Posts filed under ‘Civil Rights’

My End of Year Donations

I haven’t figured out my New Year’s resolutions yet, but I have decided on some charities to donate to.  I commend them to my friends, family and colleagues.  Giving makes you feel good.

I gave $500 to Rep. Bill Pascrell, tonight, at, even though he’s not my Congressman anymore (starting 2012).  That’s charity?  Well, no, but the Star Ledger editorial chastising Rep. Rothman for picking a primary fight with Bill was very persuasive this morning:  Anyway, I’m a fan of Bill, and though Essex County has now been wrongly deprived of his services, courtesy Dean John Farmer, it’s the least I can do to thank Bill for the more than $650,000 he just scored in a grant toward South Orange’s purchase of a new fire truck, and his tireless service to my community.

As a member of The Florida Bar, I have to donate 20 hours in pro bono legal services annually to the poor or donate $350.  (Why doesn’t New Jersey require that?).  I’ve taken on two pro bono cases this year, but my husband and I will donate to the Public Interest Law Foundation at Columbia Law School anyway (– you can choose a PILF near you.

I gave to the Greater Newark Holiday Fund, in memory of my father, Leonard G. Bauer, who was a native Newarker, and graduate of Barringer H.S.  My dad grew up during the Depression.  But his mom always had a job and he was very industrious, so even though poverty made a lasting impression, in a way they were lucky. The Fund helps people who are really destitute, or in dire situations.  And it bring toys and clothes to kids.  The case recitations in the Star Ledger every morning (thru Jan. 14) make it easy to realize how lucky the rest of us are.  (

I also gave to my other fave Newark charity, Greater Newark Conservancy.  If you don’t know Robin Dougherty’s work with Newark kids, teaching them about their environment, growing food, sustainability, etc., you’ve got to visit

On the recommendation of Steven Hickson, I gave again this year to Pathways/Cancer Support which is part of The Connection for Women and Families in Summit, NJ, a community center caring for those with breast cancer and their families ( Also gave to the National Kidney Foundation. And I gave to my “church”– the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker Meeting in Montclair) where I am a member, and to the First Baptist Church of South Orange, which is trying to build a new larger church to accommodate its growth.

I gave to the South Orange Rescue Squad,, as I do every year.  I can’t say enough about what an outstanding job they do in times of crisis, and what great folks they are.   Please donate generously to the SO or your own rescue squad.  The volunteers exemplify the highest level of community service and commitment, giving up their nights or weekends to serve you.

I gave to my daughter’s schools, Brooklyn Friends School (HS) and before that, Princeton Friends School (MS).  To my son’s school, Sarah Lawrence College, we paid our last check for tuition, room and board!  Enough said there:  He graduates May 19, 2011.  Yea!!!  I feel strongly about supporting one’s schools, past or present, so I also gave to my undergrad college (Syracuse) and law school (Rutgers) and my husband donated to his alma mater (Princeton), and we gave to the local South Orange/Maplewood ACHIEVE Foundation (

I gave to one of my non-profit clients, the Pennsylvania RR Harsimus Stem Embankment Coalition (

Of course, I gave to the organizations on whose boards I serve. Their efficiency, vision and successful and strategic work commends itself: Tri-State Transportation Campaign ( and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network (  If you don’t want fracking for natural gas to ruin your water supply, or toxic waste dredged out of the Delaware, and do wannt trout production streams and floodplains protected, you’ll donate to Riverkeeper too.  Or find and donate to your own local riverkeeper!

I gave to NJ Citizen Action (  If you donate a dollar, it will be matched. That’s leverage.  I believe in Citizen Action’s goals and have always admired this non-profit– helping people get fair mortgages so they can buy homes, making banks invest rather than “redline” poor communities, empowering people so they can enjoy economic security, fair and clean elections, and a host of other good programs.

There are a few others, but those are the primary ones.  Please donate to your favorite cause.



December 31, 2011 at 10:35 PM Leave a comment

A Transportation Lawyer Looks at Dr. Rev. King, Jr.

Embedded within in our federal Constitution is the concept of a “right to travel,” for one is not truly free and independent from tyranny unless one can leave, move about, or choose to stay put.  The right exists against both public and private restrictions.  Not surprisingly, transportation is often the focus of, and means to, greater societal change.

Martin Luther King’s rise to the national stage of the civil rights movement came about after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in the middle of the bus on the evening of Dec. 1, 1955.   She was ordered by the driver to take a seat at the back of the bus, when white riders boarded and needed seats.  (The law in effect at the time divided the bus down the middle, with whites in front and blacks in the back.  However, the line moved back if more whites boarded, and more seats were needed.)  By refusing to give up her initial seat in the middle, Mrs. Parks violated the segregation laws governing the City of Montgomery’s bus system at that time.

She was convicted of the offense a few days later, however, the lawyers advising the NAACP, including Thurgood Marshall, felt that the state court process would mire an appeal.  Her arrest had already ignited local outrage.  At the same time, Montgomery’s African-American community came together under Dr. King’s leadership and that of other local clergy, including Rev. E. D. Nixon, who headed the local NAACP chapter, to form the Montgomery Improvement Association.  This occurred at a mass protest held at the Holt Street Baptist Church on Dec. 5, 1955.  Dr. King was a young minister in the City at that time, and Rev. Nixon felt that a fresh voice was needed to deal with the City fathers.

The African-Americans’ protest group had a list of demands for the transportation system—that the bus system (which was privately owned and operated) should hire black drivers, that seating should be on first come, first serve basis, and that drivers treat all customers courteously.

Till the group saw progress on these demands, it and its supporters agreed to boycott the City’s bus system.  The boycott lased a year.  Riders found alternative means of transportation—walking, carpooling, taking cabs, bicycling and even using mules to get to their jobs— anything but taking the bus.  The sidewalks were crowded with pedestrians and cyclists.  Meanwhile, the protesters filed a federal court lawsuit against the mayor, under 42 U.S.C. 1981 and 1983, the civil rights laws, charging that the segregated system was unconstitutional.

The boycott crippled Montgomery’s bus system, which could not exist on white riders’ fares alone.  The City responded with its own version of economic protectionism to get them back on the bus. The City threatened to fine black cab drivers who charged just 10¢ to passengers, the same as the bus fare (instead of the usual 45¢).  The City arrested blacks for “hindering” a bus.  The City urged insurance companies to drop insurance of the owners of cars used as carpools, and got an injunction against the carpools’ operation.  Lloyds of London re-insured them.  The City even threatened an antitrust-type lawsuit against the organizers of the “illegal” boycott.  Dr. King was arrested, and his house fire-bombed.

On June 4, 1956, the federal district court ruled that Montgomery’s enforcement of the state’s segregation law pursuant to its Public Service Commission rules for buses was unconstitutional, in Browder v Gayle, 142 F. Supp. 707 (1956).  The ruling was affirmed, and later, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the civil rights ruling to stand.  Dr. King, Rev. Nixon, the NAACP and the supporters of the boycott got more than they requested— full integration of the city’s buses.  Dr. King’s speech to 2,500 supporters at the church on the evening of December 20, 1956 may be read at

The next day, at 6 am, Dr. King and others peacefully boarded an integrated bus, and the boycott was ended. The Montgomery Advertiser reported: “The calm but cautious acceptance of this significant change in Montgomery’s way of life came without any major disturbances.”

In 1957, Dr. King became the leader of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and in 1958, he wrote a self-reflective book detailing the experience, and lessons learned, titled Stride Toward Freedom.  It’s a great book, I highly recommend it.  The protesters’ successful bus boycott gave the civil rights movement one of its first very tangible victories, from which others followed, based on the non-violent techniques and ethics preached by King, following in Ghandi’s footsteps.

In 1964, the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers) nominated Dr. King for the Nobel Peace Prize.  When Gunnar Jahn made his presentation speech at the Swedish Academy, awarding to Dr. King the Nobel Peace Prize, it was the bus boycott that he described, in the context of the Ghandian methods of non-violent economic measures which Dr. King successfully employed there.  Dr. King was the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace prize, at age 35.

January 17, 2011 at 8:54 AM 1 comment


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