African Diaspora…Pallbearers of Peru

Racism in South America is a lot different than in the US… The US is just catching up to it.

Black Pallbearers In Lima Reveal Ingrained Racism In Peruvian Society

 Elegant in tuxedos and white gloves, the six black pallbearers silently and gracefully remove the mahogany coffin bearing a Lima tire magnate from his mansion. They slide it into the Cadillac hearse that will parade Jorge Reyna’s body through the Chorrillos district where he was once mayor.

The pallbearers are in the job precisely because of the color of their skin, a phenomenon unique to this South American capital that was the regional seat of Spain’s colonial empire for more than three centuries. In fact, prominent citizens such as Reyna, a widely respected, charitable man of indigenous origin who died at age 82, request black pallbearers for their funerals.

“He planned his funeral and wanted it to be elegant,” said Reyna’s widow, Clarisa Velarde.

Blacks routinely bear the caskets of ex-presidents, mining magnates and bankers to their tombs in Lima. The peculiar tradition exists neither in provincial Peruvian cities nor in other Latin American countries with significant black populations such as Brazil, Panama and Colombia.

It is not a profession chosen by Lima’s blacks but is rather thrust upon them by a lack of opportunity, say Afro-Peruvian scholars. And racism remains so deeply ingrained in Peru that many don’t consider the practice discriminatory.

“Beyond the question of racism or prejudice, I think it is simply a question of employment,” said Jose Campos, a leading Peruvian black studies scholar and vice rector of the National Education University.

For 61-year-old Armando Arguedas, who like his fellow pallbearers never finished elementary school, it’s simply a job.

“Some people are friendly,” he said of those who employ him. “Some don’t even say thank you.”

Black pallbearers were even used for the recent funeral of the wife of former U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar. Continue reading

New Database of Slave Cemeterys

Haven’t posted anything on the Blog in a while. A Heart Attack, lawsuit over $1 million the USTDA defaulted on paying my little company for post-earthquake  work done in Haiti (all the crooks in Haiti aren’t Haitian), and my Mother passing ate up much of my time in 2012. I am all back and better now – and hope to get a few Blog Posts in the rest of this year.

Met a guy a few years ago down in Accomack County Virginia who was wandering through the woods on a farm adjoining my property carrying a digital camera and some pretty fancy”sniffer”  detection gear. He was on a mission to discover abandoned graveyards in the region, many of which were slave graveyards. I see now Fordham University has taken up the call.

Fordham has launched a first-of-its kind national database designed to catalog places in the US where slaves are buried. The Burial Database Project of Enslaved African Americans is the brainchild of Fordham’s Sandra Arnold, whose ancestors were slaves, reports the New York Times. The site relies on visitors to submit information about the locations of cemeteries along with those buried there.

“Much of the material culturally associated with slave history has been lost for many reasons; therefore the study of slave cemeteries will provide tangible clues of African cultures and funeral practices. The most important aspect is digging for the slave’s humanity. The preservation of these sacred spaces is to remember the past so that our future contemporaries will have a better understanding of American policies that supported this system of cruelty, but most importantly to remember the resilience of the human spirit.” 

- National Trust for Historic Preservation

“The fact that they lie in these unmarked abandoned sites, it’s almost like that they are kind of vanishing from the American consciousness,” says Arnold. The intent is to build a “historical network of sorts,” says the Root, which interviews Arnold and others involved with the project. Had something like this been in place last year, it might havesaved Walmart some construction headaches in Alabama.


Musical history of the blues found in juke joints – CBS News

A few of the old Juke Joints still survive. Wynton Marsalis takes on a trip down History Lane finding several Juke Joints still operating.

Musical history of the blues found in juke joints

In a downhome neighborhood on the outskirts of Birmingham, Ala., Rita James bought an abandoned building and built a happy home for the blues. Her tiny, unmarked Red Wolf club invites the entire community.

Just four years old, The Red Wolf is a real juke joint. It’s roots go all the way back to Emancipation. In the old South, poverty made life more extreme. So folks found barns, shacks, anywhere – to play, sing and dance their sorrows away. Over time, these places became known as juke joints. Within their walls the blues were born.

Every Wednesday night, Wilson takes the microphone and gets the people on their feet. But it’s the music that brings them together.

“I just make them feel good,” Wilson said. “That’s just me period. Anywhere. I make the crippled feel good – make them think they can walk again.”

First-timer BJ Miller drove 500 miles from St. Louis for a chance to blow her trombone in a place where spirits are served, and freed.

“It’s not that they just serve alcohol,” Miller said. “It’s that they are serving musicians the opportunity to express themselves – and that’s not everywhere.”

“The blues has good and sad, so it’s for good too,” Wilson said. “And you know I like the blues. I like music period, I like all music, so music cheer me on and make me feel good.”

The blues are good for the soul. Their rhythms are inseparable from the American identity, and they’re not naive. The blues tell us bad things happen all the time, and they do, and we can engage with them. The blues are like a vaccine. If you want to get rid of something, give yourself a little bit of it, and when the real thing comes – you’re ready for it.

If Rita has any say in the matter, they’ll be an integral and constant part of the future. Wilson said her club will stay open, “until I drop.”

Priceless Tubman Artifact Donation to Museum of African American History

This one is simply stunning. Who would believe such priceless artifacts still existed – much less were in private hands?

Black history museum gets special opening gift

Black History Month was marked in a very special way Wednesday. The president and the first lady attended the ground breaking for the National Museum of African-American History and Culture on the National Mall, where Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech still echoes.
CBS News correspondent Chip Reid got a first look at some of the priceless artifacts the museum will hold.

Charles Blockson, 78, has been collecting African and African-American artifacts for more than 50 years. The high point came just last year when he inherited 39 items that belonged to Harriet Tubman. Born into slavery, she escaped, but returned to the South nearly 20 times leading hundreds of others to freedom on what came to be known as the Underground Railroad.

Some of Charles Blockson’s ancestors were rescued by Tubman.

“When I first received (her artifacts), I was surprised, shocked. Nearly every item I picked up I started to cry, the tears just, my emotional armor erupted,” Blockson said.

The items include a silk shawl that was given to Tubman by Queen Victoria, and Tubman’s book of gospel hymns. Blockson, though, says it felt wrong to keep them, calling it “an awesome burden.”

So he donated the Tubman artifacts, most of them too fragile to be handled, to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture…

National Parks Proposed to Honor Harriet Tubman

Children ride their bikes down the drive passing the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn, N.Y., July, 29, 2004. (David Duprey, AP)

Efforts are underway in Congress to recognize Harriet Tubman with the designation of her home in Auburn, New York, and an area on the Eastern Shore of Maryland where she was born a slave, and helped numerous slaves escape bondage on the Underground Railroad.

Don’t think there is much chance of this getting through a Republican majority Congress, not only because of the usual hostility – but because of the extreme focus this term on cost cutting.

Two National Parks Eyed to Honor Legacy of Harriet Tubman

Steal Away

Harriet Tubman, an escaped slave who led others to freedom on the Underground Railroad, could be honored with two national parks promoting her life.

Senators from Maryland and New York introduced legislation on Tuesday — the start of Black History Month — to create parks in both states that would protect sites connected to her life as an abolitionist and later as an advocate for women’s suffrage.

Tubman — known as “the black Moses” for leading hundreds of slaves out of bondage in the South to freedom in the North — lived much of her adult life in Auburn, N.Y. in the state’s Finger Lakes region. If the bill becomes law, her home, the cemetery where she was buried in 1913 and the Home for the Aged, an early nursing home for African-Americans she created, would become part of the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park.

In the Eastern Shore of Maryland where Tubman was born in 1822, the bill would make a sweeping Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Historical Park, covering her presumed birthplace and the site of former plantations where she was enslaved until she ran away in 1849. Tubman returned to the area for 10 years as a famed conductor on the Underground Railroad, and the park would include the location of a former safe house along the route to the North.

“Harriet Tubman [was] a true American patriot for whom liberty and freedom were principles in which she believed and risked her life to achieve,” said U.S. Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., in a statement. “Her life was defined by determination, perseverance and hardship as she helped others on the road to freedom. These two parks will make it possible for Marylanders, New Yorkers and all Americans to trace her life’s work and remember her tremendous contribution to our nation’s history.” Continue reading

Oldest Black School in America Found?

Professor finds oldest black school -- in Virginia

The Dudley Digges House, c. 1928 (Image courtesy of Williamsburg Postcards)

Professor finds oldest black school — in Virginia

A College of William and Mary professor thinks he may have found the nation’s oldest surviving schoolhouse for African-American children.

English professor Terry Meyers believes the college – at Benjamin Franklin’s urging – was instrumental inopening the Williamsburg Bray School in 1760 to educate both free and enslaved blacks.

The find would be remarkable not only for its historical significance, but for its location in the political and ideological epicenter of slavery. The college itself was funded by taxes on tobacco harvested by slaves. The college, its faculty and even some students owned slaves, and slave labor built core campus buildings, maintained the grounds and fed the residents.

It also runs counter to later sentiments in Virginia and other Southern states, which explicitly forbade teaching slaves to read or write. An 1819 Virginia law made doing so punishable by 20 lashes. Continue reading

Rare Slave Photograph Found

The Civil War occurred right about the time photography became commercially available in the United States. While there a few pictures by intrepid experimenters going back to the late 1840′s, principally Daguerreotypes in Europe. The craze hit the US in the 1850′s, with the development of two other technologies to make prints, the Calotype, and the more commercially successful albumen based technology, initially the Collodion process which led to Ambrotypes and Tintypes by the time of the War. As such, it is possible to roughly date a surviving photograph by the process used. I have one Daguerreotype in my personal collection, of two men, one of which is reputed to be an ggg-uncle, and the other is my ggg-grandfather taken in the 1850′s. I don’t know which is which, nor the circumstances of why the photograph was taken – since at that time a photograph would have cost well over a weeks wages for your average worker. The other oddity is that both men are carrying rifles.

Photographs were still fairly expensive, so the subject matter tended to be people with means. Until the 1870′s when the process became common, and photographers wandered America taking pictures of everything from babies to bad guys. So it is exceedingly rare to find photographs of slaves. Apparently, in this case a slave merchant hit upon the idea of photographing slaves as a methodology to keep records…

Hat Tip – NewsOne!

Rare Slave Photograph Found In North Carolina Attic

RALEIGH, N.C. – A haunting 150-year-old photo found in a North Carolina attic shows a young black child named John, barefoot and wearing ragged clothes, perched on a barrel next to another unidentified young boy.

Art historians believe it’s an extremely rare Civil War-era photograph of children who were either slaves at the time or recently emancipated.

The photo, which may have been taken in the early 1860s, was a testament to a dark part of American history, said Will Stapp, a photographic historian and founding curator of the National Portrait Gallery’s photographs department at the Smithsonian Institution. Continue reading

Dr, Boyce Watkins – Gates Full of It!

Watkins lights into Gates with this piece. I agree with Watkins that Gates has missed the key issues relative to slavery and Reparations, and fallen for the white supremacist line which is oft quoted as an excuse.

Henry Louis Gates lets US off the hook in ‘slavery blame game’

Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. recently wrote an interesting piece for the New York Times called, “Ending the Slavery Blame Game.” In the piece, Gates effectively argues that the fight for reparations is convoluted and somewhat mitigated by the fact that African elites participated in the slave trade. While describing complex business deals made between some African leadership and the Europeans who brought Africans to the New World, it almost appears as though Gates is saying that this disturbing relationship somehow undermines the right of African-Americans to hold our government accountable for its involvement in crimes committed against our people.

At very least, I am under the assumption that by “ending the slavery blame game,” Gates is arguing that we should stop blaming the United States government and white America for the rape, murder, castration, lynching and beating of our ancestors.

Sorry Dr. Gates, but I must respectfully (or perhaps not so respectfully) disagree. If a young girl is sold into prostitution by her own parents, the pimp must still pay for the suffering he caused the young woman. He can’t simply say, “Her parents made a deal with me, so you should stop the blame game.”

In other words, the United States, as a broad and powerful industrial entity, benefited from slavery to the tune of several trillion dollars. Much of this wealth was passed down from one white man to another, and was always out of the grasp of the black men, women and children who gave their lives on American soil in order to earn it. As a result, the median net worth of the African-American family is roughly one-tenth that of white American families and we have consistently higher unemployment due to our inability to create jobs, since white Americans own most businesses. Continue reading

Emmit Smith Discusses Tracing His Ancestry

This is a powerful journey.

The Damn This Snow Blues!

BTx3 had been planning to see one of the last standing Blues legends tomorrow night – 96 year old Pinetop Perkins…

But his flight got canceled by the snowstorms!

Pinetop is 96 years old, and still performing – but at 96, you have to take any possible opportunity to see him, if you love music.

They got me checking back weekly …

For a reschedule.

Black History – Blues Legends 1925-1979

Continuing on the theme yesterday to the soundtrack -

“As The Years Go Passing By”
Albert King & Rory Gallagher – Montreux 1975

For those of you who would like to do some exploration, the artists shown include:

Jimmy Reed,BB King,Clifton Chenier, Dr Isaiah Ross,RL Burnside,Guitar Slim, Big Mama Thornton,Fred Below,Chuck Berry, A.C. Reed,Lester Kinsey,Amos Milburn, Smoky Babe,Mighty Joe Young,Alexis Korner,
Koko Taylor,Bo Diddley,Jimmy Johnson, Eddie Kirkland,Lonesome Sundown, Lafayette Thomas, Earl Hooker, JB Lenoir, Matt “Guitar” Murphy,Louis Myers, Big Smokey Smothers,Otis Spann,Little Walter, Junior Kimbrough,Ray Charles,Bobby Blue Bland, Hubert Sumlin,Long John Hunter,John Littlejohn, Ike Turner,Junior Parker,Albert Collins, John Mayall,Byther Smith,Lonnie Brooks, Earl King,Otis Rush,Freddie King,Little Milton, Junior Wells,Little Mack Simmons, Johnny “Guitar” Watson,James Cotton, Fenton Robinson,Billy Boy Arnold, Eddy Clearwater,Sam Myers,Buddy Guy, Jimmy Dawkins,Louisiana Red,Carey Bell, Johnny Copeland,Magic Sam,Magic Slim,
Bobby Parker,Johnny Heartsman,Eddie Shaw, Phillip Walker,Spider John Koerner, Luther Allison,Roy Buchanan,Luther Jr Johnson, Little Smokey Smothers,Dr John,Lonnie Mack, Taj Mahal,Son Seals,Jimi Hendrix, Paul Butterfield,John Hammond Jr, Mike Bloomfield,Walter Washington, Charlie Musselwhite,Johnny Winter,Eric Clapton,
Danny Gatton,Duane Allman,Peter Green, Benoit Blue Boy,Percy Strother,Stan Webb, Ry Cooder,Bill Deraime,Rod Piazza, Rory Gallagher,Duke Robillard, Sherman Robertson,Hans Theessink,Zora Young, Bonnie Raitt,Patrick Verbeke,Joe Louis Walker, Billy Gibbons,Paul Personne, Jean-Jacques Milteau,Angela Strehli, Walter Trout,Sonny Landreth,Jimmie Vaughan, Eric Bibb,Keb’ Mo’,Robben Ford,Coco Montoya, Gary Moore,Tom Principato,john Campbell, Debbie Davies,Billy Branch,Larry Garner, Ronnie Earl,Jimmy Thackery,Robert Cray,
Stevie Ray Vaughan,Otis Grand,Sugar Blue, Michael Coleman,Michael Burks,Kenny Neal, Lurie Bell,Mem Shannon,Melvin Taylor, Arthur Neilson,Popa Chubby,Larry McCray, Lucky Peterson,Bernard Allison,Jeff Healey, Tab Benoit,Corey Harris,Eric sardinas, Ana Popovic,Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Joe Bonamassa,Matt Schofield, Shemekia Copeland.

Black History – Blues Legends 1873-1924

This is a diorama of the Legends of Blues including a soundtrack with -

“Nobody’s Fault but Mine” : Blind Willie Johnson
“Worried Life Blues” : Big Maceo Merriweather
“Country Blues” : Muddy Waters


11 Martin Luther King Quotes

Sometimes it’s good to go back and review a few lessons from the Master. In that vein – 10 +1 Quotes from MLK -

  1. Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.
  2. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant. –Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, Dec. 10, 1964
  3. Let no man pull you low enough to hate him.
  4. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
  5. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.
  6. When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.
  7. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. –letter from Birmingham jail, April 16, 1963
  8. The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore, brothers. –”Strength to Love”
  9. I submit to you that if a man hasn’t discovered something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.
  10. The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. –”Strength to Love”

And Number 11?

The one Mssrs Robertson and Limbaugh, and a bunch of their ilk, should have tattoed to their foreheads -

Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man’s sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.

Michelle Obama’s Roots

A researcher has traced Michelle Obama’s Maternal side family back 5 generations -

President Obama’s life and journey to the presidency have captured many headlines, but new details about the ancestry of his wife, Michelle Obama, reveal a remarkable five-generation journey from slavery to the White House.

Working with genealogist Megan Smolenyak, the findings were researched and published by The New York Times Wednesday.

It began more than a century ago, on a 200-acre farm in South Carolina. In 1850, 6-year-old Melvinia — Michelle Obama’s maternal great-great-great grandmother — was left in a slaveholder’s will as part of his property left to relatives.

In the will, her master declared that his descendents would inherit the “use and service of Melvinia.”

“She was treated like a piece of property in a will, and when she was only 8 years old, she was sent across the South,” said Jodi Kantor, who co-wrote The New York Times story. Continue reading

Black Catholics in the United States – Father Tolton

Father John A. Tolton

Father John A. Tolton America's First Black Catholic Priest

John Augustine Tolton started life born into slavery on April 1, 1854 in Brush Creek, Ralls County, Missouri.  In 1862 while his father, an escaped slave, had joined the Union Army, his mother, a slave also, told John and his two  siblings, “We must escape too.”  One night they fled to the Mississippi River.  Three days later they reached the river finding a leaky old row boat.  They boarded and started paddling.  Three confederate soldiers witnessed the escape.  A shot was fired but mother kept paddling towards freedom on the Illinois shore.  Upon landing on the Illinois side she looked at her son with streaming eyes, “John, boy, you’re free.  Never forget the goodness of the Lord.”

John Tolton would go on to become America’s first (known) black Catholic Priest after studying in Rome, at the age of 32 – John Augustine Tolton was ordained a Catholic Priest in Rome by Cardinal Parochi on April 24, 1886.  Newspapers throughout the United States carried the story. Though he died an early death at age 43, Fr. Tolton left behind a shining legacy of holy service to God and his people. He was the pastor of St. Monica’s Church in Chicago, and established a center which was the focal point for the life of black Catholics in Chicago for 30 years.

Columbia, Missouri’s first Catholic High School will be named after Father Tolton, and when completed and fully operating will support 400 students. A new biography is being released on his life From Slave to Priest by Ignatius Press.

Though he died an early death at age 43, Fr. Tolton left behind a shining legacy of holy service to God and his people. He was the pastor of St. Monica’s Church in Chicago, and established a center which was the focal point for the life of black Catholics in Chicago for 30 years.

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