Monday, August 25, 2014

Another locked door

4600 block of Huron Avenue, Suitland MD.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Light in a chapel

Tougaloo College, Mississippi.

Operation Understanding DC Class 20 - Jackson, Mississippi

Class 20 of Operation Understanding DC in Jackson, Mississippi.

On my last two days with the OUDC participants, they met with Michelle Schiffer, executive director of the Institute for Southern Jewish Life , and her staff, were personally toured through the home of assassinated Mississippi civil rights leader Medgar Evers by one of his associates, Ms. Minnie Watson, heard about the ongoing and seminal human rights work done at Tougaloo College from Professor Daphne Chamberlain, and were led in freedom songs and story by Mr. Hollis Watkins of Southern Echo, SNCC, and COFO.

They also met with Mayor Tony Yarber and members of the City Council, attended Friday Jumu'ah prayer services at Masjid Muhammad, led by Imam Muhammad Abdur-Rahman and Maryam Rashid, and had a session with investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell of the Jackson Clarion Ledger newspaper. Mr Mitchell broke and helped re-open the cases that led to the trial and conviction of Medgar Ever's murderer, Byron De La Beckwith, and other KKK killers, decades after the slayings they committed.

"Ain't gonna let nobody turn me 'round, turn me 'round, turn me 'round, ain't gonna let nobody turn me 'round, turn me 'round, turn me 'round, gonna keep on walking. keep on' talking', marchin' up to Freedom Land."

Thanks to OUDC tour leaders, Avi Edelman, Maurice Wilkins, and Eleni Zimilies, our class act bus driver AJ of Stinson Charter Bus Company, to Aaron Jenkins, executive director of Operation Understanding DC, and to the twenty-four bright, enthusiastic future leaders who participated in the voyage. Peace, strength, and blessings to y'all.

A note: Medgar Ever's blood is still visible on the concrete in the carport of his home...

Operation Understanding DC Class 20 - Meridian, Mississippi

Class 20 of Operation Understanding DC in Meridian, Mississippi.

The OUDC students met with veteran civil rights leader Roscoe Jones Sr.,  a COFO (Council of Federated Organizations) organizing director, and with local civil rights and labor attorney, Bill Reedy Sr.

Mr. Jones shared his ongoing story, and that by a fluke he narrowly missed being the fourth person in the car the night Mickey Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney  were pulled over and  killed by the Ku Klux Klan in 1964. Mr. Jones guided the students to his friend James Chaney's grave, in a family plot on a small country road outside of Meridian. The headstone has steel braces to hold it up, which serve to protect it from ongoing vandalism.

The stones on Mr. Chaney's headstone have primarily been left by Jewish visitors, as a mark of respect.

The pistol is Mr. Reedy's. He said he used it to shoot Klansmen on a couple of occasions, including one who was attempting to plant a burning cross on his lawn in protest of Reedy's effective work on behalf of African-American rights. In one case, he had just represented one of the men he shot in a pro-union court case. Mr. Reedy is still working as an attorney in Meridian - a colorful self described "simple country lawyer" - but he is anything but simple.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Operation Understanding DC Class 20 - Selma, Alabama

Class 20 of Operation Understanding DC in Selma, Alabama.

The OUDC students met with Hannah Berger and another ember of Selma's Temple Mishkan Israel, experienced a powerful historical experiential workshop with Ms. Afriye We-Kandodis, and were guided through the city's history by Bloody Sunday veteran and heroic local activist Ms. Joanne Bland. She co-founded the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute in the city. The day ended with a march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge, site of the original marches in 1965, which helped spark the nation's conscience.