Entries in Civil Rights Movement (2)


Biden Reflects on Civil Rights Movement, Urges Grads to ‘Imagine’

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WESTON, Fla.) -- Vice President Joe Biden on Monday offered a poignant personal reflection on the Civil Rights movement and his subsequent role in the administration of the first black U.S. president, urging graduates at a Florida high school to dream big and “imagine the progress you will see and achieve in your lifetime.”

“When Bull Connor sicced his dogs on women and children peacefully assembling in their Sunday best, it awakened an entire nation and inspired my generation, a generation most of whom had never seen anything like that before,” Biden said of the infamous Birmingham, Ala., police commissioner in his commencement address at Cyprus Bay High School in Weston, Fla.

“And many people of my parents’ generation and mine wondered, would we ever be able to bring this country together, to live together?  Would we ever be able to have real equality in the face of that kind of brutality that the television screen brought into our living rooms?” he recalled.

Biden said that as a young public defender, fresh out of law school, he “still imagined, with my generation, that we could heal this God-awful situation.”

Decades later, shortly after Election Day 2008, Biden said he powerfully realized just how far the country had come.

“Forty years from the time Dr. King was assassinated, I was standing on a railroad platform in Wilmington, Delaware,” he said.  “It was January 17, 2009 -- a bitter, cold, but glorious day.  Thousands of people were in the streets of Wilmington and the parking lots, waiting for the same thing I was," the vice president said.

“As I stood on that platform and waited, I looked out over my city -- a part of the city that was in chaos when I had returned 40 years earlier, when I imagined and prayed we could live together,” he said.  “I was standing there with those thousands of other people, waiting for a man on a train coming from Philadelphia to pick me up and take me a short 125-mile train ride, a ride I had literally taken several thousand times before as a U.S. senator, to Washington D.C.; only, this time, for a very different purpose, I was being picked up by a friend, and African American friend.  Barack Obama."

“We were taking that short ride to be sworn in as president and vice president of the United States of America,” Biden said.  “Not only can and do we live together -- we now govern together.  That much can change in 40 years.  Just think what’s going to change in the next 40 years of your life.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour Under Fire for Calling Civil Rights-Era Tensions Not ‘That Bad’

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(JACKSON, Miss.) -- Critics pounced on Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on Monday for comments he made in an interview with the Weekly Standard in which he appeared to downplay the tension of the civil rights movement in his home state.

 “I just don’t remember it as being that bad,” Barbour told the Weekly Standard’s Andrew Ferguson, who penned a 7,400-word profile of the potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate for the magazine.

In the piece, Barbour seems to have a foggy memory of an event he attended with the civil rights icon, Martin Luther King Jr., in the early 1960s and credits a pro-segregation group with helping to integrate the public schools of his hometown, Yazoo City, Miss. without violence.

“You heard of the Citizens Councils? Up north they think it was like the KKK. Where I come from it was an organization of town leaders,” Barbour said in the interview. “In Yazoo City they passed a resolution that said anybody who started a chapter of the Klan would get their ass run out of town. If you had a job, you’d lose it. If you had a store, they’d see nobody shopped there. We didn’t have a problem with the Klan in Yazoo City.”

The statements made Barbour an instant target of progressive bloggers, the president of the Mississippi chapter of the NAACP as well as a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee.

“He’s not ready for prime time or not ready for the 21st century,” DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan tweeted on Monday. “Either way, it’s disqualifying.”

A spokesman for the governor declined to comment, but insisted that the governor is not a racist, according to the Web site Talking Points Memo.

But the quotes foreshadow serious challenges ahead for Barbour should he decide to run in 2012 against the country’s first African-American president. They seem to be part of a pattern of remarks that critics have characterized as racially insensitive.

Barbour, for example, defended Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell when he declared April as “Confederate History Month” in the state without acknowledging the role of slavery.

“To me, it's a sort of feeling that it's a nit, that it is not significant,” Barbour said in a CNN interview, “It’s trying to make a big deal out of something doesn't amount to diddly.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio