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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid