Civil Rights

Julian Bond speaking at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in D.C., May 2, 2015.  Image by Ted Lieverman

Julian Bond, a legend in the civil rights movement, was a powerful presence in Washington, D.C., where I had the good fortune to interact with him when I was Washington editor of The Progressive. He passed away on August 15, at age 75.

The test-and-punish model marks a cultural shift away from the War on Poverty, and that should be a red flag for progressives.

For the last several years, The Progressive has covered Scott Walker’s reversal of Wisconsin’s progressive legacy. The Republican governor, elected in 2010, set out to divide and conquer the state with his own brand of anti-public-interest politics.

Oscar winning director John Ridley spoke recently at the LA Film Festival on race, Hollywood and the current renaissance of black-themed film.

Still from film of Becca Blackwell as Dylan

Dylan, a new short film by Emmy award-winning filmmaker director Elizabeth Rohrbaugh based on her interviews with childhood friend Dylan Winn Garner, aims to show transgender kids that they're not alone.

Mitch McConnell recently attempted to ram through a last-minute extension of provisions in the Patriot Act that have been used to keep domestic spying “legal.”

The Progressive's December 2001 cover depicts a row of NSA agents whose computer screens say, "He's Got Mail!"

The Patriot Act's sweeping phone surveillance programs are finally illegal, but some of the issues addressed in Nat Hentoff's December, 2001, editorial titled "Why should we care? It's only the Constitution," still need solving.

Senator Mitch McConnell

A revolution came to Washington in the wee hours of Saturday morning, just after the stroke of midnight. After 15 years of congressional deference to mass surveillance, Congress finally took action—ironically, by failing to take action—and did its job to check and balance executive power.

Beretta 9mm handgun

In the Dirty Harry movies of the '70s and '80s, Clint Eastwood shot up the bad guys with his over-the-top Smith and Wesson that he often growled was “the most powerful handgun in the world.”  

Dirty Harry's gun was much bigger (.45 caliber) than the .38 special revolvers used by the vast majority of police officers at the time. However, the .38 fired the same way—requiring the hammer be pulled back each time between shots—and could only fire six shots before it had to be reloaded. 

Torn photo-style image of young black man victimized by police violence, on black and white background

Police brutality did not start or end with Burge, and in communities of color there is a long history of organized protests and creative responses to this phenomenon.

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Activists say no wall can be built that will keep them from standing together for immigration reform.

In this 1963 letter from his Birmingham jail cell Martin Luther King Jr. pushed back against the idea that civil...

From drone strikes against Americans overseas to broad surveillance powers to indefinite detention, Obama certainly...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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