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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs