Tag Archives: Martin King

The Peril’s Of Justice

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

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

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

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

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

These are all valid questions that demand answers.

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

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

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

And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective!

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This is Where it Began


On that December evening, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus leading to her arrested for a violation of Chapter 6, Section 11 segregation law of the Montgomery City code. In spite of the fact that she was not even technically seated in the white-only designated section on the bus; she was in a colored section. Regardless, fate dictated it to be the day that changed American and to a larger extent – the world forever.

Mrs. Parks would later recall asking the officer who arrested her, “Why do you push us around?” The officer’s response was “I don’t know, but the law’s the law, and you’re under arrest.” This woman of great dignity thought, as she was being arrested, that this will be the very last time that she would ever ride in humiliation of this kind again.

Later that evening E.D. Nixon and Clifford Durr bailed Parks out of jail and that very night Nixon and members of the Women’s Political Council stayed up all night mimeographing over 35,000 handbills announcing a bus boycott. The Women’s Political Council was the first group to officially endorse the boycott.

On Sunday morning, December 4, 1955, plans for the Montgomery Bus Boycott were announced at all black churches in the area and in a front-page article in The Montgomery Advertiser. By the end of the day, a church rally was held and those attending agreed unanimously to continue the boycott until they were treated with the level of courtesy they expected, until black drivers were hired, and until seating in the middle of the bus was handled on a first-come basis.

Four days later, Parks was tried and convicted for disorderly conduct as well as violating a local ordinance. The trial lasted 30 minutes and she was fined $10, plus $4 in court costs. Parks appealed her conviction and formally challenged the legality of racial segregation. Mrs. Parks would later say:

I did not want to be mistreated; I did not want to be deprived of a seat that I had paid for. It was just time… there was opportunity for me to take a stand to express the way I felt about being treated in that manner. I had not planned to get arrested. I had plenty to do without having to end up in jail. But when I had to face that decision, I didn’t hesitate to do so because I felt that we had endured that too long. The more we gave in, the more we complied with that kind of treatment, the more oppressive it became.

On Monday, December 5, 1955, after the success of the one-day boycott, a group of 16 to 18 people gathered at the Mt. Zion AME Zion Church to discuss boycott strategies. The group agreed that a new organization was needed to lead the boycott effort if it were to continue. It was Rev. Ralph Abernathy who suggested the name Montgomery Improvement Association. The name was adopted, the MIA was formed, and march to justice was on. Its members elected as their president a relative newcomer to Montgomery, a young and mostly unknown minister of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Fifty leaders from the African American community gathered that Monday night to discuss the proper actions to be taken in response to Parks’ arrest. E.D. Nixon said, “My God, look what segregation has put in my hands!” Parks was the ideal plaintiff for a test case against city and state segregation laws. Plans for such a protest had been underway for some time. Claudette Colvin a 15-year-old, unwed and pregnant, was one of the first to be considered for such a case but she was deemed unacceptable to be the center of a civil rights mobilization.

Mrs. Parks was regarded one of the finest citizens of Montgomery, not one of the finest Negro citizens, but one of the finest citizens of Montgomery. Parks was securely married and employed, possessed a quiet and dignified demeanor, and was politically savvy, which was a huge plus for the cause.

On the day of Parks’ trial, which was Monday, December 5, 1955, the WPC distributed the 35,000 leaflets. The handbill read, “We are…asking every Negro to stay off the buses Monday in protest of the arrest and trial … You can afford to stay out of school for one day. If you work, take a cab, or walk. But please, children and grown-ups, don’t ride the bus at all on Monday. Please stay off the buses Monday.”

It rained that day, but the black community persevered in their boycott. Some rode in carpools, while others traveled in black-operated cabs that charged the same fare as the bus, 10 cents. Most of the remainder of the 40,000 black commuters walked, some as far as 20 miles (30 km). In the end, the boycott lasted for 381 days. Dozens of public buses stood idle for months, severely damaging the bus transit company’s finances, until the law requiring segregation on public buses was lifted.

Some segregationists retaliated with terrorism. Black churches were burned or dynamited. Martin Luther King’s home was bombed in the early morning hours of January 30, 1956, and E.D. Nixon’s home was also attacked. However, the black community’s bus boycott marked one of the largest and most successful mass movements against racial segregation. It sparked many other protests, and it catapulted King to the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement.

To sum up the actions of the time Dr. King wrote in his 1958 book Stride Toward Freedom that Parks’ arrest was the precipitating factor, rather than the cause, of the protest: “The cause lay deep in the record of similar injustices….  Actually, no one can understand the action of Mrs. Parks unless he realizes that eventually the cup of endurance runs over, and the human personality cries out, ‘I can take it no longer.'”


Brother Minister – R.I.P.

Malcolm X was no doubt one of the most profoundly significant, famous, and controversial African American leaders of our time. I cannot recall any other MAN, except maybe Dr. King, whose impact was so overwhelmingly felt. The Minister’s prophetic words spoken over forty-five years ago resonate as relevant today as the day they were spoken evoking the same emotions of truth.

February 21st was the anniversary, for lack of a better word, of Minister Malcolm X’s assassination at the Audubon Ballroom that has yet to be fully resolved in the minds of most of us. What I can say is that we lost a champion unlike anyone I have witnessed in my lifetime. Therefore, it would be blasphemy to dedicate an entire month to the ghost of the greats and not include the most articulate orator of our time.

I could go deeply into the making of this man but so many people, agencies, institutions and organizations have covered this great man’s brief life on earth in much more detail than I can. As you know, there is a vast sea of in-depth analyses, books, movies, and biographies on his life and philosophies. I will not try to rewrite history rather simply pay homage to the legacy of this great man as brief as I can, honoring him for his contributions to the African American Diaspora.

There are facts (known & unknown), suspicions and of course theories surrounding the assassination of Malcolm X, the impact it has had on our culture and the world the world. Like the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X also had a dream. It began bathed in the tenets of anger and hatred, fostering economic independence on the shoulders of retaliatory separatism that ended with the swelling acceptance of a unified brotherhood and the replacement of hatred with peace and with the nagging thirst for international equality for all mankind.

As the story goes, early in Malcolm’s life a white teacher asked him what he would like to be and his answer was “a lawyer”. The teacher, who had encouraged his white students on their career choices, told Malcolm, “That’s no realistic goal for a nigger”. This statement discouraged a bright student to not seek his full potential leading to a life of crime. After being caught and arrested for carrying a concealed weapon he was sentenced to prison. While serving more than six years he began educating himself, converted to the Islamic faith and became a Black Muslim in the Nation of Islam (NOI).

After his release in 1952, Malcolm Little, now known as Malcolm X, went to Detroit and began to actively preach to the frustrated African American population about what Islam had to offer. It made no difference where he conducted his sermons and teachings, whether on the streets or in a temple. He spread the word to anyone who would listen. It was not long before Malcolm became a favorite of Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam. He was made a minister and began to travel from city to city, preaching the message, founding new temples and converting thousands of people to the faith. Two years later, Malcolm X became minister of the famed Temple Number Seven in Harlem, New York.

Then came the split with Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam (NOI) to which Malcolm X knew he was a marked man. He had formed the Muslim Mosque Incorporated (MMI) and made the comment that “the NOI leaders got to kill me. They can’t afford to let me live … I know where the bodies are buried. And if they press me, I’ll exhume some”.

Malcolm then formed the OAAU (Organization of Afro-American Unity) and began embarking on a course in opposition to the capitalist system. He planned to create a Black Nationalist party integrated with his travels throughout Europe, the Middle East, the UAR, and Africa where he readily exposed the oppression of African-Americans to the world through the United African Nationalist movement. This was the last thing the U.S. government wanted since it would make the nations racial problems an international human rights issue.

In April of 1964, Malcolm X made a pilgrimage to Mecca which led to his second conversion. He met brothers of the faith who were from many nations and of many races, black, brown, white, and all the sons of Allah. The reality dawned on him that advocating racial cooperation and brotherhood would help resolve the racial problems in America and, hopefully, lead to a peaceful coexistence throughout the world. Malcolm X’s transformed ideas and dreams reached full fruition and were ready for implementation. He changed his name, this time to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz and found himself going against the system, but this time he would not be alone in the fight for equality and justice.

It did not take long for the reactionaries to strike out at Malcolm X. Members of the NOI resented what they thought were his attempts to supplant Elijah Muhammad. Government entities feared his involving the NOI in international issues, as well as his starting to lean too far to the left, while law enforcement officials looked upon him and his actions as radical, criminal and detrimental to society.
Early on the morning of February 14, 1965, Malcolm and his family were peacefully asleep in their home in Elmhurst, New York.

They were suddenly awakened by the sounds of shattering glass and explosions. Several Molotov cocktails had been thrown through their living room window, engulfing the house in roaring flames. Malcolm and his wife, Betty, quickly gathered their children and rushed out of the burning house. Once safe, they stood outside in the cold air, watching as their home and possessions burned. It was never determined who had tried to kill them, though Malcolm did tell authorities he thought it may have been the NOI.

Just one week later at a scheduled appearance at the Audubon Ballroom, which was almost full on a cold February day with over 400 followers of Islam anxiously awaiting Brother Malcolm X. No uniformed police were visible inside the Audubon, but two were stationed outside the entrance although it was common knowledge that an attempt on Malcolm’s life was a real possibility. Inside the Audubon Ballroom, several dark-suited NOI guards were positioned near the stage and towards the rear of the room. As soldiers of the NOI, the militancy of the neatly dressed men was evident in their demeanor, as they surveyed the room, quietly watching the seating of late arrivals.

Malcolm X, his pregnant wife and their four children waited as a tense and nervous Malcolm X ordered two of his guards to take his family out into the hall to their seats in a box near the front of the stage. Seemingly irritated and exhausted, Malcolm X mentioned to his aides that he had reservations about speaking. Malcolm’s misgivings were reflected in his taut features as his restless eyes darted around the room as he listened to Brother Benjamin Goodman making his opening speech.
At approximately 3:08 pm, Brother Benjamin ended his speech and introduced Malcolm X, who walked out onto the stage to a lengthy ovation.

Malcolm stepped up to a wooden podium and looked out at the audience. When the applause finally settled down, he offered the audience the Muslim greeting and smiled when they responded in-kind. Just as he began to speak again, a commotion broke out near the rear of the ballroom. Two men jumped up, knocking wooden folding-chairs to the floor, as one of the men yelled, “Get your hand out of my pocket!” As Malcolm responded with cool it there brothers, a loud explosion suddenly erupted in the back of the room, which began to fill with smoke.

Malcolm’s bodyguards and aides hardly had time to react as the well coordinated ruses effectively diverted their attention from him, allowing unopposed gunmen to begin their attack. A man rose from the front row and pulled out a double-barreled sawed-off shotgun from under his coat and fired twice at Malcolm. Simultaneously, as Malcolm was falling backwards and clutching his bloody chest, two more men jumped up and fired pistols at him as they rushed the stage. Although Malcolm was down, the two men repeatedly fired bullets into his body before turning and running to flee the premises. More shots were fired as they ran.

Betty Shabazz shielded her children with her body beneath a bench. As soon as the shooting ceased, she rushed toward the still body of her husband as she screamed, “They’re killing my husband! They’re killing my husband!” When she reached his side she realized he was dead, despite the frantic efforts of followers trying to stop the flow of blood from his bullet riddled body.

Upon learning of the assassination of Malcolm X, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. remarked that “One has to conquer the fear of death if he is going to do anything constructive in life and take a stand against evil”. We may never know all of the facts about who was behind the assassination or who ordered his death. But we do know that these assassins denied him the chance to act upon his newly formed convictions.

Today, the man and the name, Malcolm X, are known in America and throughout the world. He was a celebrated freedom fighter and motivating force to those whose future he had the vision to see, the will to stand up and fight for. Postage stamps and posters now bear his image out of recognition and honor for his final crusade.

The eulogy that actor Ossie Davis delivered at his funeral profoundly impresses upon us that, “However we may have differed with him, or with each other about him and his value as a man, let his going from us serve only to bring us together, now. Consigning these mortal remains to earth, the common mother of all, secure in the knowledge that what we place in the ground is no more now a man but a seed which, after the winter of our discontent, will come forth again to meet us. And we will know him then for what he was and is a Prince, our own black shining Prince! Who didn’t hesitate to die, because he loved us so.”

Malcolm X was a man who fulfilled his place in history and stayed true to his words: “It is a time for martyr’s now, and if I am to be one, it will be for the cause of brotherhood.”

A collection of Malcolm X Speeches

The Black Man’s History

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