The 2008 election of Barack Obama to the presidency marked a watershed moment in American history. Given our country’s eventful — and at times, quite ugly — past, there were some who heralded the moment as America turning a corner on race relations, as though a single election signaled the end to injustices dividing our people and fulfillment of Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream.
In fact, if anything, the ascension of President Obama as this country’s leader threw into heightened relief the deep racial divisions remaining.
This is revealed in “Civil Rights: Yesterday and Today,” a sweeping new history published by Publications International Inc. and written by award-winning veteran Black press journalist Herb Boyd. Boyd found that old animosities were given cover as detractors cried “Socialist!” and worse at the new president, while the opposition party took obstructionist positions to unheard-of heights, openly cheering for the failure of this administration.
“Civil Rights: Yesterday & Today,”written with assistance from Black press historian and former nationally syndicated Black press columnist Todd Steven Burroughs, takes a clear-eyed look at America’s distant past and finds its echoes reverberating to the present day.
“So often with books about the Civil Rights Movement, you get so little about what happened before and after. So ‘Civil Rights: Yesterday and Today’ is an attempt to tie it all together,” said Boyd, author of more than 20 books. Boyd recently assisted acclaimed documentary filmmaker Keith Beauchamp with his Investigation Discovery cable television series on Civil Rights Movement-era cold cases, “The Injustice Files.”
“Civil Rights: Yesterday & Today” carries a foreword by U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), an eyewitness and participant in some of the darkest days of the movement. As one who marched alongside Dr. King, he knows well of what he speaks when he says, “…the final frontier is in the hearts and minds of humankind.”
Presented with hundreds of startling, eye-catching images, coupled with thoughtful, reader-friendly prose, “Civil Rights: Yesterday and Today” offers the case that, while the police dogs and fire hoses may be gone, racial injustice is still alive and well in the land of the free. Unemployment, wages, and prison control among African-American citizens is still higher than Whites.
Startling statistics and more illustrate the case to be made that the struggle for civil rights is not yet over. Conversely, there is cause for hope. Today, African Americans make up the highest number of entrepreneurs in this country. “Cold case” high-profile crimes against Blacks, such as the murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, have been successfully re-opened in recent years, with convictions won. And the rate of African-Americans obtaining college diplomas has steadily increased since the 1950s (though still remaining below that of Whites).
So while we’ve come a long way as a nation, said Boyd, what’s happened in the last few years represents a good start, not a solution.