Tag Archives: government

Remember: The Scottsboro Boys

028_1601White folk always talk about their love of the Constitution as if it is God’s voice of right but the case of the Scottsboro Boy clearly demonstrates the hypocrisy in their hearts with regard to black people and jurisprudence. This kind of blindness in the law has been a staple in America from the beginning of the nation. This horrible story, which is true and documented began on March 26th, 1931, nine black youths riding a freight train, were arrested in Scottsboro, Alabama, after being falsely accused of raping two white women. After nearly being lynched, the Scottsboro Boys were brought to trial.

Despite evidence that exonerated the teens, including a retraction by one of their accusers, who was a prostitute, the state pursued the case. All-white juries delivered guilty verdicts and all nine defendants, except the youngest, were sentenced to death. From 1931 to 1937, during a series of appeals and new trials, they languished in Alabama’s Kilby prison, where they were repeatedly brutalized by guards.

In 1932, the United States Supreme Court concluded in Powell v. Alabama that the Scottsboro defendants had been denied adequate counsel at trial. In 1935, the Court in Norris v. Alabama again ruled in favor of the defendants, overturning their convictions because Alabama had systematically excluded black people from jury service.

Finally, in 1937, four of the defendants were released, and five were given sentences of twenty years to life; four of those were released on parole between 1943 and 1950. The fifth escaped prison in 1948 and fled to Michigan. Clarence Norris walked out of Kilby Prison after being paroled in 1946 and moved north; he received a full pardon from Governor George Wallace in 1976.More information about the Scottsboro Boys. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela

4History, or those who write it, has an interesting way of minimizing actions of wrong doing done by the power of governments against anyone who challenges their domination. Mr. Mandela is the perfect example; when they talk about Mandela, they hardly mention that governments around the world referred to him as a terrorist, a convict, a communist, and a saboteur. In other words, he was most hated and an enemy of the state.

This has happened to other men such as Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, who were also labeled as dangerous and enemies of the state – both were assassinated, and there are some who say by the state. I make this comparison because these men became great heroes after their death. Mandela was no doubt one of the greatest heroes of the last century achieving it in life. What he achieved in South Africa even Mahatma Gandhi was unable to do in India, and Mandela did it in a way that respected all of humanity. This is Mandela’s greatest glory!

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Even his prison number 46664 (meaning prisoner 466 incarcerated in 1964) is now the name of humanitarian and charitable organizations. Mandela used his superior strength of will to turn those who opposed him into tools to make the world a better place. Mandela was a man who evolved above the pettiness of racial conflict, a man who saw with profound clarity that South Africa was not a Black nation, a Colored nation or a White nation. He saw South Africa as a great nation with opportunities for all people no matter their color, their tribe, their religion, or their culture.

Most people don’t know that the system used in South Africa known apartheid was derived from the racial practices of our own American south – only taken to the extreme! It was so dominant that blacks had to cross the street to avoid whites to include eye contact with them. It was a government rooted in real fear of a State that threatened dire consequences should a white person be assaulted or even insulted.

The Apartheid government was the most ridged and cruelest regime on the planet. For those who don’t know history, this government was firmly supported by the American government and Ronald Reagan in particular. If not for the powerful Black Lobby in the U.S. Congress, the United States would most likely have given South Africa even more support, including weapons.

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From the early stages of Mandela’s life, he fought against this brutal system of oppression which resulted in his being sentenced to prison on Robben Island for a third of his life. Another fact unknown to most is that strangely enough the name Robben Island means “island of seals” in Afrikaans. The power and support from most of the outside world was such that little information was available concerning the regimes atrocities. Virtually no articles were published in the North American mainstream media; according to the editors they were not interested in articles about terrorists.

The outside world heard very little about Nelson Mandela. Few heard about Stephen Biko’s murdered and the thousands of South Africans that were persecuted, as most of the world continued to do trade with South Africa as a strong pro-Western anti-communist power. They had even developed and tested their own nuclear weapon.

1Finally after years of struggle and hardship, apartheid was overthrown, and Nelson Mandela became the first Black President of South Africa. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. The U.S. presented him with the Medal of Freedom and the Soviet Union presented him with The Order of Lenin. Yet, he still officially remained on the list of people barred from entry to the United States.

In 1969 or anytime during the Seventies, the very idea that Nelson Mandela would one day be President of South Africa was an impossible thought. No one, not even Mandela himself could imagine such a possibility. It was simply impossible. Yet it happened. The impossible became possible and in achieving that position, winning the Nobel prize, Mandela gave a gift to all of us the gift of hope, the realization that no matter how daunting the situation, no matter how formidable the obstacles, that passion, courage and imagination can prevail.

We all die but few have lived as Nelson Mandela lived; few have achieved as much as he was able to achieve. I am happy that Mandela was able to live a long and remarkable life. He not only served his country with exceptional honor, but he has served all of mankind with dignity and amazing grace. The world surely has become a better place since he joined the human family.

In closing, this is Nelson Mandela’s most profound statement that will live in history as an inspiration. He stood firm for decades on the principle that until all South Africans enjoyed equal liberties. He said; he would not leave prison himself, declaring in his autobiography, ‘Freedom is indivisible; the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them, the chains on all of my people were the chains on me.’ Because of his epic fight against injustice, the entire nation is now free. We mourn his loss and offer our condolences to his family and the people of South Africa.

And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Commentary: We Have “Not Overcome”

200_1000theLet’s be real, the ancestors left lessons and told us what to do. We know all the horrible tales of lynchings, rapes, murders, and the pacification of white folk never end. If they care so much about black people – they would have told the truth about history instead of creating hi-story, which are lies to cover-up their dastardly deeds. I want anyone reading this to ask yourself – does it really take 400 years to end the systematic system of racism?

I’ve lived through segregation and knew the evils of the Jim Crow system first-hand and what I see today not much has changed. In fact, I don’t think the wretched system of racism is worse. Justice is still unjust and black people are still viewed as “less than” as the Constitution says and you know white folk love them some constitution! You do know it say we are 3/5ths human and the Supreme Court decision made it law that “a Negro has no right that white man is bound to respect” in the Dred Scott Decision.

Just as they always done, they hold up a few to make it appear as if we have “overcome” or achieved some measure of advancement. Malcolm would have called some of these folks who keep telling us everything is alright – “House Niggers” – I will call them covert operatives. It was Solomon that said “there is nothing new under the sun.” This is a powerful statement because very little has changed since the 1960s, even though they remind us of this mythical dream!

If you look at history, you will see that it repeats itself; the system is designed to protect the system, and that system excludes black people. They would deport black people if they could but there is nowhere to send us – remember they kidnapped us! Malcolm told us that “Anywhere south of Canada was south”, meaning wherever you are in America you were subjected to discrimination regarding the “separate but equal” laws and racism is the unwritten law of the land.

I am not just saying this to be as I have been called, a “race baiter”. It is the honest truth but white fold are in denial that racism even exists. Republicans Party in particular want to turn back the hands of time and take back their country, which they did by electing Trump who is the embodiment of all that white supremacy means. Their attempts to suppress voting rights is in no way different than the poll taxes from the days of segregation, so this is not new either – it’s just the American political structure. There have been many ways to suppress people over time; unfortunately, black people have endured the brunt of these efforts.

So there continue to be “Black Codes” which are laws passed designed specifically to take away civil rights and civil liberties of African American people. However, the difference today is that they just use different codewords to make it politically correct. This is the reason conservatives speak of taking back their country and have a strong desire to uphold “States Rights”; because at the state level laws can be unimpeded by the federal government. You can see this clearly today by the upsurge in the police killings and corruption under the cover of law all over the country while the country rushes to save those on distant lands wasting trillions.

I wrote an article a few weeks ago titled “The Making of a Slave” to which I received a comment from a guy; I’ll call Mr. White Man. I should assume he was a white man because he vociferously defended the American way! In the article, I talked about the Willie Lynch Syndrome. This guy goes on to tell me or in his mind educate me on the subject by telling me there was never a Willie Lynch and that the supposed letter was debunked years ago. He went on to say that there was no truth to the myth. However, what he did not understand that true or not, there is a system in place to ensure black people “love and respect only” them.

He went on to say, “how sad that I write about the bad things in history; how lucky I am for all that America has done for my people, and I should leave that stuff in the past”. Normally I don’t take the time to respond to fools because my grandfather taught me a long time ago “never argue with a fool”. However, his comment proves my point that he knows the game is rigged against people of color. He also knows he benefits from a privilege decreed by the “American Way”.

Truth is those fools who sung that old Negro spiritual “did not believe “we shall overcome” either! Malcolm X once said that it is time to stop singing and start swing! Overcoming is not insight unless we fight!!! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


The King Alfred Plan 

th (1)There are not many people who know about the King Alfred Plan. I first heard about it back in the seventies. What is the King Alfred Plan. It was a plan drawn up by the U.S Government to put black people and others in concentration camps. Since in the case of black people not having a place to be deported too. the plan was to build or find places to lock them up!

It was officially known as REX-84. The King Alfred Plan was a CIA-led scheme supporting an international effort to eliminate people of African descent. Although they claimed, its existence was fictional. Specifically, it defined how to deal with the threat of a black uprising in the United States by cordoning off black people and putting them into concentration camps in the event of a major racial incident.

The plan was drafted, allegedly, in the 50s to round up black people at the start of race riots; segregate them and move them to concentration camps or a separate location and kill them off, literally. This plan first appeared publicly in John A. Williams’ his 1967 novel, The Man Who Cried I Am, which was a fictionalized account of the life and death of Richard Wright.

We know the concept is not too much of a stretch because we know for a fact that J. Edgar Hoover devised intelligence programs (COINTELPRO) to monitor the movements of black militants and to eliminate them in the 1960s. As a result, word of the King Alfred Plan spread throughout the black community and the truth of its existence was often assumed to be unchallenged.

It also bears similarities to rumors in the early 1950s surrounding the McCarran Act, an anti-Communist law, in which political subversives were to be rounded up and placed in concentrations camps during a national emergency. As was done to the Japanese during World War II.

When his novel was first published, Williams photocopied portions of the book detailing the King Alfred Plan and left copies in subway car seats around Manhattan. The great performer and musician Gil Scott-Heron created the song “King Alfred Plan,” included on his “LP” in 1972 that takes the Plan at face value.

I did a little digging and found information online that have now been declassified. Of course, there is much more to this plan than is being released to the public. If you think that this kind of thing cannot happen in the America, think again. It has already happened! The only difference NOW is that we will not be so lucky because the problem with our people we have gotten too comfortable and satisfied with our plight. We trust in oppression and hardships that come with it.

Let me make it simple martial law, no-knock laws, or the Patriot Act! I am not a conspiracy theorist, but we now know that in regions all over the country, they can and do cordon off neighborhoods and bring in the National Guard in a matter of hours. The police force acts as an occupying force in every black community.

Some might say prisons are the precursor to the plan. I say, prisons are the unconscious result! Therefore, again, it is not much of a stretch to think they are preparing a place for you, and it’s not that place talked about on Sundays where this place has streets paved with gold or the cop’s will shot you down and kill you! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Christianity Began With The Council Of Nicaea

th (11)It is well known, possibly a fact, that Black people are the most religious people on the Planet. They will out Pope the Pope! They have given more and gotten less for their devotion than any other people, yet most still believe in that which was created by Europeans – if you don’t know the code, it means white folk! Why because there is a lot of money in the name Jesus Christ.

The believers of the Christian faith are so devoted that most can’t see what’s in front of their faces. Interestingly enough, the Christian practice and the faith was imposed upon black people was stolen from the African culture, and some time under direst! I might add two things here: Jesus was not a Christian in his life, and there was no word G-O-D in any African language before the coming of Europeans. Also, the letter “J” used to spell Jesus did not exist until the 1600s.

A friend, a good Christian woman or as she claimed, tried to convince me as most Christians do to believe what she believes or perhaps tried to convert me to HER GOD. For whatever reason, she thought she was the only person who believes in the Almighty. The conversation started because she was preaching verses from the King James version of the Bible along with other falsehoods concerning Christianity. Being that I love history and know it, she made a huge mistake!

The discussion got heated, from her point of view, when I told her that King James was the King of England and lived around 1600. He commissioned his people to have his version of the Bible written, which is what she reads. She did not know that King James was a diabolical ruler, a homosexual, and actually killed his own mother. I ask her a question that every Christian should know. For example, I asked if she knew anything about the conference held in Nicaea. This staunchly religious woman had no knowledge of either, yet she claims to preach the “Word.” So I thought I would give her the history of Christianity, which, by the way, is very different from faith.

First, Jesus was not a Christian while he was alive, and it did not become a religion for many years after his death. From that point, I moved to the Council of Nicaea, which took place more than three hundred years after Jesus lived in 325 A.D. This historic meeting, by order of the Roman Emperor Caesar Flavius Constantine, by the way, was a murder, defined or created Christianity as we know it. Nicaea was located in Asia Minor, east of Constantinople. At the Council of Nicaea, Emperor Constantine presided over a group of church bishops and leaders with the purpose of defining the true God for all Christians and eliminating all the confusion, controversy, and contention within Christ’s church.

The Council of Nicaea affirmed the deity of Jesus Christ, painted by a European around the same time, and removed his blackness from the consciousness of the faith. There is no need to debate Jesus’ completion because, at that point in time, there were only two people in the region – Romans and Jews to which it is a fact that black people were the original Jew. At that conference, Constantine established an official definition of the Trinity – the deity of The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit under one Godhead, in three coequal and co-eternal Persons.

Constantine and this is debatable, a converted Christian, called for a council meeting to be held in Nicaea with the bishops of the Christian church to resolve escalating quarrels and controversy mounting to a bitter degree of disunity among the church leadership concerning theological issues. The failing Roman Empire, now under Constantine’s rule, could not withstand the division caused by years of hard-fought, “out of hand” arguing over doctrinal differences. He saw it not only as a threat to Christianity but as a threat to his rule.

Therefore, at the Council of Nicaea, Constantine demanded that the Christians settle their internal disagreements and become Christ-like agents who could bring new life into a troubled, beaten-down empire. Constantine felt “called,” to use his authority to help bring about the unity, peace, and love, all for which Christ stands. He and the bishops had reason to worry about the future survival of Christianity within the Roman world empire, let alone the survival of his world empire. The Council of Nicaea, led by Emperor Constantine, the main purpose was to save the Roman Empire – period! The meeting designed to settle differences control the minds of his subjects all to the glory of Christ. It is also important to note that “Christ” is not a name but a title.

The main theological issue and focus had always been about Christ or so His-Story tells us. Since the end of the Apostolic Age and beginning of the Church Age, Saints began questioning, debating, fighting, and separating over the question, “Who is the Christ?” Is He more divine than human or more human than divine? Was Jesus created, made or begotten? Being the Son of God, is He coequal and co-eternal with Father God, or less and lower in status than the Father? Is the Father the One and only True God, or are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit the One true God? “True God of True God,” “One Being, Three Persons,” a tri-unity called “Trinity”? Jesus said, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15).

Once the Nicaea Council meeting was underway, Constantine demanded that the 300 bishops make a decision by majority vote answering the question – defining who Jesus Christ is. Constantine commanded the bishops create a “creed” doctrine that all of Christianity would follow and obey. This doctrine would be called the “Nicene Creed,” upheld by the Church and enforced by the Emperor.

The bishops voted to make the full deity of Christ the accepted position for the church. The Council of Nicaea voted to make the Trinity the official doctrine of the church. However, the Council of Nicaea did not invent these doctrines. Rather, it only recognized what the Bible taught, and systematized the doctrines. So it was here that Christianity as we know it was established.

The New Testament teaches that Jesus the Messiah should be worshiped and trusted, which was/is to say He is co-equally God and man. The New Testament forbids the worship of angels (Colossians 2:18; Revelation 22:8,9) but commands worship of Jesus. The Apostle Paul tells us that “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9;1:19). Paul declares Jesus as Lord and the One to whom a person must pray for salvation just as one calls on Jehovah, Yahweh (Joel 2:32; Romans 10:9-13). “Jesus is God overall” (Romans 9:5), and our God and Savior (Titus 2:13). Faith in Jesus’ Deity is basic to Paul’s testimony and theology.

John’s Gospel declares Jesus the be the Divine eternal Logos, agent of creation and source of life and light (John 1:1-5,9); the “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6); an advocate with heavenly Father (1 John 2:1-2); sovereign (Revelation 1:5); the Rider on a white horse (Revelation 19:11-16); and the totality of the Son of God from the beginning to the end (Revelation 22:13). The author of Hebrews reveals the full deity of Jesus through His perfection as the highest priest, Melchizedek (Hebrews 1; Hebrews 7:1-3), and the full humanity (Hebrews 2). The Divine-human Savior is the Christian’s object of faith, hope, and love.

The Council of Nicaea affirmed the Apostles’ teaching of who Christ is – the One true God in Deity and Trinity with the Father and the Holy Spirit. When I shared this fact, my devoted Christian friend admitted she was not aware of this or that this is why the Catholic Church, the same church that sanctioned slavery, was to be the authority of the Word.

At the end of our conversation, I reminded my friend that King James’ twenty-eighth version of the Bible in many ways took a page out of history using the good book to solidify his reign. My point is simple: three-hundred year after Jesus lived Constantine gave us a version and sixteen-hundred years later King James did it again and not a word was written while Jesus walked the earth.

Believe whatever you wish but if you preach – know what it is you are preaching. God means “Good Orderly Direction,” and that power comes from within your spirit that produces knowledge and that knowledge coming from your soul is power! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Read my article “Pimp’s In The Pulpit

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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 Origin Of Memorial Day

2Black folk celebrate every holiday with vigor, yet most don’t know the origins or the reason why. DID YOU KNOW? Memorial Day was started by former slaves on May 1, 1865 in Charleston, SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers, who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. They dug up the bodies and worked for two weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. They then held a parade of 10,000 people led by 2,800 Black children where they marched, sang and celebrated.

The truth is the custom of holding observances the laying of flowers on burial sites to remember and honor those who gave their lives in military service goes back many hundreds if not thousands of years. In the United States, that custom has long since been formalized in the creation of Memorial Day formerly known as Decoration Day. A federal holiday observed on the last Monday in May to remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

What we celebrate or know as the modern Memorial Day originated with an order issued in 1868 by Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, for the annual decoration of war graves. Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery. The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children of Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.

The story of Memorial Day, some say, began in the summer of 1865, when a prominent local druggist, Henry C. Welles, mentioned to some of his friends at a social gathering while praising the living veterans of the Civil War; it would be well to remember the patriotic dead by placing flowers on their graves. On May 5, 1866, the Village was decorated with flags at half mast, draped with evergreens and mourning black. According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, roughly two dozen places claim to be the primary source of the holiday. An assertion found on plaques, on Web sites and in the dogged local historians across the country.

In his book Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory, Professor David W. Blight made the case for Charleston, South Carolina, as Memorial Day’s birthplace, as that city was the site of an obscure (possibly suppressed) May 1865 event held at a racetrack turned war prison. During which freedmen properly reburied hundreds of Union dead found there and then held a ceremony to dedicate the cemetery.

The official dedication ceremony was conducted by the ministers of all the black churches in Charleston with prayers, reading of biblical passages, and singing spirituals black Charlestonians gave birth to an American tradition. In so doing, they declared the meaning of the war in the most public way possible by their labor, their words, their songs, and their solemn parade of roses, lilacs, and marching feet on the old planters’ Race Course.

After the dedication, crowds gathered at the Racecourse grandstand to hear some thirty speeches by Union officers, local black ministers, and abolitionist missionaries. Picnics ensued around the grounds, and in the afternoon, a full brigade of Union infantry, including Colored Troops, marched in double column around the martyrs’ graves and held a drill on the infield of the Race Course. The war was over, and Memorial Day was founded by African Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration.

Professor Blight termed it “the first Memorial Day” because it predated most of the other contenders…” he said. Today, this celebration has morphed into, as Howard Zinn remarked: “Memorial Day will be celebrated … by the usual betrayal of the dead, by the hypocritical patriotism of the politicians and contractors preparing for more wars, more graves to receive more flowers on future Memorial Days. The memory of the dead deserves a different dedication.”

I am a veteran and have yet to receive any gratitude for my service in the war, came home, and was less free than when I left. However, I am very grateful I survived the carnage and horrors of it! The fact is, if we could stop war there would not be a reason to celebrate this day! Only the rich can truly celebrate this day because of the wealth they receive! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


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