“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” -George Santayana (16 December 1863 in Madrid, Spain – 26 September 1952 in Rome, Italy) was a philosopher, essayist, poet, and novelist.
On March 7, 1965, hundreds of brave unarmed nonviolent women and men dared to March for African Americans’ right to vote.
The fact is that less than 1% of eligible Blacks could vote or register to vote.
A group of people organized a Peaceful Protest: The March would start in Selma then move on to the state capitol in Montgomery.
However, as these peaceful protesters tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge to Montgomery the police, seemingly already assuming a defensive posture; some on horses had, looking back, a predetermined tactical intervention plan against protesters. The protesters, mostly young African Americans also walked quietly with a mixture of older individuals and white Students as well: and as they did so police proceeded to try and control the protesters which quickly resulted in the “excessive use of force.”
As protesters continued, it became clear that the excessive force was now an active use of police brutality and acts of murder; the grotesque beating of a young black leader of nonviolent protesting #RepJohnLewis had his skull cracked open among other injuries to his body. These Montgomery officers were out to do harm as they surrounded and knocked out young protesters using their nightsticks, sprayed water cannons at close range while others used tear gas.
These kids had no weapons; they did NOT fight back because they were not there to fight, but showed much courage and strength in the face of absolute brutal violence by an adversarial organization minorities are expected to respect. These men in police uniforms hired to protect and serve citizens were actually a force activated by the state to show physical power, discrimination, and racism in all its worse forms.
We must never forget that some of our fellow Americans died for our right to vote! In what was an attempt to March in peaceful disobedience quickly became an adverse harmful environment to young black and white women and men, students from all backgrounds, folks who believed voting is a right had to quickly retreat while journalists and photographers became witnesses to the suffering violence and death.
The brutal reaction by the police was not only caught on tape it forced then-President Johnson, once against civil rights programs as a Senator to call on Congress for equal voting rights for all on March 15.
The Voting Act of 1965 became a law on August 6; is a landmark piece of national legislation in the United States that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the U.S.
A day that started out peacefully quickly descended into an awful ugly March of death for the right to vote called, “Bloody Sunday”.
Now, some 50 years later, a new “Jim Crow” era has emerged with a major step backward in the fight for civil and voting rights. Conservative states are targeting not only African Americans but Senior citizens, first-time voters, early voting, Students, low income, immigrants, and the undocumented though Republicans call them (illegals) Dreamers; some born or brought to the US as youngsters all victims of circumstance now voting age. Also, Governors from the Republican-controlled States are allowing election officials to purge voters, people without birth certificates were given limited or completely denied access to the voting booth failing to meet new voter ID regulations in time, and were treated like possible (illegals). This is the 21st Century; we should be on a progressive path toward equality for all not one that will re-engage folks in the act of racism or exclusion leading to suppressing participation in the election process. In 2017, Republicans tried to pass and or enforce new, even stricter voter ID legislation or influence their districts with strange redistricting rules and regulations. While some judges … have struck down some of these restrictive laws that ultimately suppress the vote, it is clear the effort to shut people of colour out of the election process sadly continues.
We need to push back on all attempts to suppress the Right to Vote.
With so much at stake, it is time to stop sitting on the sidelines. If we are going to succeed, Conservative lawmakers NEED to hear our Voices.
We cannot turn back the clock on Voting Rights For the sake of the Next Generation
Thank You for Taking Action
Guyot was born in Pass Christian, Miss., on July 17, 1939. He became active in civil rights while attending Tougaloo College in Mississippi, and graduated in 1963. Guyot received a law degree in 1971 from Rutgers University, and then moved to Washington, where he worked to elect fellow Mississippian and civil rights activist Marion Barry as mayor in 1978.
“When he came to Washington, he continued his revolutionary zeal,” Barry told The Washington Post on Friday. “He was always busy working for the people.”
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton told The Post in 2007 that she first met Guyot within days of his beating at a jail in Winona, Miss. “Because of Larry Guyot, I understood what it meant to live with terror and to walk straight into it,” she told the newspaper. On Friday, she called Guyot “an unsung hero” of the civil rights movement.
“Very few Mississippians were willing to risk their lives at that time,” she said. “But Guyot did.”
In recent months, his daughter said he was concerned about what he said were Republican efforts to limit access to the polls. As his health was failing, he voted early because he wanted to make sure his vote was counted, he told the AFRO newspaper.
so, i read this review of a book that took me back to information given to us in class at the UW …stunning, sad and eye opening information yet this book review revealed much more …
By Leonard Pitts Jr. / Syndicated columnist
Michelle Alexander’s ‘The New Jim Crow,’ a troubling and necessary book
Columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. suggests reading “The New Jim Crow,” by Michelle Alexander, who contends that the mass incarceration of black men for nonviolent drug offenses, combined with sentencing disparities and laws making it legal to discriminate against felons in housing, employment, education and voting, constitute nothing less than a new racial caste system.
“You have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this all while not appearing to.”
— Richard Nixon as quoted by H.R. Haldeman, supporting a get-tough-on drugs strategy
“They give black people time like it’s lunch down there. You go down there looking for justice, that’s what you find: just us.”— Richard Pryor
Michelle Alexander was an ACLU attorney in Oakland, preparing a racial-profiling lawsuit against the California Highway Patrol. The ACLU had put out a request for anyone who had been profiled to get in touch. One day, in walked this black man.
He was maybe 19 and toted a thick sheaf of papers, what Alexander calls an “incredibly detailed” accounting of at least a dozen police stops over a nine-month period, with dates, places and officers’ names. This was, she thought, a “dream plaintiff.”
But it turned out he had a record, a drug felony — and she told him she couldn’t use him; the state’s attorney would eat him alive. He insisted he was innocent, said police had planted drugs and beaten him. But she was no longer listening. Finally, enraged, he snatched the papers back and started shredding them.
“You’re no better than the police,” he cried. “You’re doing what they did to me!” The conviction meant he couldn’t work or go to school, had to live with his grandmother. Did Alexander know how that felt? And she wanted a dream plaintiff? “Just go to my neighborhood,” he said. “See if you can find one black man my age they haven’t gotten to already.”
She saw him again a couple of months later. He gave her a potted plant from his grandmother’s porch — he couldn’t afford flowers — and apologized. A few months after that, a scandal broke: Oakland police officers accused of planting drugs and beating up innocent victims. One of the officers involved was the one named by that young man.
“It was,” says Alexander now, more than 10 years later, “the beginning of me asking some hard questions of myself as a civil-rights lawyer. … What is actually going on in his neighborhood? How is it that they’ve already gotten to all the young African-American men in his neighborhood? I began questioning my own assumptions about how the criminal-justice system works.”
The result is a compelling new book. Others have written of the racial bias of the criminal-injustice system. In “The New Jim Crow,” Alexander goes a provocative step further. She contends that the mass incarceration of black men for nonviolent drug offenses, combined with sentencing disparities and laws making it legal to discriminate against felons in housing, employment, education and voting, constitute nothing less than a new racial caste system. A new segregation.
She has a point. Yes, the War on Drugs is officially race-neutral. So were the grandfather clause and other Jim Crow laws whose intention and effect was nevertheless to restrict black freedom.
The War on Drugs is a war on African-American people and we countenance it because we implicitly accept certain assumptions sold to us by news and entertainment media, chief among them that drug use is rampant in the black community. But. The. Assumption. Is. WRONG.
According to federal figures, blacks and whites use drugs at a roughly equal rate in percentage terms. In terms of raw numbers, whites are far and away the biggest users — and dealers — of illegal drugs.
So why aren’t cops kicking their doors in? Why aren’t their sons pulled over a dozen times in nine months? Why are black men 12 times likelier to be jailed for drugs than white ones? Why aren’t white communities robbed of their fathers, brothers, sons?
With inexorable logic, “The New Jim Crow” propounds an answer many will resist and most have not even considered. It is a troubling and profoundly necessary book.
Please read it.
Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr.’s column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. His e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
repost – in memory
Lonnie Bunch, museum director, historian, lecturer, and author, is proud to present A Page from Our American Story, a regular on-line series for Museum supporters. It will showcase individuals and events in the African American experience, placing these stories in the context of a larger story — our American story.
A Page From Our American Story
On July 5, 1852 approximately 3.5 million African Americans were enslaved — roughly 14% of the total population of the United States. That was the state of the nation when Frederick Douglass was asked to deliver a keynote address at an Independence Day celebration.
He accepted and, on a day white Americans celebrated their independence and freedom from the oppression of the British crown, Douglass delivered his now-famous speech What to the Slave is the Fourth of July. In it, Douglass offered one of the most thought provoking and powerful testaments to the hypocrisy, bigotry and inhumanity of slavery ever given.
Daguerreotype of Frederick Douglass
(1847-1852) by Samuel J. Miller.
The Art Institute of Chicago
Douglass told the crowd that the arguments against slavery were well understood. What was needed was “fire” not light on the subject; “thunder” not a gentle “shower” of reason. Douglass would tell the audience:
The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be denounced.
Frederick Douglass was born into slavery, most likely in February 1818 — birth dates of slaves were rarely recorded. He was put to work full-time at age six, and his life as a young man was a litany of savage beatings and whippings. At age twenty, he successfully escaped to the North. In Massachusetts he became known as a voice against slavery, but that also brought to light his status as an escaped slave. Fearing capture and re-enslavement, Douglass went to England and continued speaking out against slavery.
He eventually raised enough money to buy his freedom and returned to America. He settled in Rochester, New York in 1847 and began to champion equality and freedom for slaves in earnest. By then, his renown extended far beyond America’s boundaries. He had become a man of international stature.
One suspects that Rochester city leaders had Douglass’ fame and reputation as a brilliant orator in mind when they approached him to speak at their Independence Day festivities. But with his opening words, Douglass’ intent became clear — decry the hypocrisy of the day as it played out in the lives of the slaves:
Fellow citizens, pardon me, and allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I or those I represent to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits, and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?
You can easily imagine the wave of unease that settled over his audience. The speech was long, as was the fashion of the day. A link to the entire address can be found at the end of this Our American Story. When you read it you will discover that, to his credit, Douglass was uncompromising and truthful:
This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn … What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? … a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him your celebration is a sham … your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mock; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings … hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.
US Stamp honoring
Frederick Douglass, 1967.
US Postal Service
Reaction to the speech was strong, but mixed. Some were angered, others appreciative. What I’ve always thought most impressive about Douglass’ speech that day was the discussion it provoked immediately and in the weeks and months that followed.
Certainly much has changed since Douglass’ speech. Yet the opportunity to discuss and debate the important impact of America’s racial history is very much a part of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Douglass’ words remind us that many have struggled to ensure that the promise of liberty be applied equally to all Americans — regardless of race, gender or ethnicity. And that the struggle for equality is never over.
So, as we gather together at picnics, parades, and fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July, let us remember those, like Frederick Douglass, who fought and sacrificed to help America live up to its ideals of equality, fair play and justice.
Frederick Douglass’ life and words have left us a powerful legacy. His story, and the African American story, is part of us all.
To you and your family, have a joyous and safe Fourth of July and thank you for your interest in the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
All the best,
P.S. To read the full text Frederick Douglass’ speech of July 5, 1852, click here: http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=162
hope you will consider making a contribution to the Museum. Thank you for your support.