Tell retail companies to pay reparations, not shareholders


Image of the homepage of retail company, Caterpillar. Image includes several silhouetted faces in various shades of tan and brown. Homepage declares that Caterpillar is

When COVID-19 stay-at-home orders began, so did the layoffs.

Retail workers have been some of the hardest hit, losing their previously reliable income as many large corporations closed operations at several of their facilities. Despite retail giants like Caterpillar, Levi Strauss, Stanley Black & Decker, and Steelcase doing this, they have almost simultaneously paid large dividends to their shareholders. That means that while hourly and low-wage workers were laid off in droves, shareholders got an additional check. The rich are literally getting richer—$434 billion wealthier since the pandemic hit—and we can’t accept these kinds of practices while Black people continue to face low wages, inability to get the healthcare they need, and violence from police.

Demand retail companies Caterpillar, Levi Strauss, Stanley Black & Decker pay reparations by donating to organizations that are supporting on-the-ground protestors.

Below is the petition we will send to retail companies Caterpillar, Levi Strauss, Stanley Black & Decker, and Steelcase.

Fighting for racial justice is so much more than a declaration that denounces racism. It requires dedication and action behind your words. Right now, you have a statement on your website that states your support of Black people. But, when COVID-19 hit, you furloughed or fired your hourly workers, many of whom are Black. Retail workers are disproportionately Black, which means your decision to lay off hourly workers has an undue impact on Black people and our families.

At the same time that you laid off your hourly workers, The Washington Post indicates that you paid out millions of dollars to shareholders in the form of stock buybacks. This is a slap in the face to the hourly workers who have dedicated themselves to working at your company.

Releasing a statement in support of Black people is not enough. In order to rectify your harmful decision to pay shareholders instead of your hourly workers, we request that you pay reparations in the form of donations to organizations that are supporting on-the-ground protestors.

colorofchange.org

1877 – Henry O. Flipper became the first African American to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.


LT Henry Ossian Flipper
Lieutenant Henry Ossian Flipper
U.S. Army, 1856-1940

Henry Ossian Flipper was born in Thomasville, Georgia, on March 21, 1856, into slavery and spent his formative years in Georgia. Following the Civil War, he attended the American Missionary Association Schools in his home state. In 1873 Flipper was appointed to the U.S. Military Academy, and in 1877 he became the first African-American to graduate from the institution. He was commissioned a second lieutenant and assigned to the 10th Cavalry. From 1878 until 1880 Lieutenant Flipper served on frontier duty in various installations in the southwest, including Fort Sill, Oklahoma. His duties included scouting, as well as serving as post engineer surveyor and construction supervisor, post adjutant, acting assistant and post quartermaster, and commissary officer.

In 1881 Lieutenant Flipper’s commanding officer accused him of “embezzling funds and of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.” As a result of these charges, he was court-martialed.

LT Henry Ossian Flipper

He was acquitted of the embezzlement charge but was found guilty, by general court martial, of conduct unbecoming an officer. On June 30, 1882, he was dismissed from the Army as required by this conviction.

As a civilian, Henry Flipper went on to distinguish himself in a variety of governmental and private engineering positions. These included serving as surveyor, civil and military engineer, author, translator, special agent of the Justice Department, special assistant to the Secretary of the Interior with the Alaskan Engineering Commission, aide to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, as well as an authority on Mexican land and mining law.

He wrote and published several works. His first publication was an autobiography, The Colored Cadet at West Point ( New York: Lee, 1878; reprint, New York: Arno, 1898). His memoirs, Black Frontiersman: The Memoirs of Henry O. Flipper, first Black Graduate of West Point (Fort Worth, Texas: Texas Christian University Press, 1997) were compiled and edited with introduction and notes by Theodore D. Harris. His other works included Spanish and Mexican Land Laws: New Spain and Mexico for the Department of Justice in 1895.

Throughout the balance of his life, Henry Flipper maintained that he was innocent of the charges that resulted in his court-martial and dismissal from the Army and made numerous attempts to have his conviction reversed. He died in Georgia in 1940.

In 1976 descendants and supporters applied to the Army Board for the Correction of Military Records on behalf of Lieutenant Flipper. The Board, after stating that it did not have the authority to overturn his court-martial convictions, concluded the conviction and punishment were “unduly harsh and unjust” and recommended that Lieutenant Flipper’s dismissal commuted to a good conduct discharge. The Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) and The Adjutant General approved the Board’s findings, conclusions and recommendations and directed that the Department of the Army issue Lieutenant Flipper a Certificate of Honorable Discharge, dated 30 June 1882, in lieu of his dismissal on the same date.

On October 21, 1997, a private law firm filed an application of pardon with the Secretary of the Army on Lieutenant Flipper’s behalf. Seven months later, the application was forwarded by the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) to the Office of the Pardon Attorney, Department of Justice, with a recommendation that the pardon be approved. President William Jefferson Clinton pardoned Lieutenant Henry O. Flipper on February 19, 1999. In pardoning this officer, the President recognized an error and acknowledged the lifetime accomplishments of this American soldier.

Remarks by President Clinton at the Ceremony Honoring LT Henry O. Flipper

history.army

This website is provided as a service by the U.S. ARMY CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY

JUNETEENTH is coming – make your plans !!!


© JUNETEENTH.com

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.

Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order.

However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations.

And still, another, is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which or neither of these versions could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln’s authority over the rebellious states was in question For whatever the reasons, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.

General Order Number 3

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

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

The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation. While many lingered to learn of this new employer to employee relationship, many left before these offers were completely off the lips of their former ‘masters’ – attesting to the varying conditions on the plantations and the realization of freedom. Even with nowhere to go, many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom. North was a logical destination and for many it represented true freedom, while the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove the some into Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Settling into these new areas as free men and women brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore non-existent status for black people in America. Recounting the memories of that great day in June of 1865 and its festivities would serve as motivation as well as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territory. The celebration of June 19th was coined “Juneteenth” and grew with more participation from descendants. The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date.

Juneteenth Festivities and Food

A range of activities were provided to entertain the masses, many of which continue in tradition today. Rodeos, fishing, barbecuing and baseball are just a few of the typical Juneteenth activities you may witness today. Juneteenth almost always focused on education and self improvement. Thus, often guest speakers are brought in and the elders are called upon to recount the events of the past. Prayer services were also a major part of these celebrations.

Certain foods became popular and subsequently synonymous with Juneteenth celebrations such as strawberry soda-pop. More traditional and just as popular was the barbecuing, through which Juneteenth participants could share in the spirit and aromas that their ancestors – the newly emancipated African Americans, would have experienced during their ceremonies. Hence, the barbecue pit is often established as the center of attention at Juneteenth celebrations.

Food was abundant because everyone prepared a special dish. Meats such as lamb, pork and beef which not available everyday were brought on this special occasion. A true Juneteenth celebrations left visitors well satisfied and with enough conversation to last until the next.

Dress was also an important element in early Juneteenth customs and is often still taken seriously, particularly by the direct descendants who can make the connection to this tradition’s roots. During slavery there were laws on the books in many areas that prohibited or limited the dressing of the enslaved. During the initial days of the emancipation celebrations, there are accounts of former slaves tossing their ragged garments into the creeks and rivers to adorn clothing taken from the plantations belonging to their former ‘masters’.

Juneteenth and Society

In the early years, little interest existed outside the African American community in participation in the celebrations. In some cases, there was outwardly exhibited resistance by barring the use of public property for the festivities. Most of the festivities found themselves out in rural areas around rivers and creeks that could provide for additional activities such as fishing, horseback riding and barbecues. Often the church grounds was the site for such activities. Eventually, as African Americans became land owners, land was donated and dedicated for these festivities. One of the earliest documented land purchases in the name of Juneteenth was organized by Rev. Jack Yates. This fund-raising effort yielded $1000 and the purchase of Emancipation Park in Houston, Texas. In Mexia, the local Juneteenth organization purchased Booker T. Washington Park, which had become the Juneteenth celebration site in 1898. There are accounts of Juneteenth activities being interrupted and halted by white landowners demanding that their laborers return to work. However, it seems most allowed their workers the day off and some even made donations of food and money. For decades these annual celebrations flourished, growing continuously with each passing year. In Booker T. Washington Park, as many as 20,000 African Americans once flowed through during the course of a week, making the celebration one of the state’s largest.

Juneteenth Celebrations Decline

Economic and cultural forces provided for a decline in Juneteenth activities and participants beginning in the early 1900’s. Classroom and textbook education in lieu of traditional home and family-taught practices stifled the interest of the youth due to less emphasis and detail on the activities of former slaves. Classroom text books proclaimed Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863 as the date signaling the ending of slavery – and little or nothing on the impact of General Granger’s arrival on June 19th.

The Depression forced many people off the farms and into the cities to find work. In these urban environments, employers were less eager to grant leaves to celebrate this date. Thus, unless June 19th fell on a weekend or holiday, there were very few participants available. July 4th was the already established Independence holiday and a rise in patriotism steered more toward this celebration.

Resurgence

The Civil Rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s yielded both positive and negative results for the Juneteenth celebrations. While it pulled many of the African American youth away and into the struggle for racial equality, many linked these struggles to the historical struggles of their ancestors. This was evidenced by student demonstrators involved in the Atlanta civil rights campaign in the early 1960’s, whom wore Juneteenth freedom buttons. Again in 1968, Juneteenth received another strong resurgence through Poor Peoples March to Washington D.C.. Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s call for people of all races, creeds, economic levels and professions to come to Washington to show support for the poor. Many of these attendees returned home and initiated Juneteenth celebrations in areas previously absent of such activity. In fact, two of the largest Juneteenth celebrations founded after this March are now held in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

Texas Blazes the Trail

On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official state holiday through the efforts of Al Edwards, an African American state legislator. The successful passage of this bill marked Juneteenth as the first emancipation celebration granted official state recognition. Edwards has since actively sought to spread the observance of Juneteenth all across America.

Juneteenth In Modern Times

Today, Juneteenth is enjoying a phenomenal growth rate within communities and organizations throughout the country. Institutions such as the Smithsonian, the Henry Ford Museum and others have begun sponsoring Juneteenth-centered activities. In recent years, a number of local and national Juneteenth organizations have arisen to take their place along side older organizations – all with the mission to promote and cultivate knowledge and appreciation of African American history and culture.

Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. As it takes on a more national, symbolic and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all of the roots tie back to this fertile soil from which a national day of pride is growing.

The future of Juneteenth looks bright as the number of cities and states creating Juneteenth committees continues to increase. Respect and appreciation for all of our differences grow out of exposure and working together. Getting involved and supporting Juneteenth celebrations creates new bonds of friendship and understanding among us. This indeed, brightens our future – and that is the Spirit of Juneteenth.

History of Juneteenth ©JUNETEENTH.com

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Lupita Nyong’o and skin whitener ~repost reminder …a lifeline


Wethepeople

In this era of trump …a repost was needed

So, this speech given by Lupita Nyong’o was at the Essence Magazine 7th Annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon in Beverly Hills, California, USA, she was honoured with the Breakthrough Performance Award. It was 2014

I had to read and re-read the speech below because she addressed my own call for People of Colour to STOP the practice of skin whitening. This practice is far from new, it has unfortunately become a billion dollar snake that needs its head cut off, a severe reprimand of those who push white is right, begin to provide services that help those who hate themselves and the skin they live in. The speech is beyond illuminating lest we say eloquent and she addressed a letter, in which she talked about a fan who wrote to her about hating her dark skin so much she had bought the controversial skin lightening cream by Dencia called Whitenicious …Lupita spoke about Dencia’s skin bleaching cream, her own issues with hating her dark skin as a teenager & more … below

Lupita’s speech:

I wrote down this speech, I had no time to practice so this will be the practicing session.

Thank you Alfre, for such an amazing, amazing introduction and celebration of my work. And thank you very much for inviting me to be a part of such an extraordinary community.

I am surrounded by people who have inspired me, women in particular whose presence on screen made me feel a little more seen and heard and understood. That it is ESSENCE that holds this event celebrating our professional gains of the year is significant, a beauty magazine that recognizes the beauty that we not just possess but also produce.

I want to take this opportunity to talk about beauty, Black beauty, dark beauty. I received a letter from a girl and I’d like to share just a small part of it with you: “Dear Lupita,” it reads, “I think you’re really lucky to be this Black but yet this successful in Hollywood overnight. I was just about to buy Dencia’s Whitenicious cream to lighten my skin when you appeared on the world map and saved me.”

My heart bled a little when I read those words, I could never have guessed that my first job out of school would be so powerful in and of itself and that it would propel me to be such an image of hope in the same way that the women of The Color Purple were to me.

I remember a time when I too felt unbeautiful. I put on the TV and only saw pale skin, I got teased and taunted about my night-shaded skin. And my one prayer to God, the miracle worker, was that I would wake up lighter-skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of a mirror because I wanted to see my fair face first. And every day I experienced the same disappointment of being just as dark as I was the day before. I tried to negotiate with God, I told him I would stop stealing sugar cubes at night if he gave me what I wanted, I would listen to my mother’s every word and never lose my school sweater again if he just made me a little lighter. But I guess God was unimpressed with my bargaining chips because He never listened.

And when I was a teenager my self-hate grew worse, as you can imagine happens with adolescence. My mother reminded me often that she thought that I was beautiful but that was no conservation, she’s my mother, of course she’s supposed to think I am beautiful. And then…Alek Wek. A celebrated model, she was dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was. Even Oprah called her beautiful and that made it a fact. I couldn’t believe that people were embracing a woman who looked so much like me, as beautiful. My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome and all of a sudden Oprah was telling me it wasn’t. It was perplexing and I wanted to reject it because I had begun to enjoy the seduction of inadequacy. But a flower couldn’t help but bloom inside of me, when I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny.

Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated by the far away gatekeepers of beauty. But around me the preference for my skin prevailed, to the courters that I thought mattered I was still unbeautiful. And my mother again would say to me you can’t eat beauty, it doesn’t feed you and these words plagued and bothered me; I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be.

And what my mother meant when she said you can’t eat beauty was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and for those around you. That kind of beauty enflames the heart and enchants the soul. It is what got Patsey in so much trouble with her master, but it is also what has kept her story alive to this day. We remember the beauty of her spirit even after the beauty of her body has faded away.

And so I hope that my presence on your screens and in the magazines may lead you, young girl, on a similar journey. That you will feel the validation of your external beauty but also get to the deeper business of being beautiful inside.

There is no shame in Black beauty.

 Lupita’s  speech  is a letter filled with humor , love and a lot of wisdom for little girls of colour from 1 – 98 who need to be taught self-love while the entertainment business needs to accept that POC come in all colours shapes sizes, speak differently and some of us don’t sing or dance, but plenty of us have great talent that should be accepted without having to make drastic changes to our features like skin whitening to get a part or a job …crossover

~~ Nativegrl77