Tag Archives: civil rights

Film flashes back to bold civil rights leader

As February comes to its’ final days, I find myself reflecting on Black History Month.  This led to some introspection. What did I do to fulfill the purpose of a month dedicated to the riddance of a dark past? Sure, I took some time to refresh my memory on Martin Luther King’s “A Letter from Birmingham Jail” back in January, I made it an obligation to spend my time serving others on MLK day, and I even utilized a big chunk of my time during this busy week to watch the lengthy, Spike Lee film adaption, “Malcolm X.”

 “Malcolm X” is a movie I highly encourage everyone to watch. Spike Lee does an outstanding job at taking the autobiography and Arnold Perl’s screenplay and adapting the words right from the page into a triumphant piece of work. The movie is fit for a scope audience, all promised to take something from the biographical film.

Lee holds his own with much criticism over the controversy that surfaced process of taking on this project. Praise goes to Lee for notably sticking to the premise of this film adaption as well as portraying the many faces of Malcolm X in all stages of his evolution.

Malcolm X created his own legacy, Spike Lee only documented it.

I’ve seen “Malcolm X” over half a dozen times and I truly think Lee making the film was important to him. But as an avid film viewer, especially seen in more recent years, I find myself questioning this Hollywood trend for creating films highlighting such an ugly past of black history. Films like, “The Help,” “The Butler,” “12 Years a Slave,” and others, all depicting black struggle. Sure these films found success, but all for the wrong reason.

This is a tiresome topic and issue that’s been way over done. We live in contemporary times and if the only Oscar- starring roles black actors can achieve are those that demean and oppress them as human beings, then I think these writers, directors and producers need to get a bit more creative. Think about this with this year’s Oscars coming up in March.

Back to Black History Month, I’m still not satisfied. Not solely the month itself, or what becomes coined as “Black History,” but the underlying idea of a history being condensed into a month alone. Is it worth it? I’m here to say it’s not. I think it’s fair to say that we are all aware that we aren’t a post-racial society and we may still be far off. So, personally when I think of a month dedicated to the past, I think is quite ridiculous when we should be reflecting on the now. It’s almost like a slap in the face. And sure, Black History Month at a time held a powerful and important significance to this country but that significance is surely losing sight.

Special Lovincey / Columnist

Special          Lovincey      can                 be                   reached        at


Civil rights activist gets campus, community talking

Mark Potok toured classes and appeared on OPB’S “Think Out Loud” during the day. He spent the evening giving a lecture to staff, students and the public about hate groups Feb. 27 in Ice Auditorium.
Joel Ray/Senior photographer
Mark Potok toured classes and appeared on OPB’S “Think Out Loud” during the day. He spent the evening giving a lecture to staff, students and the public about hate groups Feb. 27 in Ice Auditorium. Joel Ray/Senior photographer

Mark Potok toured classes and appeared on OPB’S “Think Out Loud” during the day. He spent the evening giving a lecture to staff, students and the public about hate groups Feb. 27 in Ice Auditorium.
Joel Ray/Senior photographer

“The threat is very real,” said Linfield’s guest lecturer about the rise of hate groups and extremism in the United States. Mark Potok spent the day touring classes and concluded by delivering his lecture to a full auditorium Feb. 27.

Potok discussed what he refers to as a major backlash to the quickly changing racial demographics of this country and others. There has been an 800 percent growth in hate groups since the reelection of President Obama.

“The world is changing, and countries are becoming less white. Globalism has meant large immigration flows into America and Europe,” Potok said. “These are responses to the social changes happening.”

From the extremist perspective, many problems are blamed on the government. Patriot groups and citizen militias, those whose main enemy is the federal government, first began in the mid ‘90s. In the fall of 2008, those numbers came rushing back. According to Potok, there were 149 patriot groups after Obama was elected for the first time in 2008, and by 2010, the number rose to 824. In 2011, there were 1,274 total patriot groups in the nation.

“Many hate groups and patriot groups think the federal government is involved in a conspiracy to impose martial law, take away weapons and force the country into a socialist government,” Potok said.
He said that according to a national poll, 56 percent of Americans saw the government as an imminent threat.

While some extremist groups blame the government, others blame minority groups for the diminishment of “White America.” It’s always the same story, Potok said. With every wave of civil rights or social change, extremists or supremacists have what he calls a “those people” mentality. Anti-black, anti-gay and anti-immigrant attitudes are among the highest in these groups.

“Some hate groups think the Jews are the problem, that they’re here to suck the welfare out of our system, to steal our women and destroy our culture,” Potok said.
The groups aren’t unified, although, there are a few major groups. Potok explained that violent acts by these organizations are rare, as the individuals who act out usually act out alone, such as Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing.
“These [extreme individuals] didn’t think the groups they saw were doing enough,” Potok said.

Potok defined right-wing extremists as groups and individuals who are outside what most of us think as the normal realm of political discourse.
“It’s quite beyond the American conservative. It’s getting into wild conspiracy theories and threatened hatred toward minority groups,” Potok said.
Potok was a journalist until 1997, when he went to work for the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC is an organization that names hate groups throughout the U.S. in its quarterly publication, “The Intelligence Report.” The SPLC started in 1971 in Alabama as a civil rights law firm focused mainly on The KKK and white supremacists.

With a staff of investigative reporters, the center makes the lists strictly based on groups’ ideologies, not criminal activity, Potok emphasized. They look for organizations that malign entire groups of people who are minorities.

“[‘The Intelligence Report’] is a new type of investigative journalism… that bridges the space between traditional journalism and pure public relations,” said Brad Thompson, associate professor of mass communication, when introducing Potok and his work.
The SPLC and Potok have received a large amount of criticism for “casually labeling organizations as hate groups,” Potok said. Some argue that The SPLC shuts down and stifles free speech.

“We are not opposed to free speech… We have never suggested and will never suggest that speech be suppressed,” Potok said.
The event was sponsored by the Department of Mass Communication and the Office of Multicultural Programs.

Kelsey Sutton/Managing Editor

Kelsey Sutton can be reached at