One of the great honors on our 18-month (thus far) Story of America journey was meeting Police Chief Kevin Murphy of Montgomery, AL. Recently at the White House, President Obama recognized and thanked Chief Murphy for an act of reconciliation that we documented in the video above.
The exchange too place at the St. Patrick’s Day reception (Murphy is Irish American), when President Obama gave Murphy a personal “thank you” for his continued efforts to improve the relationship between law officers and communities of color.
Rebecca Burylo of The Montgomery Advertiser reports:
“The president had heard of my gesture and told me that I was a good man, that I did a good thing,” Murphy said. “I was very humbled by that. I never thought that the president of the United States would have known about the gesture and that really touched me.”
The relationship between Lewis and Murphy is a testament to the chief’s mission of reconciliation.
“Congressman Lewis is a great man. He is just so humble and a genuine gentleman, but a tough guy,” Murphy said. “Who would have known 50 years ago that this young man then would become a United States congressman?
“He’s one of the biggest heroes we have today,” Murphy added.
Since becoming police chief three years ago, Murphy has made it his mission to change the country’s negative perception of Montgomery and the South because of its history of slavery and segregation.
It is a history that should be taught and remembered, but never repeated, Murphy said. [MORE]
Note: There are two videos about what happened Wednesday, July 3, 2013 at the NC General Assembly when the Senate voted on HB 695 "Faith, Family and Freedom Protection Act": One documenting what happened inside the Senate chamber and one documenting what happened outside the Senate chamber after the vote.
As they near the close of the 2013 session, North Carolina Republican senators pulled together a bill (HB 695 "The Faith, Family and Freedom Protection Act) that combines a law prohibiting the recognition of Sharia law in family courts with dramatic restrictions on abortion access.
On July 3rd, with less than 14 hours of notice given to the public, the NC Senate passionately debated and then voted for the bil. along party lines and passed the bill.
Twitter and Facebook exploded with outrage. Between 8pm on July 2nd and 9am on July 3rd, NARAL and Planned Parenthood led the online mobilization. Hundreds of men and women showed up at the General Assembly to witness and protest. Wearing pink and purple in solidarity against the bill, they were armed with smart phones, sharing their comments and images on the web.
NOTE: Listen to Annabel Park & Eric Byler talk about this video on Coffee Party Radio
Annabel Park recently spoke to Diane Rufino, leader of the Eastern North Carolina Tea Party, at the "Honor the Oath" rally at the State Capitol in Raleigh.
Diane had drawn applause during her speech when she praised North Carolina's role during the Civil War, yet, she said that Rev. Dr. William Barber is wrong to remind us of historic struggles for racial equality in order to counter the TEA Party, and address modern day injustices. "Time to move on," she said.
In today’s America, 50 years after Martin Luther King, Jr. marched on Washington and 150 years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, America faces profound divisions along political, economic and cultural lines that threaten to destabilize our nation and democracy.
America - the nation of the people, for the people and by the people - is deeply divided. The divisions are political, economic and cultural. The result is economic decline and governmental dysfunction. Moreover, the people are growing hopeless and cynical, losing faith in America's ideals.
Opinions have polarized to the point that people along both sides of the divide view the opposition with a great deal of fear and paranoia, leading to alienation and a dehumanizing view of those who don’t share our beliefs.
The Story of America is a unique project to both document the story of our divided nation in 2013, and engage those with the power to heal these divisions - the people - in the transforming power of storytelling and dialogue.Our main purpose is to use our videos to foster dialogue so that we may become more united as a country and deliberative in how we engage in our democracy.In its format, it is a web series with over 100 videos already up on our youtube channel, and it will be a feature-length documentary.We began in October 2012 and as of now we have traveled to Virginia, Maryland, Washington, DC, Connecticut, New York, Kentucky, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina and Alabama. We are documenting our journey and the people we meet along the way, but we are also showing our videos and engaging people in small groups and large community settings. Those discussions are also documented.
We are focusing particular attention to the Moral Monday movement and the political struggle in North Carolina for the feature documentary. The fight here involves many fundamental divisions in America including election laws/voting rights, influence of money in politics, the role of government in our lives, racial divisions, demographic shifts, and economic policies/income inequality.In North Carolina, we see a story of a state and its people that is dramatically divided, yet yearning for a sense of unity and hope. We hope that our videos, screenings and discussions may contribute to healing the divide.
We invite viewers to submit their own statements, responses, and stories in the form of essays, videos, and photos. These submissions will be uploaded to the website, and, we anticipate that some of the clips will be included in the feature documentary.
On Monday, January 21, 2013, President Obama articulated a clear version of the Story of America. Arguably, it is a brilliant articulation of the American social contract. It seems to me that much of the philosophical and historical parts could have been said by many of our past presidents. I was also surprised and delighted to hear him respond to a version of America once articulated by Ronald Reagan in his first inaugural speech.
In some ways, there is a stark contrast between the America that Reagan envisioned and the America Obama envisions especially in regard to the role of government. In his first inaugural speech, Reagan famously said, "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem."
On Monday, President Obama said, "Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.
Eric Byler, Bobby Wagnerman and I have been documenting in Newtown, CT all week. Bobby lives in Danbury which is next to Newtown. He's a bit surprised that the Story of America, along with the rest of the world it seems, has come to his hometown which until a month ago had a reputation for not being newsworthy at all.
My first impression of Newtown, CT is that it is the most picture-perfect American town. It made me think of Frank Capra and Norman Rockwell immediately. It is the kind of town that I was told by residents where moved to because it has a reputation for being very safe, the best place for raising children.
After spending this week in Newtown, I am in awe with the strength and love among the residents here. We were told that there was a strong sense of community and civic responsibility that existed before the Sandy Hook shooting and how people have come even closer together since December 14th.