Hidden Figures – a story hidden from that section in our history books – the space race – Jan.6

the accomplishments of NASA’s black “human computers” whose work was at the heart of the country’s greatest battles

HIDDEN FIGURES is the incredible untold story of Katherine Johnson  (Taraji P. Henson)

Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer)

and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)

—brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.

Read the book that inspired the movie: Buy Now


Theodore Melfi

Screenplay by

Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly


Donna Gigliotti, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Pharrell Williams, Theodore Melfi


Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, Glen Powell, Kimberly Quinn and Kevin Costner

What happened to Sandra Bland ?

“You just slammed my head to the ground. Do you not even care about that?”

These were some of the last words of 28-year-old Sandra Bland. On Friday, Texas State troopers pulled Sandra over as she was driving to her new job for allegedly not using the turn signals during a lane change.1 What happened next was all too familiar and terrifying.

An eye-witness says police ripped Sandra out of the car, violently slammed her on the ground, and arrested her as she screamed for help. Just 72 two hours later, she was dead.2 Police are claiming Sandra took her own life, but her family and friends don’t believe it. Local District Attorney Elton Mathis has already said he has no reason to expect foul play and handed over the investigation to the same police agency that arrested Sandra.

Police cannot police themselves. Urge Attorney General Lynch to thoroughly investigate Sandra’s death and hold all those responsible fully accountable.

Justice for Sandy

DA Mathis said there was no reason for concern, despite the fact that an allegedly routine traffic stopped turned into a violent arrest is itself a cause for concern.3 Sandra’s family says that Sandra would never kill herself and that police seem to be covering up her death.4 We must demand that local officials release all video, information and photographs relating to Sandra’s unjust arrest, imprisonment and death.

The local police department and prosecutor’s office have a long history of racism and corruption. Last year, DA Mathis threatened a local Reverend who spoke out about racist prosecutions, saying he would release his “hounds” on the Reverend.5 Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith was fired from the police department in Hempstead, Texas for documented cases of racism.5

According to her loved ones, Sandra Bland was a loving, compassionate woman, with a bright future ahead.6 Today would have been the first day at her new job working student outreach at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University. Loved ones described her as bright, spirited, and having a thirst for life. She was also a vocal advocate against police brutality and often spoke about ending racism and police violence. Our hearts and minds are with her friends and family as they move through this unimaginably hard time.

But in a world where Black people are stereotyped as “violent” and police exist to enforce the boundaries of a deeply divided and racist society, who Sandy was or the life she was creating, did not matter. What mattered was that she was Black, and therefore, in the eyes of the law, didn’t deserve respect, didn’t deserve her civil rights, her freedom or her life. To be Black in America, is to be safe nowhere. Black women are 3 to 4 times more likely to be targeted by police and incarcerated than white women.7

The Department of Justice and Attorney General Lynch have the power and responsibility to address the systemic police violence targeting Black communities. The reality is, racism, corruption and a deep-seated culture of secrecy prevents local and state police from holding themselves accountable. Without independent oversight, police will continue to kill and prosecutors will continue to do nothing. We should not have to demand justice, every time a Black person is murdered, but we will continue to do so until the justice system respects Black lives.

Urge US Attorney General Loretta Lynch to secure justice for Sandy and help end discriminatory police violence targeting Black people in Texas.

Thanks and peace,

— Rashad, Arisha, Shani, Lyla and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
July 16th, 2015


1. “Sandra Bland Drove to Texas to Start a New Job, so How Did She End Up Dead in Jail?”, 07-16-15

2. “Family says woman found dead in jail cell would not kill herself; Texas Rangers investigating”, 07-16-15

3. See reference 2.

4. See reference 2.

5. “Pastor says Waller DA threatened him”, 06-03-14

6. “The Texas Sheriff Where Sandra Bland Died Was Previously Suspended for Racism”, 07-16-15

7. “Incarcerated Women”, The Sentencing Project 08-2015

Greensboro Sit-In ~ February ~ American History

1960 – Four black college students began a sit-in protest at a lunch counter in Greensboro, NC. They had been refused service.

The Greenboro Sit-Ins of 1960 provoked all manner of emotions when they occurred and they remain an important part of civil rights history. Accepting and taking to the limit Martin Luther King’s idea of non-violence and peaceful protests, the sit-ins provoked the type of reaction the Civil Rights movement wanted – public condemnation of the treatment of those involved but also continuing to highlight the issue of desegregation in the South. The sit-ins started in 1960 at Greensboro, North Carolina.

In this city, on February 1st, 1960, four African American college students from North Carolina A+T College (an all-black college) went to get served in an all-white restaurant at Woolworth’s. The shop was open to all customers regardless of colour, but the restaurant was for whites only. They asked for food, were refused service and asked to leave. The students had done research on what they were doing and had read a handout on tactics of resistance by CORE. This direct action by Ezell Blair Jnr, David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil sparked off the so-called sit-ins. However, they were not heroes to all African American people. One Black lady, a dishwasher, behind the counter was heard to shout at them that they were “stupid, ignorant…….rabble-rousers, troublemakers.” The food counter did not serve them but the café shut 30 minutes early. When the four students returned to their campus, they were greeted as heroes by fellow students.

Other students followed their example over the following days in February. On February 2nd, 24 students took part in a sit-in at Woolworth’s food counter.


The above photo shows, left to right, Ronald Martin, Robert Patterson and (partially hidden) Mark Martin at the Woolworth’s counter on February 2nd. The white lady on the left arrived at the counter for lunch but refused to sit down with African Americans; she left.

On February 4th, black students were joined by white female students from the North Carolina’s Women’s College. Segregated food counters throughout Greensboro were affected.

Such was the chaos created that the restaurant in Woolworth’s was forced to close. In its initial stages, theNAACP was reluctant to get involved and one thought mooted by the students was not to allow the involvement of adults. More and more students across the South copied the Greensboro example of direct action. By February 7th, there were 54 sit-ins throughout the South in 15 cities in 9 states.

One reason put forward for this approach by the students was that they had seen little return from other movements and they wanted the pace of the drive for equality speeded up. A future civil right leader, Robert Moses, claimed that he was sparked into action by the “sullen, angry and determined look” of the protesters that differed so much from the “defensive, cringing” expression common to most photos of protesters in the South.

One of the reasons that Greensboro was so important to the Civil Rights movement is that the press took a great interest in it and the protest was fully reported around the country. It obviously took Martin Luther Kingby surprise as it was only when a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference informed King of what was going on that he assured the protesters of his full support.

How successful were the sit-ins?

The photos of students (both white and African American) having food poured over them at lunch counters by those opposed to what they wanted, had an effect on the public in northern, eastern and western states. Many were horrified that at a time when the dictatorship of the Soviet Union was made clear to all, that such behaviour could take place in America – the land of the free. However, as Eisenhower had wished for, changes in the South had to come from the heart and not be enforced by a court in Washington; the protests only hardened attitudes amongst white segregationists in the South.

The sit-ins did have some impact. Stores in Atlanta, the city most associated with King, desegregated. The Woolworth’s at Greensboro eventually agreed to desegregate its food counter in July 1960 having lost $200,000 dollars of business or 20% of its anticipated sales.

But their value was more in terms of the coverage by the press and television which these protests received. To further their actions, students established the Student Non-violent Co-ordinating Committee (SNCC) with Marion Barry as its first leader. To some this was a negative move however as now there were four major civil rights movements in the South – NAACP, SCLC, CORE and SNCC. To which one were people more loyal to? There was even rancour in the ranks of the Civil Rights movement when King clashed with Roy Wilkins, leader of the NAACP, over the direction the movement was taking.

SNCC also involved itself with issues in the South. The position of the African Americans in the north had taken a backseat despite Ella Baker’s plea that SNCC should involve itself with housing, health care, voting and employment throughout America. Baker was the executive director of the SCLC. The NAACP never endorsed the sit-ins probably because of the different generations involved. The older NAACP leadership was clearly out of touch with the younger members of SNCC. Local NAACP groups did help the students with legal advice and bail money but this was done at an individual level not with the blessing of the NAACP hierarchy. One theory put forward for this is that those in the NAACP had jobs, mortgages etc and they feared losing all that they had if they were deemed outright supporters of direct action. As students, the youths had much less to lose.

Thurgood Marshall also derided the tactic, especially the tactic of jail-ins when the students deliberately cluttered up jails by refusing bail.

Regardless of this lack of support at the highest level in the NAACP, over 70,000 people took part in the sit-ins. They even spread to northern states such as Alabama and Ohio and the western state of Nevada. Sit-ins protested about segregated swimming pools, lunch counters, libraries, transport facilities, museums, art galleries, parks and beaches. By simply highlighting such practices, the students can claim to have played a significant part in the history of the civil rights movement.

Oscar Stanton DePriest, – Activist Black History

Image result for oscar stanton de priest

Oscar Stanton DePriest, born in Florence on March 9, 1871, was an American lawmaker and civil rights advocate who was the first Black Congressman of the 20th century. He moved to Chicago, where he became a successful businessman as a real estate broker, was a member of the board of commissioners of Cook County, Illinois, and served on the Chicago City Council from 1915-1917.

In 1928, De Priest became the first African American elected to Congress in the 20th century, representing the 1st Congressional District of Illinois as a Republican. During his three consecutive terms (1928-1935) as the only Black representative in Congress, De Priest introduced several anti-discrimination bills.

De Priest’s 1933 amendment barring discrimination in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Roosevelt. A third proposal, a bill to permit a transfer of jurisdiction if a defendant believed he or she could not get a fair trial because of race or religion, would be passed by another Congress in another era. Civil rights activists criticized De Priest for opposing federal aid to the needy, but they applauded him for speaking in the South despite death threats. They also praised him for telling an Alabama senator he was not big enough to prevent him from dining in the Senate restaurant and for defending the right of Howard University students to eat in the House restaurant. He was again elected to the Chicago city council in 1943 and served until 1947. De Priest died in Chicago, Illinois on May 12 1951.

Black History Month …a repost

by on Feb 9, 2012 still rings true

African American History Month honors the rich legacy of African Americans throughout our nation’s history. This year’s theme recognizes the unique contributions of African American women. February 9, 2012.