Now that the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, has joined Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, and other black history people as a trailblazing pioneer with an astonishing first, what happens next? In his inauguration speech, President Obama noted that we have to ask not whether government is too big, but whether government works. If it doesn't work, or it's not working, then Mr. Obama will have a lot of pressure as an agent of change to create a bureaucratic recipe for success. His biggest obstacle moving forward is the degree to which all Americans mentally prepare for the inevitable sacrifices ahead. No, Barack won't be able to wave a magic wand and save humanity from itself, but he'll get that much closer to becoming a successful agent of change with eager participation rather than indifferent apathy from the millions of kindred spririts who now beam with pride from his achievement. What will you do to help the new president succeed? For some, it may be volunteering in their community. For others, it may be playing a grass roots role in the local political process. For even more, maybe it's just graduating from high school or college. When the euphoria of the Barack Obama election fades, the true measure of his success as president will be to the degree in which he inspired us all to be more productive global citizens.
The MLK Jr. Archival Collaborative, an online home for the electronic display of the papers of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is now live on the Internet. Three institutions partnered to make this 'research rich' website happen: The Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center The Howard Gotlieb Archival Center at Boston University The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University You can electronically search and view Dr. King's papers, writings, and documents housed in Atlanta, Georgia, and Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston University Dr. King archive alone includes more than 80,000 items. A few bugs exist in the online search system. I searched using the keywords "nobel prize." Several of the links that were returned were test links. In addition, there were quite a few server errors. I'm sure the technical problems will be resolved soon, as the site is only a day old as of this writing. Congratulations to the 3 institutions whose partnership made this historic black history website possible. 2018 update: The collaborative's links are broken, so we switched to the more reliable digital Martin Luther King Jr. Archive in Atlanta, Georgia, courtesy of the King Center instead.
Thousands of projects are planned across America for the annual January 19, 2009 Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Select the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service project you'll like to participate in from an interactive map at the official MLKDay.gov website. Dr. King's real birthday is January 15th. The January 19th Day of Service was created by the U.S. Congress in 1994 to transform the federal holiday into an opportunity for community outreach. Tell your friends about all of the nationwide opportunities available this year.
Singer Odetta Felious Gordon, (1930-2008), trained her voice for opera but decided to sing acoustic songs in the folk tradition. The guitar playing vocalist from Birmingham, Alabama, was one of the first popular African American folk singers in the 1960’s. Odetta used her influence to raise awareness about civil rights issues. She passed away December 2, 2008.
Barack Obama has made history, millions have rejoiced at the news, but hundreds of print newspapers have woefully underestimated the nostalgic demand for the memorabilia value of their November 5, 2008 editions. Why did newspapers fail to boost circulations in light of the election of the first African American to become President of the United States? All over the USA, folks have been lamenting about the lack of local papers. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, etc. All gone in the early hours of November 5th from newsstands. Some papers, like the New York Times, are now prepared to publish collector's editions. A few will be charging higher prices to get their paper into your hands. At the expense of the print editions, 2008 will be remembered as the year the online press favorably embraced the rush for information about a USA favorite son from Hawaii who would win the White House and shock the world.
The Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation Inc. has submitted it's formal request to the National Park Service for a permit to move forward with the construction of the Memorial. Construction is expected to begin on the four-acre memorial in November, 2008.
Arthur, Clarence, and Parren Mitchell, (no relationship), are three former members of the U.S. Congress who combined social activism with legislative power. Arthur W. Mitchell, (1886-1968), was the first black Democrat elected to the U.S. Congress (1934 - 1943). Mitchell studied under Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee Institute. The Congressman, representing the First Congressional District of Illinois, received his law school instruction at Columbia and Harvard. Clarence Mitchell, (1911-1984), earned the nickname the "101st. Senator," thanks to his effective lobbying efforts for civil rights. His influence helped pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Mitchell helped extend a ban against voting literacy tests in 1970. He was instrumental in gaining enforcement powers for the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) in 1972. President Jimmy Carter awarded Mitchell the Medal of Freedom in 1980 for his lifetime battle for civil rights. Parren Mitchell was the first African American to be elected to Congress from Maryland’s 7th District in 1970. He became Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1976. In 1950, he challenged the University of Maryland in the courts to become the school’s first black graduate student.
In August of 2006, we wrote about swimmer Cullen Jones, and the role he would play on the 2008 US Olympic team. Jones swam the 3rd leg of the 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay in Beijing to help the US team win the 2008 gold. Take another look at Cullen Jones, the first African American to hold a swimming world record.
As the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China get ready to role, we feature a blast from the past with 6 black history people who created Olympic Game highlights: Award winning Olympic athlete Willye White is the only American woman to participate in five different Olympiads and finish in the top 12 in her events. She competed at age 16 in Melbourne Australia in 1956 when she won a silver medal in the long jump. White was on the Olympic team in Rome in 1960.She won a silver medal in the 400 meter relay in Tokyo in 1964. White was also successful competing in 1968 (Mexico City), and 1972 (Munich, Germany). Muhammad Ali won an Olympic gold medal in Rome as a light heavyweight boxer in 1960. "Smokin’" Joe Frazier won the gold medal for boxing at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games. Ralph Metcalfe was a standout in track at the 1932 and 1936 Olympic games. In 1936, Jesse Owens made history in Berlin, Germany. A member of the U.S. Olympic track team, Owens became the first American to win four gold medals. Tennessee State University’s Wilma Rudolph won three gold medals at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome (100 meter dash, 200 meter dash, and relay team).
July 2, 2008, is the centennial of the birth of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, who passed away in 1993. For more about Thurgood Marshall, check out our feature: 20 black history attorneys take the law into their own hands.