civil rights

Jim Levulis / WAMC

Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz served as the keynote speaker at a civil rights conference in Lenox Tuesday night.

  As an organizer, writer, publisher, scholar-activist, and elected official, Barbara Smith has played key roles in multiple social justice movements, including Civil Rights, feminism, lesbian and gay liberation, anti-racism, and Black feminism.

Her four decades of grassroots activism forged collaborations that introduced the idea that oppression must be fought on a variety of fronts simultaneously, including gender, race, class, and sexuality.

By combining hard-to-find historical documents with new unpublished interviews with fellow activists, her new book, Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around, uncovers the deep roots of today’s “identity politics” and “intersectionality” and serves as a primer for practicing solidarity and resistance.

  On July 17, 1944, a massive explosion rocked the segregated Navy base at Port Chicago, California, killing more than 300 sailors who were at the docks, critically injuring off-duty men in their bunks, and shattering windows up to a mile away.

On August 9th, 244 men refused to go back to work until unsafe and unfair conditions at the docks were addressed. When the dust settled, fifty were charged with mutiny, facing decades in jail and even execution.

  Mississippi Eyes chronicles the events and the powerful witness of five young photographers in The Southern Documentary Project, working during the pivotal summer of 1964 in the segregated South. Together they captured the sometimes violent, sometimes miraculous process of social change as segregation resisted then gave way to a new beginning toward social justice.

#OccupyAlbany Returns

Jul 14, 2014
WAMC composite photo by Dave Lucas

Local voices of the national Occupy movement came together over the weekend in Albany.

In October 2011, the anti-establishment, anti-corporate movement that began a month earlier on Wall Street reached New York State's seat of political power when an "Occupy" encampment sprung up in Lafayette Park, across the street from the state capitol.

    Today’s politicians often look to the past for guidance.

In today’s Congressional Corner, Massachusetts Representative Richard Neal discusses the Civil Rights Act with WAMC’s Alan Chartock. 

Social justice advocates are marking the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The future of civil rights was the topic of a regional conference in Springfield, Massachusetts.


  This Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (April 11 – 13), The Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region will present their 13th Public History Conference. This year’s conference is entitled Slavery and the Underground Railroad: the Larger Context, the Lingering Legacy and is co-sponsored by Russell Sage College, The Department of History and Society at Russell Sage College, and the Rensselaer County Historical Society.

Here now to tell us all about it are Brea Barthel, a co-coordinator of the Conference, and Professor at SUNY Albany and RPI and Paul Stewart, Scholar in Residence at Russell Sage College and co-founder of the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region.

    The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the single most important piece of legislation passed by Congress in American history. This one law so dramatically altered American society that, looking back, it seems preordained—as Everett Dirksen, the GOP leader in the Senate and a key supporter of the bill, said, “no force is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” But there was nothing predestined about the victory: a phalanx of powerful senators, pledging to “fight to the death” for segregation, launched the longest filibuster in American history to defeat it.

This critical turning point in American history has never been thoroughly explored in a full-length account. Now, New York Times editor and acclaimed author Clay Risen delivers the full story, in The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act.

Lucelia Ribeiro/Flickr

A new report reveals New York State's public schools are the most segregated in the nation.

The report released Wednesday by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California at Los Angeles used U.S. Department of Education statistics: it noted increasing segregation in the Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany and New York City metro areas.   It found many black and Latino students attend schools with virtually no white classmates throughout New York.