Congressman and civil rights campaigner John Lewis has been defended by politicians, entertainers and many others after he became embroiled in a row with President-elect Donald Trump.
The president-elect tweeted that John Lewis was “all talk” and should focus on his constituents, after he said Donald Trump was not a legitimate president.
However, John Lewis’ supporters reacted with anger, saying he was a hero and icon.
John Lewis was a leading figure in the 1960s civil rights movement.
He is the last surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington, led by Martin Luther King.
The row came as civil rights activists led by Rev. Al Sharpton began a week of protests ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20.
Several thousand protesters braved near-freezing temperatures to march to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington DC, chanting: “No justice, no peace.”
In a separate development on January 14, African American Broadway star Jennifer Holliday pulled out of performing at the inauguration after pressure from followers, many of them from the LGBT community.
Jennifer Holliday, who has sung for both Republican and Democrat presidents, apologized for her “lapse of judgement” and said she did not realize her participation would be seen as expressing support for Donald Trump.
Democrat John Lewis said on January 13 he would not attend the inauguration on the grounds that he did not see Donald Trump as a legitimate president.
He told NBC’s Meet the Press: “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected.
“And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”
Donald Trump tweeted on January 14: “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime-infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!”
New declassified documents reveal the US National Security Agency spied on Martin Luther King and Muhammad Ali during the height of the Vietnam War protests.
The documents show the NSA also tracked journalists from the New York Times and the Washington Post and two senators.
Some NSA officials later described the programme as “disreputable if not outright illegal”, the documents show.
The operation, dubbed “Minaret”, was originally exposed in the 1970s.
However, the names of those on the phone-tapping “watch list” had been kept secret until now.
The secret papers were published after a government panel ruled in favor of researchers at George Washington University.
New declassified documents reveal the NSA spied on Martin Luther King and Muhammad Ali during the height of the Vietnam War protests
The university’s National Security Archive – a research institute that seeks to check government secrecy – described the names on the NSA’s watch-list as “eye-popping”.
The NSA eavesdropped on civil rights leaders Martin Luther King and Whitney Young as well as boxing champion Muhammad Ali, New York Times journalist Tom Wicker and WashingtonPost columnist Art Buchwald.
The agency also monitored the overseas phone calls of two prominent US senators – Democrat Frank Church and Republican Howard Baker.
Many of those targeted were considered to be critics of US involvement in the Vietnam War.
In 1967 the strength of the anti-war campaign led President Lyndon Johnson to ask US intelligence agencies to find out if some protests were being stoked by foreign governments.
The NSA worked with other spy agencies to draw up the “watch lists” of anti-war critics, tapping their phone calls.
The programme continued after President Richard Nixon entered the White House in 1969. US Attorney General Elliot Richardson shut down the NSA programme in 1973, just as the Nixon administration was engulfed in the Watergate scandal.
The latest revelations come as the NSA is embroiled in fresh controversy over its surveillance programmes.
US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden recently exposed far-reaching electronic surveillance of phone records and internet traffic by the agency.
Researchers Matthew Aid and William Burr, who published the documents on Wednesday, said the spying abuses during the Vietnam War era far surpassed any excesses of the current programme.
“As shocking as the recent revelations about the NSA’s domestic eavesdropping have been, there has been no evidence so far of today’s signal intelligence corps taking a step like this, to monitor the White House’s political enemies,” they wrote.
America is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March for Jobs and Freedom, the civil rights rally at which Martin Luther King Jr. made his “I have a dream” speech.
President Barack Obama is to mark the occasion in Washington DC with an address from the same spot.
Members of the King family and veterans of the march will also be present.
Barack Obama, the first black US president, has described the 1963 protest as a “seminal event” in American history.
The march was considered a catalyst for civil rights reforms in the US.
President Barack Obama has arrived to deliver his address at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall just after an organized ringing of bells by churches and other groups at 15:00 local time (19:00 GMT), marking the exact time that Martin Luther King spoke on 28 August 1963.
The president was joined by former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, who also spoke.
Former President George W. Bush, who is recovering from a heart procedure, sent a message of support.
In his statement George W. Bush said Barack Obama’s presidency reflected “the promise of America” and “will help us honor the man who inspired millions to redeem that promise”.
Chat show host Oprah Winfrey and actors Forest Whitaker and Jamie Foxx also attended the event.
America is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March for Jobs and Freedom, the civil rights rally at which Martin Luther King Jr. made his I have a dream speech
On Saturday, thousands of people, including Martin Luther King’s eldest son, marched to the Lincoln Memorial to mark the milestone anniversary.
Half a century earlier, Martin Luther King led some 250,000 protesters down the same strip and delivered his famous speech from its steps.
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” he said, in one of the most celebrated pieces of American oratory.
His address marked the peak of a series of protests against racial discrimination that had begun when seamstress Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat for a white passenger in 1955.
Her action sparked a bus boycott campaign across Montgomery, Alabama.
Marchers opened Wednesday’s damp commemoration by walking the streets of Washington DC behind a replica of the transit bus that Parks once rode.
Martin Luther King became a dominant force in the movement and so was called on to make the final speech at the march.
He advocated the use of non-violent tactics such as sit-ins and protest marches, and was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1964.
Four years later, his assassination led to rioting in more than 100 US cities.
Organizers of Wednesday’s commemoration are focusing beyond racial issues to address the environment, gay rights and the challenges faced by those with disabilities, among other matters.
In an interview on Tuesday with a radio show, President Barack Obama said he imagines that Martin Luther King “would be amazed in many ways” about the social progress made since that speech.
He cited the prominent role of many African-Americans in the political and business spheres, as well as equal rights before the law.
Barack Obama, whose own oratory is often praised, said his address on Wednesday would not match that by the civil rights leader.
“It won’t be as good as the speech 50 years ago,” he said.
“I just want to get that out there early.”
“When you are talking about Dr. King’s speech at the March on Washington, you’re talking about one of the maybe five greatest speeches in American history,” Barack Obama added.
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