News / USA

New Documentary Looks at Unsung Hero of US Civil Rights Movement

New Documentary Looks at Unsung Hero of US Civil Rights Movementi
X
October 02, 2013 3:01 AM
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, a turning point in the American Civil Rights movement. Commemorations have recalled the words of Martin Luther King, who demanded equality for all Americans. A documentary film called "The Powerbroker" looks at another leader who worked quietly in the background. Mike O'Sullivan has the story from Los Angeles.
Mike O'Sullivan
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, a turning point in the American Civil Rights movement.  Commemorations have frequently recalled the words of Martin Luther King, who demanded equality for all Americans, but a documentary film called The Powerbroker is looking at Whitney Young, another leader who worked quietly in the background. 
 
Civil rights organizations, including the Los Angeles Urban League, help job hunters find work and provide training for unemployed workers. A typical case is someone like Shauna Shappell, who went to nail school, became certified and plans to open her own business.
 
Fifty years ago, African-Americans had mostly menial jobs and little chance of advancement.
 
Bonnie Boswell's uncle, Whitney Young, helped break down barriers. He led the National Urban League, working behind the scenes with corporate and government leaders to expand opportunities for all Americans. 
 
Boswell, who is a journalist and filmmaker, has told her uncle's story in her film.
 
“He was coming at this from the standpoint of, yes, it's okay to change laws, but you have to be able to help people have jobs in order to have true equality.  You have to be able to give them an education that will allow them to have a job.  You have to be able to give them housing and health and services that will enable them to truly be participants in society,” explained Boswell.
 
In the 1950s and '60s, many activists helped tear down barriers, slowly at first.  Jackie Robinson became the first African-American to play major league baseball, something Whitney Young talked about.
 
“He would tell people, we need some Jackie Robinsons in business.  But he also said, we need the Branch Rickeys.  Branch Rickey was the manager who opened up the door to Jackie Robinson,” said Boswell.
 
Young was there in 1963 at the March on Washington, and watched as Martin Luther King mesmerized the country.
 
“Today, I want to say to the people of America and the nations of the world.  We're on the move and no wave of racism can stop us,” said King at the march.
 
Bonnie Boswell says that Whitney Young had his greatest impact in the corporate board room and working with a succession of American presidents.
 
“The years that he was head of the National Urban League from 1961 to 1971 were during, first of all, the Kennedy administration, then the Johnson administration, and finally the Nixon administration and he had to develop relationships with all three,” recalled Boswell.
 
The legal barriers to equality have come down, but Nolan Rollins of the Los Angeles Urban League says African-Americans have high rates of unemployment and too often work in low-wage jobs -- even as a poor economy recovers.
 
“I think that we've got to be really honest about where we are.  Yes, the economy is getting better, but it's not getting better for everyone at the same rate, and that's important,” said Rollins/
 
Martin Luther King helped bring political gains toward equality for all Americans, yet experts such as Rollins say good jobs are still needed in the inner city. Bonnie Boswell says that's what Whitney Young spent his life working for.

You May Like

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Video US Landmark Pushes Endangered Species

People gathered in streets, on rooftops in Manhattan to see image highlights that covered 33 floors of Empire State Building More

World’s Widest Suspension Bridge Being Built Over Bosphorus

Once built, Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge will span 2 kilometers with about 1.5 kilometers over water, and will be longest suspension bridge in world carrying rail system More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs