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"Nobody can ride your back if your back's not bent," Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said at the end of a Citizenship Education Program (CEP), an adult grassroots training program directed by Dorothy Cotton. This program, called the best-kept secret of the twentieth century's civil rights movement, was critical in preparing legions of disenfranchised people across the South to work with existing systems of local government to gain access to services and resources they were entitled to as citizens. They learned to demonstrate peacefully against injustice, even when they were met with violence and hatred. The CEP was born out of the work of the Tennessee Highlander Folk School and was fully developed and expanded by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference led by Dr. King until that fateful day in Memphis in April 1968. Cotton was checked into the Lorraine Motel at that time as well, but she'd left to do the work of the CEP before the assassin's bullet was fired. If Your Back's Not Bent recounts the accomplishments and the drama of this training that was largely ignored by the media, which had focused its attention on marches and demonstrations. This book describes who participated and how they were transformed--men and women alike--from victims to active citizens, and how they transformed their communities and ultimately the country into a place of greater freedom and justice for all. Cotton, the only woman in Dr. King's inner circle of leadership, for the first time offers her account of the movement, correcting the historical impression that "we only marched and sang." She shows how the CEP was key to the movement's success, and how the lessons of the program can serve our democracy now. People, and therefore systems, can indeed change "if your back's not bent."
The Obama presidency represents a major milestone in black history and the struggle for political, economic and cultural equality in the United States. But how--if at all--has the first black presidency helped move things forward for people of color? Has it delivered the "change we can believe in" and "deepening of democracy" that communities of color organized around? How has the reality and image of a black First Family impacted American culture? What lessons from past struggles can be applied to this unique historical moment to advance multicultural democracy in the U.S.?Starting the exploration of these questions with the voices of past civil rights and black power activists held in the historic Pacifica Radio Archives, BBC journalist Joanne Griffith traveled the country to interview black intellectuals, leaders and activists.The result is a rich and wide-ranging exploration of the hot-button issues facing African Americans today, from religion, law amd media to education and the economy, to the ever-shifting meaning of Obama's contribution and impact. Both timely and rich in personal wisdom, Redefining Black Power connects the dots between past civil rights struggles and the future of black civic and cultural life in the United States.Featuring Van Jones, Michelle Alexander, Julianne Malveaux, Vincent Harding, Ramona Africa, Esther Armah and Linn Washington Jr.Foreword by Pacifica Radio Archives director Brian DeShazor.Praise for Joanne Griffith:"Joanne Griffith is a superb journalist! She writes, speaks, and interviews with great skill, sincerity, and sensitivity to those she covers. Joanne has made it in a tough journalism world -- one where the white males, working for wealthy news organizations, have the advantages. Her writings and insights are a lesson to all. She reflects President Obama's spirited call of 'fired up, ready to go!'"--Connie Lawn, Senior White House Correspondent (since 1968)
In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., isolated himself from the demands of the civil rights movement, rented a house in Jamaica with no telephone, and labored over his final manuscript. In this prophetic work, which has been unavailable for more than ten years, he lays out his thoughts, plans, and dreams for America's future, including the need for better jobs, higher wages, decent housing, and quality education. With a universal message of hope that continues to resonate, King demanded an end to global suffering, asserting that humankind-for the first time-has the resources and technology to eradicate poverty.