The Civil Rights Movement began long before Rosa Parks was even born. The first civil right the African Americans fought for was the right to be considered men rather than chattel--the right not to be owned.
The struggle to end slavery probably started when the first slave ship left Africa, and there were undoubtedly as many rebellious slaves as there were slaveholders, but I would like to highlight a few of the documented nonviolent attempts to gain rights much earlier than 1954.
(If I leave out one of your favorites, please send me an email and let me know.)
You don't think of the people who ran the Underground Railroad as participants in acts of civil disobedience? Think again. It has all the usual descriptors:
1. Refusal to obey a law or command of a government or of an occupying international power. (Aiding and abetting runaway slaves was definitely against the law--that's why it had to be underground.)
2. Usually, but not always, nonviolent. Quakers are always nonviolent.
3. Usually, but not always, collective. (It was definitely collective action. (Just because all the participants were not marching down the same physical street, they were risking their own lives to march down the same moral avenue.)
4. Used as a means of forcing concessions from the government. The Friends or Quakers are credited with initiating the abolitionist movement in England in 1783, and played an important role in the movement in the United States.
5. Nonresistance to consequent arrest and punishment.
The list of elements of Civil Disobedience is taken from my upcoming work, Tear Gas and Rubber Bullets: Violent reactions to nonviolent actions.
The National Negro Convention met in 1832 in Philadelphia and focused on actively fighting for civil rights. The basis of their action was their statement, "we have performed all the duties from the menial to the soldier...our fathers shed their blood in the great struggle for independence."
The following year, the plea was eloquent and reminiscent of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. The elected president of the Convention said, in part, that it was "lamentable that a deep and solemn gloom had settled on that once bright anticipation" regarding the endorsement of civil and political rights. He explained that a "monster, prejudice, is stalking over the land, spreading in its course its pestilential breath, blighting and withering the fair and natural hope of our happiness, resulting from the enjoyment of that invaluable behest of God to man--FREEDOM."
Unfortunately, that monster, prejudice, still stalks the land, and as long as it does, good men will continue to fight for freedom.
I hope you enjoy the video of Reverend King's speech as much as I did when he gave it. I was there on the Mall on August 28, 1963 and it was an amazing experience.
A few years ago, I made a bird feeder out of an empty 2 liter plastic bottle. I’d bought a simple kit that provided a hanger, a perch, and instructions. I’d felt good about reusing a bit of plastic in a constructive way. Unfortunately, the project was an epic fail (as my granddaughter would say). The squirrels destroyed the bottle the very first night, leaving me to clean up after them. In the world of plastic bottles, my project was lower than the 4-year-old's drawing would be in the art world.
Today I searched the internet for other ways to use empty plastic bottles. I got almost 7 million hits! It turns out that lots of interesting and useful things can be made from plastic bottles. There are lovely images of plastic bottle planters, although I couldn’t tell if they were being used for tomato plants or marijuana from the picture. Interesting, but still child's play.
When I found a video showing a school made from “bricks” of plastic bottles filled with tightly packed sand, I thought I’d found the ultimate way to put all these empty bottles to good use.
But I was wrong. The Leonardo da Vinci of plastic bottles is Alfredo Moser. His simple yet ingenious use of empty plastic bottles has improved the lives of millions of the world's most needy people, those who live crowded together in unspeakable poverty; people who can afford neither windows nor the electricity to light their makeshift dwellings. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23536914
I think he deserves a Nobel prize for this invention, don't you?
Have you ever wondered...
Sometimes I hear something strange on television, or read something new in a book and it triggers a whole new train of thought. I wander down the path of discovery--sometimes hitting a dead end and other times finding myself in a new world of wonder.
You can join me on this meandering path, if you like.
Today's step into something different started with a granddaughter's graduation. I hate giving money, but once my grandkids outgrow toys for gifts, I'm stumped. I found a lovely card with a photo of a butterfly, looked up dollar bill origami, and made a really cute butterfly from the bills. Add a note about spreading her wings and Voila! cash becomes a gift.
While searching for the perfect butterfly, I found something totally unexpected--the perfect find for digging deeper. ORIGAMI FURNITURE?
These images came from an amazing website: http://www.onarchitecturesite.com/2012/10/06/gorgeous-design-furniture-origami-modern/
Who'd have imagined that? Obviously, someone very clever.
Looking into a few more new paths down the internet trail, I discovered http://flavorwire.com/337444/the-very-best-of-foldable-functional-furniture-origami
I searched for a video that showed someone actually making origami furniture but, alas, I only found doll house furniture--but the search led to something else that I found interesting. I found a video that showed a very creative plan for a 400 sq foot apartment to become a 4 room comfortable living space.