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter and other communications channels,

The global event is sponsored by the Birmingham Public Library which has posted a robust guide including links to resource materials, lesson plans, graphics participating sites and more.

 

 

Celebrating African American Literature During Black History Month

In Minnesota and throughout the nation the name  Archie  Givens – Senior or Junior — is synonymous with the rich legacy of African American literature.

Archie Givens, Sr. was a noted Minnesota business leader with a passion for collecting the very best of African American literature of his era.   The Archie Givens Senior Collection of African American Literature is now housed at the University of Minnesota Libraries.  The collection includes over 8,000 volumes representative of a broad range of African American literary genre dating back to 1773..  Among the holdings are the archives of the Penumbra Theater, manuscripts, fiction, nonfiction, even letters of African American authors.

There is a beautiful documentary based on the Givens collection which was described in an earlier post on this blog.

In celebration of Black History Month, Minneapolis downtown workers and visitors will have a chance to catch a glimpse of the wonders of the collection.  Books from the Givens collection will be on display at the Hennepin Gallery at the Hennepin County Government Center, 300 South Sixth Street through February 26.  Many of the books on exhibit are rare first editions, some of which have been out of print for decades.  Some of the books are actually signed by the author;  others include covers designed by well-known artists.

The Hennepin Gallery is free and open to the pubic Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m – 6:00 p.m.

Meanwhile, Archie Givens Jr. continues to support his father’s literary passion.  Time is short but it is not too late to attend a related African American literary event, this one sponsored in part by Archie Givens, Jr. as part of Black History Month.  Since 2004 The Givens Foundation for African American Literature and the Friends of the U of M Libraries have sponsored the NOMMO African American Authors Series.  (NOMMO is a Dogon word meaning “the magic power of the word”

This year the featured artist is poet and literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller.  He will read from his work and discuss the state of the art of African American literature with U of M professor Alexs Pate.  The event is Wednesday, February 6, 7:00 p.m. in Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey Center, 301 19th Avenue South on the U of M West Bank.

Tickets are $15, no charge for U of M students, members of the Givens Foundation and Friends of the U of M Libraries.  612 624 2345.