Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ferguson Images Evoke Civil Rights Era and Changing Visual Perceptions

Ferguson Images Evoke Civil Rights Era and Changing Visual Perceptions

Left, police officers detained a protester in Ferguson, Mo.; right, a police dog attacked a civil rights demonstrator in Birmingham, Ala., in May 1963.CreditLeft, Whitney Curtis for The New York Times; right, Bill Hudson, via Associated Press
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Danny Lyon, one of the photographers whose work came to define the civil rights upheaval in the South in the 1960s, said he was struck on Thursday when he saw a news image from the racially torn suburb of Ferguson, Mo., showing four police officers arrayed in a phalanx.
In part, it was because Mr. Lyon had taken a picture in 1963 in Birmingham, Ala., that looked very much like it: four officers standing in front of a police car with rifles and helmets, in a city where highly publicized clashes between protesters and the police helped turn the tide of public opinion toward the civil rights movement. But the image from Ferguson, for all its formal similarities, could not have been more different. Today’s riot police officers were wearing military-style camouflage and carrying military-style rifles, their heads and faces obscured by black helmets and gas masks as they stood in front of an armored vehicle.
“It didn’t look like America. It looked like Soweto,” Mr. Lyon said, referring to the South African township that was a hotbed of protests against apartheid. “It looked like soldiers. And soldiers’ job isn’t to protect. Their job is to kill people and to be ready to die.”
Left, police officers stood guard outside a vandalized gas station and convenience store in Ferguson, Mo.; right, heavily armed members of the Alabama Highway Patrol in Birmingham in 1963. CreditLeft, Whitney Curtis for The New York Times; Right, Danny Lyon/Etherton Gallery
The photographs that have emerged during several days of unrest in Ferguson after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a police officer have drawn mournful comparisons to pictures of the Deep South in the 1960s or of more recent racial unrest, like the 1992 Los Angeles riots. But they have also prompted a flood of commentary about the differences half a century has made in the visual economy.
They have raised questions about whether photos have the same power now to sway public opinion and political will; about the increasingly sophisticated ways an image-saturated public reads a picture’s racial and political subtext; and about the rapid transformation of the protests, even more so than the Los Angeles riots or the Occupy movement, into a war of images. The war pits what appears to be a large-scale paramilitary police presence against crowds of African-American protesters walking with their hands raised in surrender — or people throwing things and looting.
The Philadelphia Daily News was a case in point in the speed with which 21st-century image parsing can occur. In the wee hours of Thursday morning — in response to readers’ comments on Twitter about a photo the newspaper had planned to run on its front page, showing an African-American protester in Ferguson about to hurl what looked like a firebomb — editors changed their minds and instead used a photograph of an African-American woman standing in front of police officers, holding a sign urging answers in the death of the teenager, Michael Brown.
An assistant city editor wrote on Twitter to those objecting to the first picture that they would be able to understand the whole story, in a “sympathetic treatment,” if they opened the paper. But a reader responded, “Yes, in ten-point font I can see the fine print, which is completely overwhelmed by the picture.”
In the civil rights era, the visual stamp of the movement was determined by newspapers and the nightly news. Today, the imagery one sees depends on the filters one uses. One person’s Twitter feed may be full of footage of police firing tear gas or of peaceful protesters with their hands up. But David J. Garrow, a historian at the University of Pittsburgh’s law school and the author of several books on the civil rights movement, noted that when he searched for images of Ferguson on Google, roughly half showed what appeared to be looting.
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Standoff in Ferguson

Standoff in Ferguson

For days after the death of Michael Brown, protesters faced off with the police as racially charged demonstrations gripped the streets of Ferguson, Mo.
 Video CreditBy Brent McDonald on Publish DateAugust 14, 2014. Image CreditScott Olson/Getty Images
Such images look “more like Watts in 1965 or Newark in 1967, not Birmingham in 1963 or Selma in 1965,” Dr. Garrow said. And historically, he said, such photos were “deadly when it came to white public opinion.”
In Ferguson, the police seem to be just as worried about the dominance of certain imagery. The city’s police chief, Thomas Jackson, said during a news conference Thursday that officials were meeting “to talk about not only the tactics but the appearance” of the police force, whose resemblance to American soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan has quickly become a social media theme.
Some visual echoes of the 1960s, like the Ferguson police’s use of dogs, may be unintentional. (During the 1963 March on Washington, President John F. Kennedy forbade the use of dogs for crowd control, knowing how badly it would play.) But on the protesters’ side, there have been deliberate efforts to evoke the nonviolent protests of the civil rights era, like T-shirts with the slogan “I Am a Man,” borrowed from signs carried during the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike.
Diane McWhorter, the author of “Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, the Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution,” said she also saw echoes of those signs in the protesters’ hands-up gesture, an instantly recognizable cue that seems to be both born of the quick-read Internet news cycle and able to shape it.
“In one case, it’s a kind of mass witness of personhood,” Ms. McWhorter said of the “I Am a Man” signs, “and in the other case, a mass witness of innocence. Those images are very powerful.”
Some historians see dangers in those visual echoes. Martin A. Berger, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the author of “Seeing Through Race: A Reinterpretation of Civil Rights Photography,” said that while images of a protester throwing a firebomb or of the police spraying tear gas may start conversations, the historical associations can also distort public understanding.
“We can look at these pictures and say that Ferguson is the same as Los Angeles or Birmingham, because it looks the same,” Dr. Berger said. “But we have to ask not just, ‘What is the same?’ but also, ‘What are the ways in which America has changed?’ To just have another conversation that stops at the level of police brutality doesn’t really get us very far.”

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Attorney general says racial equality threatened in subtle ways

Attorney general says racial equality threatened in subtle ways

US Attorney General Holder speaks at National Association of Attorneys General in Washington.
(Reuters) - Attorney General Eric Holder said on Saturday while public utterances of bigotry are roundly condemned in the United States racial discrimination persists in more subtle ways.
Speaking on the 60th anniversary of a landmark Supreme Court ruling outlawing segregation in public schools, Holder said that public outrage over recent instances of bigoted remarks by well-known people did not mean the struggle for civil rights is over.
"These outbursts of bigotry, while deplorable, are not the true markers of the struggle that still must be waged, or the work that still needs to be done - because the greatest threats do not announce themselves in screaming headlines. They are more subtle. They cut deeper," he said in a prepared commencement address at Morgan State University in Baltimore.
"... We ought not find contentment in the fact that these high-profile expressions of outright bigotry seem atypical and were met with such swift condemnation."
Holder, the nation's first African-American attorney general, didn't mention a specific case but racist comments by the owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, Donald Sterling, that were made public last month received substantial media attention and were widely condemned by the league, players, public officials and on social media.
Since the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, Holder said laws that are overtly discriminatory no longer survive the "strict scrutiny" legal standard.
He said the new battleground against discrimination should focus on policies and laws that appear race-neutral but in practice impede equal opportunity.
"This is the work that truly matters - because policies that disenfranchise specific groups are more pernicious than hateful rants," Holder told the graduates at Morgan State, a historically black college.
He cited disciplinary practices in schools that punish black males at three times the rate of their white peers. He also said a report last year by the U.S. Sentencing Commission found that black men receive criminal sentences that are nearly 20 percent longer than white males convicted of similar crimes.
Holder said restrictions on voting that are justified as attempts to curb voter fraud disproportionately disenfranchise blacks, Hispanics and other minorities.
(Reporting by Eric Beech in Washington; Editing by Rosalind Russell)

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Martin Luther King Jr. estate, Harry Belafonte settle legal fight

Martin Luther King Jr. estate, Harry Belafonte settle legal fight

Belafonte speaks as he accepts the Spingarn Award during the 44th Annual NAACP Image Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles
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Harry Belafonte speaks as he accepts the Spingarn Award during the 44th Annual NAACP Image Awards at …
By Ellen Wulfhorst
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The estate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and U.S. singer and activist Harry Belafonte said on Friday they settled their dispute over possession of documents of the late civil rights leader that gives ownership to the entertainer.
Belafonte had sued the King estate over the documents that he said were given to him by King and his wife during their long friendship.
The documents are an outline of King's "Casualties of the War in Vietnam" speech that Belafonte said he had had in his possession since 1967, the undelivered "Memphis Speech" found in King's pocket after his 1968 assassination and a condolence letter sent by President Lyndon Johnson to King's widow.
Belafonte and the King estate said in a joint statement that they had reached a confidential compromise that "resulted in Mr. Belafonte retaining possession of the documents."
They said they would have no further comment on the case.
Belafonte, 87, known as the "King of Calypso" for his Caribbean-infused songs, was a close friend and supporter of King, who was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee.
In his lawsuit, filed in October in U.S. District Court in New York, Belafonte asked to be declared the owner of the three documents and that King's estate and youngest daughter, Bernice King, be barred permanently from trying to claim ownership.
King's estate and Bernice King disputed Belafonte's ownership of the documents when the singer took the items to Sotheby's auction house in New York to be appraised and put up for sale in 2008, the lawsuit said.
(Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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Monday, March 31, 2014




Let me share first my personal understanding of prophecy in light of statements that often confuse or distort the definition of real prophecy. I believe that true prophets sometimes predict future acts and events or consequences. These messages can be alarming or refreshing, but they are always intended by God to give life or improve life.

There are prophets who may, on occasion, foretell the future, but every believer can prophesy or speak words of life. Paul said in Corinthians, “Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy.” In my opinion, this means that when we speak, we should prayerfully seek to speak words that edify and enhance life itself.

When Paul encouraged people to prophesy, I do not believe he was encouraging us to predict future events, but rather to strengthen the lives of the hearers. We should pray that the heart of God will be expressed every time we open our mouths. We should never attempt to reduce the “end times” to a specific time frame or date. Jesus Christ will return quickly in the sense that He will come suddenly, unexpected by far too many. Believers are exhorted to live prepared for Christ’s return at any moment, always redeeming the time.

All biblical predictions will come true. All prophecies will be fulfilled. The misunderstanding of the Bible’s truth is often man’s finite attempt to comprehend infinite wisdom. Paul said, “If you think you know, you don’t know as you ought.”

Throughout history, from the Pharisees of Jesus’ times to the religious zealots and intellectuals of today, people have been proven wrong. Inappropriate predictions, unwholesome lifestyles and the course of world events continually expose the fallacy of human wisdom. We need prophets today — not fortune tellers and wild-eyed mystics, but exhorters and edifiers. We need prophecy today to encourage believers and to correct the family of God by speaking words of life.


What I share next concerns believers in the New Testament church family and all whom God loves but have not yet received His abounding grace and abundant, eternal life. I believe the following things will occur before Christ returns or “the end of the world as we know it.”

All that can shake will be shaken to the foundation. Those unfruitful things that do not pertain to true life will be revealed. The unshakable will remain, including the true and holy remnant. No one will be excluded from pain and suffering, apart from supernatural intervention.

I am convinced there will be a healthy church found on earth when Christ returns — the true spotless bride, prepared, adorned in His glory, ready for the glorious appearing of Christ the Groom. He will come for that which is like Himself. This has nothing to do with how large or how many but a prepared body of believers determined by God. This prepared bride will anxiously watch for His return because of deep love, not fear or escapism.

God knows the hour. It cannot be determined by time or space, but we do know He will come for a people in love with Him and one another — living in fullness, free from fear, abiding in peace amid storms and turmoil, shining as unfading light in the darkest of hours. Their eyes will be fixed on Jesus; their hearts will be focused on His kingdom purpose; and their hands will be doing His work as faithful servants.

Those outside the family of faith will tragically miss all that pertains to life and godliness. There is no reference here to religious traditions that lack true expressions of life and love. These people, along with unbelievers, will face separation, death and the eternal consequences of their choices in this present lifetime.

Yet while we know this to be true, we must leave judgment, vengeance, wrath and justice in the hands of the supreme Judge. Because of our finite understanding, many things are unclear. But be assured that our God can be trusted with justice, mercy and judgment.


For several years I have sensed in my spirit some awesome and alarming things when I meditate on the Scriptures and pray. I have waited a long time, but I believe the time has come for me to finally share these impressions.

I earnestly pray that the free world and especially America — my home and the land of the free, where many choose to live as slaves bound by appetites and actions, demanding their way rather than God’s way — may somehow be spared the horrendous results such decadent practices have produced throughout history. I don’t want us to get what we deserve. I cry out for mercy for me, my family members, friends and everyone — even those who chose to be our enemies. I don’t want anyone to perish but all to repent, just as the Bible expresses. This is the very desire of God’s heart. 

Please join me in focused prayer.

I am convinced that brokenness will come to the church and to America. The choice is ours: humility or humiliation! Our population will cry out to God on our faces, desperate beyond comprehension, in unity of spirit and heart, longing for what really matters. The whole world will long for peace — not just national or world peace, but peace within. It’s not peace as the world gives, having everything our way, but rather having it His way, having what only Jesus can give. People, not material things, will matter most. Our focus will be on love, relationships, family, joy, compassion and serving others.

Those who claim no faith will respectfully acknowledge the importance of our First Amendment guarantees. They will be accorded the same respect from the faith community. Open dialogue, debate and difference will no longer be rooted in a desire to destroy opposition.

A change of heart and direction will take place in this nation. Brokenness will lead to true character, determination, self-sacrifice and a sincere desire to know and do what is right, regardless of the cost or sacrifice. The line distinguishing good and evil will be as distinct as the difference in light and darkness — the difference as clear to all observers as terrorists flying airplanes into towers, killing unsuspecting people of all nations and races, compared to those brave souls risking their own lives, giving of themselves, seeking to rescue them. It will be as distinctly different as suicide bombers killing innocent school children and the compassionate doctors and relief workers who strive to ease suffering around the world. There is the force of evil on one side and life-enriching righteousness on the other. We cannot continue to deny that evil is a reality, while tolerating and defending it as a mere difference of opinion.

What I share next is sobering.

I have resisted sharing what I believe I’ve seen in the Spirit, not because I doubt the accuracy, but because I long for and pray for what I see to be averted. I pray for a change of heart and direction, for true repentance to occur until our nation receives the truth of God, begins to live with the character, strength and faith that made America great in the first place, and allows selfless love to prevail rather than selfish indulgence.

As I said, I am convinced brokenness will come. Count on it. The Bible says God’s Word is a hammer; its power can break our stubborn will. His Word is a fire; it can purify us. His Word is water; it can cleanse. The choice is ours: Choose life or choose the way that seems right to men and women — the fruit of which is death.

If the current practice of abortion on demand, destroying the most helpless and innocent of human life, continues with bold, open approval, we will find all innocent life vulnerable to what has become the culture of death. How can we possibly expect our lives and our rights to be protected when we fail to offer it to the most precious little ones? We must witness far more than the changing of any court’s decision — we must witness the change of heart that will no longer terminate innocent life, however foolish some judge or legislator may be. Rest assured, our laws will reflect the condition of our hearts.

We have made such an idol of economic gain and material possessions, I am not certain brokenness will come apart from the collapse of our economy and loss of treasured possessions. Selfish indulgences, revealed through sexual excesses and perversion, are promoted and defended as perfectly acceptable and normal. This attitude must be changed from within, and its effect will be visibly manifested in the lives and practices of our general population.
It’s my hope that the church family will pray, seek God, turn from any wicked ways and see our land healed. I pray that unbelievers will respond to God’s offer of life, forgiveness and grace, resulting in supernatural intervention and protection. God is described in the Bible as “a mighty fortress,” “the shields of the earth,” “our Deliverer,” and “the solid rock.” The intentions of evildoers can be supernaturally detected and thwarted. The enemy must be changed or defeated.

We must have God’s power and protection in order to miss our enemies’ plans for us. Without this divine miracle, unparalleled, indescribable devastation is coming to our shores — truly “the sum of all fears.”

I’m not referring to the natural disasters we are already witnessing and the challenges that reveal our nation’s soul and character. I’m talking about deliberate destruction directed by the deadly actions of evil men.

Many times in prayer, I have seen agonizing pain and suffering resulting from a direct nuclear or biological strike in major population centers in the United States. I see masses of people crying out in fear and panic from destruction and death beyond comprehension. There is a cry for help and mercy, for a way of escape, for protection, for communication, for news of loved ones. Comfort is totally disrupted. A sense of total loss jeopardizes our way of life. Prayer is prevalent. People are desperate for help — even divine intervention. No one asks, “Is there a God?” It seems everyone is looking for Him, including those who once moved to keep God out of public life. Many ask, “Why?” Others ask, “Where was God when this happened?”

But people are not questioning the faith of others. They are looking for faith in others. There is brokenness and humility, along with humiliation, as those who once thought they stood firm, rapidly fall. Many high towers crumble. Households and communities tremble in the aftermath. Our way of life pales compared to the simple desire for life itself.

The only strength and hope for the future comes from those who are truly strong in the Lord. The most courageous prove to be the most compassionate; they understand pure love and willingly sacrifice on behalf of others. Their genuine strength of character is revealed, and people wholeheartedly seek to hear truth. They want someone to provide clear direction, inspire proper action and promise a stable, secure future. Prosperity is suddenly defined as life itself, rather than life’s possessions.

The life of privilege and opportunity is a distant, often faint hope, but it is actually possible for those who will endure the unparalleled hardship. For those of us who experience this horror, things will not be the same. Our true character will face a supreme test, and survival will depend on whether we turn our hearts to the Supreme Power, the One who gives life, the merciful, everlasting God and Father, the one and only blessed hope.

I have seen the pain and suffering, and I cry out to God, “Have mercy!” Then in my heart I hear, “I am offering it even now, if only it will be received. I will not force My way into the lives of men. They can choose whom and what they serve. They can eat of the fruit of their ways or receive liberating truth and life-changing love.” In prayer I ask, “Is it too late? Lord, please help us.” I pray for repentance, brokenness and humility, for mercy received and mercy shared. I hold on to God’s promise, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

I pray, “God, break our hearts by the power of Your Word and the love revealed through the cross of Christ. Break our stubborn will. Humble us that we may be mightily exalted as we exalt You and build our lives and future on Your rock-solid principles.”

Only right relationships with God will produce the necessary resolve to fight the right fight the right way. It is only through commitment to Godly principles that we will have the character to make the sacrifices necessary to protect and preserve the truly priceless aspects of life.
It has become increasingly difficult to hear transforming truth when much of the mass media and the entertainment community so blatantly mock truth, promote twisted lifestyles and assail traditional family values.

I am grateful that for the moment we have some national leaders who acknowledge the importance of prayer and faith. It is critically important that all believers pray for those in authority, because they must have the resolve and wisdom from above in order to make and stand by correct decisions. As we pray, we must remember: No political leader or party can be seen as our hope and security apart from the guidance of Divine Providence.

The only way we will miss the agony I have seen is by supernatural intervention — by God giving us wisdom and clear communication between all concerned parties, enabling us to uncover sinister plots. I believe with all my heart that we will bow before God or be broken before God. America cannot continue to rebel and choose darkness when, throughout our history, we have been exposed to so much light. I am not speaking of perfection or perfect hearts. I am pleading for all to sincerely seek to share life, to know love — God’s love — and admit the need for personal and public change. Real repentance will produce the necessary change in people’s hearts and minds, which will result in a renewed national desire to protect all life, because life is precious.

Our laws will begin to reflect transformed hearts of the voters and legislators guided by time-tested, proven principles. The family will once again be defined properly — husband, wife and children. Our freedom will not only be diligently protected, but its benefits and blessings freely shared. While enjoying the privileges true prosperity affords us, we will cherish the responsibility and joy of sharing what we have with others. We will not be manipulated or motivated by greed, but moved by compassion and unselfish love.

A major part of the entertainment community will forsake the promotion of indulgent and perverse lifestyles and seek to inspire us to rise above our natural, depraved tendencies. Their tremendous ability will be used to present great and admirable acts as was Steven Spielberg’s through Schindler’s List. They will use their great talent to present people and stories worthy of respect rather than those committed to decadence.

Let me make it clear: Caring people will no longer be merely cursing the darkness. As surely as light dispels darkness, when the light begins to shine freely, its effect will be visible and undeniable. History confirms the need to defend the faith, but in this day it will be the demonstration of faith’s transforming power that inspires repentance and change.

I invite all who bear witness of the concern I have shared to join me in prayer, in pursuing the God of holiness and in reaching out to others to share our blessings, whether great or small. Let’s discover that the “joy of the Lord” is indeed our strength and hope.
Pray, fellow believers. Please pray and share this message as God leads, while encouraging others also to join in prayer.
Permission is expressly granted to any person who wishes to download, print, and distribute this document for his or her personal use as long as it is replicated in its entirety and is not sold for this or other commercial purposes.

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Thank you for considering hiring our ghost writing services. Please visit our site at 
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I have won awards for my journalism, poetry, short stories and articles. I am multiply published and have had my own novels, novellas, short stories and scripts published. I am currently working on “The Rainbow Horizon,” a humorous fiction novel set in a small town in Washington State. I have contributed to national and international magazines and newspapers, as well as a multitude of online publications.

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