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Remember Juneteenth: A Day Of Celebration

Celebrate Juneteeth and Father’s DayJuneteenth is the oldest known celebration that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. This celebration dates back to 1865 June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that those enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which became official January 1, 1863.

The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance. Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years.

The story that is often told is of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another story is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. Then there is yet another story that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or neither of these version could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln’s authority over the rebellious states was in question. Regardless, the conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.

One of General Granger’s first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3 which began most significantly with:

“The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer.”

The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation. While many lingered to learn of this new employer to employee relationship, many left before these offers were completely off the lips of their former ‘masters’ – attesting to the varying conditions on the plantations and the realization of freedom. Even with nowhere to go, many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom.

North was a logical destination and for many it represented true freedom, while the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove the some into Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Settling into these new areas as free men and women brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore non-existent status for black people in America. Recounting the memories of that great day in June of 1865 and its festivities would serve as motivation as well as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territory. The celebration of June 19th was coined “Juneteenth” and grew with more participation from descendants.

The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date. A range of activities were provided to entertain the masses, many of which continue in tradition today. Juneteenth almost always focused on education and self-improvement. Thus, often guest speakers are brought in, and the elders are called upon to recount the events of the past. Prayer services were also a major part of these celebrations.

Dress was also an important element in early Juneteenth customs and is often still taken seriously, particularly by the direct descendants who can make the connection to this tradition’s roots. During slavery, there were laws on the books in many areas that prohibited or limited the dressing of the enslaved. During the initial days of the emancipation celebrations, there are accounts of former slaves tossing their ragged garments into the creeks and rivers to adorn clothing taken from the plantations belonging to their former ‘masters’.

Economic and cultural forces provided for a decline in Juneteenth activities and participants beginning in the early 1900’s. Classroom and textbook education in lieu of traditional home and family taught practices stifled the interest of the youth due to less emphasis and detail on the activities of former slaves. Classroom textbooks proclaimed Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, as the date signaling the ending of slavery – and little or nothing on the impact of General Granger’s arrival on June 19th.

The Civil Rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s yielded both positive and negative results for the Juneteenth celebrations. While it pulled many of the African American youth away and into the struggle for racial equality, many linked these struggles to the historical struggles of their ancestors. This was evidenced by student demonstrators involved in the Atlanta civil rights campaign in the early 1960’s, whom wore Juneteenth freedom buttons. Again in 1968, Juneteenth received another strong resurgence through Poor Peoples March to Washington D.C. Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s call for people of all races, creeds, economic levels and professions to come to Washington to show support for the poor.

The future of Juneteenth looks bright as the number of cities and states creating Juneteenth committees continues to increase. Respect and appreciation for all of our differences grow out of exposure and working together. Getting involved and supporting Juneteenth celebrations creates new bonds of friendship and understanding among us. This indeed, brightens our future – and that is the Spirit of Juneteenth. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

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The History Of Brown v Board

1-The racial history of America is sad and shameful, yet they continue to tell us how special and unique America is by repeating the same lie – “All men are created equal”. Most of America’s history, a black person had virtually no rights at all. However, the most egregious of them all was that a person of color could be killed for simply learning how to read or caught reading a book. The day of this ruling was one of the most important days in all of black history, except of course the slave’s emancipation!

It has been said that the South will rise again. As I look at America, it is rising with the help of the conservatives and other bigots. In fact, I say racism is alive and well. Back in the day, rather from the beginning of America, there was nothing more important to white folk of this ilk than restricting or denying education to black people; as it was against the law for the African to read. Jim Crow Laws enforced something they called “separate but equal” – better known as legal segregation. If you look at the numbers today, we are virtually in the same place regarding the current educational system in many places across the country as black people were back in the day. Also, they have virtually priced black people out of a college education.

It’s been over sixty years since the landmark Brown v Board of Education case successfully argued before Supreme Court of the United States that allow equality in education. This case changed the face of America in a way unlike any other decision before or since. Here’s the story of how that came to be.

The Brown Case, as it is known, was not the first such case regarding civil rights argued before the court. However, it was the most significant of what some would say was the final battle in the courts that had been fought by African American parents since 1849, which started with Roberts v. City of Boston, Massachusetts.

It is important to note that Kansas was the site of eleven such cases spanning from 1881 to 1949. With that said, I would like to take the opportunity to pay homage to the valor of a skillful attorney, Thurgood Marshall, who brilliantly won this case and more than fifty other cases before the Supreme Court – winning all of them.

The Brown case was initiated and organized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) leadership who recruited African American parents in Topeka, Kansas for a class action suit against the local school board. The Supreme Court combined five cases under the heading of Brown v. Board of Education: Delaware, Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The ultimate goal sought by the NAACP was to end the practice of “separate but equal” throughout every segment of society, including public transportation, dining facilities, public schools and all forms of public accommodations. The Case was named after Oliver Brown one of 200 plaintiffs.

The Brown Supreme Court ruling determined racial segregation in public education was unconstitutional in Brown I, the first opinion. The court’s implementation mandate of “with all deliberate speed” in 1955, known as Brown II. In 1979, twenty-five years later, there was a Brown III because Topeka was not living up to the earlier Supreme Court ruling, which resulted in Topeka Public Schools building three magnet schools to comply with the court’s findings.

As had been the case since Homer Plessy, the subject in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided that a Louisiana law mandating separate but equal accommodations for blacks and whites on intrastate railroads was constitutional. This decision provided the legal foundation to justify many other actions by state and local governments to socially separate blacks and whites.

Now that I have provided some history related to the case let me add my commentary. It has been said, “As sure as things change they remain the same”. First, it took 60 years to overturn Plessy with the Brown case, and it took “with all deliberate speed” 13 years for integration to begin fully. During this period from 1954 to 1967, Governors blocked school entrances and actually closed schools rather than comply with the law of the land. I am not going to touch on the violence that caused President’s to send the US Army and National Guard troops to schools in order to protect the safety of those the ruling was intended benefit as a result of the Brown decision.

Since then and over time many scams have been devised to disenfranchise minorities and African Americans in particular – need I remind you of “No Child Left Behind”. This brings us to where we are today. Schools are more segregated than at ever, poorly funded, dilapidated facilities, and a police presence to save, oftentimes, the kids from themselves. The dropout rate averages 2 to 1. These are just a few issues and by any measure of academic standards or common sense – is a failure.

Let’s make sure we understand that public education was not created to develop minds, rather it was intended to simply teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. It was created to maintain a permanent underclass. Maybe the word “class” is the operative word in all of this – the haves have, and the have not’s will have not. So as sure as things change they remain the same.

We must remember the ghosts of so many who fought and died for the principle that “education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair.” Black History is American History! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

#‎AfricanAmerican‬ ‪#‎Issues‬ ‪#‎Art‬ ‪#‎Artist‬ ‪#‎Education‬


Black History: Dr. John Henrik Clarke

16266194_1576646812351280_7451924563813283492_nJohn Henrik Clarke was one of the most brilliant, profound, and empowering educators of our time. He was born January 1, 1915, in Union Springs, Alabama and died July 16, 1998, in New York City. His mother was a washerwoman who did laundry for $3 a week, and his father was a sharecropper. As a youngster Clark caddied for Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley “long before they became Generals or President,” Clarke would later recount in describing his upbringing in rural Alabama.

Ms. Harris, his third-grade teacher, convinced him that one day he would be a writer, but before he became a writer, he became a voracious reader inspired by Richard Wright’s “Black Boy” about a veteran who enlisted in the army and earned the rank of Master Sergeant. After mustering out, Clarke moved to Harlem and committed himself to a lifelong pursuit of factual knowledge about the history of his people and creative application of that knowledge. Over the years, Clarke became both a major historian and a man of letters.

His literary accomplishments are very significant, but he was best known as a historian. He wrote over two hundred short stories with “The Boy Who Painted Christ Black” being his best known. Clarke edited numerous literary and historical anthologies including American Negro Short Stories (1966), an anthology which included nineteenth century writing from writers such as Paul Laurence Dunbar, Charles Waddell Chestnut, and continued up through the early sixties with writers such as LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) and William Melvin Kelley. This is one of the classic collections of Black fiction.

Reflective of his commitment to his adopted home, Clarke also edited “Harlem, A Community in Transition and Harlem, U.S.A”. Never one to shy away from the difficult or the controversial, Clarke edited anthologies on Malcolm X and a major collection of essays decrying William Styron’s “portrait” of Nat Turner as a conflicted individual who had a love/hate platonic and sexually-fantasized relationship with Whites. In both cases, Clarke’s work was in defense of the dignity and pride of his beloved Black community rather than an attack on Whites.

What is significant is that Clarke did the necessary and tedious organizing work to bring these volumes into existence. Thereby, offering an alternative outlook from the dominant mainstream views on Malcolm X and Nat Turner, both of whom were often characterized as militant hate mongers. Clarke understood the necessity for us to affirm our belief in and respect for radical leaders such as Malcolm X and Nat Turner. It is interesting to note that Clarke’s work was never simply focused on investigating history as the past; he also was proactively involved with history in the making.

As a historian Clarke also edited a book on Marcus Garvey and edited “Africa, Lost and Found” (with Richard Moore and Keith Baird) and “African People at the Crossroads”, two seminal historical works widely used in History and African American Studies disciplines on college and university campuses. Through the United Nations, he published monographs on Paul Robeson and W.E.B. DuBois. As an activist historian, he produced the monograph Christopher Columbus and the African Holocaust. His most recently published book was “Who Betrayed the African Revolution?”

In the form of edited books, monographs, major essays and book introductions, John Henrik Clarke produced well over forty major historical and literary documents. Rarely, if ever, has one man delivered so much quality and inspiring literature. Moreover, John Henrik Clarke was also an inquisitive student who became a master teacher.

During his early years in Harlem, Clarke made the most of the rare opportunities to be mentored by many of the great 20th century Black historians and bibliophiles. Clarke studied under and learned from men such as Arthur Schomburg, William Leo Hansberry, John G. Jackson, Paul Robeson, Willis Huggins and Charles Seiffert. All of whom, sometimes quietly behind the scenes and other times publicly in the national and international spotlight, were significant movers and shakers, theoreticians and shapers of Black intellectual and social life in the 20th century.

From the sixties on, John Henrik Clarke stepped up and delivered the full weight of his own intellectual brilliance and social commitment to the ongoing struggle for Black liberation and development. Clarke became a stalwart member and hard worker in (and sometimes co-founder of) organizations such as The Harlem Writers Guild, Presence Africaine, African Heritage Studies Association, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, the National Council of Black Studies and the Association for the Study of Classical African Civilizations.

Formally, Clarke lectured and held professorships at universities worldwide. His longer and most influential tenures were at the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell in Ithaca, New York, and in African and Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College in New York City. He received honorary degrees from numerous institutions and served as consultant and advisor to African and Caribbean heads of state. In 1997, he was the subject of a major documentary directed by the noted filmmaker Saint Claire Bourne and underwritten by the Hollywood star Westley Snipes.

John Henrik Clarke is in many ways exemplary of the American ethos of the self-made man. Indicative of this characteristic is the fact that Clarke changed his given name of John Henry Clark to reflect his aspirations. In an obituary, he penned for himself shortly before his death, John Henrik Clarke noted “little black Alabama boys were not fully licensed to imagine themselves as conduits of social and political change. …they called me ‘Bubba’ and because I had the mind to do so, I decided to add the ‘e’ to the family name ‘Clark’ and change the spelling of ‘Henry’ to ‘Henrik,’ after the Scandinavian rebel playwright, Henrik Ibsen.”

I like his spunk and the social issues he addressed in ‘A Doll’s House.’ …My daddy wanted me to be a farmer; feel the smoothness of Alabama clay and become one of the first blacks in my town to own land. But, I was worried about my history being caked with that southern clay, and I subscribed to a different kind of teaching and learning in my bones and in my spirit.”

Body and soul, John Henrik Clarke was a true champion of Black people. He bequeathed us with a magnificent legacy of accomplishment and inspiration born out of the earnest commitment of one irrepressible young man to make a difference in the daily and historical lives of his black people through knowledge. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Black History is American History
“Just a Season”

Tim Wise: Racism Not An Accident – A Precedent

Anti-racist, essayist, author and activist Tim Wise delivers an excellent speech on the topic of “Using racism to divide and conquer, from the 1600s to Donald Trump.” A powerful message on education!!!


The Book Of Knowledge: Break The Chains

1004795_10201334073855180_857894681_nA season is a time characterized by a particular circumstance, suitable to an indefinite period of time associated with a divine phenomenon that some call life and life as we know is a journey. It could also be called history. Once this thing called time moves beyond the present, it is simply a memory. If you look at it this way: “We only have a minute, didn’t choose it, can’t refuse it. It’s just a tiny little minute but an eternity it!” The question then becomes – what are you going to do with it?

The prolific French writer-historian and philosopher Voltaire said, “History is a pack of tricks we play upon the dead.” Ask yourself, if someone were to tell the story of your life; what might they say? The European has told a story about Black people that is the most shameful representation and the most factless stories ever written about our history and used the word of God to do so. I call that His-Story, which is nothing more than a pack of lies. Now, is that the way you want our history remembered.

Dr. John Henrik Clarke says, “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 the story of 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.”

What I have learned from my experiences is that a good teacher, like a good entertainer, first must hold his audience’s attention, and then he can teach the lesson. The lessons have been taught to us, Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Dubois told us how to build our community. Marcus Garvey told us how to be self-sufficient and to take care of our own needs. Elijah Muhammad taught us how to carry ourselves with dignity and respect. Dr. King gave us faith and Brother Malcolm told us to do it by “Any Means Necessary! I believe education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair. We can save the world but first we must change ourselves.

With that said, a follower of Thought Provoking Perspectives sent me a message asking; what are you trying to accomplish with your words. My first thought was she did not realize that I want my words to be a potent source of empowering knowledge to broaden the information base with those who share my passion for the written word. I view myself as a history fanatic because if you don’t know where you’ve come from – you will never get to where you’re going.

The great Dr. Clarke asked a series of questions that each of us must ask ourselves. The questions asked: “I think every person that calls themselves a leader, a preacher, a policy-maker of any kind should ask and answer the question in his own lifetime, how will my people stay on this earth? How will they be educated? How will they be schooled? How will they be housed? And how will they be defended? The answer to these questions will create the concept of enduring nationhood because it creates the concept of enduring responsibility. I am saying whatever the solution is, either we are in charge of our own destiny, or we are not. On that point we got to be clear, you either free or you a slave.”

As a Black man who lived in and through the Jim Crow Era. I learned very early that powerful people cannot afford to educate the people they oppress, because once you are truly educated; you will not ask for power. You will take it! Educate and empower your children, build your family, and thereby, your community in order to live life to the fullest. Sadly, as I look at the world today I felt safer during segregation than I do today.

BLACK PEOPLE IT IS WAY PAST TIME – OPEN YOUR EYES AND WAKE UP!!! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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Being Called A Griot

12I feel very honored today, as I want to share a heartfelt emotion and gratitude with my many followers. Recently, I received a very complimentary email from someone who reads Thought Provoking Perspectives regularly, this lady called me “A Griot.”

At first, I was not exactly sure what she meant but as I read the very kind message but I knew it was meant with high praise. I will admit – although sheepishly – her very kind message gave me an enormous feeling of pride as I went about my day thinking that I was able to touch this woman so profoundly.

Last year Thought Provoking Perspectives got over a million hits to which I am very grateful! I know I may not be the one to change the world but I can change the mind of the person who will, if only through my words. When I thought about the meaning of the word “Griot” in the African context, I realized it was an amazing acknowledgment rooted in the oral tradition of the African Diaspora. Let me explain, a Griot is the keeper of the information, facts, considered a repository of oral traditions, and those stories based on historical significance, which is very different than His-Story that in most cases are not true.

History tells us that this is a person who can extemporize on current events, chance incidents and the passing of knowledge. In the message, she said, “Mr. Wills your wit can be devastating to what we have to be taught about our history through your knowledge of history – formidable. Your storytelling and recounting of history is profound and taught me more than I can express.”

I am honored by the compliment, but I view the words I write based on what I know and therefore, the value of these words is to share them with those who don’t know the past. I have always believed that if you don’t know where you came from – you will never get to where you’re going.

I simply believe that “education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair.” Of course, we know poverty speaks to economics and despair clearly speaks to the mental condition of our minds. It is commonly expressed that knowledge is power but I say understanding and knowing what to do with knowledge is power. And that’s my thought provoking perspective… thank you

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EDUCATION: The Real Civil Rights Issue

How do we prepare black children to be prepared to enter into a democracy that is driven by capitalism driven by racism? Before I continue, let me say clearly, that “Knowledge is power and power produces an understanding that education is the single most important ingredient necessary to neutralize those forces that breed poverty and despair.” This does not occur in our society as evidenced by the zip code of the student.

Since Brown v Board states have taken enormous steps to defer the education of black students. Whites have moved out to what is little more than segregated communities to establish separate but unequal schools. We have seen that No Child Left Behind does not work. Monies are stripped from budgets because of the insane war efforts and the military industrial complex. Let’s not forget we spend billion on the dream of space travel. So what is the answer?

They say Charter Schools and the privatization of schools systems – really! These options, in my opinion, are not the answer because there is little control or oversight by the educational system authority in most cases. The result is no accountability and corruption by its management. Hence, the student suffers! Let me go back to the issue of segregation – did you know that New York City public schools are the most segregated schools in the country followed by Dallas and Chicago. Shocking!!!

I am not going to dissect this issue now because I am researching for a future writing as I want to have statistics to support my contention, as I know I will be challenged. However, I have put forth what I hope is enough for some to dialog and hopefully take an interest. Every city in America has cut BILLIONs of dollars from the state’s education budget which will result in the loss of teachers. College education is becoming so expensive that most cannot endure the financial hardship.

Malcolm said, which is true, “Only a fool lets his enemy teach his children.” Fact is the education system is still “separate and unequal.” What I think this system does, I’ll call the state of miseducation that creates little more than boot camps for the other privatized entity call the PENITENTIARY!!! And that is my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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