'I Am A Man'...Decades after MLK death, Memphis jobs in spotlight
Written by Associated Press
FIGHTING AGAIN--Alvin Turner, the Rev. Leslie Moore, Elmore Nickleberry and Baxter Leach, from left, pose for a photo at the headquarters of Local 1733 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees on March 14, in Memphis, Tenn. The men participated in a sanitation workers strike in 1968 that drew the support of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated in Memphis on April 4 of that year. The poster includes the strike's rallying cry, "I am a man." (AP Photos/Adrian Sainz)
by Adian Sainz
Associated Press Writer
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Decades after Martin Luther King Jr. was shot to death here, some of the striking sanitation workers who marched with him are again fighting for their jobs.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 April 2013 19:03
Ex-Atlanta schools leader fighting for legacy
Written by Associated Press
FORMER SCHOOLS CHIEF--- In this June 13, 2011 file photo, outgoing schools superintendent, Dr. Beverly Hall, center, arrives for her last Atlanta school board meeting at the Atlanta Public Schools headquarters in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curtis Compton)
by Christina A. Cassidy
ATLANTA (AP) — When Beverly Hall first arrived in Atlanta as superintendent of the city's public school system, she cautioned she wouldn't be riding in on a white horse and that it would take time to fix the problems of low student performance.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 April 2013 18:57
This Week In Black History 4-3-13
Written by Courier Newsroom
Week of April 3 to April 9
1930—Ras Tafari is proclaimed Emperor of Ethiopia—one of the only African nations to successfully resist European colonization. He is renamed Haile Selassie. Blacks in many parts of the world view him as a god-like figure. Indeed, Jamaicans form a religion in his honor. They call themselves Rastafarians. Selassie could trace his ancestry as far back as the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon of the Christian Bible.
1950—Carter G. Woodson, the father of Black History Month, dies at age 74 in Washington, D.C.
1961—Comedian-actor Eddie Murphy is born in Brooklyn, N.Y.
1968—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his powerful and prophetic “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech in Memphis, Tenn. Many felt he used the speech to predict his own death. He was assassinated the very next day—at 6:01 p.m., April 4, 1968.
1915—Muddy Waters is born McKinley Morganfield in Rolling Fork, Miss. Walters would go on to become one of the primary shapers of that genre of music known as the blues. Indeed, he was easily one of the most influential musicians of the first half of the 20th century.
1928—Poet Maya Angelou is born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Mo. Angelou now ranks as one of the greatest poets in America. But her talents have also been expressed as a playwright, author, producer, historian and civil rights activist.
1967—Civil rights legend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. formally announces his opposition to America’s war in Vietnam during a speech before the Overseas Press Club in New York City. The speech brought King even greater opposition from the federal government, especially then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. It also alienated some Black leaders who felt it was a mistake to mix domestic civil rights issues with foreign policy issues. But King charged that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
1968—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated while standing on a hotel balcony in Memphis, Tenn., as he had embarked on a campaign to focus the Civil Rights Movement on economic and financial betterment issues for Blacks. Riots or urban rebellions broke out in over 100 U.S. cities. At least 50 people are killed as over 20,000 federal troops and 34,000 National Guardsmen are mobilized to put down the disturbances. The official finding was that a lone White gunman, James Earl Ray, was responsible for the assassination. However, suspicions remain until this day that the FBI, led by arch-conservative J. Edgar Hoover, was somehow involved in the killing.
1856—Booker T. Washington is born a slave in Hale’s Ford, Va. He would become one of the three or four most influential leaders in all of African-American history. He was one of the nation’s greatest educators, having founded the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. However, more progressive Black leaders became critical of him after he delivered the so-called “Atlanta Compromise” speech of 1895 in which he appeared to offer an acceptance and accommodation to American racism in exchange of greater vocational training of African-Americans.
1976—The infamous COINTELPRO documents are released. In response to an accidental discovery at a warehouse and a freedom of information lawsuit, the FBI is forced to release documents detailing an intensive and extensive campaign to disrupt and destroy civil rights and anti-war organizations and their leaders. Among the documents released was a letter dated August 25, 1967 which made clear that one of the campaign’s chief aims was “to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize the activities of Black nationalists …” But the FBI’s definition of “Black nationalist” was so broad that even moderate civil rights organizations and their leaders were targeted to be neutralized. For example, the letter characterized the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) as one of the organizations having “radical and violence prone leaders…” The leader of the SCLC was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
1990—Jazz great Sarah Vaughn dies. Vaughn was born in Newark, N.J., in 1924 and went on to become what many considered “the world’s greatest singing talent.” She was known as the “incomparable Sarah Vaughn.”
1798—One of the nation’s most famous and accomplished early Black pioneers, James Beckwourth, is born. The product of a White slave owner and a Black slave mother, Beckwourth acquired his freedom and became a successful fur trader. He would later become a scout for the Rocky Mount Fur Company. However, in 1824, he joined the Crow Indian nation and married a Crow woman. He would later move west where he discovered an important passage way through the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The passage was named “Beckwourth Pass,” after him.
1846—Dred Scott and his wife, Harriet, first file suit claiming their freedom. The case would eventually lead to Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney’s infamous “Dred Scott Decision” in 1857. Scott had basically argued that by being taken from the slave state of Missouri and living in free states or territories for seven years he was in effect a free man. The case finally reached the U.S. Supreme Court. In a 7 to 2 decision written by 80-year-old Chief Justice Taney, himself a former slaver owner, Scott’s argument was rejected. In one of the most racist Supreme Court decisions ever issued, Justice Taney ruled that neither Blacks nor their descendants could be U.S. citizens and thus had no right to sue for their freedom in U.S. courts. Taney capped off the ruling by saying, “A Negro had no rights a White man was bound [required] to respect.”
1712—The New York City slave rebellion occurs. A group of 27 slaves began setting fires in the city and shooting Whites. At least a dozen Whites were killed before the state militia arrived to brutally put down the rebellion. Following the revolt, slave codes were toughened, 21 Blacks were executed and six committed suicide.
1872—William Monroe Trotter is born. Of all the Black leaders of the late 1800s and early 1900s, Trotter was the most militant. He used his Boston Guardian newspaper to pound away at racial injustice saying the newspaper was “propaganda against discrimination.” In 1905, he helped found the Niagara Movement, but then refused to join the resulting NAACP charging that it was too moderate and too White controlled. On Nov. 12, 1914 he made national headlines when he confronted President Woodrow Wilson in the White House over his failure to do anything to stop the lynching of Blacks. The confrontation led to a 45-minute argument, in which Wilson told Trotter he was offended by “the manner” in which he was talking to him. The New York Times denounced Trotter for showing “superabundant untactful belligerency.” But many Black leaders, including W.E.B. DuBois, praised him. Trotter was born on April 7, 1872 and died on April 7, 1934.
1915—Billie Holiday is born. She would go on to become the greatest blues and jazz singer of her era with songs like “The Man I Love” and “God Bless the Child Whose Got His Own.” She was born to a 13-year-old mother and began her working career as a small girl helping to clean up a Baltimore, Md., whorehouse—a house in which she was also raped. Holiday made money from her performances despite the fact that she never received any royalties from any of the 200 songs she recorded. Drug use was a factor in her premature death at 44.
1974—Hammering Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves breaks the homerun record of the legendary Babe Ruth when he hit his 715th homer during a game at Atlanta Stadium.
1990—Scientist Percy Julian, who developed drugs to combat glaucoma and methods to mass produce cortisone, is admitted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
1865—Black regiments lead assault upon and eventually captured a key Southern fort helping bring the Civil War to an end. The nine regiments led by General John Hawkins smashed through Confederate defenses at Forth Blakely, Ala. The 68th Division of USCT (United States Colored Troops) had some of the highest casualties of the Civil War.
1898—Paul Bustill Robeson is born in Princeton, N.J. Robeson would go on to become the greatest combination of entertainer and social activist in American history. He was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Rutgers University, while simultaneously being one of the school’s greatest football stars. After graduation he turned to entertainment—acting and singing on stage and in early movies. However, he was also an outspoken critic of American racism and imperialism, while being a strong proponent of socialism. This made him the target of a government disruption and destruction campaign. The campaign did not truly produce results until the anti-communist hysteria of the 1950s. Concert halls were closed to Robeson, the media began to attack him unrelentingly, established Black leaders began to shun him and the government took his passport so he could not perform and earn money abroad. Nevertheless, he remained a symbol which would later inspire activist entertainers such as Ossie Davis and Harry Belafonte. Robeson died in Philadelphia on Jan. 23, 1976.
1939—Operatic star Marian Anderson performs for an estimated 65,000 people on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., after the Daughters of the American Revolution made a racist decision denying her the right to perform at Constitution Hall.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 April 2013 06:12
AP IMPACT: Cartels dispatch agents deep inside US
Written by Associated Press
BUSTED-- In this Nov. 4, 2010 photo, bales of marijuana are wheeled out at a news conference in Jonesboro, Ga. Forty-five people were arrested 45 people along with cash, guns and more than two tons of drugs as part of an investigation by federal and local law enforcement into the Atlanta-area U.S. distribution hub of Mexico's La Familia drug cartel. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, John Spink)
by Michael Tarm
CHICAGO (AP) — Mexican drug cartels whose operatives once rarely ventured beyond the U.S. border are dispatching some of their most trusted agents to live and work deep inside the United States — an emboldened presence that experts believe is meant to tighten their grip on the world's most lucrative narcotics market and maximize profits.
Last Updated on Monday, 01 April 2013 20:14
Where have all the leaders gone? New poll suggests Black America no longer looking for heroes
Written by Courier Newsroom
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA & REV. AL. SHARPTON
(NEWS ONE)--If a new poll commissioned by BET founder and business magnate Robert Johnson is any indication, the myth of a monolithic Black America has been shattered and one-size-fits-all Black leadership has gone the way of the cowboy — just replace rodeos with rallies.
The Zogby Analytics poll, aptly titled, “Black Opinions in the Age of Obama,” compiled responses on a wide-range of issues – from education to unemployment — that illuminated either a startling level of cognitive dissonance or a stirring level of faith, depending on whether one prefers their glasses half empty or half full.
Interestingly enough, the respondents don’t seem to connect the failure of the public education system with a push towards privatization favored by President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that tokenizes Black achievement and deepens the facade of closing the gap between Black/White success patterns.
From gun control and healthcare, to cultural marginalization and racial apathy, Black respondents expressed varying levels of discontent, but still overwhelmingly support President Obama. With a whopping 91 percent of Black support, the POTUS has maintained near unanimous backing from the Black community.
Conversely, the Congressional Black Caucus, helmed by the venerable Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), only received 68 percent of respondent support, with only 9 percent considering Waters herself, who has championed Black advancement and parity even when it has meant standing against President Obama, a leader in the Black community.
To look even further at who these respondents consider to be leaders:
40 percent said that no one speaks for them, while 24 percent said the Reverend Al Sharpton of the National Action Network and MSNBC speaks for Black people, and 11 percent said the Reverend Jesse Jackson of Rainbow PUSH. Eight percent said NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous speaks for them, and 5 percent mentioned Assistant Democratic Leader, Congressman James E. Clyburn (D‐SC). Marc H. Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, and former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele each received 2 percent.
Writing for TheGrio.com, Earl Ofari Hutchinson opines that Rev. Sharpton’s popularity bodes well for the future of Black America. This brings us back to Sharpton. He’s the “go-to” guy for many Blacks for reasons that say as much about him as about the ongoing struggle for equity and justice in America. The long parade of Sharpton bashers still delight in ridiculing and pounding him as an ego-driven, media hogging, race baiting agitator and opportunist who will jump on any cause to get some TV time. But the personal hits on him are nothing more than the ritual anti-Sharpton name calling. Turn the attacks on their head, and it becomes apparent why he’s popular.
He or she must be perceived as someone who is fearless enough to publicly call racism, racism — and a racist a racist. In other words they must stand up to “the man.” Those individuals, from Frederick Douglass to Marcus Garvey to Malcolm X to Dr. King, had that quality. They and anyone like them will always get applause and a warm spot in the hearts of a significant number of Blacks.
The fact that so many Blacks are willing to name someone such as Sharpton as their go-to guy, and that includes, more often than not, the man in the White House, is something that shouldn’t be ripped, ridiculed, and certainly not ignored.
While I have nothing but the utmost respect for Rev. Sharpton, and he is certainly deserving of high praise for his willingness to always get into the trenches and fight the filth of racism and classism in this country, 24 percent is not such a number that constitutes crowning him the contemporary leader in Black America. And it is rather contradictory to compare Sharpton to King, Garvey, Douglass and Shabazz — men who fought against systems of imperialism — when he sits at the right hand of the current U.S. administration. Nor is he in the ranks of Assata Shakur, Angela Davis, Huey P. Newton or even the polarizing Farrakhan. This is not in any way to disparage Rev. Sharpton and his iconic, historic and often effective brand of activism — it is simply a divergent perspective than that offered by Hutchinson.
President Obama, and his chosen surrogates, often serve as placebos for progress, equality and concrete economic strides in the Black community. And the danger of that becomes that instead of fighting to dismantle the system, many in positions of leadership in Black America are simply fighting to control the system as is. This unsettling fact is a macrocosm of the current public education philosophy:
As long as we can get a few Black people to be successful, we can slap a band-aid on inequality, ignore the wounds beneath and call it progress.
The big reveal of Johnson’s poll is not that there are no clear leaders, but that there are no clear Black agendas from which clear leaders can emerge. When the goal of assimilation becomes primary, the fights of the every-day Black (wo) man become secondary. And the plight of everyday Black people, communalism, was at the heart of of those movements of yesteryear which required leaders to organize the masses. The time of sharing a common goal has faded into the current zeitgeist of simply sharing a common skin tone — and overwhelming pride that someone with like skin tone has become the face of the United States.
And to that, I leave you with the words of one of our pivotal and towering leaders, El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (Malcolm X):
“When we see a Black man who is constantly being praised by the Americans, begin to suspect him. When we see a Black man get honors and all sorts of decorations and the United States flatters him with fine words and phrases, immediately suspect that person. Because our experience has taught us that the Americans do not exalt to any Black man that is really working for the benefit of the Black man.”
With this in mind, perhaps our true Black leaders are diligently striving to shred the Wizard’s curtain and break the nation’s fourth wall — with no press coverage and no political leverage. Perhaps the revolution will neither be televised nor published. It will be live.
Last Updated on Monday, 01 April 2013 20:29
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