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Willie Rogers – Last Tuskegee Airman

Rest in peace, Mr Rogers…

Willie Rogers, the last member of the original Tuskegee Airmen, dead at 101

Rogers was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2007

Willie Rogers, 99, who is considered one of the original Tuskegee Airmen, reflects on his service and his life at home as he will turn 100 years-old on March 4, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Rogers, the oldest surviving member of the original Tuskegee Airmen, has died at the age of 101. Rogers died Friday, Nov. 18, 2016, said Rev. Kenny Irby, the pastor at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

The last member of the original Tuskegee Airmen, Willie Rogers of St. Petersburg, Florida, died Monday. He was 101 years old. The Airmen were members of the first African-American military aviation squadron in U.S. armed forces history.

“He didn’t like a lot of fuss,” said Clinton Glover, Rogers’ nephew. “He was humble. That’s who he was.”

Rogers was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942 and served as a member of the logistics team in the 100th Air Engineer Squad and the Red Tail Angels. During a mission in Italy, Rogers was shot in the stomach and leg by German soldiers in January 1943. He spent three months in a London hospital recovering from his wounds.

On April 29, 1945, following Germany’s surrender and the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp, Rogers, along with other American troops, took inventory of the camp.

Former President George W. Bush welcomed the Tuskegee Airmen’s 300 surviving members to the White House in 2007 and awarded each of them the Congressional Gold Medal. Neither Rogers nor his daughters, Felicia Rogers and Veronica Williams, attended the ceremony, and they didn’t even know about their father’s participation with the group until 2012.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that “part of the reason for that silence, he’d tell his family, was because his work was on the ground in logistics and administration, not in the sky where the heroics took place.”

Six years later in November 2013, Rogers received his Congressional Gold Medal. Besides that award, Rogers’ portrait was placed in the St. Petersburg Museum of History, and he received the keys to the cities of Lakeland and St. Petersburg, Florida.

“He would always say there were many who deserved attention more, but were not here to receive it,” Williams said.

Rogers lived in St. Petersburg after the war and opened his own business — Rogers Radio Sales and Services. He was born in Apalachicola, Florida, in 1915.

From 1942 to 1946, approximately 15,000 men and women participated in the Tuskegee Institute during World War II. The U.S. military trained civilians as part of the Tuskegee Experience, starting in May 1940 when students completed their pilot training program.

The Tuskegee Airmen would turn out to be one of the most successful fighter units in U.S. history — fighting in more than 200 combat missions and never losing a single bomber to enemy fire. No other group can claim that achievement.

Although African-Americans were often discriminated against while serving in the military, Rogers was still able to put that into perspective.

“He could give dates, names, locations of events from the war,” Williams said. “But he didn’t like to give specifics about what occurred to him. He saw things that were bad. And he experienced treatment because he was African-American that wasn’t fair.

“He recognized that we as a people, and he as a black man, have come a long way, but that there is still more to go. But in God’s eyes, there is no color, he’d say. We are all one and he lived by the greatest commandment — to love one another.”

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2016 in Black History

 

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A Pardon for Marcus Garvey?

Nearly 100 years ago, Marcus Garvey was the central figure in a black self-help movement though the Universal Negro Improvement Association. He would champion “Back to Africa”, and actually start a steamship line. Unquestionably, Garvey was an early target of J. Edgar Hoover’s racism.

Marcus Garvey’s son wants President Obama to pardon his famous father. Time is running out.

Julius Garvey

Julius Garvey, the son of black nationalist Marcus Garvey, is pacing the lobby of a Washington hotel. His collar is starched. His glasses polished. He holds a stack of fliers displaying photos of his famous father under a headline that reads, “The Exoneration of Marcus Garvey.”

Julius Garvey, an 83-year-old vascular surgeon, is on a mission to clear his father’s name, tarnished by a 1923 federal mail-fraud conviction that he believes was bogus. He wants the country’s first African American president to pardon the fiery founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association. Marcus Garvey, who died in 1940, led a “back to Africa” campaign that made him a seminal figure in the push for racial and economic justice for black people.

“My father was central to the civil rights movement in the early 20th century,” said Julius Garvey, who lives on Long Island. “His organization was the dominant civil rights organization. It shaped the thinking of that part of the century. It gave birth to the Harlem Renaissance. Black is beautiful — my father was the basis for that ideology.”

Marcus Garvey’s activism is chronicled in the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture. His son was among the 7,000 dignitaries, celebrities and elected officials who were invited to the museum’s opening, where President Obama spoke about the nation’s history of racial oppression.

Marcus Garvey, 1924

The Obama administration rejected a posthumous pardon for Marcus Garvey five years ago. And Julius Garvey says he knows that time is running out, both for him and for Obama’s tenure in the White House.

“It’s urgent from the point of view of this president, because his term is up,” Garvey says. “The point is the injustice has been allowed to sit for [almost] 100 years. It is a continuing injustice that needs to be corrected.”

Marcus Mosiah Garvey was an immigrant from Jamaica who had already foundedthe Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) when he arrived in the United States in 1916. Eventually, the UNIA claimed millions of members around the world — although those figures remain in dispute.

In 1918, Garvey established the Negro World newspaper and a year later bought an auditorium in Harlem. He called it Liberty Hall, where thousands flocked to hear him speak.

“Black people are subjects of ostracism,” Garvey said in 1921 to thunderous applause. “It is sad that our humanity has shown us no more love — no greater sympathy than we are experiencing. Wheresoever you go throughout the world, the black man is discarded as ostracized, as relegated to the lowest of things — social, political and economical.”

Garvey preached that the problem could be solved only through black pride and self-reliance.

In 1921, the UNIA elected Garvey “President of Africa.” In an iconic photo, Garvey and UNIA members marched through the streets of Harlem in military uniforms, carrying banners that read “We Want a Black Civilization.”

To ferry black people and cargo to Africa, Garvey launched a steamship line, which he called the Black Star Line. The company sold stock for $5 a share, allowing black people to own a piece of the steamship.

This sale, along with Garvey’s rhetoric and following, attracted government attention. Soon after World War I, Garvey was targeted by future FBI director J. Edgar Hoover — as part of a “lifelong obsession to neutralize the rise of a black liberator,” Julius Garvey said.

In documents released later, the FBI acknowledged that it began investigating Garvey to find reasons to “deport him as an undesirable alien.”…Read the Rest Here

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2016 in Black History, The Post-Racial Life

 

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The Second Nat Turner Rebellion

Nat Turner was neither the first, or the last black man held in slavery to rebel. He was just the white slave owners worst nightmare come true. During the Revolutionary War entire counties didn’t supply troops to the American Army because of fear of local slave rebellions. Despite the Southern Myth of “happy” plantation life, slave owner knew they were on thin ice, and exercised extreme brutality as a means to keep the slaves cowed. Bacon’s Rebellion, a prelude to the Revolutionary War was fueled and fought by slaves and indentured servants. It is never listed as a slave revolt, because the leader Nathaniel Bacon was an Aristocrat.

Not sure I can see the benefit of what Kalifah, mentioned in the story below, is doing. Black History isn’t just black history…It is American History.

The Racial Politics of Nat Turner Tours

The subject of an acclaimed new movie, the 1831 slave revolt led by Turner is also the focus of two tours, one black and one white, in a region still divided over Turner’s legacy.

Nate Parker entered his film The Birth of a Nation at this year’s Sundance Film Festival with little publicity and no distribution deal. It emerged having garnered the festival’s Grand Jury Prize, Audience Award, and a deal with Fox Searchlight for $17.5 million—the largest deal in Sundance history. Parker both directed and plays the central role of Nat Turner, who planned and carried out the most violent slave insurrection in American history in Virginia in 1831 that left 55 white men, women, and children dead. …

The controversy surrounding Parker’s past has obscured a far more interesting story currently playing out in Southampton County, where for the first time efforts are underway to interpret the 1831 slave rebellion for the general public. It is a promising development that comes amidst reports of police brutality within the black community, an active Black Lives Matter campaign, and a presidential election that has bitterly divided the nation along racial lines on the eve of the conclusion of our nation’s first black presidency. It also points to an increased willingness on the part of museums, historic sites, and even Hollywood to confront the violence of America’s slave past, but it is not without controversy.

It is difficult to exaggerate the challenges involved in interpreting Nat Turner’s controversial life in the place where so much blood was shed. This history remains contested ground for the black and white residents of Jerusalem (now Courtland) and the surrounding county. Local debates about how to interpret and remember Nat Turner point to tightly embraced competing memories of the past that fall along racial lines and more specific disagreements about what kinds of historical sources ought to be given priority, and who has the right to tell these stories.

Such differences stretch all the way back to the event itself and its aftermath, which included the execution of free and enslaved blacks by a community that feared additional violence, the eventual capture of Turner, his trial, and subsequent execution.

Efforts to interpret Turner and his slave rebellion began in 2002, when the Southampton County Historical Society (SCHS) gained possession of the Vaughan House—the only extant building dating back to the 1831 insurrection. Rebecca Vaughan, along with her two sons, niece, and overseer, were killed by Turner’s followers. Once restored, the home will serve as the centerpiece of an exhibit that explores the violent deaths of its occupants as well as the story of slavery in the community and the events that led up to and followed the bloody uprising. Its centerpiece will be the sword that Turner used throughout much of the rebellion.

Much of the history will eventually be shared through roughly 40 wayside markers at 17 stops throughout the county that will be accessible by foot and by car. Early drafts of individual markers reveal a clear commitment to deal with the horrors of chattel slavery in Southampton County as well as its connection to broader events. Visitors will be able to read about obscure slave rebellions such as The Plant Cutter Revolt of 1663, George Boxley Rebellion in 1811, as well as better known moments such as Denmark Vesey’s Revolt in 1822 and Gabriel’s Rebellion of 1800.

Turner’s story is told alongside other notable local African Americans, including Dred Scott, whose unsuccessful legal plea for his freedom was decided by the Supreme Court just a few years before the start of the Civil War. John Brown—not to be confused with the famous abolitionist—escaped slavery and eventually made his way to Great Britain, where he published his autobiography with the help of The British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. Finally, Anthony Gardiner traveled to Liberia with the help of the American Colonization Society and eventually became that nation’s ninth president. By highlighting the lives of these men, the SCHS hopes to frame the broader narrative around the quest for freedom and civil rights.

Any attempt to interpret a story like this for the general public, however, raises difficult questions of interpretation. Is it possible to tell a story that transcends racial divisions? How do you interpret the killing of women and children—a subject that even Nate Parker, who characterizes Turner as a hero, chose to avoid almost entirely in his movie? Most importantly, how should we understand Turner’s actions? Was he a freedom fighter, a murderer, or something else entirely? In short, what is his legacy?

These questions matter to Rick Francis, who is the Southampton County Circuit Court Clerk and belongs to the SCHS. Francis was born and raised in Southampton County and is descended from Nat Turner’s owner. From a very early age, he absorbed and re-told stories passed down by his father and others about members of his extended family, who ended up “on the business end of his ax” as well as others who were aided by local slaves and managed to survive.

While Francis fully supports the efforts of the SCHS to interpret Nat Turner’s rebellion, including its emphasis on white supremacy and the violence of slavery, he betrays a certain uneasiness when asked to evaluate Turner himself and the legacy of his actions. In a recent interview with 60 Minutes, Francis questioned whether emancipation is what motivated Turner and said that whether or not he was a freedom fighter “is not my call to make.”

Francis believes that it is possible for the SCHS—an organization that he admits is overwhelmingly white—to tell an “objective” history of Nat Turner through electronic maps, video, a driver app, artifacts, and primary sources such as The Confessions of Nat Turner penned by white Southampton lawyer Thomas Gray. Gray’s interview with Turner while in his jail cell during his trial was published shortly after his execution. It is an indispensible source for historians, but it remains a challenge to interpret. Francis’s goal from the beginning remains for the public interpretation to stay as far away from the “saint or sinner debate” and “let people come up with their own interpretation.”

But for H. Khalif Khalifah, this is neither satisfactory nor does it allay concerns that the story of Turner itself is being told by the wrong people. Born in Gosport, Alabama, and raised in New York City, Khalifah was introduced to Turner’s history during the height of the civil rights movement through publications distributed by radical black political organizations that referenced the slave as one among many “revolutionaries and militants who had waged a physical fight to Free Black People.” Trained as a master printer, Khalifah eventually started his own company that marketed books about black history to black communities.

In the mid ’80s, Khalifah and his wife moved to Southampton County, Virginia, on 123 acres of the “birth land” of Nat Turner, where he established the Nat Turner Library and Nat Turner Trail tours. He has had very little contact with the SCHS and is not involved in the organization of the new exhibits and trail tour. This distance reflects a deep skepticism that a largely white organization can accurately engage the general public about Turner’s story and the history of slavery.

Khalifah’s tours are geared specifically to African-American tourists and he rarely allows white visitors to join. When asked why, he suggested that “the pain that was visited upon black people is so brutal that emotions may become aroused against white people on the tour.” The language used along the tour adds to his concerns about how whites might respond. Stops along the tour are referred to as “battle sites,” while Turner and his men are referred to as the “Black Liberation Army of 1831.”…The Rest Here

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2016 in Black History

 

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Ava Duvernay…The 13th

Director Ava DuVernay has a new documentary out called The 13th. The documentary is named after the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution, which ended slavery…

Except in one specific instance.

This interview with Ms Duvernay goes into more detail.

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2016 in Black History, BlackLivesMatter, The New Jim Crow

 

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“Walk With Me” – How Judge Damon J. Keith Reshaped America

Judge Damon J. Keith isn’t that well known, and isn’t lauded by most historians. However his impact on Civil Rights, and the Civil Rights of all Americans is incredible. Back in 1992, when the Bush Administration dragged Uncle Tommy Clarence out from under his porch such as to fill the “Black seat” on the Supreme Court left by Thurgood Marshall – Judge Keith was one a dozen or so black Jurists whose qualification far exceeded that of Uncle Tommie.

There is a lesson in courage and determination here I hope the young folks in BLM appreciate and emulate. The way things are shaping up in this country with the Chumph and his violent racist crew…We are going to need it.

 

‘I don’t scare easily’: A 94-year-old judge’s refusal to bow to racism, death threats

Long before federal judge Damon Keith became known as a “crusader for justice,” he was a new Howard University Law School graduate working as a janitor while he studied for the bar exam.

It was 1949, and Keith cleaned the bathrooms at The Detroit News, his hometown newspaper. One day, Keith recalled, he was leaning against a wall in the men’s room with a law dictionary in his hands when he was interrupted.

“What are you reading?” a white reporter asked him.

Keith, the grandson of slaves and a World War II veteran, told the reporter he was studying the law dictionary to prepare for the bar exam.

“What for?” the man asked.

“I’m going to be a lawyer,” Keith responded.

The reporter laughed.

“A black lawyer?” he asked incredulously. “You better keep on mopping.”

Keith, now 94 and still serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Detroit, recounted that story two weeks ago in a Howard University moot courtroom, where students, lawyers, his former clerks and a Supreme Court nominee gathered to watch a new documentary about his life, “Walk with Me: The Trials of Damon J. Keith.”

The following day, the legendary judge sat in the front row as President Obama and black luminaries from across the country celebrated the opening of the Smithsonian’s new African American Museum of History and Culture.

Keith, one of the oldest federal jurists in the country, has been handing down important rulings on racial discrimination, presidential power and other contentious legal issues for nearly 50 years. And he shows no signs of retiring. He’s at his chambers each day by 9 a.m., where the first thing he does is read his Bible, he said. He works until about 5:30 pm.

Last month he issued a scathing 38-page dissent in an Ohio voting rights case, accusing two colleagues on the 6th Circuit Court of turning their backs on African American voters likely to be impacted by restrictions on early and absentee voting. He included photos and biographies of 36 people who died during the long struggle for civil rights and equal protection, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Emmett Till.

“By denying the most vulnerable the right to vote,” he wrote, “the Majority shuts minorities out of our political process. Rather than honor the men and women whose murdered lives opened the doors of our democracy and secured our right to vote, the Majority has abandoned this court’s standard of review in order to conceal the votes of the most defenseless behind the dangerous veneers of factual findings lacking support and legal standards lacking precedent.”

He also warned: “The unfettered right to vote is the bedrock of a free and democratic society—without it, such a society cannot stand.”

Then he created even more of a stir by giving an interview to Slate lamenting “the racist attitude of the majority” and mentioning his two colleagues on the panel, John Rogers and Danny Boggs.

He doesn’t apologize for calling them out by name.

“I thought the panel’s decision was racist,” he told The Post. He noted that his grandparents couldn’t vote in Georgia. His fellow judges, he said, “don’t know what we’ve gone through. They don’t know what I’ve gone through.”

Keith learned the power of the law — and of dissent — when he was student at Howard, where future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was one of his professors…Read the rest Here

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2016 in Black History, BlackLivesMatter, Giant Negros

 

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The Star Spangled Banner…Made by Slave Owners

As usual, there were black hands behind the creation of the US Flag which flew over Ft  McHenry and inspired the Star Spangled Banner.

The Slave Owner Who Stitched the Original Star-Spangled Banner

Mary Young Pickersgill’s deeds made herself an American icon. The name of the slave who aided in her most famous labor has been lost to history.

Image result for Ft MchenryThe 30-foot by 42-foot star spangled banner that inspired the national anthem was made in the summer of 1812 by a 37-year-old Baltimore widow named Mary Young Pickersgill.

She completed the task in six weeks, working late into the night with the assistance of her 13-year-old daughter Caroline Pickersgill, 13-year-old niece Eliza Young, and 15-year-old niece Margaret Young. They were joined by a 13-year-old indentured servant, Grace Wisher, who was African-American, but not a slave and likely working under the same arrangement as she would have been had she been white. 

By some accounts, they were also aided by an African-American who was a slave and who is listed by the census as living in the rented premises that served as Pickersgill’s residence as well as place of business.  The slave’s name is lost to history.

The flag was commissioned at the start of the War of 1812 by U.S. Army Major General George Armistead, the commander at Fort McHenry at the entrance to Baltimore Harbor. Armistead wrote in his instructions: “It is my desire to have a flag so large that the British will have no difficulty seeing it from a distance.”

That meant Pickersgill needed a bigger space than the flag-making shop she had opened after the death of her husband to support herself and the only one of her four children to survive past infancy. Her daughter would write in a letter to Armistead’s daughter:

The flag being so very large, mother was obliged to obtain permission from the proprietors of Claggetts brewery which was in our neighborhood, to spread it out in their malt house; and I remember seeing my mother down on the floor, placing the stars.”

The task would later be termed Herculean, but Hercules was a guy and therefore not likely to have been able to demonstrate such precision along with considerable endurance. Call it Pickersgill-ean. She added a final touch, without which Francis Scott Key might never had been inspired to write the poem that became the lyrics for “The Star Spangled Banner.”

“After the completion of the flag, she superintended the topping of it, having it fastened in the most secure manner to prevent its being torn away by (cannon) balls,” the daughter reported in the letter. “The wisdom of her precaution was shown during the engagement: many shots piercing it, but it still remained firm to the staff.”

Following the battle, Armistead must have understood that this was not just any flag and that Pickersgill was not just any flag maker. Pickersgill’s daughter would write to Armistead’s daughter:

“Your father (Armistead) declared that no one but the maker of the flag should mend it, and requested that the rents should merely be bound around.”

With her renown as the maker of the original star spangled banner, Pickersgill prospered enough to purchase the building where she lived and worked. She was also able to found America’s first organization dedicated to assisting women who had fallen on hard times. Her Impartial Female Humane Society arranged for employment and housing for its beneficiaries, as well as school vouchers for their children. She subsequently established a home for aged women and then one for men.

Pickersgill was a pioneering feminist ideal of all-American entrepreneurship and civic responsibility and she would have seemed the perfect person to have made the Star Spangled Banner were it not for a document dated April 14, 1857. 

As cited in the book Mary Young Pickersgill Flag Maker of the Star-Spangled Banner,” the document passed title of Pickersgill’s building to her daughter at the time of her death six months later. It added:

“Also the following described or mentioned Negro slaves for life to wit: Emily aged thirty years, Jane aged twenty four, and Julia aged twenty four years and Maurice boy three years and also all the furniture goods and chattels and effects belonging to me and now in the dwelling house.”

Pickersgill apparently no longer had the unnamed female slave, who would have been older than those who are listed. The new slaves – for whom no last names are listed — were all born subsequent to the making of the Star Spangled Banner. …More Here

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2016 in American Greed, Black History, Women

 

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Roland Martin Takes Bill O’Reilly to School on Black Patriotism

This is fun!

 

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2016 in Black History, Faux News, The Definition of Racism

 

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