“A More Beautiful and Terrible History” Corrects the Fables Told of the Civil Rights Movement

I like that you used the word “fable” to describe the stories we’re fed about the Civil Rights movement. One judge found the mothers guilty. Times doing that. How do we honor social justice leaders without depoliticizing them? Since living here, a number of them are surprised by the racism — both overt and systematic. The board of education responds by throwing money at programs for juvenile delinquency. King suffered from depression. It passes. People are trying to go through the system, similar to New York, and getting nowhere. She was a lifelong activist: her anti-poverty work, her antiwar work, her commitment to black voting and political power, her support for gay rights. We’re told that she’s just this accidental heroine when they’d been organizing for years. She said it’s hard to stay mentally sane in the midst of white supremacy. On the other hand, they say we want the right to discriminate. Rosa Parks is a 2014 NAACP Image Award winner. King took on the limits of Northern liberalism and wanted his allies who praised his work in the South to look in their own backyards as well. Then lo and behold they come out in [desegregation] court cases in the 1970s. That was an important decision but what it did not do was desegregate New York schools. Another judge said the schools are segregated and the mothers have the right not to send their kids there. In A More Beautiful and Terrible History: The Uses and Misuses of Civil Rights History, author Jeanne Theoharis bursts the bubble on what we’ve learned about the Civil Rights era to show a larger movement with layers. The Harlem Nine were surveilled because the FBI considered them a threat. In ’63, he comes, shortly after getting out of jail in Birmingham, and speaks to a crowd of 35,000 at Wrigley Field [originally opened in Los Angeles in 1925 after the Chicago Cubs owner bought the Los Angeles Angels, the Cubs played at Chicago’s Cubs Park] saying, “Set L.A. free!” Then he talked about police brutality and school and housing segregation. After World War II, Los Angeles gets more segregated. Did Los Angeles’s school desegregation movement happen before the Watts Riots? The Los Angeles board, like New York and Boston, doesn’t embrace segregation on the face of it. What we’ve seen is the fable being used as a weapon against the contemporary movements like Black Lives Matter or [Colin] Kaepernick. If we were to center Coretta Scott King and see what she did, it is very clear the movement is not over. It’s about courageous individuals, not community or the collective. Think about in 2013, putting the Rosa Parks statue in the Capitol on the same day they’re hearing Shelby County v. In May, she did an address in Central Park that he was supposed to give and continued to oppose US involvement in Vietnam. And it’s about American exceptionalism. The neighborhoods are getting crowded. You wrote that the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, and The New York Times won awards for covering racism in the South. Times could’ve said, “People have been raising these issues for years. And they overwhelmingly support Prop 14. On one hand Californians [voted for] Lyndon Johnson, arguably the most Civil Rights–oriented president we’ve ever had. Instead it becomes a day of celebrating America. Yes. Days after his assassination in April 1968, she goes to Memphis to lead the march for sanitation workers he was supposed to lead. “While these tributes honored the movement, they simultaneously depoliticized the scope of the struggle, distorted the work of activists honored, demonized Black anger, and obscured ongoing calls for racial justice through a celebration of a nearly postracial, self-correcting America.”
Theoharis is known for challenging what she would call “fables” of leaders. The common narrative of the Civil Rights movement is just as narrow as stories of racial injustice. You address mental health in your book. Dr. It explains how media on the coasts focused more on covering racism in the South, instead of the local injustices. Yet, they weren’t critical of the racism in their own cities. Definitely! There are pockets of it. It wasn’t just white supremacy she had to deal with. school board readjusted the boundary lines of these schools to basically funnel the black kids into Jordan High School, into Fremont. I’m completely fit to be tied about how we commemorated the 50th anniversary of Dr. In 1963, there are regular downtown protests, sit-ins at the board of education. It’s about how the problem and movement are in the past. Coretta Scott King went into a deep depression after President Kennedy’s assassination. Our story of Northern liberals needs to be much more complicated. There’s a myth about white racists as poor, white men who live in rural America. King came to help? Before Watts, you see this growing black parent movement around desegregation. Even though lots of middle- and upper middle-class people in Boston resisted desegregation in 1974. It’s easy for us to look back now and say what she did is so clear, so righteous. For instance, when the Watts Riots erupted. Some schools had two bathrooms for 1,600 kids and a sheet of wood with a hole for a toilet seat. In fact, the L.A. How did people protest? In 1964, Californians overwhelmingly send Lyndon Johnson back to the White House. You wrote about movements in the North and West Coast. The building conditions were horrible. It’s really hard to do the right thing. But those you write about in the book are in New York, Boston, L.A.; educated and middle class who thought themselves somehow better than those who were lower income. I was shocked by the chapter on media. I’d never heard of the Harlem Nine, a group of mothers who fought to overturn segregated schools in Harlem. ¤
Jeneé Darden is a journalist from Oakland, California. From Los Angeles to Boston, public officials that saw themselves as being open and liberal said they didn’t keep records of race. There are a whole host of racial justice issues that he really could have done something on. Visit her blog CocoaFly.com to read her research series Under the Covers: The Popularity and Debate Over Black Erotic Literature.  Lots of people who stood against the Civil Rights movement looked down upon other racists like they would never have burned a cross or called King’s house and said nasty things. You reference census data from the 1960s that shows Los Angeles schools were more segregated than Southern schools. In part because it seems to just happen, right? I’ve read stories about activists today taking their own lives. I ask them, “Don’t you know about the Black Panther Party, the Watts Riots, the beating of Rodney King, and the L.A. It protected the mothers from going to jail. They say these students are culturally deprived; their families don’t have the right cultural values and practices to succeed so we’re going to culturally uplift them. I think we missed the part of how oppressive systems maintain themselves is by making people who critique them feel crazy, feel like they’re the problem. People are still misinformed by the narrative that racism only happens in the Deep South. White people rise up and get in contact with realtors and neighborhood associations to get Prop 14 on the 1964 ballot. King’s assassination, and she’s still getting sidelined. The book covers huge movements outside of the South, such as desegregating schools in Boston and Los Angeles. One of the things I was trying to point out in the book is: Does the commemoration become an act of justice in and of itself? Her biography The Rebellious Life of Mrs. It prohibited discrimination in the rental and sale of housing. But the criticisms being waged at them were waged at the Civil Rights movement. In some of the quotes from Rosa Parks, she’s talking about how she feels crazy, and how lonely she is. Was this ever resolved? Reagan literally says that when he signed the legislation for the King holiday. King visited Los Angeles to do social justice work, but his widow, Coretta Scott King, also has a legacy as an activist too. In Los Angeles, black and Mexican students were segregated from white students. The erasing of the Northern movements makes it seem like there wasn’t a racial problem in the North. Many of them are younger newcomers drawn to California’s great weather, liberal political climate, and high-paying tech jobs. I ask my students when did New York schools comprehensively desegregate. Her latest book is the result of 16 years of research. Dr. “The history of American racism has become just that … history,” Theoharis writes. Racial division didn’t go away in a chorus of “We Shall Overcome.” There were freedom fighters before King and Parks, after them, and well beyond Southern borders. She critiques some of the tributes (such as museum exhibits, national honors, et cetera) and stories of Civil Rights icons as diluting their activism and the power of racism. It seems like Rosa Parks sits down, people are outraged, there’s a boycott, they win. They homeschooled their kids to protest [then were] charged for keeping their kids home — while white parents were willing to put their kids on buses to keep them in segregated schools. I’ve read comments online from people who say, “Rosa Parks and Dr. It’s really hard to press forward again and be ostracized. Rosa Parks did, too. That’s a very simplified notion. Some black people thought she was too radical. Times calls for more police. And Dr. After this, in the 1960s, is a burgeoning, broader movement to desegregate schools in New York. As more people migrate to L.A., black people are being funneled into particular neighborhoods. Yes. A few years back, UCLA put out a study about the most segregated school systems in the country; New York is at the top of that list. In 1963, the Rumford Fair Housing Act reached the state level. JEANNE THEOHARIS: The story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott is often told in ways that make it hard to imagine how to do it. In the 1964 boycott, nearly half a million students and teachers stay out of school because there’s still no comprehensive plan for desegregation in New York. ¤
JENEÉ DARDEN: A More Beautiful and Terrible History looks at the complexities behind other Civil Rights icons and moments during that time. They believed the “California is not racist” myth, until they experienced it for themselves. It’s about individualism. Why can’t the activists today be like that?” But they weren’t quiet. We need to hold ourselves and city leaders accountable that there’s been a movement in the city for years around police brutality and nothing happened.” But you don’t see the L.A. The fable of the Civil Rights movement has a couple of different parts. The education board casts black students as the problem. If you think about all the speeches, most of them were: “What a great day for America.”
The story of the Civil Rights movement is usually focused on the South. And the answer is never. The L.A. King’s inspirational speeches and Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus. It’s about how we had a problem, shined a light on it, and we fixed it. King is in and out of Los Angeles multiple times between 1961 and 1964. Holder [the 2013 Supreme Court decision dismantling voter protections in the Voting Rights Act for the elderly, poor, and people of color]. King comes multiple times to fight it and called it a vote for ghettos. One of the ways we approach Martin Luther King’s assassination is to say the Civil Rights movement is over. There’s an idea that this is possible in America and it’s not possible in other places. Prop 14 returns the right of Californians to discriminate in housing. Uprisings?”
I can’t totally blame them for not knowing the racial history of this state. There’s a compromise made where these nine families get to attend different schools. It would have been a very different thing had President Obama used that event to discuss voting rights. The L.A. The FBI surveilled her for years because they were worried about how much she’s tying the antiwar movement to the Civil Rights movement. King were quiet protesters and effective. Her work influenced his growing internationalism and antiwar stance. You see high schools that were racially mixed become nearly all black. Not to the ones the mothers wanted, but that option was not made available in a large-scale way. There was more to the movement than Dr. SEPTEMBER 16, 2018

I’M IN A GROUP for professionals of color in the Bay Area.