I had to double-check my own reading last week as I prepared this posting.
Did George Wallace's infamous "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door" really happen less than 24 hours before Medgar Evers was killed in Mississippi?
It's true. 50 years ago this week.
As CBS reported last month, Evers was mostly ignored by the Mississippi media. The FCC later revoked the license of the local TV station for refusing Evers airtime to refute its attacks on him*.
AL.COM points out another story in that 24 hour period too...a monk in Vietnam burned himself to death, and into the International consciousness as the Vietnam War droned on.
On the 40th anniversary, CBS-TV added the context of President Kennedy's speech to the nation about Civil Rights:
President Kennedy had only just gone off the air after making his most impassioned stand on civil rights to date, a speech to the nation explaining the federal government's intervention on behalf of the black students that day, in which he spoke of a "moral crisis" now facing the nation. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called the president's address "a hallmark in the annals of American history."
Coming just two months before King's own landmark "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington, it was a 24-hour period that stood out, in a year that stood out, in the modern fight for civil rights. It also changed American politics, launching Wallace onto the national political scene and marking the Democratic Party's definitive move into the corner of civil rights.
And, of course, the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing in Birmingham was just months away.
I'm not sure there has been such a gathering of major news in such a short period since then.
I was too young to have been immersed in those events, and was insulated in a seminary for several of the years that followed, so I can only guess at the frantic pace in the newsrooms of the day. What's you lead or front page story? How do you get it all in (without an Internet as an escape valve)?
There will be commemorations in Alabama and Mississippi this week, allowing people to look back and remember, or. for those young reporters who may never have the opportunity to work on and in such an out-poring of news in mere months, a chance to learn.
[*Closer to home, The FCC refused to renew the licenses of Alabama Public Television in the mid 1970's because they blocked PBS network programs dealing with Civil Rights issues. Eventually the licenses were renewed after negotiations. As for print, Alabama Public Radio produced a story about The Birmingham News failing to publish stories about the events happening in their own back yard. A good listen!]
[ALSO: USA Today reported recently on a new wrinkle in the newspaper battle in New Orleans, where the major daily dropped back to three days a week--just like the three largest papers in Alabama.]
[PLUS: AL.COM repeated a story about a woman and her son being killed in a crash from a Dothan website on Sunday: "Officials have not released the victims' names, but people close to their family identified them to Dothan First as (name deleted by Tim) and her son (name deleted by Tim)". There's a reason media wait till the official release. To protect survivors from hearing or reading it by the media.]
[The Monday Morning Media Memo is a regular feature of www.timlennox.com.]