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How the Kentucky Derby Became Whites Only

I had a uncle, born in 1894 who was a professional Jockey. He rode successfully from Maryland to New York – but never in the Kentucky Derby during the 20’s and 30’s. Unfortunately he passed before I could sit down and ask him about his experiences. I do recall a listening to conversation in the early 60’s where he admitted passing for white to race in the South.

The family owned a race track for many years, but it was set up for Harness Racing. Three of my Uncles were involved in that style of horse racing, and one was very successful. When Virginia outlawed para-mutual betting, all of the tracks, about a quarter of which were owned by black folks, shut down.

Image result for black horseracing jockeys

How African-Americans disappeared from the Kentucky Derby

When the horses enter the gate for the 143rd Kentucky Derby, their jockeys will hail from Louisiana, Mexico, Nebraska and France. None will be African-American. That’s been the norm for quite a while. When Marlon St. Julien rode the Derby in 2000, he became the first black man to get a mount since 1921. The Conversation

It wasn’t always this way. The Kentucky Derby, in fact, is closely intertwined with black Americans’ struggles for equality, a history I explore in my book on race and thoroughbred racing. In the 19th century – when horse racing was America’s most popular sport – former slaves populated the ranks of jockeys and trainers, and black men won more than half of the first 25 runnings of the Kentucky Derby. But in the 1890s – as Jim Crow laws destroyed gains black people had made since emancipation – they ended up losing their jobs.

From slavery to the Kentucky Derby

On May 17, 1875, a new track at Churchill Downs ran, for the first time, what it hoped would become its signature event: the Kentucky Derby.

Oliver Lewis.
Hub Pages

Prominent thoroughbred owner H. Price McGrath entered two horses: Aristides and Chesapeake. Aristides’ rider that afternoon was Oliver Lewis, who, like most of his Kentucky Derby foes, was African-American. The horse’s trainer was an elderly former slave named Ansel Williamson.

Lewis was supposed to take Aristides to the lead, tire the field, and then let Chesapeake go on to win. But Aristides simply refused to let his stablemate pass him. He ended up scoring a thrilling victory, starting the Kentucky Derby on its path to international fame.

Meanwhile, men like Lewis and Williamson had shown that free blacks could be accomplished, celebrated members of society.

‘I ride to win’

To many black Americans, Isaac Murphy symbolized this ideal. Between 1884 and 1891, Murphy won three Kentucky Derbys, a mark unequaled until 1945.

Isaac Murphy.
Wikimedia Commons

Born a slave in Kentucky, Murphy, along with black peers like Pike Barnes, Soup Perkins and Willie Simms, rode regularly in integrated competition and earned big paychecks. Black jockeys were even the subjects of celebrity gossip; when Murphy bought a new house, it made the front page of The New York Times. One white memoirist, looking back on his childhood, remembered that “every little boy who took any interest in racing…had an admiration for Isaac Murphy.” After the Civil War, the Constitution guaranteed black male suffrage and equal protection under the law, but Isaac Murphy embodied citizenship in a different way. He was both a black man and a popular hero.

When Murphy rode one of his most famous races, piloting Salvator to victory over Tenny at Sheepshead Bay in 1890, the crusading black journalist T. Thomas Fortune interviewed him after the race. Murphy was friendly, but blunt: “I ride to win.”

Fortune, who was waging a legal battle to desegregate New York hotels, loved that response. It was that kind of determination that would change the world, he told his readers: men like Isaac Murphy, leading by example in the fight to end racism after slavery.

Destined to disappear?

Only a few weeks after the interview with Fortune, Murphy’s career suffered a tremendous blow when he was accused of drinking on the job. He would go on to win another Kentucky Derby the next spring, riding Kingman, a thoroughbred owned by former slave Dudley Allen, the first and only black man to own a Kentucky Derby winner. But Murphy died of heart failure in 1896 at the age of 35 – two months before the Supreme Court made segregation the law of the land in Plessy v. Ferguson.

Black men continued to ride successfully through the 1890s, but their role in the sport was tenuous at best. A Chicago sportswriter grumbled that when he went to the track and saw black fans cheering black riders, he was uncomfortably reminded that black men could vote. The 15th Amendment and Isaac Murphy had opened the door for black Americans, but many whites were eager to slam it shut.

After years of success, black men began getting fewer jobs on the racetrack, losing promotions and opportunities to ride top horses. White jockeys started to openly demand segregated competition. One told the New York Sun in 1908 that one of his black opponents was probably the best jockey he had ever seen, but that he and his colleagues “did not like to have the negro riding in the same races with them.” In a 1905 Washington Post article titled “Negro Rider on Wane,” the writer insisted that black men were inferior and thus destined to disappear from the track, as Native Americans had inevitably disappeared from their homelands.

Black jockey Jimmy Winkfield shot to stardom with consecutive Kentucky Derby victories in 1901 and 1902, but he quickly found it difficult to get more mounts, a pattern that became all too common. He left the United States for a career in Europe, but his contemporaries often weren’t so fortunate.

Their obituaries give us glimpses of the depression and desperation that came with taking pride in a vocation, only to have it wrenched away. Soup Perkins, who won the Kentucky Derby at 15, drank himself to death at 31. The jockey Tom Britton couldn’t find a job and committed suicide by swallowing acid. Albert Isom bought a pistol at a pawnshop and shot himself in the head in front of the clerk.

The history of the Kentucky Derby, then, is also the history of men who were at the forefront of black life in the decades after emancipation – only to pay a terrible price for it.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2017 in Black History

 

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Black Student, Teacher Have Heated Debate Over Use of N*Word

A white teacher defended the use of the N-Word as being commoditized and meaningless anymore. A black student was having none of it.

Seems to me, it is a valid academic discussion. Here is hoping that the administration uses this as a teaching moment instead of penalizing either the Teacher or Students.

‘It’s f*cking racist’: Watch a black teen confront his white teacher who insists on using the N-word

Students angrily confronted a white New Orleans teacher who insisted he could use the most notorious racial slur because it had been drained of its meaning through overuse.

Video recorded Thursday by students at Ben Franklin High School, recently ranked as Louisiana’s top public high school, showed the permanent substitute teacher explaining his position as students angrily and profanely challenged him, reported The Times-Picayune.

“That’s racist as sh*t,” one black student says to the teacher, identified only as “Coach Ryan.” “Why can you not understand that it’s racist for a white man to say ‘n****r’ to a black man? It’s f*cking racist.”

The student then turns to a white classmate and asks if he’d ever use the racial slur, and the other boy agrees he would not, and the black teen then rhetorically asks the rest of his classmates if they would.

“F*ck no, they wouldn’t say ‘n****r,’” he tells the teacher.

The teacher asks the teen if he knows what a “commoditized word” means, and the student asks him to explain the term.

“It’s a word that’s used so many times that it doesn’t mean its original meaning,” the teacher says. “The word has been commoditized so that anyone can use it, and it’s not a negative connotation.”

The student argues that it would have a negative connotation for the teacher to use it to describe him, but the teacher asks why rappers use the racial slur in songs.

“If you say the word, it means friend, but if I say the word, it means something different,” the teacher says.

The teen says the meaning changes, based on the speaker’s race, and the teacher insists that’s not true.

“Not if you want the world to move on,” the teacher says. “If you want this world to be the way it was 50 years ago, then you’re true — you’re right.”

The teenager tries to explain the difference between the full word, n****r, and the truncated colloquialism, n***a.

“Nobody says n****r,” the teacher says, as the teen explodes and his classmates giggle nervously.

“Don’t f*cking say that,” the boy says. “You can’t say ‘n****r’ or ‘f*cking n****r’ … you’re my f*cking teacher, don’t say that sh*t.”

The teacher tries to argue that he could use the word as part of an academic lesson on its history, but the student angrily slams a book down on a desk and tells the teacher to stop using the racial slur.

“Please, it’s a word,” the teacher says. “You cannot go through life acting like a word can affect you.”

Students went after class to the principal’s office to stage a sit-in, but that turned into an impromptu, hour-long assembly on race and racism, the newspaper reported.

The school, which is overseen by the Orleans Parish School Board, is one of the most diverse in New Orleans — with 40 percent white students, 31 percent black, 16 percent Asian, 7 percent Hispanic and 6 percent multi-racial.

Another Franklin teacher also used a racial slur during this school year, students said on social media.

Franklin alumni started an online petition after the latest incident pledging to withhold donations until meaningful action was taken by the school.

The teacher was not on campus Thursday afternoon, and school officials said an investigation of the incident could take several days before any potential disciplinary action was taken.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2017 in Black History, The Post-Racial Life

 

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Where Have All the Black Businesses Gone? Depends on What You Define as a Business…

Not sure the author of this article has much of a grip on the dynamics of change in the black community in the past 50 years. First off is his limiting the scope of “Black Business” to the pre-Civil Rights, Jim Crow enforced black enclaves that formed the majority of the black communities in the US prior to 1965.

That world is, by and large…Gone. The simple fact is, everybody that could, financially…Done left the ghetto.

It also means that black owed businesses no longer had to limit themselves to selling product or services in very limited venues to solely black customers. And it meant that black owned businesses in black only neighborhoods was no longer protected from competition.

So where are the black owned businesses of today?

2012 Black Business Count

Indeed –

Black owned businesses in the United States increased 34.5% between 2007 and 2012 totaling 2.6 million Black firms. More than 95% of these businesses are mostly sole proprietorship or partnerships which have no paid employees. About 4 in 10 black-owned businesses (1.1 Million) in 2012 operated in the health care, social assistance; and other services such as repair, maintenance, personal and laundry services sectors.

Can black folks, and should they do better? You betcha. And there are a number of programs to educate prospective black entrepreneurs to better manage, promote, and finance their business ideas. I personally am very high on the ” Equity Crowdfunding” concept as a replacement for traditional Venture Capital for minority owned firms. The simple fact is, VC is a white boy’s club, which according to Forbes, invests less than .3% of their funds into black owned business despite the fact that black entrepreneurs in tech have higher success rates, and “exit event” (payout) rates calculated to provide returns 7 times more frequently than the typical VC investment in white boys out of college. Crowdfunding doesn’t appear so far to have such stereotype racism, and nearly 30% of the investments are going in to minority owned firms.

Now imagine that in 2020, the new leading source of startup capital is one in which there is a level playing field for minority-owned firms. Based on the experience of at least one equity crowdfunding platform, it’s quite possible that will be the case. In an internal sample of 5,000 companies using EquityNet, the world’s largest equity crowdfunding platform, 32 percent were minority-owned, including 9 percent owned by African-Americans. What’s more, minority-owned firms surveyed on EquityNet, which is based in Fayetteville, Arkansas, were achieving the same funding success rate (20 percent) and seeking similar amounts of capital on average (around $1 million) compared to non-minority-owned firms on EquityNet.

While Crowdfunding doesn’t solve the second or third stage money issues where typical investments can be from $3-20 million, it at least provides a platform whereby the start-up firm can either reach product production , or some level of revenue. With the success rate of equity crowdfunding, you can bet some enterprising financial folks are looking at setting up that second stage funding!

BOB charts 3

Lots of room for growth.

As to that article –

Where Have All the Black-Owned Businesses Gone?

They once served their communities when others wouldn’t, and over the past 30 years, they’ve practically vanished.

At the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., a hallway of glass display cases features more than a century’s worth of black entrepreneurial triumphs. In one is a World War II–era mini parachute manufactured by the black-owned Pacific Parachute Company, home to one of the nation’s first racially integrated production plants. Another displays a giant clock from the R. H. Boyd Publishing Company, among the earliest firms to print materials for black churches and schools. Although small, the exhibit recalls a now largely forgotten legacy: By serving their communities when others wouldn’t, black-owned independent businesses provided avenues of upward mobility for generations of black Americans and supplied critical leadership and financial support for the civil rights movement.

This tradition continues today. Last June, Black Enterprise magazine marked the 44th anniversary of the BE 100s, the magazine’s annual ranking of the nation’s top 100 black-owned businesses. At the top of the list stood World Wide Technology, which, since its founding in 1990, has grown into a global firm with more than $7 billion in revenue and 3,000 employees. Then came companies like Radio One, whose 55 radio stations fan out among 16 national markets. The combined revenues of the companies that made the BE 100s, which also includes Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions, now totals more than $24 billion, a nine-fold increase since 1973, adjusting for inflation.

A closer look at the numbers, however, reveals that these pioneering companies are the exception to a far more alarming trend. The last 30 years also have brought the wholesale collapse of black-owned independent businesses and financial institutions that once anchored black communities across the country. In 1985, 60 black-owned banks were providing financial services to their communities; today, just 23 remain. In 11 states where black-owned banks had headquarters in 1994, not a single one is still in business. Of the 50 black-owned insurance companies that operated during the 1980s, today just two remain.

Over the same period, tens of thousands of black-owned retail establishments and local service companies also have disappeared, having gone out of business or been acquired by larger companies. Reflecting these developments, working-age black Americans have become far less likely to be their own boss than in the 1990s. The per-capita number of black employers, for example, declined by some 12 percent just between 1997 and 2014.

What’s behind these trends, and what’s the implication for American society as a whole? To be sure, at least some of this entrepreneurial decline reflects positive economic developments. A slowly rising share of white-collar salaried jobs are now held by black Americans, who have more options for employment beyond running their own businesses. The movement of millions of black families to integrated suburbs over the last 40 years also is a welcome trend, even if one effect has been to weaken the viability of the many black-owned independent businesses left behind in historically black neighborhoods.

But the decline in entrepreneurship and business ownership among black Americans also is cause for concern. One reason is that it largely reflects not the opening of new avenues of upward mobility, but rather the foreclosing of opportunity. Rates of business ownership and entrepreneurship are falling among black citizens for much the same reason they are declining among whites and Latinos. As large retailers and financial institutions comprise an ever-bigger slice of the national economy, the possibility of starting and maintaining an independent business has dropped. As the Washington Monthly has pointed out, market concentration has played a role in suppressing opportunity and in displacing local economies. Other studies, including a report published last year by President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors, have substantiated these developments….Read the Rest Here

2012 Black Business Revenue

 

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Color Lines – Appearances Can Be Decieving

Race in America is a amorphous thing. Most likely what “classification” you fall into will be based on your looks.

I have a family relationship with the Shinnecock Tribe, and from the pic below, knew this author’s mother, and possibly her father. The Reservation is pretty small, and all of the teens often gathered together at the beach. There was a NYC connection as well. I am not Native American (Not one drop according to my DNA test), however one of my Uncles married a Native American and lived on the reservation. I spent a number of summers both working and visiting the Reservation and am an Honorary Member of the Tribe. Which doesn’t mean anything in terms of identity, but does mean because of my Uncle’s marriage I have a few cousins there.

My family has everything from blonde haired, blue eyed to deepest ebon. The first of which caused a lot of problems back in the day. As a teen, I struggled with the existence of both black and “white” relatives. To understand that, you have to understand the historical context of the 60′ black “awakening”.

I don’t share Ms Joseph’s thoughts about Donezal. The only thing I see there is a tragedy.

Stealth sisterhood: I look white, but I'm also black. And I don't hate Rachel Dolezal

Stealth sisterhood: I look white, but I’m also black. And I don’t hate Rachel Dolezal

I am white, I am black, I am Native American. And I know what it’s like for people not to see all of who I am

On a hot, humid New York City morning in 1980, I stood with my mother in the checkout line of an A&P supermarket near our home. As she pushed our groceries along the cashier’s belt with me trailing behind, mom realized she had forgotten her wallet at home, but she had her checkbook. Leaving me standing alone in the line for a moment while she saw the manager to have her check approved, the clerk refused to bag our groceries and hand them to me. She was black, and I was white. “These groceries belong to that woman over there,” the woman nodded towards my mother. “They ain’t yours.” Confused, I said, “But that’s my mother. I’ll take them for her.” She looked me up and down. “No,” she said, her voice cold.

The clerk refused to believe that indeed I belonged to, and came from, my black mother, until mom returned to find me choking back tears. She gave the clerk a tongue lashing, which was not her style, and we left the market.  Later, mixed Native American and black children threw stones at me near my home on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation as I rode my bike. They yelled, “Get off our land, white girl!” These painful and strange experiences gave me my first taste of racial prejudice, and they have stayed with me all these years.

I am a child of many nations. I am white, I am black, I am Native American. I am West Indian, German, Irish. Brown and light together — integrated, not inter-racial, because race means nothing when you come from everywhere.

This Sunday’s New York Times Race-Related section ran a fascinating piece on DNA and racial identity by West Chester University professor Anita Foeman. For the past decade, she has asked hundreds of people to take part in ancestry DNA tests, and to date, over 2,000 have participated. “But first,” she wrote, “I ask people how they identify themselves racially. It has been very interesting to explore their feelings about the differences between how they define themselves and what their DNA makeup shows when the test results come in.”

Those results are often startling to the subjects and rife with racial stereotypes, Foeman found. According to her studies, some who came up with surprise Asian heritage in spite of looking white or brown noted, “That’s why my son is good at math!” Others who explored African heritage responded, “I thought my biological father might be black; I heard he liked basketball.”  Many of us harbor deeply-rooted prejudices that we aren’t even aware of, until it matters to us.

I don’t remember what mom said that day in the supermarket, but I can tell you that while she had been the object of many, many racist remarks and challenging situations in her life, she was not entirely prepared for what happened that day. That’s not to say she didn’t talk about the reality of how our family was different from others. To try to address the dearth of literary references to kids who looked like me, my mother physically altered my childhood books, using markers to make one parent brown and other other white, while the child originally drawn remained white-appearing, like me. But the scene in the supermarket still took her by surprise.

Confrontations over race can still catch Americans unprepared, such as when Rachel Dolezal, the now-former head of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP, appeared on the media radar. Dolezal, who stopped by Salon recently to talk with me on her book tour, was born white but identifies as black and calls herself “transracial.”

Dolezal was “outed” two years ago by her biological parents for not being black as she had claimed, and subsequently resigned from the NAACP. She became a polarizing figure under heavy media scrutiny as she appeared to dodge questions about her unconventional chosen identity. She has been unable to continue to work as a university instructor of African and African American art history, and to this day is despised by many observers, black and white, for posing as a black person.

My Salon colleague D. Watkins, an African American writer from Baltimore, wondered why Dolezal couldn’t just “use her whiteness to advocate for black people,” rather than making up and living in her own fantasy world where race and ethnicity no longer cause any social or political delineations. He is one of many to hold this opinion, and it’s one I agree with.

Rebecca Carroll wrote for Dame in 2015 about what she calls Dolezal’s “apocalyptic, White privilege on steroids” with a palpable anger shared by many people of color. When I talked to my childhood writing mentor Barbara Campbell, a former New York Times reporter who is African American and has two multiracial sons, she wondered about Dolezal with a mix of anger and genuine confusion. “What is wrong with that woman? I feel empathy for her, because she is clearly delusional, but she can step out into the world as a white woman any time she wants to stop being ‘black.’ Black women don’t have that luxury.”

Campbell explained that growing up in St. Louis, she had many light-skinned relatives who resembled Dolezal and could “pass” for white, but otherwise lived their lives as people of color. “They would go to ‘work white,’ because they could earn more money and get better-paying jobs, but then they would go home and be black.”

But this Dolezal thing — this is a horse of another color entirely. Why, wondered many, would someone white want to live within the very real challenges of being black in America, when she had a choice? Dolezal’s explanation? She doesn’t define herself by race, just a feeling of affinity with the black culture she’s always had.

As one might expect, the last few years have been tough since her exposure, she told me, noting her newly adopted legal name, Nkechi Amare Diallo, which she claimed was a “gift” to her by a Nigerian man. When she arrived at our offices, it was hard to know what to think, or believe. Frankly, it was hard to feel any animosity at all, despite the vitriolic sentiments many of my dark and light-skinned family, friends and colleagues had for Dolezal. She arrived carrying her beautiful, light brown baby son, Langston Hughes (Yes. Stop. That’s his name. What can you do?), who was cared for by her adopted black sister, Esther. Dolezal appeared like any other tired, working mom. I offered her coffee, and empathy, rather than taking an adversarial approach.

I did suggest, however, that some of the passages in her new book, “In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World,” were outrageous and possibly specious. Dolezal shrugged. “I don’t expect everyone to agree with or believe me,” she said. Among her claims: she grew up living in a tee pee in Montana (my Native American percentage shudders). She was beaten by her parents and forced to weave and wear a coat loomed from dog hair. She identified with people of color from an early age, after reading her grandmother’s National Geographic magazines, and spread mud on her face to try to feel what it was like to have brown skin. Dolezal has said some very polemical things, some — dare I say — dumb things, that do not make her a sympathetic figure. Comparing her white Montana childhood to what chattel slaves experienced, even if indeed she was miserable, is a stretch by any measure, and engendered rightful animus from real black folks…Read the Rest Here

 

 
 

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Black…And Jewish – Hebrew Israelites

Black folks can be Jewish. Some claim black folks from Ethiopia were one of the original tribes. This fascinating history is about the formation of what was probably the first black Jewish Congregation in America.

Hebrew Israelite congregants sing during Sabbath worship services, with elders and community leaders nearest the pulpit.

When Passover Is About American Slavery

A plantation houseboy grew up to be a prophet—and inspired a religious movement.

More than 1,000 men and women gathered this past week in coastal Virginia to celebrate Passover and retell the ancient story of how Moses led the Israelites from bondage to freedom. They were observing holiday traditions that Jews all across the world observe—only these celebrants were not Jews.

Their memories of slavery and liberation concerned not a distant past in Egypt, but a story set in the United States. Their prophet was an African American man born into slavery. He preached to a Christian audience, telling them to incorporate Hebraic practices into their faith out of a desire to return to the true Church as he envisioned it, and based his new Church on both Old and New Testaments. Their Promised Land was a plot in Virginia where descendants of black men and women could gather and be safe from the scourge of white supremacy.

Temple Beth El in Belleville is the headquarters of the Church of God and Saints of Christ, the largest and oldest organization of Hebrew Israelites in the country. Hebrew Israelites are people of color, mostly African American, who identify as descendants of the biblical Israelites. Passover is among the holiest weeks on this group’s calendar. Members travel from across the country and abroad to spend days in near-constant worship in a place they call Canaan Land, after the land promised by God to Abraham in the book of Genesis.

“Just as Israelites of the Bible had their Land of Canaan filled with milk and honey, this is our land of milk and honey,” said Melvin Smith, 46, a fourth-generation congregant from nearby Portsmouth, Virginia. “This is our refuge.”

The group remains little known outside its own ranks, despite over a century of history, tens of thousands of members, and outposts that fan across America, Africa, and the Caribbean. Religion scholars are given scarce, if any, access to the organization’s archives. Leadership guards the legacy of the group closely. Photography is rarely permitted inside sanctuaries. Internal materials, like the group’s unique hymnal, are not to be reproduced or shared with outsiders.

“The Church of God and Saints of Christ is one of the most important religious bodies in America that few people have ever heard of,” said Jacob Dorman, professor of history at the University of Kansas and author of Chosen People: The Rise of American Black Israelite Religions.

At an evening service last week, hundreds of congregants filed into pews. The sanctuary, opened only on special holidays, was filled nearly to capacity. Saints, as members call themselves, were dressed in the formal garb that has been part of their tradition for generations. The men wore sashes across their shoulders, long-tailed suit jackets, black kippahs, and white gloves. Some wore thin white prayer shawls, or tallits, on their necks. The women were dressed in sashes, brown pleated skirts, and brightly colored headdresses fixed with glittering brooches.

At the center of the room was a large Torah ark decorated with a fabric banner that read “Shalom” in Hebrew, flanked by two seven-pronged menorahs. The chief rabbi, a retired math professor named Phillip E. McNeil, stood behind the pulpit. At 75, he exudes a quiet authority. He spoke lightly into a microphone and the crowd hushed. They had been worshipping together for a week straight. “Are you tired yet?” McNeil joked. “There’s nothing like worshiping the God of Israel, is there?”

A younger evangelist followed McNeil onto the stage and picked up the Passover theme, which ran through almost every sermon. “I’m here to remember that day we came out of Egypt,” Frank Johnson said. “In every age, He’s still passing over, still executing judgment, still demanding that the oppressed go free.”

A choir of hundreds broke into song, complex four-part a capella sung by heart. The lyrics of the songs are composed by congregants and delivered to them, it’s said, through divine dreams. This evening’s choir master pumped his fists in the air, readjusting the kippah on his head as music filled the sanctuary.

Collin McGhie, from North Carolina, sang along, shifting his weight from right to left and clapping. McGhie was raised a Seventh-day Adventist and joined this organization six years ago. “I come here for a spiritual recharge,” McGhie said.

This past week, it seemed that not only McGhie but the entire congregation had come to spiritually recharge and regain its balance. Last year, the group’s leader, Chief Rabbi Jehu August Crowdy, died suddenly just before Passover. He was only 46. The organization reeled. McNeil was quickly selected to take his place. This Passover marked a year since McNeil assumed the position.

The late Crowdy was the great-grandson of a man named William Saunders Crowdy, who founded the Church of God and Saints of Christ in 1896. He was born in Maryland in 1847 and spent his childhood as an enslaved houseboy on a plantation where his mother was a cook. As a free adult, Crowdy was one of a generation of spiritual leaders who taught that African Americans were descended from the Israelites of the bible—and that they should return to this ancient way of life….Read More About This Fascinating Group Here

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Black History, Giant Negros

 

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Florida Finally Apologizes for Legal “Lynching” and Murder of Groveland Four

The wheels of Justice only took 70 years this time… Took about 15 minutes to convict the boys of something they couldn’t possibly have done.

70 years to admit a wrong that only took 15 minutes to commit.

‘We’re truly sorry’: Fla. apologizes for racial injustice of 1949 ‘Groveland Four’ rape case

In the summer of 1949, a 17-year-old white girl named Norma Padgett accused four black men of kidnapping her from a dark road in central Florida and then, in the back seat of their car, taking turns raping her.

Neighbors quietly doubted the girl’s version of events, and others speculated that the elaborate, detailed account was merely a coverup for the bruises she’d collected from her husband’s suspected beatings.

But this was the era of Jim Crow, in the middle of Lake County, where the local economy was sustained by orange groves that white men relied on black men to nurture.

And there to ensure law and order was Willis V. McCall, a sheriff buoyed by his segregationist, union-busting, white supremacist reputation.

Within days of Padgett’s accusations, three black men from the city of Groveland were in jail and a fourth, Ernest Thomas, was dead, shot and killed by an angry mob — led by McCall — who had chased him 200 miles into the Panhandle. In Groveland, black-owned homes were shot up and burned, sparking chaos so intense the governor eventually sent in the National Guard.

Based on little evidence, a jury quickly convicted the living three.

Charles Greenlee, just 16 at the time, was sent to prison for life.

Samuel Shepherd and Walter Irvin, friends and Army veterans, were sentenced to death, but the U.S. Supreme Court later overturned their convictions and ordered a retrial. Before that could happen, though, McCall shot them both. Shepherd died at the scene, but Irvin — who played dead — survived, and his sentence was later commuted to life in prison.

The saga of the men who became known as the “Groveland Four” has spanned nearly seven decades, tarnished the reputation of the town that endorsed it, inspired a revelatory, Pulitzer Prize-winning book and became the subject of an online petition demanding that Gov. Rick Scott formally exonerate all four.

After 68 years, and several previous failed attempts, the state of Florida has finally found the words that justice had been waiting on all this time: “We’re truly sorry.”

On the floor of the Florida House of Representatives on Tuesday, lawmakers unanimously passed a resolution apologizing to the families of the “Groveland Four” and exonerating the men. It also calls on Scott to expedite the process for granting posthumous pardons.

None of the “Groveland Four” are still living.

“This resolution is us simply saying ‘We’re sorry’ understanding that we will never know nor be able to make up for the pain we have caused,” said Rep. Bobby DuBose, a bill sponsor, according to the Miami Herald.

Then he asked House members to stand and face relatives of the “Groveland Four” who were present.

“As the state of Florida and the House of Representatives,” DuBose said, “we’re truly sorry.”

The formal acknowledgment of the case, now widely considered a racial injustice, has been years in the making. A book by author Gilbert King, “Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America,” revived interest in the decades-old case and unearthed new evidence from once redacted FBI files that cast doubt on Padgett’s version of events.

Then in 2015, after reading King’s book in a college history class, University of Florida student Josh Venkataraman was driving from Orlando back to campus when he passed the road sign for the city of Groveland.

The book had “touched him,” he told a Miami Herald columnist in 2015, but seeing the physical place made it real.

He reached out to Carole Greenlee, the late Charles Greenlee’s daughter, who was living in Nashville, and asked if he could help.

At first the woman was skeptical, but eventually gave Venkataraman her permission to start a petition.

“I’m in the mode of trying to get my father exonerated,” she told the Herald years ago, “and I need all the help I can get.”

Exonerate the Groveland Four” was born, and in the two years since has garnered nearly 9,000 signatures…Read the Rest Here

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2017 in Black History, BlackLivesMatter

 

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Living History – Woman Visits Slave Cabin She Was Born In At National African-American Museum

I can remember 20-30 years ago coming to the Eastern Shore of Virginia and seeing a row of old cabins alongside a large field. Those cabins had been built back in the time of slavery, and were still being used 100 years later, principally to house migrant laborers. They were eventually condemned and torn down.

When Republicans argue that “Civil Rights” are achieved – they discount the experiences of many living black folks old enough to have grown up under Jim Crow, and possibly have known people who were held as slaves.

As if 50 years of ending Jim Crow has erased the experiences of generations of black people.

 

87-Year-Old Woman Sees ‘Slave Cabin’ in Which She Was Born at National African-American Museum 

Isabel Margaret Lewin

It was a cabin that housed people who were enslaved starting in 1853 on Edisto Island, S.C. In 2017, the restored structure sits in the National Museum of African American History and Culture, helping to tell the often overlooked and covered-up stories of our nation’s history. But to Isabell Meggett Lucas, 87, the cabin also tells the story of her own family and her childhood, having been born in that same cabin several decades ago.

Lucas visited the museum Tuesday with several members of her family, amazed to see the two-room wooden house, where she lived with her large family of 11 on Edisto Island, standing before her as a museum exhibit, NBC Washington reports.

“I never knew this all would come to pass,” she said. “Everybody is excited and happy.”

The Point of Pines Plantation “slave cabin” was the only remaining cabin of some 10 that were built in a row on the same patch of land on the planation. The land and cabins were originally owned by Charles Bailey, who had acquired his wealth through slavery, museum curator Nancy Bercaw told the news site.

However, Lucas said that growing up, she did not know that enslaved people had once lived in the space she called home. She recalled sleeping in one of the two bedrooms with her nine brothers while her parents shared the other room.

“When I was a child, we’d get out and play and climb trees.” Lucas said. “I remember my grandmother cooking and feeding us”

According to the news site, Lucas was raised by her grandmother, whom she thought was her mother. She only learned about the identity of her mother after her grandmother died. Her paternal grandparents lived in the same community, in separate cabins.

The cabin did not have electricity, so the children had to do chores such as fetching wood for the stove. The family had a garden behind the house, where they grew okra and beans, and they raised chickens and hogs for food.

Lucas’ mother was also born in the cabin, but moved out in 1981 after the owners sold it.

The cabin was given to the Edisto Island Historic Preservation Society, before eventually being donated to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, painstakingly taken apart piece by piece and being reconstructed, precisely as it was, within the museum.

On Tuesday, many of Lucas’ family members posed before the reconstructed cabin to take a photo to add the day to the family’s large bank of memories.

“This is the most beautiful thing that could’ve happened—the Meggetts coming forward and visiting us and sharing these stories with us,” Bercaw said.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqbwwC2qngY

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2017 in Black History

 

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