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Ida B. Wells

Google’s search art was in tribute to Ida B. Wells. If you had gone to the search page, you will see this image –

Fearless Journalist And All-Round Badass Ida B. Wells Honored With Google Doodle

Doodle celebrates the civil rights activist’s 153rd birthday.

When Ida B. Wells was 22, she was asked by a conductor of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Company to give up her seat on the train to a white man. She refused, and the conductor attempted to forcibly drag her out of her seat.

Wells wouldn’t budge.

“The moment he caught hold of my arm I fastened my teeth in the back of his hand,” shewrote in her autobiography. “I had braced my feet against the seat in front and was holding to the back, and as he had already been badly bitten he didn’t try it again by himself. He went forward and got the baggageman and another man to help him and of course they succeeded in dragging me out.”

The year was 1884 — about 70 years before Rosa Parks would refuse to give up her seat on an Alabama bus.

Ida B. Wells from the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery

Wells’ life was full of such moments of courage and principle. Born into slavery in Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1862, Wells was a vocal civil rights activist, suffragist and journalist who dedicated her life to fighting inequality.

On July 16, Wells’ 153rd birthday, Google honored the “fearless and uncompromising” woman with a Doodle of her typing away on typewriter, a piece of luggage by her side.

“She was a fierce opponent of segregation and wrote prolifically on the civil injustices that beleaguered her world. By twenty-five she was editor of the Memphis-based Free Speech and Headlight, and continued to publicly decry inequality even after her printing press was destroyed by a mob of locals who opposed her message,” Google wrote in tribute of Wells.

The journalist would go on to work for Chicago’s Daily Inter Ocean and the Chicago Conservator, one of the oldest African-American newspapers in the country. As Google notes, she “also travelled and lectured widely, bringing her fiery and impassioned rhetoric all over the world.”

Wells married Chicago attorney Ferdinand Barrett in 1895. She insisted on keeping her own name, becoming Ida Wells-Barnett — a radical move for the time. The couple had four children.

Wells died in Chicago of kidney failure in 1931. She was 68.

Every year around her birthday, Holly Springs celebrates Wells’ life with a weekend festival. Mayor Kelvin Buck said at this year’s event that people often overlook “the historic significance of Ida B. Wells in the history of the civil rights struggle in the United States,” per the South Reporter.

The South is brutalized to a degree not realized by its own inhabitants, and the very foundation of government, law and order, are imperilled.

“The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.”
Ida B. Wells-Barnett

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2015 in Black History, Giant Negros

 

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The New Southern Myth

The new version of the Southern Myth goes something like this –

Whitewashing the Democratic Party’s History

The Democrats have been sedulously rewriting history for decades. Their preferred version pretends that all of the Democratic racists and segregationists left their party and became Republicans starting in the 1960s. How convenient. If it were true that the South began to turn Republican due to Lyndon Johnson’s passage of the Civil Rights Act, you would expect that the Deep South, the states most associated with racism, would have been the first to move. That’s not what happened. The first southern states to trend Republican were on the periphery: North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Tennessee and Florida. (George Wallace lost these voters in his 1968 bid.) The voters who first migrated to the Republican Party were suburban, prosperous “New South” types. The more Republican the South has become the less racist…

Speaking of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, let’s review (since they don’t teach this in schools): The percentage of House Democrats who supported the legislation? 61 percent. House Republicans? 80 percent. In the Senate, 69 percent of Democrats voted yes, compared with 82 percent of Republicans. (Barry Goldwater, a supporter of the NAACP, voted no because he thought it was unconstitutional.)…

Amusing. But, if you control for region on voting for the Civil Rights Act, you get

281 out of 313 Representatives from Union States voted yes (90%)

8 of 102 from former confederate states voted yes (8%)

72 of 78 Senators from Union States voted yes (92%)

1 of 22 Senators from former confederate states voted yea (5%)

http://www.theguardian.com/com…

Which is the Party of the South now?

Here is a hint…

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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What role for the Black Church?

Historically the Black Church has been instrumental in advocating and advancing Civil Rights, and was central to organizing the protests and coalescing the voice of black people into actionable agendas.

MLK speaking before Ebenezer Baptist’s Congregation

The question today is, with the fundamental changes within the Black Church, is it possible anymore that the Church may regain it’s mantle as a central platform for the battle for Civil Rights?

Arguing against that is the reality that the Black Church in many places isn’t fully tied to it’s geographic community. As black folks have moved out of Urban areas to the burbs, the communities they have left behind, largely become “Commuter Communities”. Ergo, the expats drive to the old black community for services, whether it is a barbershop or beauty salon, or still maintain an allegiance to the old Church. They likely maintain friendships, or have relatives living in the old community. However, the issues with being black in America’s suburbs, and in the inner city are likely to be quite different.

Second is the fractionation of the community by the very Church which should be bringing it back together. Male participation in the Black Church has dropped to historic lows. Part of that has to do with personality cultism on the part of some male Preachers, part has to do with the belief the church really isn’t interested in the problems of black males, whether that perception is fair or not. An interesting analysis was published last year in the Atlanta Black Star – 6 Reasons Young Black People Are Leaving The Church.

Summed by Tony Carter who serves as the Lead Pastor of East Point Church in East Point, Georgia.The article suggest the rise in economic opportunities and social progress is making the church irrelevant. Secondly, in an ever-changing digital age, the church appears stagnant, old fashioned, and unattractive. Thirdly, today’s educated black man and woman have less use for faith in an enlightened age where reason and science answer most of their questions. Fourthly, there is a growing discontent among this generation of blacks with biblical passages that seemingly tolerate or advocate for such social ills as slavery and genocide. Fifthly, the church comes off as intolerant, judgmental, and simplistic when it comes to issues of sexual activity, sexual orientation, and living holy in a sexually free society. Lastly, the article suggested that this generation seeks authenticity whereas the black church today gives the impression that everyone has it all together. In other words, black millennials want to stop pretending.

I believe there is another reason. Far too many black churches have adopted a policy of exclusionism, requiring their parishioners to marry or date only people who believe as they do. That just isn’t a formula for long term success. -especially in a society where only about 42% of black women will ever marry.

Black Churches Led The Civil Rights Movement. Can They Do It Again In Baltimore?

…Many of today’s black pastors, some young activists argue, have moved away from the black church’s traditional role as a center for African-American mobilization. “Today, what we see is churches being appendages of the kind of status-quo body politic,” said Dayvon Love, 28, director of public policy at the Baltimore think tank and activist group Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle. “This has happened generally post-integration, post-civil rights. You have cadres of individual back people who get positioned in white-dominated institutions, and their presence is used as a way to deflect from structural change.”

It sounds like a radical critique, but senior clergy have similar concerns. “If you are a church that’s never in ‘good’ trouble with the powers, then you’re probably in bed with the powers,” the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who holds Martin Luther King Jr.’s former pulpit at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church,told NPR recently. “We’re doing precious little to actually dismantle the American prison-industrial complex, which is the new Jim Crow.”

To be sure, the protest tradition is alive and kicking in some Baltimore churches. Just last month, the Rev. Jamal Bryant, pastor of Empowerment Temple, led a group that briefly shut down a major highway into the city during the morning rush hour to denounce plans for a new juvenile jail.

And the Rev. Ron Owens, a former pastor who organized the Freddie Gray funeral, bristles at the notion that local clergy have been co-opted by the powers that be.

The same group of pastors who led the funeral and the march through the riot were instrumental in getting the U.S. Department of Justice to launch a full-blown investigation of Baltimore police, Owens said. In the week after the riot, Owens said, the group requested meetings with Justice Department officials and held separate sessions with the department’s civil rights chief, Vanita Gupta, and with Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

But Owens said it’s fair to say that such action should have come sooner, and that Baltimore clergy were previously silent on the issue of policing abuses -– even though some had experienced the problem personally. Owens himself recalled a police officer pulling him over and asking why he drove such a nice car. The Freddie Gray case has served as a wake-up call, Owens said.

“I’m glad that the alarm clock has sounded,” Owens said. “I’m the first to say that we were asleep.”…

Pastors who find the critique of co-optation too radical say another charge weighs more heavily: that they have become disengaged from the communities that surround them.

The Rev. Melvin Russell is assistant pastor at Baltimore’s New Beginnings Ministries. But his day job is as a lieutenant colonel in the Baltimore Police Department, where he leads the community partnership division. “When I was coming up,” Russell said, “the churches were community churches. We’re no longer community churches. We have devolved into commuter churches.”

And gaps between congregants and neighborhoods have political consequences, said Michael Leo Owens, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta who has studied urban black churches. “Many of the people who we could argue are most affected by some of the problems that we see with something like, say, the Baltimore Police Department are folks that are not in the pews of these churches,” he said. “So there’s this tremendous disconnect.”

Russell previously served as commander of Baltimore’s Eastern police district, where he pushed hard for residents and community leaders -– including clergy –- to engage directly with people involved in drugs and crime. His message to the church, Russell said, was that they had failed.

“You’ve can’t have a church in a community and at the same time have an open-air drug market right outside the church,” he said. “Something’s wrong with that picture as far as I’m concerned.”

The recent spate of violence has prompted actions that Russell should like: Bryant, the pastor who led last month’s highway shutdown, has announcedthat clergy and other volunteers will patrol hot spots of violence on weekend nights this summer. Bryant also promised midnight basketball tournaments and a Father’s Day march to highlight the violence.

Meanwhile, Hickman is turning Southern Baptist Church church into a center for community redevelopment, building senior housing and other amenities for his East Baltimore neighborhood.

“Politicians and bureaucrats have ignored the church as a community stakeholder and developer and looked for others to come in and save the city,” he said. “But I believe that the church is the ideal place to start with what should happen within the community.”…(more)

In the end analysis, I believe the answer is probably not. The big reason in my mind is that the Black Community in America has changed so radically (geographically, economically, and in vision). The second is that advancing Civil Rights in this day and age involves the exercise of Political power. The simple fact is, black politicians have dropped the ball largely in knee-jerk fighting flash fires, or focusing on the wrong problems. In my view the 42 black Congressmen sitting on the Hill are probably the most useless excuses for elected officials in the country. They have been utterly co-opted. I really find it hard to believe that 20% of the elected official in Congress can’t use the parliamentary tricks commonly used by Republicans to add riders to Bills which advance the cause. If there is some sort of lucid strategy there…

I certainly don’t see it.

If you go back and do some research on how the Civil Rights movement was strategized, and planned – you will  find a group of individuals who laid out a practical strategy and executed it ruthlessly. It took a lot more than organizers or politicians showing up on the front steps of 1st Baptist mouthing their slippery/slithery support.

In the end this is why I think the grass roots organizations rising up around “Black Lives Matter” are a far more effective tool.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2015 in The New Jim Crow

 

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Marching in 1960 Selma…Marching Through Missouri Today

Some things just don’t change. Welcome to Rosebud, Mo…

Journey For Justice Faces Racist Opposition

As they marched from Ferguson to Jefferson City, Missouri protesters were met with an ugly sight.

From the Columbia Missourian:

About 200 people met the marchers as they reached Rosebud around noon, activists said. A display of fried chicken, a melon and a 40-ounce beer bottle had been placed in the street. A Confederate flag flew. Counter-protestors shouted racial epithets.

 One of the counter-protesters was a young boy with a sign that said “go home.”

The group was traveling as part of the “Journey for Justice” march organized by the NAACP.

This is just the latest example of the vicious and sometimes violent opposition Ferguson protesters have faced.

 

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2014 in Domestic terrorism, The Post-Racial Life

 

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Former DC Mayor Marion Barry Dead

Controversial DC Mayor Marion Barry has passed away…

To a lot of the residents of the DC area, Barry represented both some of the best of the area, and some of the worst.

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2014 in Giant Negros

 

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What Martin Luther King Actually Accomplished

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what did they do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Once the beating was over, we were free.

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

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

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

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

UPDATE 2: Rec list — I’m honored!!!

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2014 in Black History, The Post-Racial Life

 

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Civil Rights Leaders Remember JFK

The Belafonte TV Ad

Andrew Young Remembers JFK and MLK’s sorrow at hearing Kennedy had been assasinated –

John Lewis’ remembrance –

 

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2013 in Black History, Domestic terrorism

 

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