Those that Wait

But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,

they shall mount up with wings like eagles,

they shall run and not be weary,

they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

1619 A Dutch ship captain arrives at Jamestown, Virginia in late summer. He exchanges 20 Africans for food to replenish his ships stores and then sets sail.

1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford, a decision by the United States Supreme Court that ruled that people of African descent imported into the United States and held as slaves, or their descendants—whether or not they were slaves—could never be citizens of the United States.

1865 The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime.

1896 Plessy v. Ferguson, a landmark United States Supreme Court decision, upholding the constitutionality of racial segregation even in public accommodations (particularly railroads), under the doctrine of “separate but equal“.

1948 President Harry Truman signs Executive Order 9981, which states, “It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.”

1954 The Supreme Court rules on the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kans., unanimously agreeing that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional. The decision overturns the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling that sanctioned “separate but equal” segregation of the races, ruling that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

1955 Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat at the front of the “colored section” of a bus to a white passenger, defying a southern custom of the time. In response to her arrest the Montgomery black community launches a bus boycott, which will last for more than a year, until the buses are desegregated Dec. 21, 1956. As newly elected president of the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA), Baptist pastor Martin Luther King, Jr., is instrumental in leading the boycott.

1963 About 200,000 people join the March on Washington. Congregating at the Lincoln Memorial, participants listen as Martin Luther King delivers his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Later that year, four young girls (Denise McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Addie Mae Collins) attending Sunday school are killed when a bomb explodes at Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church.

1964 President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination of all kinds based on race, color, religion, or national origin.

1968 Martin Luther King, at age 39, is shot as he stands on the balcony outside his hotel room.

2005 Rosa Parks dies at age 92.

2006 Coretta Scott King dies of a stroke at age 78.

January 20, 2009 A person of African heritage is inaugurated the 44th president of the United States.

When our days become dreary with low hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. From an address by Martin Luther King made to the Tenth Anniversary Convention of the S.C.L.C. in Atlanta on August 16, 1967.

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