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Friday Lunch Links

Friday noon in late August – is anyone even working??

We close the first full week of our revived “Lunch Links” with an ode to what’s occupied many of our minds these past few days: voting, civil rights, and yes, a little football.

Gov. Pat McCrory snapped us all up out of our post-legislative session nap on Monday when he signed into law the “anti-voting” bill, called by some the most reprehensible assault on the franchise ever enacted, anywhere.

The shock and then the sadness about just how far afield the governor and his Republican colleagues had taken a state once a beacon of tolerance and forward progress was palpable.

But then along came 92-year-old Rosanell Eaton, the NAACP, the League of Women Voters and a collection of others to remind us that now was not the time to wallow in sadness; now was the time to act.

Lawsuits followed, but more importantly eyes and ears were opened, and outrage took hold.

“. . . The direct action movement was not about interpreting the Fourteenth Amendment,” writes Louis Menand in “The Color of Law,”  a New Yorker essay that reminds us of how the battle over voting rights in the South unfolded and how the Civil Rights Act of 1965 came about.

“It was about the sights and sounds, the singing and preaching of a people who were, as King liked to say ‘on the move.’”

Moral Mondays come to mind.

That the governor’s endorsement of the “Monster Voting Bill” fell eerily close to the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington was lost on no one. And the uniform sentiment, the reaction here to not only the assault on voting rights but also to the slashing of unemployment benefits, the abandonment of Medicaid, the attack on public education and the apparent lack of any sort of legislative heart, has been this: “we worked so hard and come too far to accept a backslide now.”

 They carried signs that demanded “Voting Rights,” “Jobs for All” and “Decent Housing.” They protested the vigilante killing of an unarmed black teenager in the South and his killer’s acquittal. They denounced racial profiling in the country’s largest city.

That’s how The Nation’s Ari Berman opens his essay, “Time to March on Washington – Again”— a reminder of why, in so many ways and for so many different groups, a reawakening is in order. And yes, that’s 2013 he’s talking about, not 1963.

And if there’s any need to remind people of the humanity that underlies the ongoing push for equality and respect for diversity, offer up this book, “Breaking the Line,” just out this week, as suggested reading.

You don’t have to be a football fan (though it doesn’t hurt) to appreciate this story and the lessons we thought we had already learned.

Here’s a snippet from a longer excerpt at ESPN:

“Over the course of four months in the summer and fall of 1967, as their teams headed for a showdown in black football’s title game, a game played in the same city as that groundbreaking Super Bowl some forty years later, Eddie Robinson and Jake Gaither stepped off the political sideline and took a stand. In the tradition of Paul Robeson, Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, and Jackie Robinson, they put their sporting achievements in the service of social change. What happened when they did is an essential chapter of sports history and black history and, most of all, American history.”

And here’s a video with the author, Sam Freedman:

Enjoy the weekend!

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Friday, Feb. 16

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Crucial Conversation – Prof. Peter Edelman discusses his new book, Not a Crime to be Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America

Prof. Edelman is coming to the Triangle to mark the 50th anniversary of Durham-based nonprofit MDC. His visit is the first of a series of MDC-sponsored events focused on ways that Southern leaders can work together to create an Infrastructure of Opportunity that shapes a South where all people thrive.”