"The renowned scholar, author and activist Dr. Cornel West, joins us to discuss his latest book, "Black Prophetic Fire." West engages in conversation with the German scholar and thinker Christa Buschendorf about six revolutionary African-American leaders: Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Malcolm X and Ida B. Wells. Even as the United States is led by its first black president, West says he is fearful that we may be "witnessing the death of black prophetic fire in our time."
When Ida B. Wells was 22, she was asked by a conductor of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Company to give up her seat on the train to a white man. She refused, and the conductor attempted to forcibly drag her out of her seat. Wells wouldn’t budge.
“The moment he caught hold of my arm I fastened my teeth in the back of his hand,” she wrote in her autobiography. “I had braced my feet against the seat in front and was holding to the back, and as he had already been badly bitten he didn’t try it again by himself. He went forward and got the baggageman and another man to help him and of course they succeeded in dragging me out.”
The year was 1884 — about 70 years before Rosa Parks would refuse to give up her seat on an Alabama bus. Wells’ life was full of such moments of courage and principle. Born into slavery in Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1862, Wells was a vocal civil rights activist, suffragist and journalist who dedicated her life to fighting inequality.
Máo Zédōng (1893-1976), also known as Mao Tse-tung or 毛澤東, was a guerrilla leader married to a film star. By 1949 he ruled a fifth of mankind: China. As a young soldier he helped to overthrow the last emperor of China in 1911. In middle age, he led the Chinese communist revolution to victory in 1949. He ruled China from 1949 to 1976.
One of the most printed books of the 1900s was his “Quotations from Chairman Mao Tsetung” (1966), better known as the Little Red Book. It had stuff like this:
“People of the world, unite and defeat the U.S. aggressors and all their running dogs! People of the world, be courageous, dare to fight, defy difficulties and advance wave upon wave. Then the whole world will belong to the people. Monsters of all kinds shall be destroyed.”
Mao freed China from imperialism, both Japanese and Western. That made him a hero to many, inside and outside of China. He united China and made it a world power.
Malcolm X remains one of the most important figures of the American Civil Rights Movement, and his transformation into a vocal human rights activist added to his already impressive legacy.
The man later known as el-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz came to relax some of his fiery politics that defined the earlier part of his time in the spotlight, and yet that same passion remained even as he began to embrace a comprehensive approach to racial harmony.
With the current situations across the nation regarding disparity in how police treat people of color and similar injustices, Malcolm X’s words still hold resonance in modern times. From Ferguson to Baltimore, African-Americans are reminded that incidents in those respective cities are part of a systematic condition that renders Black people targets of various forms of mistreatment.
On what would be his 90th birthday, NewsOne takes a look…
The MOVE bombing (May 13th 1985) was where Philadelphia police in the US bombed the house of MOVE, a Black back-to-nature movement. Eleven people were killed. Five were children, ages 5 to 13. The police called the children “combatants”. The fire department stood right there and did nothing for an hour as the fire spread, destroying 61 houses in the mostly Black, West Philly neighbourhood.
EL PASO — Emilio Solis Pallares,92, sits at his home in Fabens, Texas, listening with surprised amusement to his own voice for the first time 12 years after his story was cataloged along with the tales of hundreds of other bracero farmworkers as part of a national program by the Smithsonian Institution.
Yes, that is me and the story still remains true,” said Solis, who labored in the cotton of fields of Tornillo, Texas, for 15 years in the 1940’s and 1950’s as a member of the federal Bracero program, which recruited 4.6 million Mexican citizens to work in agriculture in the United States.
Solis’ story was just one of more than 900 interviews conducted by the Institute of Oral History at the University of Texas at El Paso. More than 3,000 oral histories of braceros can be listened to online at the Bracero History Archive. Emilio’s oral history can be found here.
Jane Addams (1860-1935) was one of the leading White liberal reformers in the US. She founded Hull House in 1889 in the Near West Side of Chicago, then an immigrant slum. It was a settlement house that became the model throughout the US. She also helped to found the NAACP. She opposed the US entering the First World War. That got her kicked out of the Daughters of the American Revolution – but led her to winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.
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Community Village Sites's insight:
Well, I knew more about the Addams Family than about Jane Addams.
Our schools could do a better job of sharing the accomplishments of women in history.
People begging for White history month. Abagond did it on his blog.
The libraries of Timbuktu (by the 1300s) in Mali contain over 400,000 manuscripts, mostly from the city’s glory days from the 1300s to the 1500s. The manuscripts range from contracts and sales receipts to books of religion, law, poetry, astronomy and history. Thanks to Timbuktu’s hot, dry weather (it stands at the edge of the Sahara), its deep love of books and its history as a seat of high learning, it has preserved an amazing treasure from Africa’s past.
Lena Baker, an African-American mother of three holds the esteemed honor of being the only woman ever electrocuted in Georgia’s electric chair, she was also issued a pardon 6 decades after her 1945 death by execution.
Baker was convicted for the fatal shooting of E. B. Knight, a white Cuthbert, Georgia mill operator she was hired to care for after he broke his leg. She was 44 at the time of her execution.
Patrice Lumumba(1925-1961), a Congolese freedom fighter, was the first democratically elected prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (known as Zaire from 1971 to 1997). He was only in office a few months: the CIA and Belgium, with the help of Mobutu, had him killed. Mobutu went on to become a puppet dictator for the US.
32 Killed in Arson Fire At New Orleans Gay Bar: 1973.
The UpStairs Lounge fire was the deadliest in New Orleans’ history, and may very well have been the worst mass murder of gay people in American history. But aside from the first day’s coverage, New Orleans could barely muster a yawn. Newspaper photos of Rev. Larson’s charred body against the window frame came to symbolize the city’s apathy t0ward the tragedy. Talk radio hosts told jokes (“What will they bury the ashes of queers in? Fruit jars.”), and a cab driver callously quipped, “I hope the fire burned their dresses off.” Not only did the New Orleans Police Department barely investigate the crime, they could hardly be bothered to identify the victims. Major Henry Morris, chief detective of the New Orleans Police Department said, “We don’t even know these papers belonged to the people we found them on. Some thieves hung out there, and you know this was a queer bar.” Churches refused to allow families to hold funerals on their premises. Other families refused to claim their dead sons’ bodies. Four unidentified bodies ended up being dumped in a mass grave. Although there was a firm suspect in the case, no one was ever charged.
Qián Xuésēn (1911-2009), also known as Tsien Hsue-shen or H.S. Tsien or 钱学森, was a top rocket scientist in the US in the 1940s and then, after the US deported him in 1955, a top rocket scientist in China. He helped to found the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in the US and China’s aerospace industry.
That decision to deport him has affected the balance of power between China and the US ever since.
The Watsonville Riot (1930) was an anti-Filipino riot in Watsonville, California. The violence lasted five days and led to violence in nearby Stockton, Salinas, Gilroy and San Francisco. There were protests in the Philippines. The body of Fermin Tobera, who was killed during the riot, was sent back to the Philippines for his funeral, where he became a martyr. The Philippines was then under US rule.
By 1909 California grew half the fruits and vegetables in the US. With refrigerated railway cars crossing the nation, California growers stood to make a ton of money.
California news editors and politicians, on the other hand, found they could sell newspapers or win votes by fanning the flames of White hatred against Asians, hatred that often turned violent. They were so successful that by1882 Congress had all but shut off immigration from China and, in 1917, from the rest of Asia – with one exception: the Philippines.
The US had taken over the Philippines in the Philippine American War (1899-1902). Congress was too racist to make the Philippines into states or its people into citizens, but Filipinos did become US nationals. While they could not vote or serve on juries, they could live and work anywhere in the US and its territories.
So by the 1920s, Filipinos had become the cheapest farm workers in California. Growers used them as strikebreakers. White people (aka voters) were being thrown out of work. Then in 1929 the stock market crashed in New York and the country sank into the Great Depression.
It gets worse: Most Filipinos in California were young, single men. That put them in direct competition with White men for White women. California had outlawed marriage between Whites and “negros”, “mulattos”, or “Mongolians”, but it was not clear to everyone whether Filipinos counted as “Mongolians”. Some said they were “Malay” instead.
In 1933, California outlawed marriage between Whites and Malays.
I wanted to share part of Tim’s project, and lucky for you (!), he gave permission to do so. (Make sure to check out the blog he created for the class!) In the pictures below, you’ll see his replica of approximately how much space enslaved Blacks had on the Middle Passage. On ships using the “tight packing” method, each person had somewhere around 6′ by 16″ by 30″. Tim’s replica would be the amount of space for two or three people.
Temujin (c. 1162-1227), better known by his title, Genghis Khan (or Chinggis Khan, among scholars), founded the Mongol Empire, one of he largest ever by land. Only the British Empire was larger, and not by much. It was also one of the bloodiest, killing 30 to 40 million people by some estimates. So many that it led to a marked drop in carbon dioxide levels.
He is a huge hero in his native Mongolia, honoured in China but is seen as a barbarian destroyer pretty much everywhere else, especially in Russia.
There have been many unthinkable travesties inflicted on Black people in this place the slaves called “merica”. We know about the lynchings, rapes, and thefts that were all too common and protected by law. In fact, because these horrors were done under cover of law they were useful tools to suppress the people of the stolen tribes of Africa. Not many people are aware of just how extreme and the lengths these people went to use some of these extreme forms of brutality. For example, what happened in Tulsa Oklahoma in 1921 where the government bombed and destroyed an entire black community.
Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, has just debuted a new website documenting the struggle of theStudent Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to secure voting rights for African Americans. The site, entitled“One Person, One Vote: The Legacy of the SNCC and the Fight for Voting Rights,” went live one week before the 50th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” voting rights march in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965.
"This case changed the face of America in away, unlike any other decision. The Brown case, as it is known, was not the first such case regarding civil rights argued before the court it is worth mentioning. It was just the most significant of what some would say was the final battle in the courts that had been fought by African American parents since 1849, which started with Roberts v. City of Boston in Massachusetts. It is also important to note that Kansas was the site of eleven such cases spanning from 1881 to 1949.
The case was named after Oliver Brown one of 200 plaintiffs. The Brown case was initiated and organized by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) leadership who recruited African American parents in Topeka, Kansas for a class action suit against the local school board. The Supreme Court combined five cases under the heading of Brown v. Board of Education: Delaware, Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The ultimate goal sought by the NAACP was to end the practice of “separate but equal” throughout every segment of society, including public transportation, dining facilities, public schools and all forms of public accommodations.
The Brown Supreme Court ruling determined racial segregation in public education was unconstitutional in Brown I, the first opinion. The court’s implementation mandate of “with all deliberate speed” in 1955 is known as Brown II. In 1979, twenty-five years later, there was a Brown III because Topeka was not living up to the earlier Supreme Court ruling, which resulted in Topeka Public Schools building three magnet schools to comply with the court’s findings. As had been the case since Homer Plessy, the subject in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896 when the U.S. Supreme Court decided that a Louisiana law mandating separate but equal accommodations for blacks and whites on intrastate railroads was constitutional. This decision provided the legal foundation to justify many other actions by state and local governments to socially separate blacks and whites."
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Community Village Sites's insight:
This is an interesting topic.
On the one hand, students may fair better with peers of a feather and teachers of a feather. I’ve read reports about children of color being discriminated against by TEACHERS within majority white schools.
However, we should have the freedom to go to any school we like, but due to the existence of private schools many cannot afford to go the them which creates class segregation. Is a good option to ban all private schools? Even though that is limiting freedom – I think that might be better for society as a whole.
There’s a book that describes how de-segregation never really took root. It’s called Dismantling Desegregation: The Quiet Reversal of Brown V. Board of Education
This topic ties in with housing segregation because children are only allowed to go to public schools within their local school district – at least in the Bay Area, California.
I’ve been asking myself also about segregated communities.
We fought for de-segregation, then we got the by-product. Gentrification.
My questions: Can we have de-segregation without having gentrification? What is worse, de-facto segregation or gentrification?
My guess is that most people want freedom to move anywhere ALONG with respect for ALL people in both communities.
I think the main complaint with gentrification is that when new money moves in, disrespect and intolerance often moves in with it. Hence the never ending need for racial justice studies and racial justice campaigns.
Racism before 1400 was not common to most human societies. It is not mainly rooted in the human condition.
The common mix-up is between ethnocentrism and racism:
racism – dividing humans into “races” based on physical appearance, like skin colour, with the aim of ranking them from highest to lowest according to supposedly unchangeable, inborn qualities, like intelligence, civilization, moral character or beauty.
ethnocentrism – judging other cultures based on one’s own. This leads to the illusion that one’s own culture is best. From this comes stuff like “American exceptionalism”, non-Greeks as “barbarians”, China as the “Middle Kingdom” and Inuits as “the Real People”.
Ethnocentrism is common if not universal in human history. Racism is not.
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