Tag Archives: racism

Brave Courageous Men

16266194_1576646812351280_7451924563813283492_nIn the 1960s, there was a group of courageous black men from the communities of the southern states called the Deacons for Defense and Justice. It was an armed organization practicing self-defense methods in the face of racist oppression carried out under the Jim Crow Laws by local/state government officials and racist vigilantes. I remember this group of brave black men but because of their stance the Deacons are not written about or cited in the history book or by the Civil Rights leadership.

Their agenda of self-defense of the community did not fit the image of strict non-violence that leaders such as Dr. King espoused. The Deacons are a segment of the larger tradition of the Black Power movement a tradition dating back to slavery when Africans were chattel slaves to continue the fight for freedom. This refers to the idea that the traditional ideas and values of the Civil Rights Movement placated to the emotions and feelings of White liberal supporters rather than Black Americans, who had to live consistently with the racism and other acts of violence that were shown towards them.

Stokley Carmichael defines Black Power as: “The goal of black self-determination and black self-identity, Black Power, is full participation in the decision-making processes affecting the lives of black people and recognition of the virtues in themselves as black people… Those of us who advocate Black Power are quite clear in our own minds that a ‘non-violent’ approach to civil rights is an approach black people cannot afford, and a luxury white people do not deserve.”

The Deacons were a driving force of Black Power that Stokely Carmichael echoed. Carmichael speaks about the Deacons when he writes, “Here is a group which realized that the ‘law’ and law enforcement agencies would not protect people, so they had to do it themselves…The Deacons and all other blacks who resort to self-defense represent a simple answer to a simple question: what man would not defend his family and home from attack?” The Deacons, according to Carmichael and others were the protection that the Civil Rights needed on local levels, as well as, the ones who intervened in places that the state and federal government fell short.

The Deacons were not the first champions of armed defense during the Civil Rights Movement. Many activists and other proponents of non-violence protected themselves with guns. Fannie Lou Hamer, the eloquently blunt Mississippi militant who outraged LBJ at the 1964 Democratic Convention, confessed that she kept several loaded guns under her bed. Even Martin Luther King Jr., an icon of nonviolence, employed armed bodyguards and had guns in his house during the early stages of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

In many areas of the “Deep South,” the federal and state governments had no control of local authorities and groups that did not want to follow the laws enacted. One such group, the KKK, is the most widely known organization that openly practiced acts of violence and segregation based on race. As part of their strategy to intimidate this community Negroes, the Ku Klux Klan initiated a “campaign of terror” that included harassment, the burning of crosses on the lawns of African-American voters, the destruction by fire of five churches, a Masonic Hall, a Baptist center, and murder.

Therefore, the Negro community felt it was crucial to have its own protection to curb this terrorism given the lack of support and protection by State and Federal authorities. Enter Earnest “Chilly Willy” Thomas and Frederick Kirkpatrick, founders of the Deacons of Defense in November 1964 to protect civil rights workers, their communities and their families against the Klan. Most of the Deacons were war veterans with combat experience from the Korean War and World War II.

There are many accounts of how the group’s name came about, but according to Lance Hill the most plausible explanation is: “the name was a portmanteau that evolved over a period of time, combining the CORE staff’s first appellation of ‘deacons’ with the tentative name chosen in November 1964: ‘Justice and Defense Club.’ By January 1965, the group had arrived at its permanent name, ‘Deacons for Defense and Justice.’” The organization wanted to maintain a level of respectability and identify with traditionally accepted symbols of peace and moral values portraying the organization as an innocent church group….”

Scholar Akinyele O. Umoja speaks about the group’s effort more specifically. According to Umoja, it was the urging of Stokely Carmichael that the Deacons were to be used as security for many marches and protection of many civil rights leaders. The Deacons had a relationship with nearly all civil rights groups working in the south that advocated and practiced non-violence. The willingness of the Deacons to provide low-key armed guards facilitated the ability of groups such as the CORE, SNCC, and NAACP to stay, at least formally, within their own parameters of non-violence.

An example of the need for self-defense to enable substantial change in the Deep South took place in early 1965. Black students picketing the local high school were confronted by hostile police and fire trucks with hoses. A car of four Deacons emerged and in view of the police, calmly loaded their shotguns. The police ordered the fire truck to withdraw.

This was the first time in the 20th century, as Lance Hill observes, “an armed black organization had successfully used weapons to defend a lawful protest against an attack by law enforcement.” Hill gives as another example: “In Jonesboro, the Deacons made history when they compelled Louisiana Governor John McKeithen to intervene in the city’s civil rights crisis and require a compromise with city leaders — the first capitulation to the civil rights movement by a Deep South governor.”

Roy Innis has said the Deacons “forced the Klan to re-evaluate their actions and often change their undergarments.” With the shift to Northern Black plight and the idea of Black Power emerging in major cities across America. The Deacons became yesterday’s news and organizations such as The Black Panther Party gained notoriety and became the publicized militant Black organization. However, let us not forget the impact of being the precursors and the empowerment of our people. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

Deacons Of Defense


On This Day: The Murder Of Emmett Till

Throughout America’s sordid 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 black child, fourteen year old Emmett Till that sparked the modern Civil Rights Movement. On August 28, 1955, Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old black boy from Chicago supposedly whistled at a white woman in a grocery store.

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 that 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.

Till’s body was sent back to Chicago, where his mother insisted on leaving the casket open for the funeral and having people take photographs because she wanted people to see how badly Till’s body had been disfigured. This courageous mother was famously quoted as saying, “I wanted the world to see what they did to my baby” and over 50,000 people came to view the body.

On the day he was buried, two men — the husband of the woman who had been whistled at and his half brother — were indicted of his murder, but the all white male jury from Money (some of whom actually participated in Till’s torture and execution) took only an hour to return ‘not guilty’ verdict. The verdict would have been quicker, remarked the grinning foreman, if the jury hadn’t taken a break for a soft drink on the way to the deliberation room. To add insult to injury, knowing that they would not be retrial, the two accused men sold their stories to LOOK Magazine and gleefully admitted to everything.

Elsewhere in Mississippi at the time things weren’t going terribly well for blacks either. Just before Till was murdered, two activists Rev. George Lee and Lamar Smith were shot dead for trying to exercise their rights to vote, and in shocking testimony to the lack of law and order, no one came forward to testify although both murders were committed in broad daylight.

1aThe next year, a former army sergeant, Clyde Kennard, tried to enroll at Mississippi South College in Hattiesburg and was sent away, but came back to ask again. For this ‘audacity’, university officials — not students, or mere citizens, but university officials — planted stolen liquor and a bag of stolen chicken feed in his car and had him arrested. Kennard died halfway into his seven year sentence.

But times were slowly a-changing: Brown vs. Board of Education was decided in 1954. Three months after the Till murder Rosa Parks would refuse to move to the back of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Sit-ins and marches would follow, and soon the civil rights movement itself would be in full-swing. It’s been over 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.

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 Powerless Of Blackness

2I am not against anyone or culture. However, I make it a priority to speak to that which others have forgotten or simply don’t know about the African American Diaspora. I believe when you know who you are, believe in yourself, then and only then can you be empowered with the spirit of power. This is the problem!

Black people have been robbed of their history and past, which makes it virtually impossible to know your true history and who you are by design  It was not until about the 1920s that any knowledge of our past was revealed. Later in the 1960s more information was discovered in the form of our true history came to light. By that I mean, not the lies of His-Story!

Let me ruffle some feathers here – WE ARE NOT FREE! As a people, we are no better off today than the day Dr. King spoke about his dream, an elusive dream I might add; that was more like a nightmare than a dream of progress. We can go back to post Civil War and find that statistics about the black condition tell it is nearly the same as today. Further, in 1960 there were only 103 black elected officials, in 1990 there were over 9000, and today there are more than that with a black president. Still, nothing changed regarding our condition. In fact, it got worse! So the correlation between black elected official does not result in improvement or empowerment for black people.

I will readily admit that we have access in some areas, but access to the greater community does not translate into progress. The ideology of divide and conquer causes us to misunderstand that we are seen in one of two categories – good blacks or bad blacks. To be more succinct, as Malcolm said, “house niggers and field niggers”! Look around, there are far more Field Negros today, and the few House Negros de-emphasized their blackness and forgot about the masses of black people.

Few black people have read “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” I would suggest that you do because, in that novel, Uncle Tom was the strong black and Sambo was the bad black House Negro. So you see the trick that was played on us and how they flipped the script making us believe something other than the truth. So in today’s vernacular, we call those who are against our interests Uncle Tom’s, who is not the person strong enough to protect your interest. Yet, we follow the sellouts!

The power of blackness has been eroded by those who call themselves black conservatives sent to confuse your thinking. First, the root word “conserve” means to hold on to what you’ve got. For example, America was founded based on a slave mentality. Therefore, what the conservatives are saying, codeword anti-black, “we want to take out country back” is indicative of their intent. So I have to say to the black conservatives, you had nothing to hold on too, so the question then becomes; do you want slavery?

In essence, the concept of benign neglect, which was not based on empirical reality, ultimately blamed the victim and thus ignored the effects of the flawed structure of society in this nation. We did not listen to the few black leaders that preached freedom, and there were only a few; if they had your interest at heart they would know freedom is not given by any oppressor – it is taken, which mean you have to struggle, fight, and maybe die for it. Instead, most black people will choose to support every issue of any other group – instead of interest that directly affects you.

To this point, we’ve been playing a game we can’t win. At this moment, all black people have is hope, and that is all we have ever had – and it alone with our so-called leaders have failed us. It’s time to play to win! Join me as a member of the “Common Sense Party” to survive and not follow fools! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

 


Remember: The Scottsboro Boys

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

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

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

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


The Juice And The Race Card

pFJMtgl6S22Xjo6kW27YThis might be a harsh thing to say but I thought Charles Manson would be released from jail before OJ. Ok I was wrong! Yesterday the Juice was paroled bringing back the same outrage and vitriol from the past from white folk. Don’t be mistaken, regardless of what the law says “he will alway be guilty of killing this white woman”. It is the code that white folk live by and honor!

There is no accident that “they”, white folk, keep coming up with more and more slave movies. It is because they want people to think that is the totality of black history. To that point, it has been proven the first “Roots” was written by a white man, not Alex Haley! To be clear, there will be more slave movies to come. It is like Carter G. Woodson said, “If you control what a man thinks you don’t have to worry about what he is thinking.” They need to reinforce the principle theory of white supremacy!

In the early 1900s, there was a man named Jack Johnson who flaunted his wealth and white women in the faces of white society. They waged a campaign to destroy him, even passing a law making it illegal for a black man to consort with white women; the law is called the Man Act! He was the greatest fighter of his day, wealthy, and did remarkable things as the Heavyweight Champion. However, he broke the cardinal sin of consorting with white women and he was put in jail for his racial transgression!

I use this example because there was an athlete in the modern era named O.J. Simpson, who at the time, they said transcended race. He was a great running back, starred in movies, and was a popular pitchman for corporate America. His problem, like Jack Johnson, he consorted with and married a white woman. Unfortunately, she was murdered and naturally the spouse is the first to blame. Let me add that the first thing I was taught before becoming a man was to stay away from and leave white women alone. Historically, the worse thing a black man can do is to have relations with one! There was a time when a black man would be lynched for looking at one.

I digress, back to the point! I wrote a book a few years ago where I said there was no way in the world that could OJ have committed the murders as they claim. I said this for a very practical reason. They claimed this broken down athlete struggle with and stabbed two people; one was a fit young man who supposedly was a martial arts expert. They say OJ wrestled with the victims rolling around in a massive amount of blood, walks across the street and gets in a white on white Bronco and drive away. This is ludicrous because they only found a few drops of blood in the vehicle – not possible.

Looking closer at the case, they made the white woman and her family look like saints. But actually, or so it has been reported, she and the guy were surrounded by nothing but shady characters to include drug dealers and convicts. Also, it seemed like the families of these white people were also just a shady. The most significant piece of evidence, the glove, was found by a documented racist cop, but they never mention that part of the story.

So not only is the OJ situation made to be a lasting reminder of one of the major tenets of white supremacy – a black man must never screw a white woman. In this case, OJ was made to become the poster child so that the dominant society can brainwash and continue to remind other whites this is not appreciated and wanted. So this is what the continued hype is all about – there is big money in the “OJ did it thing”. It is big business. I would argue that the Kardashians have become famous, not because they have talent, take their clothes off or do porn; rather because of their families association with OJ. Actually, they claim one of those girls is his child.

I will admit that at the time OJ had forgotten he was black and had no attachment to black people but most black people at the time knew he did not do the killing. The court also agreed – finding him not guilty! But to white people that did not matter because of his behavior with white women and one was killed. As a result, up until yesterday he languished in prison serving a thirty-year sentence for what amounts to a robbery. Now to be frank, was he an idiot – YES but I can’t believe he murdered those people!

The advice I would give to a young black man – it is very dangerous to have relations with white women. I was taught stay away; they are dangerous to your life! History is full of examples – beware! And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

 


Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s my thought provoking perspective…


Commentary: We Have “Not Overcome”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The King Alfred Plan 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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…


Remember Juneteenth: A Day Of Celebration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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