What Martin Luther King Actually Accomplished

“The negro has no rights which the white man is bound to respect”

March 6, 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, of the United States Supreme Court This article talks a bit about the horrors of the Jim Crow era in America.

Mary Turner 1918 Eight Months Pregnant Mobs lynched Mary Turner on May 17, 1918 in Lowndes County. Georgia because she vowed to have those responsible for killing her husband arrested. Her husband was arrested in connection with the shooting and killing Hampton Smith, a white farmer for whom the couple had worked, and wounding his wife. Sidney Johnson. a Black, apparently killed Smith because he was tired of the farmer’s abuse. Unable to find Johnson. the killers lynched eight other Blacks Including Hayes Turner and his wife Mary. The mob hanged Mary by her feet, poured gasoline and oil on her and set fire to her body. One white man sliced her open and Mrs. Turner’s baby tumbled to the ground with a “little cry” and the mob stomped the baby to death and sprayed bullets into Mary Turner.  

So…One of the things MLK did was to finally put the skids, if not the end to this sort of “domestic terrorism”, against black folks. Now, our black conservative Uncle Toms would like you believe that liberals are using the past as an excuse for everything. But do you see the Jewish people forgetting the Holocaust? Black conservatives, and white conservative racists they support are big on black on black violence. But the thing hy won’t tell you, and you will never find in their pseudo-scientific statistics is that 92% of the men locked up or child sexual abuse …Are white. During Jim Crow white men were free to rape, sodomize and brutalize not only black women…But black children. While lynchings were sometimes reported, these other categories of violence and sexual predation were entirely swept under the rug.

The second thing they lie about is the violence statistics. Sexually abusing a child in the FBI’s version of the violent crime world doesn’t qualify as a “violent crime” – and thus is excludes from the statistics which include murder, and the rape of adult women (or men). We are going to count veggies, but green tomatoes don’t count.

Back to that pre-Civil Rights time – there was little or no hope of actually prosecuting these white criminals in the southern “Justice” system. Laying the groundwork of why black folk will never trust the conservative judges the right is so desperate to appoint.

Gaining the right to walk down the street unmolested may not seem like that big a deal solely from a cynical intellectual viewpoint – but it is pretty freaking important if it is you trying to get down the street.

Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did

This will be a very short diary.  It will not contain any links or any scholarly references.  It is about a very narrow topic, from a very personal, subjective perspective.

The topic at hand is what Martin Luther King actually did, what it was that he actually accomplished.

The reason I’m posting this is because there were dueling diaries over the weekend about Dr. King’s legacy, and there is a diary up now (not on the rec list but on the recent list) entitled, “Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Dream Not Yet Realized.”  I’m sure the diarist means well as did the others.  But what most people who reference Dr. King seem not to know is how Dr. King actually changed the subjective experience of life in the United States for African Americans.  And yeah, I said for African Americans, not for Americans, because his main impact was his effect on the lives of African Americans, not on Americans in general.  His main impactwas not to make white people nicer or fairer.  That’s why some of us who are African Americans get a bit possessive about his legacy.  Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy, despite what our civil religion tells us, is not color blind.

I remember that many years ago, when I was a smart ass home from first year of college, I was standing in the kitchen arguing with my father.  My head was full of newly discovered political ideologies and black nationalism, and I had just read the Autobiography of Malcolm X, probably for the second time.

A bit of context.  My father was from a background, which if we were talking about Europe or Latin America, we would call, “peasant” origin, although he had risen solidly into the working-middle class.  He was from rural Virginia and his parents had been tobacco farmers.  I spent two weeks or so every summer on the farm of my grandmother and step grandfather.  They had no running water, no gas, a wood burning stove, no bathtubs or toilets but an outhouse, pot belly stoves for heat in the winter, a giant wood pile, a smoke house where hams and bacon hung, chickens, pigs, semi wild housecats that lived outdoors, no tractor or car, but an old plow horse and plows and other horse drawn implements, and electricity only after I was about 8 years old.  The area did not have high schools for blacks and my father went as far as the seventh grade in a one room schoolhouse.  All four of his grandparents, whom he had known as a child, had been born slaves.  It was mainly because of World War II and urbanization that my father left that life.

They lived in a valley or hollow or “holler” in which all the landowners and tenants were black.  In the morning if you wanted to talk to cousin Taft, you would walk down to behind the outhouse and yell across the valley, “Heeeyyyy Taaaaft,” and you could see him far, far in the distance, come out of his cabin and yell back.

On the one hand, this was a pleasant situation because they lived in isolation from white people.  On the other hand, they did have to leave the valley to go to town where all the rigid rules of Jim Crow applied.  By the time I was little, my people had been in this country for six generations (going back, according to oral rendering of our genealogy, to Africa Jones and Mama Suki), much more under slavery than under freedom, and all of it under some form of racial terrorism, which had inculcated many humiliating behavior patterns.

Anyway that’s background.  I think we were kind of typical as African Americans in the pre Civil Rights era went.

So anyway, I was having this argument with my father about Martin Luther King and how his message was too conservative compared to Malcolm X’s message.  My father got really angry at me.  It wasn’t that he disliked Malcolm X, but his point was that Malcolm X hadn’t accomplished anything as Dr. King had.

I was kind of sarcastic and asked something like, so what did Martin Luther King accomplish other than giving his “I have a dream speech.”

Before I tell you what my father told me, I want to digress.  Because at this point in our amnesiac national existence, my question pretty much reflects the national civic religion view of what Dr. King accomplished.  He gave this great speech.  Or some people say, “he marched.”  I was so angry at Mrs. Clinton during the primaries when she said that Dr. King marched, but it was LBJ who delivered the Civil Rights Act.

At this point, I would like to remind everyone exactly what Martin Luther King did, and it wasn’t that he “marched” or gave a great speech.

My father told me with a sort of cold fury, “Dr. King ended the terror of living in the south.”

Please let this sink in and and take my word and the word of my late father on this.  If you are a white person who has always lived in the U.S. and never under a brutal dictatorship, you probably don’t know what my father was talking about.

But this is what the great Dr. Martin Luther King accomplished.  Not that he marched, nor that he gave speeches.

He ended the terror of living as a black person, especially in the south.

I’m guessing that most of you, especially those having come fresh from seeing “The Help,” may not understand what this was all about.  But living in the south (and in parts of the mid west and in many ghettos of the north) was living under terrorism.

It wasn’t that black people had to use a separate drinking fountain or couldn’t sit at lunch counters, or had to sit in the back of the bus.

You really must disabuse yourself of this idea.  Lunch counters and buses were crucial symbolic planes of struggle that the civil rights movement decided to use to dramatize the issue, but the main suffering in the south did not come from our inability to drink from the same fountain, ride in the front of the bus or eat lunch at Woolworth’s.

It was that white people, mostly white men, occasionally went berserk, and grabbed random black people, usually men, and lynched them.  You all know about lynching.  But you may forget or not know that white people also randomly beat black people, and the black people could not fight back, for fear of even worse punishment.

This constant low level dread of atavistic violence is what kept the system running.  It made life miserable, stressful and terrifying for black people.

White people also occasionally tried black people, especially black men, for crimes for which they could not conceivably be guilty.  With the willing participation of white women, they often accused black men of “assault,” which could be anything from rape to not taking off one’s hat, to “reckless eyeballing.”

This is going to sound awful and perhaps a stain on my late father’s memory, but when I was little, before the civil rights movement, my father taught me many, many humiliating practices in order to prevent the random, terroristic, berserk behavior of white people.  The one I remember most is that when walking down the street in New York City side by side, hand in hand with my hero-father, if a white woman approached on the same sidewalk, I was to take off my hat and walk behind my father, because he had been taught in the south that black males for some reason were supposed to walk single file in the presence of any white lady.

This was just one of many humiliating practices we were taught to prevent white people from going berserk.

I remember a huge family reunion one August with my aunts and uncles and cousins gathered around my grandparent’s vast breakfast table laden with food from the farm, and the state troopers drove up to the house with a car full of rifles and shotguns, and everyone went kind of weirdly blank.  They put on the masks that black people used back then to not provoke white berserkness.  My strong, valiant, self educated, articulate uncles, whom I adored, became shuffling, Step-N-Fetchits to avoid provoking the white men.  Fortunately the troopers were only looking for an escaped convict.  Afterward, the women, my aunts, were furious at the humiliating performance of the men, and said so, something that even a child could understand.

This is the climate of fear that Dr. King ended.

If you didn’t get taught such things, let alone experience them, I caution you against invoking the memory of Dr. King as though he belongs exclusively to you and not primarily to African Americans.

The question is, how did Dr. King do this — and of course, he didn’t do it alone.

(Of all the other civil rights leaders who helped Dr. King end this reign of terror, I think the most under appreciated is James Farmer, who founded the Congress of Racial Equality and was a leader of non-violent resistance, and taught the practices of non violent resistance.)

So what did they do?

They told us: – whatever you are most afraid of doing vis a vis white people, go do it.  Go ahead down to city hall and try to register to vote, even if they say no, even if they take your name down.

Go ahead sit at that lunch counter.  Sue the local school board.  All things that most black people would have said back then, without exaggeration, were stark raving insane and would get you killed.

If we do it all together, we’ll be OK.

They made black people experience the worst of the worst, collectively, that white people could dish out, and discover that it wasn’t that bad.  They taught black people how to take a beating – from the southern cops, from police dogs, from fire department hoses.  They actually coached young people how to crouch, cover their heads with their arms and take the beating.  They taught people how to go to jail, which terrified most decent people.

And you know what?  The worst of the worst, wasn’t that bad.

Once people had been beaten, had dogs sicked on them, had fire hoses sprayed on them, and been thrown in jail, you know what happened?

These magnificent young black people began singing freedom songs in jail.

That, my friends, is what ended the terrorism of the south.  Confronting your worst fears, living through it, and breaking out in a deep throated freedom song.  The jailers knew they had lost when they beat the crap out of these young Negroes and the jailed, beaten young people began to sing joyously, first in one town then in another.  This is what the writer, James Baldwin, captured like no other writer of the era.

Please let this sink in.  It wasn’t marches or speeches.  It was taking a severe beating, surviving and realizing that our fears were mostly illusory and that we were free.

So yes, Dr. King had many other goals, many other more transcendent, non-racial, policy goals, goals that apply to white people too, like ending poverty, reducing the war like aspects of our foreign policy, promoting the New Deal goal of universal employment, and so on.  But his main accomplishment was ending 200 years of racial terrorism, by getting black people to confront their fears.  So please don’t tell me that Martin Luther King’s dream has not been achieved, unless you knew what racial terrorism was like back then and can make a convincing case you still feel it today.  If you did not go through that transition, you’re not qualified to say that the dream was not accomplished.

That is what Dr. King did — not march, not give good speeches.  He crisscrossed the south organizing people, helping them not be afraid, and encouraging them, like Gandhi did in India, to take the beating that they had been trying to avoid all their lives.

Once the beating was over, we were free.

It wasn’t the Civil Rights Act, or the Voting Rights Act or the Fair Housing Act that freed us.  It was taking the beating and thereafter not being afraid.  So, sorry Mrs. Clinton, as much as I admire you, you were wrong on this one.  Our people freed ourselves and those Acts, as important as they were, were only white people officially recognizing what we had done.

PS.  I really shouldn’t have to add this but please — don’t ever confuse someone criticizing you or telling you bad things over the internet with what happened to people during the civil rights movement.  Don’t.  Just don’t do it.  Don’t go there.

PSS  Weird, but it kind of sounds like what V did to Evie.

UPDATE:  There is a major, major hole in this essay as pointed out by FrankAletha downthread — While I was focusing on the effect on black men, she points out that similarly randomized sexual violence against black women was as severe and common and probably more so, because while violence against black men was ritualistic, violence against black women was routine.

UPDATE 2: Rec list — I’m honored!!!

Mandela’s Legacy

If you have been close to any News source today then you know that ailing former leader of South Africa Nelson Mandela has passed away.

A lot of people will be talking about his life and struggles, and apt comparisons to Ghandi and MLK – but one of the key things that probably won’t be discussed much is his accomplishments in modernizing and opening SOuth Africa’s economy to the formerly oppressed. That may well be his greatest accomplishment – to mold a country back together after a century or more of dysfunction …

During Apartheid the South African economy was held up by the twin mineral riches of gold and diamonds. Unfortunately those mines are pretty much played out. Besides trying to create a system wherein black Africans shared in the economy with their white counterparts the country needed to restructure the basis for i’s economy in terms of producing new goods to trade. Doing so meant breaking up the Apartheid Plantation system wherein whites owned 95% of the arable land in the country, slicing off a portion (not all) of these holdings into community corporations which could develop businesses. This launched the South African wine business into world competitiveness. It also allowed the country to develop regional trade relationships for manufactured goods and agricultural products. The result was that the income level of both white and black South African rose significantly.

The country still has a long way to go. One of the principal problems is a massive influx of immigrants from other parts of Africa who want to share in South African’s success. The formerly black Township of Soweto swelled from 3 million to nearly 20 million  people today in the last 15 years. The result of this is a 25% unemployment rate, despite a relatively healthy economy.

Rest in Peace President Mandela, and look proudly what your country has accomplished, your Long Walk is ended.

Remembering Nelson Mandela’s Unsung Economic Legacy

Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at age 95, was the most important leader in South Africa’s history and one of the global giants of his time. What people often overlook, however, is the role Mandela played in building up Africa’s largest economy. Nearly as consequential as Mandela’s moral example was his skill in managing the transition from apartheid without widespread violence, repression, or economic collapse.

Mandela believed strongly in the link between economic and political progress. Soon after his release from prison, Mandela argued that there must be “a fundamental restructuring of our political and economic systems to ensure that the inequalities of apartheid are addressed.” At the core of white minority rule had been the “homelands”: a system that kept almost half of South Africa’s population confined to semi-independent or supposedly sovereign states without the freedom to move or look for jobs in the rest of the country. The collapse of apartheid meant the end of those restrictions. The myriad legal restraints that prevented blacks and “coloreds” from gaining promotions—or access to jobs at all—were removed as well. From a state made up of 11 “countries” and three legally distinct racial groups—all with markedly different rights to move, work, and invest—South Africa became one economy. Think of it as opening borders to mass migration under the worst possible circumstances.

The dismantling of the homeland system, however, was by no means a certainty in the early days of Mandela’s presidency. The supposedly “sovereign” homeland of Bophuthatswana, home to 2.5 million, and semi-autonomous Kwazulu both threatened civil war over the dismantling of the homelands.  Relations between the African National Congress and the Zulu Inkatha Freedom party have remained tense—and sporadically violent—since the end of apartheid. But national unity and economic stability were both preserved largely through negotiation and compromise.

South Africa’s gross domestic product growth rate, meanwhile, picked up considerably under Mandela. Economic growth rose from less than 1.5 percent from 1980 to 1994 to slightly under 3 percent from 1995 to 2003. Despite the sudden influx of internal migrants with the legal right to compete equally for jobs, average personal incomes for white South Africans increased by 62 percent from 1993 to 2008, according to University of Cape Town economist Murray Leibbrandt. Average incomes for Africans themselves increased even faster—by 93 percent over that period.

As educational opportunities expanded, secondary enrollment rates increased from 50 percent to 70 percent from 1994 to 2005. The government also rolled out a range of infrastructure services: The proportion of the country that cooked using electricity from the mains climbed from 45 percent in 1993 to 73 percent by 2011, for example.

South Africa has become an increasingly important source of economic opportunity for its neighbors. South African investment accounts for around 70 percent of intra-regional investment flows. Imports from the Southern Africa Development Community—the regional trade block which South Africa joined upon its independence—climbed from $16.3 billion in 1993 to $68.7 billion in 2006. The number of migrants in South Africa—nearly all from other countries in the region—increased from 3.3 percent to 3.7 percent of the population between 1990 and 2010. There are now approximately 3.3 million SADC nationals living in South Africa; remittances from those migrants back to their home countries amount to close on $1 billion a year, according to South Africa’s FinMark Trust. The trust reports a 2005 survey of Zimbabwean remittance recipients in which more than half of respondents “agreed that they would have grown sick with hunger” in the absence of remittance payments.

Some tragic mistakes were made by President Mandela and his successors. The HIV/AIDS crisis and the government’s late and sporadic response to it shaved years off life expectancy. In 1993 4 percent of pregnant women in the country were HIV-positive. That climbed to 28 percent 10 years later, before finally leveling out. Today, a little more than one in 10 of the population is HIV-positive. Unemployment has remained stubbornly high—around 25 percent—and the gap between rich and poor is still wide. In 1993, the average white had an income more than nine times the average African. By 2008 that had dropped—but only to a little less than an eightfold income gap according to analysis by Leibbrandt.

Progress against poverty was even slower than these figures might suggest. That’s because inequality within the African population grew rapidly for the first decade of independence—a trend arrested only by the rapid expansion of social safety net programs in the last few years. (About 30 percent of South Africans benefited from social grants in 2010—up from 13 percent in 2002). Poverty in South Africa remains almost uniquely an African phenomenon. All but six percent of whites have piped water in their homes, for example, while two-thirds of Africans lacked access to it.

It’s worth considering the alternatives. At independence, South Africans looked north to Zimbabwe as a reasonably successful model of how things could work out after a difficult transition to majority rule. They’re extremely lucky that South Africa, under Mandela’s guidance, took a different path. Starting in the 1990s, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe ordered land “reforms” that took property from white farmers and awarded it to his cronies and henchmen, slashing output as a result. By the turn of the century, Zimbabwe’s inflation rate was heading over 100 percent; by 2006 it would top 1,000 percent. Zimbabwe’s economy remains in a state of punch-drunk torpor.

Some may be disappointed that Mandela failed to create an African lion to challenge the East Asian tigers in terms of growth and poverty reduction. But the nonviolent absorption of a considerable majority of the population into an economy from which they had previously been excluded, all while incomes and access to services improved and civil rights were respected, was an incredible accomplishment—one that owes much to Mandela’s leadership. Let’s hope his successors preserve that legacy.

Sonic Happiness

Moved a while back, and had to seriously downsize. Amazing what you collect through the years!

One of the “victims” of that was my mega-stereo… There is just nowhere rational that a single guy is going to live that will fit refrigerator sized speakers…

Damn.

So out with the Klipshs went the Conrad Johnson amps, the backup Nakamichi Dragon…The rock-a-small-stadium subs…

It was PAINFUL!

Fortunately I figured out I could keep a few things…On my way to find a tall building to leap from.

With a collection of about 1500 albums…I kept one of the turntables. My venerable Denon 62L (Forget lugging the concrete base of the other table…Don’t ask…)

I sold the tube amp (bad move), but kept a couple of Luxmans (The ones before they got bought and trashed by crappy Alpine) and  capable of powering my Infinity Kappa 8s (Don’t try this with most of your modern amps, these puppies will eat them and spit them out as they need about 200 Watts each in reserve power to be happy).The good news is Luxman (and McIntosh and NY Moscode) is back after a reverse IPO into capable hands. Unfortunately, they appear to be trying to pay for the entire IPO off the the sale price of the first two amps…I’ll keep my old babies running, Thank You.

Somehow the needle on the turntable got broken in the move. Now a needle on these things can set you back the cost of an iPod…And if you get crazy – the cost of an iPad…128G (Don’t believe me?). I thought prices had gone down, until I went on one of the Audio forums and learned about $400,000 Stereo systems! Checked on ebay…And the prices were stunning. Found a reasonable deal on a modest unit, and finally got it installed as one of my projects for the weekend.

Proud that my mechanical ability hasn’t failed me yet in a autotune world, In honor of the shutdown, I thought I’d listen to a little “Old Skool” from the Poet/Prophet…

This was the breakout album for Gil Scott Heron. And the lyrics eerily reflect today, even though the events they speak of are of yesteryear…

From “Winter in America”

…The Constitution
A noble piece of paper
With free society
Struggled but it died in vain
And now Democracy is ragtime on the corner
Hoping for some rain
Looks like it’s hoping
Hoping for some rain

And I see the robins
Perched in barren treetops
Watching last-ditch racists marching across the floor
But just like the peace sign that vanished in our dreams
Never had a chance to grow
Never had a chance to grow

And now it’s winter
It’s winter in America
And all of the healers have been killed
Or betrayed
Yeah, but the people know, people know
It’s winter, Lord knows
It’s winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save
Save your souls
From Winter in America

And now it’s winter
Winter in America
And all of the healers done been killed or sent away
Yeah, and the people know, people know
It’s winter
Winter in America
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows, nobody knows
And ain’t nobody fighting
Cause nobody knows what to save…

From “H20Gate Blues”

…How long will the citizens sit and wait?
It’s looking like Europe in ’38
Did they move to stop Hitler before it was too late? (no…)
How long. America before the consequences of
Keeping the school systems segregated
Allowing the press to be intimidated
Watching the price of everything soar
And hearing complaints ’cause the rich want more? (Alright!)
It seems that MacBeth, and not his lady, went mad
We’ve let him eliminate the whole middle class
The dollar’s the only thing we can’t inflate
While the poor go on without a new minimum wage…

America is Not Alone in Spying On It’s Citizens

 

It would seem that other technologically enabled countries are doing much the same thing as the US’s NSA. Indeed, I think if the truth were told, most of Europe and Asia is doing exactly the same thing…

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…

If There Were a 1% Debate… MLK vs. Romney

What would MLK do? What would MLK say?

There is very little evidence that MLK would have anything good to say about today’s Republican Party. Indeed – for many folks today’s Republican have gone about as low as you can go.

Here is a mash up of points by MLK and “Willard” Romney…

Tunisia, Cairo, Tehran, Benghazi, Beijing…Wisconsin

One brutal dictator or repressive government after another, in perhaps the largest series of mass demonstrations th world has ever seen – people are taking to the streets for political freedom, and economic rights…

In Tunisia and Cairo, the world was riveted as everyday citizens braved sometimes brutal violence by their repressive governments to suppress their will… And overthrew dictators.

The battles in other countries like Libya promise to be even more bloody, as hundreds are murdered by the Ghadaffi’s Secret Police and Army thugs. And China, prepares for perhaps another Tienanmen Square style repression suppressing the upstart “Jasmine Revolution”.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin – Americans start the fight to take their country back from the neo-fascists…

The revolution may not be televised… But it will be on YouTube.

Report – Mubarak Resigns, Hands Power to Military

Not sure that Mubarak is “out-out”, but there are numerous reports that he has left Cairo, and recent reports that he has resigned… The Military Council made the following statement -

Mubarak resigns, hands power to military

Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak resigned as president and handed control to the military on Friday, bowing down after a historic 18-day wave of pro-democracy demonstrations by hundreds of thousands. “The people ousted the president,” chanted a crowd of tens of thousands outside his presidential palace in Cairo.

Several hundred thousand protesters massed in Cairo’s central TahrirSquare exploded into joy, waving Egyptian flags, and car horns and celebratory shots in the air were heard around the city of 18 million in joy after Vice President Omar Suleiman made the announcement on national TV just after nightfall.

Mubarak had sought to cling to power, handing some of his authorities to Suleiman while keeping his title. But an explosion of protests Friday rejecting the move appeared to have pushed the military into forcing him out completely. Hundreds of thousands marched throughout the day in cities across the country as soliders stood by, besieging his palace in Cairo and Alexandria and the state TV building.

“In these grave circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave his position as president of the republic,” a grim-looking Suleiman said. “He has mandated the Armed Forces Supreme Council to run the state. God is our protector and succor.”

Nobel Peace laureate Mohammed ElBaradei, whose young suporters were among the organizers of the protest movement, told The Associated Press, “This is the greatest day of my life.”

“The country has been liberated after decades of repression,” he said adding that he expects a “beautiful” transition of power.

If there is hope for Egypt… There may indeed be hope for Americans to get out into the streets and peacefully get our country back on track.

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

MLK III – Still Striving!

Well worth a read. The difference between what MLK stood for and Glenn Beck and the Sno’ Ho’ stand for is simple, and can be seen in current events. King’s vision was for all people, and was inclusive. Beck and Palin are merchants of hate, as evidenced in virtually every word they say. Palin’s defense of Dr. Laura, Becks declaration that President Obama is “anti-white”, the movement’s stand against the “Ground Zero Mosque”, their stand against the Constitutional rights of immigrants, and warping of the very Constitutional principles this country was founded on defines them as the antithesis of King’s Dream.

Still striving for MLK’s dream in the 21st century

This weekend Glenn Beck is to host a “Restoring Honor” rally at the Lincoln Memorial. While it is commendable that this rally will honor the brave men and women of our armed forces, who serve our country with phenomenal dedication, it is clear from the timing and location that the rally’s organizers present this event as also honoring the ideals and contributions of Martin Luther King Jr.

I would like to be clear about what those ideals are.

Vast numbers of Americans know of my father’s leadership in opposing segregation. Yet too many believe that his dream was limited to achieving racial equality. Certainly he sought that objective, but his vision was about more than expanding rights for a single race. He hoped that even in the direst circumstances, we could overcome our differences and replace bitter conflicts with greater understanding, reconciliation and cooperation.

My father championed free speech. He would be the first to say that those participating in Beck’s rally have the right to express their views. But his dream rejected hateful rhetoric and all forms of bigotry or discrimination, whether directed at race, faith, nationality, sexual orientation or political beliefs. He envisioned a world where all people would recognize one another as sisters and brothers in the human family. Throughout his life he advocated compassion for the poor, nonviolence, respect for the dignity of all people and peace for humanity.

Although he was a profoundly religious man, my father did not claim to have an exclusionary “plan” that laid out God’s word for only one group or ideology. He marched side by side with members of every religious faith. Like Abraham Lincoln, my father did not claim that God was on his side; he prayed humbly that he was on God’s side. Continue reading

Sharpton Finally Finds a Place to Grandsta…Errrr…March

You know it’s been hard out there for an old style Civil Rights leader these last few years. Very few, if an issues in the black community have lent themselves to the don the walking shoes and placards and march down main street approach.

Looks like Al has found a new clientele – Hispanics (alway suspected that process didn’t have enough wave in it!)!

The Berlin Wall - Prooof governments can't keep people in, any more than you can keep them out. The last gasp of a dying Government.

In any event, while it is certainly true that the Republicans in Arizona have passed a law of questionable constitutionality – and arguably targets one sector of the population based on ethnicity…

President Obama has already lined up the DOJ to challenge the law in the courts. Other Hispanic Civil Rights, as well as the NAACP will join with the DOJ to file amicus briefs, or file their own cases. Ergo – this was a really stupid grandstanding ploy by Arizona wing-nut racist Republicans, which is under attack already by the leal apparatus of the Federal Government, as well as COngress.

Along comes Al… Let the hyperventilation begin!

Sharpton, other activists compare Arizona immigration law to apartheid, Nazi Germany and Jim Crow

New York activists, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, compared Arizona‘s new immigration law to apartheid, Nazi Germany and the Jim Crow South – and vowed to shut it down with mass protests.

“We will bring Freedom Walkers to Arizona just like Freedom Riders went to the deep south 50 years ago,” Sharpton said yesterday.

Standing with local clergy, elected officials and a leader of the Hispanic Federation, Sharpton said he would mobilize people from across the country to march in Arizona – and get arrested, if necessary – to stop the controversial new law.

“We cannot sit by and allow people to be arbitrarily and unilaterally picked off as suspects because of the color of their skin,” Sharpton said.

Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.) signed a bill last week authorizing police to question individuals about their immigration status if they suspect they could be in the country illegally.

It now faces a slew of legal challenges and a review by the U.S. Department of Justice that was ordered by President Obama.

“When I heard about it, it reminded me of Nazi Germany,” said Hispanic Federation President Lillian Rodríguez López. “It reminded me of South African apartheid.”

Meanwhile, in Washington, Senate Democrats said they planned to use the Arizona law to push for an immigration reform bill, but Republicans said other legislation took precedence.

“The idea that state by state would start developing its own immigration laws in the country – imagine what a patchwork that might look like,” Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) said on NBC‘s “Meet the Press.”

“It’s demanding a national answer to immigration policy.”

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