Sunday, May 06, 2007

Civil Rights Brought to You by CocaCola

In celebration of the 80th birthday of Coretta Scott King, who passed away last year, the Atlanta History Center had an event with House Judiciary Chairman, Representative John Conyers; Christine King Farris, Martin Luther King, Jr's sister; and C.T. Vivian, one of the Kings' civil rights colleagues and Chairman of the Center for Democratic Renewal. The program was sponsored by CocaCola. I wonder what Martin and Coretta would have thought about the size of the Coke logo in the program?CT Vivian is a lively and delightful man and the event sparkled with stories about Coretta.John Conyers was eloquent about the civil rights era, but there was hardly a mention of the current struggle to end the Iraq War. The event was the occasion also for the opening of a new exhibit of the papers of King. One of the items included was a rejected check from the Lovett School, a private school in Atlanta where the Kings had wanted to send their son.Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote a response to the rejection.Also in the exhibition are preparator notes for King's speeches and essays. This one was right after the Birmingham jail.There was also a telegram he wrote to John Kennedy with suggestions for supreme court justices.And most interesting for me was the evidence of the careful strategy that was in place-- notes about leadership in the movement and ideas for tactics. Amazing was this "Alert List" --sympathetic press people to call during emergencies:I hope the exhibition travels. It would be great to have it in the North East, for example at Schomberg Center. I hope that a public agency and not a pedler of soft drinks can sponsor this important history lesson.

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