The Great Migration

downloadThe Great Migration was the movement of millions of African American’s out of the rural south to the Northeast, Midwest, and West for most of the 20th century. It has come to be known as a migration but it was more likely a “Defection”.

Some historians differentiate between the first Great Migration (1910–1930), numbering about 1.6 million migrants who left mostly rural areas to migrate to northern and Midwestern industrial cities.  After a lull during the Great Depression, a Second Great Migration (1940 to 1970), in which 5 million or more people moved, including many to California and other western cities.

Between 1910 and 1970, blacks moved from 14 states of the South, especially Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, to the other three cultural (and census-designated) regions of the United States. More townspeople with urban skills moved during the second migration. By the end of the Second Great Migration, African Americans had become an urbanized population. More than 80 percent lived in cities. A majority of 53 percent remained in the South, while 40 percent lived in the North and 7 percent in the West.

A reverse migration had gathered strength since 1965, dubbed the New Great Migration, the term for demographic changes from 1965 to the present in which many blacks have returned to the South, generally to states and cities where economic opportunities are the best. Since 1965, economic difficulties of cities in the Northeastern and Midwestern and Midwestern  United States, growth of jobs in the New South with lower costs of living, family and kinship ties, and improving racial relations have all acted to attract African Americans to the Southern United States in substantial numbers.

Please watch this video and never forget our great history. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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The UN Calls United States Out On Its Racism

Thought Provoking Perspectives:

despite the clear signs of turmoil within our own home, this country continues to operate as if it is morally superior to the rest of the world. Among the aforementioned problems, the report also criticized the United States for racial segregation in education; racial profiling; unequal access to legal aide; criminalizing the homeless, who are disproportionally minority; Stand Your Ground laws, which disproportionally affects racial and ethnic minorities; and discrimination in housing.

Originally posted on News One:

Mike Brown

If you asked the average Black person about the state of racism in America, you’ll likely be greeted with boos, hisses, eye rolls, and four-letter words due to the disproportionate number of Black men and women in jail, attacks on our right to vote, widening economic disparities between the races, and rampant police brutality. All of this is under an the administration of the first Black president of the United States. Oh, White supremacy, you sure do know how to put people in their place. And contrary to what the likes of Bill O’Reilly believe, the problems facing Blacks in this country are not rooted in our purported cultural mores…or Beyoncé.

SEE ALSO: St. Paul Police Tase And Arrest Black Man Sitting In Skyway [VIDEO]

Yet, despite the clear signs of turmoil within our own home, this country continues to operate as if it is morally superior to the rest of…

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A MESSAGE TO THE GRASSROOTS

1aListen to the message from the Prophet. Brother Malcolm’s words spoken fifty years ago to the grass roots. Education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair.

 

 


Segregated By Law

On this day, Labor Day, I am reminded of a man who fought and lost a great battle. This could very well apply to many men, but it is Homer Adolphe Plessy that brings me to the topic of this post. It has often been said, “There are no perfect men, only those with perfect intentions.”

Homer Plessy’s decision to buy a railroad ticket for a train trip from New Orleans to Covington, which is on the other side of Lake Pontchartrain affected every person in the country for more than sixty years. It was this event on that fateful day that resulted in a national policy of segregation that became known as “Separate but Equal.”

It was a setup from the start says New Orleans historian Keith Weldon Medley in his book “We as Freemen” who describes how the Comite des Citoyens (Committee of Citizens), an organization of freemen of color, planned the legal strategy for more than a year. They meant to challenge the segregation law using the post-Civil War 14th Amendment’s equal-protection clause.

Plessy, a shoemaker from the Treme neighborhood, volunteered for the job and was the perfect candidate. Seven-eighths white, he was “colored” in the eyes of the law. He bought a first-class ticket, sat in the white rail car and when asked to leave, he answered that he was colored, refused to leave and was arrested by a private detective. It had all been worked out in advance.

Homer Plessy’s paternal grandfather was Germain Plessy, a white Frenchman, arrived in New Orleans with thousands of other Haitian expatriates who fled Haiti in the wake of the slave rebellion led by Toussaint L’Ouverture that wrested Haiti from Napoleon in the 1790’s. Homer Plessy was born less than three months after the issuance of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The New Orleans city directory from 1886-1924 listed his occupations as shoemaker, laborer, clerk, and insurance agent.

As a young man, Plessy displayed a social awareness and served as vice president of the 1880’s educational-reform group. At age thirty, shoemaker Homer Plessy was younger than most members of the Comité des Citoyens. His only attribute to this effort was being white enough to gain access to the train and black enough to be arrested for doing so. He volunteered for a mission rife with unpredictable consequences and backlashes. This shoemaker sought to make an impact on society that was larger than simply making its shoes. When Plessy was a young boy, his stepfather was a signatory to the 1873 Unification Movement—an effort to establish principles of equality in Louisiana.

The Comité des Citoyens (“Citizens’ Committee”) was a civil rights group made up of African Americans, whites, and Creoles. The committee vigorously opposed the recently enacted Separate Car Act and other segregation laws. They retained a white New York City attorney, Albion Winegar Tourgée, who had previously fought for the rights of African Americans.

In 1892, the Citizens’ Committee asked Plessy to agree to violate Louisiana’s Separate Car law that required the segregation of passenger trains by race. On June 7, 1892, Plessy, then thirty years old and resembling in skin color and physical features a white male, bought a first-class ticket on the East Louisiana Railroad running between New Orleans and Covington, the seat of St. Tammany Parish. He sat in the “whites-only” passenger car. When the conductor came to collect his ticket, Plessy told him that he was 7/8 white and that he refused to sit in the “blacks-only” car. Plessy was immediately arrested by Detective Chris C. Cain, put into the Orleans Parish jail, and released the next day on a $500 bond.

Plessy’s case was heard before Judge John Howard Ferguson one month after his arrest. Tourgée argued that Plessy’s civil rights as granted by the Thirteenth and Fourteenth amendments of the U.S. Constitution, had been violated. Ferguson denied this argument and ruled that Louisiana, under state law, had the power to set rules that regulated railroad business within its borders speaking to what segregationist call “States Rights.”

The Louisiana State Supreme Court affirmed Ferguson’s ruling and refused to grant a rehearing, but did allow a petition for writ of error. This petition was accepted by the United States Supreme Court and four years later, in April 1896, arguments for Plessy v. Ferguson began. Tourgée argued that the state of Louisiana had violated the Thirteenth Amendment, that granted freedom to the slaves, and the Fourteenth Amendment, that stated, “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, and property, without due process of law.”

On May 18, 1896, Justice Henry Billings Brown delivered the majority opinion in favor of the State of Louisiana. In part, the opinion read, “The object of the Fourteenth Amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law, but in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based on color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political equality, or a commingling of the two races upon terms unsatisfactory to the either. … If the two races are to meet upon terms of social equality, it must be the result of voluntary consent of the individuals.”

The lone dissenting vote was cast by Justice John Marshall Harlan, a Kentucky Republican. In his dissenting opinion, the first Justice Harlan wrote: “I am of the opinion that the statute of Louisiana is inconsistent with the personal liberty of citizens, white and black, in that state and hostile to both the spirit and letter of the Constitution of the United States.”

The “Separate but Equal” doctrine, enshrined by the Plessy ruling, remained valid until 1954, when it was overturned by the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education and later outlawed completely by the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. Though the Plessy case did not involve education, it formed the legal basis of separate school systems for the following fifty-eight years.

After the Supreme Court ruling, Plessy faded back into relative anonymity. He fathered children, continued to participate in the religious and social life of his community, and later sold and collected insurance for the People’s Life Insurance Company. Plessy died in 1925 at the age of sixty-one, with his obituary reading, “Homer Plessy — on Sunday, March 1, 1925, at 5:10 a.m. beloved husband of Louise Bordenave.” He was buried in the Debergue-Blanco family tomb in St. Louis Cemetery #1.

Know and understand where you came for in order to know where you are going. History often repeats itself and with the makeup of today’s Supreme Court who knows what might develop. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Message From The King

1It is important during these difficult times that we behold these inspiring words spoken by the late great Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The ethos of the body King touches my spirit and these words should also touch your spirit too. As far as I’m concerned he was the most revered leader of our time.

Dr. King’s legacy was to secure progress though civil rights for the American Negro and poor people in the United States, and for this he has become a human rights icon recognized as a martyr. He was posthumously been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, a National Holiday, and honored with a monument on the Washington Mall in DC.

Although, his true story has been sanitized to where most view him as a dreamer. Whereby, this characterization of his legacy is not correct. Let us remember Dr. King as the revolutionary he was; he, like Moses, saw this country as the Egypt of our time. I would ask that you listen to “The King” in his own words. The attached video is, in my view, one of his most succinctly clearly spoken words concerning the American Myth. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

LISTEN TO DR. KING IN HIS OWN WORDS

 


The Village Must Wake Up!!!

1a

I have long wanted to write a message that speaks to black men and family. I know this is a very polarizing and controversial subject, but it’s a crucial piece of the African American Diaspora. I think I can speak to this issue because, not unlike many African Americans, I have been touched by the consequences and the aftermath of not having my father in the home.

This guy abandoned me while I was in my mother’s worm; she was a teenage mother. I never met him until I was about ten and have only been in his presence for maybe two hours in my entire life. However, my grandfather was the man in my life who taught me how to be a man. His teachings resonate profoundly within my every waking moment and dare I say my spirit. I used his teachings to raise my son and to also teach my grandson. It is my passion for sharing the same knowledge with others, as they navigate the troubled waters of life.

We are, as a community in crisis, in terms of Black Men, fatherhood, and family. We need men who give of themselves to the benefit of others, raising children, empowering the community, carry themselves with dignity and respect, but more importantly to “represent”.

It is my sincere desire that we understand that there is a conditioning in our communities by those who control it. This is not an excuse, rather an explanation as to why these behaviors were never unlearned and have been passed down from generation to generation. Over my relatively short lifetime, I have been referred to as Colored, Negro, Afro-American, Black, and an African American, which were the polite terms assigned to make known that African Americans were not American citizens. We are in essence a nation of people living in a nation without a nationality.

Images are and have been projected of black men falsely, most often, glorifying their role in society as thugs, gangstas, criminals, buffoons, clowns, being worthless, and hopeless have permeated for far too long. I know that many of you know this is not the case by and large. Nonetheless, when you open a newspaper or watch TV, this is how we are represented. The assassination of our manhood must end or at least diminished and only we can change it.

The absence of the strong, responsible black man holding it down, in the family and community, is destroying us as a people. I was taught a very significant lesson early in life, and reinforced every day of my life, by my Grandfather who said, “I raised you to be a man and as a man you don’t know what you might have to do but when the time comes you do it”. My interpretation of that daily message was preparation plus opportunity equals SUCCESS and that the difference between a man and a boy is the lessons he learns.

These platitudes are essential to the survival of our children and, frankly, our existence. There needs to be a man in the lives of these boys, and girls, because the father’s role is to be an example, a role model, to guide, direct, and pass on the wisdom he’s gained. For example, how can you expect your daughters to choose a man if she has no model to base a relationship on if the is nothing to gage one on?

Ladies, please stop thinking that you can make your son a man – you can’t. You can raise, teach and nurture him – but you cannot make him a man – because you are not one. It may not or does not have to be your man but there has to be a man present in the lives of these children. Most of you are in church every Sunday but don’t understand the most basic rule of life.

Much respect to the ladies that are holding it down, I applaud you, I know what an enormous job that is, my mother did it, and I was no walk in the park. If it had not been for Granddaddy, I would be lost – dead or in jail. It does take a village to raise a child. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

#JohnWills


The Chess Records Story

In the spirit of our tremendous musical legacy; I would like to share with you the story of the record company that introduced the world to the blues. It is the story of the legendary Chess Records Family. Yes, I am talking about the ghost of the greats, which laid the founders for Rock and Roll.

                                                                 

                            Leonard Chess                                                Phil Chess

Leonard and Phil Chess, two Polish born immigrants, founded Chess Records the pre-eminent Blues label of the 50s and 60s.Eventually they created a monopoly of Chicago music recording, doing sessions and releasing recordings by every major blues performer from John Lee Hooker, Elmore James, “King of the Slide Guitar”, to Bo Diddley through Jimmy Reed, Chuck Berry and everyone in between.

Brothers Phil and Leonard Chess owned the upscale Macamba nightclub on Chicago’s Southside. Chess Records “Home of the Electric Blues” was started by brothers Leonard and Phil Chess in the late forties. Leonard and Phil Chess – two enterprising immigrant brothers from Poland – bought into fledgling Aristocrat Records, a label that had been formed a short time before by Evelyn Aron and her husband.

By the time they got involved with Aristocrat, Leonard and Phil were already aware of what sort of music might sell in the Black community that of a young Delta-born-and-bred slide guitarist: Muddy Waters. Waters had previously recorded for Columbia, the company but none of his work was released. When he recorded “Gypsy Woman” and “Little Anna Mae” for Aristocrat the Chess brothers found in him the means to distinguish their little company from the hundreds of other independent R&B labels springing up across the country.

At the beginning, Leonard and Phil focused their recording and publishing ventures primarily in the area of popular jazz, but soon expanded into blues, receiving their first Billboard recognition in 1947. By 1949 Aristocratic Records which became Chess Records in 1950, was a fixture in the world of music and its recordings and the songs published by Arc Music remain the most impressive collection of blues music in the world.

From their experiences in the nightclub business on the South side of Chicago, the Chess brothers understood the popular preferences of their predominantly African-American audiences, but also saw the marketability of blues music to a broader audience. In the beginning Chess Records was ran as a two man business, with Phil overseeing the nightclub and the offices of Aristocrat/Chess and Arc, while Leonard alternately scouted talent, produced the sessions, and hand delivered fresh recordings to radio stations in the Chicago area.

Willie Dixon

Slide guitarist Robert Nighthawk’s pre-war popularity made him a nice acquisition, and the 1948 session that produced his “My Sweet Lovin’ Woman” was doubly important because it introduced bassist Willie Dixon, an artist whose talent as a producer/songwriter/ session player during the 1950s and 1960s vastly contributed to the label’s long-term success.

McKinley Morganfield aka Muddy Waters and sideman Little Walter

 

 

 

In 1950, the Chess brothers launched Chess Records with Gene Ammons’  “My Foolish Heart,” followed by Waters’ “Rollin’ Stone.” Guitarist Jimmy Rogers made his Chess debut August of 1950, with t “That’s All Right” and “Luedella.” Little Walter who revolutionized the role of the harmonica in Chicago blues with his astonishing flights of amplified fancy. Walter’s legacy is punctuated by his slew of hits during the ’50s: “Mean Old World,” “Off The Wall,” “You’re So Fine,” and the 1955 Dixon-penned R&B chart-topper, “My Babe.”

Chester Burnett aka Howlin’ Wolf

Despite his  success with  local talent, Leonard Chess, aided by Sam Phillips, began to look outside Chicago for talent. Phillips supervised Memphis pianist Roscoe Gordon’s smash “Booted” (1952) and shipped Chess masters by Rufus Thomas, Dr. Isaiah Ross, Joe Hill Louis, and Bobby Bland, but his top contribution to the label’s legacy was Chester Arthur Burnett, a.k.a.  Howlin’ Wolf. With Ike Turner playing the piano both sides of Wolf’s first Phillips-produced Chess 78, “How Many More Years” and “Moanin’ At Midnight,” proved major sellers in 1951. By 1953, Wolf had left Memphis for Chicago, recording more hits including “Who Will Be Next” and “Smokestack Lightnin’.”

Eddie Boyd 

Willie Mabon

                                                  Memphis Slim 

A host of other blues legends recorded for Chess during the early and mid-1950s. Memphis Slim, Eddie Boyd and Willie Mabon, assuredly did. Boyd’s 1953  “24 Hours” and “Third Degree” both sold very well, as did Mabon’s “I Don’t Know” (1952) and “I’m Mad” (1953), both number one R&B smashes.

John Lee Hooker

John Lee Hooker first recorded for Chess in 1950. Joe Williams made the charts that same year with “Every Day I Have The Blues.” Big Bill Broonzy and Washboard Sam recorded  material in ’53 that straddled the fence between pre-war Chicago blues and the brasher new style.Memphis Minnie likewise attempted to resuscitate her career with a 1952 Checker single, “Me And My Chauffeur.” On the jazzier side of the tracks, saxmen Leo Parker, Tab Smith, Lynn Hope, and Eddie Johnson kept things swinging. By the early-1950s, Water’s group added pianist Otis Spann. Though he was now a star in his own right, Little Walter still recorded behind his ex-boss on Waters’ immortal “I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man” and “I’m Ready.”

Rice Miller a/k/a Sonny Boy Williamson II

In 1955  new talent was added to the Chess stable. Sonny Boy Williamson, a blues legend across the Mississippi Delta thanks to his King Biscuit Time radio broadcasts, joined Checker, a Chess subsidiary label.  For his first recording “Don’t Start Me Talkin'” Chess paired him with most of Water’s band. Bo Diddley was signed in 1955 too. His first two-sided smash for Checker, the self-titled “Bo Diddley” and “I’m A Man.

But no one at Chess had the impact on the future of popular music that Chuck Berry did. Berry accepted Water’s advice regarding the advantages of working with Leonard Chess, signing with the label in May of 1955 and his first unforgettable hit, “Maybellene.”

There were also vocal at Chess. Harvey Fuqua’s the Moonglows from Louisville had a 1954 hit with  “Sincerely,” and The Flamingos, a Chicago quintet fronted by Nate Nelson, scored big for Checker in 1956 with their dreamy “I’ll Be Home” and “A Kiss From Your Lips.”

As Berry, Bo, and the vocal groups sold platters by the crates, some of the blues greats that had epitomized Chess during its early years of operation began to recede into the background. But mainstays Muddy, Sonny Boy, and Wolf hung tough, Wolf doing some of his best work during the early ’60s when Dixon wrote “Back Door Man,” “The Red Rooster,” and “Hidden Charms” for him (the latter manically energized by Hubert Sumlin’s elastic guitar work).

In 1960, Dixon recruited younger Chicago blues talent, signing guitarists Buddy Guy (“First Time I Met The Blues” and “Broken Hearted Blues”) and Otis Rush (1960’s “So Many Roads, So Many Trains”)

Etta James

Etta James also made her Chess debut in 1960, scoring no less than four hits for the imprint that year alone. Etta’s magnificent work for Argo (and later Cadet and Chess) over the next 16 years uncovered depths of passion and pain barely
hinted at on her previous waxings. She waxed the torch ballads “At Last” and “Trust In Me” (both major hits in 1961) surrounded by sumptuous strings, rocked the house with a gospel-rooted “Something’s Got A Hold On Me” the next year, and set Muscle Shoals ablaze in ’67 with her strutting “Tell Mama,” sounding equally confident in all three diverse settings.

Fontella Bass

In addition to James had many female artists during the mid-1960s that Jan Bradley (“Mama Didn’t Lie”), Sugar Pie De Santo (“Slip-In Mules”), (“I Had A Talk With My Man”), Fontella Bass (“Rescue Me”), Jackie Ross (“Selfish One”), Jo Ann Garrett (“Stay By My Side”), Laura Lee (“Dirty Man”), and the Gems, whose precocious membership included Minnie Riperton. Even Irma Thomas joined the Chess in 1967, recording in Muscle Shoals. protégé Koko Taylor scored the last Chicago blues hit for Checker in 1966 with her growling “Wang Dang Doodle.”

As rhythm and blues merged with gospel influences to form the basis of soul, Chess was right on top of the trend. Little Milton Campbell who had hits with “We’re Gonna Make It,” “Who’s Cheating Who?” and “Grits Ain’t Groceries.”

The Dells

Along with Little Milton, were the Dells, (“There Is” and “Stay In My Corner”) the Radiants (“Voice Your Choice”), Billy Stewart (“Summertime,” “Sitting In The Park”), Bobby Moore & the Rhythm Aces (“Searching For My Love”), Tony Clarke, James Phelps, and Bobby McClure.

Tommy Tucker’s “Hi-Heel Sneakers,” a huge ’64 hit on Checker, traveled bluesier terrain, while the Ramsey Lewis Trio, with Eldee Young on bass and Red Holt on drums, turned out to be a crossover sensation when their grooving instrumental remakes of “The In Crowd” and “Hang On Sloopy” vaulted up the R&B and pop charts in 1965. Nor was the Chess combine deficient in humor – albums by veteran comics Moms Mabley and Pigmeat “Here Comes The Judge” Markham made sure of that.

Chuck Berry remained at Chess into 1966, seemingly rejuvenated after serving a prison term (his 1964 hits included “No Particular Place To Go” and “You Never Can Tell”). After unwisely switching to Mercury Records for a few lean years, he returned home to Chess and scored his biggest pop hit of all in 1972 with “My Ding-A-Ling.” Bo Diddley recorded a slew of Checker LPs throughout the decade, his trademark beat never faltering.

2120 South Michigan Avenue

So inspired by the magnificent output of Chess were the Rolling Stones that they immortalized the label’s famous address, 2120 S. Michigan Avenue, in song on one of their early LPs.

During this time, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf tried their best to cope with ’60s trends. “Muddy Waters Twist” was admittedly nothing to write home about, but his ’63 Folk Singer LP was a heartening return to his Delta roots, and 1969’s Fathers and Sons set united Muddy with adoring disciples Mike Bloomfield and Paul Butterfield. Though at the tail end of the decade producer Marshall Chess submerged Waters and Wolf in a quagmire of psychedelia, each legend emerged with his vaunted reputation intact.

In 1969, Leonard Chess died, stilling the heart and soul of Chess Records. Earlier that year, he and Phil had sold the company to GRT where producers Ralph Bass and Gene Barge tried their best to hold things together. Sadly, though, the momentum that Chess had long enjoyed quickly began to erode. In 1975, GRT closed down the logo, selling it to All Platinum Records of Englewood, New Jersey.

Finally, in 1985, MCA acquired the rights to the massive Chess catalog. At the start of 1987, MCA Vice President of Catalog Development & Special Markets A&R, Andy McKaie began to mount an ambitious long-term reissue campaign of the invaluable Chess masters – an ongoing program that rages full steam ahead all year long in 1997 with the 50th anniversary celebration.

“The impact of Chess was far wider and greater than any of the others, ranging from the impact of the Chicago blues sound, the Chuck Berry/Bo Diddley School of rock & roll, and the vocal group sounds,” he continues. “The range of that impact was so great that it’s still being felt today.

It was the profound music that made the artists of Cadillac Records the groundbreaking home for black music. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Courtesy of DK Peneny, Published 3/98 – Last update 10/15/2009

 

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