“He’s fast, but he can’t keep up with you, Charley. If you keep pouring it on, he’ll go down. I know he will…” Canada Lee, “Body and Soul” (1947)
By Richard G. Carter
Imagine a Black actor as familiar to movie audiences as Morgan Freeman, Samuel L. Jackson or Denzel Washington — who has vanished from public consciousness. Such an actor was the great Canada Lee, who was revered in Milwaukee’s Black community.
As a movie-happy youngster here, I recall marveling at Lee in a number of quality films, including Alfred Hitchcock’s “Lifeboat” (1944); “Body and Soul” (1947); “Lost Boundaries” (1949), and “Cry the Beloved Country” (1951). In the latter, he and Sidney Poitier co-starred as South African ministers in Sidney’s first major role.
Prior to movies, Lee was a force on the stage. In a 1941 review of Richard Wright’s “Native Son” on Broadway, New York Times critic Brooks Atkinson, called Lee “the greatest Negro actor of his time, as well as one of the best actors in this country.”
During the Cold War years of the late 1940s-early ‘50s, Lee was labeled a Communist and blacklisted — along with Paul Robeson and other film personalities and entertainers. As a result, his career suffered and he died penniless in 1952 at the age of 45 — shortly before he was to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
In his time as an exemplary actor and civil rights activist, Lee worked with the likes of Robeson, Wright, Langston Hughes, Rex Ingram, Margo Jones, Adam Clayton Powell, William Greaves, Leigh Whipper, Orson Welles, Tallulah Bankhead and John Garfield.
A native of Harlem, Lee’s early life was a mixed bag of music, athletics and theater. He developed an early interest in the violin — studying at the Music School Settlement for Colored People. He made his concert debut at 11 in a student recital at Aeolian Hall. But after seven years, he ran away from home.
In 1921, at 14, Lee became a racing jockey at Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Two years later, he returned home and, at a friend’s urging, he tried boxing. He won 90 of 100 bouts as an amateur — including the national lightweight championship — and turned pro at 19.
Over the next decade, Lee appeared in some 200 professional bouts — winning 175. But he suffered a detached retina in a 10-round bout in 1929 at Madison Square Garden, and eventually lost all the sight in his right eye. He quit the fight game in 1933 and formed a small dance band that played obscure New York City night clubs.
New York sportswriter Ed Sullivan — who achieved great fame in the 1950s-60s hosting a national TV variety show — admired Lee as a boxer and plugged his band in his new entertainment column. As a result, Lee opened the Jitterbug, a short-lived club in Harlem.
Needing a job, he decided to try his hand at acting and won supporting roles in several New York stage productions — one of which, “Stevedore” — toured to Chicago, Detroit and other cities in the 1930s. His first major role was in a Federal Theater production of “Macbeth” with Negro players — adapted and directed by Orson Welles.
Lee followed this up by major parts in New York plays such as “Haiti” (1938), “Mamba’s Daughters” (1939); “Big White Fog” (1940); “Native Son” (1941), and “South Pacific” (1943). The next year, he appeared in his first major movie “Lifeboat” as Joe Spencer, an ex-pickpocket and ship steward to a famous columnist (Tallulah Bankhead).
The first actor cast, Lee is one of nine people — American and British — stranded in the North Atlantic in World War II after their passenger ship and a German submarine sink each other. Lee saves a female passenger (Heather Angel) and her baby, lifts a compass from a German survivor and disarms a second German sailor they rescued.
Lee distinguished himself in other films, including as a doomed, ex-boxer in “Body and Soul”; a sympathetic Harlem police detective in the groundbreaking race drama “Lost Boundaries,” and towering work as a rural South African minister seeking his wayward son in Johannesburg in “Cry the Beloved Country”– his final film.
Perhaps my most vivid memory of Lee’s screen work was in Abraham Polonsky’s “Body and Soul” — considered the first great movie about boxing. This film gained fame for its compelling, climactic fight scenes filmed on roller skates by James Wong Howe.
Lee brought his own experience as a successful boxer to his riveting role as Ben Chaplin, an ex-fighter-turned trainer. In one of the film’s most memorable scenes, a distraught Lee urges champion Charley Davis (John Garfield) to press for a knockout in his title defense — then dies in a training ring from a blood clot on the brain.
In addition to his dynamic years on the stage and in quality movies, Lee also starred on numerous radio and television shows in the 1940s and ‘50s, including “You Are There.” His actor son, the late Carl Lee, appeared in a number TV shows as well as Black-oriented films, including “Superfly” (1972) and “The Cool World” (1974).
An outspoken civil rights activist, Canada Lee suffered a heart attack while filming “Cry the Beloved Country” in apartheid South Africa after he and Poitier were smuggled into the country as indentured servants. At the time of his death a year later in 1952, he was preparing to play Shakespeare’s “Othello” in a new movie.
Canada Lee was a great actor and a great Black man — a truly rare combination.
Milwaukee native Richard G. Carter is a freelance columnist
By Phillip Jackson, Black Star Project USA
I’m from Chicago all my life—for more than 60 years. I know a little bit about Chicago. I lived in public housing in Chicago. I attended 11 Chicago Public Schools. I have been threatened by street gangs in Chicago. I have been racially profiled by police in Chicago. I know this town and I love this town.
Chicago is a tough little town. While I do not officially take political sides, I do report the news.
On Friday night, I received phone calls and emails from around the country asking me what happened at the Trump Rally. I was asked, “So what was Donald Trump thinking when he decided to bring
his campaign rally to Chicago that included confronting and disrespecting people of ethnic descent?
Did he think he was coming to North Carolina or Nevada?” Well, this is Chicago. Even the squirrels and the birds are tougher in Chicago!
Almost anyone, including the Chicago Police Department could have told him, “Mr. Trump, that kind of activity will not play well in Chicago.” Now I am not proud of the fact that Chicago has more murders than any city in America. Actually, I’m ashamed of that fact. Nor am I proud of the fact that Chicago is possibly the most segregated city in America. Again, I am ashamed. But I also know the people of Chicago are no punks.
Mr. Trump and his followers had been belittling, bullying, beating and assaulting protesters in every city where they rallied. Trump followers, with his consent, had made it almost a game to toss out protesters from their rallies, with the support of security and police. Trump supporters would verbally abuse protesters, spit on them, push them and hit them. Trump told his supporters, “…just knock the crap out of them… knock the h—l (out of them)…I promise you, I will pay any
legal fees.” Violence and threats of violence had become the high point of most Trump rallies.
In cities across America, timid protesters at Trump rallies became fewer and fewer, and more meek. Then we come to Chicago!
Chicago is known, for better or for worst, as a “gangster town”. I did not give it that title, but any town that has a movie named “Chiraq” after it, is one in which you might want to be a little careful.
It is said about Chicago, either “come hard or stay at home.” On Friday, March 11, 2016, Mr. Trump and his supporters should have stayed at home.As followers of Trump streamed into the UIC Pavilion for the rally, so did protesters. But not one or two protesters, but hundreds, possibly thousands.
As Trump supporters began their pre-rally hijinks, so did protesters. Instead of one or two protesters being escorted out of the venue. Thousands of protesters went toe-to-toe, and sometimes fist-for-fist,
with Trump supporters, and dared police to escort them out of the stadium. In fact, they gave Trump supporters a taste of their own medicine, and more. They even took over the rally floor, tore up Trump signs, and chanted. “Bernie, Bernie” and “We Shut S— Down”. That is what I call “real gangster!”
Trump and Trump supporters were stun. Trump said that the police told him to cancel the rally. Chicago police reported, “We told him to go ahead with the rally” because they have seen much
worse than think.
Thousands more protesters were outside the arena and challenged Trump supporters that were leaving the canceled rally. Trump and Trump supporters, who recently insulted and tossed out a Muslim woman from a rally in South Carolina, Rose Hamid, who wore a shirt that read, “I Come
In Peace”, cried foul about their Chicago reception. Trump said that his followers were “mistreated” by the protesters. The good news is the actions of these protesters will help ensured that
Trump rallies in the future will be different. Trump and his supporters do not ever want to see another Chicago-styled protest. Remembering Ms. Hamid’s shirt, the Trump announcer said as he canceled the Chicago rally,
“Please go in peace!”
For me, and countless other Black people who lived it, the summer of 1955 — 60 years ago — will always be with us. Why? Because of the vicious murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till. And I recall it as clearly as yesterday.
That long, hot summer was the kind we used to called “the dog days.” But my teen memories of those sweltering months that year have little to do with searing heat. They are about the vile event in Mississippi that burned hotter than the sun in the hearts and minds of countless Black Milwaukeeans.
Sadly, this horrific event will never leave our memories. Why? Because it could have happened to any of us who often spent part of our summers down South with relatives.
The gruesome killing of Till, who lived in nearby Chicago, reinforced the often violent reality of racial segregation. For many of us, the horror was relived by graphic photos in Jet Magazine showing his grotesquely disfigured face as he lay in his glass-covered coffin. They sent shock waves throughout Black America.
All of this recently came rushing back as I recalled the especially cruel way young Till lost his life to fiendish, adult White racists in the Mississippi delta country.
To put things in proper perspective, it must be understood that in the 1950s and ‘60s, America in general — and the deep South in particular — was strictly segregated. And although northern Whites wouldn’t admit it, Black people faced roadblocks everywhere.
I can’t count how often I was stopped and hassled by White police in Milwaukee simply for being out at night. For example, this happened while waiting at a downtown bus stop about 3 a.m. after my night shift at the Post Office, in an alley walking home from my girlfriend’s house and driving through a White neighborhood.
And, of course, we suffered severe job and housing discrimination. As a brand new graduate of Marquette University’s College of Journalism, I was turned down for a reporter’s job at The Milwaukee Journal while a half-dozen of my White classmates were hired. As a brand new husband and father, I was turned down in efforts to rent an apartment in certain areas of the city. And this was in the North.
Ironically in 1963 — as an editor-reporter with the Black-owned Milwaukee Star — I interviewed the late William Bradford Huie. It was this celebrated White novelist and screenwriter whose sensational Look Magazine article on the Emmett Till case contained confessions by two White men that they had done the killing.
In those days down South, it still was not unusual for Black men to be lynched or simply disappear without a trace. This often happened to someone accused of raping a White woman. So in mid-summer 1955, when young Till’s hideous murder was made known, most Blacks were not really surprised. But we were saddened and horrified.
Till, who left Chicago by train on Aug. 20, 1955 for a family visit, was abducted the night of Aug. 28, and disappeared. This was a few days after his speech impediment apparently caused him to whistle in the direction of a 21-year-old, White female, Carolyn Bryant, co-owner of a grocery store in Money, Miss. — a tiny, single-street, redneck town.
On Aug. 31, his body was found in the Tallahatchie River — weighted-down by a 75-lb. cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. An unthinkable atrocity.
On Sept. 23, the White J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant — husband of Till’s accuser — were acquitted of the murder by an all-White jury after their lawyers argued that the body in the river was too disfigured to be identified. This, despite Black eyewitnesses who saw them abduct Till, and a Black man who was forced to wash blood out of Milam’s car.
Till’s mother, the late Mamie Till Mobley, insisted on an open-casket funeral on the south side of Chicago, so the world could see her son’s un-retouched, horribly mutilated face. The Sunday ceremony was attended by 50,000 people, many of whom were overcome with emotion.
Years later, Mrs. Mobley said that Emmett Till was “the sacrificial lamb of the Civil Rights Movement,” and that “his death was the real beginning of the movement.”
According to published reports, a latter-day initiative in the Till case was inspired by TV documentaries of two Black filmmakers: “The Untold Story of Emmett Till,” by 32-year-old Keith Beauchamp, and “The Murder of Emmett Till,” by Stanley Nelson, 52, also well-known for his 1999 history of the Black press “Soldiers Without Swords.”
Beauchamp’s film and Nelson’s critically acclaimed Till documentary — the latter shown nationally in 2003 on Public Television’s “American Experience” — came to the attention of U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Harlem) and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). They carried the ball in a successful attempt to convince the U. S. Department of Justice to reopen the Till case. Kudos to them.
In the best of all possible worlds, Milam and Bryant — the two deceased White men who confessed to killing Emmett Till — posthumously will be found guilty in court. And their names will be mud.
For those of us who recall how it all went down in the long, hot summer of 1955, it won’t be a moment too soon. Perhaps some semblance of justice will be done. Finally.
–Milwaukee native Richard G. Carter is a freelance columnist
By Taki S. Raton
This writer was shockingly amazed at the negative press and the less than favorable facebook responses to the April 27, 2015 reaction of mother Toya Graham when she saw her 16-year-old son Michael carrying a rock in his hand among the crowd at the Monday’s protest against the Baltimore police.
She was caught on camera, pulling her son out of the protest and literally whacking him upside the head, pulling off his ski mask and dragging him home from the melee activity on the streets as rioters were reportedly clashing with police, looting stores and destroying vehicles.
“I just lost it,” she told CBS “This Morning” on Wednesday, April 29.
Graham adds that “I recognized those baggy sweatpants and we made eye contact. I was saying, ‘how dare you do this?’” She poignantly revealed to the interviewer: “That’s my son and at the end of the day, I don’t want him to be a Freddie Gray. I can’t imagine what Freddie Gray’s mother is going through. I don’t want to lose my son to the streets.”
The mother admits that her son is not a perfect boy, “No he’s not. But he’s mine.”
Her first reaction when she saw the video clip of her hitting her teenage son and dragging him home from the riots, she said: “My pastor
is going to kill me.” But her pastor, Jamal Bryant, is quoted as saying in Inside Edition that “Toya was mom of the
year.” She was hailed as a “hero” on several Twitter postings and labeled by media accounts as “Mother of the Year.” The Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Butts said in a Salon post that “We need more moms like you.”
Her reply on CBS was that “I don’t feel like a hero. My intention was to get my son home and have him be safe. I knew the whole thing was not safe.” In an April 29 posting of writers Evan Bleier and Louise Boyle in Dailymail.com, she said that the night before the riots, her son told her that a lot of his high school student friends were planning to meet up at the Mondawmin Mall on Monday afternoon, the day of Gray’s funeral.
She warned him not to go to the mall.
On that Monday, mom was at a doctor’s appointment with her eldest daughter when she heard that schools had been let out early and people were gathering at the mall, also reported as a main area transportation hub.
Bleier and Boyle report that she left the office immediately to go find her son. Upon her arrival, Graham became very concern noting the police and helicopters in the area.
She ran over to a police patrolman and asked: “Where are the children that have to take this bus route?” The reply of the officer was that “They were out there throwing bricks at the police.” She ran over to a crowd of young people and recognized her son immediately even though he was wearing a black ski mask over much of his face. He was also carrying a rock. When he saw her coming, it was reported, his first instinct was to run away.
Graham said that “He knew he was in trouble. At that point, I just lost it. I was shocked, I was angry, because you never want to see your child out there doing that.”
And this is where the shock came to my attention given a review of select responses to her decision to go after her son, chastise him in public and escort him home.
“It’s not surprising that a black mother in Baltimore who chased down, cursed and beat her 16-year-old son in the middle of a riot has been called a hero. In this country, when black mothers fulfill stereotypes of mammies, angry and thwarting resistance to a system designed to kill their children, they get praised.” This comment was made by Stacey Patton in her April 29 Washington Post article, “Why is America celebrating the beating of a black child?”
sub-noting that “A mom’s violence won’t keep her son safe.”
The senior enterprise reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education and an adjunct professor of American History at American University adds that:
“In other words, Graham’s message to America is: I will teach my black son not to resist White supremacy so he can live.” She would further cite that the manner in which Graham disciplined her son “did not originate with her, or with my adoptive mother who publicly beat me when I was a child or with the legions of Black parents who equate pain with protection and love,” but originated instead “with white supremacy, a history of cultural and physical violence that devalues black life at every turn.” Patton posits that this celebration of Graham “reflects a belief that black youths are inherently problematic, criminal and out of control” and that whipping your child is akin to the enslaved mother whipping her son on the plantation so that he would not be overly aggressive or “act out of his place” with his “master” or with other White folks.
I strongly disagree with this premise. As an educator and as a devout student of African World Historiography from an African Centered perspective, I have not come across any connection whatsoever with “whipping” our sons in the current era and the practices or behavior of the mothers towards their sons on the plantation.
And I teach Willie Lynch. I teach and often quote segments of “The Making of a Slave” and how the enslaved mother and the plantation system moves to “break” the aggression and spirit of the Black male child and
foster the independence of her Black female daughter.
This is known material.
But this is too much of a leap here in 2015 to make that correlation with Toya Graham’s whopping’ young Michael upside the head and safely removing him from a potentially dangerous situation that could get him seriously hurt – if not possibly killed.
Having studied under such esteemed elder ancestors as Dr. Jacob H.
Caruthers, the Dr. Asa Hilliards, John Henrik Clarke, John G. Jackson, Dr. Yosef Ben-Jochannon; in reading over the years volumes of scholarship by our Black scholars and in keeping up with the works of Anthony Browder, Runoka Rashidi, Dr. Amos Wilson and scores of like thinkers, no one has ever equated punishment by whipping in their upbringing with the enslavement practice of “breaking the male child” so that he won’t resist White supremacy. It never came up.
And we are speaking here of decades of involvement in this particular Pan-African African Centered genre.
Many times in conversation and in lecture sharing would be heard from our scholars from time to time how a mother or father would discipline them with a strap or a tree branch for any number of wrong doings myself included.
But such discipline did not stop or impede our work and total commitment towards the uplift of our people; towards the rescue and restoration of the African’s proper place on the world stage of time and achievement, or towards the continuing challenge and battle over the false doctrines of White supremacy and Black Inferiority.
And to be fair, Patton is most certainly not alone in her position. She is only herein being quoted as a sample of the weight of the discussion.
But a lot of the comments, particularly on facebook, seemed to be overly consumed with the supposed “humiliation” of the son by his mother’s actions. I found this also to be a strange reaction and specific to the current generation.
“Why did she have to check him and embarrass him in public like that,” commented a facebooker in one of the threads on this matter. “We got to stop treating our sons like slaves, beating them into submission to make them afraid of authority,” she adds.
My concerned really heightened with that thought. Under the realization that the person commenting was a young Black female, it became my wonder then of what exactly is in the minds of our women in the current day raising of our sons and daughters.
One comment on facebook by a male responder was that “When I was coming up, we didn’t embarrass our parents, they embarrassed us.
My mother beating my butt at school for disrespecting a teacher and on the street for disrespecting an adult kept my crazy behind out of jail. Now I manage a bank, have my M.B.A., making good money, ministering in music and am proud to be a productive member of my community.” He adds in his post that, “half of my childhood friends are dead or in jail. Their parents were easy on them. My mother saved my life, God rests her soul. She would have beat me worse than this lady had she caught me on National TV messing up. I was more afraid of disappointing her than anything else. I am living proof that discipline works.”
A brother from “DC” says that he got caught smoking as a child and his neighbor saw it and told his mother. “She came looking for me throughout the neighborhood with a big white super thick belt and when she found me, she didn’t wait till we got home. She whooped me right then and there until I couldn’t sit down.” He adds that “Needless to say, it didn’t kill me and although I didn’t always agree with some extreme measures she took, it definitely aided me in growing up.” He further shares that he learned to respect his mother, elders and authority; he grew up with a clear understanding of right from wrong; how to control my anger and frustration, and how to voice my opinions through constructive means.” And Toya Graham was not alone in her concern for her son’s safety.
BlackNews.com reported on Tuesday, April 28 that the coming together of Baltimore gang members was not
to harm cops, but to foster peace on the streets. During an interview with Channel 11 News in Baltimore, several members of area gangs including the Bloods and the Crips said that “We want the people of Baltimore City to know that the image they are trying to portray of gangs in Baltimore, we did not make that truce to harm cops.
We did not come together against cops.” The spokesman added that they just wanted justice for Freddie Gray and that all of this tearing up businesses, looting, putting cars on fire and injuring police “makes us look real bad. And it is backing up what they are saying. They are saying we are animals. And we are acting like that. I don’t agree with what is going on. But I understand why people are mad. But we have to handle things another way.”
Another brother in the crowd said that the aim is to stop the violence and to stop people from breaking into stores.” “We stand as one right now,” he said. “We stand as Black men united” and not as individual gang members.
So indeed, Graham was not alone in her part to grab her son and forcibly remove him from harm’s way. Again to echo Butts who said, “I wish there were more parents out there who took charge of their kids tonight.” He later added, “Take control of your kids. This is our city, let’s make a difference.”
Before her identity was known, Graham’s video smacking her son went viral throughout social media streams and, according to Dailymail, many Twitter users began re-posting it and saying that this woman was again, the
“Mom of the Year.”
After Graham was identified on Tuesday, April 28, even more people began offering up their congrats and appreciation for what she had done.
“I feel much stronger and much more determined in my resolve to properly direct and guide my children. I need to be more firm and absolute in my parenting,” wrote one parent on facebook.” In the article comment section, a person writes: “The mother of the year is Toya Graham She is now my hero. I love her. She is awesome. She parents!” And on Twitter: ‘#Toyagraham my respect to the mother who tried to stop her son from joining the #baltimoreriots. As I often say ‘off with his hoodie.”
Another Twitter user adds: ‘Mother’s Day is May 10th, someone better do something for Toya Graham!’
And what did the son have to say about this experience? When mother and son both appeared on “The View” that Wednesday, April 29, Michael shared that “My mom does really care about me. I should not have been there. I have learned my lesson.”
By Taki S. Raton
On Friday, April 3, 2015 in the Blackburn Auditorium on the campus of Washington, D.C.’s Howard University, an eight member panel was assembled by the Hot Black Coffee Party to address the question, “Has Integration Failed Us?”
Howard’s panel was actually, as I was updated, the third such occasion to circulate around the country. The first panel exploring integration was in Lafayette, Louisiana in November of 2014. The second discussion was held this past December 28, 2014 at Elm Grove Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Co-moderated by Bro. Takuna El-Shabazz out of Lafayette and Sis. Nura Muhammad, a student at Howard University, this third scheduled panel included Dr. Ridgely Abdule-Mu’Muhammad, Sis. Loray Muhammad, Bro. Louis Ali, The Irritated Genie, Al-Malik Farrakhan, Sis. ZaZa Ali, Bro. Chinedu Nwokeafor, and Dr. Wesley Muhammad.
Forum planners carefully structured multiple rounds of questions throughout the 3 hour and 50 minute exchange. The questions alone inspired a deep well of exploration on the failure of integration over these past 45 years from the 1970’s well into 2015.
Sequential inquiries includ did Black people during the 1960’s march for equality or for integration?
Sis. Nura Muhammad positioned that Black people marched only for “acceptance by White people under the guise of both equality and integration” as it was all about being, in this writer’s words – exclusively equal to, the same as, accepted by and included in the White world or what many of our scholars call, “The illusion of inclusion.”
Have Black people become more spiritually moral under integration? What role should the Black church play in helping our people analyze the ill effects of integration on the Black family and on the Black community at large?
This was a critical point as our young people should know that prior to integration, the Black community was always able to make a very clear distinction between the behavior of White people and the behavior of Black people. We were different from them and we always endeavored to maintain a level of dignity and self respect amongst ourselves above, apart, and separate from the ethno-cultural behavior, peculiarities and tendencies of other people.
“Everybody to their own,” our elders taught us.
Such expected behavior and expectations on our part was taught throughout our upbringing and was effectively reinforced in a variety of ways through the family, extended family, church, schools, business, employment and in civic and social organizations. Now today, noted mainstream culture imagery and behavior as reflected in such series as “Empire,” “Scandal,” popular rap song lyrics, speech, dress, and homosexuality/LGTB for example are the acceptable norm in the Black community. This behavior and imagery is not us. This is not who we are.
Are Black service providers or development contractors receiving more state and federal contracts under integration? Does integration serve as an incubator for producing the current modern day “Uncle Toms” and “Aunt Tommets” who function to retard the political, economic, social, cultural, education, spiritual growth and collective progress of Black people in America?
African Americans, cites the moderator, have more educated Black college graduates and professionals than at any other time in America. But are Black children today better educated under the socially engineered system of integration? If not, why not?
From 1890 to 1950, note’s event descriptor documentation, Black women married at higher rates than White women, despite a shortage of Black males. In 1965, only 8 percent of childbirths in the Black community occurred out of wedlock. In 2010, that figure was 41 percent and today, out-of-wedlock childbirths in the Black community are an astonishing 72 percent if not higher.
The panel was asked to, “Evaluate the status of Black marriages under integration? Are we losing the ability to bond with the opposite sex? Has the rise and acceptance of homosexuality in the Black community become the new norm? If so, what are the effects on the Black community and on our ability to restore the Black family to its original greatness?”
Has the health status of Black people improved under integration? What is the connection or relationship between land ownership, farming and agriculture to Black economic independence, Black health, and true freedom and liberation for Black people in America?
Do Black people today own more land, businesses or income producing property under integration?” What is the potential negative psychological impact on the image of Black womanhood and Black motherhood when the Black man marries outside of his race? What is the potential adverse economic impact on the Black family collectively and the black business community in general?”
“Has the hypocrisy and the false premise of justice for all under integration altered the climate for the Black man in America since the days of Emmitt Till’s murder in 1955? Have the oppressors of Black people reached a boiling point of frustration with the oppressed to the degree that open war has been declared on Black males, especially the youth?”
Do Black politicians respond to the needs of Black people better under integration?
Supportive data released by panel organizers detail five ways that integration literally “underdeveloped” Black America. Black wealth stagnated or declined after integration. African Americans were forced under segregation to start and support their own businesses in their own communities. Such communities around the country, these respective panels are revealing, flourished and became proudly economically self-sufficient.
But after segregation ended, African Americans cite the panel planners, “flocked to support businesses owned and operated by Whites and other groups causing Black restaurants, theaters, insurance companies, banks, grocery stores, cleaners, and other businesses providing jobs, goods and services to disappear. Today, Black people spend 95 percent of their income at White-owned businesses.
A clip during the panel proceedings by John and Maggie Anderson from Oak Park, Illinois briefly explored their January 1, 2009 year-long pledge to, “Buy Black.” But they were hard pressed to find substantial Black owned businesses. They had to drive to a Chicago South Side location, for example, fifteen miles away, to find a Black-owned grocery store and to the West Side of Chicago to find one Black owned cleaners.
“If there were more Black businesses in our community to hire Black workers, then maybe Black unemployment would not be so high,” said Mrs. Anderson.
Anthony Greg Muhammad in response to the Anderson clip spoke to the successful economic self sufficient Shaw U Street area in Washington prior to integration.
According to Muhammad, there were two Black owned steamboat companies, a host of Black own grocery stores, funeral companies, the Adams Oil and Gas Development Company, Capital Savings Bank, two Black owned insurance companies, 11 Black owned employment agencies, Black owned newspapers, over 3000 Black families owned their own homes in the Shaw U district and students in the all-Black school scored higher than their White counterparts on city wide academic achievement test.
“And this is all a result of Black businesses, Black economics and Black life in one area,” said Muhammad at the Howard gathering. “As we were denied attendance to White schools, we created an outstanding self-sufficient educational system that attracted from all over the country Black families for their children and great teachers,” he adds.
He further revealed also that Howard University then became the intellectual center for Black America. The likes of Langston Hughes, Alain LeRoy Locke, and Duke Ellington, all made Shaw U Street their home.
“It was a proud community. We had everything we needed and we felt good about it and we did very well,” said Muhammad. “There was no family that we didn’t know and that didn’t know you. Can we say that today?” he asked.
But at the beginning of integration, as “free choice replaced a community of necessity,” he said, the area around U Street began to change. The Black residence dispersed. There was no more commitment to sustain Black businesses, no more concentration to maintain a positive and cultivated Black life. Personal individualized selections and opportunities won over the needs and welfare of the collective and there was no giving back.
As a result of integration, says Muhammad, the dispersal of the Black community trickled down throughout the U Street community in every way. The Black power based moved away and the community began to decay. Poverty soon took the place of affluence and crime and drugs followed poverty.
“After integration, the U Street community soon changed to a place that people were afraid to come into,” he sadly concluded.
Additional supportive data on the five ways that integration underdeveloped the Black community include – but not limited to – the collapse of the Black family; the quadrupling of Black unemployment, and the propagation of the myth of a colorblind society.
Where once we had proud, independent, self-sufficient towns and districts, the Black community now under integration nationwide is dependent upon outside resources, jobs, education, health care and in need of support from others. Is this what we want to pass down to our children and to our future?
And as one panelist said, despite the fact that around the country we had model self sufficient beautiful communities with our own department stores, hospitals, theaters, lounges, clothing stores, churches, schools, banks, businesses, restaurants, homes, clean and safe neighborhoods and more, but still for some reason, “White folk’s ice was still colder.”
“The power of the weekend town hall panel proved once again that a significant amount of Black people are appalled at what the socially engineered system of integration has done and is doing to destroy Black life,” says panel member Louis Ali.
He adds that Howard University students could be heard yelling in response to the question, “How much more integration can the Black community bear?” – “No more, its killing us!”
We need to come together as a people on, by, and for our own to address and resolve these concerns. The next panel is scheduled for Jackson, Mississippi in July and Milwaukee and Palm Beach, Florida are on the short list for possible scheduling.
These panels are a start to properly and responsibly forge a path to address said issues and regretfully we could not share many of the responses of the eight-member 3 hour, 50 minute panel to the above inquires. But for the purpose of this writing, the questions themselves are sufficient steps in the right direction.
African Centered curriculum model staff development specialist Taki S. Raton is an adjunct college instructor and host of his own Thursday evening radio show, “MenThink” on Harambee Radio & TV. A writer and lecturer on African American male issues and African World Historiography, he can be reached for presentation and consulting inquiries at: [email protected].
The Black man’s economic start is so grossly behind the white man’s start; coupled with white supremacy and black inferiority, it has crippled the Black race from achieving real economic advancement in America. Whites control nearly 100 percent of America’s wealth (est. $9 trillion), its values as well as a system that supports the protection and growth of their wealth.
THAT WEALTH, POWER, AND REAL ADVANTAGES HAS BEEN PASSED DOWN TO THE CURRENT WHITE GENERATION WHILE BLACKS, FOR THE MOST PART, HAVE INHERITED POVERTY AND A WHOLE HOST OF DISADVANTAGES INLCUDING THOSE THAT ENGROSS AND FINALIZE BLACK INFERIORITY.
Like I’ve said in previous articles, there is real competition in America and globally and it’s fierce but it’s not a fair competition for whites against Blacks. For the most part, Blacks are unable to compete with whites at any economic level because, as a group, whites own it all and Blacks own next to nothing. This is not to say that whites don’t
have to compete, just the opposite. Whites have competition amongst themselves and with other ethnic groups that have capital (many immigrants who come to America have wealth). For the most part, no one is giving anyone anything; they must earn it. The competition is fierce because of the concept of economics and unlimited needs versus scarce resources. Economics is how the production and consumption of goods and how the transfer of wealth is assembled and used to produce and obtain those goods. Economics explains how people interact within markets; get
what they want; become a driving force of all human interaction; and reveals why people and governments behave the way they do (whatiseconomics.org). Limited resources and unlimited needs will produce high levels of competition.
Man has unlimited physical needs/wants and sometimes natural and unnatural greed (i.e. oxygen, water, food, money, etc.) but the earth has limited resources and man has limited capacity to produce. There are just only so many natural resources available, man has a ton of natural limitations. The resource limitations are even more pronounced when you
factor in population growth; technology and investment limitations. This doesn’t include what nature can do to negatively interrupt and ultimately negatively impact the level of natural resources (i.e. droughts, hurricanes, storms, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods, etc.) or what man has done to contaminate the environment permanently (i.e. nuclear and biological waste, storage, etc.) which hinders the production of food and key energy resources. The American government, like other countries have waged wars and been involved in undermining the political environments of other countries to secure and/or maintain access to natural resources. Governments have the job and responsibility
to regulate and manage these economic outcomes not just domestically but to compete globally as well – this is why America has the strongest military presence in the entire world – competition is extremely high for natural resources.
A. Phillip Randolph once stated:“There are no reserved seats at the table of life; you get what you can take, and you keep what you can hold.” This quote can be applied to both a cuntry (macro) and an individual (micro) level because it speaks directly to the fierce nature of competition which is reflective and supportive to the laws of nature.
There is a natural food chain in creation and nothing is taken for granted – everything of value in creation is scarce and represents some type of food (some type of creation has to die for another part of creation to live). With the advances of technology where information is shared in light speed across the globe and transportation near perfect allowing us to crisscross across the globe in a matter of hours versus days and months, competition is not just local but it is now much more global than it’s ever been. The laws of nature create competition and man must fight for those seats at the table of life (capital and power).Countries have always functioned on the approach shared by A. Phillip Randolph (no reserve seats). Countries have risen and they have fallen over thousands of years of history. There have been super powers in
Europe and Africa but today the super power is clearly America. If countries aren’t able to compete and take an economic “seat“ they will ultimately lose in the global economy and therefore their people will lose as well. On an individual level, those that don’t have resources (have-nots) must fight to compete for the scarce resources that many
times others already have (haves). For those who have an accumulation of wealth (haves), they too must also be able “compete” in order for them to hold on to what they’ve earned and/or inherited by any “legal“ means possible. When the competitive spirit really kicks in and individuals are trying to get ahead, sometimes they will cross the line in their
pursuit of economic resources. This is why we have courts, jails, and prisons. If you watch the TV show American Greed you will get a sense that a lot of people have crossed the line by using violence to achieve a competitive advantage (i.e. mob, syndications, gangs, etc.).
America, like most free societies, have a number of rules and laws (contract and business) that govern our behavior as not to allow violence of any kind (i.e. murder, intimidation, extortion, etc.) to achieve a competitive advantage in the pursuit of scarce resources but we must remember that during nearly 300 years of enslavement the laws
allow Black people to be nothing more than property (violence was allowed). Capitalism works when the playing field is leveled for all participants and the underlying theme is if you’re willing work hard and pursue your dream, you then can succeed. For Black people this is an illusion. While working hard is a key ingredient, no ingredient is more
important than capital. I use economics and power as interchangeable and Blacks have neither as a result of the enslavement of Blacks. The ideals of capitalism are great especially when all of the participants have a fair and equitable shot to succeed. My position, because of slavery, the white community has a monstrous advantage (i.e. economic, political, institutional, etc.) over the Black man in America. We must not allow emotions to clout the facts, we must move from ignorance to knowledge.
Wealth inequities and structural racism are the two biggest problems facing the Black man today that has marginalized and crippled the Black community’s ability to succeed like other groups. Consider that prior to emancipation proclamation, 100 percent of all Black people were in poverty. Today, with total freedom, nearly 70 percent of Black people live at the poverty level or live at “near“ poverty levels. The socioeconomic disparities that exist between the Black and white communities are astronomical and almost near permanent (fixed). The truth is that Blacks in America absolutely dominate every negative socioeconomic statistic and is nearly invisible in every positive socioeconomic statistic. Contrary to today’s myth that we are a post-racial society (mere fancy words), nothing could be more further
from the truth. Race is a very serious issue, yesterday, today, and in the future. White America has become more callous and suffers a deep level of denial because of the media and its out-of-sight and out-of-mind attitude (even in cities where Blacks and whites cohabitate, two cities have been created). Clouding our perception of these issues
becomes more challenging because of the media which promotes people like Oprah Winfrey, Shaquille O’Neal, Denzel Washington and other so-called wealthy Black entertainers not realizing this group represents an extreme minority (i.e. one half of one percent).
Racism is an undeniable factor in American life. How else can you explain that Blacks remain the primary targets of conservative hate groups with nearly 70 percent of the reported hate crimes, police brutality, racial profiling, and with nearly 1.5 million Black men in prison, have become the raw product for the explosion of newly built prisons in America (there are entire cities that are dependent on these prisons at the cost of Black lives). Although only 14 percent of the
American population, Black men are approximately 55 percent of the prison population (this disparity becomes even more extreme when you isolate Black men between the ages of 18 – 35). Blacks are still redlined when it comes to mortgages, business loans, insurance, etc. The point that I’m trying to make is that whites have an unfavorable advantage (privilege) just by being born in America and most Blacks have an unfavorable disadvantage by being born in America. Both are a legacy of slavery.
Blacks worked for white slave owners for nearly 300 years prior to 1863 without any compensation and during this same period of time, whites amassed an unbelievable level of wealth and power. Today, Blacks are disproportionately underemployed and unemployed (in many urban areas Black males between the ages of 18 and 35 have unemployment levels over 35 percent). Blacks predominantly work for white owned businesses, non-profits and government. The truth of the matter is that Black unemployment numbers will always be high when Black business owners are extremely low. Blacks have been unable to leverage their collective earning power for any type of economic independence (Black ownership), some have described the Black man’s economic situation in America as being the highest paid slaves in the world.
When you consider the following: 1) Black ownership of the nation’s wealth remain where it was in 1860 near the end of slavery at one half of one percent of the nation’s wealth. Why is this? Wealth inheritance is the passing of past benefits and gains from previous generations that are passed to future generations. Currently, nearly 90 percent of all
of the nation’s wealth was passed from one generation to another. This wealth is forever locked in the hands of select families (i.e. cash, stocks, bonds, land, business, trust accounts, endowments, foundation, etc.). While not all white people are rich, there is a massive disparity between the net assets of the average white family versus the net assess of the average Black family ($110k+ vs $6-8k).
As we’ve discussed previously, a lot of attention has been given to Black income which currently exceeds one trillion annually as proof that Black people have finally arrived in America. Nothing could be further from the truth because two thirds of all Black Americans live at or near poverty (even the other third is comparatively doing much worse than
their white counterpart). Blacks are still at near zero wealth – wealth is the foundation for capital and capital is the foundation for business development and ultimately wealth creation. Wealth is the real measurement of growth not income. The lack of wealth of Black people limits educational opportunities, housing and neighborhood selection,
capitalization of entrepreneurial aspirations, and a genuine ability for self-determination.
Another economic indicator that helps to determine the economic promise of a group are the number of businesses they startup and Blacks are dead last starting only eight businesses per 1,000 people compared to whites who are starting 90 businesses per 1,000 people. There are a number of other factors that contribute to this statistic but the fact remains, the more business start-ups a group has helps to create more choices, more competition, more capacity, more opportunity, and ultimately more JOBS (this is capitalism at its best). However; when a community doesn’t have a healthy number of business start-ups it sends a number of signals to the market not to invest and increases entrepreneurial risk, which is the basis for business starts.
Blacks have faced and continue to face the ultimate catch 22. In my humble opinion, the most damaging economic catch 22 is the lack of capital. Access to jobs is the lifeline for any society and contrary to popular belief, economic statistics show that the biggest job creators in America are small businesses not corporate America. The small businesses located in the Black community are extremely insignificant and small and unable to spin off the number of jobs to needed to employ more Black people – lack of capital is a critical factor. This is extremely critical when you consider that business is one of the most segregated areas of American life right behind church and neighborhoods.
In business, when it comes to employment whites hire whites, Italian hire Italians, Irish hire Irish and Blacks hire Blacks. When Black businesses suffer, Black employment suffers, Black wealth suffers and ultimately Black America suffers. Black businesses can’t thrive without having capital.
Unfortunately, the Black man in America is in an economic race that the white man has had a 350 year head start and many have the audacity to act as if this little fact should be forgotten. Just because we tell ourselves that we are all free and we live in the world’s greatest democracy ,doesn’t mean we are, lest we forget.
By Richard G. Carter
“All I want is to enter my house justified…” Joel McCrea, “Ride the High Country” (1962)
In late November 1985, I got word of the death, at 55, of Father James E. Groppi, noted Milwaukee civil rights activist. I was touched, as are
most of us, at the finality of the passing of a friend or hero, for true friends and real heroes, are few and far between. And yet, reading about Father Groppi in the Milwaukee newspaper my mother sent to me in New York City, where I was working, I was more appreciative than sad. I joyously recalled the early days of his deep involvement in the civil rights struggle in my beloved hometown, which coincided with the
beginning of my newspaper career.
When we first met, in 1963, I was associate editor of The Milwaukee Star — the pioneering Black weekly — and pleased as punch at finally
getting an opportunity to write seriously about important issues for others to read. Although a member of a different Catholic church (St. Francis) from the one which now welcomed Father Groppi, my news gathering activities in the Black community brought me into occasional contact with this dynamic young priest. And it also was the beginning of an acquaintanceship I was to cherish.
Father Groppi radiated conviction to a cause whose time, he was convinced, had come. And his conviction enveloped those around him like
the crackling blaze of a warm fireplace on a cold, winter night. The fact that Father Groppi was assigned to St. Boniface, on the heavily Black near North Side, from a post on the predominantly White South Side – and began throwing his weight around so effectively — totally amazed
all of us.
In those days, most Black people in Milwaukee were aware of housing inequities in the city. Many of us had suffered from blatant discriminatory practices and, working with the local Urban League and NAACP, some had attempted to redress some of our grievances. But it was not until Father Groppi — a White man — began speaking his mind, did things really get moving for us. Yet, Father Groppi’s activism, as everyone came to know, didn’t restrict his zeal for pressing the city into passing, in 1968, an open housing ordinance. And as everyone who knew him also will attest, he had other fish to fry.
For example, I well remember a day in May 1964 when, as a young reporter with the Milwaukee Sentinel, I was assigned to cover the city’s first
real show of public determination by civil rights groups of that era. At the 12th Street School, 593 of the normal morning attendance of 778
elementary pupils, had boycotted classes to protest what was seen as de facto segregation. Four adults carrying signs proclaiming “Freedom Now”
and “Integration is Education,” marched on the sidewalk, followed by four without signs. The latter chanted “Freedom, freedom, freedom.” All
the marchers were Black. But across the street, outside North Division High School, another group of pickets marched, and this one was integrated.
In the midst of the group of about 25 — closely watched by six policemen — was Black comedian Dick Gregory and Father Groppi. As I approached those pickets, Father Groppi asked me to join in. When I told him I was working, he winked, clapped me on the shoulder and said: “That’s OK. We’ve all got to do what we’ve got to do.” To which Gregory chimed-in: “Amen, brother.” On the other side of the street, we were startled by the increased volume of chanting and then, noting how the number of pickets had almost tripled in the last few minutes, Father Groppi grinned broadly at the sound of their words. “Come on. Get on board. The freedom train is moving down the line.” “How do you like that, my friend?” he said to me. “Make sure you get that in your story. And don’t forget, this is happening at 18 other elementary schools and one other high school with predominantly non-White enrollments.” “You can count on it, Father,” I replied.”
The following year, three months after marching with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Alabama, Father Groppi was arrested for the
first time when he and four other clergymen formed a human chain in front of yet another school in protest of racial imbalances. And if
there was any doubt in anyone’s mind about his conviction to the cause of equal rights, it was dispelled once and for all. I left Milwaukee a couple of years later but, owing to his growing fame and the success of the many marches he led in town, Father Groppi never was far from my thoughts. His work continued apace and then, 30 years later, he was gone.
When I think of him these days, I remember all the good he stood for, and all he did, in his relatively short life. In so doing, I am reminded of Western movies in which the good guy saves the town, gets the girl and rides triumphantly into the sunset. Make no mistake about it, Father Groppi was that good guy who, indeed, did triumph in the end. He was, and still is, mightily missed.
Milwaukee native Richard G. Carter is a freelance columnist
By Julianne Malveaux–NNPA Columnist
When the Koch Foundation gave the United Negro College Fund $25 million, it set off a maelstrom of comments in cyberspace and real time.
How dare the UNCF take money from the Koch brothers, some asked. They ought to send it back, said others.
One woman told me she would never give to UNCF again because of the Koch donation. Another says the Koch donation changes her perception of UNCF.
The donation will provide $18.5 million in scholarships, money that is badly needed to get some of our young people out of school, especially with the cuts so many experienced because of reduced access to the Parent Plus loan.
Another $4 million will go to the 37 UNCF schools for general support, again to make up some of the losses that came from reduced enrollment due to Parent Plus. The remainder goes to UNCF for their general support.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Koch scholarships will be awarded to students with good grades, financial needs, and an interest in studying how “entrepreneurship, economics and innovation contribute to well-being for individuals, communities, and society.”
Sounds like conservative free markets to me. More than that, it sounds like granting scholarships to further the Koch government-reducing, free market focus.
Koch protects its interest by having two seats on the five member scholarship committee, with the other three from the UNCF. While non-Koch interests are the majority, it will be interesting to see if a donor can sway a committee.
What else? The Koch brothers are making the most of this gift in the media. Rarely have I seen so many headlines generated by a gift of that size. $100 million, maybe. $250 million, surely.
But while $25 million will mean a lot to the UNCF, schools such as Harvard would likely consider it nothing more than a modest behest. The Koch brothers must think they’ll get some positive publicity from their gift, and they obviously have the PR team to pitch it.
Furthermore, these are the very Koch brothers who have supported voter suppression efforts. They would reduce the size of government, which means the Pell grants that so many students depend on would shrink in size. What one hand gives, in other words, the other takes away.
If the Koch brothers would fight to maintain or increase the size of the Pell grant, fewer would look askance at their gift. Instead, many see this as the cynical manipulation of a deep-pockets donor who gets much publicity from their gift.
It kind of reminds me of the Donald Sterling gift to the Los Angeles branch of the NAACP. After Sterling’s racist rant, his donation was returned. Still, the NAACP was in the process of giving him a second lifetime achievement award prior to his verbal rampage. Indeed the 2014 outrage against Sterling had elements of class bias.
The multi-million dollar players weren’t angry when he discriminated against African Americans and Latinos in the slum housing he owned – which cost him a couple of million dollars to settle with the Justice Department – but they were dismayed when he made negative comments about them. Their earlier silence equaled acquiescence to Sterling’s racism; their protest suggested that they would get angry only when rancid racism was directed at them.
Do basketball players really think that Sterling is the only NBA owner who harbors racist views? Those owners have enough sense not to articulate them publicly. If they know that other owners share Sterling’s views then they condone closed door racism, not the open door kind. If they are aware, and don’t care or share, they are making deals with the devil.
If the Koch brothers are the devil, then most of our organizations are making deals with the devil. Look at the list of sponsors for any African American organization or event. Sit through a board meeting, and listen to folks review possible sponsors, many corporate.
There are “good” corporations whose diversity portfolio is robust, and then there are those who need a little help. The need for funds notwithstanding, are we for sale for the price of a table or a few salmon (used to be chicken) dinners?
On the other hand, when the New York Times criticized the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation for its corporate support, Elsie Scott, the then-director said that if we spent money on certain products it was only right that we get their support. Does this apply to the Koch donation?
Unfortunately, too many African American organizations buy what we want and beg for what we need. Many in the African American community have $25 million to give to the United Negro College Fund.
Many could spend the dollars to support our students. The fact that we do not leaves us vulnerable to contributions like Koch, contributions that come with strings and, perhaps, a conservative agenda.
Should UNCF President Michael Lomax send the money back? Only if someone steps up to replace it. The $18.5 million for scholarships represents 3,700 scholarships for students.
If the $4 million is divided equally among 37 schools, it means $108,000 per school, enough to hire back one of the people laid off and to support some programs. Should Michael Lomax lay down with the devil? Where is the angel?
Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer. She is President Emerita of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.