Archive for January, 2013

It’s not Okay.

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

The reading this week took a turn for the depressing. The countless struggles that African Americans for to face is sad, and as an modern American reading our history, I was mildly distraught. America is supposed to be about being able to live how you want, and be who you want to be. But in the 1960′s that was only possible if you had the right color for your skin tone.
Martin Luther King was one that broke through that first barrier. He gave speeches and people listened, he wanted to make American step in the right direction to a better place, he would take the any and all the steps it took to get there. He was going to live his American Dream and from what his actions showed, that was to be treated like a respected adult, that wasn’t just black, but he was another man. A man with pride, honor, integrity, and the hope that he could pursue his greatest goals and dreams. A Letter from Birmingham Jail is one of his more famous pieces of writing. The letter that I have grown familiar with, MLK seems to be a darker place. Most people in jail write to loved ones, friends, family. MLK wrote to the people he loved, he wrote to America.

Why did MLK write that letter? How did it impact the Civil Rights Movement?

Short End of the Stick

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

The reading is another reminder that because of the past of African American’s, they consistently got the short end of the stick. The reading shows progress and the amount of will and hope African Americans had to be truly part of the country. Not to be looked down on, not viewed as something negative, but seen as people; feeding their families, working harder for their money, and being no different than the typical all American family.
Sit-ins, rallies, and other forms of protest were way to get messages across. Martin Luther King was one of the many brave leaders that wanted segregation and the inequality of blacks and whites to end. He spoke with poise and respect. With those two things he was respect by many, he was heard by many more and the motivation he gave to people was endless.
Due to the 1960’s civil rights were changed and viewed differently, the American eye was opened to a bigger and considerately more understanding light when it can to skin tone. A leap for African Americans to thrive in our country was actually happening.


Discussion Question: Why was Martin Luther King incredibly motivated, and how do you think he impacted other leaders of the Civil Rights Movement?

MLK & Kennedy

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Though I am fairly certain that I have read “Letter from a Birmingham City Jail” at least once per year every year since middle school, I am continuously astounded at how the language never ceases to move me. In my humble opinion, Kennedy’s speech pales in comparison to the powerful words of Martin Luther King, Jr. While both addresses argue against the immorality of segregation, Kennedy sounds more like an outsider speaking out of obligation than a man truly affected by the repercussions of racial seclusion. Neither man desires that this nationwide debate results in chaotic violence; however, King’s notion of “self-purification” allows him to decide that he will no longer wait for his freedom to show up on his doorstep. Instead, he will continue to orchestrate acts of nonviolent pressure. While Kennedy’s speech was certainly not pleasing to the Jim Crow South, it was a necessary measure taken to avoid further violence, further demonstrations, and further splits amongst the American people. While Martin Luther King’s letter tugs at the heart strings and presents us with a much more emotional and persuasive appeal, I think that Kennedy’s would ultimately become the more historically significant address.

Word Count: 197

Discussion Question: Which speech do you find to be more historically significant?



Journal 4

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

The main point of the readings was that racism in the south was out of control and had to be dealt with. Hands was being forced to solve the prestigious issues, due to the obvious discrimination. Now that civil rights activist was running a muck with their desperate fight to dissolve Jim Crow laws. Casey Hayden speaks about the living conditions, and the poor’s fight for power to make progress was useless. How he viewed people seeing the poor Negroes as animals rather than humans. Specifically using words to describe how he thinks they feel about them, the should be shot or put on welfare, but not see them as human beings. Then Jean Smith talks about how some southern Negroes have no way to survive at all. Being paid 3 dollars a day for share-cropping work wasn’t enough to buy a house to live in. Change had to happen forcing Negroes to become activist, in which John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. both tried to use that to their advantage. Kennedy finding out that being supportive of the Civil Rights movement would benefit him, and Martin Luther King Jr, for a lack of better words, rallying troops to march against their oppressors, non-violently of course. The malice towards Negroes, advocated by people such as Bull O’Conner, forced Kennedy to make Civil Rights a priority.

Organizing for Change in the Jim Crow South

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Just as with many things in life, some people don’t want to get involved in conflicts unless they passionately believe in what they are fighting for and/or if it directly affects them. Even when they become involved, they may disagree with someone who is fighting right beside them in regards to how to go about approaching that fight. The federal government did not become involved in the Civil Rights Movement until the way the African-Americans were being treated in the US began to affect the support that the government was trying to get from other countries during the Cold War. When Kennedy gave his “Report to the American People on Civil Rights” it was broadcast on television and radio to show the world that we were different than the countries that we were fighting to free. Although his motivation to make that speech may not have been for the purpose to advocate for civil rights, it resulted in a “more bang for your buck” situation. Prior to April of 1963, MLK Jr had slowly been losing support in his approach to the Civil Rights Movement. Many of his followers had lost faith because they felt as if he was too passive. After being arrested in Birmingham, AL, MLK Jr wrote the “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” asking for the 8 clergy men to understand the protests and marches of the African-Americans so that they can release their “pent-up resentments and latent frustrations” (157) to avoid them coming out “in ominous expressions of violence” (157). His arrest showed his followers that he wasn’t as passive as they thought and his letter gave them a better understanding as to why violence was not the answer to obtaining civil rights. The approaches that JFK and MLK Jr adopted to fight for civil rights may have been motivated for different reasons but both had the same ultimate goal. (292)


the quotations I used could be modified as shown in The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing:


After being arrested in Birmingham, AL, MLK Jr wrote the “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” asking for the 8 clergy men to understand the protests and marches of the African-Americans so that they can release their “pent-up resentments and latent frustrations” (157) to avoid them coming out “in ominous expressions of violence”


After being arrested in Birmingham, AL, MLK Jr wrote the “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” asking for the 8 clergy men to understand the protests and marches of the African-Americans so that they can release their “pent-up resentments and latent frustrations” (157) to avoid them coming out “in ominous expressions of violence


Discussion question:

Why do you think that Birmingham always seemed to be a target of violence that occurred during the Civil Rights Movement?


Kerouac and The Beats (1/23/13)

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

The reading in America’s Uncivil Wars referring to Jack Kerouac and his novel On The Road was the most compelling part of the section. During Lytle’s discussion on the origins of the sexual revolution, he cites Kerouac and other members of beat literature to describe a blossoming and evolving perception of sex. We see that from the 50′s, public perceptions of anything overtly sexual was obscene and belonged on the outside of mainstream society. What we see with the beat literature is a challenge to this sense of “modesty” and allowing for people to overcome feelings of sexual repression. Lytle references Ginsberg’s infamous poem Howl, and how that brought issues of homosexuality to the literary realm. Like those reformers involved with music who attempted to popularize rock and R&B, Ginsberg and Kerouac were genre defining.

The reason the writings of Kerouac, Ginsberg, and the beats interest me so much is because by contemporary standards, their “revolutionary” views on sexuality would be considered harmless. I look at modern literature dealing with sexuality, and wonder if responses to Fifty Shades of Grey were not all that different than they were to On The Road and Howl.

Other than sexual exploration, Kerouac’s book gave youth more than one type of personal liberation. Driving and experiencing the country seemed to play on the teenagers of the 50′s obsessed with car and racing culture. On The Road seems to have been talking to this demographic and telling them to put their car skills to a better and more productive use. I interpret driving as the personification of the beat generation to escape the confines of what you know and have experiences that are authentic and liberating.



DQ: Do we have any modern equivalents to Kerouac and Ginsberg, and if so, what are the struggles that are being outlined?


Thursday, January 31st, 2013

In his “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” Martin Luther King, Jr. attempts to show how the lack of civil rights for African-Americans is not a legal issue, it’s a moral one. Trying to comply with this, John F. Kennedy says the same thing in his Civil Rights Address, almost in response to this letter, but generally in response to the entire movement as a whole. Martin Luther King, Jr. brings attention to white people who are in favor of the movement, but do not want to participate, which is almost worse than those who are actively restricting the civil rights of all people.

We can see his anger coming through this letter, as well as his frustration with America and its people. He wants to continue with nonviolent efforts toward civil rights, but he warns America that other people may not, therefore violence may ensue. While this letter is categorized as protest literature, it is written more as a plea for justice. Not only legal justice, but for actual equality among all people living in America. He truly wants America to be a united place, for his kids to be able to play in any park they choose. Not just because it’s right according to the law, but because it’s right for all humans to receive the respect they deserve.

Word Count: 220

Discussion Question: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” is more powerful and emotional, to me, than John F. Kennedy’s Civil Rights Address, yet Kennedy’s speech is the one that grants Civil Rights. Although it is a response to African Americans efforts toward civil rights, how is still a little bit ironic, especially since he doesn’t mention King or other activists at all?

Journal Response 4

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

The main argument of the readings is that there is a desperate and drastic need for change in the South, regarding civil rights and racial tensions. From the readings, I learned of all the different kinds of events and incidents that occurred such as the time when James Meredith entered the University of Mississippi and “Freedom Summer;” both in Lytle’s “America’s Uncivil Wars.” One particular idea I saw as a significance was that as Meredith was being taunted and harassed by the students and educators of the University of Mississippi, he opened up a whole new perspective for those viewing these actions on television. In the publics’ eyes, the people of the school were beginning to look like they were the ones in the wrong while Meredith never did anything violent towards them. Do you think that any of the students or educators began to think twice about their actions once it was televised?

In Bloom and Breines’ “Takin’ it to the Streets,” Casey Haden and Jean Smith reveal ideas that would optimize the poor community’s participation and living standards. Haden said that people tend to stay involved when they see that their thoughts become reality and it follows through. Do you believe in this statement? Jean Smith then writes about a three-part program that is needed in order for economic change: “a Foundation which gives money to people to build a house; a brick factory which will make the materials to build a house; and a training program which will offer basic training in literacy and math, and vocational training” (Bloom and Breines 71). Do you think that his three-part program is logically cogent and can be applied to all poor communities?


Thursday, January 31st, 2013


Thursday, January 31st, 2013