Tag Archives: public

Happy Birthday Stevie Wonder ~ Black History Month


in the Library … Michelle Alexander”s ‘The New Jim Crow,’


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

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.

Syndicated columnist

Related

“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: lpitts@miamiherald.com

African Americans in Full Color – in memory of Black History


NMAAHC -- National Museum of African American History and Culture

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

African Americans in Full Color

In the first half of the twentieth century, Americans became fascinated with photo journalism. Pictures were literally “worth a thousand words” as full-color magazines and tabloid newspapers became the rage.

Publications targeted to African American audiences that featured illustrations and photographs began appearing in the early 1900s. One of the earliest to effectively use illustrations and photography was The Crisis, the official publication of the NAACP. Seeking to educate and inform its readers with scholarly articles, the covers of the journal and its entertainment section were designed to appeal to the masses of African Americans.

In the 1930s, we see pictorial magazines such as Abbott’s Monthly, published by Robert Sengstacke Abbott, the founder of the Chicago Defender newspaper, and Flash, which billed itself as a “weekly newspicture magazine.” Published in Washington, D.C., Flash contained a mixture of news, gossip and advertisements and articles on racial issues, providing an overview of the highs and the lows of Black life in the 1930’s.

In 1942, African American businessman John H. Johnson founded the Johnson Publishing Company, a corporation that would go on to publish the well-known magazines Ebony, Jet, Tan, and Ebony Jr. The magazines promoted African American achievements and affirmative black imagery in popular culture, which appealed to readers … and to advertisers. Mr. Johnson was a savvy businessman and used the statistics of a rising black middle class to persuade companies and businesses that it was in their economic “self-interest” to advertise in his magazines to reach African American consumers.

With the success of the Johnson Publishing Company’s magazines, other magazines targeted to African Americans quickly came on the scene. For example, in 1947 Horace J. Blackwell published Negro Achievements, a magazine highlighting African American success articles and featuring reader-submitted true confessions stories. After Blackwell died in 1949, a white businessman named George Levitan bought the company and renamed the publication Sepia. This publication featured columns by writer John Howard Griffin, a white man who darkened his skin and wrote about his treatment in the segregated South, that eventually became the best-selling book Black Like Me.

Whether featuring positive images of African Americans, inspiration stories, news features or commentaries on racism, the rise of African American magazines defied long-held racial stereotypes through rich storytelling, in-depth reporting, and stunning photography.

Due to a variety of economic, editorial, and other factors, most of these magazines have ceased being published. Yet today some African American magazines are still a thriving part of popular culture. Johnson Publishing Company’s Ebony and its digital sites reach nearly 72% of African Americans and have a following of over 20.4 million people.

 dd-enews-temp-lonnie-bunch-2.jpg All the best,

Lonnie Bunch
Director

P.S. We can only reach our $250 million goal with your help. I hope you will consider making a donation or becoming a Charter Member today.

To read past Our American Stories, visit our archives.

Horace Julian Bond


NMAAHC -- National Museum of African American History and Culture

“We are better people because he walked
among us for a while.”

 
Julian Bond

Julian Bond came of age during that critical time in this nation’s history when winning equal rights for all took a great deal: a clear head, a big heart, a razor-sharp intellect, and a way with words.

Julian Bond had it all. And he could wrap all of it up to create whatever was needed at the time – either a tool or a weapon, a poem or a sermon. He was driven by a commitment to make America better.

While a Morehouse-based member of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), helping to organize the Freedom Summer of 1964 and its massive voter registration drive in Mississippi, Julian Bond took to task the American public and President Lyndon B. Johnson.

“We have learned through bitter experience in the past three years that the judicial, legislative and executive bodies of Mississippi form a wall of absolute resistance to granting civil rights to Negroes. It is our conviction that only a massive effort by the country backed by the full power of the President can offer some hope for even minimal change in Mississippi.”

Those words came from a letter Julian Bond wrote on April 28, 1964 to one of America’s most inspiring writers, James Baldwin. He was writing to encourage Baldwin to join a “jury” to hear “testimony” about Civil Rights violations from African Americans facing discrimination in employment, housing, and voting rights in Mississippi. Under a plan designed by SNCC and other members of the Council of Federated Organizations, the testimony would be presented to the President so he would be moved to create a government-sanctioned way to protect the Freedom Summer workers.

“The President must be made to understand that this responsibility rests with him, and him alone, and that neither he nor the American people can afford to jeopardize the lives of the people who will be working in Mississippi this summer by failing to take the necessary precautions before the summer begins.”

Bond’s letter to Baldwin has entered the collections of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It will be used alongside similar documents to show how people like Julian Bond helped design and fuel the Civil Rights Movement.

Bond was so committed to helping us tell that story well, that he became a member of the museum’s Civil Rights History Project advisory committee. In that role he helped us land interviews with some of the most important workers in the movement; he also conducted two of the more than 150 interviews for this oral history project. One was with Lawrence Guyot, the director of the 1964 Freedom Summer project in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Julian Bond wrote his letter to James Baldwin in 1964 at the age of 23. Less than three years later he would be awarded his seat in the Georgia House of Representatives by a unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court. Four years after that, in 1971, he would become the founding president of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Nearly 30 years later, in 1998, he would take the helm of the NAACP serving as its national chairman for an astonishing 12 years.

Julian Bond has spent his life as a champion in the campaign for equality. Much of what we as a nation know about compassion and commitment, we have learned from Julian Bond, the people he emulated and the people he inspired. We are sad because he has left us. And we are deeply honored that we had him for as long as we did … to help us help America live up to her promises. We are better people because he walked among us for a while.

Thank you, Horace Julian Bond.

Lonnie_Signature.jpg
Lonnie G. Bunch
Founding Director
Smithsonian
National Museum of African American History and Culture