Tag: Civil Rights Movement

Book On C. T. Vivian Sparks Reflections

By Michael September 15, 2020 0

My C. T. Vivian Story: A Powerful Flame That Burned Brightly ( Harold Michael Harvey, Cascade Publishing House, Atlanta, 2020) sparked reflections from Richard Keil, the founder of the Tubman Museum of African American Arts, History, and Culture in Macon, Georgia.

Keil’s human rights legacy began in the 1950s at the height of the civil rights movement in the United States. read more

Harvey Pens Intimate Book on The Life of C. T. Vivian

By Michael August 7, 2020 0

Cascade Publishing House is excited to announce the publication of My C. T. Vivian Story: A Powerful Flame That Burned Brightly, by our publisher and author-in-residence, Harold Michael Harvey.

Vivian, an iconic civil rights leader and Harvey were neighbors for 27-years until Vivian’s transition in July 2020. They often shared private dinners where Vivian mentored Harvey and shared his innermost thoughts on various events that occurred during the civil rights era. read more

Saying Goodbye to a Warrior Priest in a Pandemic

By Michael March 28, 2020 0

It’s written that it is “hard to say goodbye to yesterday.” But yesterday, Rev. Dr. Joesph Echols Lowery, in a death not related to Covid-19, moved from here to eternity.

Until yesterday, he was one of the few remaining architects of the civil rights movement that challenged and forced the cessation of the unequal treatment of Black people in the United States. This movement vicariously brought about equality to all minority groups in the country, including white women, or at least with more justice than had existed at the dawn of the 20th century. He was a man of the 20th century and was blessed to live until the 20th year of the 21st century. read more

Ralph Worrell A Servant Warrior Goes Home

By Michael March 28, 2018 2

Ralph Worrell was a servant warrior. Like any warrior he was tenacious. But he was above all else a servant. He embodied the spirit of the drum major Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached was necessary to be first in the kingdom.

Worrell was born in Barbados 88 years ago. His ancestors were among those Africans who could not be broken for service as a slave in America.

They did not make it to the mainland during the period of enslavement. The slaveholders feared Africans with the warrior spirit would revolt thereby toppling the free labor system which drove the American economy.

At an early age, Worrell moved to New York where he became active in a Black labor union. He organized Black union members to fight for their fair share of jobs.

Around 1964, Worrell’s  union sought to lend a hand to Blacks in the south who were fighting for justice and equality. They sent Worrell to work alongside Dr. King. He was instructed to assist King in whatever manner he deemed necessary. The union paid his salary on Dr. King’s staff.

Worrell was essentially what we call a “body man” today. He was Dr. King’s body man. He unselfishly did whatever it took to make King comfortable. And when the word was given it was time to march, Worrell was ready to go.

One could say he was the spook who sat by the door. Spook not in the sense of a spy, but a ghostly figure, who was always present, but never calling attention to himself, yet forever ready to spring into action and be of service to the president of the organization or a guest waiting to see the president.

For 54 years Worrell was first in rendering service to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He was the straw that stirred the SCLC drink. He turned the lights off in the evening and turned them back on at the beginning of a new day.

Worrell served all of the SCLC presidents from King to Charles Steele, Jr., who eulogized Worrell as “a man who served with an empty pocket, but was always ready to be of service to somebody else.”

Perhaps no figures cast a larger shadows over the work of SCLC than King and Worrell.

Worrell died last week. Two weeks before the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King.

When the servant warrior set out for home, there were no network television cameras at Cascade United Methodist Church to witness it. No one from the Pulitzer Prize winning daily newspaper in town was present to record Worrell’s farewell.

The media did not know that nothing was done at SCLC in the last 54 years without the aid and service of Ralph Worrell. You can google him and his name will not come right up.

He did not want to take credit for what he was doing. He did not have a need to feel important. He wanted to do God’s will. He did his work quietly, gracefully, expertly, tenaciously.

“What I learned from Mr. Worrell is wisdom,” said Samuel Mosteller a longtime member of SCLC.

“I traveled all over Louisiana one year with Mr. Worrell. I got to know him pretty good. He did not speak unless he knew what he was talking about. He would study an issue until he knew what was going on.”

Mosteller said that many people thought Worrell was a mere driver and were not aware of his many contributions to the movement.

“He was very smart, but he did not care to show it. The only reason he was the driver is because he came south to Atlanta to do whatever made Dr. King’s job easier. After Dr. King was assassinated he stayed and did what he could to help Dr. Abernathy [Ralph David] and the rest of the presidents, Mosteller said.

According to Maynard Eaton, Communications Director for SCLC, Worrell got his name in the newspaper one time. That was recently.  A story that Eaton pitched to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

“He was real pleased with that. It made him happy. I am glad that I pitched that story to the AJC,” Eaton said.

In his eulogy, Dr. Steele promised the spirit of Ralph Worrell,”we will continue to march.”

Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery, President Emeritus of SCLC said, “Ralph was my friend. He always made me comfortable. He drove me most places I went.”

Then Lowery’s voice cracked: “I am going to miss Ralph for the rest of my days. So long Ralph, I will see you in the morning.”

Following the service, the 95 year-old Lowery without Worrell to drive him any longer, drove his motorized wheelchair down the driveway of the church to his home about 100 yards across the street.

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine and Black College Nines. He can be contacted at hmharvey@haroldmichaelharvey.com

 

I Am Not Saying Lewis is a Sellout

By Michael February 12, 2016 12

I am not saying that John Lewis is a sellout, or that John Lewis is an Uncle Tom for “dropping the mic” on Bernie Sanders. Neither am I suggesting that Lewis is a liar as some have strongly intimated over recent comments he has made in support of the Clinton’s involvement in the civil rights movement during the 1960s. However, I do believe that John Lewis does not get to define who was or was not an active participant in the civil rights movement.

So what if Lewis did not meet Bernie Sanders on the civil rights trail? There are countless men and women, black and white, all over this country who participated in that movement for social justice who are faceless and nameless to history and to John Lewis.

Can Lewis rattle off the names of the women who stood over hot stoves to prepare meals for the marchers from Selma to Montgomery? Would Lewis even recognize any of them if shown a picture of them ? If by chance he could do either of these things, then, why has he not used his considerable clout to bring recognition to these people without whose support, the movement would not have received the success that history records.

Countless people who have never had their names in the press or whose deeds will never be recorded in history books participated in that glorious movement to weave Black Americans into the fabric of civil American society.

In 1962, my family and several other families in our church ( Bethel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Macon, Georgia), each hosted a Jesuit priest and a nun in our humble homes during the summer months. They were in Macon doing civil rights work.

Each family did so in spite of threats that their homes would be bombed. I dare say Lewis has no knowledge of the names of any of the people who opened their homes so that the work of the civil rights movement could be successful. Nonetheless, their contributions are just as important as the contributions of those persons that Lewis knew.

In 1965, I, along with several other Black young men integrated the Lanier Jr. High School in Macon, Georgia. All those lonely days, I never saw John Lewis. During all of the taunts, spit balls, and pushing and shoving, I never once saw John Lewis.  When the white boys wrote on the walls of the military science building, “Niggers Go Home or Die,”  I did not see Lewis. Yet, we had to find the courage to carry on in the face of this threat, if this grand idea of integrating American society was going to work.

Did I not have this experience because John Lewis was not there to witness it?

In 1986, John Lewis won a seat in the United States House of Representatives by eviscerating the civil rights legacy of the late Julian Bond. During that campaign, Lewis argued that he was the best Black person to represent Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District, because he was a harder worker than Bond back in their Students for Non-Violence Coordinating Committee (SNCC) days.

Lewis said that Bond was lazy, always late for civil rights activities and that they often had to rouse him out of bed in the morning to go stir up civil rights trouble. This was too much inside baseball. Bond had been a popular state legislator in Georgia politics and was nominated to run for Vice President at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. He was loved by Atlantans. Lewis destroyed him, sending Bond’s life into a tailspin; only Bond’s strength of character pulled him from utter failure. He rebounded, no thanks to Lewis; and served the civil rights community well as Chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and as a college professor lecturing on the subject of the civil rights movement for many years prior to his death last year.

Bond’s ashes were scattered in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico in a private ceremony that did not issue invitations to Lewis or any other of the so called Atlanta civil rights elite.

In 2014, Lewis had an opportunity to help elect Georgia’s first Black senator, former State Senator Steen Miles. Miles would not only have been Georgia’s first Black Senator, she would also have been the state’s’ first woman of any racial hue to be elected senator. Lewis opted instead to support, Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Georgia Senator, Sam Nunn; in spite of the fact that Nunn had virtually no ties to Georgia and preached an ultra conservative Democratic platform.

Lewis, along with several other prominent civil rights icons flooded South Georgia with robocalls during the closing days of the Democratic Primary battle. Miles, operating on a shoestring budget succumbed to the sheer weight of those robocalls.

Miles grew up in South Bend, Indiana as the walls of segregation started tumbling down. Her role in the movement was to apply for careers that to that point in time, had not been charted for Black Americans. She rolled up her sleeves and muscled her way into the news industry, first as a reporter and eventually becoming a News Producer at WXIA-TV in Atlanta. An investigative piece of journalism she reported in 1976 about a grocery store in the Chicago area selling spoiled milk, led the Food and Drug Administration to require date labels on all perishable food items.

So what if Lewis had not met Steen Miles back in 1976? He would probably argue that back in the day, he met the conservative Democrat Sam Nunn.

It was a big movement, John, and you sir, do not get to define who is worthy to speak about contributions which did not occur in your presence.

SOURCES:

http://chicagodefender.com/2016/02/11/john-lewis-called-sellout-and-uncle-tom-for-endorsing-clinton-over-bernie-sanders-video/

http://m.dailykos.com/story/2016/2/12/1483921/-DID-JOHN-LEWIS-JUST-LIE-ABOUT-MEETING-THE-CLINTONS-DURING-THE-CIVIL-RIGHTS-ERA

 

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist, the author of Paper puzzle and Justice in the Round. He can be contacted at haroldmichaelharvey.com.