Pope Francis tackles issues that resonate with the masses

Pope Francis greets a multi-ethnic group of five children on the tarmac in New York City.

Pope Francis greets a multi-ethnic group of five children on the tarmac in New York City.

There has been a palpable air of excitement even for non-Catholics as Pope Francis mingles with the populace on American shores and addressed concerns that span generations.

President Obama greets Pope Francis.

President Obama greets Pope Francis.

Speaking on the White House lawn during a welcoming ceremony, the Pope evoked the words of iconic Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when he said it was time to collect on the unpaid “promissory note.”

Pope Francis takes pictures with worshippers in Washington D.C.

Pope Francis takes pictures with worshippers in Washington D.C.

Addressing Congress, Pope Francis tackled climate change, immigration, poverty, homelessness and the importance of being kind to one another. He also referenced King’s march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, 50 years ago, while Rep. John Lewis applauded

At St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, he talked about the scourge of priests and other Catholic officials sexually molesting and preying on vulnerable children.

Pope Francis addresses Congress.

Pope Francis addresses Congress.

And all the while, the Pope has made it abundantly clear that his heart belongs to the common man. He has chosen to ride around in a tiny Fiat, blanketed by enormous SUVs that make up his security detail.

The Pope is flanked by an impenetrable security detail in New York City.

Pope Francis is flanked by an impenetrable security detail in New York City.

The Pope has blessed believers, charmed children, talked with dignitaries while making his message of love, compassion for others and humility the focus of presentations.

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As Pope Francis continues with his US trip, his mere presence provides a soothing reminder that religious leaders who take an oath of service need to focus on tending to their flock, rather than being seduced by the trappings of power.–OnPointPress.net.

Selma’s Bloody Sunday revisited 50 years later with voting rights imperiled

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President Barack Obama and the First Family join civil rights icons Rep. John Lewis, Amelia Boynton Robinson (in wheelchair), US Attorney General Eric Holder, Former President and First Lady George W. and Laura Bush, and thousands of marchers in crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on Saturday, March 7, 2015.

By Carmen Glover

On Saturday, March 7, on the 50th Anniversary of the Bloody Sunday attacks unleashed on marchers supporting the right of African-Americans to vote in the United States, President Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American President, delivered a rousing speech at the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, named for a Ku Klux Klan leader.

President Obama and Rep. John Lewis embrace in Selma, AL.

President Obama and Rep. John Lewis embrace in Selma, AL.

Speaking after Rep. John Lewis, who was brutally beaten at the same bridge 50 years ago when he lead a group of marchers, President Obama stated:  “Our march is not yet finished but we’re getting closer.” President Obama decried injustice in education, law enforcement, and the attacks on the Voting Rights Act of 1965 stating “If we want to honor this day, let Congress restore the Voting Rights Act this year!” But he also chided residents for the chronic low voter turnout despite the struggles of civil rights activists “who gave their blood” to win the right to vote. Click here for the full transcript of President Obama’s speech as provided by Time magazine.

A rapt crowd listens as President Obama speaks in Selma, AL.

A rapt crowd listens as President Obama speaks in Selma, AL.

After the speech, the President, joined by First Lady Michelle Obama, their children, former President and First Lady George W. and Laura Bush, Rep. John Lewis, US Attorney General Eric Holder, 100 members of Congress and thousands of enthusiastic supporters who came to bear witness to the 50-year commemoration of the march for voting rights, marched across the bridge in a poignant reflection of a journey that began decades ago and achieved numerous goals, with many unfinished ideals left to be realized. Meanwhile, in New York City, hundreds of citizens marched across the Brooklyn Bridge from lower Manhattan to Brooklyn Borough Hall in solidarity with the Selma 50 marchers

Peaceful marchers were left beaten, bloody and killed on March 7, 1965 as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in their quest to gain the right to vote.

Peaceful marchers, including Rep. John Lewis (center being beaten), were left beaten, bloody and killed on March 7, 1965 as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in their quest to gain the right to vote.

The march from Selma, to Montgomery, Alabama took place after three attempts, including Bloody Sunday, which occurred on March 7, 1965 when marchers were beaten with clubs, attacked by dogs and some killed, as they attempted to cross the bridge. After making an appeal for support, Dr, Martin Luther King, Jr., was joined by Lewis, Ambassador Andrew Young, Diane Nash, other civil rights activists and a phalanx of religious leaders from different faiths in making the 50-plus mile trek to the State Capital in Montgomery, Alabama. President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act later that year but recent changes have destroyed some of the provisions of the Voting Rights Act, leading to an increase in voter suppression incidents aimed at denying or restricting the right of African-Americans to vote.–OnPointPress.net.

“Selma” is a fitting tribute to Dr. King’s legacy and 86th birthday celebrations

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivering one of his many inspiring speeches.

On January 19, the third Monday in the month, the life, achievements and civil rights advocacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrated on a holiday named for him. The civil rights icon, who spent his life protesting against injustice, would have turned 86 years old if he had not been killed in the prime of his life.

While the world pauses to honor his legacy with a national day of service, marches and other noble efforts, his three surviving children are embroiled in a vicious court battle to determine if his traveling Bible and Noble Peace Prize should be sold or remain in the family’s possession.

Oprah Winfrey appears in "Selma" which she produced; David Oyelowo stars as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ava DuVernay, co- writer and director of the film, which has received four award nominations so far.

Oprah Winfrey appears in “Selma” which she produced; David Oyelowo stars as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ava DuVernay, co- writer and director of the film, which has received four award nominations so far.

A fitting tribute to Dr. King’s enduring civil rights advocacy is embodied in the film “Selma,” which chronicles the challenges experienced by Dr. King and dedicated members of the civil rights movement in the spring of 1965 when they used nonviolent methods, in the face of brutality and murder to obtain he right to vote. Despite profound beatings, being arrested, atrocious indignities, deaths and the horrors experienced on Bloody Sunday, they marched, organized and protested peacefully, until they secured their important constitutional right to vote with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“Selma,” the first feature film about Dr. King, was directed by an African-American female and has been honored by the Golden Globes for its original song “Glory” sung by John Legend and rapper Common. However, the film has also attracted controversy as well as snubs by the Academy Awards, which nominated it for Best Original Song and Best Picture while ignoring the director, Ava DuVernay and actors, particularly the lead actor David Oyelowo, who brought the film to life.

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David Oyelowo, (center) and other cast members of the powerful film “Selma” which described the civil rights movement’s diligent quest to obtain voting rights in 1965.

President Barack Obama’s decision to host the cast at the White House for a screening of the critically acclaimed but Oscar snubbed historical drama “Selma” was a wise one. Also, the decision by Winfrey, DuVernay, Oyelowo and the other cast members of the film to stage a march across the same Edmund Pettus Bridge over which the civil rights leaders marched for 54 miles to Montgomery, Alabama and participate in a discussion in Selma on this historic day will go a long way in reigniting discussion and awareness about Dr. King, his legacy and his searing impact on the civil rights landscape.

No less important is Winfrey’s spectacular two-day weekend extravaganza honoring “The Legends who Paved the Way,” which aired on her network, OWN, on Sunday night and featured King’s daughter, Bernice King, who was a baby when he was killed.

One of Dr. King's most famous quotes is typically used as a battle cry against injustice.

One of Dr. King’s most famous quotes is typically used as a battle cry against injustice.

There are striking parallels to King’s leadership, passion and determination in standing strong in the face of ridicule and the emotions of current protestors who fight against the scourge of police brutality in our inner cities, particularly police officers killing unarmed African-American and Latino men with impunity.

But as Winfrey said: “These protestors today can learn a lot from the discipline shown by the participants of the civil rights movement. You have to know what you are protesting for and focus on that issue in order to achieve it.”

In 2010,, President Barack Obama, the nation's first African-American president, honors civil rights icon, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). Lewis, was beaten on Bloody Sunday and endured harsh treatment during his lengthy involvement in the civil rights movement which he joined as a teenager and at 20, was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington.

In 2010, President Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, honors civil rights icon, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). Lewis, was beaten on Bloody Sunday and endured harsh treatment during his lengthy involvement in the civil rights movement which he joined as a teenager and at 20, was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington.

Despite inequalities in housing, educational attainment, financial, political and social status, collectively African-Americans have made significant progress by utilizing the opportunities that have been gained through the sacrifices made by Dr. King, Rep. John Lewis, Ambassador Andrew Young, The Rev. Ralph Abernathy, the Rev. Joseph Lowery and countless others during the civil rights movement.

The right to vote exists today due to their foresight, commitment and fortitude. As we celebrate Dr. King’s birthday and legacy, let us also reflect on the benefits we enjoy today because of the sustained efforts of a group of individuals who refused to take no for an answer. Happy Birthday Dr. King. You showed that Black lives mattered then and activists are doing their best to show that Black lives still matter today-OnPointPress.net.

FBI reward in Colorado Spring’s NAACP office bombing is a good first step

This Jan. 6, 2015 photo shows at the bottom right the char marks from a device detonated Tuesday along the northeast corner of a building occupied by a barber shop near the Colorado Springs chapter of the NAACP in Colorado Springs, Colo. Chapter President Henry Allen Jr. told The Colorado Springs Gazette the blast was strong enough to knock items off the walls. (AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette, Mark Reis) MAGS OUT

This Jan. 6, 2015 photo shows at the bottom right the char marks from a device detonated Tuesday along the northeast corner of a building occupied by a barber shop near the Colorado Springs chapter of the NAACP in Colorado Springs, Colo. Chapter President Henry Allen Jr. told The Colorado Springs Gazette the blast was strong enough to knock items off the walls. (AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette, Mark Reis) MAGS OUT

On Tuesday, January 6, three days before the historical film, “Selma” opened in wide release in movie theaters, there was a bombing at the NAACP branch office in Colorado Springs. This time, to the relief of many and to the disappointment of the perpetrator, no one was hurt.

According to details disclosed by the investigating authorities, an explosive device detonated but failed to ignite a gasoline canister to which it was connected, thereby sparing the lives of staffers in the office and in the surrounding area, which includes a barber shop. However, the building was damaged as a result of the blast, and Colorado Chapter President Henry Allen. Jr. told The Colorado Springs Gazette that articles were thrown from the walls due to the force from the explosion.

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Eyewitnesses described seeing a balding white male placing the bomb behind the building then walking to his pickup truck as the device exploded, according to statements issued by FBI special agent Thomas Ravenelle. From the descriptions, the FBI released a sketch of the suspect but the investigators have declined to characterize the bombing as racially motivated, domestic terrorism, an act of intimidation or attempted murder.

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In the meantime, the investigation continues with the FBI and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives offering $10,000 in reward for information about the bombing. This is a good first step in solving this crime and bringing the criminal responsible to justice.

The long history of racial intimidation, oppression and discrimination in this country has been chronicled for decades. And while in some circles this era is often described as the “post racial” period due to the two-time election of President Barack Obama to office, it bears noting that there is noting post racial about planting a bomb at the office of NAACP which has an enduring history of championing the rights of African-Americans.

Sketch of the suspect in the bombing of the NAACP's Colorado Springs office, released on Friday by the FBI.

Sketch of the suspect in the bombing of the NAACP’s Colorado Springs office, released on Friday by the FBI.

Why the eyes of the world are trained on Paris where 12 journalists and four civilians were slaughtered, the eyes of African-Americans, the FBI and other investigators need to remain firmly glued to the developing situation in Colorado Springs. Bombing a chapter office of the NAACP is an act of domestic terrorism and racism, regardless of the reluctance of the FBI to characterize it as such.–OnPointPress.net.