Tag Archives: Birminham

The Aftermath Of Integration

1I recently had a conversation with a group of young people, none of which lived during the age of government segregation. Each had strongly convoluted opinions about the era that were not based in fact. This made me think about how much the current world view has changed the reality of black life, as it relates to a historical perspective.

First, white folk never wanted it and chatted go back to Africa at the time. It was never intended to be fair or equal! I am not suggesting that integration should not have happened, but it did have a negative impact on black life and the future of African Americans in many ways. Two prominent ways were in the areas of family and black business.

One thing that happened, for sure was that the black community stopped supporting the businesses in their own communities. After segregation, African Americans flocked to support businesses owned by whites and other groups, causing black restaurants, theaters, insurance companies, banks, etc. to almost disappear. Today, black people spend 95 percent of their income at white-owned businesses. Even though the number of black firms has grown 60.5 percent between 2002 and 2007, they only make up 7 percent of all U.S firms and less than .005 percent of all U.S business receipts.

I took the opportunity to educate these young people that in 1865, just after Emancipation, 476,748 free blacks – 1.5 percent of U.S. population– owned .005 percent of the total wealth of the United States. Today, a full 135 years after the abolition of slavery, 44.5 million African Americans – 14.2 percent of the population — possess a meager 1 percent of the national wealth.

If we look at relationships from 1890 to 1950, black women married at higher rates than white women, despite a consistent shortage of black males due to their higher mortality rate. According to a report released by the Washington DC-based think tank the Urban Institute, the state of the African American family is worse today than it was in the 1960s, four years before President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act.

In 1965, only 8 percent of childbirths in the black community occurred out of wedlock. In 2010, out-of-wedlock childbirths in the black community are at an astonishing 72 percent. Researchers Heather Ross and Isabel Sawhill argue that the marital stability is directly related to the husband’s relative socio-economic standing and the size of the earnings difference between men and women.

Instead of focusing on maintaining black male employment to allow them to provide for their families, Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act with full affirmative action for women. The act benefited mostly white women and created a welfare system that encouraged the removal of the black male from the home. Many black men were also dislodged from their families and pushed into the rapidly expanding prison industrial complex that developed in the wake of rising unemployment.

Since integration, the unemployment rate of black men has been spiraling out of control. In 1954, white men had a zero percent unemployment rate, while African-American men experienced a 4 percent rate. By 2010, it was at 16.7 percent for Black men compared to 7.7 percent for white men. The workforce in 1954 was 79 percent African American. By 2011, that number had decreased to 57 percent. The number of employed black women, however, has increased. In 1954, 43 percent of African American women had jobs. By 2011, 54 percent of black women are job holders.

The Civil Rights Movement pushed for laws that would create a colorblind society, where people would not be restricted from access to education, jobs, voting, travel, public accommodations, or housing because of race. However, the legislation did nothing to eradicate white privilege. Michael K. Brown, professor of politics at University of California Santa Cruz, and co-author of“Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society” says in the U.S., “The color of one’s skin still determines success or failure, poverty or affluence, illness or health, prison or college.”

Two percent of all working African Americans work for another African American’s within their own neighborhood. Because of this, professionally trained Black people provide very little economic benefit to the black community. Whereas, prior to integration that number was significantly higher because of segregation people in the black community supported each other to sustain their lives and families.

The Black median household income is about 64 percent that of whites, while the Black median wealth is about 16 percent that of whites. Millions of Black children are being miseducated by people who don’t care about them, and they are unable to compete academically with their peers. At the same time, the criminal justice system has declared war on young Black men with policies such as “stop and frisk” and “three strikes.”

Marcus Garvey warned about this saying:

“Lagging behind in the van of civilization will not prove our higher abilities. Being subservient to the will and caprice of progressive races will not prove anything superior in us. Being satisfied to drink of the dregs from the cup of human progress will not demonstrate our fitness as a people to exist alongside of others, but when of our own initiative we strike out to build industries, governments, and ultimately empires, then and only then will we as a race prove to our Creator and to man in general that we are fit to survive and capable of shaping our own destiny.”

Maybe this proves that once past truths are forgotten, and the myths that are lies are born with an unfounded reality detrimental to all, but those who seek to benefit. As I have often said, “I firmly believe education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair. We can change the world but first, we must change ourselves.” And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Twitter @JohnTWills

Source: Black Atlanta Star


A Long And Mighty Walk

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A season is a time characterized by a particular circumstance, suitable to an indefinite period of time associated with a divine phenomenon known as life. One of the first things I learned in this life was that it is a journey and as an African American it has been a long and mighty walk. During this passage through time, I have come to realize that there are milestones, mountains, and valleys that everyone will encounter. History and even His-Story shows that people of African descent have endured more adversity than any other culture!

Dr. John Henrik Clarke famously said, “History is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is also a compass that people use to find themselves on the map of human geography. History tells a people where they have been and what they have been, where they are and what they are. Most important, history tells a people where they still must go, what they still must be. The relationship of history to the people is the same as the relationship of a mother to her child.”

There are many ghosts of the greats who sacrificed so much for us to exist today. We would not have had our history known if it were not for the great historian Carter G. Woodson. It can also be said that we may not have succeeded in the civil rights movement without a strong Rosa Parks to push Dr. Martin Luther King into bringing the civil rights movement to the forefront of America’s consciousness. The movement evolved to become known as the Black Power Movement that was so strong and so serious that it caused an urgency for America to change rather than prepare for violence from civil unrest.

Dr. Clarke was the powerful mind that many leaders came to for his knowledge. People like Stokely Carmichael, H. Rap Brown and the most notable of the all – Malcolm X. Clarke became Malcolm X’s chief consultant and best friend. His work with Malcolm resulted in one of Malcolm’s greatest speeches – “The ballot or the bullet.”

Dr. Clarke never wrote an autobiography, but he had a huge impact on the minds of his people who continue to embrace the knowledge he left for us. Clarke was born in Union Springs, Alabama on New Year’s Day, in 1915. His was a family of poor sharecroppers. But they soon moved to Columbus, Georgia when he was about four years old. There, he met a school teacher named Eveline Taylor. Clarke said Ms. Taylor told John that she saw something special in him. She saw a thinker. And she said to him:

“It’s no disgrace to be alone. It’s no disgrace to be right when everyone else thinks you are wrong. There’s nothing wrong with being a thinker. Your playing days are over.”

Here’s a eulogy for Dr. Clark written by The Los Angeles Times:

John Henrik Clarke: Activist, Professor and Educator

John Henrik Clarke never got around to writing his life story, which encompassed some of the more turbulent periods in American history.

Dr. Clarke is remembered as someone who put the forgotten history of Africa back into the textbooks, and gave an analysis of history that wasn’t mainstream and for this we honor him so dearly. This man who descended from a family of sharecroppers was born in 1915 in Union Springs, Ga. He left Georgia in 1933 going to Harlem where he became one of the greatest unsung heroes of our time.

His political and community activism began quickly, when Clarke opposed the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in the 1930s. Later, he became a close friend of black activist Malcolm X. Clarke helped to forge a link between Africans and African Americans.

Clarke studied history and literature from 1948 to 1952 at New York University and later at Columbia University. During his career, Clarke edited or wrote 27 books. His editing work included the classic “American Negro Short Stories” in 1966. I just wanted to remind us of this man who brought into remembrance of our Great, Mighty Walk!

Let’s pay homage to one of the most profound and unsung voices of our time. And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Happy Birthday To The First Lady of Civil Rights

This is the story of Rosa Louise McCauley Parks; the greatest, most distinguished African American Woman Civil Rights Activist of our time. The woman known as “The First Lady of Civil Rights”; born February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. Her ancestry was a mixture of African American, Cherokee-Creek and Scots-Irish, which some say accounts for her fair complexion.

Mrs. Parks was highly respected within the local community, as in many segregated communities it was close knit and intertwined. She was the secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP and had recently attended the Highlander Folk School, which was a Tennessee center for workers’ rights and racial equality. Although widely honored in later years for her action, she suffered for it, losing her job as a seamstress in a local department store. Eventually, having to leave Alabama for Detroit Michigan, where she found similar work.

Mrs. Parks remarked that it was the horrifying murder of Emmett Till, in August 1955 was on her mind that day when she proclaimed to be tired of giving in. On November 27, 1955, only four days before she refused to give up her seat, she had attended a mass meeting in Montgomery which focused on this case as well as the recent murders of George W. Lee and Lamar Smith. All of this and the countless crimes perpetrated by southern whites cause her to say “enough.”

After leaving work on December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, Mrs. Parks, then 42, refused to obey the driver of the segregated city bus system who ordered her to give up her seat to make room for a white passenger. Her arrest was the catalyst for a bus boycott that would cripple the city of Montgomery lasting nearly thirteen months. This event lead to what many view as the birth of the modern civil rights movement.

Many believe this act was the first of its kind in the rigidly segregated south but it was not. In 1946 Irene Morgan, and in 1955 Sarah Louise, won rulings before the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Interstate Commerce Commission, respectively, relating to interstate bus travel. Just nine months before Parks refused to give up her seat, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to move from her seat on the same bus system.

Lest we forget that in 1944, athletic star Jackie Robinson took a similar stand in a confrontation with the US Army officer in Texas, refusing to move to the back of a bus. Robinson was brought before a court-martial, which acquitted him. The NAACP had accepted and litigated other cases before, such as that of Irene Morgan ten years earlier, which resulted in a victory in the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Interstate Commerce Clause grounds. The difference as it relates to the many individuals whose arrests for civil disobedience was that Mrs. Parks’ actions sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Let’s journey back to a time when Jim Crow was the law in America, black and white people were segregated in virtually every aspect of daily life and not just in the South. Bus and train companies did not provide separate vehicles for the different races but did enforce seating policies that allocated separate sections for blacks and whites. School bus transportation was unavailable in any form for black schoolchildren in the South.

Before I go any further, on Montgomery buses there was a separation point, the first four rows of bus seats were reserved for white people. Buses had “colored” sections for black people, who made up more than 75% of the bus system’s riders, generally in the rear of the bus. These sections were not fixed in size but were determined by the placement of a movable sign. Black people could sit in the middle rows until the white section was full. Then they had to move to seats in the rear, stand, or, if there was no room, leave the bus.

Black people were not allowed to sit across the aisle from white people. The driver also could move the “colored” section sign, or remove it altogether. If white people were already sitting in the front, black people could board to pay the fare, but then had to disembark and reenter through the rear door. There were times when the bus departed before the black customers who had paid made it to the back entrance.

For years, the black community had complained that the situation was unfair, and Parks was no exception: “My resisting being mistreated on the bus did not begin with that particular arrest…I did a lot of walking in Montgomery.” Parks had her first run-in on the public bus on a rainy day in 1943, when the bus driver, James F. Blake, demanded that she get off the bus and reenter through the back door. As she began to exit by the front door, she dropped her purse. Parks sat down for a moment in a seat for white passengers to pick up her purse. The bus driver was enraged and barely let her step off the bus before speeding off. Ironically that fateful day when she refused to give up her seat, it was the same driver who she would encounter.

It was shortly after the landmark Plessey v Ferguson case that ushered in “separate but equal” in America when Montgomery passed a city ordinance for the purpose of segregating passengers by race. Conductors were given the power to assign seats to accomplish that purpose; however, no passengers would be required to move or give up their seat and stand if the bus was crowded and no other seats were available. Over time and by custom, however, Montgomery bus drivers had adopted the practice of requiring black riders to move whenever there were no white only seats left.

So, following standard practice, bus driver Blake noted that the front of the bus was filled with white passengers, and there were two or three men standing, and thus moved the “colored” section sign behind Parks and demanded that four black people give up their seats in the middle section so that the white passengers could sit. Years later, in recalling the events of the day, Parks said, “When that white driver stepped back toward us, when he waved his hand and ordered us up and out of our seats, I felt a determination cover my body like a quilt on a winter night.”

By Parks’ account, Blake said, “Y’all better make it light on yourselves and let me have those seats.” Three of them complied. Parks said, “The driver wanted us to stand up, the four of us. We didn’t move in the beginning, but he says, ‘Let me have these seats.’ And the other three people moved, but I didn’t.” The black man sitting next to her gave up his seat. Parks moved, but toward the window seat; she did not get up to move to the newly repositioned colored section. Blake then said, “Why don’t you stand up?” Parks responded, “I don’t think I should have to stand up.”

Blake called the police to arrest Parks. When recalling the incident for Eye on the Prize, 1987 public television series on the Civil Rights Movement, Parks said, “When he saw me still sitting, he asked if I was going to stand up, and I said, ‘No, I’m not.’ And he said, ‘Well, if you don’t stand up, I’m going to have to call the police and have you arrested.’ I said, ‘You may do that.” He did, and the world changed that moment.

“People always say that I didn’t give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn’t true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”

Remember her, never forget her, and honor her for all times. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective!!!

Just a Season

AMAZON


Tricky Dick

3There has been a lot of talk about Richard M. Nixon, AKA Tricky Dick, as we remember the upcoming anniversary of his resignation for crimes committed during his presidency. I remember that time well and thought his six years in the White House was pivotal in American military, diplomatic, and political history. Let me be clear, based upon my recollection of that time and the tremendous amount of information released since he resigned to avoid impeachment and possibly prison was that he was a crook. Plain and simple!

Nixon’s presidency was for Nixon – not America, which is why it was cut short by Watergate and his many crimes. Nixon was no doubt “complex” and often “contradictory”. Some scholars view him as liberal, others as moderate, and many more say conservative; all can find ample evidence for each label and conclusive evidence for none of them. As President, Nixon was only as conservative as he could be and only as liberal as he had to be. This was a President, who meant to move the country to the right, and he did. Maybe this is why his personality caused him to be a transitional political figure.

Nixon’s most-celebrated achievements as President was the nuclear arms control agreements with the Soviet Union and the diplomatic opening to China that set the stage for the arms reduction pacts and careful diplomacy that brought about the end of the Cold War. Likewise, the Nixon Doctrine of furnishing aid to allies while expecting them to provide the soldiers to fight in their own defense paved the way for the Reagan Doctrine of supporting proxy armies and the Weinberger Doctrine of sending U.S. armed forces into combat only as a last resort when vital national interests are at stake and objectives clearly defined.

While his slow withdrawal from Vietnam appeared to be a practical application of the Nixon Doctrine, his secretly recorded White House tapes reveal that he expected South Vietnam to collapse after he brought American troops home and prolonged the war to postpone that collapse until after his reelection in 1972.

The Nixon years witnessed the first large-scale integration of public schools in the South. Nixon sought a middle way between the segregationist Wallace and liberal Democrats, whose support of integration was alienating some Southern whites. His hope in doing this was doing well in the South in 1972; he sought to dispose of desegregation as a political issue before then. Soon after his inauguration, he appointed Vice President Agnew to lead a task force, which worked with local leaders, both white and black, to determine how to integrate local schools. This became known of his “Southern Strategy.”

By September 1970, less than ten percent of black children were attending segregated schools. By 1971, however, tensions over desegregation surfaced in Northern cities, with angry protests over the busing of children to schools outside their neighborhood to achieve racial balance. Nixon opposed busing personally but enforced court orders requiring its use. In addition to desegregating public schools, Nixon implemented the Philadelphia Plan in 1970; the first significant federal affirmative action program. He also endorsed the Equal Rights after it passed both houses of Congress in 1972 and went to the states for ratification.

In light of his loss of political support and the near-certainty of impeachment, Nixon resigned the office of the presidency on August 9, 1974, after addressing the nation on television the previous evening. The resignation speech was delivered from the Oval Office and was carried live on radio and television. Nixon stated that he was resigning for the good of the country and asked the nation to support the new president, Gerald Ford. Ford was conveniently chosen as his replacement to pardon him for his crimes, meaning “he got away” with all crimes.

His downfall was the result of the Watergate break-in and the tapes recorded by Trick Dick himself. He said, I have succeeded and sometimes I have failed, while famously saying “I am not a crook.” Nixon’s speech received, generally, favorable initial responses. However, it was an unprecedented humiliation as he was the first American president to resign the office.

Ultimately, the White House tapes did shape the assessment of Nixon’s impact and legacy. They ended his presidency by furnishing proof of his involvement in the Watergate cover-up, fueled a generation’s skepticism about political leaders, and today provide ample evidence of the political calculation behind the most important decisions of his presidency. They make his presidency an object lesson in the difference between image and reality, a lesson that each generation must learn anew.

In my opinion, his worst crime and shameful legacy was his initiation of the “War on Drugs” that was the beginning of the mass incarceration of black people. Frankly, his presidency is responsible for the prison industrial complex that has destroyed millions of lives and families. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


George Duke: Rest In Peace

th (15)Its been one year since we lost the Grammy-winning jazz keyboardist George Duke. Mr. Duke was a producer whose sound infused acoustic jazz, electronic jazz, funk, R&B and soul. Duke was born in San Rafael, Calif. During his stellar 40-year-plus career, he appeared on a number of Frank Zappa albums and played in the Don Ellis Orchestra, Cannonball Adderley’s band and with jazz musician Stanley Clarke. Duke also played keyboard on Michael Jackson’s multi-platinum 1979 album, “Off the Wall.”

Duke began taking piano lessons when he was four years old, after seeing Duke Ellington perform. He said on his website, “I don’t remember it too well … but my mother told me I went crazy… I ran around saying, ‘Get me a piano, get me a piano!’”

Like most of the greats, Duke learned a lot about music from going to church, which helped him add a funk style to his sound. He played in high-school jazz groups and was heavily influenced by Miles Davis. He earned degrees from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and San Francisco State University.

On tour as part of the George Duke Trio, he performed in Los Angeles at a show where Adderley, Zappa and Quincy Jones were in attendance. Duke soon joined Zappa on a tour for a year in 1969. He joined Adderley’s band in 1971. He met Clarke through Adderley, and they formed the Clarke/Duke Project. Their song “Sweet Baby” was a Top 20 hit on the Billboard pop charts.

Mr. Duke became a solo artist in 1976 and released more than 30 solo albums. He also produced for Miles Davis, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick and Natalie Cole. His latest album, “DreamWeaver,” was released and features a touching tribute to her. He worked as musical director for the Soul Train Music Awards and other special events. He also scored songs on soundtracks for “The Five Heartbeats” and “Karate Kid III.”

Every life is born with a purpose. I am honored that I had the pleasure of being inspired by the wonderful music from this man of class and stature. I send my love, respect, and sympathy, from the depth of my heart to the family of George Duke for all the love he left the world. Rest In Peace and we will remember the “Dukey Stick”! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Remembering Trayvon Martin

On this day, a year ago, a coward was acquitted in the murder of Trayvon Martin. Everyone PLEASE take a moment to remember the injustice of this child’s murder as he is now a symbol of injustice, alongside of Emmett Till and others. Next time, it could be your child… God bless you Trayvon.

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The Insanity Of WAR

11I can recall not too long ago, there was a tiny little place in Southeast Asia called Vietnam. When I was there we called it the land of the little people. They were not much more than poor rice farmers, not a mighty army or even a strong political force to any degree. Yet, they were able to defeat the mightiest nation on the planet. America told the American people we need to go there to support then to save democracy, because we had to fight Communism! Well, history tells us how well that worked out.

Millions of people died and were maimed; trillions of dollars were spent in this effort constructed on false pretences. They said this little nation attacked an American ship in the Gulf of Tonkin, which never happened but it was used to get America involved. This war lasted for more than a decade and left with no accolades. In fact, it was not a victory! We saw a similar action in the fifties in a little place called Korea!

Let’s look at today’s industrial military projects. Bush and company took put American in two wars about a decade or so. They told American people it was necessary to defend the “homeland” against terrorism. The Bush wars were also sold based on false pretenses, some say a downright lie. Wars have traditionally been fought for religion reasons in the name of God and of course land has been a reason. It is hard to determine if either of these reasons were the cause of these current wars. Yes, religion is part of it – land, not so much but this war is about what’s in the ground. So I suppose, it is not too far from the script.

In Vietnam, when American left; the enemy took over the entire country in about a week. In Iraq, about 800 ISIS forces took nearly half the country in a week. Not only that but these same 800 men caused 30,000 Iraqis troops to surrender and run away. Does this sound similar?

What is lost, however, is that the Politicians have yet to learn two things: [1] you cannot impose freedom upon people who don’t want it or know what it is and [2] they have not learned to mind their own business and stay out of the affairs of others. Particularly, when American has more than its share of problems here at home!

During the Vietnam War there was a draft, where you were force to go off to your death. This time we have what’s called an all volunteer army, which mean they convince men and women to volunteer to go off to be maimed and die. In Vietnam, most of the soldiers were black and poor. In this war, they are still poor, by and large, however, they are mostly white. Vietnam was about money and so is this war.

Bottom line is this: war is about money and has nothing to do with freedom! If you ask, what is war good for; the answer is nothing – absolutely nothing! What I think we can conclude is that these people who involve America in such conflicts cannot walk a chew gum at the same time because history has shown their way has not worked because not one war has been won in a half a century. Now, they got rich.

It is also important to note that most often these men who start wars have never been to war, which makes it easy to start one. Also, their loved ones and children never fight or die. Maybe a fair draft system might cause the war hawks to think more carefully if the new their children might suffer as a result. This is just a short reflection into the realm of sanity, or at least common sense. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


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