Here are words from Dr. King that are never mentioned at this time of year.

After the end  of the Birmingham Campaign and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, Dr. King began work on his third book, Why We Can’t Wait, which told the story of Black American activism in the spring and summer of 1963.

King_Abernathy arrested

Rev. Ralph Abernathy, left, and Dr. King, are taken by a policeman after they led a line of demonstrators into the business section of Birmingham. (AP/Wide World)

In July 1963, Dr. King published an excerpt from his ‘‘Letter from A Birmingham Jail’’ in the Financial Post, entitling it, ‘‘Why the Negro Won’t Wait.’’ Dr. King explained why he opposed the slow-foot-dragging-begrudging approach to the civil rights demands of Black Americans. Referring to the arrival of Black Americans in the original 13 American colonies, Dr. King addressing that Black Americans have waited over 300 years to receive the rights granted them by God and the U.S. Constitution. Dr. King further expounded on these ideas in Why We Can’t Wait, his memoir of what he termed ‘‘The Negro Revolution’’ of 1963.

After being jailed on April 12, 1963 on trumped up charges that he and the Civil Rights activists were parading without a permit, on April 16, 1963, Dr. King wrote his letter to express dismay with the so-called  “white moderate”  community that made up the white churches, who he believed were more concerned with order than with justice for their fellow Black citizens. In his letter he spoke of the unjust laws that rode viciously over the defenseless Blacks in this nation. He spoke of true laws that were morally just. Most of all, he called out on the carpet the hypocritical back-stabbing moderate Whites. The so-called white moderates who were more of a threat to Black people than any racist KKK. The so-called moderates who have stood by for over 350 years, while watching the rapes, torture, beatings, castration, burnings, lynchings and brutish atrocities that  were committed with impunity against millions of innocent Black people.

In the letter he outlined the four basic steps to nonviolent campaigns: 1) collection of the facts to determine whether or not injustices exist, 2) negotiation, 3) self-purification, and 4) direct action.

Martin Luther King Jr NYWTS 4.jpg

New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer: Albertin, Walter, photographer.Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division


Dr. King wrote the letter on scraps of newspaper, writing in the margins of the paper during his time of his imprisonment. He finished writing it on notepads he received from his attorneys that they were allowed to give to him.

Recreation of Martin Luther King’s Cell in Birmingham Jail – National Civil Rights Museum – Downtown Memphis – Tennessee – USA. (Photo credit: Adam Jones, Ph.D.Own work)

Dr. King wrote these words 54 years ago, and they are just as relevant now as they were then.

Black Americans are still waiting on a racist white supremacy society of terrorism that still considers the humanity of Black Americans as null and void.

It is a wait in vain, as we cannot wait on the racist terrorists to ever acknowledge our humanity. They do not have it in them to do so, and their actions speak loud and clear on this day after day. . . .after day.



The excerpt below is from Martin Luther King’s Why We Can’t Wait, annotated by Michael Wilson as part of his honors thesis research at Stanford University. For the PDF, click here.

April 16, 1963


While confined here in the Birmingham City Jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine goodwill and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statements in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.

I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against “outsiders coming in.” I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every Southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty-five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct-action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns: and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of of the Greco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom far beyond my own hometown. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.

You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative.

In any nonviolent campaign there are four basic steps: collection of the facts to determine whether injustices exist; negotiation; self-purification; and direct action. We have gone through all of these steps in Birmingham. There can be no gainsaying the fact that racial injustice engulfs this community. Birmingham is probably the most thoroughly segregated city in the United States. Its ugly record of brutality is widely known. Negroes have experienced grossly unjust treatment in the courts. There have been more unsolved bombings of Negro homes and churches in Birmingham than in any other city in the nation. These are the hard, brutal facts of the case. On the basis of these conditions, Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good-faith negotiation.

Then, last September, came the opportunity to talk with leaders of Birmingham’s economic community. In the course of the negotiations, certain promises were made by the merchants–for example, to remove the stores’ humiliating racial signs.On the basis of these promises, the Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and the leaders of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights agreed to a moratorium on all demonstrations. As the weeks and months went by, we realized that we were the victims of a broken promise. A few signs, briefly removed, returned; the others remained.

As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community. Mindful of the difficulties involved, we decided to undertake a process of self-purification. We began a series of workshops on nonviolence, and we repeatedly asked ourselves: “Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?” “Are you able to endure the ordeal of jail?” We decided to schedule our direct-action program for the Easter season, realizing that except for Christmas, this is the main shopping period of the year. Knowing that a strong economic-withdrawal program would be the by-product of direct action, we felt that this would be the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.

Then it occurred to us that Birmingham’s mayoralty election was coming up in March, and we speedily decided to postpone action until after election day. When we discovered that the Commissioner of Police Safety, Eugene “Bull” Connor, had piled up enough votes to be in the run-off, we decided again to postpone action until the day after the run-off so that the demonstrations could not be used to cloud the issues. Like many others, we waited to see Mr. Connor defeated, and to this end we endured postponement after postponement. Having aided in this community need, we felt that our direct-action program could be delayed no longer.

You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks to so dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word “tension.” I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half-truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.

The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation. I therefore concur with you in your call for negotiation. Too long has our beloved Southland been bogged down in a tragic effort to live in monologue rather than dialogue.

One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: “Why didn’t you give the new city administration time to act?” The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we stiff creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you go forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”–then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.


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The OMB Directive 15 oversees the racial and ethnic categories used by the United States Census to categorize and compile racial classification of people via a decennial census.

The census has changed many times over the course of this country’s history, most notably when so-called Whites mixed with Black and Native people’s blood. From the first census, through each decade, racial classifications changed to benefit those classified as White, and to stifle, strangle and subjugate those classified as non-White. The so-called category mulatto has morphed over the centuries giving rise to the hateful racist One Drop Rule in its vicious application against the humanity of Black American and even when the category mulatto was dropped, the ramifications of racist white supremacy left behind a legacy of racial atrocities. One category stands out big time in the history of the census, and that is the category called “Some Other Race”. Per the U.S. 2010 Census on the issue of Some Other Race is as stated:

The Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program (PEP) produces estimates of the population for the United States, its states, counties, cities, and towns, as well as for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and its municipios (county-equivalents for Puerto Rico). Additionally, housing unit estimates are produced for the nation, states, and counties. The timing of the release of estimates varies according to the level of geography. The schedule of releases is available at https://www.census.gov/popest/schedule.html.

Population estimates use the race categories mandated by the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) 1997 standards: White; Black or African American; American Indian and Alaska Native; Asian; Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. These race categories differ from those used in Census 2010 in one important respect. Census 2010 also allowed respondents to select the category referred to as Some Other Race. When Census 2010 data were edited to produce the estimates base, respondents who selected the Some Other Race category alone were assigned to one of the OMB mandated categories. For those respondents who selected the Some Other Race category and one or more of the other race categories, the edits ignored the Some Other Race selection. This editing process produced tabulations from our estimates that show fewer people reporting two or more races than similar tabulations from Census 2010, because respondents who selected Some Other Race and one of the OMB mandated races in Census 2010 appear in the single OMB race category in the estimates base.

These values reflect updates to Census data from Count Question Resolution program revisions, any geographic changes that were incorporated since the census date, and the results of other Census operations. Further, we modified race categories to redistribute “Some other race” responses into the five Office of Management and Budget (OMB) race categories “alone or in combination.” For more information see: Modified Race Summary File Methodology.


Per the 2000 U.S. Census, the following definitions apply as follows:

  • White. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. It includes people who indicate their race as “White” or report entries such as Irish, German, English, Scandinavian, Scottish, Lebanese, Near Easterner, Arab, or Polish.

  • Black or African American. A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. It includes people who indicate their race as “Black, African Am.” or provide written entries such as Kenyan, Nigerian, or Haitian.

  • American Indian and Alaska Native. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment.

  • Asian. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam. It includes “Asian Indian”, “Chinese”, “Filipino”, “Korean”, “Japanese”, “Vietnamese”, and “Other Asian”.

  • Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands. It includes people who indicate their race as “Native Hawaiian”, “Guamanian or Chamorro”, “Samoan”, and “Other Pacific Islander”.

  • Some other race. Includes all other responses not included in the “White”, “Black or African American”, “American Indian and Alaska Native”, “Asian” and “Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander” race categories described above. Respondents providing write-in entries such as multiracial, mixed, interracial, We-Sort, or a Hispanic/Latino group (for example, Mexican, Puerto Rican, or Cuban) in the “Some other race” category are included here.

  • Two or more races. People may have chosen to provide two or more races either by checking two or more race response check boxes, by providing multiple write-in responses, or by some combination of check boxes and write-in responses.


Just what comprises the category “Some Other Race”?

What physical descriptions?

Not withstanding the Hispanic/Latino group for example, Mexican, Puerto Rican, or Cuban anyone can be Latino/Hispanic—Black, White, etc.—what would you look for to categorize Some Other Race?

If I worked for the U.S. Census, and was told to go out and try to find at least ten people who classified themselves as some other race, hell, I would be hard pressed to be able to give a concrete physical identifier of a Some Other Race person.

What kind of religion do Some Other race people profess and adhere to? What kind of cultural traditions do they have? What kind of written or oral language do they have? Do they hail from a specific nation?

What would the conclusions be to arrive at and decide who fits into this nebulous category?

Just what does a person declaring Some Other Race look like?

Here is another thing.

Many people are checking off the Some Other Race category as the following The Atlantic article indicates:

Something unusual has been taking­­­­­­ place with the United States Census: A minor category that has existed for more than 100 years is elbowing its way forward. “Some Other Race,” a category that first entered the form as simply “Other” in 1910, was the third-largest category after “White” and “Black” in 2010, alarming officials, who are concerned that if nothing is done ahead of the 2020 census, this non-categorizable category of people could become the second-largest racial group in the United States.

Among those officials is Roberto Ramirez, the assistant division chief of the Census Bureau’s special population statistics branch. Ramirez is familiar with the complexities of filling out the census form: He checks “White” and “Some Other Race” to reflect his Hispanic ethnicity. Ramirez joins a growing share of respondents who are selecting “Some Other Race.” “People are increasingly not answering the race question. They are not identifying with the current categories, so we are trying to come up with a (better) question,” Ramirez told me. Ramirez and his colleague, Nicholas Jones, the director of race and ethnic research and outreach at the Census Bureau, have been working on fine-tuning the form to extract detailed race and ethnic reporting, and subsequently drive down the number of people selecting “Some Other Race.”

The U.S. census form has evolved over 226 years. “Race is the oldest question we have in this country,” Ramirez said. “We asked it in our first census in 1790, and we have been asking it ever since, every 10 years in a different way and different shape, but consistently throughout.” “White” has been the only consistent racial term since August 1790, when marshals knocked on doors in the original 13 states and in the districts of Kentucky, Maine, Vermont, and the Southwest territory (Tennessee) to classify people as a “Free White Males” or “Free White Females,” “Slave,” or “All Other Free Persons.” The civil-rights era was a pivotal moment for how census data was used, Jones said. “Prior to that, the measurement of race and ethnicity in the census was often used, not for helping people, but to show how people can be differentiated,” he told me. “But from the 1960s onwards, the measurement was really used to address problems and concerns.” Today, it also serves to reapportion congressional seats and Electoral College votes.


In the coming years, this so-called nation can be in for a mish-mash, jumbled up racial category.

It will be no better than Mexico, Latin America and  Brazil’s multi-color classification.

But, the Some Other Race classification definitely does not bode well for Black Americans.

Those who consider themselves Some Other Race will most certainly not align themselves with some (in reality, many) of their fellow Black citizens.

In the end, they will do as all those who came before them who were the In-Betweens (Irish, Germans, Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Italians, Polish, etc.) who go over to the white side.

And as history documents, we all know what that ended up creating in this country.


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Jewel Plummer Cobb at her office at California State University, Fullerton, in 1988. The campus experienced a surge in growth during her tenure there. Credit California State University, Fullerton

Jewel Plummer Cobb, who became the first black woman to lead California State University, Fullerton, after being passed over for the presidency of Hunter College — a decision that led to accusations of racism and sexism against the City University of New York’s trustees — died on Jan. 1 at her home in Maplewood, N.J. She was 92.

Her son, Jonathan, said the cause was complications of Alzheimer’s disease.

When Dr. Cobb was appointed president of Fullerton in 1981, she was widely reported to be the first black woman to head a major university in the western United States.

She had previously been a dean at Rutgers University and at Connecticut College in New London, and before that had taught biology and had studied melanoma and cell physiology at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y.

As president of Fullerton, Dr. Cobb oversaw a period of substantial growth as she aggressively pursued state and private financing. During her tenure, the university branch’s first on-campus housing was built; its schools of communication, computer science and engineering were established; and its enrollment increased. She retired in 1990.

Dr. Cobb arrived in Fullerton after being considered for the presidency of Hunter College, in Manhattan, in 1979 in a contentious atmosphere. She was dean of Douglass College at Rutgers at the time and would have been Hunter’s first black president had she been appointed to succeed Jacqueline G. Wexler, who was retiring after nearly a decade as the college’s president.

Initially, the CUNY trustees were also considering Robert S. Hirschfield, chairman of Hunter’s political science department, for the post.

Robert J. Kibbee, the CUNY chancellor, recommended Dr. Cobb, but faculty members, students and alumni preferred Dr. Hirschfield, a popular figure on campus. Unable to choose between the two, and with classes resuming, the trustees in September appointed an acting president.

They also began to consider other candidates, including Donna E. Shalala, the assistant United States housing secretary, and Clyde H. Wingfield, executive vice president of the University of Miami.

An outcry ensued. Supporters of Dr. Hirschfield said he had been overlooked against the wishes of the Hunter community. Supporters of Dr. Cobb, including black civic groups and a group of female scientists, argued that she had been rejected because of racism and sexism. They organized a protest at the college and circulated a petition to academics around New York City seeking to have her appointed.

The decision rankled Dr. Cobb, and she eventually went to California.

Once at Fullerton, she pushed for greater inclusion of minorities and women in science, technology, engineering and math and helped increase minority enrollment.

Jewel Isadora Plummer was born in Chicago on Jan. 17, 1924. Her paternal grandfather was born into slavery and became a pharmacist after being freed. Her father, Frank V. Plummer, was a doctor, and her mother, the former Caribelle Cole, was a physical education teacher.

Dr. Cobb was taught from a young age not to let her race or gender hinder her ambition.

“I was raised to think that no career was out of bounds,” she once said. “It was always understood that my friends and I would go to college.”

After graduating from high school, she attended the University of Michigan but, because black students were not allowed to live on campus there at the time, soon transferred to historically black Talladega College in Alabama.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology, then received a fellowship to New York University, where she was awarded a master’s degree and, in 1950, a doctorate in cell biology. She returned to Chicago, where she taught and headed the tissue culture laboratory at the University of Illinois.

In 1954 she married Roy R. Cobb and moved east, eventually becoming a biology professor at Sarah Lawrence. The marriage ended in divorce.

Dr. Cobb was a dean at Connecticut College from 1969 to 1976, when she accepted the position at Douglass College.

After retiring from Fullerton, she was president emeritus at California State University, Los Angeles, until 2004, when she returned to the East Coast.

In addition to her son, she is survived by a granddaughter.

Dr. Cobb received numerous honorary degrees and other honors, and Douglass and Fullerton both named student housing for her. The Fullerton building that bears her name was the campus’s first student residence.




Novelist and filmmaker William Peter Blatty, a former Jesuit school valedictorian who conjured a tale of demonic possession and gave millions the fright of their lives with the best-selling novel and Oscar-winning movie “The Exorcist,” has died. He was 89.

Blatty died Thursday at a hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, where he lived, his widow, Julie Alicia Blatty, told The Associated Press. The cause of death was multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer, she said.

Inspired by an incident that unfolded in St. Louis and Washington, D.C., that Blatty had read about while in college, “The Exorcist” was published in 1971, followed two years later by the film of the same name. Blatty’s story of a 12-year-old-girl inhabited by a satanic force spent more than a year on The New York Times fiction best-seller list and eventually sold more than 10 million copies. It reached a far wider audience through the movie version, directed by William Friedkin, produced and written by Blatty and starring Linda Blair as the young, bedeviled Regan.

William Peter Blatty

“RIP William Peter Blatty, who wrote the great horror novel of our time,” Stephen King tweeted Friday. “So long, Old Bill.”

Even those who thought they had seen everything had never seen anything like the R-rated “The Exorcist” and its assault of vomit, blood, rotting teeth, ghastly eyes and whirlwind head-spinning — courtesy of makeup and special effects maestro Dick Smith. Fans didn’t care that Vincent Canby of The New York Times found it a “chunk of elegant occultist claptrap,” or that the set burned down during production. They stood for hours in freezing weather for the winter release and kept coming even as the movie, with its omnipresent soundtrack theme, Mike Oldfield’s chilly, tingly “Tubular Bells,” cast its own disturbing spell.

From around the world came reports of fainting, puking, epileptic fits, audience members charging the screen and waving rosary beads, and, in England, a boy committing murder and blaming “The Exorcist.” The Rev. Billy Graham would allege that the film’s very celluloid was evil.

“I was standing in the back of a theater in New York at the first public press screening of the film, too nervous to sit down,” Blatty told IGN.com in 2000. “And along came a woman who got up in about the fifth or sixth row. A young woman, who started walking up the aisle, slowly at first. She had her hand to her head. And then I could see her lips moving. She got close enough, and I could hear her murmuring, ‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.’”

Named the scariest movie of all time by Entertainment Weekly, “The Exorcist” topped $400 million worldwide at the box office, among the highest at the time for an R-rated picture. Oscar voters also offered rare respect for a horror film: “The Exorcist” was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and received two, for best sound and Blatty’s screenplay. Imitations, parodies and sequels were inevitable, whether the Leslie Nielsen spoof “Repossessed”; the four subsequent “Exorcist” movies (only one of which, “The Exorcist III,” involved Blatty) or a stage version performed in 2012 at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.

Photo poster of The Exorcist

“When I was writing the novel I thought of it as a super-natural detective story, and to this day I cannot recall having a conscious intention to terrifying anybody, which you may take, I suppose, as an admission of failure on an almost stupefying scale,” Blatty told The Huffington Post in 2011.

Blatty returned to the “Exorcist” setting in “Legion,” which he adapted into “The Exorcist III.” He also revised a novel from the 1960s, “Twinkle, Twinkle, ‘Killer Kane”‘; renamed it “The Ninth Configuration” and wrote and directed a 1980 film version that brought Blatty a Golden Globe for best screenplay. In 2011, he worked in a new scene for a reissue of the 1971 novel, originally acquired by Bantam Books for a reported $250,000. More recently, Fox announced it would revive the story as a TV series, starring Geena Davis.

Blatty was married four times and had eight children.

“He was an absolutely wonderful, kind, generous, faith-filled man, and I was very blessed to be his wife,” Julie Blatty said.

The son of Lebanese immigrants, Blatty was born in New York City and remembered a childhood of unpaid bills and nonstop evasion of rent collectors. He was a scholarship student at the Jesuit high school Brooklyn Preparatory (future Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was a year behind) and graduated as class valedictorian. He received another scholarship to attend Georgetown University and earned a master’s in English literature from George Washington University.

As recounted in his memoir “I’ll Tell Them I Remember You,” he took many detours on his journey to the top. He sold vacuum cleaners, drove a beer truck, served in the Air Force, was stationed in Beirut by the United States Information Agency, tried and failed to get stories published in Collier’s, and auditioned for a role in Cecil B. DeMille’s Biblical epic “The Ten Commandments.” He alleged that he was turned down because his eyes were blue.

For much of the 1960s, he turned out screenplays, including for the Blake Edwards films “A Shot in the Dark” and “What Did You Do In the War, Daddy?” By the end of the decade, he was in a state of “financial desperation” and finally got around to a novel he had been thinking about for years. He had remembered a Washington Post report from the late 1940s: A 14-year-old boy from Maryland was reportedly possessed, his condition defined by a visiting Duke University official as “the most impressive example of poltergeist phenomena I have ever come across.”

“Like so many Catholics, I’ve had so many little battles of wavering faith over the course of my life,” Blatty, who would allege numerous mysterious events while working on the book, told IGN.com.

“And when I heard about this case and read the details, that seemed so compelling. I thought, ‘My God, if someone were to investigate this and authenticate it, what a tremendous boost to faith it would be.’ I thought, ‘Someday I would like to see that happen. You know, I would like to do it.’”




Laurie Carlos, center, performing with Jessica Hagedorn, left, and Deborah Artman in 1987. Credit Alan Kikuchi.

Laurie Carlos, an actor who appeared in the original production of Ntozake Shange’s acclaimed poetic drama “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf” and a playwright whose work expressed the inner lives of black women in the United States, died on Dec. 29 in St. Paul. She was 67.

The cause was colon cancer, her daughter, Ambersunshower Smith, said.

Ms. Carlos joined the cast of “Colored Girls” in 1975 when it was gestating at bars on the Lower East Side. She followed it on its journey from the New Federal Theater to the Public Theater to the Booth Theater on Broadway, and onward to a television adaptation seen on the PBS series “American Playhouse” in 1982.

As the Lady in Blue, she was one of seven characters telling stories of love, loss and the patriarchy in a fusion of dance and declamation that Ms. Shange called a “choreopoem.” Ms. Carlos enacted the poetic monologues “Abortion Cycle #1,” “I Used to Live in the World” and “No More Love Poems #3” and appeared in ensemble pieces throughout the play.


In 1977 The Village Voice gave an Obie Award to Ms. Carlos and the rest of the cast, as well as to Ms. Shange and the play’s director, Oz Scott.

After appearing in Ms. Shange’s “Spell #7” and Edgar White’s “Les Femmes Noir” at the Public Theater, Ms. Carlos branched out into writing, directing and performance art. Her plays “Nonsectarian Conversations With the Dead” (1985), “Organdy Falsetto” (1987) and “White Chocolate for My Father” (1990) were abstract, associative dramas that fused politics and poetry as they delineated the predicaments of black women.

She was born Laurie Dorothea Smith on Jan. 25, 1949, in Manhattan, and grew up in public housing on Avenue D on the Lower East Side. Her father, Walter, was a drummer. Her mother, the former Mildred Randall, was a postal worker.

In Ms. Smith’s early teens she began acting with Mobilization for Youth, a social-services agency on the Lower East Side. After graduating from the High School for the Performing Arts, she studied with Lloyd Richards at the Negro Ensemble Company, where she worked as an usher.

Harry Belafonte noticed her work and hired her to train as a casting agent at his production company, Belafonte Enterprises.

She took the name Carlos from a man with whom she had a short romantic relationship. His full name is unknown. In addition to her daughter, she is survived by three sisters, Donna, Riki and Neveley Smith; a half sister, Tanya Foster; three half brothers, Warren and Walter Smith and Iya Mariano Malango; and three grandchildren.

In the late 1980s Ms. Carlos joined Robbie McCauley and Jessica Hagedorn to form Thought Music, a performance-art group that created the updated minstrel show “Teenytown” at Franklin Furnace in 1988.

Ms. Carlos won two New York Dance and Performance Awards, also known as the Bessies. The first came in 1989 for her performance in the two-part multimedia production “Heat,” which she directed with Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, the founder of the dance company Urban Bush Women. In 1993 she was given a Bessie as creator and choreographer of “White Chocolate for My Father,” presented at Performance Space 122.

In 1998, Ms. Carlos moved to St. Paul to become an artistic fellow with the Penumbra Theater Company. She played an important role in encouraging new playwrights and performers through Naked Stages, a fellowship program based at the Pillsbury House Theater, and through the theater’s Late Nite Series, which featured new work by artists from New York and Minnesota.

She gave her final performance this past fall at In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater in St. Paul, narrating “Queen,” a play about gun violence and the Black Lives Matter movement.




Roy Innis, a go-it-alone activist, disdained desegregation efforts. In 1972, he discussed his opposition to busing at a news conference. Credit Bettmann

Roy Innis, the autocratic national leader of the Congress of Racial Equality since 1968, whose right-wing views on affirmative action, law enforcement, desegregation and other issues put him at odds with many black Americans and other civil rights leaders, died on Sunday in Manhattan. He was 82.

The cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease, a statement from CORE said.

In a stormy career marked by radical rhetoric, shifting ideologies, legal and financial troubles and quixotic runs for office, Mr. Innis led CORE through changes that mirrored his own evolution from black-power militancy in the 1960s to staunch conservatism resembling a modern Republican political platform.

He came to prominence after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Roy Wilkins, Whitney Young and James Farmer had taken command of the civil rights movement and did not share their commitment to nonviolent civil disobedience. Nor did he embrace CORE’s pioneering roles in desegregation — school boycotts, sit-ins, Freedom Rides through the South and voter registration drives that led to the murders of the activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in Mississippi in 1964.

Though court decisions and new laws banned discrimination in education, employment and public accommodations, Mr. Innis was disillusioned by that progress, saying integration robbed black people of their heritage and dignity. He pronounced it “dead as a doornail,” proclaimed CORE “once and for all a black nationalist organization” and declared “all-out war” on desegregation.

Under his black-power banner, which Mr. Innis called “pragmatic nationalism,” he purged whites from CORE’s staff and allowed the organization’s white membership to wither. He espoused segregated schools to encourage black achievement, black self-help groups, black business enterprises and community control of the police, fire, hospital, sanitation and other services in poor black neighborhoods.

But most black Americans regarded black power as too radical, and the creation of separate black institutions in America too remote.

In 1968, Mr. Innis, second from right, was chosen as national director of the Congress of Racial Equality. Credit Bettmann

In the early 1970s, Mr. Innis toured Africa, visiting Jomo Kenyatta in Kenya, Julius Nyerere in Tanzania and Idi Amin in Uganda. He made Amin a life member of CORE and predicted that he would lead a “liberation army to free those parts of Africa still under the rule of white imperialists.” He later urged black Vietnam veterans to assist anti-Communist forces fighting in Angola.

As his black nationalism converged with his increasingly conservative politics, Mr. Innis supported Richard M. Nixon for president in 1968 and 1972, and Ronald Reagan’s presidency in the 1980s. Blacks voted overwhelmingly against both men, but Mr. Innis sided with them in clashes with civil rights leaders who criticized their records. Mr. Innis urged both presidents to reach out to blacks directly and urged blacks to join the Republican Party.

In 1981, after New York State accused him of illegal fund-raising and of misusing $500,000 of CORE’s money, Mr. Innis admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to repay $35,000 and accept tighter financial controls. In 1986, the Internal Revenue Service accused him of failing to report $116,000 in income. He did not contest the accusations and was assessed $56,000 in back taxes and $28,000 in civil penalties.

Mr. Innis survived lawsuits and efforts by CORE members to depose him. But as its membership declined, CORE increasingly aligned itself with corporations, including Monsanto and Exxon Mobil. Their donations became a primary source of funds, while CORE lent its support to their causes.

Mr. Innis acknowledged that his loss of two sons to gun violence in New York — Roy Jr., 13, in 1968, and Alexander, 26, in 1982 — influenced his decision to oppose gun control and defend citizens’ rights to carry arms in self-defense. He became a life member and a director of the National Rifle Association.

In 1984, Mr. Innis ardently supported Bernard H. Goetz, the white gunman who shot four black youths in a subway confrontation that he called an attempted mugging and that they called panhandling. The episode, with Mr. Goetz cast as a vigilante, came to symbolize New Yorkers’ frustration with soaring crime rates. A jury found him guilty only of carrying an unlicensed firearm.

Mr. Innis supported Robert H. Bork’s Supreme Court nomination by President Reagan in the late ’80s and Clarence Thomas’s nomination by President George Bush in the early ’90s. Both were Federal Appeals Court jurists for the District of Columbia who said they favored interpreting the Constitution in light of its framers’ intentions. The Senate rejected Judge Bork but approved Judge Thomas.

Mr. Innis tended to make his alliances with the political right. In 2005, he threw his support behind Samuel A. Alito Jr., who had been nominated to the Supreme Court by President George W. Bush.Credit Lauren Victoria Burke/Associated Press

A favorite of conservative talk shows, Mr. Innis twice engaged in televised scuffles in 1988. On “The Morton Downey Jr. Show,” he erupted at challenges to his leadership and shoved the Rev. Al Sharpton to the floor. On “Geraldo,” he choked John Metzger of the White Aryan Resistance, who had called him an “Uncle Tom,” and the host, Geraldo Rivera, suffered a broken nose in the ensuing brawl.

In 1993, Mr. Innis challenged David N. Dinkins, New York’s first black mayor, in the Democratic mayoral primary. Mr. Innis pledged to fight homelessness by separating “the indolent from the indigent,” and to “give a voice to the silent majority in both the white and black communities.” Mr. Dinkins trounced him and narrowly lost the general election to Rudolph W. Giuliani, who ran on both the Republican and Liberal lines, and whom Mr. Innis supported.

In recent years, CORE’s membership declined, and while the organization continued to fight discrimination in jobs and housing and to provide training for single parents on welfare, critics said it no longer played a major role in civil rights and had become an ally of corporations and interests alien to its original charter.

Roy Emile Alfredo Innis was born on June 6, 1934, in St. Croix, the United States Virgin Islands, to Alexander and Georgianna Thomas Innis. His father, a police officer, died when Roy was 6. He moved to New York with his mother in 1946.

He attended Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan but dropped out at 16 to join the Army. When it was discovered that he was underage, he was sent home. He graduated from Stuyvesant in 1952, studied chemistry at City College of New York until 1958, then worked as a research chemist for Vicks Chemical Company and Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx.

Mr. Innis rarely spoke of his family, about which little is known. He lived in Harlem and was married several times, and the statement from CORE listed 10 children — Cedric, Winston, Kwame, Niger, Kimathi, Mugabe, Arenza, Lydia, Patricia and Corinne — and “a host of grandchildren.”

“In America today,” Mr. Innis told a national CORE convention, “there are two kinds of black people: the field-hand blacks and the house niggers. We of CORE — the nationalists — are the field-hand blacks. The integrationists of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People are house niggers.”

The reaction was explosive, and it set the tone for decades of strife.

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The Last Daughter, Page 94. Richard Hildreth, 1807-1865. The White Slave; or, Memoirs of a Fugitive. Boston: Tappan and Whittemore, 1852.





As the decades went by, rapes of black women did not end. During Jim Crow segregation, black women were still being treated as less than animals. And the rapes of little black girls were not uncommon. Stine George in 1930 Florida, tells of the rape of her little sister:

“I shall never forget this, and this is something nobody ever knew because we don’t tell it. I wouldn’t tell it now because it’s so painful, it will be painful even to tell it, but with what you are doing, I’ll tell it. Some Sunday mornings we would get a mule and five or six of us would get the wagon…and go about six miles away to see my Uncle Chilton. Like I said, my sister was about nine or ten. Of course, I was driving, and she was sitting in the wagon. So we went by this house where these white guys were out there playing ball. I guess it was eight guys probably about 18, 19 or 20 years old something like that.

“One of those guys ran and jumped on the wagon. He said, “I’m going to ride with you, I’m going to ride.” We were going by this house…and he got on the back of the wagon, and he was riding with us. When we got to the house, he took the mule from me and stopped the mule at the house, took the wagon from me and tied the mule to a tree in the yard. Then he made my sister get out and go in the house with him.

“He raped my sister.

“Like I said, she was about nine at that time.” (7)


Whipping A Negro Girl In North Carolina By "Unconstructed" Johnsonians.

Image ID: 1692861

Whipping A Negro Girl In North Carolina By “Unconstructed” Johnsonians.

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Image Reference

Collection of the New York Historical Society, # 46628; published in E.D.C. Campbell and K.S. Rice, eds., Before Freedom Came: African-American Life in the Antebellum South (Univ. Press of Virginia, 1991), fig. 100, p. 116.

Broadside advertising sale of 10 slaves, giving their names and personal attributes. Slaves are being sold because of owner’s departure from New Orleans. (Permission to display on website, courtesy of the New York Historical Society.)




Image Reference

Published in E.D.C. Campbell, Jr. and K.S. Rice, eds., Before Freedom Came: African-american Life in the Antebellum South (Charlottesville, Univ. Press of Virginia, 1991), plate 1, p. x.

Campell and Rice note that Richmond, the capital of Virginia, “was the second largest slave-trading market in the South, and many visitors witnessed auctions there.” This oil painting was made by an English artist, Levevre J. Cranstone (1845-1867), who “probably” based his painting “on a work by the artist Eyre Crowe.” A better reproduction, in color, is published in Estill Pennington, Look Away: reality and sentiment in Southern art (Atlanta, 1989).




Slave Auction, 1859


In early March 1859 an enormous slave action took place at the Race Course three miles outside Savannah, Georgia. Four hundred thirty-six slaves were to be put on the auction block including men, women, children and infants. Word of the sale had spread through the South for weeks, drawing potential buyers from North and South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama and Louisiana. All of Savannah’s available hotel rooms and any other lodging spaces were quickly appropriated by

Announcing a Slave Auction, 1829

the influx of visitors. In the days running up to the auction, daily excursions were made from the city to the Race Course to inspect, evaluate and determine an appropriate bid for the human merchandise on display.

The sale’s magnitude was the result of the break-up of an old family estate that included two plantations. The majority of the slaves had never been sold before. Most had spent their entire lives on one of the two plantations included in the sale. The rules of the auction stipulated that the slaves would be sold as “families” – defined as a husband and wife and any offspring. However, there was no guarantee that this rule would be adhered to in all cases.

The sale gained such renown that it attracted the attention of Horace Greeley, Editor of the New York Tribune, one of America’s most influential newspapers at the time. Greeley was an abolitionist and staunchly opposed to slavery. He sent a reporter to cover the auction in order to reveal to his readers the barbarity inherent in one human being’s ability to own and sell another.


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The 225th Anniversary Liberty coin. Credit U.S. Mint

The United States Mint will release a commemorative gold coin in April that will feature Lady Liberty as a black woman, marking the first time that she has been depicted as anything other than white on the nation’s currency.

The coin, with a $100 face value, will commemorate the 225th anniversary of the Mint’s coin production, the Mint and the Treasury Department announced on Thursday. Going on sale April 6, it will be 24 karats and weigh about an ounce.

It is part of a series of commemorative coins that will be released every two years. Future ones will show Lady Liberty as Asian, Hispanic and Indian “to reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of the United States,” the Mint said in a statement.

The announcement comes at a pivotal cultural moment for the United States, a week away from a transfer of power, following a bruising election dominated by debates about immigration, race and political correctness.

Do not expect to see anyone spending the coins at the store. Coins like this do not circulate for everyday use, but are minted for collectors in limited quantities. There will be 100,000 of them with the black Lady Liberty. They will sell for far more than face value, depending on the value of gold, currently more than $1,000 an ounce.

“As we as a nation continue to evolve, so does Liberty’s representation,” Elisa Basnight, the chief of staff at the Mint, said at a presentation on Thursday in Washington.

The coin’s head (what the Mint calls the obverse) was designed by Justin Kunz and engraved by Phebe Hemphill, and it shows a profile of Lady Liberty with a crown of stars that holds back her hair. The tail (the reverse, in Mint lingo), shows an eagle in flight.

Mr. Jeppson said that several women had approached him after seeing the coin and told him, “she looks like me when I was younger.”

“I saw real value in that,” he said. “That we see ourselves in the images in our coins.”

The Mint is expecting the coin to sell well, Mr. Jeppson said. Any profit the Mint generates from the sale of its coins is returned to the Treasury. Last year, the Mint sent about $600 million back to the federal government, Mr. Jeppson said.

In addition to the 100,000 gold coins — more than is typical for this sort of commemorative coin — that will be printed at West Point, the Mint will also produce 100,000 of what it calls medals, silver reproductions of the image that will sell for around $40 to $50.

“The silver medals will be done at Philadelphia, because that is the birthplace of the Mint,” Mr. Jeppson said.

“When you look at the very first coins that we produced, they had a crazy-haired Liberty on there,” Mr. Jeppson said.

These coins are already in production. The next ones in the series are in the planning stage. Rough guidelines are given to sets of artists and sculptors, some of whom are staff at the mint and others who are part of a pool, as Mr. Kunz was. Their work is then shared with the members of two commissions — one a group of citizen advisers and one a fine arts commission — who make recommendations on the final design for the coin.

“It’s difficult for us to say what future coins will look like until we get there,” Mr. Jeppson said.

All American coins embody the idea of liberty, in keeping with the Mint’s 225-year mandate. But the new coin is what Mr. Jeppson called an “allegorical liberty,” meaning Lady Liberty does not represent a specific figure from history.

Women, in generic depictions or historic ones, have been underrepresented on American currency.

The suffrage leader Susan B. Anthony appeared on $1 coins from 1979 to 1981, and Helen Keller, the author and activist, appeared on the reverse image of the Alabama state quarter in 2003. Sacagawea, the Shoshone guide who led Lewis and Clark to the West Coast, appeared on a $1 coin that has been minted since 2000.

Last year, after a public campaign to put a woman on the $10 bill, the Treasury secretary, Jacob J. Lew, announced a broad remaking of the nation’s paper currency — the bills that, unlike a $100 coin, circulate among many Americans every day.

Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist and former slave, will appear on the $20 bill, and women and civil rights leaders will be added to the $5 and $10 bills.

Whenever the Mint does something new, it creates buzz, said Gilles Bransbourg, a curator with the American Numismatic Society and a research associate at New York University.

“It’s departing from any of the coins that have been produced so far,” he said. “It sends a strong message that the Mint is departing from the tradition that will be perceived as very white.”

The Mint’s recent commemorative productions have occasionally featured nonwhite characters, he said, pointing to a 2006 gold series that revived the popular “Indian head” nickel of the early 20th century. It shows an American Indian whose face is believed to be a combination of three different men who sat for its designer.

Symbolism aside, the new Lady Liberty coin is “really beautiful,” said Jeff Garrett, the president of the American Numismatic Association, who saw the coin several months ago in Washington. “It’s struck in high relief, which means the high points are much higher than circulating coinage.”

“I’ll buy one for sure,” he said. “I’ll probably buy several.”



It’s all nice that Lady Liberty will be Black on this gold coin, but, the true liberty will occur when Black women no longer have to live lives of residential segregation, brutality at the hands, guns and night sticks of race soldiers,  poverty, venomous racist stereotypes and sub-standard education.

Until justice blooms in all the lives of Black women in the United States, this coin is just a hollow and shallow piece of metal.

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Friday the 13th is my favourite day of any month in the year.


Because I was born on a Friday the 13th.

Lucky me.

So, for everyone’s enjoyment, here is the movie that put Friday the 13th on the celluloid register. Whatever you may think of the original 1980 Friday the 13th movie, you gotta give it credit for launching the careers of some of its stars (Kevin Bacon) as well as giving viewers the impetus to find out more about this most talked about of days.

Friday the 13th is an American horror franchise that comprises twelve slasher films, a television show, novels, comic books, a video game, and tie‑in merchandise, as of 2016. The franchise mainly focuses on the fictional character Jason Voorhees, who drowned as a boy at Camp Crystal Lake due to the negligence of the camp staff. Decades later, the lake is rumored to be “cursed” and is the setting for a series of mass murders. Jason is featured in all of the films, as either the killer or the motivation for the killings. The original film was written by Victor Miller and was produced and directed by Sean S. Cunningham.


Friday the 13th gave us iconic characters such as Mrs. Pamela Voorhees, and that undying son of hers, Jason.

Released on May 9, 1980, the film has grossed $464 million as of 2016.



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