In June 1966, James Meredith, the first African American to attend the University of Mississippi, began a solitary “Walk Against Fear” from Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi. On the second day of his walk, he was shot by a white man and hospitalized.
Civil rights organizations, including the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) vowed to continue the march in Meredith’s place.
On June 16, SNCC Chairman Stokely Carmichael spoke before a rally in Greenwood, Miss., and uttered two words that became a rallying cry for a movement:
We been saying freedom for six years. What we are going to start saying now is Black Power.
Carmichael (later Kwame Ture) later defined “Black Power”:
It is a call for black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community. It is a call for black people to define their own goals, to lead their own organizations.
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is marking this milestone with a digital exhibition, “Black Power!” The virtual museum is a collaboration between the Schomburg Center and Google Cultural Institute.
On Wednesday, June 15, the Schomburg Center will kick off a year-long examination of the Black Power Movement with a conversation with Kathleen Cleaver and Jamal Joseph. For more information, go here.
Thursday is Data Privacy Day, “an international effort held annually on January 28 to create awareness about the importance of privacy and protecting personal information.”
I’m an open data advocate who’s equally concerned about privacy. So on Saturday, I nearly spilled my coffee when I read that Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt disclosed that two critics of his office missed voting in some elections. Schmidt shared the data in retaliation to their calls to abolish the elections commission which is “led” by a chairman who doesn’t vote and seldom shows up at the office.
As a longtime voting rights activist, I want people to vote. I also want them to stay engaged beyond Election Day because that’s how you bring about change. That said, I believe one’s voting habit is no one’s business unless that person is receiving a taxpayer-funded six-figure salary to oversee elections.
Indeed, at last year’s Code for Philly Apps for Democracy Hackathon, I expressed my dismay that a team had developed an app, Social Voting, which would allow users to check to see whether their neighbors voted. Vote-shaming is of a piece with slut-shaming and fat-shaming.
Disclosing voting data sows distrust of government. If private citizens believe their voting record will be open to public scrutiny, they will be reluctant to register to vote.