Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor; author ("Beyond Outrage: What Has Gone Wrong With Our Economy and Our Democracy, and How to Fix It")
Is there something that you'd like to share about your personal connection to civil rights issues?
I was always very short for my age, and when I was a kid I relied on a few older boys to protect me from the bullies. One of my protectors I knew as Mickey -- his proper name was Michael Schwerner.
Years later, during what came to be known as "Freedom Summer," Michael Schwerner and other civil rights workers were registering African-Americans to vote. On June 21, 1964, he and two other civil rights workers -- James Chaney (who was black) and Andrew Goodman -- were brutally murdered near Philadelphia, Miss., by members of the Ku Klux Klan, including the sheriff of Nashoba County.
When I learned that my protector from the childhood bullies who had tormented me had been murdered by the real bullies who were willing to murder in order to prevent blacks from gaining equal citizenship, my life changed. I knew I had to devote myself somehow to helping people who were powerless and vulnerable from all the bullies who would otherwise intimidate them or keep them down.
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