By Alicia W. Stewart, CNN
(CNN) - Fifty years ago, Alabama Gov. George Wallace defiantly stood in front of the University of Alabama's Foster Auditorium to prevent black students from enrolling.
The then newly elected governor had famously declared "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" in his inauguration speech. His "stand in the schoolhouse door" brought him national attention.
It took the National Guard, federal marshals and an attorney general to persuade the governor to allow Vivian Malone Jones and James Hood to enter.
It was not the first time Americans saw the drama of the civil rights movement unfold before their eyes. Earlier that spring, images of police attacking peaceful civil rights demonstrators with dogs and fire hoses in Birmingham, Alabama, flashed across the evening news. The previous year, riots were quelled with federal troops after the admission of James Meredith, the first black student at the University of Mississippi.
Wallace later rescinded his views, but the incidents of the time prompted President John F. Kennedy to address the nation in a historic televised address about civil rights.
“Now the time has come for this nation to fulfill its promise,” President Kennedy said in that address. ‘The events in Birmingham and elsewhere have so increased the cries for equality that no city or state or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them.”
Read and see what he told the nation that evening:
Read the full transcript of his speech below:
Good evening my fellow citizens:
This afternoon, following a series of threats and defiant statements, the presence of Alabama National Guardsmen was required on the University of Alabama to carry out the final and unequivocal order of the United States District Court of the Northern District of Alabama. That order called for the admission of two clearly qualified young Alabama residents who happened to have been born Negro.
That they were admitted peacefully on the campus is due in good measure to the conduct of the students of the University of Alabama, who met their responsibilities in a constructive way.
I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.
Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. And when Americans are sent to Vietnam or West Berlin, we do not ask for whites only. It ought to be possible, therefore, for American students of any color to attend any public institution they select without having to be backed up by troops.
It ought to be possible for American consumers of any color to receive equal service in places of public accommodation, such as hotels and restaurants and theaters and retail stores, without being forced to resort to demonstrations in the street, and it ought to be possible for American citizens of any color to register to vote in a free election without interference or fear of reprisal.
It ought to be possible, in short, for every American to enjoy the privileges of being American without regard to his race or his color. In short, every American ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated. But this is not the case.
The Negro baby born in America today, regardless of the section of the nation in which he is born, has about one-half as much chance of completing a high school as a white baby born in the same place on the same day, one-third as much chance of completing college, one-third as much chance of becoming a professional man, twice as much chance of becoming unemployed, about one-seventh as much chance of earning $10,000 a year, a life expectancy which is seven years shorter, and the prospects of earning only half as much.
This is not a sectional issue. Difficulties over segregation and discrimination exist in every city, in every state of the union, producing in many cities a rising tide of discontent that threatens the public safety. Nor is this a partisan issue. In a time of domestic crisis men of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics. This is not even a legal or legislative issue alone. It is better to settle these matters in the courts than on the streets, and new laws are needed at every level, but law alone cannot make men see right.
We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.
The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated. If an American, because his skin is dark, cannot eat lunch in a restaurant open to the public, if he cannot send his children to the best public school available, if he cannot vote for the public officials who will represent him, if, in short, he cannot enjoy the full and free life which all of us want, then who among us would be content to have the color of his skin changed and stand in his place? Who among us would then be content with the counsels of patience and delay?
One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free. They are not yet freed from the bonds of injustice. They are not yet freed from social and economic oppression. And this nation, for all its hopes and all its boasts, will not be fully free until all its citizens are free.
We preach freedom around the world, and we mean it, and we cherish our freedom here at home, but are we to say to the world, and much more importantly, to each other that this is the land of the free except for the Negroes; that we have no second-class citizens except Negroes; that we have no class or caste system, no ghettos, no master race except with respect to Negroes?
Now the time has come for this nation to fulfill its promise. The events in Birmingham and elsewhere have so increased the cries for equality that no city or state or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them.
The fires of frustration and discord are burning in every city, North and South, where legal remedies are not at hand. Redress is sought in the streets, in demonstrations, parades, and protests which create tensions and threaten violence and threaten lives.
We face, therefore, a moral crisis as a country and as a people. It cannot be met by repressive police action. It cannot be left to increased demonstrations in the streets. It cannot be quieted by token moves or talk. It is time to act in the Congress, in your state and local legislative body and, above all, in all of our daily lives.
It is not enough to pin the blame on others, to say this is a problem of one section of the country or another, or deplore the fact that we face. A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all.
Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality.
Next week I shall ask the Congress of the United States to act, to make a commitment it has not fully made in this century to the proposition that race has no place in American life or law. The federal judiciary has upheld that proposition in the conduct of its affairs, including the employment of federal personnel, the use of federal facilities, and the sale of federally financed housing.
But there are other necessary measures which only the Congress can provide, and they must be provided at this session. The old code of equity law under which we live commands for every wrong a remedy, but in too many communities, in too many parts of the country, wrongs are inflicted on Negro citizens and there are no remedies at law. Unless the Congress acts, their only remedy is in the street.
I am, therefore, asking the Congress to enact legislation giving all Americans the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public–hotels, restaurants, theaters, retail stores, and similar establishments.
This seems to me to be an elementary right. Its denial is an arbitrary indignity that no American in 1963 should have to endure, but many do.
I have recently met with scores of business leaders urging them to take voluntary action to end this discrimination and I have been encouraged by their response, and in the last two weeks over 75 cities have seen progress made in desegregating these kinds of facilities. But many are unwilling to act alone, and for this reason, nationwide legislation is needed if we are to move this problem from the streets to the courts.
I am also asking the Congress to authorize the federal government to participate more fully in lawsuits designed to end segregation in public education. We have succeeded in persuading many districts to desegregate voluntarily. Dozens have admitted Negroes without violence. Today a Negro is attending a state-supported institution in every one of our 50 states, but the pace is very slow.
Too many Negro children entering segregated grade schools at the time of the Supreme Court's decision nine years ago will enter segregated high schools this fall, having suffered a loss which can never be restored. The lack of an adequate education denies the Negro a chance to get a decent job.
The orderly implementation of the Supreme Court decision, therefore, cannot be left solely to those who may not have the economic resources to carry the legal action or who may be subject to harassment.
Other features will also be requested, including greater protection for the right to vote. But legislation, I repeat, cannot solve this problem alone. It must be solved in the homes of every American in every community across our country.
In this respect I want to pay tribute to those citizens North and South who have been working in their communities to make life better for all. They are acting not out of a sense of legal duty but out of a sense of human decency.
Like our soldiers and sailors in all parts of the world they are meeting freedom's challenge on the firing line, and I salute them for their honor and their courage.
My fellow Americans, this is a problem which faces us all–in every city of the North as well as the South. Today there are Negroes unemployed, two or three times as many compared to whites, inadequate in education, moving into the large cities, unable to find work, young people particularly out of work without hope, denied equal rights, denied the opportunity to eat at a restaurant or lunch counter or go to a movie theater, denied the right to a decent education, denied almost today the right to attend a state university even though qualified. It seems to me that these are matters which concern us all, not merely presidents or congressmen or governors, but every citizen of the United States.
This is one country. It has become one country because all of us and all the people who came here had an equal chance to develop their talents.
We cannot say to 10% of the population that you can't have that right; that your children cannot have the chance to develop whatever talents they have; that the only way that they are going to get their rights is to go into the streets and demonstrate. I think we owe them and we owe ourselves a better country than that.
Therefore, I am asking for your help in making it easier for us to move ahead and to provide the kind of equality of treatment which we would want ourselves; to give a chance for every child to be educated to the limit of his talents.
As I have said before, not every child has an equal talent or an equal ability or an equal motivation, but they should have an equal right to develop their talent and their ability and their motivation, to make something of themselves.
We have a right to expect that the Negro community will be responsible, will uphold the law, but they have a right to expect that the law will be fair, that the Constitution will be color-blind, as Justice Harlan said at the turn of the century.
This is what we are talking about and this is a matter which concerns this country and what it stands for, and in meeting it I ask the support of all our citizens.
Thank you very much.
By Cindy Y. Rodriguez, CNN
(CNN) - Are the days of Latinos in entertainment changing their given names to appeal to a broader audience long gone?
That's what it looks like now that former "Two and a Half Men" star Charlie Sheen has dropped his stage name for birth name Carlos Estevez for Robert Rodriguez's Latino-centric new action film "Machete Kills."
The film is second in a series after the 2010 film "Machete" starring Danny Trejo, Jessica Alba and Michelle Rodriguez. In "Machete Kills," Trejo returns as ex-Federal agent Machete, recruited by the president of the United States, played by Charlie Sheen, asked to go on a mission to take down a madman revolutionary and eccentric billionaire arms dealer, played by Mel Gibson, who has come up with a plan to spread war across the world.
This second installment will star Sofía Vergara, Demián Bichir, Antonio Banderas, Zoe Saldaña, Edward James Olmos, Vanessa Hudgens, Cuba Gooding Jr., Alexa Vega, and Lady Gaga.
According to Sheen's representative, it was his idea to use his birth name for the film. However, there's no confirmation on what spurred the decision or whether Sheen will stick to Estevez from now on.
Some call the change ironic in light of comments last year by Sheen about his heritage. "I don't wake up feeling Latino. I'm a white guy in America, I was born in New York and grew up in Malibu," he said in a 2012 interview with Univision.
By Michael Chen, KGTV
(KGTV) – It's a first in the history of the military, as the Pentagon officially recognized a local Navy veteran's change of gender.
Born a male, Autumn Sandeen said as a teen, she identified as a female.
She joined the Navy, lived as male and kept her secret for two decades before retiring.
"If I would have been myself, I would have been kicked out," said Sandeen.
According to military guidelines, gender identity issues are a mental disorder and detrimental to good order and discipline.
In 2011, as the ban on gays and lesbians was lifted, the transgender ban remained.
"The best way to explain it is I felt like a bridesmaid, never a bride," said Sandeen.
Twenty months later, a step down the aisle toward acceptance.
"I felt tremendous, like I accomplished something, not just himself, but for the broader transgender community," said Sandeen. FULL POST
By Michael Martinez and Jaqueline Hurtado, CNN
Los Angeles (CNN) - Two former coaches have sued Major League Soccer team Chivas USA, claiming they were fired this year because they are not Latino.
Daniel Calichman and Theothoros Chronopoulos, who worked in the team's "academy," or player development, program, accused team owner Jorge Vergara Madrigal of Mexico of enacting a Latino-only employment policy, according to a lawsuit filed in a Los Angeles County court.
Calichman and Chronopoulos, who are both white, also accused Vergara of implementing a discriminatory practice that was carried over from Chivas de Guadalajara, a pro team in Mexico owned by Vergara that allegedly has hired only Mexican soccer players since 1908.
The two men, both former pros and members of the U.S. national team, are seeking unspecified damages for discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination, their attorneys said in a statement Wednesday.
The team fired the two coaches "as part of an ethnocentric policy and practice of discriminating against and terminating non-Mexican and non-Latino employees," the suit alleged.FULL STORY
(CNN) - As the U.S. observes Memorial Day, CNN is honoring the fallen by spotlighting a U.S. casualty from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars every hour on the CNN.com homepage through the weekend and the holiday. They're from every state and from every branch of the U.S. military. They're 18 years old and 60; they're sons and daughters, mothers and fathers. And they're just 100 of the more than 8,000 U.S. and coalition troops who have died.FULL STORY
By Devon M. Sayers and Phil Gast, CNN
(CNN) - The eyes of the country will be upon Texas on Thursday.
That's where 1,400 members of the Boy Scouts of America's national council are expected to vote on whether to end the 103-year-old group's outright ban on gay youths.
The outcome, to be announced late afternoon, follows months of intense debate among interest groups and within the ranks of scouting itself.
It comes down to a single sentence at the end of a resolution.
"No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone."
If the policy change is approved, the BSA will maintain its ban on openly gay adult leaders.FULL STORY
By Matt Peckham, TIME
(TIME) - Skim the zoomed-out surface of Humboldt State University’s alarming “Hate Map” and you’ll encounter angry clouds of bright red framed by smears of gloomy blue, as if some giant freak storm were raining down hell across the the United States.
What you’re looking at is actually a map created by pairing Google‘s Maps API with a hailstorm of homophobic, racist and other prejudicial tweets. It’s part of a project overseen by Humboldt State University professor Dr. Monica Stephens, who, along with a team of undergraduate researchers, wanted to test for geographic relationships to hate speech.
Above the map, the words “homophobic,” “racist” and “disability” define alternate “hate storm” views, each describing a range of highly offensive terms. Click on the keywords or any of their subcategories and the map shifts, the splotches reorganizing to reflect occurrences of the selected term: Bright red areas describe the “most hate,” while light blue ones describe “some hate.”
Creating a map like this is essentially about data-plotting: In this case, HSU says the data was derived from “every geocoded tweet in the United States from June 2012 – April 2013″ that contained keywords related to hate speech. How’d HSU collect all of that Twitter data? Through DOLLY, a University of Kentucky project that maps social media according to geography, allowing researchers to then comb through the data for patterns or correlations. But what about tweets that used the keywords in a positive (that is, “critical of them”) sense? HSU’s researchers read through the tweets manually, categorizing each as positive, neutral or negative — the map only displays the tweets categorized as negative.FULL STORY
By Mariano Castillo, CNN
Birmingham, Alabama (CNN) - The class of 1963 crowded in a rectangle on the dance floor, the memories of high school fresh on their minds as the band played in a sea of pink and blue hues.
Aretha Franklin. Etta James. The Temptations. Just what you would expect to be playing at a 1960s prom. Yet the song that drew the most bodies to the dance floor was "The Wobble."
Until this hip-hop song emptied the chairs, it felt as if the auditorium had been transported back 50 years.
But it's 2013, and despite the full-court nostalgia for the 1960s, that decade was one of the most difficult times in Birmingham's history.
Societal tensions over race were so high in 1963 that the city canceled senior prom for five of the city's segregated high schools for blacks.
Today, a half century has passed since the seminal civil rights protests that changed Birmingham and plotted a path for the nation away from segregation and toward equal rights.
Just like that path, the healing process has been a long one.
The Historic 1963 Prom, held Friday and hosted by the city of Birmingham, closed one chapter for these Alabamans.FULL STORY
Editor’s Note: Occasionally, In America looks at global incidents to examine how other countries are grappling with identity and what America can learn. With taunts of the first black Cabinet member in Italy, followed by the disruption of a soccer game after another racist incident, Italy is in the news lately. James Walston is chair of Department of International Relations at the American University of Rome. He founded AUR’s Center for the Study of Migration and Racism in Italy in 2008 and blogs at Italian Politics with Walston.
by James Walston, special to CNN
(CNN) - Recently, Cécile Kyenge, Italy’s first black cabinet minister, was insulted by the xenophobic Northern League within hours of her appointment.
On Sunday, Roma soccer fans shouted racist insults at Milan’s Mario Balotelli, who is black, and also one of Italy's national squad’s top strikers.
One of Italy’s old self-images was italiani brava gente – Italians are decent folk. But that ingrained idea is being challenged by recent events and history. FULL POST
(CNN) - A leading Italian soccer coach has called for stronger action against racism after a top-level match between AC Milan and Roma was suspended Sunday due to abusive chants by supporters.
Milan striker Mario Balotelli was targeted by visiting fans throughout the match, and referee Gianluca Rocchi called the game to a halt in the second half to warn the crowd via the public address system.
After several minutes' delay, the match continued and ended in a 0-0 draw.
Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri later said the official's decision was not strong enough.
"In my opinion, there's only one solution to racism in stadium and that's suspend the match," Allegri said on Milan's website.
"To get rid of this stuff in our stadiums, you have to make big decisions. It could penalize some people but in the long run it would help us to grow as a nation and become more civilized."
He told reporters at the post-match conference: "There's no point in interrupting the game. It's a middle ground decision and it serves no purpose. Either the game should be suspended or you keep playing.
"Mario gave all he had this evening, but he's 22 years old and always subject to these racist boos and that's not good. People go to the stadium to watch the two teams but there's always these uncivilized people."
Roma was fined €50,000 ($65,000) by the Italian league on Monday, its fans having been accused of abusing three Milan players - though none were named in the Lega Calcio's notification of the punishment.
The club issued a statement saying it "condemns any form of racial abuse."FULL STORY