CYRIL BRIGGS, FOUNDER OF THE FORGOTTEN NATIONAL SELF DEFENSE ORGANIZATION, THE AFRICAN BLOOD BROTHERHOOD
CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY
CYRIL BRIGGS, FOUNDER OF THE FORGOTTEN NATIONAL SELF DEFENSE ORGANIZATION, THE AFRICAN BLOOD BROTHERHOOD
CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY
When Ali refused the draft, I felt something greater than pride: I felt as though my honor as a black boy had been defended, my honor as a human being… The day he refused, I cried in my room. I cried for him and for myself, for my future and for his, for all our black possibilities.
With the Nation of Islam, listening to the Prophet Elijah Muhammed
With his friend, Minister Malcolm X
“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? No I’m not going 10,000 miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would cost me millions of dollars. But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality.… If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.” April, 1967
“My conscience won’t let me go shoot my brother, or some darker people, or some poor hungry people in the mud for big powerful America. And shoot them for what? They never called me nigger, they never lynched me, they didn’t put no dogs on me, they didn’t rob me of my nationality, rape and kill my mother and father. … Shoot them for what? How can I shoot them poor people? Just take me to jail.” March 30 1967
“In your struggle for freedom, justice and equality I am with you. I came back to Louisville because I could not remain silent while my own people, many I grew up with, many I went to school with, many my blood relatives, were being beaten, stomped and kicked in the streets simply because they want freedom, and justice and equality in housing.”
“Here was the heavyweight champion, a magic man, taking his fight out of the ring into the arena of politics and standing firm. The message was sent.”
“I’m king of the world! I’m pretty! I’m a bad man! I shook up the world! I shook up the world! I shook up the world!”
He shook up the world.
Jean-Michel Basquiat was an influential American artist who achieved fame in the late 1970s and early 1980s, credited with bringing graffiti to the fine art world of painting alongside Keith Haring and Kenny Scharf. Though Basquiat never finished high school, he grew up visiting the Brooklyn Museum of Art and took an interest in art from a young age. His early work consisted of tagging in downtown New York with his friend Al Diaz under the pseudonym SAMO©, and Basquiat later went on to create numerous collaborations with Pop Art icon Andy Warhol.
So, you want those graffiti artists arrested and stopped?
Basquiat is considered part of the Neo-Expressionist movement alongside Julian Schnabel andDavid Salle, with his politicized canvases blending African imagery and symbolism with the movement’s characteristic gestural marks and bright patches of color. Born on December 22, 1960 in Brooklyn, NY, Basquiat spent his life working in New York until his death from a drug overdose on August 12, 1988, at the age of 27.
Jawbone of an Ass, 1982
The Whitney Museum of American Art held the first retrospective of his work from October 1992 to February 1993, and in 2016 his large canvas Untitled (1982) broke auction records with a final price of $57.3 million.
Basquiat’s legendary curriculum vitae evokes something of his existential experience: a Haitian– Puerto Rican black kid living on the streets of New York who tags walls and later starts making paint- ings that get shown and sold all over the world by the vulture dealers; a kid who collaborates with Andy Warhol, painting in a daring and very pure way on the same canvases; a kid who over a decade
produces thousands of images and then dies of a heroin overdose. This story and the many photos taken of him conjure up something of what Bas- quiat’s life was like, but they reveal little about the secret of his art.
Normally when women or men want to contest the lies they are living among and under, they put forward as counterassertions the truths that are being hidden. James Baldwin and Angela Davis are examples from an earlier period, but both of them, being black, fought against some of the same lies.
Basquiat chose a different strategy. He sensed that hidden truths cannot be described in any of the languages commonly employed for the promo- tion of lies; he saw every official language as a code for conveying false messages. His strategy as a painter was to discredit and split open such codes and to let in some vibrant, invisible, clandestine truths—like a saboteur. His ploy as a painter was to spell out the world in a language that is delib- erately broken—ontologically broken.
CHICAGO — Racism has contributed to a long pattern of institutional failures by the Chicago Police Department in which officers have mistreated people, operated without sufficient oversight, and lost the trust of residents, a task force appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel has found.
The report, issued on Wednesday, was blistering, blunt and backed up by devastating statistics. Coincidentally, it was released as city leaders were installing a new, permanent superintendent for the Chicago Police Department.
“C.P.D.’s own data gives validity to the widely held belief the police have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color,” the task force wrote. “Stopped without justification, verbally and physically abused, and in some instances arrested, and then detained without counsel — that is what we heard about over and over again.”
The report reinforces complaints made for decades by African-American residents who have said they were unfairly singled out by officers without justification on a regular basis, then ignored when they raised complaints.
It comes at a pivotal moment for the nation’s second-largest municipal police force, which is being criticized by residents and is under scrutiny from the Justice Department. And, coming from Mr. Emanuel’s own appointees, the findings intensify pressure on him and other Chicago leaders to make substantive, swift changes.
The report makes more than 100 specific recommendations for change, and task force members called on the mayor and the City Council to take action. After formally receiving the report, Mr. Emanuel had no immediate public reaction.
The task force amassed data that shows the extent to which African-Americans appear to have been disproportionately focused on by the police. In a city where whites, blacks and Hispanics each make up about one-third of the population, 74 percent of the 404 people shot by the Chicago police between 2008 and 2015 were black, the report said. Black people were the subjects in 72 percent of the thousands of investigative street stops that did not lead to arrests during the summer of 2014.
GOLDIE TAYLOR, The Daily Beast
What Happened to Gynnya McMillen in Jail?
Gynnya McMillen had never been arrested before when she was taken to a Kentucky juvenile detention center. Hours later, the 16-year-old was dead, and no one will say why.
Mothers are not meant to bury their daughters.
It has been just over two weeks since the family of Gynnya McMillen gathered in the pews of Fifth Street Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, to pray and weep over her casket, and nearly three weeks since the 16-year-old was found dead in a county juvenile detention center on Jan. 11. Officials in north central Kentucky said Gynnya simply died in her sleep and that there was no evidence of foul play.
A state investigation is underway, but the notion that she may have been killed by the very people sworn to serve and protect her is almost too horrendous to swallow. There is nothing simple about the way Gynnya died, nor should anyone readily accept that the death of an otherwise healthy teenager is anything but foul.
Gynnya wasn’t hit by a speeding car. She did not commit suicide. There was no suddenly rupturing brain aneurysm, and she did not have a heart attack.
Clearly, lethal harm came to Gynnya, and we should be able to identify and name it. Her mother deserves to know what happened to her child. She deserves to know what became of her daughter—from the moment on Jan. 10 that the teenager stepped into the squad car that took her to a detention center until her lifeless body was wheeled into a coroner’s wagon the next day.
We should not rest until someone answers for that.
Gynnya was locked up for roughly 14 hours in the Lincoln Village Juvenile Detention Center in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, where she was sequestered alone in a holding cell, despite departmental policy. And as she lay alone and dying, videotapes reveal that facility staffers never performed the required physical checks overnight.
By 10 a.m. on Jan. 11, Gynnya was reportedly unresponsive when a guard attempted to physically wake her up. The detention center’s staff waited a full 11 minutes—and only after a delayed call to 911—before finally attempting resuscitation. There were reportedly no signs of bruising or trauma and no known medical issues, such as a heart condition, that might have hastened her death.
Reginald Windham, a 10-year employee with the center, has been placed on paid administrative leave for failing to check on Gynnya every 15 minutes as required for juveniles held in isolation. A state Justice Cabinet Secretary asked for an expedited investigation, including a full autopsy.
Little is known about what prompted her confinement, except that an alleged “domestic dispute” at her mother’s house on Jan. 10 resulted in a misdemeanor assault charge. Gynnya had been previously removed from her mother’s custody and placed at Home For Innocents, a residential group foster care facility for abused, abandoned, or neglected children in nearby Louisville.
The officers responding to the McMillen’s Shelbyville home that Sunday called a court-designee, who had the power to make legal decisions in cases involving juveniles. A local judge honored a request for detention.
Once in custody, Gynnya was not violent but purportedly refused to take off a hooded sweatshirt during a pat-down search. According to Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, officers “took her down” using an “Aikido restraint” move.
“The youth’s repeated refusal to cooperate with staff and remove her outer garment prompted the restraint,” a Department of Juvenile Justice said, by “multiple staff… to ensure the safety of youth and staff.”
The sweatshirt was ultimately removed. Gynnya was then searched and photographed.
However, the force used in this case defies every known public policy—for non-violent juveniles like Gynnya, it is recommended simply that they be segregated from others and talked through to a resolution. According to available reports, Gynnya never assaulted or attempt to assault any of the staffers.
It was her first and last arrest. Gynna never woke up that Monday morning. She never saw the sun rise.
Save for a smattering of blog posts and a few local news stories, her name—Gynnya Hope McMillen—has escaped our national consciousness. Maybe it is because we cannot imagine ourselves in her shoes.
We cannot imagine dying over a sweatshirt. We cannot imagine what it might mean to be a black girl in Shelby County, Kentucky or in a largely white town with a population of less than 15,000. Maybe we cannot imagine ourselves neglected or abused and living in a group home. Or that someone might think so little of our lives that they would break department policy and not think to check on our welfare. Maybe it’s because we cannot imagine why somebody waited so long to call 911 or render medical aid.
Maybe it’s because we cannot imagine what it’s like to be left to die.
Contributed by Paul Seimering
Go to Moorbey’z Blog for full info.
BY Paul Siemering, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Harriet Tubman launched her spectacular career when she was only thirteen years old. A fellow slave was tied to a post and getting whipped. As was the custom in those days, the other enslaved people were forced to watch this torture. But Harriet, young as she was, could not tolerate such cruelty. She ran to the victim and quickly untied him. The overseer who had been doing the whipping was furious. He picked up the first projectile he could find and threw it at the slave. But he hit Harriet on the head. She dropped to the ground, and her mother took her back to the cabin.
Gwen Hebron Reese, 73, sits in historic St. Paul Community Church in the Sugarland community of Poolesville, Md. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
The old people used to say that Sugarland, Md., one of the hundreds of all-black towns and communities established by freed slaves after the Civil War, got its name because its founders believed that “the women here were as sweet as sugar.”
Gwendora Reese, 73, and her cousins Nettie Johnson La’Master, 74, and Suzanne Johnson, 65 — who are direct descendants of the town’s founders — are telling the story of Sugarland. Reese and La’Master grew up here, in wood-frame houses built by their fathers, direct descendants of freed slaves who founded this community about an hour’s drive north of Washington.
They remember their mothers canning peaches and their siblings skipping along dirt roads, playing tag among fruit orchards. They remember sitting on the hard benches in the church built by former slaves. And visiting elders who spoke with pride about a community founded and run by blacks. Sugarland had its own general store and postmaster.
“It was a community born out of slavery,” Reese says. “The church was one of the first community buildings they built. By them being in slavery, they learned trades. Some were blacksmiths. My great-grandfather made bricks. They took the skills they learned in slavery and helped each other building log cabins.”
Sugarland was founded on Oct. 6, 1871, when three freedmen — William Taylor, Patrick Hebron Jr. and John H. Diggs — “purchased land for a church from George W. Dawson, a white former slave owner, for the sum of $25,” Reese says. The founders made a small down payment and continued to pay until the debt was settled. The deed dictated that the land be used for a church, a school and “as a burial site for people of African descent.”
Today, Sugarland is mostly horse country with million-dollar homes that sit on rolling hills. Many of the houses that former slaves built have been torn down. The forest has overtaken lots where freedmen once lived. The winding dirt roads that separated this black community from a white world are now paved.
But Reese, La’Master and Johnson remember a different place. “It used to be you could stand on a hill and see all over Sugarland,” Reese says wistfully.
Gwen Hebron Reese and Nettie Johnson La’Master, 74, make their way to the St. Paul Community Church from the cemetery of their ancestors that dates back to just after slaves were freed in the Sugarland community. The resource center of the church houses the Sugarland Ethno History Project.
At the war’s end, 4 million enslaved people suddenly faced stark decisions. Many wondered where they would go, what they would eat and how they would survive. Some stayed on plantations working as sharecroppers. Others fled for a “promised land,” hoping to find jobs in cities. Some freedmen tried to scrape together nickels and dimes to buy land, creating all-black communities and towns across the country, where black people, sheltered from a white world, would run stores, banks, post offices and schools.
In his autobiography, “Up From Slavery,” Booker T. Washington described “wild scenes of ecstasy” in response to news of freedom that came to the farm in Virginia where he grew up a slave. But the rejoicing, he wrote, was quickly tempered by a new reality.
“For I noticed that by the time they returned to their cabins, there was a change in their feelings. The great responsibility of being free, of having charge of themselves, of having to think and plan for themselves and their children, seemed to take possession of them.”
A feeling of gloom seeped into the slave quarters, Washington wrote. “To some it seemed that, now that they were in actual possession of it, freedom was a more serious thing than they had expected to find it. Some of the slaves were seventy or eighty years old; their best days were gone. They had no strength with which to earn a living in a strange place and among strange people.”
Freedom of millions of people prompted a national crisis. Millions of slaves, prohibited by law from learning to read, were illiterate. Many owned nothing and had no money.
On March 3, 1865, Congress created the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, which dispensed food, clothing and medicine, and built schools.
“The Freedmen’s Bureau didn’t have much funding and manpower,” said Deborah A. Lee, a historian in Virginia who worked with the Journey Through Hallowed Ground, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness of American heritage. “They worked with people in the local community to establish schools or build schools. There was a huge hunger for learning.” One woman who kept a diary described “people of color going around carrying books everywhere.”
Before Emancipation, in most states, slave codes prohibited slaves from learning to read and write.
Buying land was important, Lee said. “They would build buildings, whether it was a home or a fellowship hall.” Because some of them were working to earn a living during the day, they would raise community buildings at night. “There is a story of one church where the women would hold lanterns so the men could work in the dark.”
Often, Lee said, freedmen paid a premium for land — “even from those sympathetic to them. They often paid more for land than white people would, but it was very important to them. . . . They wanted to develop their autonomy and independence as much as possible.”
‘History is being lost’
By 1888, at least 200 black towns and communities had been established nationwide. Some were modeled on black towns that had been formed after the American Revolution and during the antebellum era — from the late 1700s to 1860.
“The black-town idea reached its peak in the fifty years after the Civil War,” Norman L. Crockett wrote in his book “The Black Towns.”
“The dearth of extant records prohibits an exact enumeration of them, but at least sixty black communities were settled between 1865 and 1915. With more than twenty, Oklahoma led all other states. Unfortunately, little is known about many of the black towns,” he wrote.
Crockett wrote that not much was documented about daily lives, aspirations, and fear of people living in such towns as “Blackdom, New Mexico; Hobson City, Alabama; Allensworth, California; and Rentiesville, Oklahoma because residents failed to record their experiences and whites were not interested in preserving and collecting material on the black towns.”
Many of the black communities were tight-knit, rural, and centered around school and church, said Susan Pearl, a historian at the Prince George’s County Historical Society in Maryland. “Little communities formed. The first thing they would build was a church or a Freedman’s Bureau school. That happened in Chapel Hill,” a community in Prince George’s that freed blacks founded in 1868.
Hope Lee, 76, a retired government worker and a fifth-generation descendant of one of the founders, still lives in Chapel Hill, which sits off Indian Head Highway. A few other original families remain, she said, but “all the younger people are moving out. As they widen the roads, property is being lost. People who are moving in don’t have the same passion for Chapel Hill that the originals do. . . . The history is being lost.”
And not just in Chapel Hill. Researchers across the region are racing to document black towns and communities before they disappear. Emily Huebner, a research archivist on the Legacy of Slavery in Maryland Project at the Maryland State Archives, has been studying Unionville, a community founded in 1867 in Talbot County by veterans of Colored Troops who fought in the Civil War.
Gwen Hebron Reese, 73, passes through her family cemetery that dates back to slave days behind the St. Paul Community Church in the Sugarland.
For more than 20 years, Reese has been collecting her community’s history.
“You go digging around to see what you can find out,” she said. “It is like a puzzle. The pieces are slowly coming together.”
She discovered that two of Sugarland’s founders fought on the side of the Confederacy during the Civil War. “My great-grandfather’s brother [Luke Hebron] was a Confederate soldier,” she said. “He joined the fight because it was a source of income for his family.”
A second black man who fought for the Confederacy was Basil Dorsey, who is listed in church records as one of the founders of Sugarland. About 15 years ago, Reese interviewed one of Dorsey’s nieces, Mary Beckwith Crenshaw, who told her about the Confederate recruiters who came to Poolesville during the war.
“The grown-ups said that they traveled in pairs,” said Crenshaw, who was 92 at the time of the interview. “They said that they were Confederate recruiters looking for men that were willing to sign up” — even black men.
Crenshaw’s father and Dorsey went to Rockville, Md., for physicals.
“My father didn’t pass, but Uncle Basil did,” she said. “The reason that they signed up was for the money that they told them that they would receive.
“I was told that my father and the other families in the community helped take care of his family while he was away. They made sure Aunt Nancy and her daughter, Mary, had lots of wood during the winter, and when they butchered hogs in the fall of the year they gave her meat. The women gave them homemade sausage, pudding, scrapple and canned goods.”
When Dorsey died in 1880, a notice of his death was printed in the Montgomery County Sentinel: “Basil Dorsey, (colored,) died last Sunday night. He was a noted darkey in our midst; and had served through the late war on the confederate side.”
Reese found other stories about the war. Here in a 1937 interview, her great-grandfather Phillip Johnson described for the Work Progress Administration what it was like living as a slave near Edwards Ferry.
“We all liked the Missis,” he recalled. “But the overseer was so cruel. . . . I promised him a killin’ if I ever got to be big enough.”
Johnson remembered Yankee and Confederate soldiers swooping into Poolesville, seeking recruits. He feared that the owner of his plantation would require him to fight for the Confederacy, which had authorized the enlistment of “able-bodied Negro men” in March 1865.
“Cap’n Sam White, he join the Confederate in Virginia. He come home and say he goin’ to take me along back with him for to serve him. But the Yankees came and he left very sudden and leave me behind,” Johnson said. “I was glad I didn’t have to go with him. I saw all the fightin’ around Poolesville.”
Johnson recalled watching a Union soldier shoot a Confederate soldier. “He raised his gun twice to shoot but he kept dodging around the house an he didn’ want to shoot when he might hit someone else. When he ran from the house, he shot him.”
In 1995, Reese, her cousins and other descendants of founding families organized the Sugarland Ethno-History Project to help preserve the community’s history. Reese, Johnson and La’Master established a historical foundation with the help of an archaeologist from Howard University, and are trying raise money to build a Sugarland museum.
“These books are priceless,” Reese says, thumbing through a school primer that helped teach one of her ancestors to read. The back two rows of St. Paul Community Church in Sugarland are set aside for family histories and newspaper clippings. Reese has collected antiques, irons, water basins, tools and detailed records her ancestors left.
“Here is a church register dating to 1882,” she says. Instructions in the front of the register dictate that the church keep detailed records of community members:
“The Discipline of our Church provides that every Society shall have a permanent Register, in which the Secretary of the Church Conference ‘shall enter in chronological order the full names of all who shall join the church, with the time and manner of the reception of each; and also shall make a permanent record of all baptisms and marriages within the congregation.
“These Registers are intended to be permanent, and to contain not only the list of living members, but of all who joined the Church. . . . A Register, therefore, should be large enough to last a generation and should never be revised or rewritten until the book is exhausted.”
Reese flips through the register and lands on a page in which someone has recorded a sermon from 1881: “Jan 16th . . . discussed whether the race white is better to the collard race than they are to themselfs . . . discussed by CW. Johnson, R. Hebrowns, F. Branson; . . . It is desided colard Race is better to themSelfs.”
Several more pages contain a record of a dispute that came before the church board of trustees, which governed the community.
In this self-contained community, Reese says, punishment often meant banishment from church for a few weeks.
On Oct. 26, 1885, for example, the church board heard a case about a young woman who was kicked out of her house by her grandmother, who told her to “take your dirty rags you stinken huzzie and go away from here.” She fled to the home of a man who was found guilty of taking her in.
The register also includes an obituary: “In rememnance of Brother Nathan Richson who departed this life April 13 1888. . . . Brother richson was a good member and a good man to his family. He was born Dec. 22 1842. . . . he leaves a wife and six children to mourn his lost. . . . Brother Richson will be remembered for many years. he was good singer could not be excel. Brother is gone, he is gone, yea he is gone to rest with the angels above.”
Reese and her cousins handle the fragile records with care. Reese, who took a class on the preservation of historic items, re-wraps the book in acid-free plastic and carefully places it on a bench in the back the church. Sometimes she wonders whether she will run out of space and then what will happen to the history of Sugarland.
La’Master still lives in the house her father built. The house began with two rooms, but her father, an inventor, continued adding rooms until it had 16. When he died in 2010, La’Master couldn’t bring herself to pack up his belongings. So she left things where he put them — his reading glasses on his desk, the wood in his iron stove, his bugle from World War II.
“There is so much history in this house,” La’Master says.
Outside the church, Reese and La’Master take a walk among the tombstones, remembering the sheer determination of the community’s founders.
“There it is,” Reese said, pointing to the headstone of her great-grandfather. Etched in the rugged stone marker are the words, “Phillip S. Johnson. Died Jan. 1938.”
Next to the marker is the broken tombstone of Phillip’s wife, Rachel, who died a week before he did. Many years ago, it was hit by a tree felled by lightning, which slashed it diagonally, leaving a pointed edge jutting up from the ground.
“I tried to repair it myself. It stayed for several years, then you can see the piece fell off,” said Reese, one of the last trustees of the church built by former slaves who created Sugarland.
From “Don’t Die” by Killer Mike
JEREMIAH KAUFFMAN: HIS WORLD of ART and POETRY
Author: The Salty River Bleeds, The Timbre of Sand, Still Dandelions, A Ranch Bordering the Salty River. Alum: Palomar College, Columbia University, Bennington College. Follow on twitter @SmpageSteve on Instagram @smpagemoria on Facebook @steven.page.1481
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