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

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim 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.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid