Days before the police dogs and water hoses, a Gallup poll found that only four percent of the nation thought civil rights was a national issue. But once television captured Connor's brutality, overnight, 52 percent felt civil rights was a national issue.
The McKinney incident was but the latest in an ever-growing string of caught-on-tape (although we don't use tape anymore) acts of police violence and webcast or broadcast to the world by average people using smartphones.
I hope, as we remember a young President, that we will renew our commitment to building with urgency and persistence a just America where every child is valued and enabled to achieve their God given potential regardless of the lottery of birth.
Sitting there in the back of the church, 12-year-old Freeman heard the young preacher say integration would mean better schools for black children. The preacher -- Martin Luther King, Jr. -- told the congregation that even children could play a role in holding the nation to account.
Politicians and commentators from across the ideological spectrum like to invoke the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, as well as Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. But it's too easy to breeze past the March's painful historical context.
This 50th anniversary reminds me that in the David-and-Goliath-like battle that pitted Martin Luther King, Jr., school children and the best of the Civil Rights movement against the Ku Klux Klan and white racists -- active nonviolence can transform anything.
On this 50th anniversary of the Birmingham Children's Crusade it is a time to remember, honor, and follow the example of the children who were frontline soldiers and transforming catalysts in America's greatest moral movement of the 20th century.
Conservatives are being forced to take sides: They can either stand with promoters of inflammatory tracts -- like the Heritage Foundation and their hack Jason Richwine -- or they can stand with Americans in both parties who are working to fix our broken immigration system.
Why are these people so threatened by background checks and limits on military-style weapons? There's still going to be plenty of guns and no one is talking about forbidding hunting or recreational shooting.
Race relations in this part of the country are still problematic; but the regional situation now is simply a more obvious and intense case of the American racial problem. Perhaps the time has come for the South and America to talk as a nation about our common situation.
What would I tell Martin Luther King and George Wallace about the South if somehow I could communicate with them today? Sadly, I would have to admit to them that racism extends into the new century. But I also would relate an intriguing story of evolving race relations in this region.
I still remember the clicking of the marchers' heels as they moved into the Birmingham's business district, and, just then, the roar of a police motorcycle as it cut in front of King and Abernathy, halting the protest.