Dr. King's Unfinished Agenda
In 1962, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) launched Operation Breadbasket in Atlanta modeled after a program created by Rev. Leon Sullivan in Philadelphia that sent a message to businesses in the Jim Crow era—if you don’t hire, promote, or give courtesy to blacks, they would launch a boycott. After Dr. King brought Sullivan to Atlanta and applied the program there, by 1967 the Atlanta Breadbasket had negotiated jobs bringing in $25 million a year to the black community.
In 1966, Dr. King appointed Rev. Jackson to head the Chicago Operation Breadbasket economic program. There, Rev. Jackson, through negotiations and/or boycotts, brought in 2,000 jobs and $15 million a year to blacks in Chicago. On Christmas day in 1971, Rev. Jackson founded Operation PUSH, People United to Save Humanity later changing the name to People United to Serve Humanity, whose mission is to improve the economic life of blacks. Rev. Jackson later united the political mission of the National Rainbow Coalition with the private economic focus of Operation PUSH that became the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. The Rainbow PUSH Coalition expanded the organization’s reach, and began “The Wall Street Project” -- all dedicated to improving black lives politically and economically and getting corporate America to invest in the inner city.
Born in a climate of educational inequities and educational neglect of black, brown and poor children, PUSH Excel was created to counter the environment of second-class schools and first-class jails. PUSH excel connects principals, parents, popular personalities like Oprah Winfrey, and students at every level to live the principles of “If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it, I can achieve it”’ or “I Am Somebody.” The PUSH Excel principles were adopted in every region of America by 1980. The documentary chronicles the birth of PUSH Excel and its founder, Rev. Jackson.
Felicia Lawrence, who anchors the evening news at WTHR 13 News, and Josh Morris, a sophomore with the College of DuPage, will host the Dr. King celebration. Former CBS anchor Bill Kurtis, is the narrator. Interviewed during the 22-minute informative documentary are: Dr. Julianne Malveaux, President of the PUSH Excel board, Rev. Janette Wilson, national executive director of PUSH Excel, Dr. Sonya Whitaker, National Education Policy Director for PUSH Excel. A throwback in time, the documentary explains why Dr. King came to Chicago in 1966 at the behest of the Chicago Freedom Movement, a coalition of 44 civil rights organizations whose mission was to eliminate slums and improve living conditions of African Americans. Scenes of supporters bearing signs that read “Boycott Don’t Buy Bad Meat,” “PUSH Supports Black Businesses,” or “Keep a Slice of Bread in Your Community,” flash on the screen. For the past 21 years. PUSH Excel has sponsored HBCU college tours and awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships.
At the Chicago Rainbow PUSH headquarters, Dr. King’s Workshop, students are taught oratorical skills, robotics, computer science, coding and sports. Dr. King’s mission continues under his former aide, Rev. Jackson, who has vowed to turn his mentor’s mission into action.
All donations are welcome and can be made at www.pushexcel.org. Donations will be used to support PUSH Excel scholarships and programs.