Voting and Learning Denied. Education and Entitlement

©copyright 2013. Betsy L. Angert BeThink



Is it fear of the darkness that dims our mind or is it the dim of our mind that is dark and damning?  No one can be sure; however we can see what occurs and ask why.  Why might Americans systematically deny rights to people of color? Why might the young, the most vulnerable among us, be victims of prey?  Indeed, why do we prejudge people at all and why is it that even the elderly cannot escape our diabolical doings?  The theories abound; answers escape us.  Nevertheless, the veracity is our truth. The right to learn and the right to vote are denied.

We close their schools, deny them an equal and equitable education, and in 2013 we may ultimately rescind the voting rights of the few.  In January of this year, the Journey For Justice 2 Alliance met with officials in Washington, District of Columbia, to discuss the topic, education policies that discriminate.  Today, on February 27, 2013, just down the lane from the Department of Education hearing, another inquiry was held.  The Supreme Court heard the case, Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder.  On the face of it, the argument may seem separate from the subject of school closures.  However, considering the consequences of what might be after a day of testimony,  Voting Rights Law Draws Skepticism From Justices, there is reason for concern.  Will the cycle of recrimination continue? Will we curse the darkness that is our own?  

Perhaps, we might seek the light? We saw it once and embraced it.  It exists and can again, if we just walk through the window of time.  Luminosity can be our guide. Let us consider a vital voice from the past, President, Lyndon Baines Johnson spoke in defense of the Voting Rights Act. He said…

The Negro citizen may go to register only to be told that the day is wrong, or the hour is late, or the official in charge is absent. And if he persists and, if he manages to present himself to the registrar, he may be disqualified because he did not spell out his middle name, or because he abbreviated a word on the application. And if he manages to fill out an application, he is given a test. The registrar is the sole judge of whether he passes this test. He may be asked to recite the entire Constitution, or explain the most complex provisions of state law.

And even a college degree cannot be used to prove that he can read and write. For the fact is that the only way to pass these barriers is to show a white skin. Experience has clearly shown that the existing process of law cannot overcome systematic and ingenious discrimination.

“Discrimination.”  It touches more than one race, color, or creed.  Age too in 2012 limited or eliminated the right to vote.  96-Year-Old Tennessee Woman Denied Voter ID Because She Didn’t Have Her Marriage License. Va. senior citizens denied no-excuse absentee voting. Where you lived, whether you attended school far from home, or if you merely left whatever document requested at home, you could not cast a ballot.  The excuses used to negate voting rights are as they were in the 1960s, endless. Yet, Supreme Court Jurists affirm, “Justice is blind.”

From the bench we were provided with a rare view, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia cannot see. Roberts reeled off statistics that suggested the provisions are no longer made sense. Justice Antonin Scalia said the law, once a civil rights landmark, now is but a “perpetuation of racial entitlement. “Entitlement? Might we tell the parents of children who are today, denied access to equal and equitable education the time has past? Their offspring no longer have the rights afforded to the many, mostly white Americans?  Was learning given a limited contract? Is it now considered a “perpetuation of racial entitlement.

Voting and learning. Education and entitlement. Let us look at the evidence.  Complaint says Omaha voters denied ballots. Rick Scott Defends Voter Purge As Necessary ‘To Have Fair Elections’.   Republican Voter Suppression Campaign Rolls Back Early Voting.  The beat goes on.  

Please ponder the veracity that not only are our Black and Brown children affected by punitive polices that allow for “phase-outs,” “collocations,” “turnaround,” and again, the devastating “school closures,” others too are impacted.  Consider the white suburban Mom and her children, School turnarounds prompt community backlash. Again ask yourself; do we fear the darkness or does the darkness, lack of knowledge with us, dim the mind.

Do we deny light to those who wish to learn and live?  What have we denied ourselves or within us?  Let us, one and all learn!  Let us seek the light.  Today, let us consider what could occur if access to an education and, or the right to vote are denied. Might a child less prepared, less learned, due to the discriminatory actions in education policy be unable to prove he can read and write? Currently, literacy in America is in crisis. 11 Facts about Literacy in America

  • An estimated 30 million Americans over 16 years old cannot perform simple and everyday literacy activities.
  • 55% of adults with below basic reading comprehension did not graduate high school.
  • Only an estimated 13% of adult Americans can perform complex and challenging literacy activities.

Consider today and what occurred decades ago. Please ask yourself, do we deny access to education and to voting rights. If we do, what will become of our children and our country?

President Lyndon B. Johnson – We Shall Overcome



I speak tonight for the dignity of man and the destiny of Democracy. I urge every member of both parties, Americans of all religions and of all colors, from every section of this country, to join me in that cause.

At times, history and fate meet at a single time in a single place to shape a turning point in man’s unending search for freedom. So it was at Lexington and Concord. So it was a century ago at Appomattox. So it was last week in Selma, Alabama. There, long suffering men and women peacefully protested the denial of their rights as Americans. Many of them were brutally assaulted. One good man–a man of God–was killed.

There is no cause for pride in what has happened in Selma. There is no cause for self-satisfaction in the long denial of equal rights of millions of Americans. But there is cause for hope and for faith in our Democracy in what is happening here tonight. For the cries of pain and the hymns and protests of oppressed people have summoned into convocation all the majesty of this great government–the government of the greatest nation on earth. Our mission is at once the oldest and the most basic of this country–to right wrong, to do justice, to serve man. In our time we have come to live with the moments of great crises. Our lives have been marked with debate about great issues, issues of war and peace, issues of prosperity and depression.

But rarely in any time does an issue lay bare the secret heart of America itself. Rarely are we met with a challenge, not to our growth or abundance, or our welfare or our security, but rather to the values and the purposes and the meaning of our beloved nation. The issue of equal rights for American Negroes is such an issue. And should we defeat every enemy, and should we double our wealth and conquer the stars, and still be unequal to this issue, then we will have failed as a people and as a nation. For, with a country as with a person, “what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”

There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem.

And we are met here tonight as Americans–not as Democrats or Republicans; we’re met here as Americans to solve that problem. This was the first nation in the history of the world to be founded with a purpose.

The great phrases of that purpose still sound in every American heart, North and South: “All men are created equal.” “Government by consent of the governed.” “Give me liberty or give me death.” And those are not just clever words, and those are not just empty theories. In their name Americans have fought and died for two centuries and tonight around the world they stand there as guardians of our liberty risking their lives. Those words are promised to every citizen that he shall share in the dignity of man. This dignity cannot be found in a man’s possessions. It cannot be found in his power or in his position. It really rests on his right to be treated as a man equal in opportunity to all others. It says that he shall share in freedom. He shall choose his leaders, educate his children, provide for his family according to his ability and his merits as a human being.

To apply any other test, to deny a man his hopes because of his color or race or his religion or the place of his birth is not only to do injustice, it is to deny Americans and to dishonor the dead who gave their lives for American freedom. Our fathers believed that if this noble view of the rights of man was to flourish it must be rooted in democracy. This most basic right of all was the right to choose your own leaders. The history of this country in large measure is the history of expansion of the right to all of our people.

Many of the issues of civil rights are very complex and most difficult. But about this there can and should be no argument: every American citizen must have an equal right to vote. There is no reason, which can excuse the denial of that right. There is no duty which weighs more heavily on us than the duty we have to insure that right. Yet the harsh fact is that in many places in this country men and women are kept from voting simply because they are Negroes.

Every device of which human ingenuity is capable, has been used to deny this right. The Negro citizen may go to register only to be told that the day is wrong, or the hour is late, or the official in charge is absent. And if he persists and, if he manages to present himself to the registrar, he may be disqualified because he did not spell out his middle name, or because he abbreviated a word on the application. And if he manages to fill out an application, he is given a test. The registrar is the sole judge of whether he passes this test. He may be asked to recite the entire Constitution, or explain the most complex provisions of state law.

And even a college degree cannot be used to prove that he can read and write. For the fact is that the only way to pass these barriers is to show a white skin. Experience has clearly shown that the existing process of law cannot overcome systematic and ingenious discrimination. No law that we now have on the books, and I have helped to put three of them there, can insure the right to vote when local officials are determined to deny it. In such a case, our duty must be clear to all of us. The Constitution says that no person shall be kept from voting because of his race or his color.

We have all sworn an oath before God to support and to defend that Constitution. We must now act in obedience to that oath. Wednesday, I will send to Congress a law designed to eliminate illegal barriers to the right to vote. The broad principles of that bill will be in the hands of the Democratic and Republican leaders tomorrow. After they have reviewed it, it will come here formally as a bill. I am grateful for this opportunity to come here tonight at the invitation of the leadership to reason with my friends, to give them my views and to visit with my former colleagues.

I have had prepared a more comprehensive analysis of the legislation which I had intended to transmit to the clerk tomorrow, but which I will submit to the clerks tonight. But I want to really discuss the main proposals of this legislation. This bill will strike down restrictions to voting in all elections, federal, state and local, which have been used to deny Negroes the right to vote.

This bill will establish a simple, uniform standard which cannot be used, however ingenious the effort, to flout our Constitution. It will provide for citizens to be registered by officials of the United States Government, if the state officials refuse to register them. It will eliminate tedious, unnecessary lawsuits which delay the right to vote. Finally, this legislation will insure that properly registered individuals are not prohibited from voting. I will welcome the suggestions from all the members of Congress–I have no doubt that I will get some–on ways and means to strengthen this law and to make it effective.

But experience has plainly shown that this is the only path to carry out the command of the Constitution. To those who seek to avoid action by their national government in their home communities, who want to and who seek to maintain purely local control over elections, the answer is simple: open your polling places to all your people. Allow men and women to register and vote whatever the color of their skin. Extend the rights of citizenship to every citizen of this land. There is no Constitutional issue here. The command of the Constitution is plain. There is no moral issue. It is wrong–deadly wrong–to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country.

There is no issue of state’s rights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights. I have not the slightest doubt what will be your answer. But the last time a President sent a civil rights bill to the Congress it contained a provision to protect voting rights in Federal elections. That civil rights bill was passed after eight long months of debate. And when that bill came to my desk from the Congress for signature, the heart of the voting provision had been eliminated.

This time, on this issue, there must be no delay, or no hesitation, or no compromise with our purpose. We cannot, we must not, refuse to protect the right of every American to vote in every election that he may desire to participate in.

And we ought not, and we cannot, and we must not wait another eight months before we get a bill. We have already waited 100 years and more and the time for waiting is gone. So I ask you to join me in working long hours and nights and weekends, if necessary, to pass this bill. And I don’t make that request lightly, for, from the window where I sit, with the problems of our country, I recognize that from outside this chamber is the outraged conscience of a nation, the grave concern of many nations and the harsh judgment of history on our acts.

But even if we pass this bill the battle will not be over. What happened in Selma is part of a far larger movement which reaches into every section and state of America. It is the effort of American Negroes to secure for themselves the full blessings of American life. Their cause must be our cause too. Because it’s not just Negroes, but really it’s all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice.

And we shall overcome.

As a man whose roots go deeply into Southern soil, I know how agonizing racial feelings are. I know how difficult it is to reshape the attitudes and the structure of our society. But a century has passed–more than 100 years–since the Negro was freed. And he is not fully free tonight. It was more than 100 years ago that Abraham Lincoln–a great President of another party–signed the Emancipation Proclamation. But emancipation is a proclamation and not a fact.

A century has passed–more than 100 years–since equality was promised, and yet the Negro is not equal. A century has passed since the day of promise, and the promise is unkept. The time of justice has now come, and I tell you that I believe sincerely that no force can hold it back. It is right in the eyes of man and God that it should come, and when it does, I think that day will brighten the lives of every American. For Negroes are not the only victims. How many white children have gone uneducated? How many white families have lived in stark poverty? How many white lives have been scarred by fear, because we wasted energy and our substance to maintain the barriers of hatred and terror?

And so I say to all of you here and to all in the nation tonight that those who appeal to you to hold on to the past do so at the cost of denying you your future. This great rich, restless country can offer opportunity and education and hope to all–all, black and white, North and South, sharecropper and city dweller. These are the enemies: poverty, ignorance, disease. They are our enemies, not our fellow man, not our neighbor.

And these enemies too–poverty, disease and ignorance–we shall overcome.

Now let none of us in any section look with prideful righteousness on the troubles in another section or the problems of our neighbors. There is really no part of America where the promise of equality has been fully kept. In Buffalo as well as in Birmingham, in Philadelphia as well as Selma, Americans are struggling for the fruits of freedom.

This is one nation. What happens in Selma and Cincinnati is a matter of legitimate concern to every American. But let each of us look within our own hearts and our own communities and let each of us put our shoulder to the wheel to root out injustice wherever it exists. As we meet here in this peaceful historic chamber tonight, men from the South, some of whom were at Iwo Jima, men from the North who have carried Old Glory to the far corners of the world and who brought it back without a stain on it, men from the east and from the west are all fighting together without regard to religion or color or region in Vietnam.

Men from every region fought for us across the world 20 years ago. And now in these common dangers, in these common sacrifices, the South made its contribution of honor and gallantry no less than any other region in the great republic.

And in some instances, a great many of them, more. And I have not the slightest doubt that good men from everywhere in this country, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, from the Golden Gate to the harbors along the Atlantic, will rally now together in this cause to vindicate the freedom of all Americans. For all of us owe this duty and I believe that all of us will respond to it.

Your president makes that request of every American.

The real hero of this struggle is the American Negro. His actions and protests, his courage to risk safety, and even to risk his life, have awakened the conscience of this nation. His demonstrations have been designed to call attention to injustice, designed to provoke change; designed to stir reform. He has been called upon to make good the promise of America.

And who among us can say that we would have made the same progress were it not for his persistent bravery and his faith in American democracy? For at the real heart of the battle for equality is a deep-seated belief in the democratic process. Equality depends, not on the force of arms or tear gas, but depends upon the force of moral right–not on recourse to violence, but on respect for law and order.

There have been many pressures upon your President and there will be others as the days come and go. But I pledge to you tonight that we intend to fight this battle where it should be fought–in the courts, and in the Congress, and the hearts of men. We must preserve the right of free speech and the right of free assembly. But the right of free speech does not carry with it–as has been said–the right to holler fire in a crowded theatre.

We must preserve the right to free assembly. But free assembly does not carry with it the right to block public thoroughfares to traffic. We do have a right to protest. And a right to march under conditions that do not infringe the Constitutional rights of our neighbors. And I intend to protect all those rights as long as I am permitted to serve in this office.

We will guard against violence, knowing it strikes from our hands the very weapons which we seek–progress, obedience to law, and belief in American values. In Selma, as elsewhere, we seek and pray for peace. We seek order, we seek unity, but we will not accept the peace of stifled rights or the order imposed by fear, or the unity that stifles protest–for peace cannot be purchased at the cost of liberty.

In Selma tonight–and we had a good day there–as in every city we are working for a just and peaceful settlement. We must all remember after this speech I’m making tonight, after the police and the F.B.I. and the Marshals have all gone, and after you have promptly passed this bill, the people of Selma and the other cities of the nation must still live and work together.

And when the attention of the nation has gone elsewhere they must try to heal the wounds and to build a new community. This cannot be easily done on a battleground of violence as the history of the South itself shows. It is in recognition of this that men of both races have shown such an outstandingly impressive responsibility in recent days–last Tuesday and again today.

The bill I am presenting to you will be known as a civil rights bill. But in a larger sense, most of the program I am recommending is a civil rights program. Its object is to open the city of hope to all people of all races, because all Americans just must have the right to vote, and we are going to give them that right.

All Americans must have the privileges of citizenship, regardless of race, and they are going to have those privileges of citizenship regardless of race.

But I would like to caution you and remind you that to exercise these privileges takes much more than just legal rights. It requires a trained mind and a healthy body. It requires a decent home and the chance to find a job and the opportunity to escape from the clutches of poverty.

Of course people cannot contribute to the nation if they are never taught to read or write; if their bodies are stunted from hunger; if their sickness goes untended; if their life is spent in hopeless poverty, just drawing a welfare check.

So we want to open the gates to opportunity. But we’re also going to give all our people, black and white, the help that they need to walk through those gates. My first job after college was as a teacher in Cotulla, Texas, in a small Mexican-American school. Few of them could speak English and I couldn’t speak much Spanish. My students were poor and they often came to class without breakfast and hungry. And they knew even in their youth the pain of prejudice. They never seemed to know why people disliked them, but they knew it was so because I saw it in their eyes.

I often walked home late in the afternoon after the classes were finished wishing there was more that I could do. But all I knew was to teach them the little that I knew, hoping that I might help them against the hardships that lay ahead. And somehow you never forget what poverty and hatred can do when you see its scars on the hopeful face of a young child.

I never thought then, in 1928, that I would be standing here in 1965. It never even occurred to me in my fondest dreams that I might have the chance to help the sons and daughters of those students, and to help people like them all over this country. But now I do have that chance.

And I’ll let you in on a secret–I mean to use it. And I hope that you will use it with me.

This is the richest, most powerful country which ever occupied this globe. The might of past empires is little compared to ours. But I do not want to be the president who built empires, or sought grandeur, or extended dominion.

I want to be the president who educated young children to the wonders of their world. I want to be the President who helped to feed the hungry and to prepare them to be taxpayers instead of tax eaters. I want to be the President who helped the poor to find their own way and who protected the right of every citizen to vote in every election. I want to be the President who helped to end hatred among his fellow men and who promoted love among the people of all races, all regions and all parties. I want to be the President who helped to end war among the brothers of this earth.

And so, at the request of your beloved Speaker and the Senator from Montana, the Majority Leader, the Senator from Illinois, the Minority Leader, Mr. McCullock and other members of both parties, I came here tonight, not as President Roosevelt came down one time in person to veto a bonus bill; not as President Truman came down one time to urge passage of a railroad bill, but I came down here to ask you to share this task with me. And to share it with the people that we both work for.

I want this to be the Congress–Republicans and Democrats alike–which did all these things for all these people. Beyond this great chamber–out yonder–in fifty states are the people that we serve. Who can tell what deep and unspoken hopes are in their hearts tonight as they sit there and listen? We all can guess, from our own lives, how difficult they often find their own pursuit of happiness, how many problems each little family has. They look most of all to themselves for their future, but I think that they also look to each of us.

Above the pyramid on the Great Seal of the United States it says in latin, “God has favored our undertaking.” God will not favor everything that we do. It is rather our duty to divine His will. But I cannot help but believe that He truly understands and that He really favors the undertaking that we begin here tonight.

President Lyndon B. Johnson – March 15, 1965

References and Resources…

Black History: The Greensboro Sit-Ins

© copyright 2009 Storm Bear Town Called Dobson


To view the original, please travel through Black History: The Greensboro Sit-Ins


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From Wikipedia:

The Greensboro sit-ins were an instrumental action in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, leading to increased national sentiment at a crucial period in American history.

On February 1, 1960, four African American students – Ezell A. Blair Jr. (now known as Jibreel Khazan), David Richmond, Joseph McNeil, and Franklin McCain – from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, a historically black college/university, sat at a segregated lunch counter in the Greensboro, North Carolina, Woolworth’s store. This lunch counter only had chairs/stools for whites, while blacks had to stand and eat. Although they were refused service, they were allowed to stay at the counter. The next day there was a total of 28 students at the Woolworth lunch counter for the sit in. On the third day, there were 300 activists, and later, around 1000.

This protest sparked sit-ins and economic boycotts that became a hallmark of the American civil rights movement.

According to Franklin McCain, one of the four black teenagers who sat at the “whites only” stools:


Some way through, an old white lady, who must have been 75 or 85, came over and put her hands on my shoulders and said, ‘Boys, I am so proud of you. You should have done this 10 years ago.’

In just two months the sit-in movement spread to 15 cities in 9 states. Other stores, such as the one in Atlanta, moved to desegregate.

The media picked up this issue and covered it nationwide, beginning with lunch counters and spreading to other forms of public accommodation, including transport facilities, art galleries, beaches, parks, swimming pools, libraries, and even museums around the South. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 mandated desegregation in public accommodations.

In 1993, a portion of the lunch counter was donated to the Smithsonian Institution. The Greensboro Historical Museum contains four chairs from the Woolworth counter along with photos of the original four protesters, a timeline of the events, and headlines from the media.

Several documentaries have been produced about these men who sparked the sit in movement, including PBS’ “February One.”

The sit-in movement used the strategy of nonviolent resistance, which originated in Gandhi’s Indian independence movement and was later brought to the Civil Rights movement by Martin Luther King. This was not the first sit-in to challenge racial segregation. As far back as 1942, the Congress of Racial Equality sponsored sit-ins in Chicago, St. Louis in 1949 and Baltimore in 1952.

In a pre-cursor to the Woolworth sit-ins, on June 23, 1957, seven students organized by a local pastor were arrested in Durham, North Carolina at the Royal Ice Cream Shop for staging a sit-in in the “whites only” section.  After being convicted in North Carolina courts, the seven appealed their case all the way to the United States Supreme Court, which refused to hear their case.

On August 19, 1958, the Oklahoma City NAACP Youth Council began a six-year long campaign of sit-ins at segregated lunch counters, restaurants, and cafes in Oklahoma City. The Greensboro sit-in, however, was the most influential and received a great deal of attention in the press.

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Katrina’s [America’s] Hidden Race War



Katrina’s Hidden Race War: In Aftermath of Katrina, Vigilantes Shot 11 Blacks in New Orelans (1 of 2)

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Racism, in reality, is fear of the unknown.  It is apprehension for what is alien to us.  A bigot is often one who claims to be colorblind.  However, indeed, he or she is more likely colormute.  Rarely do persons who think themselves tolerant speak of the scorn they feel for those who differ from them.  Often the intolerant are not aware of the rigidity that rules their lives.  Few amongst Anglos in America, since most appear as they do, consider what the life of one whose complexion is cause for rejection experience.  However, in an exposé, A.C. Thompson muses of what most rather not mention.  The author addresses “Katrina’s Hidden Race War.”  

Through the tales told, after a tumultuous tempest, readers learn of what they may know, and just not discuss freely.  In this land of the free and home of the brave, few people of color are truly free.  Yet, these same individuals are genuinely brave.  They have to be.

It is common to hear Caucasians say, “Some of my best friends are Black, Brown, Yellow, or Red.” People hope to create an impression.  Most wish to prove they willingly accept those unlike themselves.  However, the acquaintance they speak of may be the one and only person of color that they know.   People may think the person that they associate with is the exception to the rule.  He or she is a good gal or gent.  All other folks who do not don a pinkish hue are not to be trusted.

In this country, to publicly proclaim a hatred for a person whose complexion is dark is just not done.  That is unless a person can conceive of a circumstance that allows for a reasonable abhorrence.  Hurricane Katrina afforded such an opportunity for white residents of Algiers Point, Louisiana.

Algiers Point has always been somewhat isolated: it’s perched on the west bank of the Mississippi River, linked to the core of the city only by a ferry line and twin gray steel bridges. When the hurricane descended on Louisiana, Algiers Point got off relatively easy. While wide swaths of New Orleans were deluged, the levees ringing Algiers Point withstood the Mississippi’s surging currents, preventing flooding; most homes and businesses in the area survived intact. As word spread that the area was dry, desperate people began heading toward the west bank, some walking over bridges, others traveling by boat. The National Guard soon designated the Algiers Point ferry landing an official evacuation site. Rescuers from the Coast Guard and other agencies brought flood victims to the ferry terminal, where soldiers loaded them onto buses headed for Texas.

Facing an influx of refugees, the residents of Algiers Point could have pulled together food, water, and medical supplies for the flood victims. Instead, a group of white residents, convinced that crime would arrive with the human exodus, sought to seal off the area, blocking the roads in and out of the neighborhood by dragging lumber and downed trees into the streets. They stockpiled handguns, assault rifles, shotguns, and at least one Uzi and began patrolling the streets in pickup trucks and SUVs.

The newly formed militia, a loose band of about fifteen to thirty residents, most of them men, all of them white, was looking for thieves, outlaws or, as one member put it, anyone who simply “didn’t belong.”

The Nation Magazine, in the January 5, 2009 issue, recounts tales as told by those foreign elements who, while residents of the broader community, were shot as though they were criminals.  Their crime was perhaps only their skin color.  

The way Donnell Herrington tells it, there was no warning. One second he was trudging through the heat. The next he was lying prostrate on the pavement, his life spilling out of a hole in his throat, his body racked with pain, his vision blurred and distorted.

It was September 1, 2005, some three days after Hurricane Katrina crashed into New Orleans, and somebody had just blasted Herrington, who is African-American, with a shotgun. “I just hit the ground. I didn’t even know what happened,” recalls Herrington, a burly 32-year-old with a soft drawl.

The sudden eruption of gunfire horrified Herrington’s companions–his cousin Marcel Alexander, then 17, and friend Chris Collins, then 18, who are also black. “I looked at Donnell and he had this big old hole in his neck,” Alexander recalls. “I tried to help him up, and they started shooting again.” Herrington says he was staggering to his feet when a second shotgun blast struck him from behind; the spray of lead pellets also caught Collins and Alexander. The buckshot peppered Alexander’s back, arm, and buttocks.

Herrington shouted at the other men to run and turned to face his attackers: three armed white males. Herrington says he hadn’t even seen the men or their weapons before the shooting began. As Alexander and Collins fled, Herrington ran in the opposite direction, his hand pressed to the bleeding wound on his throat. Behind him, he says, the gunmen yelled, “Get him! Get that n*gg*r!”

Persons who were presumed guilty, merely by their presence, were neighbors from another section of town.  The poorer people sought safety and shelter after the storm placed them in a precarious situation.  Contrary to reports, the Black population did not loot or engage in thievery.  African-Americans did as the Anglos who were also chest-deep in floodwaters.  They “found” food and fluids to drink from a local grocery store after Hurricane Katrina destroyed all they had.  However, trepidation distorts perception.  Frequently, white Americans are apprehensive when they consider African-Americans.  

From birth, children are taught not to talk to strangers.  Little ones are cautioned to beware.  Different is dangerous.  Perchance, the Associated Press Reporters or Editors who covered the Katrina story were Anglos.  Hence, when Journalists, just as the residents of Algiers Point, saw persons who look as they do, they defined their actions as honorable.  However, the sight of a Black individual in a similar situation was not viewed through a clear lens.  The question might be asked, in America will it ever be.

Please ponder the images.  Then, consider the captions.



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Shared By Dustin

Some, of every complexion, did take possession of life’s littlest necessities.  In a few neighborhoods, not Algiers Point, white persons were benevolent towards those “others” of color.  However, Caucasian citizens might contemplate the reality that, before Katrina, the plight of Black Americans was hidden, and it is again.  

The depth of poverty experienced by many African-Americans, the people whose ancestors physically built this nation, was not realized until a natural storm churned up a crisis so critical.

White Americans acknowledge that in some areas, a bridge was built.  Yet, few wish to admit this association only appears in a time of crisis.  While a scant few channels were opened another, many more were closed.  In other locales, where dark skinned persons were presumably welcome, the Anglo inhabitants roared with resentment.  Reports offered the rationale for what in America is the conventional wisdom of an apprehensive Anglo populace. Karina victims are to blame for an increase in Houston crime.  Certainly, these same “undesirables” would propagate misdeeds wherever they may be; hence, we have Algiers Point.

Granted, pinkish persons in other neighborhoods, even in New Orleans, opened their hearts.  A restaurant proprietor, aware of the depth of destruction, 80 percent of the city was under water, opened their eateries to anyone in need.

Tommy Cvitanovich, co-owner of Drago’s Seafood Restaurant, is but one of what might be many.  This sympathetic fellow spoke of the reason he, his family, and his staff felt they must serve all survivors.  For the entrepreneur, there was no reason to fear.  Mister Cvitanovich, when confronted with the circumstances of his fellow man, felt he could not turn away.  Nor could he, his kin, and the folks they worked with grab a gun and shot at persons who sought food and a safer shelter.  The tale is beautiful and worth a peek.

“For eight weeks we gave away meals.  People were waiting in line,” he says.

For five weeks, the meals were given outside the restaurant.  When the restaurant reopened, Drago’s moved the effort to Lakeview where the need was greater.

“There were no fast food restaurants, no convenience stores or grocery stores open,” he says.  “Most people brought food (from outside the area) Food sources were non-existent.”

In a moment of horror, what is often hidden, good, and bad is revealed.  Honorable Americans such as Tommy Cvitanovich are to be thanked for what their endeavors can teach.  Some persons pale of skin felt the pain of the poorer, less protected population.  However, when the waters receded, might residents of the United States inquire; would benevolence still prosper.  

Several, such a Tommy Cvitanovich might show compassion as they had done in the past.  Yet, we cannot be certain.

In America, sweetness is often subdued by racism.  Much is restrained, not realized, or hidden from view when consternation is prevalent.  When people react to anxiety, rather than act and discover we are not that different, we have what we had in Algiers Point, guns ablaze

Inside and outside of a New Orleans enclave, Caucasians are challenged to conceive that persons of color did not seek to violate the law.  Indeed, white vigilantes victimized those who have, for centuries, been casualties in a civilized American society.

What received less attention from the press and from the paler people is Whites Sought More Katrina Aid Than Blacks.  African-Americans, too often buried by the burden of bigotry, did not know that they might be able to apply or appeal a decision for inadequate assistance.  Nor did some have the means before the tempest to secure property or proper insurance.  What also was and remains out of sight are the financial abuses brownish-purplish persons are victim to.  Credit is not colorblind.

In America, privilege is a white man’s prerogative.  Prosecution is reserved for “other” races.

Tulane University Historian Lance Hill, who runs Tulane’s Southern Institute for Education and Research, has studied the city’s racial divide.  He understands why Algiers Point gunmen have avoided arrest.  “By and large, I think the white mentality is that these people [the Anglo lawbreakers] are exempt–that even if they committed these crimes, they’re really exempt from any kind of legal repercussion.” People of color only commit crime, in the mind of many.

Professor Hill ponders and proclaims; “It’s sad to say, but I think that if any of these cases went to trial, and none of them have, I can’t see a white person being convicted of any kind of crime against an African-American during that period.”  Such is the sound of silence.  When people are blind, or white, racism becomes a more colorful spectrum.

The stories of Algiers Point, and the plight of Katrina, tell a tale too terrible to imagine.  Perchance, that is why in America people prefer to remain colormute.  To report as The Nation did is to attest to what most prefer to hide.  Racism remains rampant in the land of opportunity.  In a country considered great, bigotry is not criminal.  Fear is not a felony.  Trepidation, even with a gun in hand, and shots fired, is fine in United States.  

Apparently, as long as Caucasian citizens transgress only against the unfamiliar, the supposed unruly, persons whose only crime is that his or her skin color is not white will suffer fates so ghastly, even storm waters will not wash the stain away.

Please peruse the portrait of America, “Katrina’s Hidden Race War.”  Ponder what might be too true.  If Americans do not love thy neighbor, if fright rules, no one is authentically free and fewer are brave.

References for Racism . . .

Black History: Montgomery Bus Boycott

© copyright 2008 Storm Bear.  Town Called Dobson


To view the original, travel to a Town Called Dobson.  Black History: Montgomery Bus Boycott

From Wikipedia:

The Montgomery Bus Boycott was a political and social protest campaign started in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, intended to oppose the city’s policy of racial segregation on its public transit system. The ensuing struggle lasted from December 1, 1955, to December 20, 1956, and led to a United States Supreme Court decision that declared the Alabama and Montgomery laws requiring segregated buses unconstitutional.

Under the system of segregation used on Montgomery buses, white people who boarded the bus took seats in the front rows, filling the bus toward the back. Black people who boarded the bus took seats in the back rows, filling the bus toward the front. Eventually, the two sections would meet, and the bus would be full. If another black person boarded the bus, he was required to stand. If another white person boarded the bus, then everyone in the black row nearest the front had to get up and stand, so that a new row for white people could be created. Rosa Parks was sitting in the front-most row for black people. When a white man boarded the bus, everyone in her row was expected to move back to create a new row for the whites. While all of the others in her row complied, Rosa refused, and was arrested for failing to obey the driver’s seat assignments, as city ordinance did not explicitly mandate segregation, but gave the bus driver authority to assign seats.

Rosa Parks was born on February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. She was a seamstress by profession and secretary for the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP. Shortly before being arrested on December 1, 1955, she had completed a course in “Race Relations” at the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee where nonviolent civil-disobedience had been discussed as a tactic. The boycott was triggered by her arrest–when she was charged for violating racial segregation laws in Montgomery after refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. She was sitting in the fifth row (the first row that blacks could occupy), along with three other blacks. Soon, all of the first four rows were filled up, and a white man walked on. Since blacks and whites could not be in the same row, the bus driver insisted for all of the blacks to move. The other three blacks complied, but Parks refused and was dragged off of the bus. Her arrest immediately followed.

When found guilty on December 15, Parks was fined $10 plus a court cost of $4, but she appealed. As a result, Rosa Parks is considered one of the pioneers of the civil rights movement.

Some kind of action against segregation had been in the works for some time before Rosa Parks’ arrest, under the leadership of E. D. Nixon, president of the local NAACP chapter and a member of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Nixon intended that her arrest be a test case to allow Montgomery’s black citizens to challenge segregation on the city’s public buses. With this goal, community leaders had been waiting for the right person to be arrested, a person who would anger the black community into action, who would agree to test the segregation laws in court, and who, most importantly, was “above reproach.” When fifteen year old Claudette Colvin was arrested early in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat to a white man, E.D. Nixon thought he had found the perfect person, but the teenager turned out to be pregnant. Nixon later explained, “I had to be sure that I had somebody I could win with.” Parks, however, was a good candidate because of her employment and marital status, along with her good standing in the community.

Between Parks’ arrest and trial, Nixon organized a meeting of local ministers at the church of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. Though Nixon could not attend the meeting because of his work schedule, he arranged that no election of a leader for the proposed boycott would take place until his return. When he returned he caucused with Ralph Abernathy and Rev. E.N. French to name the association to lead the boycott (they selected the ‘Montgomery Improvement Association’ (“MIA”)) to the city, and select Rev. King (Nixon’s choice) to lead the boycott. Nixon wanted King to lead the boycott because the young minister was new to Montgomery and the city fathers had not had time to intimidate him. At a subsequent, larger meeting of ministers, Nixon’s agenda was threatened by the clergy men’s reluctance to support the campaign. Nixon was indignant, pointing out that their poor congregations worked to put money into the collection plates so these ministers could live well, and when those congregations needed the clergy to stand up for them, those comfortable ministers refused to do so. Nixon threatened to reveal the ministers’ cowardice to the black community, and Rev. King spoke up, denying he was afraid to support the boycott. King agreed to lead the MIA, and Nixon was elected its treasurer.

On the night of Rosa Parks’s arrest, Jo Ann Robinson, head of the Women’s Political Council printed and circulated a flyer throughout Montgomery’s black community which read as follows:

Another woman has been arrested and thrown in jail because she refused to get up out of her seat on the bus for a white person to sit down. It is the second time since the Claudette Colvin case that a Negro woman has been arrested for the same thing. This has to be stopped. Negroes have rights too, for if Negroes did not ride the buses, they could not operate. Three-fourths of the riders are Negro, yet we are arrested, or have to stand over empty seats. If we do not do something to stop these arrests, they will continue. The next time it may be you, or your daughter, or mother. This woman’s case will come up on Monday. We are, therefore, asking every Negro to stay off the buses Monday in protest of the arrest and trial. Don’t ride the buses to work, to town, to school, or anywhere on Monday. You can afford to stay out of school for one day if you have no other way to go except by bus. You can also afford to stay out of town for one day. If you work, take a cab, or walk. But please, children and grown-ups, don’t ride the bus at all on Monday. Please stay off all buses Monday.

The next morning at a church meeting led by the new MIA head, Rev. King, a citywide boycott of public transit was proposed to demand a fixed dividing line for the segregated sections of the buses. Such a line would have meant that if the white section of the bus was oversubscribed, whites would have to stand; blacks would not be forced to remit their seats to whites.

This demand was a compromise for the leaders of the boycott who believed that the city of Montgomery would be more likely to accept rather than demand for a full integration of the buses. In this respect, the MIA leadership followed the pattern of earlier boycott campaigns in the Deep South during the 1950s. A prime example was the successful boycott a few years earlier of service stations in Mississippi for refusing to provide restrooms for blacks. The organizer of that campaign, T.R.M. Howard of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership, had spoken in Montgomery as King’s guest at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church only days before Parks’s arrest. This demand was to be supplemented by a requirement that all bus passengers receive courteous treatment by bus operators, be seated on a first-come, first-served basis, and blacks be employed as bus drivers. The proposal was passed, and the boycott was to commence the following Monday. To publicize the impending boycott it was advertised at black churches throughout Montgomery the following Sunday.

On Saturday, December 3, it was evident that the black community would support the boycott, and very few blacks rode the buses that day. That night a mass meeting was held to determine if the protest would continue, and attendees enthusiastically agreed. The boycott proved extremely effective, with enough riders lost to the city transit system to cause serious economic distress. Martin Luther King later wrote “[a] miracle had taken place.” Instead of riding buses, boycotters organized a system of carpools, with car owners volunteering their vehicles or themselves driving people to various destinations. Some white housewives also drove their black domestic servants to work, although it is unclear to what extent this was based on sympathy with the boycott, versus the desire to have their staff present and working. When the city pressured local insurance companies to stop insuring cars used in the carpools, the boycott leaders arranged policies with Lloyd’s of London.

Black taxi drivers charged ten cents per ride, a fare equal to the cost to ride the bus, in support of the boycott. When word of this reached city officials on December 8, 1955, the order went out to fine any cab driver who charged a rider less than 45 cents. In addition to using private motor vehicles, some people used non-motorized means to get around, such as cycling, walking, or even riding mules or driving horse-drawn buggies. Some people also hitchhiked. During rush hours, sidewalks were often crowded. As the buses received extremely few, if any, passengers, their officials asked the City Commission to allow stopping service to black communities. Across the nation, black churches raised money to support the boycott and collected new and slightly used shoes to replace the tattered footwear of Montgomery’s black citizens, many of whom walked everywhere rather than ride the buses and submit to Jim Crow laws.

In response, opposing whites swelled the ranks of the White Citizens’ Council, the membership of which doubled during the course of the boycott. The councils sometimes resorted to violence: Martin Luther King’s and Ralph Abernathy’s houses were firebombed, as were four black Baptist churches. Boycotters were often physically attacked.

Under a 1921 ordinance, 156 protesters were arrested for “hindering” a bus, including King. He was ordered to pay a $500 fine or serve 386 days in jail. He ended up spending 2 weeks in prison. The move backfired by bringing national attention to the protest. King commented on the arrest by saying: “I was proud of my crime. It was the crime of joining my people in a nonviolent protest against injustice.”

Pressure increased across the country and on June 4, 1956, the federal district court ruled that Alabama’s racial segregation laws for buses were unconstitutional. However, an appeal kept the segregation intact, and the boycott continued until, finally, on November 13, 1956, the Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling. This victory led to a city ordinance that allowed black bus passengers to sit virtually anywhere they wanted, and the boycott officially ended December 20, 1956. The boycott of the buses had lasted for 381 days. Martin Luther King Jr. capped off the victory with a magnanimous speech to encourage acceptance of the decision. The boycott resulted in the U.S. civil rights movement receiving one of its first victories and gave Martin Luther King Jr. the national attention that made him one of the prime leaders of the cause.

Birth Of A Notion Disclaimer:

When I went to school, we were never taught Black History. We never learned about the Black leaders, the long, agonizing history that brought most Blacks to America. Those atrocities were glossed over in favor of mindlessly boring topics like the X Y Z Affair.

This series of cartoons will review Black history as told from a Black mother to an interracial child. This series will be ugly, course, horrific and truthful. I will mostly abandon the commentary for an article on Black history from open source essays on the web.

This series is not about Obama or Hillary. I want to you to try to imagine how Black families tell their children of the atrocities their ancestors, all of them, suffered because of the color of their skin. Try to imagine how Black families counsel their children when someone calls them “n*gg*r” for the first time. Can you imagine the bone crushing emotion that must well up? Can you imagine the agony, frustration and anger?

Can you imagine being the Black preacher who tries to paint a picture of a just God every Sunday? Especially in a country that claims where the notion of racism is a thing of the past, the job is difficult.

These strips may at times be entertaining and sometimes they may not – mostly not.

I don’t want you to laugh so hard you cry, I want you to cry so hard you do something about it.

Birth of a Notion Wallpaper is now available for your computer. Click here.  

Black History: Loving vs. Virginia

© copyright 2008 Storm Bear.  Town Called Dobson


To view the original, travel to a Town Called Dobson.  Black History: Loving vs. Virginia

From Wikipedia:

Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), was a landmark civil rights case in which the United States Supreme Court declared Virginia’s anti-miscegenation statute, the “Racial Integrity Act of 1924”, unconstitutional, thereby overturning Pace v. Alabama (1883) and ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.

The plaintiffs, Mildred Loving (nee Mildred Delores Jeter, a woman of African and Rappahannock Native American descent, 1939 – May 2, 2008) and Richard Perry Loving (a white man, October 29, 1933 – June 1975), were residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia who had been married in June 1958 in the District of Columbia, having left Virginia to evade the Racial Integrity Act, a state law banning marriages between any white person and any non-white person. Upon their return to Caroline County, Virginia, they were charged with violation of the ban. Specifically, they were charged under Section 20-58 of the Virginia Code, which prohibited interracial couples from being married out of state and then returning to Virginia, and Section 20-59, which classified “miscegenation” as a felony punishable by a prison sentence of between one and five years. On January 6, 1959, the Lovings pleaded guilty and were sentenced to one year in prison, with the sentence suspended for 25 years on condition that the couple leave the state of Virginia. The trial judge in the case, Leon Bazile, echoing Johann Friedrich Blumenbach’s 18th-century interpretation of race, proclaimed that


Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and He placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with His arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that He separated the races shows that He did not intend for the races to mix.

The Lovings moved to the District of Columbia, and on November 6, 1963 the American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion on their behalf in the state trial court to vacate the judgment and set aside the sentence on the grounds that the violated statutes ran counter to the Fourteenth Amendment. This set in motion a series of lawsuits which ultimately reached the Supreme Court. On October 28, 1964, after their motion still had not been decided, the Lovings began a class action suit in the U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. On January 22, 1965, the three-judge district court decided to allow the Lovings to present their constitutional claims to the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals. Virginia Supreme Court Justice Harry L. Carrico (later Chief Justice of the Court) wrote an opinion for the court upholding the constitutionality of the anti-miscegenation statutes and, after modifying the sentence, affirmed the criminal convictions.

Ignoring United States Supreme Court precedent, Carrico cited as authority the Virginia Supreme Court’s own decision in Naim v. Naim (1955), and also argued that the case at hand was not a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection Clause because both the white and the non-white spouse were punished equally for the “crime” of “miscegenation”, an argument similar to that made by the United States Supreme Court in 1883 in Pace v. Alabama.

In 1966, the Presbyterian Church took a strong stand stating that they do not condemn or prohibit interracial marriages. The church found “no theological grounds for condemning or prohibiting marriage between consenting adults merely because of racial origin”. In that same year, the Unitarian Universalist Association declared that “laws which prohibit, inhibit or hamper marriage or cohabitation between persons because of different races, religions, or national origins should be nullified or repealed.” Months before the Supreme Court ruling on Loving v. Virginia the Roman Catholic Church joined the movement, supporting interracial couples in their struggle for recognition of their right to marriage.

Prior to Loving v. Virginia there were several cases on the subject of race mixing cases. In Pace v. Alabama (1883) the Supreme Court ruled that the conviction of an Alabama couple for interracial sex, affirmed on appeal by the Alabama Supreme Court, did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment. Interracial extramarital sex was deemed a felony, whereas extramarital sex (“adultery or fornication”) was only a misdemeanor. On appeal, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the criminalization of interracial sex was not a violation of the equal protection clause because whites and non-whites were punished in equal measure for the offense of engaging in interracial sex. The court did not need to affirm the constitutionality of the ban on interracial marriage that was also part of Alabama’s anti-miscegenation law, since the plaintiff, Mr. Pace, had chosen not to appeal that section of the law. After Pace v. Alabama, the constitutionality of anti-miscegenation laws banning marriage and sex between whites and non-whites remained unchallenged until the 1920s.

In Kirby v. Kirby (1921), Mr. Kirby asked the state of Arizona for an annulment of his marriage. He charged that his marriage was invalid because his wife was of ‘negro’ descent, thus violating the state’s anti-miscegenation law. The Arizona Supreme Court judged Mrs. Kirby’s race by observing her physical characteristics and determined that she was of mixed race, thereby granting Mr. Kirby’s annulment.

In the Monks case (Estate of Monks, 4. Civ. 2835, Records of California Court of Appeals, Fourth district), the Superior Court of San Diego County in 1939 decided to invalidate the marriage of Marie Antoinette and Allan Monks because she was deemed to have “one eight negro blood”. The court case involved a legal challenge over the conflicting wills that had been left by the late Allan Monks, an old one in favor of a friend named Ida Lee and a newer one in favor of his wife. Lee’s lawyers charged that the marriage of the Monkses, which had taken place in Arizona, was invalid under Arizona state law because Marie Antoinette was “a Negro” and Alan had been white. Despite conflicting testimony by various expert witnesses, the judge defined Mrs. Monks’ race by relying on the anatomical “expertise” of a surgeon. The judge ignored the arguments of an anthropologist and a biologist that it was impossible to tell a person’s race from physical characteristics.

Monks then challenged the Arizona anti-miscegenation law itself, taking her case to the California Court of Appeals, Fourth District. Monks’s lawyers pointed out that the anti-miscegenation law effectively prohibited Monks as a mixed-race person from marrying anyone: “As such, she is prohibited from marrying a negro or any descendant of a negro, a Mongolian or an Indian, a Malay or a Hindu, or any descendants of any of them. Likewise … as a descendant of a negro she is prohibited from marrying a Caucasian or a descendant of a Caucasian….” The Arizona anti-miscegenation statute thus prohibited Monks from contracting a valid marriage in Arizona, and was therefore an unconstitutional constraint on her liberty. The court, however, dismissed this argument as inapplicable, since the case presented involved not two mixed-race spouses but a mixed-race and a white spouse: “Under the facts presented the appellant does not have the benefit of assailing the validity of the statute.” Dismissing Monks’s appeal in 1942, the United States Supreme Court refused to reopen the issue.

The turning point came with Perez v. Sharp (1948), also known as Perez v. Lippold. In Perez, the Supreme Court of California recognized that interracial bans on marriage violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the Federal Constitution.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the convictions in a unanimous decision, dismissing the Commonwealth of Virginia’s argument that a law forbidding both white and black persons from marrying persons of another race, and providing identical penalties to white and black violators, could not be construed as racially discriminatory. The court ruled that Virginia’s anti-miscegenation statute violated both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In its decision, the court wrote:


Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

The Supreme Court concluded that anti-miscegenation laws were racist and had been enacted to perpetuate white supremacy:


There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification. The fact that Virginia prohibits only interracial marriages involving white persons demonstrates that the racial classifications must stand on their own justification, as measures designed to maintain White Supremacy.

Despite this Supreme Court ruling, such laws remained on the books, although unenforced, in several states until 2000, when Alabama became the last state to repeal its law against mixed-race marriage.

The definition of a marriage and what constitutes a family was reconsidered by society after the decision of Loving v. Virginia. Following Loving v. Virginia, The Changing Nature of Interracial Marriage in Georgia: A Research Note states “there was a 448 per cent increase in the number of interracial marriages. These numbers are only from the state of Georgia after the Supreme Court ruling, but the numbers and percentages only continued to increase across the United States. However, interracial couples still had to overcome many fears of possibly losing respect from friends, family, and the community.

Some activists believe that the Loving ruling will eventually aid the marriage equality movement for same-sex partnerships, if courts allow the Equal Protection Clause to be used. F.C. Decoste states, “If the only arguments against same sex marriage are sectarian, then opposing the legalization of same sex marriage is invidious in a fashion no different from supporting anti miscegenation laws”. These activists maintain that miscegenation laws are to interracial marriage, as sodomy laws are to homosexual rights and that sodomy laws were enacted in order to maintain traditional sex roles that have become part of American society. Opponents point out that the United States Supreme Court in the case of Baker v. Nelson, decided just a few years after the Loving decision, summarily affirmed that traditional marriage laws do not violate the Constitution of the United States.

On June 12, 2007, Mildred Loving issued a rare public statement prepared for delivery on the 40th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia decision of the US Supreme Court, which commented on same-sex marriage. The concluding paragraphs of her statement read as follows:


Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.

Birth Of A Notion Disclaimer:


When I went to school, we were never taught Black History. We never learned about the Black leaders, the long, agonizing history that brought most Blacks to America. Those atrocities were glossed over in favor of mindlessly boring topics like the X Y Z Affair.

This series of cartoons will review Black history as told from a Black mother to an interracial child. This series will be ugly, course, horrific and truthful. I will mostly abandon the commentary for an article on Black history from open source essays on the web.

This series is not about Obama or Hillary. I want to you to try to imagine how Black families tell their children of the atrocities their ancestors, all of them, suffered because of the color of their skin. Try to imagine how Black families counsel their children when someone calls them “n*gg*r” for the first time. Can you imagine the bone crushing emotion that must well up? Can you imagine the agony, frustration and anger?

Can you imagine being the Black preacher who tries to paint a picture of a just God every Sunday? Especially in a country that claims where the notion of racism is a thing of the past, the job is difficult.

These strips may at times be entertaining and sometimes they may not – mostly not.

I don’t want you to laugh so hard you cry, I want you to cry so hard you do something about it.

Birth of a Notion Wallpaper is now available for your computer. Click here.

Hillary’s Denver Death March


To view the original, travel to a Town Called Dobson.  Hillary’s Denver Death March

I have no problem with letting Hillary Clinton speak at the Denver convention – none at all. I was one of those people in 1992 chanting “Let Jerry Speak!” But Hillary’s convention preview far past bordering on tenacity, it screams vanity.

From the LA Times:


“Because I know from just what I’m hearing that there’s incredible pent-up desire, and I think that people want to feel like, ‘OK, it’s a catharsis, we’re here, we did it, and then everybody get behind Sen. Obama.’ That is what most people believe is the best way to go,” she said.

The former first lady did not rule out having her name placed into nomination at the convention, which will be held Aug. 25-28 in Denver. But her advisors said that was unlikely.

Clinton, who suspended her White House bid on June 7 and endorsed Obama, is expected to deliver a prime-time address to delegates on the second night of the convention.

There is not a damn thing that resembles an act of unity if Clinton allows her name to fall into nomination. It is divisive, arrogant and belligerent – that is how I have seen her entire campaign.

Remember, Obama’s delegates don’t matter.

Black History: Brown vs. Board of Education

© copyright 2008 Storm Bear.  Town Called Dobson


BrwnEd

To view the original, travel to a Town Called Dobson.  Black History: Brown vs. Board of Education

From Wikipedia:

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court, which overturned earlier rulings going back to Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, by declaring that state laws that established separate public schools for black and white students denied black children equal educational opportunities. Handed down on May 17, 1954, the Warren Court’s unanimous (9-0) decision stated that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” As a result, de jure racial segregation was ruled a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This victory paved the way for integration and the civil rights movement.

Much of the ninety years preceding the Brown case, race relations in the U.S. had been dominated by racial segregation. This policy had been endorsed in 1896 by the United States Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson, which held that as long as the separate facilities for the separate races were “equal,” the segregation did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment (“no state shall… deny to any person… the equal protection of the laws.”)

The plaintiffs in Brown asserted that this system of racial separation, while masquerading as providing separate but relatively equal treatment of both white and black Americans, instead perpetuated inferior accommodations, services, and treatment for black Americans. Racial segregation in education varied widely from the 17 states that required racial segregation to the 16 that prohibited it. Brown was influenced by UNESCO’s 1950 Statement, signed by a wide variety of internationally-renowned scholars, titled The Race Question. This declaration denounced previous attempts at scientifically justifying racism as well as morally condemning racism. Another work that the Supreme Court cited was Gunnar Myrdal’s An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (1944). Myrdal had been a signatory of the UNESCO declaration. The research performed by the educational psychologists Kenneth B. Clark and Mamie Phipps Clark also influenced the Court’s decision. The Clark’s “doll test” studies presented substantial arguments to the Supreme Court about how segregation had an impact on black schoolchildren’s mental status.

In 1951, a class action suit was filed against the Board of Education of the City of Topeka, Kansas in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. The plaintiffs were thirteen Topeka parents on behalf of their twenty children.

The suit called for the school district to reverse its policy of racial segregation. Separate elementary schools were operated by the Topeka Board of Education under an 1879 Kansas law, which permitted (but did not require) districts to maintain separate elementary school facilities for black and white students in twelve communities with populations over 15,000. The plaintiffs had been recruited by the leadership of the Topeka NAACP. Notable among the Topeka NAACP leaders were the chairman McKinley Burnett; Charles Scott, one of three serving as legal counsel for the chapter; and Lucinda Todd.

The named plaintiff, Oliver L. Brown was a parent, a welder in the shops of the Santa Fe Railroad, an assistant pastor at his local church, and an African American. He was convinced to join the lawsuit by Scott, a childhood friend. Brown’s daughter Linda, a third grader, had to walk six blocks to her school bus stop to ride to Monroe Elementary, her segregated black school one mile (1.6 km) away, while Sumner Elementary, a white school, was seven blocks from her house.

As directed by the NAACP leadership, the parents each attempted to enroll their children in the closest neighborhood school in the fall of 1951. They were each refused enrollment and directed to the segregated schools. Linda Brown Thompson later recalled the experience in a 2004 PBS documentary:

. . . well. like I say, we lived in an integrated neighborhood and I had all of these playmates of different nationalities. And so when I found out that day that I might be able to go to their school, I was just thrilled, you know. And I remember walking over to Sumner school with my dad that day and going up the steps of the school and the school looked so big to a smaller child. And I remember going inside and my dad spoke with someone and then he went into the inner office with the principal and they left me out . . . to sit outside with the secretary. And while he was in the inner office, I could hear voices and hear his voice raised, you know, as the conversation went on. And then he immediately came out of the office, took me by the hand and we walked home from the school. I just couldn’t understand what was happening because I was so sure that I was going to go to school with Mona and Guinevere, Wanda, and all of my playmates.

The Kansas case, “Oliver Brown et al v. The Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas,” was named after Oliver Brown as a legal strategy to have a man at the head of the roster. Also, it was felt by lawyers with the National Chapter of the NAACP, that having Mr. Brown at the head of the roster would be better received by the U.S. Supreme Court Justices because Mr.Brown had an intact, complete family, as opposed to someone who was a single parent head of household. The thirteen plaintiffs were: Oliver Brown, Darlene Brown, Lena Carper, Sadie Emmanuel, Marguerite Emerson, Shirley Fleming, Zelma Henderson, Shirley Hodison, Maude Lawton, Alma Lewis, Iona Richardson, and Lucinda Todd. The last surviving plaintiff, Zelma Henderson, died in Topeka, on May 20, 2008, at the age of 88.

The District Court ruled in favor of the Board of Education, citing the U.S. Supreme Court precedent set in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), which had upheld a state law requiring “separate but equal” segregated facilities for blacks and whites in railway cars. The three-judge District Court found that segregation in public education has a detrimental effect upon negro children, but denied relief on the ground that the negro and white schools in Topeka were substantially equal with respect to buildings, transportation, curricular, and educational qualifications of teachers.

The case of Brown v. Board of Education as heard before the Supreme Court combined five cases: Brown itself, Briggs v. Elliott (filed in South Carolina), Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County (filed in Virginia), Gebhart v. Belton (filed in Delaware), and Bolling v. Sharpe (filed in Washington D.C.).

All were NAACP-sponsored cases. The Davis case, the only case of the five originating from a student protest, began when sixteen year old Barbara Rose Johns organized and led a 450 student walkout of Moton High School.

The Kansas case was unique among the group in that there was no contention of gross inferiority of the segregated schools’ physical plant, curriculum, or staff. The district court found substantial equality as to all such factors. The Delaware case was unique in that the District Court judge in Gebhart ordered that the black students be admitted to the white high school due to the substantial harm of segregation and the differences that made the schools separate but not equal. The NAACP’s chief counsel, Thurgood Marshall – who was later appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 – argued the case before the Supreme Court for the plaintiffs. Assistant attorney general Paul Wilson – later distinguished emeritus professor of law at the University of Kansas – conducted the state’s ambivalent defense in his first appellate trial.

Not everyone accepted the Brown v. Board of Education decision. In Virginia, Senator Harry F. Byrd, Sr. organized the Massive Resistance movement that included the closing of schools rather than desegregating them. See, for example, The Southern Manifesto. For more implications of the Brown decision, see Desegregation.

In 1957, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus called out his state’s National Guard to block black students’ entry to Little Rock High School. President Dwight Eisenhower responded by deploying elements of the 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Kentucky to Arkansas and by federalizing Faubus’ National Guard.

Also in 1957, Florida’s response was mixed. Its legislature passed an Interposition Resolution denouncing the decision and declaring it null and void. But Florida Governor Thomas LeRoy Collins refused to sign it arguing that the state must follow the Supreme Court’s ruling. Tourism and Florida’s popular image probably played a role in its muted response.

In 1963, Alabama Gov. George Wallace personally blocked the door to Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama to prevent the enrollment of two black students. This became the infamous “Stand at the Schoolhouse Door,” where Wallace personally backed his “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” policy that he had stated in his 1963 inaugural address. He moved aside only when confronted by federal marshals and Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach.

Plessy v. Ferguson, the landmark United States Supreme Court decision, upholding the constitutionality of racial segregation, under the doctrine of “separate but equal” were, in part, tied to the scientific racism of the era, however the popular support for the decision was more likely a result of the racist beliefs held by many whites at the time. In deciding Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court rejected the ideas of scientific racists about the need for segregation, especially in schools. The Court buttressed its holding by citing social science research about the harms to black children caused by segregated schools.

Both scholarly and popular ideas of scientific racism played an important role in the attack and backlash that followed the Brown decision. The Mankind Quarterly is a journal that has published scientific racism. It was founded in 1960, in part in response to the 1954 United States Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education that ordered the desegregation of U.S. schools. Many of the publication’s contributors, publishers, and Board of Directors espouse academic hereditarianism. The publication is widely criticized for its extremist politics, antisemitic bent and its support for scientific racism.

In 1955, the Supreme Court considered arguments by the schools requesting relief concerning the task of desegregation. In their decision which became known as “Brown II” the court delegated the task of carrying out school desegregation to district courts with orders that desegregation occur “with all deliberate speed,” a phrase traceable to Francis Thompson’s poem, The Hound of Heaven.

Supporters of the earlier decision were displeased with this decision. The language “all deliberate speed” was seen by critics as too ambiguous to ensure reasonable haste for compliance with the court’s instruction. Many Southern states and school districts interpreted “Brown II” as legal justification for resisting, delaying, and avoiding significant integration for years – and in some cases for a decade or more – using such tactics as closing down school systems, using state money to finance segregated “private” schools, and “token” integration where a few carefully selected black children were admitted to former white-only schools but the vast majority remained in underfunded, unequal black schools.

For example, based on “Brown II,” the U.S. District Court ruled that Prince Edward County, Virginia did not have to desegregate immediately. When another court case in 1959 ruled that the county’s schools finally had to desegregate, the county board of supervisors stopped appropriating money for public schools which remained closed for five years, from 1959 to 1964. White students in the county were given assistance to attend white-only “private academies” that were taught by teachers formerly employed by the public school system, while black students had no education at all unless they moved out of the county.

In 1978, Topeka attorneys Richard Jones, Joseph Johnson and Charles Scott Jr. (son of the original Brown team member), with assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union, persuaded Linda Brown Smith – who now had her own children in Topeka schools – to be a plaintiff in reopening Brown. They were concerned that the Topeka Public Schools’ policy of “open enrollment” had led to and would lead to further segregation. They also believed that with a choice of open enrollment, white parents would shift their children to “preferred” schools that would create both predominantly African American and predominantly European American schools within the district. The district court reopened the Brown case after a 25-year hiatus, but denied the plaintiffs’ request finding the schools “unitary”. In 1989, a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit on 2-1 vote found that the vestiges of segregation remained with respect to student and staff assignment. In 1993, the Supreme Court denied the appellant School District’s request for certiorari and returned the case to District Court Judge Richard Rodgers for implementation of the Tenth Circuit’s mandate.

After a 1994 plan was approved and a bond issue passed, additional elementary magnet schools were opened and district attendance plans redrawn, which resulted in the Topeka schools meeting court standards of racial balance by 1998. Unified status was eventually granted to Topeka Unified School District #501 on July 27, 1999. One of the new magnet schools is named after the Scott family attorneys for their role in the Brown case and civil rights.

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Black History: The Later Klans

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From Wikipedia:

The name “Ku Klux Klan” began to be used by several independent groups. Beginning in the 1950s, individual Klan groups began to resist the Civil Rights Movement by bombing houses in transitional neighborhoods and the houses of activists, as well as by physical violence, intimidation and assassination. In Birmingham, Alabama, during the tenure of Bull Connor, Klan groups were closely allied with police and operated with impunity. There were so many bombings of homes by Klan groups that the city’s nickname was “Bombingham”. In states such as Alabama and Mississippi, Klan members had alliances with governors’ administrations.

Many murders went unreported and unprosecuted. Continuing disfranchisement of blacks meant that most could not serve on juries, which were all white. According to a report from the Southern Regional Council in Atlanta, the homes of forty black Southern families were bombed during 1951 and 1952. Some were social activists whose work exposed them to danger, but most were either people who refused to bow to racist convention or were innocent bystanders, unsuspecting victims of random terrorism.”

Among the more notorious murders by Klan members:

  • The 1951 Christmas Eve bombing of the home of NAACP activists Harry and Harriette Moore in Mims, Florida, resulting in both their deaths.
  • The 1957 murder of Willie Edwards, Jr. Klansmen forced Edwards to jump to his death from a bridge into the Alabama River.
  • The 1963 assassination of NAACP organizer Medgar Evers in Mississippi. In 1994, former Ku Klux Klansman Byron De La Beckwith was convicted.
  • The 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four black girls. The perpetrators were Klan members Robert Chambliss, convicted in 1977, Thomas Blanton and Bobby Frank Cherry, convicted in 2001 and 2002. The fourth suspect, Herman Cash, died before he was indicted.
  • The 1964 murders of three civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner in Mississippi. In June 2005, Klan member Edgar Ray Killen was convicted of manslaughter.
  • The 1964 murder of two black teenagers, Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore in Mississippi. In August 2007, based on the confession of Klansman Charles Marcus Edwards, James Ford Seale, a reputed Ku Klux Klansman, was convicted. Seale was sentenced to serve three life sentences. Seale was a former Mississippi policeman and sheriff’s deputy.

The 1965 Alabama murder of Viola Liuzzo. She was a Southern-raised Detroit mother of five in the state to attend a civil rights march. At the time of her murder Liuzzo was transporting Civil Rights Marchers.

The 1966 firebombing death of NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer Sr., 58, in Mississippi. In 1998 former Ku Klux Klan wizard Sam Bowers was convicted of his murder and sentenced to life. Two other Klan members were indicted with Bowers, but one died before trial, and the other’s indictment was dismissed.

There was also resistance to Klan violence. In a 1958 North Carolina incident, the Klan burned crosses at the homes of two Lumbee Native Americans who had associated with white people and threatened to return with more men. When they held a nighttime rally nearby, they found themselves surrounded by hundreds of armed Lumbees. Gunfire was exchanged, and the Klan was routed at what became known as the Battle of Hayes Pond.

When Freedom Riders arrived in Birmingham, Alabama, the police commissioner Bull Connor gave Klan members fifteen minutes to attack the riders before sending in the police. When local and state authorities failed to protect them, the federal government established more effective intervention. While the FBI had paid informants in the Klan, for instance in Birmingham, Alabama in the early 1960s, their relations with local law enforcement and the Klan were often ambiguous. The head of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover, appeared more concerned about Communist links to civil rights activists than about controlling Klan excesses. In 1964, the FBI’s COINTELPRO program began attempts to infiltrate and disrupt civil rights groups.

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The Black Soldier



The Black Soldier (clip)

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert

Three score ago, after a long history of service, superior, and yet segregated, Black soldiers were recognized as equal, or at least consideration for the possibility was put forth.  In truth, then and perhaps now, manpower needs took precedence over racial prejudice in name only.  The story begins on July 26, 1948, or perchance, years earlier.  Historians speak of President Harry S. Truman’s doctrine, Executive Order 9981.  The directive states, “It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.”  While the words are wondrous, the tale of what was and is, does not begin or end with this decree.

Segregation in the Armed Forces was perhaps a source of embarrassment to many Americans and the President of the “United” States.  Before 1940, and America’s entrance into World War II, African American soldiers served with honor and little acknowledgement.  Troops whose complexion was dark were forbidden from flying for the U.S. military forces.  Frustrated with the reality that, years after being freed from slavery, African-Americans, had little opportunity to “soar,”  “Civil Rights organizations and the Black press exerted pressure.” The strength of community outreach and a media delivered message helped to bring about long overdue change.  Ultimately, in 1941, an all African-American squadron based in Tuskegee, Alabama, was formed.  They became known as the Tuskegee Airmen.  After the Second World War, the honorable actions of the Tuskegee Airmen were recognized more than once amongst average Americans.  Indeed, these prized professionals were revered.

Perchance, Harry Truman heard the words of praise for the Black military pilots and realized he could no longer ignore the issue of segregation amongst servicemen; nor would he wish to.  For, possibly, to this President, it had become obvious; when a man is allowed to be truly powerful, as the Airmen were, they serve in more than name only.  The President proposed as he placed his signature on the proclamation,

“Whereas it is essential that there be maintained in the armed services of the United States the highest standards of democracy, with equality of treatment and opportunity for all those who serve in our country’s defense.. . .

It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion or national origin.”

Had Harry Truman not been aware of the esteemed Airmen, he may have known of the presence of dark skinned soldiers in American history, Buffalo Soldiers. These troops may have influenced his thoughts.  The all-Black brigades became better known after the second war meant to end all wars.  From 1941 through 1945, in World War II, Black military men served proudly and prominently, under the direction of Commander-In-Chief Truman.

Some 500,000 Blacks were stationed overseas, amounting to 4% of the 11 million Americans who served on foreign shores. About 10% of blacks were in combat units. The all-black 92nd Infantry was in Italy, and had 616 killed in action and 2,187 wounded. The 93rd Division was stationed in the South Pacific, losing 17 KIA and 121 WIA. There was also the black 366th Infantry (Separates).?

During the Battle of the Bulge, 2,500 blacks were formed into all black Infantry platoons and attached to larger units. The famed 761st Tank Battalion spent 183 continuous days in combat in the European Theater, earning a Presidential Unit Citation. The 333rd Field Artillery bravely supported ground operations in France.?

Three all-black air units flew overseas: 332nd Fighter Group, 477th Bombardment Group and the 99th Fighter Squadron. Sixty-six Black pilots were killed in action. A total of 140,000 blacks served in the Army Air Forces. Nearly 150,000 Blacks served in the Navy. Of the 12,000 Black Marines, 9 were killed in action.

President Truman may have understood all that African-American soldiers had done to help achieve an American victory.  Yet, he also understood, that no matter what the Black troops did in the service to their country, they would always be seen as unequal, that is unless action was taken to correct the fate of soldiers whose skin was a purplish-brown hue.

This was made more apparent when, on February 13, 1946, two years before President Truman signed Executive Order 9981 into law.  On Valentine’s Day eve, love was lost for an African-American World War II veteran, Isaac Woodard.  The honorably discharged Sergeant, a decorated soldier, was attacked and blinded by policemen in Aiken, South Carolina.  President Truman took notice.  Actually, he had too.  Although, initially the periodicals did not cover the story, word did spread.  Soon the major news outlets printed reports and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) publicized the occurrence.  Manpower, precedence, and prejudice again are considerations in the life of a Black soldier.

(N)ews soon also emerged in popular culture. Via his radio show, broadcaster and movie celebrity Orson Welles soon began to crusade for the punishment of Shull (the officer who intentionally blinded Mister Woodard) and his accomplices.  Welles, a follower of the civil rights movement, found the reaction of the South Carolina government to be intolerable and shameful.

The news would also have an impact on music as well. A month after the beating, calypso artist Lord Invader recorded an anti-racism song for his album Calypso at Midnight entitled “God Made Us All,” with the last line in the song directly referencing the incident.

Perhaps, President Harry Truman was not moved by music or media personalities.  Possibly, more prominent in his mind were the internal communications that circulated through the White House.  Two years to the day, before Executive Order 9981 was signed a memorandum “Re:  Stoppage of Negro Enlistments” marched through the halls at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  The document, from the desk of  Philleo Nash, Special Assistant to the President, was addressed to David K. Niles, Administrative Assistant to Harry Truman. The communication referenced “undesirable and uneconomical” Black soldiers.

As the discussion of what to do with Black troops raged on within the walls of the White House, a Caucasian crowd pulled two African-American veterans and their wives from their automobile near Monroe, Georgia.  The Black citizens were shot to death; their bodies riddled with bullets.  Upon investigation, it was discovered sixty (sixty) rounds were fired into the purplish brown flesh of these four innocent persons.  Their only crime was the color of their skin.  Whites in the community found the darker hue objectionable.  Again, it mattered not that the men were soldiers, honorably discharged after years of service to the country that denied them equal rights, the “United” States of America.  On this occasion, the need or want of a few white men took precedence over racial justice.  This may have disturbed the man in the Oval Office, Harry Truman.  The Commander took action.

Within days of the horrific occurrence, on July 30, 1946, Attorney General Tom Clark announced that the President had instructed the Justice Department to “proceed with all its resources to investigate [the Monroe, Georgia atrocity] and other crimes of oppression so as to ascertain if any Federal statute can be applied.”

Months later, in a letter to the National Urban League, President Truman resolved; the government has “an obligation to see that the civil rights of every citizen are fully and equally protected.”  Yet, it became increasingly apparent the Administration had done nothing to ensure the rights of African-Americans, in, or out of the Armed Forces.

As months turn into years, and racism remained rampant on the streets and in the barracks, Presidential Advisor Clark Clifford urged President Truman to consider the importance of the African-American vote and Civil Rights issues in the 1948 Presidential campaign.  Perhaps, that was the catalyst.  Expedience advanced equality.  Thus, Executive Order 9981 was signed into law.  End of story, all is well, and sixty years later Americans celebrate the anniversary of equal Rights for Black soldiers, or so it would seem.

Yet, on the same day the order was executed, Army staff officers spoke anonymously to the press.  Each official explained the Executive Order 9981 did not specifically forbid segregation in the Army.  Then Army Chief of Staff General Omar N. Bradley stated desegregation would come to the Army “only when it becomes a fact in the rest of American society.”  

While Americans may wish to believe that the ugly face of bigotry is gone for good, indeed, even in the twenty-first century, intolerance surfaces in subtle ways.  Once again, manpower needs took precedence over racial prejudice in name only.  Filmmaker Clint Eastwood had a need for a cast of characters.  He hoped to document the mêlée at Iwo Jima, 1945.  Yet, he did not tell the story a Black soldier who served in the battle might have.

On February 19 1945, Thomas McPhatter found himself on a landing craft heading toward the beach on Iwo Jima.

“There were bodies bobbing up all around, all these dead men,” said the former US marine, now 83 and living in San Diego. “Then we were crawling on our bellies and moving up the beach. I jumped in a foxhole and there was a young white marine holding his family pictures. He had been hit by shrapnel, he was bleeding from the ears, nose and mouth. It frightened me. The only thing I could do was lie there and repeat the Lord’s prayer, over and over and over.”

Sadly, Sgt McPhatter’s experience is not mirrored in Flags of Our Fathers, Clint Eastwood’s big-budget, Oscar-tipped film of the battle for the Japanese island that opened on Friday in the US. While the film’s battle, scenes show scores of young soldiers in combat, none of them are African-American. Yet almost 900 African-American troops took part in the battle of Iwo Jima, including Sgt McPhatter.

Apologies are offered.  Yet, not to Sergeant Thomas McPhatter, or by the director, Clint Eastwood.   The filmmaker said he did not include Blacks in the script “because there were no Afro-American soldiers involved.”  Notwithstanding, the facts, many servicemen of color fought for this country long before they were acknowledged or recognized by the State, society, or a screenwriter such as Clint Eastwood.  Mostly, the military men of color fought on two fronts.  First, Black servicemen battled with foreign foes.  Then they clashed with those at home who only saw their skin color.  Neighbors acted as local combatants, not allied forces.  Civilians, protected by active duty Black soldiers, accused those whose complexions were charcoal of crimes they had not committed.  The evidence offered was but a reflection of reality;  racial prejudice is preeminent.   Please consider a tale too true.

Army apologizes to soldiers convicted after 1944 Fort Lawton riot

By Keith Ervin

Seattle Times

For decades, Willie Prevost kept his secret.

Like most of his World War II Army buddies, he never told his family about his conviction for rioting during a night of violence that left a number of men injured and one dead at Seattle’s Fort Lawton in 1944.

But on Saturday, his family was there as the U.S. Army apologized in a ceremony to clear the names of Prevost and 27 other African-American soldiers who were convicted in a now-discredited court-martial.

Sixty-three years after they were sentenced to hard labor, and nearly all dishonorably discharged, “The Fort Lawton 28” were given military honors, with an Army band and color guard, gospel choir and speeches by U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, Mayor Greg Nickels, King County Executive Ron Sims and Assistant Secretary of the Army Ronald James.

Only two of the veterans lived to see the day. . .

In total, the families of five veterans were present.

Saturday’s ceremony took place on a Fort Lawton parade ground – now part of Seattle’s Discovery Park – 60 years to the day after President Harry Truman desegregated the armed forces.

Again, actions taken six decades earlier prove profound.  The past permeates the present.  As Americans celebrate six decades, since the end of segregation in the Armed Forces, we must accept that in actuality, prejudice still permeates and is prominent.  While it might be argued; there has been some progress. Decades later, apologies are offered to a few, or two.  There is still much to be done to right persistent wrongs.  Perhaps we may wish to ponder the present,

Blacks still rare in top U.S. military ranks

While blacks make up about 17% of the total force, they are just 9% of all officers, according to data obtained and analyzed by The Associated Press.

The rarity of blacks in the top ranks is apparent in one startling statistic: Only one of the 38 four-star generals or admirals serving as of May was black. And just 10 black men have ever gained four-star rank – five in the Army, four in the Air Force and one in the Navy, according to the Pentagon.

All is not well on the Western front.  America and Americans do not honor the contributions of all hues.  Accolades of “equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin.” aside, pinkish persons have yet to embrace the notion; we are one, the human race.

References Racial Discrimination and Executive Order 9981 . . .

Black History: The Tuskegee Airmen

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From Wikipedia:

Prior to the Tuskegee Airmen, no U.S. military pilots had been black. A series of legislative moves by the United States Congress in 1941 forced the Army Air Corps to form an all-black combat unit, despite the War Department’s reluctance. In an effort to eliminate the unit before it could begin, the War Department set up a system to accept only those with a level of flight experience or higher education that they expected would be hard to fill. This policy backfired when the Air Corps received an abundance of applications from men who qualified even under these restrictive specifications, many of whom had already participated in the Civilian Pilot Training Program, which the Tuskegee Institute had participated in since 1939.

The U.S. Army Air Corps had established the Psychological Research Unit 1 at Maxwell Army Air Field, Alabama, and other units around the country for aviation cadet training, which included the identification, selection, education, and training of pilots, navigators and bombardiers. Psychologists employed in these research studies and training programs used some of the first standardized tests to quantify IQ, dexterity, and leadership qualities in order to select and train the right personnel for the right role (bombardier, pilot, navigator). The Air Corps determined that the same existing programs would be used for all units, including all-black units. At Tuskegee, this effort would continue with the selection and training of the Tuskegee Airmen.

On 19 March 1941, the 99th Pursuit Squadron (Pursuit being the pre-World War II descriptive for “Fighter”) was activated at Chanute Field in Rantoul, Illinois. Over 250 enlisted men were trained at Chanute in aircraft ground support trades. This small number of enlisted men was to become the core of other black squadrons forming at Tuskegee and Maxwell Fields in Alabama.

In June 1941, the Tuskegee program officially began with formation of the 99th Fighter Squadron at the Tuskegee Institute, a highly regarded university founded by Booker T. Washington, through the work of Lewis Adams and George W. Campbell (Tuskegee, Alabama) in Tuskegee, Alabama. The unit consisted of an entire service arm, including ground crew. After basic training at Moton Field, they were moved to the nearby Tuskegee Army Air Field about 16 km (10 miles) to the west for conversion training onto operational types. The Airmen were placed under the command of Capt. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., one of the few African American West Point graduates. His father Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. was the first black general in the U.S. Army.

During its training, the 99th Fighter Squadron was commanded by white and Puerto Rican officers, beginning with Maj. James Ellison. By 1942, however, it was Col. Frederick Kimble who oversaw operations at the Tuskegee airfield. Kimble maintained segregation on the field in deference to local customs – a policy the airmen resented. Later that year, the Air Corps replaced Kimble with the director of Instruction at Tuskegee Army Airfield, Maj. Noel F. Parrish. Parrish, counter to the prevalent racism of the day, was fair and open-minded, and petitioned Washington to allow the Tuskegee Airmen to serve in combat.

The 99th was ready for combat duty during some of the Allies’ earliest actions in the North African campaign, and was transported to Casablanca, Morocco, on the USS Mariposa. From there, they travelled by train to Oujda near Fes, and made their way to Tunis to operate against the Luftwaffe. The flyers and ground crew were largely isolated by racial segregation practices of their initial command, the 33rd Fighter Group and its commander Col. William W. Momyer, and left with little guidance from battle-experienced pilots beyond a week spent with Col. Phillip Cochran. The 99th’s first combat mission was to attack the small but strategic volcanic island of Pantelleria in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and Tunisia, in preparation for the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943. The 99th moved to Sicily where it received a Distinguished Unit Citation for its performance in combat.

However, Col. Momyer told media sources in the U.S. that the 99th was a failure and its pilots cowardly, incompentent or worse, resulting in a critical article in Time magazine. In response, a hearing was convened before the House Armed Services Committee to determine whether the Tuskegee Airmen “experiment” should be allowed to continue. Momyer accused the Airmen of being incompetent–based on the fact that they had seen little air-to-air combat during their time in theatre. To bolster the recommendation to scrap the project, a member of the committee commissioned and then submitted into evidence a “scientific” report by the University of Texas which purported to prove that Negroes were of low intelligence and incapable of handling complex situations (such as air combat). Col. Davis forcefully refuted the committee members’ claims, but only the intervention of Col. Emmitt “Rosie” O’Donnell prevented a recommendation for disbandment of the squadron from being sent to president Franklin D. Roosevelt. General Hap Arnold decided an evaluation of all Mediterranean Theatre P-40 units would be undertaken to determine the true merits of the 99th. The results showed the 99th FS to be as good or better than the other American units operating the fighter.

Shortly after the hearing, three new squadrons fresh out of training at Tuskegee embarked for Africa. After several months operating separately, all four squadrons were combined to form the all-black 332nd Fighter Group.

The Tuskegee Airmen were initially equipped with P-40 Warhawks, briefly with P-39 Airacobras (March 1944), later with P-47 Thunderbolts (June-July 1944), and finally with the airplane that they would become most identified with, the P-51 Mustang (July 1944).

On 27 January and 28 January 1944, Luftwaffe Fw 190 fighter-bombers raided Anzio, where the Allies had conducted amphibious landings on January 22. Attached to the 79th Fighter Group, eleven of the 99th Fighter Squadron’s pilots shot down enemy fighters, including Capt. Charles B. Hall, who claimed two shot down, bringing his aerial victory total to three. The eight fighter squadrons defending Anzio together claimed 32 German aircraft shot down whilst the 99th claimed the highest score among them with 13.

The squadron won its second Distinguished Unit Citation on 12 May-14 May 1944, while attached to the 324th Fighter Group, attacking German positions on Monastery Hill (Monte Cassino), attacking infantry massing on the hill for a counterattack, and bombing a nearby strong point to force the surrender of the German garrison to Moroccan Goumiers.

By this point, more graduates were ready for combat, and the all-black 332nd Fighter Group had been sent overseas with three fighter squadrons: the 100th, 301st and 302nd. Under the command of Col. Benjamin O. Davis, the squadrons were moved to mainland Italy, where the 99th FS, assigned to the group on 1 May, joining them on 6 June. The Airmen of the 332nd Fighter Group escorted bombing raids into Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Poland and Germany. Flying escort for heavy bombers, the 332nd racked up an impressive combat record. Reportedly, the Luftwaffe awarded the Airmen the nickname, “Schwarze Vogelmenschen,” or “Black Birdmen.” The Allies called the Airmen “Redtails” or “Redtail Angels,” because of the distinctive crimson paint on the vertical stabilizers of the unit’s aircraft. Although bomber groups would request Redtail escort when possible, few bomber crew members knew at the time that the Redtails were black.

A B-25 bomb group, the 477th Bombardment Group (Medium), was forming in the U.S. but completed its training too late to see action. The 99th Fighter Squadron after its return to the United States became part of the 477th, redesignated the 477th Composite Group.

By the end of the war, the Tuskegee Airmen were credited with 109 Luftwaffe aircraft shot down, the German-operated Italian destroyer TA-23 sunk by machine-gun fire, and destruction of numerous fuel dumps, trucks and trains. The squadrons of the 332nd FG flew more than 15,000 sorties on 1,500 missions. The unit received recognition through official channels and was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for a mission flown March 24, 1945, escorting B-17s to bomb the Daimler-Benz tank factory at Berlin, Germany, an action in which its pilots were credited with destroying three Me-262 jets, all belonging to the Luftwaffe’s all-jet Jagdgeschwader 7, in aerial combat that day, despite the American unit initially claiming 11 Me 262s on that particular mission. However on examing German records, JG 7 records just four Me 262s were lost and all of the pilots survived. In return the 463rd Bomb Group, one of the many B-17 groups the 322nd were escorting, lost two bombers. The 322nd themselves lost three P-51s during the mission. The bombers also made substantial claims, making it impossible to tell which units were responsible for those individual four kills. The 99th Fighter Squadron in addition received two DUCs, the second after its assignment to the 332nd FG. The Tuskegee Airmen were awarded several Silver Stars, 150 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 8 Purple Hearts, 14 Bronze Stars and 744 Air Medals. In all, 992 pilots were trained in Tuskegee from 1940 to 1946; about 445 deployed overseas, and 150 Airmen lost their lives in accidents or combat.

While it had long been said that the Redtails were the only fighter group who never lost a bomber to enemy fighters, suggestions to the contrary, combined with Air Force records and eyewitness accounts indicating that at least 25 bombers were lost to enemy fire, resulted in the Air Force conducting a reassessment of the history of this famed unit in late 2006. The claim that no bomber escorted by the Tuskegee Airmen had ever been lost to enemy fire first appeared on 24 March 1945, in the Chicago Defender, under the headline “332nd Flies Its 200th Mission Without Loss.” According to the 28 March 2007 Air Force report, however, some bombers under 332nd Fighter Group escort protection were shot down on the very day the Chicago Defender article was published. The subsequent report, based on after-mission reports filed by both the bomber units and Tuskegee fighter groups as well as missing air crew records and witness testimony, was released in March 2007 and documented 25 bombers shot down by enemy fighter aircraft while being escorted by the Tuskegee Airmen.

The controversy continued to attract news media attention in 2008. A St. Petersburg Times article quoted a historian at the Air Force Historical Research Agency as confirming the loss of up to 25 bombers. Disputing this, a professor at the National Defense University in Washington said he researched more than 200 Tuskegee Airmen mission reports and found no bombers were lost to enemy fighters. Bill Holloman, a Tuskegee airman who taught black studies at the University of Washington and now chairs the Airmen’s history committee, was reported by the Times as saying his review of records did confirm lost bombers, but “the Tuskegee story is about pilots who rose above adversity and discrimination and opened a door once closed to black America – not about whether their record is perfect”. One mission report states that on 26 July 1944: “1 B-24 seen spiraling out of formation in T/A (target area) after attack by E/A (enemy aircraft). No chutes seen to open.” A second report, dated 31 August 1944, praises group commander Gen. Benjamin O. Davis Jr. by saying he “so skillfully disposed his squadrons that in spite of the large number of enemy fighters, the bomber formation suffered only a few losses.”

Far from failing as originally expected, a combination of pre-war experience and the personal drive of those accepted for training had resulted in some of the best pilots in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Nevertheless, the Tuskegee Airmen continued to have to fight racism. Their combat record did much to quiet those directly involved with the group (notably bomber crews who often requested them for escort), but other units were less than interested and continued to harass the Airmen.

All of these events appear to have simply stiffened the Airmen’s resolve to fight for their own rights in the US. After the war, the Tuskegee Airmen once again found themselves isolated. In 1949, the 332nd entered the annual All Air Force Gunnery Meet in Las Vegas, Nevada and won. After segregation in the military was ended in 1948 by President Harry S. Truman with Executive Order 9981, the Tuskegee Airmen now found themselves in high demand throughout the newly formed United States Air Force. Some taught in civilian flight schools, such as the black-owned Columbia Air Center in Maryland.

Many of the surviving members of the Tuskegee Airmen annually participate in the Tuskegee Airmen Convention, which is hosted by Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.

In 2005, four Tuskegee Airmen (Lt. Col. Lee Archer, Lt. Col. Robert Ashby, MSgt. James Sheppard, and TechSgt. George Watson) flew to Balad, Iraq, to speak to active duty airmen serving in the current incarnation of the 332nd, reactivated as first the 332nd Air Expeditionary Group in 1998 and made part of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing. “This group represents the linkage between the ‘greatest generation’ of airmen and the ‘latest generation’ of airmen,” said Lt. Gen. Walter E. Buchanan III, commander of the Ninth Air Force and US Central Command Air Forces, in an e-mail to the Associated Press.

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