Malcolm X

African-American leader and prominent figure in the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X articulated concepts of race pride and Black nationalism in the 1950s and '60s.

Born on May 19, 1925, in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm was the fourth of eight children born to Louise, a homemaker, and Earl Little, a preacher who was also an active member of the local chapter of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and avid supporter of Black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey. Due to Earl Little's civil rights activism, the family was subjected to frequent harassment from White supremacist groups including the Ku Klux Klan and one of its splinter factions, the Black Legion. In fact, Malcolm X had his first encounter with racism before he was even born.

Malcolm X was a prominent Black nationalist leader who served as a spokesman for the Nation of Islam during the 1950s and '60s. Due largely to his efforts, the Nation of Islam grew from the time he was released from prison in 1952 to 40,000 members by 1960. Articulate, passionate and a naturally gifted and inspirational orator, Malcolm X exhorted Blacks to cast off the shackles of racism "by any means necessary," including violence. The fiery civil rights leader broke with the group shortly before his assassination on February 21, 1965, at the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan, where he had been preparing to deliver a speech.

He would have been 92 years old this week had he lived.

African American Firsts

Licensed Pilot: Bessie Coleman, 1921.

Millionaire: Madame C. J. Walker.

Billionaire: Robert Johnson, 2001, owner of Black Entertainment Television; Oprah Winfrey, 2003.

Portrayal on a postage stamp: Booker T. Washington, 1940 (and also 1956).

Miss America: Vanessa Williams, 1984, representing New York (Buffalo roots). When controversial photos surfaced and Williams resigned, Suzette Charles, the runner-up and also an African American, assumed the title. She represented New Jersey. 

Explorer, North Pole: Matthew A. Henson, 1909, accompanied Robert E. Peary on the first successful U.S. expedition to the North Pole.

Explorer, South Pole: George Gibbs, 1939–1941 accompanied Richard Byrd.

Flight around the world: Barrington Irving, 2007, from Miami Gardens, Florida, flew a Columbia 400 plane named Inspiration around the world in 96 days, 150 hours (March 23-June 27).

She Was The Richest Black Girl in the World

And We Barely Know Her Name....

Sarah Rector received international attention at the age of eleven when The Kansas City Star in 1913 publicized the headline, “Millions to a Negro Girl.” From that moment Rector’s life became a cauldron of legal and financial maneuvering, and public speculation.  

Sara Rector was born to Joseph and RoseRector on March 3, 1902, in a two-room cabin near Twine, Oklahoma on Muscogee Creek Indian allotment land.  Both Joseph and Rose had enslaved Creek ancestry, and both of their fathers fought with the Union Army during the Civil War. When Oklahoma statehood became imminent in 1907, the Dawes Allotment Act divided Creek lands among the Creeks and their former slaves with a termination date of 1906.  Rector’s parents, Sarah Rector herself, her brother, Joe, Jr., and sister Rebecca all received land. Lands granted to former slaves were usually the rocky lands of poorer agricultural quality. Rector’s allotment of 160 acres was valued at $556.50. 

Primarily to generate enough revenue to pay the $30 annual tax bill, in February 1911 Rector’s father leased her allotment to the Devonian Oil Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1913, however, her fortunes changed when wildcat oil driller B.B. Jones produced a “gusher” that brought in 2500 barrels a day.  Rector now received an income of $300 per day.  Once this wealth was made known, Rector’s guardianship was switched from her parents to a White man named T.J. Porter, an individual personally known to the Rectors. Multiple new wells were also productive, and Rector’s allotment subsequently became part of the famed Cushing-Drumright Field in Oklahoma. In the month of October 1913 Rector received $11,567. 

Once her identity became public, Rector received numerous requests for loans, money gifts, and even marriage proposals from four Germans even though she was 12.  In 1914 The Chicago Defender published an article claiming that her estate was being mismanaged by grafters and her “ignorant” parents, and that she was uneducated, dressed in rags, and lived in an unsanitary shanty. National African American leaders such as Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois became concerned about her welfare. None of the allegations were true. Rector and her siblings went to school in Taft, an all-black town closer than Twine, they lived in a modern five-room cottage, and they owned an automobile.  That same year, Rector enrolled in the Children’s House, a boarding school for teenagers at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. 

When Rector turned eighteen on March 3, 1920, she left Tuskegee and her entire family moved with her to Kansas City, Missouri.  By this point Rector, who now owned stocks and bonds, a boarding house and bakery and the Busy Bee Café in Muskogee, Oklahoma, as well as 2,000 acres of prime river bottomland, was a millionaire.

The family moved into what would be known as the Rector Mansion.  Legal wrangling over Rector’s estate and some mismanagement continued until she was twenty.  That year Rector married Kenneth Campbell, and the couple had three sons, Kenneth, Jr., Leonard, and Clarence. Much was publicized about her “extravagant” spending on luxuries. Her marriage to Campbell ended in 1930, and in 1934 she married William Crawford. When Rector died at age 65 on July 22, 1967, her wealth was diminished, but she still had some working oil wells and real estate holdings. Sarah Rector was buried in Taft Cemetery, Oklahoma.  

Sources:Tonya Bolden, Searching for Sarah Rector: The Richest Black Girl in America, (New York: Abrams Books, 2014); http://african-nativeamerican.blogspot.com/2010/04/remembering-sarah-rector-creek.html.

Sojourner Truth - "Ain't I A Woman? " 

Sojourner Truth was a prominent abolitionist and women’s rights activist. Born a slave in New York State, she had at least three of her children sold away from her. After escaping slavery, Truth embraced evangelical religion and became involved in moral reform and abolitionist work. She collected supplies for Black regiments during the Civil War and immersed herself in advocating for freed people during the Reconstruction period. Truth was a powerful and impassioned speaker whose legacy of feminism and racial equality still resonates today. She is perhaps best known for her stirring “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, delivered at a women’s convention in Ohio in 1851.

An evangelist, abolitionist, and feminist,  she was born Isabella Baumfree. Sojourner Truth was her self-given name, from 1843 onward.  She is remembered for her unschooled but remarkable voice raised in support of abolitionism, the freedmen, and women’s rights. Tales of her aggressive platform style, for example, of her baring her breasts before a crude audience who had challenged her womanhood, grace the pages of abolitionist lore.

Truth was six feet tall, blessed with a powerful voice (she spoke English with a Dutch accent), and driven by deep religious conviction During the Civil War, Truth tramped the roads of Michigan collecting food and clothing for black regiments. She traveled to Washington, D.C., where she met with Abraham Lincoln at the White House, and immersed herself in relief work for the freed people. During Reconstruction, Truth barely supported herself by selling a narrative of her life as well as her “shadows,” photographs of herself. She lent her unique skills to the women’s suffrage movement and initiated a petition drive to obtain land for the freed people, even suggesting the idea of a “Negro state” in the West. Truth’s most important legacy is the tone and substance of her language. ” She died of old age and ulcerated legs in 1883; her funeral and burial in Battle Creek was the largest that town had ever seen

MLK's Mother Was Also Shot toDeath

Martin Luther King and his mother Alberta Williams King

Martin Luther King and his mother Alberta Williams King

   Alberta Williams King(September 13, 1904 – June 30, 1974) was shot to death just 6 years after her son Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down in Memphis, Tennessee. On June 30th, 1974 Mrs. King was playing the organ in Ebenezer Baptist Church - the very church her son was baptized and later became co-pastor in along with his father- when Marcus Wayne Chenault killed her.  Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.  

Marcus Wayne Chenault, a 23-year-old Black man from Ohio, fired two Handguns into Mrs. Kingas she sat at the organ of the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Chenault claimed that he had decided that Black ministers were a menace to Black people. He said his original target had been Martin Luther King, Sr., but he had decided to shoot his wife instead because she was close to him. One of the church's deacons, Edward Boykin, was also killed in the attack, and a woman was wounded. Chenault was sentenced to death. Although this sentence was upheld on appeal, he was later re-sentenced to life in prison, partially as a result of the King family's opposition to the death penalty. On August 3, 1995, he suffered a stroke, and was taken to a hospital, where he died.

New Kwanzaa Forever Stamp Unveiled for

50th Anniversary of Celebrated Holiday

With a vibrant new stamp design, the U.S. Postal Service continues its tradition of celebrating Kwanzaa by dedicating a new Kwanzaa Forever stamp . The First-Day-of-Issue dedication ceremony took place recently in Marion Square in Charleston at the MOJA Art Festival celebrating African-American and Caribbean arts.

Enslaved Africans and the Lincoln Myth

A careful reading of Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation proves that it did not free all of America’s enslaved Africans. In the surprisingly short document only the slaves of “rebellious” states are ordered to be freed; those states who were loyal to America got to keep their Africans—as slaves! The “Emancipation Proclamation” lists a whole slew of places to be “left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.” At that time in history, Lincoln actually had no authority over the states where he “freed” the slaves. They were part of another country—the Confederate States of America—with an altogether different president, Jefferson Davis. Lincoln himself was never hesitant to express his hatred of Black people, like when he said: “As the negro is to the White man so is the crocodile to the negro and as the negro may rightfully treat the crocodile as a beast or a reptile so may the White man treat the negro as a beast or a reptile.”  And in 1862 he wrote in part: “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy Slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it...”  White historians and Hollywood mythmakers have made Lincoln into something he never was or wanted to be—a martyr on behalf of Black people.

Queen Charlotte, Britain’s First Black Queen

After the overwhelming “hate Meghan Markle” reaction to the rumored Black girlfriend of Prince Harry, following British media’s reports of their love affair, NewsOnepointed out the African ancestry of Britain’s royal family––directly embodied by Queen Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Britain’s first BlackQueen.

Here are a few things you may or may not know about Queen Sophia Charlotte:

1. Queen Charlotte, the eighth child of Duke Charles Louis Frederick and Elizabeth Albertine, was born on May 19, 1744, according to PBS Frontline. She descended from Margarita de Castro y Sousa, a Black branch of the Portuguese Royal House, the report says. Queen Charlotte eventually married King George III and bore 15 children, 13 of whom survived, African-American Registry writes. She is the great, great, great-grandmother to Queen Elizabeth II.

2. Artists who depicted the Queen were told to downplay her African features for fear of revealing the monarch’s history of intermixing and inbreeding, 

3. Queen Charlotte died on November 17, 1818, but her legacy lives on in America-––the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, or the “Queen City,” is named in her honor, according to the Atlanta Black Star.

SOURCE: PBS Frontline, African-American Registry,Atlanta Black Star

Nat Turner’s Alleged Remains 

Returned to His Family After Almost 200 Years

Thanks to Nate Parker’s controversial film, “The Birth of a Nation,”  the story of Nat Turner has once again pricked the popular imagination of America.

For those who don’t know, Turner led one of the bloodiest slave rebellions in American history in the year 1831. When it was all said and done more than 55 White men, women and children lay dead.

Retribution against the Black community was swift and fierce. More than 200 African Americans in Virginia lost their lives as payback, but Turner was able to initially escape. After two months on the lam he was captured, tried, executed by hanging on Nov. 11, 1831 in the town of Jerusalem, now Courtland, Va.

What happened to his remains was a mystery. Until now.

A recent report by National Geographic confirms that Turner’s descendants finally recently received Turner’s skull this weekend from a former mayor of Gary, Ind.—83-year-old Richard Gordon Hatcher, who served as the first African-American mayor of Gary from 1968 to 1987.

Shannon Batton Aguirre and Shelly Lucas Wood, both great-great-great-great grand-daughters of Turner, flew in from Washington D.C. to receive the remains.

National Geographic outlined the history of Turner’s vestiges and says that Hatcher received his skull from Franklin and Cora Breckinridge, civil rights activists in Elkhart, Ind., who donated the skull to Hatcher in 2002.

The Breckenridges received it from Bob Franklin, also of Elkhart, Ind., who says the skull was passed down in his family for three generations.

Franklin’s grandfather, Dr. Albert Gallatin Franklin, was a physician in Richmond, Va., who in around 1900 received the skull from a female patient who inherited it from her father—one of the doctors who handled Turner’s body after he was executed, according to National Geographic.

Franklin’s father apparently tried to actually donate it to the Smithsonian, but the museum said it did not accept human remains, and so he gave it to the Breckenridges, who eventually donated it to Mayor Hatcher who was building a Civil Rights Hall of Fame project in the state.

“The legacy of Nat Turner has had enduring impact not simply upon our family, but upon American history,” Aguirre said. “Certainly, this fragile fragment holds enormous emotional value for me, for my family. But it is of immeasurable value because it is a poignant reminder of the price of freedom. In a very tangible way, it asserts the humanity of people who were systemically dehumanized. Its incredible existence demands acknowledgement that, yes, this Black life mattered.”

Plans call for the skull to be temporarily housed at a secure location where forensic anthropologists, in cooperation with National Geographic Studios, will conduct a full study, including isotope analysis and DNA testing. The Turner family will provide genealogical information as well as DNA samples in hopes that the skull matches their genetic profile. If it is confirmed as Turner’s, it will be laid to rest alongside other descendants.

Things Other Than Sports, Singing & Dancing

That Black People Have Been Great At

                                                  University Of Timbuktu

                                                  University Of Timbuktu

Mathematics

Black people were the first to develop mathematics in Africa 37,000 years ago, as it was the first method of counting. Africans in the region known as modern-day Egypt scripted textbooks about math that included division, multiplication, algebraic equations, fractions and geometric formulas to calculate the area and volume of shapes.

Business/Economics

The richest man to ever live was a Black man named Mansa Musa. Musa, who was an emperor of the great African empire Mali from 1312 to 1337, was one of the most influential leaders the world has ever known. Mastering commerce and trade, Musa accumulated an estimated $400 billion during his reign, according to a new inflation-adjusted list by Forbes.com, making him the richest man in the history of the world. Source: Huffington Post

Education

Blacks built the first universities in the world. In particular,  the University of Tombouctou, also calledTimbuktu, which is in Mali, was considered the oldest thriving university in the world. Students came from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and all over the world to study at Timbuktu. Source: Timbuktuheritage.org

Metallurgy and Tools

The first advances in metallurgy and tool-making were made by Black people all across ancient Africa. Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda made advances between 1,500 and 2,000 years ago, which surpassed those of the Europeans at that time. Ancient Tanzanian furnaces could reach 1,800 degrees Celsius — 200 to 400 degrees warmer than those of the Romans.Source: asbmb.org

Medicine/Doctors

Before the European invasion of Africa, Black people had developed a medical system based on plants and herbs to cure illnesses. Egypt,  Southern Africa, West Africa and parts of East Africa were more advanced in medicine than Europe at the time. They used plants with salicylic acid for pain, kaolin for diarrhea, and other extracts to kill bacteria.The achievements by doctors in ancient Egypt were incredible. Findings obtained by archaeologists have produced evidence that in 3000 B.C., the Egyptians performed successful brain surgeries. 

Navigation

Black people were the first to navigate the ocean. There is evidence that ancient Africans sailed to South America and Asia hundreds of years before Europeans.

Shipbuilders in the Mali and Songhai empires built boats 100-feet long and 13-feet wide that could carry up to 80 tons of cargo. Source: asbmb.org

Silent Protest 48 Years Ago

On October 17, 1968, Black athletes make a silent protest before a world audience.

Two Black American athletes made history at the Mexico Olympics by staging a silent protest against racial discrimination. Tommie Smith and John Carlos, gold and bronze medallists in the 200m, stood with their heads bowed and a black-gloved hand raised as the American National Anthem played during the victory ceremony. The pair both wore black socks and no shoes and Smith wore a black scarf around his neck. They were demonstrating against continuing racial discrimination of Black people in the United States. As they left the podium at the end of the ceremony they were booed by many in the crowd.

‘Black America will understand

At a press conference after the event Tommie Smith, who holds seven world records, said: “If I win I am an American, not a Black American. But if I did something bad then they would say ‘a Negro’. We are Black and we are proud of being being Back.

“Black America will understand what we did tonight.” Smith said he had raised his right fist to represent Black power in America, while 

Carlos raised his left fist to represent black unity. Together they formed an arch of unity and power. He said the black scarf represented black pride and the black socks with no shoes stood for lack poverty in racist America. Within a couple of hours the actions of the two Americans were being condemned by the International Olympic Committee. A spokesperson for the organization said it was "a deliberate and violent breach of the fundamental principles of the Olympic spirit.

'Dirty negro'

Smith said: "It is very discouraging to be on a team with White athletes. On the track you are Tommie Smith, the fastest man in the world, but once you are in the dressing rooms you are nothing more than a dirty Negro."

 The Afro-Turks

Although this is unknown to many, there are up to 100,000 people of African descent in the nation of Turkey. A legacy of the Ottoman Empire and of the African slave trade, Afro-Turks, as they are called, have lost their language and have a renewed interest in discovering who they are and from whence they came.

As The Global Dispatches reported in 2010, while slavery existed in the Ottoman Empire from the 14th century until the 19th century, enslaved people came from the Balkans and the Caucasus until the late 1800s, with the abolition of “white” slavery in these regions after pressure from the European nations.

Before that time, the trading in Black people had been limited, but then, the trading of enslaved Africans to the Ottoman Empire grew, particularly from Kenya and Sudan. Between 1860 and 1890, around 10,000 enslaved Africans were sent into the Ottoman Empire each year, a total of about 250,000 people, with many freed at some point. Many enslaved people were sent to the cotton fields near Smyrna (now known as Izmir) on the coast of the Aegean Sea.

But it wasn’t until the early 20th century that the end of slavery came, as enslaved people were replaced by paid servants. And in 1924, the Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk established laws of equal citizenship in the country’s new constitution. Further, as the BBC reported, Afro-Turks are called “Arab,” a term denoting someone who is dark enough to be Arab or African — in a country where Blackness is often negatively associated with inferiority. These days, in light of the refugee crisis, their identity has come to light in large cities, where Afro-Turks are often mistaken for Somali or Eritrean refugees, although these Black people have lived in Turkey for generations.

It’s a shame we have lost our African language, the language our great-grandparents spoke. Every minority in Turkey has its language – the Kurds, the Zaza, even the Laz. But we have only Turkish, and we don’t know anything about our ancestors” an Afro-Turk man named Orhan told the BBC.“

Like elsewhere, Black people in Turkey face discrimination. For example, African soccer players have faced racist chants from fans, including some who were called monkey and one who had a banana pointed in his face. In addition, Turkey has not been welcoming to African migrants. According to the International Business Times, there are at least 50,000 African migrants in Turkey, 

Fearless Black Female Warriors Throughout History

Harriet Tubman was an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and Union spy during the American Civil War. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped to Philadelphia in 1849, then immediately returned to Maryland to rescue her family.

She subsequently made more than 19 missions to rescue more than 300 slaves with the help of the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. One of her famous quotes: “I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”

She later helped recruit men for John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry October 16-18, 1859, to free enslaved Blacks.

 In June 1863, Tubman became the first woman to lead an armed expedition in the Civil War. She guided the Combahee River Raid, which liberated more than 700 enslaved Blacks in South Carolina: the largest liberation of enslaved Black people in American history.

The Harriet Tubman Home preserves the legacy of “The Moses of Her People” in the place where she lived and died in freedom. The site is located on 26 acres of land in Auburn, New York, and is owned and operated by the AME Zion Church. It includes four buildings, two of which were used by Harriet Tubman.

Amanirenas (died c. 10 B.C.)

Amanirenas (also spelled Amanirena) was one of the greatest kandakes, or queen mothers, who ruled over the Meroitic Kingdom of Kush in northeast Africa. She reigned over the kingdom between c. 40 B.C.-10 B.C.  When Roman emperor Augustus levied a tax on the Kushites in 24 B.C., Amanirenas and her son, Akinidad,  led an army of 30,000 men to sack the Roman fort in the Egyptian city of Aswan.They also destroyed the statues of Caesar in Elephantine.

Under orders from Augustus, the Roman general Petronius retaliated, but met strong resistance from Amanirenas and her troops. After over three years of harsh fighting, the two parties agreed to negotiate a peace treaty. The Romans agreed to return their army to Egypt, withdraw their fort, give the land back to the Kushites and rescind the tax.

The brave warrior queen, Amanirenas is remembered for her loyal combat, side-by-side, with her own soldiers. She was blinded in one eye after she was wounded by a Roman. However, the full extent of the Roman humiliation has yet to be disclosed since the Kushite account of the war, written in the Meroïtic script, has not been fully decoded.

Nyabingi Priestesses Muhumusa (died 1945) and Kaigirwa (unknown)

Muhumusa and Kaigirwa were feared leaders of the East African Nyabingi priestesses group that was influential in Rwanda and Uganda from 1850 to 1950. In 1911 Muhumusa proclaimed “she would drive out the Europeans” and “that the bullets of the Wazungu would turn to water against her.”

She organized armed resistance against German colonialists and was eventually detained by the British in Kampala, Uganda, from 1913 to her death in 1945. She became the first in a line of rebel priestesses fighting colonial domination in the name of Nyabingi, and even after being imprisoned she inspired a vast popular following. The British passed its 1912 Witchcraft Act in direct response to the political effectiveness of this spiritually based resistance movement.

In August 1917, the “Nyabinga” Kaigirwa followed in Muhumusa’s footsteps, and engineered the Nyakishenyi revolt, with unanimous public support. British officials placed a high price on her head, but no one would claim it. After the British attacked the Congo camp of Kaigirwa in January 1919, killing most of the men, Kaigirwa and the main body of fighters managed to evade the army and escape.

The Life and Death of Dr. Sebi

There are those who believe that Dr. Sebi, born Alfredo Bowman—a world-renowned vegetarian herbalist, healer, pathologist and biochemist—had the cure for many of the diseases such as AIDS - that bring devastation and an altered existence before snatching the lives of those who don’t break free.

There are many who believe that Dr. Sebi, who was not a licensed physician, became a threat to a multibillion-dollar medical industry that not only relies on continued sickness but also needs it and profits from it..    

Dr. Sebi rose to cult like fame pushing a simple dietary premise: that food is alkaline for the body, and dead foods kill your body’s natural ability to heal and regenerate healing. By eliminating what Dr. Sebi considered toxic foods—like meat, poultry, all processed or synthetic items, alcohol, sugar, fried food and iodized salt—the body could begin detoxing. Replacing those foods with plain ripe fruit; non starchy vegetables, especially leafy greens; raw nuts and nut butters; and grains like quinoa, rye and kamut promotes the body’s natural healing properties. In doing so, he claimed to have cured several patients of AIDS, cancer, diabetes and blindness.

On May 28, 2016, Dr. Sebi was arrested at Juan Manuel Gálvez International Airport in Honduras for carrying some $37,000 in cash. He was released pending a court hearing, only to be rearrested June 3 by the Ministerio Público, Honduras’ version of the FBI, and charged with money laundering. 

Dr. Sebi remained in custody until Aug. 6, when he was rushed to a local hospital reportedly suffering from complications of pneumonia. Dr. Sebi died en route. He was 82.          -The Root

                               Shirley Chisholm

                               Shirley Chisholm

*Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first African American ever elected to the United States Senate. He represented the state of Mississippi from February 1870 to March 1871.

*Shirley Chisholm was the first African American woman elected to the House of Representatives. She was elected in 1968 and represented the state of New York. She broke ground again four years later in 1972 when she was the first major party African-American candidate and the first female candidate for president of the United States She resided in Buffalo after she married Arthur Hardwick, Jr., a former local New York State Assemblyman.

The Black population of the United States in 1870 was 4.8 million; in 2007, the number of black residents of the United States, including those of more than one race, was 40.7 million.

In 1940, Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American performer to win an Academy Award (the film industry`s highest honor) for her portrayal of a loyal slave governess in Gone With the Wind.

In 1992, Dr. Mae Jemison became the first African American woman to go into space aboard the space shuttle Endeavor. During her 8-day mission she worked with U.S. and Japanese researchers, and was a co-investigator on a bone cell experiment.

VOTING RIGHTS ACT: SIGNED INTO LAW ON AUGUST 6, 1965

VOTING RIGHTS ACT: SIGNED INTO LAW ON AUGUST 6, 1965  

VOTING RIGHTS ACT: SIGNED INTO LAW ON AUGUST 6, 1965  

The Voting Rights Act, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson (1908-73) on August 6, 1965, aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote under the 15th Amendment (1870) to the Constitution of the United States.

-BACKGROUND-

After the U.S. Civil War (1861-65), the 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870, prohibited states from denying a male citizen the right to vote based on “race, color or previous condition of servitude.” Nevertheless, in the ensuing decades, various discriminatory practices were used to prevent African Americans, particularly those in the South, from exercising their right to vote.

During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, voting rights activists in the South were subjected to various forms of mistreatment and violence. One event that outraged many Americans occurred on March 7, 1965, when peaceful participants in a voting rights march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital in Montgomery were met by Alabama state troopers who attacked them with nightsticks, tear gas and whips after they refused to turn back.

Some protesters were severely beaten, and others ran for their lives. The incident was captured on national television.

The voting rights bill was passed in the U.S. Senate by a 77-19 vote on May 26, 1965. After debating the bill for more than a month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 333-85 on July 9. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law on August 6, with Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders present at the ceremony.

“This 4th of July is Yours not mine...”

                                                    Frederick Douglass

                                                    Frederick Douglass

(Following is an excerpt from FREDERICK DOUGLASS historic Independence Day Speech at Rochester, New York in 1852. Douglass, formerly enslaved himself, became a leader in the 19th Century Abolitionist Movement to free enslaved Africans in America)

Fellow citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? ...

....I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. 

This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. 

You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me by asking me to speak today? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn that it is dangerous to copy the example of nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can today take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people.  

Fellow citizens, above 

your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! Whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, today, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. ... I do not hesitate to declare with all my soul that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this Fourth of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the Constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery-the great sin and shame of America! “I will not equivocate, I will not excuse”; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, shall not confess to be right and just....

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not as astonishing that, while we are plowing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, and secretaries, having among us lawyers doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators, and teachers; and that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hillside, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives, and children, and above all, confessing and worshiping the Christian’s God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!...

JUNETEENTH THE OLDEST CELEBRATION

COMMEMORATING THE ENDING OF SLAVERY 

                       Free'd Musicians Playing At Juneteenth Celebration in Austin 1900

                       Free'd Musicians Playing At Juneteenth Celebration in Austin 1900

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.  Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved Africans were now free. Thiswas two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

Free Africans In Group Portrait  1865

Free Africans In Group Portrait  1865

Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another, is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another, is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or neither of these version could be true Certainly, for some, President Lincoln’s authority over the rebellious states was in question.

General Order Number 3

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

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

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

 

Georgetown Should Pay for Slavery

by Margaret Kimberley

When the Civil War began in 1861 the total value of enslaved people in the United States was “worth more than all of America’s manufacturing, all of the railroads, all of the productive capacity of the United States put together. Slaves were the single largest, by far, financial asset of property in the entire American economy. The only thing worth more than the slaves in the American economy of the 1850s was the land itself.” Myriad institutions owed their existence to the vast fortunes created by chattel slavery. In a recent series of articles the New York Times revealed that Georgetown University is on that list of infamy. In 1838 what was then a struggling Jesuit college chose to sell 272 enslaved people to toil on Louisiana sugar plantations.

The Jesuit religious order owned plantations in Maryland beginning in the 1700s. According to the Times, these properties were “badly managed” and “inefficient.” It isn’t clear how those words are defined by the newspaper but productivity in the plantation economy meant that enslaved people had to suffer very badly in a concentrated labor pool.

That task was left to the states of the deep South, who perfected extracting productivity as their need for free labor grew. By the 1830s they were already draining the upper South of its enslaved population. Cotton and sugar cultivation were extremely profitable and demanded a constant and massive flow of chattel slaves in order to stay that way. The people held on the Jesuit plantations were doomed to be sent into a lower rung of hell than the one they already inhabited. “The descendants should be well compensated for their ancestors’ contribution to Georgetown’s wealth.”

After the publication of the New York Times articles, some descendants of those enslaved people have been located, identified by name, and interviewed. Their thoughts and feelings are now public but neither they nor anyone else has made a simple demand of Georgetown University. They should be paid in cash.

It is now clear that the college which became Georgetown University continued operating precisely because those 272 people were sold to ensure its survival. Georgetown now has an endowment of $1.5 billion. Like all non-profit organizations in this country it pays no taxes, no matter how wealthy it ever becomes. All of this money is a result of the 1838 sale and the descendants of that human property are owed some portion of it.

It is interesting that the most obvious resolution to the wrong doing has been mentioned so little, that the descendants of the Georgetown enslaved be paid directly. There have been proposals to create scholarships or build a monument or undertake some other commemorative effort. That is all well and good but the descendants should be well compensated for their ancestors’ contribution to Georgetown’s wealth. Let the descendants decide where their children or grand-children go to college. If Georgetown pays up like it ought to they can go to any college or make whatever financial decisions they choose. That would be true justice.

Of course all African descended people in the Americas are owed reparations for their ancestors’ unpaid financial contributions. The descendants of the Georgetown enslaved are fortunate to know the circumstances of their ancestors’ fates and the fact that they directly enriched an institution that still exists and thrives. They are poster children for how the reparations demand might work in a particular circumstance.

    Georgetown should be on the hook for millions of dollars.”

But as Black Agenda Report has already pointed out, the effort needed to make reparations a reality is mired in what amounts to wishful thinking and talking points for the mis-leadership class. For most people fundamental societal readjustments towards socialism and justice can right many wrongs. Those changes are hard to discuss, plan or see enacted. That is why so many people would rather have fanciful discussions than be serious about difficult matters.

In the meantime, when a situation appears that makes a direct settlement possible, it should be acted upon without apology. White people usually feel aggrieved at the very thought of black people benefitting from anything for any reason, so of course they will shout denunciations. Pundits will fume and rich alumni will refuse to keep giving rather than pay for a huge crime. No matter. Georgetown should be on the hook for millions of dollars and if the corporate media are really interested in the story they ought to make the case for that too. Scholarships be damned.

Margaret Kimberley is Editor and Senior columnist for Black Agenda Report. HerFreedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as athttp://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

RememberingMalcolm X:: “Our Shinning Black Prince”

malcolm-x-640x360.jpg

 

May 19, 2016marks what might have been brother Malcolm’s 90th birthday. That possibility ended when assassins comprised of misled Black folk and U.S. government intelligence/law enforcement agencies, killed brother Malcolm on February 21, 1965. Malcolm X, El Hajj Malik Shabazz,  was born May 19, 1925, as Malcolm Little but denounced his “slave name” when he joined theNation of Islam in 1952. It was his rebirth as a Muslim minister and warrior for justice and human rights that shaped a generation of Black revolutionaries in his image. His words on police brutality, systemic racism and capitalism could have been spoken this year, this month or even this day. The following article, "Our Shining Black Prince," is taken from the   Eulogy Delivered by Ossie Davis at the Funeral of Malcolm X, atFaith Temple Church of God,  in New York City on February 27,  1965.

Here-at this final hour, in this quiet place—Harlem has come to bid farewell to one of its brightest hopes—extinguished now, and gone from us forever.

For Harlem is where he worked and where he struggled and fought—his home of homes, where his heart was, and where his people are-and it is, therefore, most fitting that we meet once again—in Harlem-to share these last moments with him.

For Harlem has ever been gracious to those who have loved her, have fought for her, and have defended her honor even to the death. It is not the memory of man that this beleaguered, unfortunate but nonetheless proud community has found a braver, more gallant young champion than this Afro—American who lies before us—unconquered still.

I say the word again, as he would want me to: Afro—American—Afro—American Malcolm, who was a master, was most meticulous in his words. Nobody knew better than he, the power better than he, the power words have over the minds of men. Malcolm had stopped being a "Negro" years ago.

It had become too small, too puny, too puny, too weak a word for him. Malcolm was bigger than that. Malcolm had become an Afro—American and he wanted—so desperately—that we, that all of his people, would become Afro—Americans too.

There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee even from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times.

Many will say turn away—away from this man, for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man—and we will smile.

They will say that he is of hate—a fanatic, a racist—who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle!

And we will answer and say unto them: Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him: Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood! This was his meaning to his people. And in honoring him we honor the best in ourselves.

Last year, from Africa, he wrote these words to a friend: "My journey," he says, "is almost ended, and I have a much broader scope than when I started out, which I believe will add new life and dimension to our struggle for freedom and honor and dignity in the States. I am writing these things so that you will know for a fact the tremendous sympathy and support we have among the African States for our Human Rights struggle. The main thing is that we keep a United Front wherein our most valuable time and energy will not be wasted fighting each other."

However much we may have differed with him—or with each other about him and his value as a man—let his going from us serve only to bring us together now. Consigning these mortal remains to earth, the common mother of all, secure in the knowledge that what we place in the ground is no more now a man—but a seed-which, after the winter of discontent, will come forth again to meet us. And we will know him then for what he was and is—a Prince—our own black shining Prince!—who didn't hesitate to die, because he loved us so.

Malcolm wrote in a 1964 letter to the Egyptian Gazette less than one year before his death:

“The common goal of 22 million Afro-Americans is respect as human beings, the God-given right to be a human being. Our common goal is to obtain the human rights that America has been denying us. We can never get civil rights in America until our human rights are first restored. We will never be recognized as citizens there until we are first recognized as humans.”

Perhaps the first step to honoring Malcolm should be learning to love ourselves enough that we don’t waste any time waiting on this country to love us back.