How far have we come in working for Civil Rights? How much is left to do?

Friday, September 13, 2013

King’s Dream at 50—A Report Card
After the recent commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Julian Abagond, writing on his blog, Abagond, issued a report card on the degree to which Civil Rights have progressed (or not progressed) in the 50 years since the march. He assigned letter grades to such areas as public accommodations, voting rights, discrimination, and so on, and graded each according to the degree that each area has or has not moved forward.

Related: Abagond’s report card on civil rights history is especially appropriate in view of Congress’s action this past Tuesday in awarding, posthumously,  the Congressional Gold Medal to Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley. These are the four young girls killed in the Ku Klux Klan’s bombing of a Birmingham, Alabama, church just two and a half weeks after Martin Luther King, Jr. had spoken about his dream of love and justice and equality for all God’s children.  The girls were talking together in the women’s restroom right after their Sunday school class had ended.  The lesson that morning had been on “The Love that Forgives.”  Addie, Denise, Carole, and Cynthia were killed when the bomb blasted through the building right where they were standing. A fifth girl, Addie Mae’s sister Sarah, was seriously wounded, including losing an eye. and received little financial help from the city officials. As we think about all the civil rights struggles in our country’s history and the brave women and men who have worked tirelessly toward the goal of equality, liberty, and justice for all— often in the midst of seemingly impossible odds— let’s take some time to watch this video and listen to the Grace Baptist Church Cathedral Choir of Mount Vernon , New York, as they sing James Weldon Johnson’s stirring anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni (1935-2024) was an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.


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