Tag Archives: black lynching

Black History: Roots A Haunting Look At Black History

s-ROOTS-FILM-large300Most of America had never visually seen the horrors of American Slavery until Alex Haley’s groundbreaking television miniseries, “Roots”. It was a shocking realistic visual impact of the horrors of slavery. This powerful story was the first-time African Americans or dare I say the world got to see, feel, and understand what the slave experience was like. Sure we have seen pictures and read books, but the visual presentation of the miniseries was an eye-opening experience, as it remains one of the highest-rated television shows of all time.

If you can recall, the story chronicles the life of an African boy that began in Gambia, West Africa in 1750 where Kunta Kinte while trying to carry out a simple task to catch a bird sees white men carrying firearms, along with their black collaborators. He is captured by black collaborators under the direction of white men, sold to a slave trader and placed aboard a ship to endure what we know as the Middle Passage for the long journey to America.

The ship eventually arrives in Annapolis, Maryland, where the captured Africans are sold at auction as slaves. He was sold to a Virginia plantation where Kunta was given the name Toby. The owner of the plantation assigns an older slave, Fiddler, to teach him to speak English and to train him in the ways of living and working as a chattel slave. Kunta in a persistent struggle to become free again makes several unsuccessful attempts to escape to preserve his Mandinka heritage and maintain his Mandinka roots.

The most chilling aspect of the story, for me, was when an overseer gathers the slaves and directed one of them to whip Kunta after his latest attempt to escape and continues whipping him until he finally acknowledges his new name. Then to settle a debt to his brother, the owner transfers several of his slaves, including Toby and Fiddler, to another plantation where Kunta tries again to escape, but a pair of slave catchers seize him, bind him, and chop off about half his right foot to limit his ability to run away again.

As we watched the miniseries, it took us on a journey through generations of suffering until the climax when Chicken George, Haley’s grandfather, accumulated enough money to move his family to Tennessee to what was as close to freedom as they could hope for at the time. Chicken George purchased land based on the concept “God Bless the child that has his own.”

I don’t want to tell the whole story because I am sure you know it. If not, the movie is well worth viewing again and again. There were then and some now, who say the epic journey of Kunta Kinte was a myth and that it was mere fiction. Those are the people who refuse to understand or see the wretchedness of the state sectioned institution of slavery. To you, unfortunately, this is the foundation of America and for African Americans, this is our sorted legacy that I will argue are the scars that remain.

I’ll end by sharing these words by Maya Angelou: “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” We needed to see this story, and it was shown at the right time for us to understand! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


STRANGE FRUIT

?????????????????Today the news media propagate the fear of terror and how horrible the terrorist are like a drumbeat to produce fear. I wonder why they can’t see the why the terror inflicted upon black over the years was not equally as terrifying. The bombed black communities, killed our leaders, rape and pillaged the black community and its people in ways that can only be described as terror, which some would argue from the day the first African was dragged onto the share of this place the slaves call “merica”.

Of course there was protest and rage, which brings to mind the greatest protest song in history. We know the importance of Billie Holiday’s recording of the song “Strange Fruit” that tells a story that had be told than as it must be told now to our youth and we must never forget. Because when you forget history it is destined to repeat itself. In fact, it is repeating itself, only today it happens in the streets with guns instead of a rope and often times at the hands of so-called justice!

When you look at the almost weekly killings of unarmed black people at the hands of the so-called law, I often wonder why there are not many artists protesting through their craft like the song “Strange Fruit”. That song created immediate outrage and so much controversy it brought to light a grim reminder of an unnecessarily painful and ugly chapter in American history.

The song retains its force because the issues it raises about the legacy of racial terrorism in American society still resonate. The story told in this song compelled its listeners to confront the ugly past, which was genuinely disturbing then, as it is no less disturbing today.

While many people assume Strange Fruit was written by Billie Holiday herself, it actually began as a poem by a Jewish schoolteacher and union activist from the Bronx, who later set it to music. Disturbed by a photograph of a lynching, the teacher wrote in stark verse and brooding melody about the horror of lynching under the pseudonym Lewis Allan in 1938. It was first performed at a New York teacher’s union rally and was brought to the attention of the manager of Cafe Society, a popular Greenwich Village nightclub, who introduced Billy Holiday to the writer.

LISTEN TO THE WORDS AND NEVER FORGET THE TERROR!!!

“Southern trees bear a strange fruit, Blood on the leaves and blood at the root, Black body swinging in the Southern breeze, strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees. Pastoral scene of the gallant South, The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth, Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh, And the sudden smell of burning flesh! Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck, for the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, for the sun to rot, for a tree to drop, here is a strange and bitter crop.”

The version of the song you hear was done by the late Nina Simone. And that’s my THOUGHT PROVOKING PERSPECTIVE…


The Beating And The Aftermath

It’s hard to believe that two decades have passed since the beating of Rodney King and the verdict that resulted in the most violent episode of social unrest in U.S. history, which unfolded before our eyes. Maybe I should qualify that to say in modern times, because there are many instances of unrest and riots that, in my opinion, were worst.

Nonetheless, the crime in this case occurred when four white policemen were accused of delivering a vicious beating unto Mr. King, a year before, during a traffic stop. The criminals were acquitted and the city of LA exploded. Lest be mindful that the beating was captured on videotaped and the whole world saw what African Americans have alleged for years.

Since America has been America it has faced challenges as it relates to racial tension that has divided blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians, and nearly all non-whites. Is it getting better? I would say no and I would use the current case of Trayvon Martin as an example of the disparity of justice as an example. It has been so bad so long, with respect to racial profiling, it’s hard to see the difference, particularly in many African American communities. Let me add this is not unlike what happens in many African American communities.

I’m sure if we could put ourselves in the shoes of King, now 47, who must continue to live in the shadow of the beating he took from the four cops in 1991. This event fueled an already heated racial tension that existed in Southern California, particularly between the African American community and the Los Angeles Police Department.

To be sure, King is still pained by the incident and his life since has not been easy. He has had several run ins with the law, battled depression, alcohol and drug abuse, as seen on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab in 2008. He made a statement during an interview where he said, “I wouldn’t want to be in black skin, 30, 40, 50 years ago. I wouldn’t want to undergo what they went through.” King went on to say the incident “exposed the LAPD for what it was, and it exposed some of the courts and brought attention to people’s minds to what was so unfair.”

The uprising killed 55 people, destroyed 1,573 businesses and cost $1 billion in the initial three days, eclipsing the damage done in the Watts Riot of 1965. Like Watts, the hardest hit area was South Central, home to much of the city’s African American population. I suppose the only positive to come out of this was that in 1992, 60% of the LAPD was white – now it is 60% minority.

On the other hand there are still the institutional issues as they were in 1992. For instance, the graduation rate, according to most recent Los Angeles Unified School District statistics is 56%, well below the national average of 75%, meaning jobs in California’s increasingly technological and skilled trades-based economy are less accessible to those without at least a high school diploma.

I wanted to mention this huge event because with what may happen in the Trayvon Martin case we may see history repeat itself, as history has been known to do. God forbid Trayvon’s assassin should get off, found not guilty, like the murderers of Emmett Till and as we saw with these cop who beat King nearly to death.

Just saying, and that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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RELIVE HISTORY AND SEE THE INSANITY 


Living Yesterday – Today!

Let me first say to all who follow THOUGHT PROVOKING PERSPECTIVES that I am indeed honored that you read my words. I try to provided and add a prospective to reality whereby you may be empowered and maybe, just maybe, see the world through new eyes. If you knew me personally, you would know that I rarely ask for anything, maybe that is a fault, but I am a benevolent spirit and this is my way of giving.

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I WILL HOWEVER, TODAY, ASK EACH OF YOU FOR SOMETHING. PLEASE SHARE SOMETHING ABOUT THIS MURDER, ASK FOR JUSTICE, AND RAISE YOUR VOICES IN PROTEST OF THIS INJUSTICE!!!

I have lived long enough to have witnessed many vial and unspeakable things done under the auspices of RACISM. I remember the first time I saw the brutally beaten corpse of little Emmitt Till, which was done because of a way of life. I can recall crying that day and I cry today for the murder of Trayvon Martin. As I see it, these two horrible events are strangely similar and equally frightening.

It shows that we, as African Americans, are still a nation of people living in a nation without a nationality. Translated – no justice!

Of course, we don’t yet know every detail of the encounter between Martin and the monster who murdered this unarmed 17-year-old high school student. But, we know enough to conclude that this is an old familiar story with the same tenets rooted in RACISM. Emmitt’s murderer got away with it and so far so has this guy.

Now let me ask, how many guys named George are out there cruising the streets? How many guys with chips on their shoulders and itchy triggers fingers with loaded handguns? How many self-imagined guardians or more aptly put vigilantes who say the words “black male” with a sneer? You do know that was the Klan’s mantra!

Whether Zimmerman can or should be prosecuted, given Florida’s “stand your ground” law providing broad latitude to claim self-defense, is an important question. But, the more important question is: “we should stand up to repeal these deadly laws designed to give license to “Kill Black People”. This often happens because this bull’s-eye that black men wear throughout their lives, and in many cases, just caught on the wrong street at the wrong time.

Protect, teach your children, and may this child’s soul rest in peace. I have lost a child through tragedy and I know this pain. My heart and prays go out to the Martin family.

If you never took a stand for anything – now is the time. And that is my Thought Provoking Prospective…

http://johntwills.com


The Peril’s Of Justice

We as African Americans understand, as Richard Pryor famously said, when it comes to justice what we find is JUST-US! This statement could not be more profound today as it relates to some of the news stories that involve African Americans, namely the recent murder of the young child Trayvon Martin.

Frankly, this case takes me back nearly sixty-years when another young black child was murdered where the culprits did not receive due justice. I wonder if the story would be different if the victim was white and the shooter was black. I think we know the answer to that!!!

But I read a piece today written by Mr. Jonathan Capehart and like him I had the same questions that he asked in this article. First, he asked, what was Zimmerman’s relationship with the Sanford, Fla., police department? Then he asked why was Zimmerman portrayed as a volunteer neighborhood watch captain when he was not part of a registered neighborhood watch program? Further he asked, did the Sanford Police Department ever warn him about his activities in this unofficial capacity?

When you consider that Zimmerman was known to have placed, as it was reported, 46 calls to that department between Jan. 1, 2011, and the Feb. 26 shooting; did the Sanford police have specific orders on how to deal with him? Did they have a file on him? Did they have him on any kind of special watch list?

To these questions, the Police Chief said, “we don’t have the grounds to arrest him.” Yet, Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense was sufficient justification to not arrest him. My next question was why did Chief Lee accept Zimmerman’s self-defense plea on its face? Did the police run a background check on Zimmerman? Did his previous arrest, for resisting arrest without violence, raise any red flags with police? Did Lee attempt to establish probable cause? How did he go about it? Was Zimmerman tested for drugs or alcohol? If not, why not? Was Zimmerman’s gun confiscated? Was it tested? Where is that gun now?

These are all valid questions that demand answers.

Now, here are a few questions that come to mind with respect to the crime scene. What did police do with Trayvon’s body at the scene? What did police do with Trayvon’s body once taken from the scene? Why was it tested for drugs and alcohol? What did police do with Trayvon’s personal effects? Where is his cell phone? Did police try to contact Trayvon’s 16-year-old girlfriend, who was talking to him during the initial moments of the confrontation with Zimmerman and who tried several times to call him back? Hmmmm!

So as you can see there are many more questions than answers and frankly a thorough investigation would have answered these questions. Thankfully, the Department of Justice has decided to review the case to ensure that some of these questions are answered – maybe. There is such a thing as right and wrong; some things are right and some things are wrong. When you look at the aforementioned questions in this case that are unanswered – it stinks of wrong. Oh, and for sure racism!!!

There are so many more questions than answers and I pray we get them answered, and justice is served. With that said, I would suggest that you compare this to little Emmitt Till and recall the Peril’s Of Justice.

And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

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Legacy – A New Season

COMING SOON!!!

It’s been several years since “Just a Season” and it’s time to move on. Generations have come and gone, life is bearable after all, and hope lives in a little boy and in a man who almost lost all hope.

It’s been said that there are no words that have not been spoken and no stories that have never been told but there are some that you cannot forget! “Legacy – A New Season” is the perfect complement to that statement. It is the sequel and the continuation of “Just a Season” and a stand-alone story rich in history on a subject rarely explained to children of this generation concerning the African American struggle.

This long awaited saga to the epic novel “Just a Season” will take you on an awe inspiring journey through the African American Diaspora, as told by a loving grandfather to his grandson in the oral African tradition at a time when America changed forever.

http://johntwills.com


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