by Benjamin Todd Jealous
One year later, the Trayvon Martin tragedy still stings – and some people are still throwing salt on the open wound. Last week George Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman, posted a tweet comparing Trayvon Martin to De’Marquis Elkins, 17-year-old black teenager charged with fatally shooting a one-year-old baby.
The tweet showed a photo of Elkins side by side with a photo of Martin, both making inappropriate gestures, with the caption “A picture speaks a thousand words. Any questions?”
Zimmerman’s follow-up tweet read “Lib[eral] media [should] ask if what these [two] black teens did [to] a [woman and her baby] is the reason [people] think blacks might [be] risky.”
The implication was that Trayvon Martin’s actions on the night he was murdered were equivalent to the killing of an innocent child.
This would be worrisome enough if it were just the opportunistic cry of a family embroiled in racial controversy. But this belief – that male “black teens” are inherently more likely to be criminals – is ingrained in our society. It has seeped into our institutions in the form of racial profiling, and too often it poisons the judgment of those who are supposed to protect us.
Last year I visited Sanford, Florida in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case. The NAACP hosted a forum where residents could report incidents of police abuse.
A number of African American mothers alleged that their teenage sons had been profiled, abused or even assaulted by the police. I found that the attitude of the local police department toward “black teens” was uncomfortably similar to that of Robert Zimmerman.
But the fact is that fifty years after the Civil Rights Act, racial bias still runs rampant among law enforcement in this country. And Zimmerman’s attitude infects an institution much more influential than the Sanford Police Department: the NYPD.
The New York Police Department is currently fighting a class-action lawsuit against their racially biased practice of “stop-and-frisk” policing. Stop-and-frisk allows officers to stop, question and physically search any individual they consider suspicious. In 2011 NYPD officers stopped nearly 800,000 people for alleged “suspicious activity”. Nine out of ten were innocent, 99 percent did not have a gun – and nine out of ten were black or Latino.
The most revealing tidbit to come out of the class-action trial is a secretly recorded conversation between a deputy inspector and a police officer. The inspector is discussing a high-crime neighborhood, and he can be heard telling his patrolman: “The problem was, what, male blacks… And I told you at roll call, and I have no problem telling you this, male blacks 14 to 20, 21.” In other words: stop more young black boys.
Other evidence indicates that patrolmen may be encouraged to meet arrest quotas. A tape played at the trial reveals a supervising officer asking for “more 250s” – or more stop-and-frisk forms.
One plaintiff, a police officer, testified about the pressure he felt from supervisors – “they were very clear, it’s non-negotiable, you’re gonna do it, or you’re gonna become a Pizza Hut delivery man.”
A picture may speak a thousand words, but leaked recordings speak volumes about an institution’s priorities. These tapes reveal that the NYPD has effectively placed a bounty on “black teens”. By profiling young teens of color, they are using the same grisly logic as Robert Zimmerman. And the result is apparent: in 2011, Black and Latino men between the ages of 14 and 24 made up 42 percent of those targeted by stop-and-frisk. That group makes up less than 5 percent of the city’s population.
The crime attributed to De’Marquis Elkins’ was truly horrific and despicable. But Elkins does not represent an entire demographic, just like Adam Lanza did not act on behalf of all young white men. Racial profiling punishes innocent individuals for the past actions of those who look and sound like them. It misdirects crucial resources and undercuts the trust needed between law enforcement and the communities they serve. It has no place in our national discourse, and no place in our nation’s police departments.
Ben Jealous is President/CEO of the NAACP.
by Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.
April 4 will mark the 45th year since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. Dr. King, 39, at the time, has now been gone from us longer than he was with us. A monument
celebrates his life on the mall in Washington. He is remembered as the man with a dream at the March on Washington.
In 1968, however, Dr. King was far from the favored celebrity he is today. He was under fierce criticism for opposing the war in Vietnam.
Former colleagues were scorning his commitment to nonviolence. When he went to Memphis, headlines called him Chicken a la King.
The St. Louis Globe-Democrat termed him “one of the most menacing men in America today.” The FBI was planning COINTELPRO operations to spread rumors about him and discredit him.
The civil rights movement had succeeded in ending legal segregation. The Voting Rights Act had been passed. But Dr. King knew that his greatest challenges were still ahead as he turned his focus to poverty and equal opportunity. The war on poverty was being lost in the jungles of Vietnam as war consumed the resources needed.
Dr. King went to Memphis to support African-American sanitation workers who were striking for equal pay and for a union. His first nonviolent march there was disrupted when some of the marchers started breaking into and looting stores. King decided to return to Memphis because he believed that nonviolence was now on trial.
Dr. King was focused on organizing a “Poor People’s Campaign” to march on Washington, reaching out to impoverished white miners, Hispanic farmworkers, Native Americans, the urban poor. Injustice anywhere, Dr. King preached, was a threat to justice everywhere.
Dr. King decried the unemployment that was so crippling to the black community. But he also knew, even then, that a job no longer guaranteed a way out of poverty. “Most of the poverty-stricken people of
America,” he said, “are persons who are working every day and they end up getting part-time wages for full-time work.”
So Dr. King went to Memphis to march with sanitation workers and there his life was taken from him.
Now, 45 years later, his last mission is still unfulfilled. One in five children in America are at risk of going without adequate nutrition.
One in three African-American children. Forty-six million Americans are in poverty. More than 20 million people are in need of full-time work.
African-American unemployment remains twice the rate of whites.
Dr. King knew that these conditions would not change unless working people and the poor joined across lines of race and religion and region to demand justice.
Nothing would change unless people disrupted business as usual, with nonviolent protest, expressing their own humanity while exposing the inhumanity of the current arrangements.
On April 4, many will remember Dr. King. The news programs will rebroadcast parts of his sermon the night before he was shot when he promised those gathered that they would “get to the promised land” although “I might not get there with you.”
The way to remember Dr. King is to pick up the struggle. Poverty and inequality, he taught us, are a threat to democracy and to freedom. And only nonviolent engagement by people of good conscience joining with those who are afflicted can possibly drive the change we need.
Today, inequality has reached even greater extremes. Wages are sinking, poverty is spreading. In this rich nation, poor children go hungry. The Poor People’s Campaign that was lost in the wake of war and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy is needed now more than ever.
by U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer-Courtesy of TheGrio.com
I will never forget watching President Obama unveil the statue of one of my personal heroes in Statuary Hall last month – allowing civil rights icon Rosa Parks to take her rightful place in our nation’s Capitol.
At the same time, just across the street, the fundamental promise that Rosa Parks spent her whole life fighting for – equal treatment for all Americans under the law – was under attack at the U.S. Supreme Court.
While Parks was being celebrated for helping to bring down “the entire edifice of segregation,” as the President eloquently put it, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was busy declaring that the basic protections provided to the American people by the Voting Rights Act were a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.”
His stunning remark shows clearly that our dream of justice and equality for all is still unfinished – even 57 years after Rosa Parks courageously refused to budge from her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama.
I still remember as a 10-year-old girl being on a bus with my mother in Miami just a few years before Parks’ arrest. I saw an elderly African American woman who didn’t have a seat, so I did the obvious thing: I offered her my seat. It turns out that was illegal in Florida in 1950.
There were snarls and looks of disdain. But my mother stood by me, taking my hand as we both walked to the back of the bus where we stood together.
Because of heroes like Rosa Parks, Americans no longer have to endure the bitter oppression of segregation. But as Justice Scalia’s discordant comments reminded us, our work in ending racial discrimination and protecting voting rights in this country is far from done.
Let’s be clear: Our civil rights movement is not a relic of another era. Our landmark laws ensuring equality are not outdated. And voter suppression is a not thing of the past.
Two hundred thousand voters in Florida know it. That’s how many voters gave up after being forced to wait in elections lines of up to seven hours last year.
Miami’s Desiline Victor knows it. The 102-year-old Haitian-born former farm worker had to stand in line for more than three hours – but she refused to give up until she had made her voice heard.
And Teresa Sharp of Lockland, Ohio, knows it. The 53-year-old African American woman and seven members of her family got letters from a Tea Party-affiliated group last year challenging their right to vote in the presidential election.
Justice Scalia claims that Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in 2006 because it was a political imperative – not because we believed the law was necessary. Unless I am missing something, a Supreme Court Justice – no matter how honored his position – has no extra powers to divine what Members of Congress think when we cast our votes.
As one of the lawmakers who actually cast that vote, let me set the record straight: We voted to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act based on clear evidence that the law’s protections are still desperately needed today. Our nearly unanimous vote spoke for itself.
Anyone looking for proof of why we need the Act should look no further than last fall’s election. We saw unmistakable evidence of voter suppression targeting minorities. We saw challenges to voter eligibility in heavily African American neighborhoods. We saw GOP leaders boasting that new voter ID laws would help elect their party’s candidates. We saw efforts to limit early voting days, new restrictions that made it more difficult to register to vote, and purges of longtime registered voters from election rolls.
That is why the Voting Rights Act is not a relic of the past. It is a necessary antidote to partisan tactics like “voting dilution,” a redistricting trick where minority voters are either packed into a single district or spread across a large number of districts to reduce their electoral influence. Since the law was passed in 1965, the Department of Justice has blocked hundreds of discriminatory changes like this that would have affected hundreds of thousands of minority voters.
Preserving the Voting Rights Act is not just a good idea – it is a moral imperative. It took more than a century of struggle to even begin to fulfill the promise of voting rights for African Americans that began with the ratification of the 15th Amendment in 1870, which guaranteed the right to vote regardless of race. And that struggle continues today.
It reminds me of what Rosa Parks said when asked why she wouldn’t move from her seat that day. “I just wanted to be free like everybody else,” she said. “I did not want to be continually humiliated over something I had no control over: the color of my skin.”
To keep that promise of freedom and equality for every American, we need to enforce – not overturn – the Voting Rights Act.
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Senate Ethics Committee.
by Richard G. Carter
“Love laughs at a king, kings don’t mean a thing, on the street of dreams…” –Victor Young and Sam Lewis
On a recent night at the corner of 125th St. and Lenox Ave. in Upper Manhattan — as I took-in the sights and sounds of the center of the universe for Black people in America — a funny thing happened. I found myself looking back in time, thinking of Walnut St. where I grew up.
There I was, in the heart of Harlem, sidewalks dripping people, streets choked with cars and taxis and buses, the Apollo Theater marquee lit-up and the “A” train beckoning. Yet, my mind’s eye saw Walnut Street in Milwaukee. And what a vision it was.
Granted, Walnut in my hometown never quite approached 125th in Harlem, but Walnut was Black Milwaukee. It was our street of dreams. It was the set. It was the scene. It was our Harlem. And I remember it like it was yesterday. Good memories have a way of sticking together like the pages in a book, which is why I remember Walnut Street from the late 1940s to the early ‘60s. Me and my running buddies called a short, four-block stretch — from N. 6th to N. 10th Sts. — “the set” and “the scene.” Old-timers gave it a “mayor” and called it “Bronzeville.”
No, this wasn’t New York’s 125th St., or Fifth Ave., or 42nd St., or Times Square, but it was really something — day or not. Especially at night. And it was all ours.
Upbeat Walnut Street, a half-block from my childhood home, started near the southwest corner of 6th with Deacon Jones’ Chicken Shack, whose name even now makes my mouth water. People came from all over town — white folks, too — to get their lips around that succulent, tender stuff.
Moving on toward 7th, there was Larry’s Frozen Custard, home of the Orange Blossom, an out-of-this-world ice cream concoction. Although offering many eating delights, Larry’s mainly served as a place where teenagers and young adults listened to rhythm and blues on the jukebox and sought nonbinding, close relationships. And as someone observed, a boy would have to be a monk to strike out.
For us, the sidewalk outside Larry’s was perhaps the spot to hang out on the set. Just about anybody was liable to show up. For example, I recall the night the great “Brown Bomber” himself, Joe Louis, was explaining how he’d demolished all those clowns in the ring. And the time a youthful Chess Records vocal group called the Five Notes sang a cappella for hours and you swore you were hearing the storied Moonglows.
Back in those days, most taverns, or “joints” on and around Walnut sponsored softball teams in Sunday morning leagues, which was something of a miracle in itself because Saturday nights on the scene were fast and furious. Of course, this meant each joint was the setting of some serious post-game partying.
One of the set’s landmark joints was the 700 Tap, at 7th and Walnut. The 700 meant different things to different people, married and single. But for those who thrived on booze-oriented mingling, its multi-level ambience couldn’t be topped on any night. And neither could Sunday noon gatherings of its star softball team and their hangers-on.
Hard by the 700 Tap was the storied Regal Theater — our Apollo — which we called “The Flick.” A small, unassuming movie house, it was the most noteworthy indoor gathering place in Milwaukee’s vibrant Black community of the ‘50s. Youngsters and adults alike piled-in to swoon for Lena Horne or tap their feet to Cab Calloway soundies.
The Regal interspersed its entertainment with Saturday night amateur shows and enticed us on week nights with a 25-cents admission for a movie-and-half after 9:30. Sundays were given over to triple-feature cowboy shoot-em-ups, and everyone seemed to get totally caught up in the goings-on up on the screen. It truly was a trip.
Our little Walnut, like big Harlem, wasn’t confined to a place or activity. But this short stretch of real estate buzzed with energy — from the Rose Room, Mr. Brown’s Colonial Barbershop, O’Bee’s Funeral Home, Art’s Shine Parlor, V&V Supermarket and the Bop Shop, to the Savoy Lounge, 711 Tap, Clara’s Restaurant, Manny Mauldin Jr.’s Harlem Records, the Booker T. Washington YMCA, Roosevelt Junior High School and the Milwaukee Globe newspaper, run by my late father, Sanford Carter.
Like most special places, Walnut featured colorful characters. Among them were blind old A.C., who regaled patrons at Mr. Brown’s with tales of his close ties with Jack Johnson, the fabled heavyweight champion of yore. And there was Dan Travis, called the “Bee Man” because for years he happily hawked a Black newspaper, The Chicago Bee.
Day or night, indoors or out, the Walnut Street of my youth was the best place in town for Black folks of all ages to be — and to be seen. It was something special. Those who lived it wouldn’t trade the experience, and those who are still around fondly remember it.
No, my Walnut of yesterday was not my Harlem of today, but yes, it was “much good,” as we used to say. And very well worth remembering. Indeed, I’ll never forget it. Milwaukee native Richard G. Carter is a freelance columnist.
by State Representative Sandy Pasch
Recent headlines proclaim that jobless rates in the United States are at a four-year low, and I think many of us are pleased with the direction that President Obama has taken to turn around our economy.
Wisconsin, however, continues to seriously lag the nation and our neighboring states in job creation. And in parts of Milwaukee, jobless rates are near thirty percent. Our communities are hurting, and this must change. I know that the people of Milwaukee and across our state want their elected officials to work on creating family-supporting jobs and to promote economic stability for our communities.
The best way to do this is by taking a balanced approach, one that provides targeted relief for low-to-middle income Wisconsinites, while also making vital investments in services – such as health care, transportation, and education – to help our communities. I am doing just that by working on legislation that is aimed at creating family-supporting jobs and investing in worker-training programs.
The first piece of legislation, Assembly Bill 49, would strengthen what is known as the WISCAP Skills Enhancement Program. This program works to increase the incomes of low-wage workers by providing opportunities to obtain additional skills necessary for family-supporting jobs. It emphasizes short-term, demand-driven, job-focused training, while also helping with child care and transportation costs.
My legislation would increase funding for this proven successful program and enable 700 more individuals to obtain better paying jobs over the next five years.
Already, the 153 graduates of this program who have acquired new jobs have an increase in annual income of $8,454 and have reported a fivefold increase in access to employer-sponsored health care benefits. I am also the author of Assembly Bill 50, a proposal that creates a work-sharing program that would lessen the impact of a business downturn on workers, employers, and the government.
Under a voluntary work-share program, the employer reduces the hours of work for all employees, instead of laying-off a portion of the workforce. Workers then receive partial unemployment benefits to compensate for the lost hours of work.
It also allows employers to ramp up their production when business improves, thereby helping the economy recover more quickly. I am happy to report the Assembly recently passed a slightly different version of my bill on a wide bi-partisan vote.
The third jobs bill I am working on would establish a Self-Employment Assistance program. This program allows states to use their unemployment insurance systems to help laid-off workers start new businesses and waive work-search requirements for those who are working full time to establish their own small businesses. In addition, workers also are provided a weekly allowance in the same amount and duration as regular unemployment benefits.
While these bills would assist all Wisconsinites, I am especially committed to the people of Milwaukee. Governor Walker’s proposed budget neglects our city and harms the many services necessary to enable job growth, such as health care, education, and public transportation.
In the spirit of unity, collective work, responsibility, and cooperative economics. It is imperative that we come together at this moment in history to preserve the legacy of diversity in the city of Milwaukee.
The Milwaukee Brotherhood of Fire Fighters has a rich past of striving for justice and equality within the fire service and ensuring excellent customer service for our community as a whole. The Milwaukee Brotherhood of Fire Fighters will continue making a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable, neglected, and less fortunate citizens through our outreach programs to foster a safe and healthy environment for all of our residents.
The Milwaukee Brotherhood of Fire Fighters believes lifting the residency requirement will be detrimental to the city’s goal and desire to have a diverse workforce, because frankly outside of Milwaukee there is very little if any diversity.
Trust and believe you won’t see an influx of people of color rushing in from out of town to apply for city of Milwaukee jobs, because the state of Wisconsin is hyper-segregated!!
This is one of our reasons we support Mayor Barrett’s view concerning Milwaukee’s residency requirement for all city employees .We strive to one day see a workforce that mirrors the residents it serves!
The Milwaukee Brotherhood of Fire Fighters find it ironic that many of the Fire Fighters who benefitted from 5 additional residency points on their entrance exam and who are now advocating lifting the residency requirement, would have never become Milwaukee Fire Fighters without receiving residency points!
The Milwaukee Fire Department has a motto,” COURAGE-INTEGRITY- HONOR” Those who want to lift the residency requirements don’t honor our city, don’t have the courage to live as part of our community, and don’t possess the integrity it takes to serve in our city!
In closing the Milwaukee Brotherhood of Fire Fighters are committed to all the residents of Milwaukee, City of Milwaukee government, The Milwaukee Fire department, and all who visit our beautiful city on a daily basis. Cases in point, if you don’t reside in the city of Milwaukee you are visitors and our guest. Please, if there is anything you need don’t hesitate to ask, because we pledge to go above and beyond to make your stay a memorable one.
Umoja – Ujima – Ujamaa, Milwaukee Brotherhood of Fire Fighters President Everett Lee Cocroft
My mother-in-law spoke to us about growing up in a small town in Mississippi a decade after the first depression. Everyone in the room, particularly the half dozen teenagers were awe struck as she reminisced about working in the fields from sun up to sun down under the scorching sun. Mouths dropped when she spoke of the primitive living conditions most Black folks in that era had to endure: Eating what you raised, and having to use an outhouse in the dark.
Jaws were still agape as she recalled “those men in white sheets who terrorized the Black families.” The Klu Klux Klan posed a constant threat to Black people of all ages. Lord help you if you were on their list for crimes as simple as staring, “acting uppity,’ or not saying ‘yes sir’ or ‘no sir; to even a bum other Whites called ‘trash.’”
And God help the Black man accused of looking at a White woman. Remember Emmit Till?
“MaDear’s” father was illiterate, she explained, but wise in the ways of the world, and most importantly about the tactics needed to survive in a hostile environment. Even though he couldn’t read or write, he did what was necessary to provide for his family, to keep them out of harm’s way. Equally important, he stressed the importance of his children getting a good education. Education was the 20th century emancipation proclamation.
My great nephews and grandchildren listened intently as MaDear told her stories. They were in awe, not fully realizing what our ancestors had to endure in America’s past, or of the blood, tears and sacrifices they made to build the foundation on which they now stand.
MaDear was one of nearly two dozen family members who participated in our family Black history program at my house last Sunday. Surrounded by original Black art, African drums and hundreds of books primarily written by Black authors (that I encouraged the younger generation to take with them), we were each tasked with bringing a Black history hero or shero to life, prior to our sitting down to a potluck supper.
There were five generations present, ranging in age from 81 years to three months. Most of what the seniors talked about were events that shaped their lives. The youngsters had to research an African, or African American whose contributions changed the world even slightly.
My father spoke of early Milwaukee, when Black residents were not allowed to live north of North Avenue. He spoke of a famous Downtown Black hotel and how the White folks took it over when they learned the value of the property. Pops spoke of how Black families supported each other back when a community really meant “community,” and the few courageous Black men and women who bucked the system lobbying for equal rights for the growing Black population.
Jaws dropped when he spoke of a World War II German concentration camp that was built on Port Washington Road. Many of Milwaukee’s early residents were German, so it was only natural that they brought the Nazi prisoners of war here. Ironically, Pop told the astonished family members the Nazi POWs were treated better than Black citizens. And it wasn’t a coincidence that Negroes were not allowed jobs at the prisoner of war camp because we were considered inferior beings, both by the Nazis and the White Milwaukeeans.
My brother-in-law Clarence started a trend when he decided to introduce his subject by deed instead of name. He wanted us to guess who the figure was, a tactic that would reveal how much Black history we had absorbed over the years. “He was an escaped slave,” Clarence described him, “who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some felt he was the spark that led to the American Revolution”.
My brother-in-law learned of him when he attended a school named in his honor in Chicago. Few of the Black students who attended an elementary school named after him probably appreciated the story of the Black man who was the first to die in the Revolutionary War. Some of them today, given the history of this great nation and its exploitation of people of color, probably would look at him as a sucker, because the freedom he fought for would not be extended to people of color for another 100 years.
One of my nephews tried to stump me (I’m considered the family historian, the Black sheep of the family who provides Black history trivia at the drop of a hat, always ready to put things into proper context based on historical facts generally not found in the public schoos), with a story about the first Black graduate of a northern college. I couldn’t come up with an answer, which from my perspective was good because I’m always open to learn new things. Moreover, it showed that my nephew was serious about his assignment; he had to scan through dozens of history figures before he found the subject of his lecture.
Of course, sometimes you can misread our history and dilute the importance of a point.
That’s what happened with my niece, who posed the question, “who was the ‘actress’ who popularized the Afro, while drawing attention to American injustice?’
Everyone was stumped, until I figured out after another clue or two that the historical figure was not an actress, but an ‘activist’–Angela Davis. My sweet niece had read the bio wrong.
Davis was indeed an important figure in the fight for justice, I explained, while trying not to embarrass my niece. She was put on trial in the early 1970s for her alleged involvement in the attempted prison escape of Black revolutionary George Jackson, author of the “Soledad Brothers.” Later Davis joined the Communist Party, ran for vice president of the United States twice, and lectured around the country on civil rights and social equality.
There was an unusual link between Angela Davis and myself, I told the assemblage. In the late 1970s, then Chief of Police Harold Breier’ organized what was known at the time as a ‘Red Squad.’ Among the unconstitutional tactics this group utilized, the Red Squad spied on Milwaukee citizens who the chief felt were threats to the racist status-quo (activists, Black politicians, journalists). “Subjects” on the list ranged from Father James Groppi to Michael McGee. I even warranted a few pages because of my work with the Community Journal and participation in numerous civil rights campaigns. A surprising reference to me was that I “was known to associate with Communist and Workers World Party members.” In a nutshell, I was a ‘criminal’ because I interviewed Angela Davis and Workers World Party presidential candidate Larry Holmes.
My Black history figure prompted a debate that may never be settled. I had chosen Marcus Garvey, the father of the Pan-African movement, and at one point in time one of the most powerful–albeit controversial–Black men in America. I noted during my introduction that as a child, I overheard my grandmother tell a friend that Garvey was a crook. As I started my introduction, my mother repeated that statement (I never asked if she was serious or not).
What is not in dispute about Garvey is that he polarized Black leadership in the early stages of the civil rights movement (which didn’t begin with Martin Luther King, but decades–actually a century earlier). W.E.B. Dubois called Garvey a dangerous man. Other Black ‘leaders’ of the time called him everything from an anarchist to a separatist.
There is no doubt that he engineered the largest Black movement in American history through his Universal Negro Improvement Association and the Black Star Lines, which he purchased in the hopes of taking Black Americans back to Africa, where we would be removed from the slings and arrows of racial hatred and apartheid here in America.
Garvey was considered the preeminent Black Nationalist, encouraging Negroes of the day not only to have pride in themselves, but work together for upliftment. Garvey was the first to talk about Black empowerment, Pan- Africanism and Black Pride. He also introduced the red, black and green flag, and the concept of Black Power.
As he once said, “Let us in shaping our own Destiny set before us the qualities of human justice, love, charity, mercy and equity. Upon such a foundation let us build a race, and I feel that the God who is Divine, the Almighty Creator of the world, shall forever bless this race of ours, and who to tell that we shall not teach men the way to life, liberty and true human happiness”
Garvey’s down fall came when questions were raised about the financing of the Black Star Lines. The federal government said he was crook (although there is strong evidence to suggest he was set up to break the movement). Many Black leaders supported Garvey, but as you know, once the feds get their claws in you…He ultimately was sentenced to five years in prison and exported back to his native Jamaica
That’s where the controversy over Garvey originated. Many Black people believed the stories planted by the FBI and other agencies. Conversely, many maintained the only crimes committed by Garvey were poor accounting and having the courage to speak the truth.
However you look at it, Garvey sparked a new movement that resonated with Black leaders from Malcolm X to Stokely Carmichael.
In many respects, our Black History pot-luck dinner opened our eyes to the foundation on which we now stand. In some respects, that mean’s my family is better prepared than many Black families whose heroes are rap stars and who believe that lie that our ancestors contributed little to nothing to science, the arts and math.
Its’ no surprise to me that many schools today provide children with a watered down version of Black history. They will tell our children about Booker T., but nothing about Delaney. They idolize Dr. Martin Luther King, but say nothing about Malcolm or Garvey. And I have yet to get an answer from a Black child when I ask them who Amenhotep was.
Several years ago, a sister speaking at a school for Black history month was chastised by the teacher who claimed the speaker’s presentation on the middle passages and slavery were misleading and incorrect. Slaves were not as bad off here America as the speaker claimed, the teacher said, adding had it not been for slavery, we wouldn’t be citizens today.
Aside from that being the most ridiculous, asinine and racist statement I’ve ever heard, I would venture to guess it’s not isolated.
That’s all the more reason we must keep our history alive. Our history empowers us, it gives us a sense of purpose and dispels the myths and stereotypes that America has used (and is still using) to belittle us. And oh yes, we must educate our children not just during the month of February, but every day.
As Garvey once said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”
by Mikel Kwaku Osei Holt
My three-year-old grandson stayed the weekend with my wife and, as expected, I spent most of my time playing catch or education board games, and hide and go seek.
When Malik (he was named after my late son) ran out of juice, I would read to him, embellishing whatever the topic was with Black History trivia. Obviously, he didn’t understand everything I told him, but I’m from the old school where you impart cultural seeds at a young age, and hope that some day you see those seeds blossom into a tree of Knowledge and Black Pride.
Some of the information I introduced him to (between his questions about why birds don’t have fur to why he had to lift the toilet seat up if only the two of us use the bathroom in my man cave) probably sounded bizarre. But who knows. Malik will no doubt remember my repetitious pronouncements that we (Africans) were the original people, God’s chosen. And the Garden of Eden was in Africa, so obviously, the central characters in the Old Testament were Black.
Those points were reinforced on Sunday when I was the guest lecturer at my new church, House of Grace Ministries.
(Incidentally, we meet at the Radisson Hotel on Main Street and Highway 45 from 9:45 a.m. to 11 a.m.)
I’ll be providing my fourth consecutive lecture this Sunday and you are invited.
But don’t come if you’re unsure of who and what you are because I unveil the biblical truth from an Africancentric perspective, backed fully by scripture, and anthropological science.
Some of us aren’t ready for that. We still believe Jesus looked like Jeffrey Hunter with blond hair and blue eyes. Similarly, some of us will fight you tooth and nail if you tell them Tarzan wasn’t the king of the jungle.
I also use the lectures to educate us on the not so obvious truths about how misguided biblical interpretation allowed for the importation of 10 million Africans (less than half that number arrived alive), and integration of our ancestors into what historians called the most vicious and inhumane form of slavery known to mankind. But just as those bigoted scum used the Bible to introduce the concept of White Supremacy, I speak on how we conversely, used it to overcome that injustice.
At other lectures I’ve been asked to speak at, I’ll provide antidotal Black history trivia to awaken the fogged minds of Black people to the truth.
For example, after one lecture, a 30-year-old middle school teacher denounced my statement that George Washington was the father of this country in many ways, including his impregnation of several of his ‘slaves.’ The teacher also had a problem with my statement that he didn’t really cut down a cherry tree, but if he did that might explain the story about his having wooden teeth. Actually that was a myth. Washington didn’t have wooden teeth, but instead had his ‘overseers’ force his slaves into a long line as he choose which of their teeth would be extracted to make a dental plate for the ‘founding father.’
Many of the so-called founding fathers (including Washington and Jefferson) were in fact deists, which explains how they could advance their hypocrisy about freedom and equality, but maintain the slave system with a straight face. In fact, I think Lincoln was one as well.
Lincoln was a conflicted man who understood slavery was wrong, but like Jefferson and other predecessors, he was also conflicted over whether we were intellectually capable of running our own lives.
My history notes that abolitionist Frederick Douglass challenged him on that point. But Lincoln was also a political pragmatist, which is why he entertained a proposal in 1863 to continue slavery for 40 years if the south would end the war.
Lincoln was a student of the Bible and thus knew there were no denouncements of slavery in the Old or New Testaments. In fact, there are numerous scriptures supporting it. Yeah, you heard that right. Nowhere in the Bible does anybody denounce slavery, although as I said Sunday, the so-called “Curse of Ham” was a farce, a lie perpetuated and exploited to justify American slavery for two centuries.
Speaking of ‘Jesus,’ he not only didn’t look like Jeffrey Hunter, he didn’t look like Barack Obama either. Some biblical scriptures suggest he was about, 5’1”, hunchback, with nappy hair, dark skinned and ‘uncomely.’
That latter point, I suggest, was by design. People are at first taken aback by Barack or Denzel’s looks and coolness. And then they hear him. In the case of Jesus, it was the word that mesmerized the crowds. There was no pretense, no confusion. Think about that.
Also try to figure out why Europeans, and Americans in particular, tried to repackage Jesus as blond and blue eyed. The answer is so obvious I won’t waste space on it.
But back to my grandson, who heard, but probably didn’t understand what I was saying on Sunday, On Saturday I fueled his head with Black History trivia. I told him our ancestors invented math, science and studied the stars when Europeans were trying to find a Bic lighter to warm their cold caves, For the most part I kept it simple for my grandson. But I told him the real truth, not what was dramatized on television, or would be told to him by teachers with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo or who themselves are ignorant of true history.
The Indians were the good guys, and the cowboys were the evil ones, I told Malik as he mounted my stuffed animal with a straw hat upon his head. “Remember where to point that gun. Not in front of you, but over your shoulder,” I told him.
If nothing else, I’m sure he’ll remember my explaining to him that the Indians were the good guys. Malik was particularly enticed when I told him about the battle of Fort Negro, during which plantation owners had appealed to the federal government to stop the Underground Railroad that went ‘south’ in addition to the track that headed north. Hundreds of ‘slaves’ had traveled that southern route, eventually integrating with Native American tribes in Florida. That phenomenon prompted the U.S. to send thousands of troops south to disrupt the Freedom Train. The other part of their mission was to kill or capture the runaway slaves and the Native Americans who gave them sanctuary. The army was led by future President Andrew Jackson.
Malik couldn’t understand the fundamental concept of integration, and I didn’t want to overburden his impressionable mind at this point. By telling him the simple truth. I did explain we haven’t made much progress as many great civil rights leaders had hoped by this time in U.S. history.
In truth, most of what I would tell my grandson was appropriate for his age. I believe it’s never too early to start building a historic cultural foundation for our children. And our efforts should be consistent and repetitious.
Soon enough, there will be those who will tell our children that they are the descendents of savage jungle bunnies who were ‘lucky’ to be recruited for a bold adventure in the new world. They will tell them we contributed nothing to civilization and that we are lazy, illiterate and sex crazy as a result.
It is up to parents to provide our children with the truth so they can refute that racist teaching paradigm, the purpose of which is to instill a sense of inferiority and self-hatred in our children.
Obviously, at this point, I couldn’t get too deep with my three year old grandson. So I intermixed the surface truth with standard Black history trivia about George Washington Carver, W.E.B. Dubois, Sojourner Truth, Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, Medgar Evers, and James Weldon Johnson.
Those Black trivia facts are important for our children, to provide them with reference points and a sense of racial pride. But there’s a larger history that must be told to our children as soon as they are able to comprehend. The fact that the real American history isn’t being taught speaks volumes about that need.
by Folami Abiade
(Dec. 1946 to Dec. 14, 2012)
I LOVED YU
IN THE DAYS BEFORE TIME
KNEW HOW TO TELL ITSELF
LOVED YU BEFORE
THE SEASONS KNEW WHEN TO CHANGE
I LOVED YU & LOVED YU
& SOME / TIMES YU KNEW IT
& SOME / TIMES YU DIDN’T
SOME / TIMES YU DIDN’T CARE
CAUSE YU GOT TIRED TOO.
I LOVED YU WITH YR EYES CLOSED
& YR BACK LAID OPEN
TO THE RAZONR’S EDGE OF HATE
I LOVED YU WITH SOOT IN YR
WITH YR ANKLES CHAINED YR
HANDS BOUND UNDER WATER
& YR EYE /BALLS BULGING WIDE
I LOVE YU CHARCOALLED &
‘NEATH A GIANT GEORGIA PINE
I LOVED YU WHEN YU FELL THAT
THEY PUMMELLED YU SO
YU BARELY GOT TO YR KNEES
BUT MY LOVE KEPT YU RISING
& SOON YU STOOD AGAIN & YU
KEPT ON COMING (CONTINUED
ON THE NEXT EMAIL.) SHOULD
HAVE USED WORD AND EXPORT. SORRY
& NEEDING ME
WHEN YU CDN’T SEE ME
CDN’T TOUCH ME / CDN’T CALL ME BY NAME
MY LOVE KEPT YU STRIVING
THRU THE EYE OF THE THUNDER
THE MOUTH OF THE STORM
STILL YU KEPT COMING
& MOVING & DRIVING AHEAD
& SO WE HAVE TRAVELLED…..
I AM YR ANCIENT MEMORY
KEEPING YU ON THE RIGHTEOUS PATH
DIVINED BEFORE YR EVERY FIRST BREATH
& INTO THE EVER / AFTER
& I WILL BE LOVING YU
& LOVING YU
& LOVING YU…..
WATCH FOR MORE POEMS FROM “THE LEGACY” BY THE NEW
WORLD GRIOTS, BY FOLAMI ABAIDE, CHARLES MC CLAIN, FAYE
JACKSON AND REGGIE FINLAYSON. THEY WILL BE SIGNING BOOKS
ON FEBRUARY 23 AT THE READER’S CHOICE: 1950 N. MLK
DRIVE AT 1 P.M. THEY ARE ALSO TAPING FOR BLACK NOUVEAU
AND WILL BE HONORED AT THE MCJ ANNIVERSARY GALA,
AUGUST 4, 2013
The official retirement announcement Wednesday by Green Bay Packer Wide Receiver Donald Driver brings to an end a brilliant career highlighted by gravity defying catches, the establishment of new Packer receiving records and his eventual enshrinement into the Packer Hall of Fame at Lambeau Field, the same venue where Driver played for 14 seasons and where he told his fans and teammates goodbye.
Driver’s career is the perfect example of the proverbial underdog scenario of beating the odds and rising to the top to become one of the elite receivers in the National Football League.
Not only did Driver beat the odds on the football field, parlaying his lowly draft status (drafted in the seventh round of the 1999 NFL draft) and doubts about his abilities coming out of Alcorn State University (too small and too slow), into the stuff of legend, he beat the odds of life.
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Driver knows what it means to be poor and homeless surrounded by an atmosphere of drugs, crime and death, an insidious cocktail that has led too many Black man and woman down the dark road of despair and hopelessness.
But “Quickie” (his childhood nickname) prevailed and overcame.
Driver has and continues to use his childhood experiences to motivate himself and others in the community to overcome adversity.
His story became the centerpiece of Goodwill’s marketing campaign in which Driver’s tenacity and hard work to be the best in his field has become synonymous with the drive that pushes those who utilize the services of the Goodwill to improve their lives.
It’s good to know Driver will remain active in the community of Green Bay and Milwaukee. His involvement in charitable causes is as well known as his exploits on the gridiron. Though he has hung up his cleats, Driver is not hanging up his concern, emphathy and determination to help better the lifes of others.
He is the perfect “Exhibit A” to other professional athletes—regardless of the sport–that there is life after football. May “Double-D” continue to find success in the private sector helping others successfully score in the game of life.
Thanks for the memories Donald!