Tag Archives: political prisoner

Happy Birthday H. Rap Brown

3In the 1960s, during civil rights movement, there were several leaders of note. Most fell into two very distinct factions; there were the non-violent faction and the more aggressive revolutionary wing of the movement. As we all know, it did not matter which faction the leader participated in “they all were either killed or jailed.” One of the more aggressive and outspoken leaders from the revolutionary side was H. Rap Brown! He is famously known for statements like “Burn Baby Burn.”

His government name was Hubert Gerold Brown before changing it to H. Rap Brown and one of the most outspoken faces of the Black Power Movement. He served as chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and as their Minister of Justice during the short-lived alliance between SNCC and the Black Panther Party. He became famous for his proclamations during that period saying “violence is as American as cherry pie,” as well as once stating that “If America don’t come around, we’re gonna burn it down”. He is also the author of his autobiography “Die Nigga Die!”

Brown like most of the so-called black radicals appeared on Hoover’s Ten Most Wanted list and was added after avoiding trial on charges of inciting a riot and of carrying a gun across state lines. Brown disappeared for 18 months and arrested after a reported shootout with officers. The shootout occurred after what was said to be an attempted robbery of a bar in 1971 in New York. His attorneys in the gun violation case were civil rights advocate Murphy Bell of Baton Rouge, and the self-described “radical lawyer” William Kunstler. Brown was scheduled to be tried in Cambridge, but the trial was moved to Bel Air, Maryland on a change of venue.

On March 9, 1970, two SNCC officials, Ralph Featherstone and William (“Che”) Payne, died on U.S. Route 1 south of Bel Air, Maryland, when a bomb on the front floorboard of their car exploded, completely destroying the car and dismembering both occupants. Theories of the origin of the bomb were disputed. Some say it was planted in an assassination attempt, others say it was intentionally carried by Payne to be used at the courthouse where Brown was to be tried. The next night the Cambridge courthouse was bombed.

He spent five years in Attica Prison after a robbery conviction. While in prison, Brown converted to Islam and changed his name from Hubert Gerold Brown to Jamil Abdullah al-Amin. After his release, he opened a grocery store in Atlanta, Georgia. He became a Muslim spiritual leader and community activist preaching against drugs and gambling in Atlanta’s West End neighborhood.

He is currently serving a life sentence for murder following the 2000 shooting of two Fulton County Sheriff’s deputies, both black, who were trying to serve a warrant on him. One deputy, Ricky Kinchen, died in the shooting. On March 9, 2002, nearly two years after the shooting took place, al-Amin was convicted of 13 criminal charges, including the murder of Deputy Kinchen. Four days later, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He was sent to Georgia State Prison, the state’s maximum security facility later transferred to ADX Florence Supermax prison in Colorado.

He believed “there is no in between, you’re either free or you’re a slave”. I agree!!! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


“Felony Lynching” Conviction Of Black Lives Matter Organizer

Black-Lives-Matter-Pasadena-Organizer-Jasmine-Richards-YouTube-640x480This is one of those WTF news stories: From the  AFRICAN AMERICAN REPORTS – thank you George Cook

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Green Party strongly condemns the prosecution and conviction of Black Lives Matter (BLM) organizer Jasmine Richards in Pasadena, California, on “felony lynching” charges.

Ms. Richards was arrested on August 29, 2015 after police accused her of attempting to “de-arrest” another participant during a peace march at Pintoresca Park in Pasadena.

The arrest and charges provoked widespread public anger as well as recognition that Ms. Richards is the first political prisoner from the Black Lives Matter movement (see columnist Shaun King, http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/jasmine-richards-prisoner-black-lives-matter-article-1.2659110 ).

“The Green Party stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and with Jasmine Richards,” said Thomas Muhammad, Co-Chair of the Green Party Black Caucus. “The police and courts twisted an incident of interference in an arrest into a ‘lynching’ charge. This is a repellent and inflammatory allegation against a young black activist, given the history of terrorist white lynch mobs seizing black prisoners from police custody for the purpose of extrajudicially executing them.”

Two months before Ms. Richards’ arrest and after lobbying by California State Senator Holly Mitchell, who is Black, legislation (Senate Bill 629) removing the word “lynching” from the California penal code was passed in July 2015. Jasmine Richards was the first African-American ever to face the charge.

“The lynching charge tells us that this was a trumped-up prosecution meant to defame Black Lives Matter, criminalize legitimate activism for basic human rights and dignity, and intimidate young people — especially young African American women like Jasmine Richards — who speak out for justice,” said Kamesha Clark, Green candidate for the U.S. House in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District ( http://www.kameshaclark.com ).

“This charge also tells us that the time has come for movements such as Black Lives Matter to diversify their strategies for achieving social justice. Organizing can be achieved in ways that does not attract police presence. Doing so will greatly reduce the risk of being imprisoned and particular methods, such as organizing for community controlled development within our most vulnerable neighborhoods, will help to eradicate the systemic societal ills that invite unwarranted excessive force in the first place,” said Ms. Clark.

Green Party leaders noted widespread suspicions that Pasadena police were targeting Ms. Richards for speaking out and organizing public protest after the police killing of Kendrec McDade, an unarmed black 19-year-old, in 2012. No Black members were seated on the jury that convicted Ms. Richards, who may face one to four years in prison.

“There is not a Black American family that has not been touched by lynching,” said Marian Douglas-Ungaro, member of the D.C. Statehood Green Party and the Green Party Black Caucus. “It is an atrocity to have a Black American charged and convicted of something which, clearly, Ms. Richards has not done. Over the past three generations, or longer, the vast majority of persons who really have hanged Black people, have never been formally identified as suspects, nor arrested, let alone jailed, tried, or convicted. This whole prosecution sends a message of contempt, even of hate, with impunity.”

Statement by Dr. Melina Abdullah, organizer and one of the original members of Black Lives Matter: “My heart is broken and my soul is reeling in the wake of the conviction of my twin soul, our warrior, and my Spirit Daughter… Jasmine Abdullah [Richards] on felony lynching charges today and immediately remanded to custody. I don’t know why I held out hope that we would get justice in this case, that the judge, prosecutor and jury… none of whom were Black… would be fair and somehow come down on our side. I had to remind myself of what I already know to be true…. this system is completely corrupt, unjust, and built off the oppression of our people.” ( https://www.facebook.com/melina.abdullah/posts/10154141481460930 )

A petition for Ms. Richards has been placed online: “#FreeJasmine: No Jail Time for Black Lives Matter Organizer Wrongfully Convicted of ‘Lynching'” ( http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/freejasmine-no-jail-time-black-lives-matter-activist-accused-lynching ).

In previous statements, the Green Party has declared its support for BLM and for protests against police killings organized by the group. At the Green Party’s 2015 Annual National Meeting in St. Louis, party members held a rally for racial justice on July 25 across the street from Ferguson police headquarters.

See also:

Black Lives Matter Pasadena Organizer Convicted of Felony ‘Lynching’ Charge
Pasadena Now, June 1, 2016
http://www.pasadenanow.com/main/black-lives-matter-pasadena-organizer-convicted-of-felony-lynching-charge/

Black Lives Matter Activist Convicted of “Felony Lynching”: “It’s More Than Ironic, It’s Disgusting”
Democracy Now!, June 2, 2016
http://www.democracynow.org/2016/6/2/black_lives_matter_activist_convicted_of

Greens to rally for racial justice at Ferguson Police Dept. during the Green Party’s 2015 Annual National Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, July 23-26
Press release: Green Party of the United States, June 15, 2015
http://www.gp.org/greens_rally_for_racial_justice_in_ferguson


Prison System: The New Apartheid

jail

In recent years, we have witnessed torture inflicted upon people supposedly to protect America. Black people are supposed to be American’s but the state, kills about one black person each week. I’m not talking about the wars abroad supposedly to bring freedom, rather right here on American soil where racism was born. In nearly every city in America black people are victims of abuse at the hands of the police, vigilantes, and murdered that seems to most often go unnoticed by the justice system.

For example, there was the assassination of a young black child in Florida, Travon Martin, which was similar to little Emmett Till over a half century ago. Also, let’s not forget Oscar Grant and Jordon Davis, Michael Brown and Eric Gardner, and so many more that have fallen victim having their rights violated to the point of death.

The Klan is on the rise, and most conservative lawmakers are trying to turn back the hands of time. During this month in the year of our Lord 2015, black people still face the evils of those who are sick, like a Bull Connor, with the seemingly incurable disease of racism. The mass incarceration rate of people of color and minorities are at an unprecedented rate; only compared to the captured soul’s once held in the evil system of slavery.

The Constitution and Western jurisprudence, going back to the Magna Carta and before, do not require a person accused of a crime to prove his or her innocence. The burden of proof is on the prosecutors to convince a jury of one’s “peers” to unanimously agree on guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Not if you are black!

The odds were stacked against minorities and African Americans in particular, from the beginning. This is evident today because black men are sentenced to jail in astounding numbers with extremely long sentences compared to people of the other hue for the same crimes.

I was struck by something Hip-hop duo Dead Prez once said, “Behind me on the wall it says this place is a place of hallowed justice, it should say this is a place of hollow justice, there’s no justice. We’re right in front of the injustice department because for over 40 years we’ve seen Mumia Abu Jamal get no justice, we’ve seen Eddy Conway, we’ve seen Mutulu Shakur, we’ve seen Herman Bell, we’ve seen Jalil Muntaqim, and countless other colonial subjects shot down by the police departments inside this country, no justice.”

Some might say this is “Modern Lynching” or as Michelle Alexander calls it “The New Jim Crow”. It could also be called “American Apartheid”! Today, the prison industry is traded on the Stock Exchange. Did you know that the place where the Stock Exchange exists was once a place where slaves were sold? When laws are made to support the interests of an industry that is designed for profit and to benefit its stockholders; there is not much difference in the once profitable slave industry.

Right now, the United States represents five-percent of the world’s population but incarcerate twenty-five percent of the world’s prisoners. And guess which group of people is disproportionately represented in the American criminal injustice system – Just Us. Black people represent a large number of what I call the modern slaves, but the system calls them Felons. Yeah, some kind of “Liberty”!

Lift every voice and demand justice, thereby remove the stigma of “Just Us”. And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…


The Insanity Of WAR

11I can recall not too long ago, there was a tiny little place in Southeast Asia called Vietnam. When I was there we called it the land of the little people. They were not much more than poor rice farmers, not a mighty army or even a strong political force to any degree. Yet, they were able to defeat the mightiest nation on the planet. America told the American people we need to go there to support then to save democracy, because we had to fight Communism! Well, history tells us how well that worked out.

Millions of people died and were maimed; trillions of dollars were spent in this effort constructed on false pretences. They said this little nation attacked an American ship in the Gulf of Tonkin, which never happened but it was used to get America involved. This war lasted for more than a decade and left with no accolades. In fact, it was not a victory! We saw a similar action in the fifties in a little place called Korea!

Let’s look at today’s industrial military projects. Bush and company took put American in two wars about a decade or so. They told American people it was necessary to defend the “homeland” against terrorism. The Bush wars were also sold based on false pretenses, some say a downright lie. Wars have traditionally been fought for religion reasons in the name of God and of course land has been a reason. It is hard to determine if either of these reasons were the cause of these current wars. Yes, religion is part of it – land, not so much but this war is about what’s in the ground. So I suppose, it is not too far from the script.

In Vietnam, when American left; the enemy took over the entire country in about a week. In Iraq, about 800 ISIS forces took nearly half the country in a week. Not only that but these same 800 men caused 30,000 Iraqis troops to surrender and run away. Does this sound similar?

What is lost, however, is that the Politicians have yet to learn two things: [1] you cannot impose freedom upon people who don’t want it or know what it is and [2] they have not learned to mind their own business and stay out of the affairs of others. Particularly, when American has more than its share of problems here at home!

During the Vietnam War there was a draft, where you were force to go off to your death. This time we have what’s called an all volunteer army, which mean they convince men and women to volunteer to go off to be maimed and die. In Vietnam, most of the soldiers were black and poor. In this war, they are still poor, by and large, however, they are mostly white. Vietnam was about money and so is this war.

Bottom line is this: war is about money and has nothing to do with freedom! If you ask, what is war good for; the answer is nothing – absolutely nothing! What I think we can conclude is that these people who involve America in such conflicts cannot walk a chew gum at the same time because history has shown their way has not worked because not one war has been won in a half a century. Now, they got rich.

It is also important to note that most often these men who start wars have never been to war, which makes it easy to start one. Also, their loved ones and children never fight or die. Maybe a fair draft system might cause the war hawks to think more carefully if the new their children might suffer as a result. This is just a short reflection into the realm of sanity, or at least common sense. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


“The Dash”

legacy bookI wonder how many of you have taken the time to reexamine the life you’ve been given. If you were to view the headstone that comes with the end of life; you will see your name inscribed. You will also witness a tiny Dash that separates the years of one’s birth and death that represents the whole of a person’s life. This should bring about an illuminating discovery. So if this tiny dash were to tell your life’s story, what would it say?

A few years ago I was blessed to be the vehicle to channel an epic novel titled “Just a Season” where a man journeys back in time to reexamine all the important people, circumstances, and intellectual fervor that contributed to the richness of his life. I chose to title this novel “Just a Season” because that’s all God gave us, and this novel is a story of life. It captures the journey, life and times, of an African American man living in America and the significant history witnessed during his journey.

Television Host and Poet Sistah Joy said, “Thank you for your example of tenderness and discipline in what I know is a story of love, delicately shared with readers in a way that says this life, though brief, is significant. So hold it in highest regard for “the dash” is our legacy to love ones, indeed to the world, which we are blessed to share, albeit, for Just a Season.” 

Other reviewers complemented this epic story by saying “This is the stuff movies are made of… not since “Roots” have I read a story that so succinctly chronicles an African American story!” Another said, “Not since The Color Purple have I read a book that evoked such emotions.”

Cheryl Hayes of APOOO Book Club said in her review that “Wills pulls you in from the very first page… Just a Season is a heart-wrenching story about growing up and believing in yourself. I highly recommend this book to young men in high school, trying to find themselves and feeling like they have nowhere to turn.”

This book has received rave reviews and I’m honored having my work mentioned in the same sentence with “Roots” and “The Color Purple”. This is evident of its richness and I’m blessed that the story has touched the hearts of so many and mankind. I will say, and you can quote me, “You will see the world through new eyes”. I will say, and you can quote me, “You will see the world through new eyes”.

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

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

Prelude to “Just a Season”

A MUST READ!!!A season is a time characterized by a particular circumstance, suitable to an indefinite period of time associated with a divine phenomenon that some call life. One of the first things I learned in this life was that it is a journey. During this passage through time I have come to realize that there are milestones, mountains, and valleys that everyone will encounter.

Today, I have to face a valley and it’s excruciating. It’s June 28th, a day that I once celebrated as a very special day. Now, it’s filled with sorrow. The reason this day is different from all others is because I have come to the cemetery at Friendly Church.

Normally it’s hot and humid as summer begins, but not so today. It’s a cool gray day with the sky slightly overcast. I hear the echo of birds chirping from a distance. There is also a mist or a light fog hovering very near the ground that gives the aura of a mystical setting.  This is a place where many of my family members who have passed away rest for eternity.  Some have been resting here for over a hundred years. I have grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, a sister, and many friends here as well. The cemetery is in the most tranquil of places secluded from the rest of the world, very peaceful and beautiful, almost like being near the gateway of heaven.

My heart aches today because I have come here on what would have been my son’s birthday. This is a very hard thing for me to do as the natural order suggests it should be the other way around. Another difficulty is that this is the first time I will see his headstone that was put in place just a few days ago. Although I know what it should look like, it’s going to be hard to actually see it. It will indicate the finality of losing the dearest of all human beings.  It’s hard to imagine what the rest of my life will be like without my precious son.

As I pass Granddaddy’s gravesite, I stop to say hello. After a brief moment, I continue in the direction of my son’s resting place. As I get closer, I begin to receive a rush of emotion to the point that my movements slow as the sight comes into view. I can now see his name clearly and I whisper “God why did you take him?” I become numb as I finally arrive at his gravesite, overwhelmed with this never before known emotion. This is something I never thought I would ever have to do, but here I am!!!

Suddenly, the sky begins to clear somewhat, as I now feel the sun’s rays from above.  At this very moment, I receive an epiphany upon reading the dates inscribed on the stone.  1981 – 2001. What does this really mean? The beginning and the end, surely, but in the final analysis it is just a tiny little dash that represents the whole life of a person. I fall to my knees realizing the profound impact of that thought causing me to look to the heavens and wonder. If someone, for whatever reason, were to tell the story concealed within my dash. What might they say?

Get Your Copies

Just a Season

Legacy – A New Season


Black Women and Faith

I came across a newspaper article that I found interesting – yet troubling. It was a nationwide survey conducted by the Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation that revealed that black women are among the most religious people in the country.” Now, having know a few black women in my time this was not that much of a surprise because I have found that most will out Pope the Pope!

I am going to say from the outset that I am expecting hate mail but if you read my words they are simply designed to provoke thought on the topic. Therefore, I say think about what you read – maybe even step back and look in the mirror. Early in the article there was a powerful statement made by the author who asked, “For what purpose are you seeking an education? Is it not that you may relieve the suffering of humanity?”

There was a woman quoted as saying she found on her phone this: “Finding that verse at that moment was no coincidence… God had spoken. Instantly, a sense of calm and confidence enveloped her. In times like these, when she feels anxious, afraid or unsure… relies on her faith.” Just so you know faith is that what you believe to be true what cannot be seen. Keep reading I have some thoughts on this too! But first let me talk about the survey.

This nationwide survey found that nine in 10 African American women reveals that as a group, black women are among the most religious people in the nation. The survey found that 74 percent of black women said that “living a religious life” is very important. On that same question, the number falls to 57 percent of white women and 43 percent of white men.

I understand that during times of turmoil, which is living in America. Black women endure much more than any other group causing them to turn to their faith to get through. Black women, across education and income levels, say living a religious life is a greater priority than being married or having children, and this call to faith either surpasses or pulls even with having a career as a life goal, the survey shows.

If you are from the African American culture you more than likely would have grown up with gospel music in your background or maybe as your foundation. This more than likely included a mother or grandmother who insisted on all-day church on Sundays and Bible school in the summers. It is inextricably woven into our culture giving us the sense that devotion and faith in God is somehow more strongly connects due to our slave ancestor’s survival of the institution.

Stacey Floyd-Thomas, an associate professor of ethics and society at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, says “Black women have been the most mistreated and scandalized group in U.S. society and culture as they wrestle both individually and collectively with the triple jeopardy of racism, sexism and classism.” To this I agree!

For roughly a quarter of black women who responded to the survey, religion plays a less-than-primary role in their lives; a scant 2 percent of them said it is “not at all” important. To that point Sikivu Hutchinson who describes herself as an atheist makes this point: “What has religiosity and belief in supernatural beings really achieved for African Americans in the 21st century — and in particular African American women, given our low socioeconomic position?”

Looking back on her childhood, Hutchinson wonders: “Why would children be compelled to profess belief, especially when they look around them and see that the world is overpopulated with adult believers flaunting their immorality?” Hutchinson contends that perhaps there aren’t more black women grappling with that answer because there is little in their community that supports a different perspective.

The article went on to say “for most African American women, absolute trust in a higher power has been a truism for centuries. In follow-up interviews with some of the black women surveyed, there seemed to be little or no angst about their religious beliefs or their role in the church. The women said their focus is on one thing: their personal relationship with God.”

LAW AND ORDER THEME!!!

Ok, here is where I am sure to upset some. First, we were brought to America as slaves and there were two choices; take the Bible or die – by way of the rope or gun. Let me remind you there was no word G-O-D in any African language before the coming of Europeans. In addition, the first registered slave ship was named the “Good Ship Jesus”. The WORD, supposedly given by God, that most so fervently believe was rewritten twenty-eight times with the last revision ordered by the diabolical King James of England who stood to benefit from his rendition. My point here is that maybe we should not take the WORD literally.

I want to make two more points; the image of the deity that hangs on most church walls is that of a blonde haired blue eyed European who could not possibly have come from that region of the world, which was in North Africa. The other point is this: there is a church in most communities on every corner, so I say if that was the answer why is it not working.

Let me close by saying that “I believe in something greater than I and I chose to call it God”. This in the practical sense should be adapted to mean “Good Orderly Direction”. I would respectfully suggest that we and black women in particular, look to what is within to find strength to survive. Lastly it might be a good idea to not be so devoted and blindly follow con artist, or maybe I should say, pimps in the pulpit and you know who they are.

As we have just lived another Black History Month. Let’s get back to family which is your strength! And that’s my Thought Provoking Perspective…

http://johntwills.com

 

 


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