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How far do we still need to go after civil-rights act?

Published: Sat, July 5, 2014 @ 12:00 a.m.

While I was on vacation, I watched the first part of CNN’s “The Sixties” series, which dealt with the Civil Rights movement and a look back at the signing of the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964.

As a baby boomer, I grew up watching on television the atrocities suffered by black people who only wanted to live as equals in a country that generally had labeled dark-skinned people as second-class citizens.

As I watched the show and heard commentary from those who participated in the struggle for racial equality, I couldn’t help but think that despite the advancements that have been made over the last 50 years, there is still much work left to be done.

I am not trying to be negative. We have a biracial president receiving flak from conservatives and liberals. The city of Youngstown has had a black mayor, and the mayors of Warren and McDonald are black. And some blacks — and they are few — are CEOs of major corporations.

But as I watched the CNN documentary, I couldn’t help but think about the madness and sheer stupidity of denying someone basic rights to get a drink of water, use the bathroom, sit down for a meal at a lunch counter, vote and have top-notch educational opportunities, simply because of the color of his or her skin.

I watched John Lewis, now a U.S. congressman, but back in the 1960s a young man who was at the forefront of the civil-rights struggle, get beat down on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama. He said he thought he was going to die that day.

I listened as Alabama governor George Wallace valiantly declared, “Segregation today. Segregation tomorrow. Segregation forever.”

I listened to white people use the N-word as casually as they take a breath of air, not realizing, nor caring, about how their attitudes impacted a race of people.

I heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. give an interview that the hatred and sheer anger he experienced in Cicero, Ill., when he led a protest for equal housing in that community, was worse than anything he experienced in the deeply segregated South.

I grew up on the East Side of Youngstown. I lived in an integrated neighborhood with other blacks, Irish Catholics, Lebanese, Puerto Ricans, Italians and those of Slovakian heritage. My family lived in a duplex next door to the Drummond family. A few doors down lived the Lyden family. A few homes away lived the Sinkoviches, the Agees, the Hollisters and the Hayeks. I didn’t recall any problems living on South Bruce Street.

But my parents reminded me and my siblings that some of the things happening in the South also were happening in Youngstown.

They told me about Lincoln Park having two pools — one for blacks and one for whites. They told me that Kiddieland at Idora Park amusement park was once a pool in which blacks weren’t allowed to swim. Why was there a need for a black YMCA on what is now Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard? Blacks couldn’t get membership at the downtown YMCA on North Champion Street.

When Simeon Booker, Youngstown native and award-winning journalist, spoke here last year, he talked about the prejudice he and other black students experienced at Youngstown College, now Youngstown State University.

When the new homes were being built in what is called the Lincoln Knolls area on the East Side, blacks weren’t welcome. They could, however, rent apartments at the new Kennedy Park Terrace (now called ESA Park Apartments), located off Oak Street.

I don’t know how true this is, but I’ve been told some areas of Youngstown had clauses in property deeds that they would not sell their homes to blacks.

The documentary also pointed out the large number of white people who willingly chose to end America’s apartheid, including two young white men who were murdered in Philadelphia, Miss.

This is an important fact young black people need to remember. You cannot condemn a race of people for what a few have done to you.

I appreciated the statement from Connie Hathorn, Youngstown schools superintendent, when discussing his upbringing in segregation in a story that appeared in our paper last week. “I don’t hate anybody in the white race, because the white race didn’t do this to me. Individuals did this to me,” he said about those who tormented him because of his skin color.

Sadly, there is always going to be racism and bigotry in our society. The call for a dialogue between whites and blacks on the issue of race has been going on for decades.

In our politically correct society we live in today, it is hard to have such discussions. If you criticize black people, and you are white, you are a racist. If you are black and agree with a point made by a white person, you are an “Uncle Tom” or a sellout. If you disagree with a person’s lifestyle choice, you are intolerant.

But if we don’t have that conversation in a meaningful way, without any preconceived ideas or agendas, the divide between the races won’t close.

Affirmative Action is on its last legs. Less than 5 percent of those working in the high-tech Silicon Valley are either black or Latino. New laws are on the books to try to keep blacks from voting, nearly 50 years after the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The United States remains the world’s greatest experiment. We are a melting pot of cultures, people and religions. But we are all Americans, and that should be the one thing we hold on to and build from.

I wonder, 50 years from now, if we will ever learn to embrace our similarities and accept our differences.

Ernie Brown Jr., a regional editor at The Vindicator, writes a monthly minority-affairs column. Contact him at ebrown@vindy.com.


1steivo(540 comments)posted 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Nice try Ernie, but so long as the media will pay Jesse, Al, Oprah, and Jess-Al-Oprah wannabes millions and millions of dollars to find imaginary racism hiding around every corner, they will find it.

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2JoMarko(49 comments)posted 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Hmmm, imaginary racism?

"Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

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3borylie(790 comments)posted 2 months, 4 weeks ago

Keep living in the past and keep teaching black children how bad some white people are (they won't know which white people), and see if that helps their future. How long must you be a victim? What satisfaction do you and Mr. Hathorn get being a victim? Be glad you're living in America, where everyone has a chance to succeed, if they really want to. Forget slavery and forget the fifties, they're gone. Gone.

And don't say white people don't know what it's like to not be free and not be able to go into certain places. Try as a white person to walk through any inner city neighborhood in a America.

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4tnmartin(236 comments)posted 2 months, 3 weeks ago

if one may make a modest suggestion, is it not long past the time where we may assess our fellows based upon the content of their character and not the color of their skin? I seem to recall a very famous speech where that line was used.
But now we are told that we MUST assess others on the color of their skins. That's the "reasoning" behind all the Affirmative Action stuff. We must, for example, permit some school kids to behave in ways that prevent their classmates from learning, lest we employ color-blind disciplinary procedures that, sorry, lead to "disproportionate impact" with respect to certain "protected classes". Really.
In fact, the whole concept of "protected classes" flies in the face of equal justice, yet the slimy thug named Eric Holder and his co-thieves threaten the full weight of the federal Stasi against those who intend to employ color-blind standards.
How about we speak openly and honestly of the fact that a white person is about four times more likely to be a victim of an attack by a black person, than a black person is to be the victim of an attack by a white. It's not a secret. And that's ignoring for the moment that a Hispanic will be classed as white if an assailant, but black if a victim. Also not a secret, but you won't hear Obama or NBC mentioning it.
Perhaps we could also mention some cultural issues. Like the hideous rate of illegitimacy in the black community, and with no shame attached. Why is that? It makes for a lousy community, and raises a generation of thugs and 30-year-old grandmothers.
Yet to hear some speak, it's still the height of the Jim Crow laws that the Democrats enacted in the Deep South or the big Klan detachment in Niles. Yet the Panthers get a pass for voter intimidation.

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5borylie(790 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

papa, I 'm hoping for Dr. Ben Carson to run for president, and I would vote for him to become our next president. Would you vote for him?

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6steivo(540 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Me too.

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7borylie(790 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

papa, You don't need to say you don't watch FOX News, it's obvious. The only things you and other liberal/democrats know is what they want you to know. This is why the left is afraid of FOX News, they can't stop them from letting people from hearing things they don't want you to know. But, back to Dr. Ben Carson. He's a black man who appears to be very qualified to be president. So, I don't think I'm a racist since I would vote for Dr. Ben Carson. You must ask yourself, since you accused us repubs of not approving of President Obama because he is a black man, if you don't vote for Dr. Ben Carson is it because he's a black man?

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8steivo(540 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Since the people who oppose Obama are labeled racists, then those who oppose Dr. Ben Carson must also be racists.

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9borylie(790 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

papa, What does it matter what he says? You're calling us repubs racists for not agreeing with President Obama because he's black. Not because of his lack of presidential leadership. So if you want to accuse repubs of racism because we're white and he's black as our reason for not supporting him, then you and most lib/democrats must be racist if they don't support Dr. Ben Carson.
Dr. Ben Carson appears on many news channels, but for ease of learning about this man, please Google Dr. Ben Carson and self educate yourself.

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10dontbeafool(912 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

your record on racism is well known Steivo. Carson is your token. BTW, what makes Carson qualified as POTUS? Just curious. You always say that Obama is just a community organizer who is unqualified, so what political experience does Carson have? Was he a mayor somewhere? Governor? Anything?

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11borylie(790 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

dontbeafool, Not steivo, but token or not he's still black and us repubs would vote for him. Why is he qualified? Common sense ideas and his mind wasn't shaped by some radicals. Dontbeafool., it appears you're already not supporting Dr. Ben Carson. Is it because he's black or because he's not a lib/democrat and it doesn't matter how qualified he is? Your mind is already made up.

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12dontbeafool(912 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I will tell you straight up it is because his views are way too far too the right AND he doesn't have any political experience. I believe that a lot of conservatives probably would vote for him, but when the curtain is closed, I don't thing EIVO would. He would pull the lever for Paul, Cruz, or Perry. He would tell MPK that he played the race card, or that racism doesn't really exist. I will vote Warren if she decides to run. Anyone against Wall Street criminals is good enough for me.

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13borylie(790 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

dontbeafool, I'll tell you and papa straight up, president Obama's views are way too far to the left and he didn't have any leadership responsibilities in his career. Now, does this still make me a racist for not liking President Obama's policies and views? If I understand this correctly, steivo,myself and other repubs are racist because we don't like our President because he's black,but you,papa and lib/democrats are not racist for not liking a conservative black man? Whew!

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14borylie(790 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

One more question for you dontbeafool, which one of his views is way too far right? And you don't need political experience if you know how to lead and your a problem solver.

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15dontbeafool(912 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Now you put words in my mouth. Where did I say that you and every anti Obama repub is racist? I was quite specific who I believe is a racist, and you were not that person. I hear it all the time that Obama is nothing more than a community organizer, despite his political experience, and he is not qualified. But your candidate has theories with no experience, but that is enough. When your candidate has no experience, you just say he is unshaped by radicals.

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16borylie(790 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

dontbeafool, you stated that Dr.Ben Carson's views were way too far right. Please tell me which view. I never used the word every.

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17dontbeafool(912 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

He doesn't believe in for profit insurance companies. Compares gays to pedophiles. Said Obamacare is the worst thing since slavery. Praised Putin on anti American comments. Just a few. There are some of his points that I do agree with, but he is just too far on the right for my taste. And you didn't say EVERY, you said "STEIVO, MYSELF, and OTHER REPUBS, which I did not say anywhere. Of course, despite what eivo claims, racism does exist. Are there republican racist? Yes. Are there Dem racists? Sure are. Are there republicans who hate Obama simply for his policies and not his skin color? Yep. Are there Repubs out there who hate Obama just because he is black? You bet your backside.

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18borylie(790 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

dontbeafool, Thanks for the decent back and forth. I'd bet if you took a test on conservative and liberal views, you'd find out your closer to being a conservative than a liberal. Take care.

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19borylie(790 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

papa, you must live in a big clock.

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20steivo(540 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

But in addition to Ben Carson there is Allen West, Clarence Thomas, Condoleeza Rice, etc., etc, etc.

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21dontbeafool(912 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Good chat borylie. I'm not going to be happy with any candidate, simply because it doesn't matter who gets in office. The system is broken and currupt, and even if an "honest" person happened to get in as president, the corrupt would end up destroying him or her because the corrupt will stop at nothing, and have no limits as to what they would do to achieve making money for themselves.

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22steivo(540 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

This is the worst case of revisionist history in history. The Jobs Act was passed with overwhelming Republican support despite Democratic resistance.

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23tnmartin(236 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

one suspects that the only thing in the universe dumber than an Establishment Republican, is a Democrat. Are you guys on a low-oxygen/high carbon monoxide gas mask routine? Or do you breed for stupidity? is it a genetic mutation?

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24steivo(540 comments)posted 2 months, 2 weeks ago

LiarCare is nothing more than another giant entitlement program in the teeth of runaway deficits. It's another freebie for freeloaders who refuse to work under any conditions. It would have been easy to pass a law to take care of pre-existing conditions instead of this monstrosity. People should be allowed to purchase whatever kind of insurance policy they like without some government bureaucrat deeming their choice "junk". The only ones that like this stupid LiarCare are those that are getting it for free. Everyone else is paying more for the same(or lesser) insurance they had before. The whole stupid law is despicable.

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25steivo(540 comments)posted 2 months, 1 week ago

There are not many who agree with you papa!
"Monday, July 14, 2014

Favorable views of the national health care law now tie their low for the year, but more voters than ever say the law has had no impact on them.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 39% of Likely U.S. Voters share a favorable opinion of the health care law, while 54% view it unfavorably. This includes 13% with a Very Favorable opinion and 38% with a Very Unfavorable one."

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26dontbeafool(912 comments)posted 2 months, 1 week ago

63 people called.

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27Askmeificare(700 comments)posted 2 months, 1 week ago

As a white middle aged man, I say 'Right On' Ernie Brown Jr. Great article.

"But if we don’t have that conversation in a meaningful way, without any preconceived ideas or agendas, the divide between the races won’t close."

-I am in total agreement, especially if we can have a bit of a laugh or two as we go.

I very much appreciate your articles.

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28oink272000(1 comment)posted 2 months ago

Civil Rights growth will always be stunted until trying a case in the Supreme court costs $10,000 dollars. The people that need relief cannot afford it. Compare that cost with the average court cost to see any other type judge in a court. Then you will see the Racial Injustice..

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