Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SCLC Continues Struggle for Civil Rights

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SCLC Continues Struggle for Civil Rights

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

For some time now, the Jacksonville chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference has been trying to ignite flames for social justice here.

In January, it formed a chapter of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee after a melee erupted at the Hollywood River City 14 movie theater last Christmas night when 12 youths tried to rush in without paying. It sparked a fracas that involved 600 people.

To the SCLC, the incident, which mostly involved African-American youth, was a reminder that more needed to be given a voice as well as an understanding as to how their behavior could subject them to the kind of stereotyping that would not only hurt them but their community as well.

And in February, SCLC members marched in front of the Duval County Courthouse each day - even in the cold and in the rain - while Michael Dunn was on trial for fatally shooting 17-year-old Jordan Davis after the two argued over loud music.

They wanted everyone to know that when it comes to getting people fired up about racial and social justice, it's not enough to just work behind the scenes but to become part of the scenery.

And recently at its Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Dinner, where it honored 12 people and organizations for their contributions to racial and social justice, it brought in a legendary firebrand - the Rev. Dr. C.T. Vivian.

Vivian, one of King's lieutenants during the civil rights movement, is known for getting up in the face of Jim Clark, the sheriff of Dallas County, Ala., which included Selma, and pointedly questioning him about his refusal to allow African-Americans to get inside the courthouse to register to vote.

That was in 1965 - a time when only 1 percent of African-Americans were registered to vote in Selma. When Vivian refused to back down, Clark, an avowed segregationist, punched him so hard that he broke his hand. …

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