Author and civil rights activist James Baldwin was born 92 years ago today. His life ended, but his voice and views live on. The 1989 Karen Thorsen documentary, James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket, offers a poignant personal portrait of the life, times and brilliant voice of Baldwin from his Harlem home to his global retreats. Intermixing archival footage, excerpts from major Baldwin books, and commentary from the writer and other writers of his time, the film celebrates the social critic who challenged America on racial justice, sexuality and religious issues.
Almost three decades after Baldwin’s death, in an America fueled by racial and immigration tensions and raging election rhetoric, the time is right to revisit Baldwin’s legacy and his relevance today. The Price of the Ticketis a good starting point.
Protestors in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, on 3 May 1963, being hit by a high-pressure water hose being used to disperse people during a civil rights protest. See Birmingham campaign. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Fifty years ago today in America, thousands of African-American elementary and high school children left classrooms, went to 16th Street Baptist Church, gathered at Ingram Kelly Park, forgot fear, faced fire hoses, and met the dogs and demons of hatred on their fight for freedom. Starting on May 2, 1963, the Children’s March moved civil rights from being Birmingham, Alabama’s little secret to gaining worldwide attention.
Children embraced a challenge. They went to jail for a cause. They raised the level of awareness about the awful state of trying to let freedom ring in Alabama. They changed segregation’s course.
Children made a difference in civil rights fifty years ago. That difference inspires today’s broader human rights movement. Children did something. What are you doing?
Protest observer (Walter Gadsden) in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, on 3 May 1963, being attacked by police dogs during a civil rights protest. See Birmingham campaign. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There are several great resources to learn more about the Children’s March. A good start is a tool produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center used to teach tolerance, “Mighty Times: The Children’s March.” The 2005 Academy Award-winning film documents the story of the 1963 march.