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Denied Valor of Black WWII Soldier(s)

One of the thigs they ignore in all of the movies about D-Day is black troops were there. Hitting Omaha beach in the first waves was the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion A Company made up of roughly 500 men. At Utah Beach were  the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion Company B, 582nd Engineer Dump Truck Company, the 385th Quartermaster Truck Company, and the 490th Port Battalion with its 226th, 227th, 228th, and 229th Port Companies made up of 1200 men. Supporting the British at Gold Beach were 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion Company C.

‘Negro’ D-Day Hero Overlooked for Medal of Honor

The faded, type-written piece of paper was buried in a box of 70-year-old documents at a presidential archive, but after it was recently unearthed, the fragile paper shined a spotlight on what a history detective called an injustice that lingers on from the Second World War – that of some black heroes who fought, but were forgotten.

“Here is a Negro from Philadelphia who has been recommended for a suitable award… This is a big enough award so that the President can give it personally, as he has in the case of some white boys,” stated the 1944 U.S. War Department memo to the Franklin D. Roosevelt White House.

The memo was written about Army Cpl. Waverly Woodson, Jr., and the “suitable award” important enough for Roosevelt to consider personally giving Woodson was the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award given for valor. It would recognize his heroic actions as a combat medic on Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944, during the first hours of the Allies’ D-Day invasion of Europe.

But Woodson, who was black, never received the Medal of Honor or the Distinguished Service Cross, the military’s second-highest honor. Now his family, with the help of the author of a new book on his unit and a sympathetic congressman, are trying to restore and highlight a page erased from the history of the Greatest Generation by requesting the Medal of Honor be finally given to him.

“It’s never too late. It’s always possible to right a wrong. We need to let the future generations know what happened in World War II. The younger generation doesn’t even know what World War II was,” Woodson’s widow, Joann, told ABC News in an interview on Tuesday, two days before President Obama is scheduled to bestow a Medal of Honor on a veteran of the War in Afghanistan.

Joann’s late husband, who went by “Woody” and died a decade ago, had been a combat medic with the Army’s all-black segregated 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion and saved dozens, if not hundreds, of troops on the battle-ripped landing area known as Omaha Beach, the stretch of coastline that saw the worst fighting on D-Day. Instead of the highest distinction or the DSC, he received the Bronze Star Medal, the fourth-highest individual military honor.

No records have survived to explain why Woodson was denied a White House ceremony presided over by FDR to receive the Medal of Honor. But one fact remains: not one of the hundreds of thousands of African-Americans who served during World War II received the Medal of Honor at the time.

It wasn’t until 1997 that seven black troops from World War II were given the Medal of Honor by President Clinton, but Woodson was not among them. Woodson, like 16-18 million other soldiers, lost all of his military records in the infamous 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis.

That is, until the Philleo Nash memo was discovered.

“It was tucked in voluminous folders inside dusty boxes,” Linda Hervieux, author of the new book, “Forgotten: The Untold Story of D-Day’s Black Heroes, at Home and Overseas,” told ABC News in an interview.

It was Hervieux who discovered the 1944 memo at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library. It was written by War Department aide Philleo Nash to a colleague, which is the only surviving record known to exist regarding Woodson, who was described in newspapers that served the African-American community in 1944 as the “No. 1 Invasion Hero.” Hervieux spent five years researching her book on Woodson and his outfit, the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion.

Nash was an assistant director in the Office of War Information and wrote the typed page as a memo to Jonathan Daniels, a Roosevelt White House aide. Nash wrote that Woodson’s commanding officer had recommended him for the Distinguished Service Cross, but the office of U.S. Gen. John C. H. Lee in Britain had upgraded the recommendation to the highest decoration.

“Something happened between his commanders deciding he should get the Distinguished Service Cross and be upgraded to the Medal of Honor, but we don’t know what because those records are no longer there,” Hervieux said. “But Waverly Woodson’s heroics on Omaha Beach were clearly ignored and forgotten because the Army was racist to its core.”

Woodson’s little-known Barrage Balloon Battalion was responsible for hoisting huge balloons on the front lines of Normandy, France in an effort to deter German fighter planes from strafing or dive-bombing the infantry, Hervieux recounts in her book.

As a combat medic in the battalion, Woodson fought to save wounded and dying American troops, black and white alike, he was hit by shrapnel in the leg and buttocks but kept working.

“At that time,” Woodson once told an interviewer, “they didn’t care what color my skin was.”

In her book, Hervieux writes, “Throughout the day and night and into the next day, Woodson worked through his pain to save lives. He pulled out bullets, patched gaping wounds, and dispensed blood plasma. He amputated a right foot.”

Hervieux describes Woodson as the 320th’s “undisputed hero,” continuing to save lives during the invasion assault despite being seriously wounded by shrapnel. (When a mine blew up next to the landing craft he was on) After another medic slapped a dressing on his leg, Woodson later recalled wisecracking, “Close. Mighty close.”

Then, after resuscitating another four drowning men, 30 hours after he landed on Omaha Beach, Hervieux said Woodson “collapsed.”

His widow, Joann, now 86 herself, said she married a hero, even if discrimination in the era of Jim Crow left him forgotten by history for decades.

“That’s the kind of man he was,” Joann Woodson told ABC News on Tuesday from her home in Clarksburg, Maryland. “He was dedicated. Under fire, I don’t think he thought about it — his own safety.”





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Posted by on November 11, 2015 in Black History


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All White Jury for White Cop Rapist of 12 Black Women

Kangaroo court, anyone? Looks like the “justice system” in Oklahoma is rigged to let this cop get away with rape.

Critics blast all-white jury for Oklahoma cop accused of raping black women and teens

The trial of the former Oklahoma City police officer accused of a string of sexual assaults against black women began this week with an all-white jury.

Daniel Holtzclaw is alleged to have sexually assaulted 12 women and a 17-year-old girl while on duty. Prosecutors have said he targeted middle-aged black women of limited means who had cause to want to avoid the police, such as outstanding warrants.

Though African Americans make up 16% of the population of Oklahoma County there are no black people among the eight men and four women on the jury.

“We’re very disappointed that we don’t have any minorities on there … We’re not saying justice can’t prevail but we can be suspicious of it being [run] in a manner,” Oklahoma City National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) president Garland Pruitt told KOCO local news, which reported that three black men were not picked from a pool of 24 potential jurors.

The racial composition of juries is attracting national scrutiny. On Monday the supreme court heard a case about alleged racial bias in jury selection during a 1987 murder trial that could impact the way jurors are picked in future; last month a judge in Kentucky dismissed an entire jury because he felt it was not representative of the community.

All-white juries in Oklahoma are “relatively uncommon but certainly not unheard of”, especially outside large urban areas, said Brady Henderson, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oklahoma.

In addition to exclusionary tactics such as peremptory challenges, Henderson said systemic factors risk making Oklahoma juries unrepresentative, especially in federal court where jurors’ names are taken from voter registration lists and a disproportionate number of black people are not registered. In state court, where Holtzclaw is being tried, names are culled from drivers’ licences and ID cards.

Holtzclaw faces 36 charges, including rape, forcible oral sodomy and sexual battery, and could be sentenced to life imprisonment. He has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors contend that Holtzclaw began committing sex crimes in December 2013, when he coerced a hospitalised woman who was high on drugs and handcuffed to a bedrail into performing oral sex, with the promise that the charges would be dropped.

His youngest accuser said she was 17 when he raped her on her mother’s porch after groping her, ostensibly to search for drugs.

A college football standout who became an officer after failing to reach the NFL, Holtzclaw worked a 4pm to 2am shift in northeast Oklahoma City. Detectives used GPS records from his patrol car to place him at the scene of the alleged crimes.


Posted by on November 7, 2015 in Black History, The New Jim Crow


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The History of “Zombies”

The origination of the concept of the “Walking Dead” came from Haiti, It really only has been adopted into the American lexicon in the past 100 years or so. So, on the night before Halloween – the true tale of Zombies…

The original “zombies” were Haitian slaves, condemned to be trapped inside their bodies as slaves forever.

The Tragic, Forgotten History of Zombies

The horror-movie trope owes its heritage to Haitian slaves, who imagined being imprisoned in their bodies forever.

In the original script for 1968’s Night of the Living Dead, the director George A. Romero refers to his flesh-eating antagonists as “ghouls.” Although the film is widely credited with launching zombies into the cultural zeitgeist, it wasn’t until its follow-up 10 years later, the consumerist nightmare Dawn of the Dead, that Romero would actually use the term. While making the first film, Romero understood zombies instead to be the undead Haitian slaves depicted in the 1932 Bela Lugosi horror film White Zombie.

By the time Dawn of the Dead was released in 1978 the cultural tide had shifted completely, and Romero had essentially reinvented the zombie for American audiences. The last 15 years have seen films and TV shows including Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, World War Z, Zombieland, Life After Beth, iZombie, and even the upcoming Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

But the zombie myth is far older and more rooted in history than the blinkered arc of American pop culture suggests. It first appeared in Haiti in the 17th and 18th centuries, when the country was known as Saint-Domingue and ruled by France, which hauled in African slaves to work on sugar plantations. Slavery in Saint-Domingue under the French was extremely brutal: Half of the slaves brought in from Africa were worked to death within a few years, which only led to the capture and import of more. In the hundreds of years since, the zombie myth has been widely appropriated by American pop culture in a way that whitewashes its origins—and turns the undead into a platform for escapist fantasy.

The original brains-eating fiend was a slave not to the flesh of others but to his own. The zombie archetype, as it appeared in Haiti and mirrored the inhumanity that existed there from 1625 to around 1800, was a projection of the African slaves’ relentless misery and subjugation. Haitian slaves believed that dying would release them back to lan guinée, literally Guinea, or Africa in general, a kind of afterlife where they could be free. Though suicide was common among slaves, those who took their own lives wouldn’t be allowed to return to lan guinée. Instead, they’d be condemned to skulk the Hispaniola plantations for eternity, an undead slave at once denied their own bodies and yet trapped inside them—a soulless zombie.

After the Haitian Revolution in 1804 and the end of French colonialism, the zombie became a part of Haiti’s folklore. The myth evolved slightly and was folded into the Voodoo religion, with Haitians believing zombies were corpses reanimated by shamans and voodoo priests. Sorcerers, known as bokor, used their bewitched undead as free labor or to carry out nefarious tasks. This was the post-colonialism zombie, the emblem of a nation haunted by the legacy of slavery and ever wary of its reinstitution. As the UC Irvine professor Amy Wilentz has pointed out in her writing on zombies, on several occasions after the revolution Haiti teetered on the brink of reinstating slavery. The zombies of the Haitian Voodoo religion were a more fractured representation of the anxieties of slavery, mixed as they were with occult trappings of sorcerers and necromancy. Even then, the zombie’s roots in the horrors of slavery were already facing dilution.
It was in this form—Voodoo bokor and black magic—that the Haitian myth first crossed paths with American culture, in the aforementioned White Zombie. Although the film doesn’t begin to transform the undead in the way that Romero’s films and the subsequent zombie industrial complex would, it’s notable for its introduction of white people as interlopers in the zombie legend. It would take another few decades or so, but eventually the memory of Haiti’s colonialist history and the suffering it wrought—millions of Africans worked into the grave—would be excised from the zombie myth for good…

Which is a shame, because the zombie is such a potent symbol. For example, there’s a clear connection between the zombie of slave-driven Saint-Domingue and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s recent exploration of black disembodiment—the body under constant threat of capture, imprisonment, and murder. For Haitian slaves, the invention of the zombie was proof that the abuse they suffered was in a way more powerful than life itself—they had imagined a scenario in which they continued to be slaves even after death. In Between the World and Me, observing a young boy in front of a 7-Eleven, Coates writes, “This was a war for the possession of his body and that would be the war of his whole life.” The same declaration could be transported 1400 miles and 300 years and still hold true.

Instead American pop culture has used the zombie, fraught as it is with history, as a form of escapism, rather than a vehicle to explore its own past or current fears. Writing for GreenCine, Liz Cole is onto something when she says that, whatever their allegorical shadow, zombies are perhaps “indulging our post-apocalyptic fantasies” above all. Elmo Keep notes in The Awl how pop culture tends to romanticize depictions of the end of the world: In these situations, “Petty frustrations and mundane realities of real life all disappear, as do the complexities.” And so the zombie apocalypse isn’t an outlet for fears but for fantasies, functioning as an escape hatch into a world with higher dramatic stakes, fewer people, and the chance to reinvent oneself, for better or worse….Read the Whole Article Here


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The Forgotten Genocide of Black Peoples

Another BBC Documentary explaining how black civilizations and peoples were “erased”…

I had read some time ago an account of a European “explorer” in the 18th or 19th Century who travelled through Southwestern and South Africa destroying evidence of brick and stone buildings and towns such that he could justify that Africans had never developed any form of advanced civilization – but can’t find the reference at the moment.


Posted by on October 24, 2015 in Africa, American Genocide, Black History


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Were the First Americans Black?

Fascinating documentary from the BBC. I doubt anything like this would make American TV.

Research in Brazil now suggests that the earliest settlers in America were not the Native Americans who came from Asia, but another group arriving 30,000 years earlier as part of the migration of people(s) from East Africa which settled parts of South Asia now known as Negritos, and Australia as the “Aborigines”.

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Posted by on October 24, 2015 in Africa, Black History


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The Story of Jeremiah Hamilton – The First Black Wall Street Millionaire

Great tidbit of previously unknown or forgotten history here…

The Story of Wall Street’s First Black Millionaire

Jeremiah Hamilton made white clients do his bidding. He bought insurance policies on ships he purposely destroyed. And in 1875, he died the richest black American.

No one will ever erect a statue honoring Jeremiah G. Hamilton. As an African American broker in the mid-1800s, Hamilton was part of no one’s usable past: Wall Street in that time was completely white, and New York’s black leaders disdained him for his brashness. But his death, in 1875, attracted national attention, and scores of newspapers reported that Hamilton was the richest non-white man in the country and that his estate was worth about $2 million, or about $250 million today.

Hamilton worked in and around Wall Street for 40 years. Far from being some novice feeling his way around the economy’s periphery, he was a skilled and innovative financial manipulator. Unlike later black success stories such as that of Madam C. J. Walker—the early 20th-century manufacturer of beauty products, often assumed to be the first African-American millionaire—who would make their fortunes selling goods to black consumers, Hamilton cut a swath through the thoroughly white New York business world in the middle decades of the 19th century.

He may have been successful, but he was not well-liked. “The notorious colored capitalist long identified with commercial enterprises in this city,” one obituary spat, “is dead and buried.” Rumors of counterfeiting and scams against insurance companies dogged him until he died. Not that the ethics or business practices of many of his antebellum contemporaries could bear too much scrutiny, but Wall Street was never going to be a level playing field for a trailblazing African American. His forays soon earned him the nickname of “The Prince of Darkness.” Others, with even less affection, simply called him “Nigger Hamilton.”

Yet for all that, brokers and merchants generally were more interested in the color of the man’s money than his skin. Not that Hamilton gave a damn one way or the other. In general, he simply carried on amassing his fortune whenever an obstacle arose.

Born in 1807, either in the Caribbean or in Richmond, Virginia (his story of where he came from depended very much on whom he was talking to), Hamilton first made his mark on the historical record in 1828. In that year, the 20-year-old ran a cargo of counterfeit Haitian coin to Port-au-Prince for a consortium of New York merchants. When the Haitian authorities uncovered the criminal enterprise, Hamilton fled.

After news of the abortive expedition broke in New York, the newspapers condemned him. Most notably, the editor of Freedom’s Journal, the first African-American newspaper, cursed Hamilton for what he viewed as his disgraceful role in undermining the existence of the world’s first and only black republic. Under considerable pressure to name names, the African-American entrepreneur kept his silence and the identities of the New York merchants who had bankrolled the counterfeiting expedition were never revealed. Although still young, Hamilton apparently had learned the ways of Wall Street.
Five years later, he had shifted his focus permanently to New York, where he quickly acquired a reputation for over-insuring vessels and then arranging for them to be scuttled, which proved quite lucrative (for him, at least). Indeed, it was businessmen such as Hamilton who drove the nascent marine-insurance industry to organize itself. By 1835 all of the New York marine-insurance companies made no secret that they had collectively agreed never to insure any voyage involving Hamilton.

In the mid-1830s, the United States was in the throes of a real-estate boom, and Hamilton jumped headlong into the frenzy. He bought 47 lots of land in what is present-day Astoria. Even more impressively, he invested heavily in property in Poughkeepsie, buying several tracts of land in the town, an iconic local mansion, and a 400-foot-long wharf. In all, he gambled more than $10 million in today’s money that the boom would continue. Following the herd turned out to be the worst business decision of Hamilton’s life. He had bought at the top of the market, only weeks before what became known as the Panic of 1837. Hamilton dodged his creditors for several years, but, taking adroit advantage of new federal legislation, declared bankruptcy in 1842.

Although Hamilton had bought and sold some stocks in the 1830s, the second act of his New York business career, beginning after 1842, was defined by his Wall Street speculations. His bets did not always pay off, but they most definitely were distinguished by wile and creativity. For instance, in the mid-1840s, he dragged the Poughkeepsie Silk Company into court so that the struggling firm could be legally dissolved, leaving the cash realized from the sale to individual shareholders, including himself.

Perhaps more impressive to modern eyes, Hamilton, by the 1860s, if not earlier, ran what was termed a “pool,” which resembled a hedge fund. It worked like this: Investors pooled their money, depositing it for Hamilton to invest on their behalf. The benefit of such an arrangement was that the pool’s contents were used as an assurance that would let Hamilton borrow more money, so that a much larger sum was available to play the market. It was entirely up to Hamilton to decide which stocks were purchased, but the point of a pool, as with a hedge fund, was to take aggressive and therefore more hazardous positions in the market. In effect, Hamilton was risking other people’s savings in order to speculate.

What may be even more startling today was that white New Yorkers, eager to join Hamilton’s pool, were driven to giving him gifts to gain his favor. In the mid-1860s, Hamilton advised one to “send him a basket of champagne and a box of segars.” Furthermore, Hamilton made it absolutely clear that when it came to such offerings, “he did not want any but the very best.”

Consider the greater historical context of such a statement: In the middle of a war of almost unimaginable carnage over the existence of slavery, less than 12 months after the Draft Riots—New York’s own cataclysm, in which the mutilated bodies of African Americans were hanged from lampposts—an unapologetic wealthy black man let it be known that he was willing to receive cigars and champagne (mind you, only “the very best”) as acknowledgment of his benevolence. In order to gain privileged access to this African American’s wisdom about the market prospects of listed corporations—modern entities beyond most Americans’ understanding that were laying thousands of miles of railroad track and steaming huge iron vessels across oceans—some white New Yorkers were willing to grovel….Read the Rest Here, including Hamilton’s toe to toe battle with Cornelius Vanderbuilt

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Posted by on October 23, 2015 in Black History, Giant Negros


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Correcting History – Free Black Man Convicted of Freeing Slaves in 1840’s Pardoned by Delaware

Righting the historical wrongs. Samuel Burris had titanium plated brass cajones, knowing what would happen to him if he was caught by the slave catchers!

Delaware Governor to Pardon Man Who Helped Slaves Escape

Not even the threat of being sold into slavery could stop Samuel Burris, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, from helping slaves to freedom in the 19th century.

A free black man, Burris was caught helping a slave try to escape from Delaware in 1847. After Burris was tried and found guilty of enticing slaves to escape, part of his sentence was that he be sold into slavery for seven years. Instead, a Pennsylvania anti-slavery society raised the money to purchase him and set him free. And Burris went right back to helping slaves escape.

Now, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has decided to posthumously pardon Burris for that long ago conviction, according to two people who have sought that step.

Ocea Thomas of Atlanta said in a telephone interview Tuesday that she received a phone call last weekend letting her know Markell would pardon Burris, who died in the 1860s and was one of Thomas’ ancestors. Phone and email messages left Tuesday for Markell’s spokeswoman, Kelly Bachman, were not immediately returned.

Thomas says she became emotional after learning that Burris, the brother of her great-great grandmother, would be pardoned.

“I stood there and cried. It was pride. It was relief. I guess justification. All of that,” Thomas said.

Robin Krawitz, a historian at Delaware State University who is writing a book about Burris, said historians don’t know exactly how many slaves Burris helped escape but they do know he continued his work even after his conviction, at great personal risk. Slaveholders and sympathizers eventually complained to the state legislature, saying Burris hadn’t stopped enticing slaves to leave their masters. Burris left the state when lawmakers responded with a law that could have brought a lashing so severe it would have been tantamount to a death sentence.

Thomas, Burris’ relative, says she was told the pardon will take place on Nov. 2, the anniversary of Burris’ conviction. The state had already been planning to unveil a historical marker honoring Burris that day. The marker will be placed in Delaware’s Kent County, near where Burris grew up.

Robert Seeley, of Havertown, Pennsylvania, who had asked the governor earlier this year to pardon Burris and two other men, confirmed that he’d also been contacted about the pardon.

“It’s a victory. It brings honor to the Burris family and it brings justice for Samuel Burris and his descendants. It’s making a wrong a right finally,” Seeley said.

Seeley had asked the governor to pardon Burris as well as two others who had worked to get slaves to freedom: John Hunn and Thomas Garrett, one of Seeley’s relatives who is credited with helping more than 2,000 slaves escape. Seeley says he got the idea after outgoing Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn granted clemency to three abolitionists convicted for hiding and helping escaped slaves.

Seeley says he’s been working with Markell’s office but that the governor can’t issue a pardon in Hunn and Garrett’s cases because they were tried in federal court, not state court. He says President Barack Obama would need to pardon them and that he plans to continue to work on a pardon in their case.

“Even if it comes out to be a proclamation or a declaration or not an official presidential pardon, so be it. We’ll see what we can do,” he said, adding there is “a lot of red tape.”

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Posted by on October 21, 2015 in Black History, Giant Negros


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