The Force of Ethics in Civil Rights
Oral History Project
Our project began in 2005 and today consists of more than 300 video interviews with unsung civil rights pioneers.
These interviews were conducted by journalist and Aesthetic Realism Associate Alice Bernstein and videotaped by photographer and cameraman, David M. Bernstein.
The purpose of this project is to preserve the little known history of the fight for civil rights—in the voices, words, and images of those who helped to make that history, and to meet the urgent need in America to understand the cause and answer to racism, explained by Aesthetic Realism, the education founded by the great philosopher Eli Siegel.
Among the important interviews produced by the Alliance of Ethics and Art, we gladly include here some excerpts of interviews with Congressman Elijah Cummings, labor leader Dr. Addie Whyatt, Tuskegee Airman Dabney Montgomery.
We hope we can continue to research and conduct more interviews with unsung pioneers—and with your support, we can!
Congressman Elijah Cummings
In 2007, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings of Baltimore, MD (D) was serving his 5th term in the [U.S.] House of Representatives and was president of the Congressional Black Caucus. He speaks of growing up in a segregated city, the desegregation of public pools, and acknowledges black community activists, and the influence of a Jewish man who encouraged his educational advancement. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, then his law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law. He began his career in the Maryland House of Delegates, serving for 14 years--the first African American in Maryland history to be named Speaker Pro Tem. Since 1996, he has represented Maryland’s 7th Congressional District. His commitment to secure quality healthcare, education, clean air and water, and a strong economy, is a hallmark of his service.
Addie Wyatt discusses Civil Rights, racism in employment, women's rights, her first job as a butcher, her 42 years with labor unions, her work with Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, United Mine Workers, and Times Magazine among others.
Rev. Dr. Wyatt speaks also of her desire to combine the meaning of the church with the meaning of justice.
Dabney Montgomery speaks of his birthplace, Selma, Alabama, and his father's work on the railroad as a member of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. He tells of the racism his father and others suffered and describes his experience with the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. He reflects on his ancestors during the Civil War and a courageous encounter by one male ancestor with General Grant. The interview contains some history of AME Mother Zion Church in New York, and a discussion of labor unions; the union army in the Civil War, strikes, segregation, and many other topics.
Here is an excerpt of his interview: