MLK Institute at Stanford to Hosted Maria Gitin “This Bright Light of Ours” Talk January 28th

Maria Gitin speaking at Stanford University Jan 28, 2014

Maria Gitin speaking at Stanford University Jan 28, 2014

Thanks to Dr. Tenisha Armstrong for planning "This Bright Light of Ours" program at Stanford

Thanks to Dr. Tenisha Armstrong for planning “This Bright Light of Ours” program at Stanford

https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/news/bright-light-ours-stories-voting-rights-fight

This Bright Light of Ours: Stories from the Voting Rights Fight

DEC 18 2014
Maria Gitin, civil rights veteran and author, will be coming to Stanford on January 28th, 2015 to discuss her new book, This Bright Light of Ours: Stories from the Voting RIghts Fight.

In 1965, as a college freshman, Gitin answered King’s call for students to come to the South after the attack on voting rights marchers in Selma on Bloody Sunday. She has continued to fight for racial justice and to register voters in diverse communities for more than four decades. Gitin is a current member of Bay Area Civil Rights Veterans , Temple Beth El, and the NAACP. She holds a B.A. from Antioch University (1979) and did undergrad work at San Francisco State College (1964-1967). For twenty-eight years, she was principal of Maria Gitin & Associates development consulting group. She is a frequent presenter on cultural competency and voting rights, and has received numerous racial justice awards and commendations including from the YWCA, NAACP, State of California Assembly, Alabama House of Representatives, and US Congressman Sam Farr.

The talk took place from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Henry and Monique Brandon Family Community Room of the Black Community Services Center on campus. This event was sponsored by the Black Community Services Center, the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute.

maria_gitin_-_final.pdflorez Final book coverJkt_Gitin_final

“This Bright Light of Ours” to Shine in 2015 Martin Luther King Jr Celebrations

Sheryl Threadgill-Matthews brings BAMA kids to meet author Maria Gitin

Sheryl Threadgill-Matthews brings BAMA kids to meet author Maria Gitin

Save the date for talks in Seattle, Monterey and Palo Alto. Check back for details in a few weeks.

January 13, 2015: Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle WA 

7 PM This Bright Light of Ours – Author Book signing event   http://www.elliottbaybook.com/

January 14, 2015: Open Windows School, Bellevue WA – MLK student assembly speaker

January 15, 2015: MLK Seattle Celebration 33rd Anniversary, King County, Seattle WA

The Voting Rights Fight, Keynote speaker for community celebration honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. For more information:http://www.mlkseattle.org/

January 22, 2015: YWCA Monterey County

This Bright Light of Ours: Presentation, reading and book signing.  Details forthcoming.

January 28, 2015: Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University

This Bright Light of Ours: Presentation, reading and book signing Details forthcoming.

Temple Beth El Book Launch Celebration

Temple Beth El Book Launch Celebration

Praise for Maria Gitin Presentations

Thank you! thank you! Thank you! Your contribution to the “Voice of Conscience: Civil Rights, Post-Civil Rights and the Future Freedom Struggle” was the highlight. You are a remarkable friend and colleague. As Director of the Program in African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt and on behalf of the program committee we thank you. – Victor D Anderson, Vanderbilt University

I learned a good bit from your presentation. I referenced you in the final chapter of” A Child Shall Lead Them.” Your book will be a valuable resource, and will be one I will want to use in my King course. – Rufus Burrow Indiana Professor of Christian Thought and Theological Ethics, Christian Theological Seminary

Maria’s passion, compassion, and love for the people of Wilcox County shines through in her lecture. I count it a privilege to meet someone who is so genuine and is part of living history.DeeAnn, student University of South Alabama

“This Bright Light of Ours” to Shine in 2015 Martin Luther King Jr Celebrations

Sheryl Threadgill-Matthews brings BAMA kids to meet author Maria Gitin

Sheryl Threadgill-Matthews brings BAMA kids to meet author Maria Gitin

Save the date for talks in Seattle, Monterey and Palo Alto. Check back for details in a few weeks.

January 13, 2015: Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle WA 

7 PM This Bright Light of Ours – Author Book signing event   http://www.elliottbaybook.com/

January 14, 2015: Open Windows School, Bellevue WA – MLK student assembly speaker

January 15, 2015: MLK Seattle Celebration 33rd Anniversary, King County, Seattle WA

The Voting Rights Fight, Keynote speaker for community celebration honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. For more information:http://www.mlkseattle.org/

January 22, 2015: YWCA Monterey County

This Bright Light of Ours: Presentation, reading and book signing.  Details forthcoming.

January 28, 2015: Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University

This Bright Light of Ours: Presentation, reading and book signing Details forthcoming.

Temple Beth El Book Launch Celebration

Temple Beth El Book Launch Celebration

Praise for Maria Gitin Presentations

Thank you! thank you! Thank you! Your contribution to the “Voice of Conscience: Civil Rights, Post-Civil Rights and the Future Freedom Struggle” was the highlight. You are a remarkable friend and colleague. As Director of the Program in African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt and on behalf of the program committee we thank you. – Victor D Anderson, Vanderbilt University

I learned a good bit from your presentation. I referenced you in the final chapter of” A Child Shall Lead Them.” Your book will be a valuable resource, and will be one I will want to use in my King course. – Rufus Burrow Indiana Professor of Christian Thought and Theological Ethics, Christian Theological Seminary

Maria’s passion, compassion, and love for the people of Wilcox County shines through in her lecture. I count it a privilege to meet someone who is so genuine and is part of living history.DeeAnn, student University of South Alabama

August West Coast Civil Rights Events

Maria was interviewed by musician activist Chili Most on Aug 1st on WVFG 107.5 FM in Uniontown, Alabama and in 8 surrounding counties. This interview was part of Mr. Most’s tribute to the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. See and hear his inspiring music at: http://www.chilimostmusic.com or search You Tube “Chili Most Fight for Your Rights.”

AUGUST 17, 2013  BERKELEY, CA

Social Justice and The Right to Vote: Looking Back, Looking Forward
panel 1 bonner gitin cervantez_MG_4465

As part of a daylong celebration with young and old activists, Maria Gitin facilitated a Voting Rights panel with Charles A. Bonner, civil rights attorney, author and SNCC field director who shared memories of the Selma and Wilcox County Alabama voting rights fight with civil rights veteran and author, Maria, a SCLC SCOPE and SNCC worker in 1965. Karina Cervantez, Vice Mayor of Watsonville, shared stories of her youthful experience registering and educating voters, and of the gains that Latinos have made through the 1965 Voting Rights Bill that Bonner and Gitin fought for and of the challenges that lie ahead. The three discussed what activists can do in the face the recent Supreme Court ruling striking down a key provision of the 1965 VRA.

Other Bay Area Veteran Panelists were Phil Hutchings and James Garrett. Clayborne Carson, Director of the MLK Institute at Stanford University was the keynote speaker.

The 10 Demands of the March on Washington – How Far do we Still have to Go?

  1. Comprehensive and effective civil rights legislation from the present Congress — without compromise or filibuster — to guarantee all Americans:
    Access to all public accommodations
    Decent housing
    Adequate and integrated education
    The right to vote
  2. Withholding of Federal funds from all programs in which discrimination exists.
  3. Desegregation of all school districts in 1963.
  4. Enforcement of the Fourteenth Amendment — reducing Congressional representation of states where citizens are disfranchised.
  5. A new Executive Order banning discrimination in all housing supported by federal funds.
  6. Authority for the Attorney General to institute injunctive suits when any Constitutional right is violated.
  7. A massive federal program to train and place all unemployed workers — “Negro” and white — on meaningful and dignified jobs at decent wages.
  8. A national minimum wage act that will give all Americans a decent standard of living. (Government surveys show that anything less than $2.00 an hour fails to do this.)
    [The minimum wage at the time of the march was $1.15/hour.]
  9. A broadened Fair Labor Standards Act to include all areas of employment which are presently excluded.
  10. A federal Fair Employment Practices Act barring discrimination by federal, state, and municipal governments, and by employers, contractors, employment agencies, and trade unions.  – Courtesy of www.crmvet.org  National Civil Rights Website

First Weeks of April 1965 – Camden Demonstrations Continue

scope051_2April 2, 1965 – Camden

March is Blocked at Camden 2D Day: Mayor and Deputies Bar Walk to Courthouse

Students from Camden Academy, adults from Gees Bend and others continue to defy the mayor and city officials and demonstrate without a permit, every day for at least a week. They continue to be assaulted with either or both tear gas and smoke bombs but the students announce “We’ll be back!” Source: Chicago Defender

Author’s note: Adults who were then students who told me that demonstrators from Coy and other communities were involved as well and that there were weeks of weekday marches both from Antioch Baptist church and from Camden Academy for the rest of the school year into May.

April 4, 1968  Martin Luther King Jr Assassinated in Memphis, TN during his support for a sanitation workers strike. Union busting continues today in 2013 as living wages slip out of the reach of millions of willing workers.

 April 6, 1965 – Camden

 Use Smoke, Tear Gas on Ala Demonstrators

Eleven (11) arrested in a third march in the same week. Smoke bombs and tear gas both were used. Adults began at Antioch Baptist Church and students at the Camden Academy.

Source: Chicago Defender.

Author’s note:  Some former students I interviewed said that the police tried to confuse them by using both smoke and tear gas bombs shot from big barrel guns. The police then mocked the students if they panicked when it was smoke instead of tear gas. As time went on the student organizers gave the youth wet towels to cover their faces before leaving campus to march.

Camden demonstrators from out of town, dubbed “outside agitators” may have included Bruce Hartford, Charles “Chuck Bonner” Bonner, Amos Snell, Luke (Bob) Block, Strider “Arkansas” Benson and other civil rights workers. Bob/Luke Block was shocked with a cattle prod but stayed and worked in Wilcox with both SNCC and SCLC until August.

In Memory of Civil Rights Martyr David Colston Sr., Camden, AL January 23, 1966

scope078 jetDeath threats, firebombing, incarceration and assassination of Southern Blacks seeking freedom and equality continued from the time of enslavement until long after most people believe The Civil Rights Movement ended. Alabama is steeped in the blood of martyrs who have never made the history books, but they were heroes to us. The fact that death was a potential price to be paid by Freedom Fighters was always on our minds.

Mr. David Colston, age 32, was a local resident who had participated in Wilcox County voting rights protests. He and his family were pulling into the parking area outside Antioch Baptist Church to attend a civil rights mass meeting. A white farmer, Jim Reeves, deliberately bumped Colston’s car. When Colston got out to protest, Reeves shot Mr. Colston in the head at close range in front of the Colston family and dozens of community members coming out of the church.

SCLC leader, Daniel Harrell and local leader Rev. Frank Smith were leaders of the meeting in the church. After the police took Reeves into “protective custody.” Harrell and Smith reconvened the mass meeting with a eulogy for Mr. Colston and called for a march the next day. Camden native , King scholar and author, Lewis V. Baldwin, who was still in high school at the time, recalled the march of hundreds of Wilcox County Black residents, as being very solemn, almost silent.

The next day, SCLC Photographer Bob Fitch arrived with Martin Luther King Jr., to take the photos that appeared in Jet Magazine. Fitch told me that the family was devastated but grateful for King’s consoling visit.

Nearly 50 years later, Colston’s namesake nephew, David Colston, was elected as the first Black representative from Wilcox County to serve in the Alabama State Legislature. Of all the civil rights murders in the South in the 1960’s, the Colston assassination is recalled most vividly by the then youn Wilcox County Freedom Fighters. Typical of the times, despite witnesses, the murderer was acquitted. May the Colston family, their relatives and neighbors draw some comfort from knowing that David Colston’s sacrifice is mourned by many of us who continue to fight for racial justice.

Update August 2013: Despite a conservative backlash that consistently drives out the majority of promising young Democrats, David Colston has fulfilled the dream first, of being an Alabama state trooper who truly understands justice and now, of continuing to serve in the statehouse in Montgomery. He will run for a second term in 2014. With the outcry and awareness generated by the recent Supreme Court decision on the 1965 Voting Rights Act http: and the tragic Trayvon Martin case, perhaps good-hearted, strong and smart Alabamans of all races will vote for progress during the 3013 November’s mid-term elections. The future is in your hands: move forward or continue a slide backwards.