Tag Archives: human-rights

Never Forget: The Emmett Till Story

IMG_0637Throughout America’s sorted and often shameful history, there have been many children murdered but the Murder in Money, Mississippi is the most infamous. It was this incident, the murder of a 14-year old black child from Chicago who supposedly whistled at a white woman in a grocery store whose death sparked the modern Civil Rights Movement.

The crime sounded clarion calls for a nation to wake up – just look at the photo. Till’s mutilated corpse circulated around the country mainly because of John Johnson, who published the gruesome photographs in Jet magazine, a predominately African American publication. The photo drew intense public reaction.

Till didn’t understand or knew he had broken an unwritten law of the Jim Crow South until three days later; when two white men dragged him from his bed in the dead of night, beat him brutally and then shot him in the head. That night the door to his grandfather’s house was thrown open, and Emmett was forced into a truck and driven away never again to be seen alive again. Till’s body was found swollen and disfigured in the Tallahatchie river three days after his abduction and only identified by his ring.

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Although his killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were both acquitted quickly by an all-white, all-male jury. Shortly afterward, the defendants sold their story, including a detailed account of how they murdered Till, to a journalist. The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world. Till’s death was the spark that helped mobilize the civil rights movement. Three months after his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River the Montgomery bus boycott began.

It’s been sixty years since the events of that fateful night, and I simply cannot find the words to describe this heinous crime that has yet to receive justice. Till was one of hundred of children murdered, then and now, at the hands of a racist system much like Trayvon Martin’s death or Michael Brown’s murder in our time. We will never know the significance of their life or contribution to the world.

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.” And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

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The links below can better inform you of the facts:

The lynching of Emmett Till: a documentary narrative

By Christopher Metress
(free online book)

 

 

YOU MUST SEE THIS!!!

Purchase “Just a Season” today !!!


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…


Why Do We Celebrate America

What To The Slave Is The 4th Of July?
Independence Day Speech at Rochester, 1852

Frederick Douglass (A former slave himself, he became a leader in the 19th Century Abolitionist Movement) This speech courtesy of The Freeman Institute™.

fd1Fellow citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold that a nation’s sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation’s jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that the dumb might eloquently speak and the “lame man leap as an hart.”

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine.

You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me by asking me to speak today? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn that it is dangerous to copy the example of nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can today take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people.

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! We wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.”

Fellow citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! Whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, today, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorry this day, “may my right hand cleave to the roof of my mouth”! To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world.

My subject, then, fellow citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave’s point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine. I do not hesitate to declare with all my soul that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this Fourth of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting.

America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the Constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery-the great sin and shame of America! “I will not equivocate, I will not excuse”; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, shall not confess to be right and just….

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not as astonishing that, while we are plowing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, and secretaries, having among us lawyers doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators, and teachers; and that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hillside, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives, and children, and above all, confessing and worshiping the Christian’s God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!…

“What To The Slave Is The 4th Of July?” And Thanks my Thought Provoking Perspective…


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…


Did You Know: Harlem Saved A King

2There was a fateful day in September 1958 that nearly caused us to lose a King. Dr. King was an emerging activist who was hosting a book signing for his book, “Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story” at Blumstein’s Department Store in Harlem, New York. On that day Dr. Martin Luther King was almost taken from us. Imagine what our lives and the world would be like today – if he had not survived the attack. Not many people know the name Izola Curry or that Dr. King barely escaped death that day.

While signing books, Dr. King was approached by a 42-year-old black woman, Izola Ware Curry, who asked if he was really Martin Luther King Jr. After responding yes, witnesses say Curry promptly took a letter opener out of her purse, closed her eyes and plunged it into Dr. King’s chest.

With the help of local police officers, first responders and the Harlem Hospital surgical team, Dr. King fortunately survived the stabbing, but doctors said because the opener grazed the surface of his aorta, if she had stabbed harder or if someone removed the object improperly, he probably would have drowned in his own blood.

“If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have had a chance later that year, in August, to try to tell America about a dream that I had had. If I had sneezed, I wouldn’t have been down in Selma, Alabama to see the great movement there,” Dr. King famously said ten years after the incident in his last speech, ”I’ve Been to the Mountaintop.”

While local media reported Dr. King’s attempted assassination in the following weeks, the story did not become national news because he was not a prominent public figure at the time.

But mystery remains surrounding attacker Izola Curry. Who was she? What happened to her? And why did this woman attempt to kill one of the greatest civil rights leaders?

Two filmmakers claim that their upcoming documentary, When Harlem Saved A Kingwill answer all of these questions and also shed light into Curry’s life, who has remained, as of now, virtually unknown to the public.

“Everybody is fascinated with this story about Dr. Martin Luther King. Everything you hear about him is from history books, but this puts a different spin on Dr. Martin Luther King’s rise to fame and it’s absolutely true,” says executive producer Wayne Davis in an interview with theGrio.

While the mystery behind Curry is alluring to historians and the public alike, both the director, Al Cohen, and Davis, say their film will also pay homage to the “unsung heroes” from the Harlem community who helped save Dr. King’s life.

“Harlem was never given a badge of honor as it relates assisting in the Civil Rights Movement. This particular project that we’re doing helps bring that shade to the Harlem community. We can stand up tall and realize that we had a very major impact in the Civil Rights Movement,” said director Al Cohen in the interview.

The two Harlem natives have spent the past several years researching and tracking down firsthand sources and information to figure out what happened to Curry and community members who played a role in saving Dr. King.

“The objective of When Harlem Saved a King is to unravel mysteries, expose secrets and misconceptions; and answer unanswered questions. The pieces of this untold story will be woven into a compelling 60 minutes through the creative integration of eye-opening interviews [with firsthand witnesses],” according to the documentary’s website.

After the stabbing incident, Curry was taken into custody and was found to be incompetent to stand trial for assault charges. She was later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was committed to the Matteawan State Hospital for the criminally insane according to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute.

Although the media portrayed Curry as a deranged woman with no real motive to kill Dr. King, both Cohen and Davis say that they have compelling evidence that Curry may have been part of a larger conspiracy to thwart the impending Civil Rights Movement.

“I think people will find an ironic twist about [the story]. Many said she was deranged woman, but it could possibly something bigger than that, a bigger conspiracy,” says Cohen. “It’s not just a crazy woman who got in an argument against [Dr. King] and just wanted to defend herself. It was more calculated than that.”

“For a deranged woman who acted solo, why was a lot of money in the south raised for her defense?” adds Davis. “That’s all I want to say. You will find out in the documentary what happened to her.”

Additionally, there are no records indicating Curry died at the mental institution and if she is still alive, she would be 96 years old today. Cohen and Davis say that the documentary will be groundbreaking because it will reveal what happened to Curry and if they were able to locate her.

“Nobody was ever able to get to [Izola Curry]. We have no information or any interviews or any leads about this woman, [except] the things we have found,” explains Cohen. “There is nobody out there that anybody has spoken to her outside of what we have found.”

The two filmmakers promoted their documentary throughout Black History Month to shed light onto a part of African-American history that has almost been forgotten. Just last week, the two hosted a screening of the trailer at Harlem Hospital.

“If Dr. King had died, would we be here talking with you today? We don’t know!” says Davis. “Maybe [the Civil Rights Movement] wouldn’t have progressed as soon as it did. Maybe it wouldn’t have progressed at all.”

The two filmmakers say that they are currently finishing the film’s production and they hope to premiere the documentary at the end of July.

I think this is a worthwhile project and one we should support. Therefore, I am reposting the article originally posted on theGrio to lend my support of this historical documentary. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

Webpage: When Harlem Saved A King


A Message For Black Women

1-I have been known to post Thought Provoking Perspectives that evoke controversy, as well as thoughts based on sound reasoning. This post I’m sure will do one or the other. It is not my intent to cast blame or fault; just a thought on a day without women. However, there is blame and fault to be extended to a large part of the black female population. Yesterday there was a huge celebration for women and I saw many black women participating. This was staged and for white women not to address the issues of black woman. I can remember the feminist movement that hoodwinked you; this so-called celebration was akin to that – it has nothing to do with you!

I cannot recall any movement that was organized by white folk that was designed to uplift or benefit you by those folk. I am not sure what would make you think any white women give a damn about you or your condition. If that was the case black people would not be in the condition you are in today. I can remember a time when Big Mama taught lessons to her daughters concerning the profound responsibly a black woman has to the survival of black life, which is to produce and maintain the life she bore. See it is you who nurtures and feeds the family to produce a long life and a decent quality of life for the children you birth.

Most blacks still fall into that deranged thinking that if a white person does it that so should it is good for you! From my perspective, many of our women have fallen into the cultural digression of that strange reality of thinking you should assist with the white woman’s problem. I will not dare speak to your womanhood mainly because I am not qualified to do so. But what I will say that their problems as a whole have nothing to do with you and nor are they interested in solving the issues that plague your life.

If they did we would see them rally around causes like the brutal and senseless police shootings of your black sons and stand up to your current state of affairs. Sadly they don’t! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


Warrior Princess Assata Shakur

007_1000There has been much talk about Cuba since the president changed the government’s policy and the normalizing relations. One of the misconceptions about Cuba or at least the faces we see are white; not true. Most of the island’s population is made up of the descendants of African slaves. One thing of great concern to some is that the agencies tasked with law enforcement will try to seek extradition for Assata Shakur exiled there for many years.

I lived through the 1960s and witnessed the excessive efforts government agencies used to destroy black leaders and organizations all over the country. When they talk about terrorism, the government failed to address militias or the KKK. In fact, every black person is a political prisoner because our forefathers were kidnapped from our native lands.

Yet, people like Fred Hampton, Bunche Carter, Malcolm X, and Dr. King who was known as men of peace were all targeted through what was called COINTELPRO. In my view, there have been a consistent and sustained assaults on the freedom of people of color though police shootings and abuse, which is a most pressing issue in the African American community. The might go back to Nate Turner when anyone trying to change the system must be destroyed and violently.

I won’t rant too much on the decision to list the exiled former Black Panther Assata Shakur as the first woman named to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list. So I will simply ask that you listen to legendary black activist, Angela Davis, as well as Shakur’s longtime attorney, Lennox Hinds. Davis, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is the subject of the recent film, “Free Angela and All Political Prisoners.”

She argues that the FBI’s move much like its initial targeting of Shakur and other Black Panthers four decades ago is politically motivated. Listen to the facts and see if this is an effort to strike fear and retribution designed to frighten people who are involved in struggles today. Forty years ago may seem like it was a long time ago but slavery ended in 1865, and it took until 1965 for African American’s to use the same bathroom or drink from the same water fountain as whites.

We are now living in the 21st century, and we’re still fighting the very same issues — police violence, healthcare, education, people in prison, and poverty. A professor of criminal justice at Rutgers University, Mr. Hinds has represented Shakur since 1973 says that this is a political act pushed by the state of New Jersey, by some members of Congress from Miami; with the intent of putting pressure on the Cuban government and to inflame public opinion to capture her.

I say, let’s not forget this woman and hope the Cuban government will tell America to leave her alone. You be the judge. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

(Democracy Now)


Unsung Matriarch Of Civil Rights: Dorothy Height

1The modern Civil Right movement has had many dedicated soldiers. We know the names, Parks, Tubman, and others but one name seems to have been forgotten by most. She was just as dedicated as any of the greats. Her name was Dorothy Irene Height, who in my view should be called the Matriarch of the movement. Dr. Height established a national reputation as a graceful insistent voice for civil rights and women’s rights. She was a tireless crusader for racial justice and gender equality spanning more than six decades and regarded as the “Godmother of the Civil Rights Movement.”

Dr. Height was born in Richmond, Virginia. She moved with her family to Rankin, Pennsylvania near Pittsburgh early in her life where she attended racially integrated schools. She was admitted to Barnard College in 1929, but upon her arrival, she was denied entrance because the school had an unwritten policy of admitting only two black students. She pursued studies instead at New York University earning a degree in 1932 and a master’s degree in educational psychology the following year.

Dr. Height served on the advisory council of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the National Advisory Council on Aging. Her awards included 36 honorary doctorates from colleges and universities, including Harvard and Princeton. Also, Dr. Height was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and on her 92nd birthday, she received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest decoration Congress can bestow.

Dr. Height was among a coalition of African American leaders who pushed civil rights to the forefront of the American political stage after World War II. She was instrumental, and a key figure, in the struggles for school desegregation, voting rights, employment opportunities and public accommodations in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Dr. Height was president of the National Council of Negro Women for 40 years, relinquishing that title at the age of 95.

National Council of Negro Women is a four million member advocacy group consisting of 34 national and 250 community-based organizations. It was founded in 1935 by educator Mary McLeod Bethune, who was one of Height’s mentors. Dr. Height was a civil rights activist who participated in protests in Harlem during the 1930’s. In the 1940’s, she lobbied First Llady Eleanor Roosevelt on behalf of civil rights causes and in the 1950’s she prodded President Dwight D. Eisenhower to move more aggressively on school desegregation issues.

President Obama issued an official statement White House that reads as follows: Dr. Height was “a hero to so many Americans… Dr. Height devoted her life to those struggling for equality . . . witnessing every march and milestone along the way… And even in the final weeks of her life — a time when anyone else would have enjoyed their well-earned rest Dr. Height continued her fight to make our nation a more open and inclusive place for people of every race, gender, background, and faith.”

As a young woman, Dr. Height made money through jobs such as ironing entertainer Eddie Cantor’s shirts and proofreading Marcus Garvey’s newspaper, the Negro World. She went nightclubbing in Harlem with composer W.C. Handy. Dr. Height began her professional career as a caseworker for the New York City welfare department. She got her start as a civil rights activist through the Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Sr., pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, and from the pastor’s son, the Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., who later represented Harlem in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In the 1940’s, Dr. Height came to Washington as chief of the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA branch. She joined the staff of the national YWCA board in 1944 through 1975. She remained on that staff with a variety of responsibilities, including leadership training and interracial and ecumenical education. In 1965, she organized and became the director of the YWCA’s Center for Racial Justice, and she held that position until retiring from the YWCA board in 1975.

Dr. Height became national president of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority in 1947 holding that position until 1957 when she became the fourth president of the National Council of Negro Women. She was a visiting professor at the Delhi School of Social Work in India, and she directed studies around the world on issues involving human rights.

During the turmoil of the civil rights struggles in the 1960’s, Dr. Height helped orchestrate strategies with major civil rights leaders including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph, Whitney Young, James Farmer, Bayard Rustin and John Lewis. She later served as a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia. Congressman John Lewis said when Dr. Height announced her retirement as president of the National Council of Negro Women – “At every major effort for progressive social change, Dorothy Height has been there.” She was also energetic in her efforts to overcome gender bias, and much of that work predated the women’s rights movement.

Dr. Height was the most influential woman at the top levels of civil rights leadership, but she never drew the major media attention that conferred celebrity and instant recognition on some of the other civil rights leaders of her time. In August 1963, Dr. Height was on the platform with King when he delivered his “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Less than a month later, at King’s request, she went to Birmingham, Ala. to minister to the families of four black girls who had died in a church bombing linked to the racial strife that had engulfed the city.

In 1995, Dr. Height was among the few women to speak at the Million Man March on the Mall led by Louis Farrakhan, the chief minister of the Nation of Islam. “I am here because you are here,” she declared. Two years later, at 85, she sat at the podium all day in the whipping wind and chill rain at the Million Woman March in Philadelphia.

She would often remark, “Stop worrying about whose name gets in the paper and start doing something about rats, and day care and low wages. . . . We must try to take our task more seriously and ourselves more lightly.” She also famously said, “If the times aren’t ripe, you have to ripen the times.” It was important to dress well she said, “I came up at a time when young women wore hats, and they wore gloves. Too many people in my generation fought for the right for us to be dressed up and not put down.”

“She was a dynamic woman with a resilient spirit, who was a role model for women and men of all faiths, races, and perspectives. For her, it wasn’t about the many years of her life, but what she did with them,” said former U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman. Dr. Height is a national treasure who lived life abundantly and for the abundance of others. She will be greatly missed, not only by those of us who knew her well but by the countless beneficiaries of her enduring legacy.

In my novel “Just a Season,” I talked about the “Dash” that will be placed on our final marker between the years of one’s birth and death that will represent the whole of a person’s life. I said that to say, this tiny little dash on Dr. Height’s marker will not adequately give enough credit for her outstanding life’s work. It should have an inscription that says – “Servant of God, Well Done.” And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


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


The Scene Of The Crime

16266194_1576646812351280_7451924563813283492_nTo know America is to go back to the beginning, which means when the robbed the Native American’s and stole the land murdering them and instituting the ungodly system of slavery. It all began in a place called The Jamestown Colony, England’s first permanent settlement in North America. It was a marshy wasteland, poor for agriculture and a breeding ground for malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

The settlement was such a harsh environment that only thirty-two of the estimated one hundred original settlers survived the first seven months. His-Story describes this as the “starving times” but all would change. It is also important to note the beginning of the most horrible crime the world has ever know – slavery!

On August 20, 1619, the first African “settlers” reached North America as cargo on board a Dutch man-of-war ship that rode the tide into Jamestown, Virginia carrying Captain Jope and a cargo of twenty Africans. It seems strange to me, but history cannot tell us why this mysterious ship anchored off Jamestown. It is believed the captain needed food and in exchange for food he offered his cargo of Africans as payment.

When the deal was consummated, Antoney, Isabella, and eighteen other Africans disembarked. Although they were not the first Africans to arrive in North America, they were the first African “settlers”. Regarded as indentured servants rather than slaves fifteen were purchased to serve their redemption time working for Sir George Yardley, the Governor of Virginia and proprietor of the thousand-acre Flowerdew Hundred Plantation.

In ten years, by the 1630’s, the colony had established a successful economy based on tobacco through the use of the Africans. Slavery was born, and slave trading became big business. These human souls were acquired in Africa for an average price of about twenty-five dollars each, paid primarily in merchandise. They were sold in the Americas for about one hundred fifty dollars each. As the price of slaves increased, so did the inhumane overcrowding of the ships.

This was the beginning of the worst crime every inflicted upon a people and the most morally reprehensible agenda the world has ever known. Adding to this injustice and more horrifying was that the perpetrators believed their actions were sectioned by God with a religious manifestation that justified Slavery. The next two-hundred years was a designed systematic effort to destroy millions of lives through in documentation, brutality, savagery, and terror. I am always struck by the use of the word civilization in this matter because the root word is “civil” and there is/was NOTHING civil about the institution of slavery, which means chattel making human beings property and servants for life.

The business of slave trading had one purpose – PROFIT. The process would begin with the African being paid to venture into the interior of the continent, capture other Africans, put them on a death march to the coast and sell their captives to Europeans. Now, if capturing and stealing the victims was not misery enough what was to follow surely was in every sense of the word.

A typical slave ship traveling from Gambia, the Gold Coast, Guinea, or Senegal would take four to eight weeks to reach New England, Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf of Mexico, or the West Indies. Africans from Senegal were the most prized because many were skilled artisans. Ibos from Calabar were considered the most undesirable because of their, high suicide rate. Women, men, and children were crammed so tightly in the ships that out of a load of seven hundred, three or four slaves would be found dead each morning.

Most ships had three decks with the lower two used for transporting slaves. The lowest deck extended the full length of the ship and was no more than five feet high. The captives were packed into tomb like compartments side by side to utilize all available space. In the next deck, wooden planks like shelves, extended from the sides of the ship where the slaves were chained in pairs at the wrists and ankles crammed side by side. Men occupied middle shelves and were most often chained in pairs and bound to the ship’s gunwales or to ringbolts set into the deck. Women and children were sometimes allowed to move about certain areas of the ship.

There was no sanitation, although buckets were provided for use as toilets, which were not regularly emptied. The ships smelled of excrement, disease, and death. It is estimated that between 15 and 20 percent of the slaves died in route to the colonies, mostly from diseases associated with overcrowding, spoiled or poisoned food, contaminated water, starvation, thirst, and suicide. Others were thrown overboard; shot, or beaten to death for various reasons.

A typical slave ship coming directly to the American mainland from Africa weighed about one to two hundred tons, although some were slightly larger. Slave ships were eventually built especially for human cargo. These slave ships could carry as many as four hundred slaves and a crew of forty-seven, as well as thirteen thousand pounds of food. They were long, narrow, fast, and designed to direct air below decks. Shackling irons, nets, and ropes were standard equipment.

The competition at slave markets on the African coast grew so exceptionally that historians estimate that as many as 60 million human souls were captured and taken from the continent of Africa to be sold into bondage. It is estimated that as many as one-third of that number did not survive the trip called the “Middle Passage” to reach the shores of a place like Jamestown in the name of God.

Did you know the first registered slave ship was named “The Good Ship Jesus” and in the name of God the greatest crime the world has known began in this place called “Jamestown.”

I am reminded of the powerful words of Sojourner Truth who was asked shortly before her death, if she knew how many slaves she freed while conducting the Underground Railroad. She did not think about it – replying quickly, “I could have freed a lot more if they had only known they were slaves.”

My hope is that one day the devastating effect of bondage will be removed, and we will be able to join hands and sing the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.” And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

 


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