Monthly Archives: June 2007

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER

Brillanten.jpg

And so is the death and destruction that comes with them. When you watch this video/documentary:

http://www.wghfilms.com/bling.htm#

You will see that diamonds are anything but just beautiful gems to adorn your body with. Are black men and women in America that cold and heartless to love diamonds more than women, children and men who are butchered in the name of diamonds? Are black people in America so in love with bling-bling of diamond-encrusted teeth, heavy diamond necklaces, glaring diamond bracelets, watches and rings, that they give not a damn about the brutality that kills tens of thousands of lives in Africa over diamonds? That they care not what happens to families in Sierra Leone and Angola?

I’m asking these questions of all Americans, not just white, Latino, Native American, Arabs, Asians, and everyone else, but, especially of black Americans. For if we do not even care of what brings a diamond into our hands and how it got to us, and what the many black Africans in Africa suffer through to obtain this diamond, then if not we, who else will care? We black Americans have to stop and think of how our actions affect others thousands of miles away from us.

In the end, no one truly knows whether a diamond is “conflict free” or not.

But then again, this has not been much of a mystery to me. Knowing the history of DeBeers and their cruel, racist, vicious tactics to keep diamond miners from keeping back some of the diamonds for themselves, if caught, the overseers of the DeBeers Corporation (a Dutch colonial empire built off the blood of black Zimbabweans of the country formerly known as Rhodesia) would have the black miners hobbled to keep them from running away.

Hobbling involved chopping the ankles just so where the foot remained attached, but horribly crippled the man.

I have personally boycotted diamonds for more than 25 years because of the hateful apartheid racist practices of South Africa, and therefore, I would not buy ANY diamonds whatsoever. Nor gold.

To this day, I still do not buy diamonds or gold.

I have boycotted the buying of Granny Smith apples because the bulk of them were grown in South Africa, as my way of showing solidarity with the then-imprisoned African people of South Africa. Yes, I am only one person, but when I go to bed at night, I do not have the fear that at least with diamonds I am contributing to another black person’s suffering and degradation.

I can live without diamonds.

If eating meat in my sister’s presence offends her, then I will eat no meat.

I will not contribute mindlessly to the utter cruelty of mutilation that blood conflict diamonds bring. I will not be so selfish as to look at a diamond and not see beyond all its brilliance, the untold carnage it takes to bring that diamond to the jewelry seller.

Is there in existence the potential for any diamonds that come through DeBeers and Kimberly Diamond Mines industries to be “clean” enough to purchase from? To be clean enough to not be in any way a bloody conflict diamond?

No.

Somewhere along the way, the diamond will have become “bloodied” before it reaches the hands of the lapidary, and ultimately ends up on the finger of a human.

Whether the diamond is mined by a young child or woman, brutally worked from sun-up to sundown, with a gun to their head; whether the diamond is carried, mule-like, by young teenage boys for a warlord, warlords whose whims can sway with the wind and if tested too much, will cut off the arms or legs of a child who doesn’t move fast enough to pack the diamonds for the next courier; whether the diamonds are fought over by opposing groups who want to corner the market in their part of the African continent, Sierra Leone, Angola, Liberia, etc., so that they can sell the diamonds like a mess of pottage to the highest bidder; whether the rival factions of neighboring villages fight and kill each other, destroying their villages because of a gem that grew from soft coal to a hardness strong enough to cut glass——-these are factors that must be taken into consideration before purchasing a diamond.

Is it worth that much to have a diamond?

Can people find it in themselves to ask is the life of a human more important, or is the owning of a diamond more important?

In the end the choice is ours to make.

A diamond.

Or a human life.

Which in the end will have the greatest value? Which in the end will we care the most for?

DeBeers’s slogan “A Diamond is Forever”, has held cachet over women (and men) for decades.

Isn’t it about time for another slogan:

“A Human Life is More Precious.”

I certainly think so. And it is a way of thinking whose time has long been overdue.

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RELATED LINKS:

BUSHMEN MOVED FOR DIAMONDS

BOTSWANA DIAMONDS LOSE THEIR SPARKLE

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TRUTH

Justice will not be denied for long;It may be stomped and crushed to the ground,But, it will triumph and rise up and proclaim itself.Justice may take a long time to arrive;It may take a lifetime;

Many times it never comes.

But, it will come out, of the darkness

Screaming and crying forth its pain.

One day, justice will roll down like a mighty stream,

With a welcome quenching waters of hope.

But, that day is long, far off.

That day  will not come;

Until America faces the torment and cruelty

She has meted out to her darkest citizens,

Justice will not come;

Justice will remain delayed, denied.

Centuries, upon centuries of time of despair;

Black lives destroyed, many thousand gone.

Decades of black lives taken,

All across America and the South, the murders,

The rapes, the theft of property

The stolen childhood of children denied education.

The complacency, the apathy;

The downright cruelty, sadistic pleasure.

The torture, the burnings, the lynching spectacles

The picnics, the festivals, the glee on the faces

Of men, women and children who came

To watch the roasted bodies, the burning flesh;

Bodies that writhed in anguish;

The screams, the cries that fell on deaf ears.

The eyes gouged out, with sharp icepicks;

The fingers, toes, privates, cut off

Kept as grisly souvenirs,

Kept as trophies of the lowest behaviour

That one human being could show to another.

The Black Codes, the Black Laws of the Old Northwest,

The time when Affirmative Action was “White”, and still is.

The racial covenants of the West, the North;

The gentlemen’s agreement of redlining

Black citizens into slums of despair.

The continued racial isolation of de facto segregation,

The inequality of still sub-standard educations.

The separation of “White Christians” from” Black Christians” on Sunday, at high noon.

America stood by and watched while depravities,

Perversions, barbarities and abominations were carried out.

America stood by while white men walked into the homes

Of black women and young black girls;

Violating their bodies, their sanity, their spirits

While white men walked into the homes of black families,

And pillaged and raped the honor of black females.

America stood by while white men fathered

Tens of thousands of children with black women;

Children abandoned as if they were so much trash;

Children who were deemed by their white fathers

As having no souls, thereby, no humanity.

White men who felt the need to use,

Abuse, and impregnate defenseless black women and girls

With children they would deny before the world.

Children whose white brothers and sisters

Know not what white father has done;

Children whose white brothers and sisters,

KNOW what white father has done, but refuse to acknowledge it.

America stood by while sub-standard, unequal education

Was the law and order of the day;

While schools of better grade,

Parks, playgrounds and zoos

Whose entry was not allowed to black people,

Black people whose TAXES paid for

All that white people benefited from.

America stood by, while the “Veil”

That hid from view, the lives,

The desolation, the suffocation

That was a normality for black lives all across the South.

The fire-bombing of black people’s homes;

The car-bombings, the bombings of churches;

Places of sanctuary where four little girls

Were blown to bits while praying in Sunday School.

The police dogs turned on black protesters,

The bodies bitten and torn by the fangs of dogs

Who knew no better, who did as they were commanded,

By men who knew the wrong they did would haunt them to this day.

Like a ravening, she-wolf, Whore of Babylon,

America has tore through the lives of black America

America has built up a special place in Hell for herself,

America has beat herself down into the dust of monstrosities.

America will never be the democracy she should be;

America has heaped countless crimes upon herself;

America has committed hypocrisy, after hypocrisy,

America has crippled and stunted herself with her lies.

A few white men who have finally

Been brought to justice;

A few white men who have been given a few years in prison.

White men who have lived lives of freedom,

While so many black men and women,

Lie mute in graves all across the South,

Mute testimony to the perversion and twisting of justice.

One white man brought to justice will never tip

The scales in balance towards justice for black America.

One white man brought to justice, years, decades later,

Will never be enough for all the hate, all the truth beat down.

Nothing compared to the white men

Who have escaped justice, who have escaped

The hidden truth of their crimes and guilt,

White men who still walk around—-free.

Still eating, drinking, wearing out clothes;

Still living, breathing, having lives,

While those they have destroyed,

Have received no justice for their lives taken.

A few white men brought to justice,

Is not even a trickle.

Nothing but a drop of water in a vast bucket,

In the middle of a dry desert at high noon.

NOTHING.

Nothing compared to all the atrocities done in the name of

White supremacy;

White honor;

White justice;

White segregation;

White brutality;

White corruption.

NOTHING.

The truth will come out, one day.

The truth will rise up, one day.

The truth will come forth, one day.

The truth will be made manifest.

TRUTH.

All the trees,

All the forests,

All the woods,

All the streams,

All the lakes,

All the rivers……….

Will one day proclaim the truth.

They will shout it out loud,

And the roar will tear the ears, asunder,

Because such a truth has bided its time for far too long;

Such a truth will rend to bits all those who stand in its presence.

The trees in Georgia that witnessed the lynchings.

The trees in Texas that witnessed the little black child,

Whose skull was crushed after seeing his father murdered.

The earth that caught the body, the earth that received

The little innocent body of a lynched black mother’s baby

Cut from her womb by a knife-wielding brave white man.

The woods in Alabama which witnessed the little black girl

Pulled into the woods and raped by white men;

The woods in Louisiana which witnessed the black boy

Striped naked, and beaten to death.

The lakes in Mississippi which witnessed the body of Emmit Till

Thrown into a lake after being tortured for hours on end.

The rivers in Virginia which witnessed

The drownings of so many innocent

Black women, men and children.

The Earth that rages and trembles under the feet,

Of murderers, rapists, pedophiles, liars,

Will open and reveal all the filth and perversity’s

That have been hid beneath the earth.

The ground where spatters of blood fell in torrents,

As black bodies hung from the tree limbs;

Black bodies where genitals where torn and cut away,

Black bodies left to hang and rot.

The ground where white feet trampled down earth,

Embers and ashes of burned bodies;

The ground where whites scrambled and fought,

Over the pieces of someones son, someones daughter.

The voices and souls of black people cry out for justice;

Cry out for the truth to be made known.

The mounds of earth that cover the dead bodies of black people,

Know of the savageries done, and hid within them.

The earth knows, it knows of all the evils;

It turns its face inward, breaking under the strain;

Breaking from all the secrets buried within it;

Secrets strong enough to break the stones

That lay bare upon the earth.

The prisons of today which are nothing but

Plantations, concentration-camps-of-the-mind and body;

The ghettoized neighborhoods, that clampdown

And smother dreams, aspirations, and lives.

TRUTH.

The truth shall be made known,

And when it is made known,

America will pay,

She will pay for her terrible crimes against humanity.

She will be handed a bill to pay, and like all bills,

When they come due,

She will be least able to afford the payment.

The day of truth is coming;

The day of reckoning is coming………

……and it will be a great, and terrible day.

by ANN

(Copyrighted material. Do not use without permission.)

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THE BUS

I have often wondered what happened to the bus on which Sister Rosa Parks made her decision to not give up her seat to a white man. I have often wondered what became of that bus. The bus on which Sister Parks said,  “No”.  “No”, to the humiliation and disrespect that had been heaped upon black Americans for centuries. “No” to being told that we as black Americans had rights which no white human being was bound to respect. Sister Parks said more than just “No” to being tired that day.

She said “No” to being treated as less than human. And her “No” was the collective voice of black Americans who in Montgomery, Alabama, said “No” to Jim Crow segregation. “No” to subjugation. “No” to the daily slights and profanity from white bus drivers. “No” to paying their fare at the front of the bus, and then having to go the rear door of the bus to board it, only to have the white bus driver, drive off and leave them. “No” to having to give up their seats, after working for wages that were no better than slave wages, after standing on their feet all day, having to get up and give their seats to white women, white men, white children.

 “NO”.

They said “No” on December 5, 1955  with the creation of the Montgomery Improvement Association to boycott the segregated buses of Montgomery, Alabama .They used carpools, taxis, and even walked to keep the boycott going, because they knew that if they broke and did not carry on, that if they did not challenge the racist hatred of segregation, that they would have to live under a regime of cruelty that would keep down not only them, but their children and their children’s children. They stood their ground bravely and firmly until on December 20, 1956, they broke the back of segregation on the public buses of Montgomery, Alabama, 1 year and 2 weeks after the boycott was begun, a boycott that led to a United States decision that declared the Alabama and Montgomery laws requiring segregated buses unconstitutional.

However, an appeal kept the segregation intact and the boycott continued until, finally, on November 13, 1956, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling of the unconstitutionality of segregated buses. This victory led to a city ordinance that allowed black bus passengers to sit virtually anywhere they wanted and the boycott officially ended December 20, 1956. The boycott of the buses lasted for 381 days. Dr. Martin Luther King capped off the victory with a magnanimous speech to encourage acceptance of the decision.

Dr. King gave the most beautiful statement that summed up what all those brave and stalwart black citizens of Montgomery, Alabama had achieved that wondrous day; the magnitude of the importance of the movement in Montgomery into the annals of American history:

“Right here in Montgomery, when the history books are written in the future, somebody will have to say, ‘There lived a great people—a black people—who injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization'”

The boycott resulted in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement receiving one of its first victories, and gave Dr. King the national attention that would make him one of the prime leaders of the cause.

When we fight, we win.

And that is what the black citizens, and the courageous few white citizens who joined in the boycott by providing transportation and support for many black people to and fro to their jobs, of Montgomery, Alabama did, in their quiet dignified attack against segregation.

Today that bus on which Sister Parks made her stand sits as a reminder in Detroit in the Henry Ford Museum, as a relic of a time when one group of people thought they were better than another group of people. True, much of that mentality still stands. Segregation may no longer be with us in de jure, but, it is still with us in de facto.

But, the spirit of Sister Parks, and the spirit of all the unknown and unheralded black people of Montgomery, Alabama still is with us.

 The fight still goes on.

*****************************************************

THE BUS

By Donnie Williams

Cleaveland Ave Bus Pre-restoration
Because of Rosa Parks and many of the unknown Montgomery residents that were involved in the bus boycott and a lot more, Montgomery is a better place but we need to be better.

The Rosa Parks bus, the real one, is in Detroit at the Henry Ford Museum. It used to be here in Montgomery, but not anymore.

The owners wanted the bus scrapped after it quit running because it was THE bus. They lived in Chicago and owned most of the bus stations in the south in the 1950s.

Roy Hubert Summerford (my father-in-law) was a friend with the station manager and the dispatcher; they told him the Rosa Parks bus was about to forever be gone.

At the bus station, after 3 times being turned down to buy the bus, the owner finally agreed to sell the bus to Hubert. They said the bus would not ever run again without a new motor, but Hubert was very good with cars and trucks and I guess with buses too. After he paid for the bus he worked on it for about 30 minutes and cranked it up and droved it to his 10 acres of land outside the city limits of Montgomery. The bus went dead 3 times on the way to Hubert’s land but it cranked back up and kept going. It was in the winter and Vivian and I were waiting on him to bring the bus to the land. We couldn’t wait to see The Rosa Parks Bus; we couldn’t believe they let that bus go.

Hubert said that the time for America to know about the bus was far from now (1970). The KKK was still very much active in Montgomery. He took on the job of taking care of the bus. He concealed the bus and kept its identity quiet. He feared that they would bomb it. Notice the Cleveland Ave. at the top of the bus. That is the name of the street route that the bus took everyday. As this driver got to a certain place he could roll a bar inside the bus over his head and change the street marker. In 1971 Hubert took it out of the bus and wrapped it in a blanket, then placed it in the closet to keep it safe. We only took it out when we took pictures of the bus. He also said that we would know when the time was right to tell about the bus.

Right away without telling anyone what was on his mind Hubert knew that bus was as important as the Liberty Bell. Hubert knew its proper place was in a museum.

The owner [of the bus station] was still upset with Rosa Parks and did not want that bus in a museum in Montgomery or anywhere. In 1970 the owner was still mad about the bus boycott of 1955 and 56. The boycott had cost the company $3,000 a day.

In 1985 Hubert passed away leaving the bus to his only child, my wife, Vivian Summerford Williams. I began to take care of the bus.

In the 1990s the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper found out about the bus and called me to do a story on the bus, but the time was not right and I said no. They sent a reporter out to the land; I don’t know how they found out where the bus was, but they did. The reporter went to the bus without my permission and took pictures of the bus and put it on the front page of the paper and told America what the bus was and where it was. After that I had to check the bus everyday and had to run people away from it a lot. The KKK tried to catch it afire and shot holes in it. After that I had to rent a warehouse and store it inside under lock and key. This time they couldn’t find it.

In 2000, the decision was made to sell the bus, so that the world could enjoy it. However selling was difficult because of proper identification. Everyone in Montgomery knew it was “The Bus.” At the time Hubert purchased “The Bus,” the employees informally passed on the information about the bus.

News Clipping Alabama JournalRobert Lifson, President of Mastronet, Inc., an Internet auction house, decided he wanted to auction the bus for Vivian and me. He began a search for documents authenticating the bus. And he found them.

Mr. Lifson contacted retired employees of the bus company, including Mrs. Margaret Cummings, widow of the former bus station manager, Charles Homer Cummings. Mrs. Cummings provided a scrapbook of newspaper clippings that her husband had kept during and after the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-56.

National City Lines (which was the parent company of the Montgomery City Bus Lines) had employed a clipping service to clip and save any newspaper articles about the company’s bus service. Charles Cummings had kept the scrapbook of newspaper articles from the 1955-56 Montgomery bus boycott. Next to articles describing the arrest of Rosa Parks, he wrote “#2857″ and “Blake/#2857.” James Blake was the bus driver who had Rosa Parks arrested. Mr. Cummings’ relatives confirm that he jotted down the bus number because he felt the events were so important.

In September 2001, an article in the Wall Street Journal announced that the Rosa Parks bus would be available in an Internet auction in October.

News Clipping Tampa Morning TributeMuseum staff began researching this opportunity. They spoke to people involved in the original 1955 events, to those who planned other museum exhibits, and to historians. A forensic document examiner was hired to see if the scrapbook was authentic. A museum conservator went to Montgomery to personally examine the bus. Convinced that this was the Rosa Parks bus, the Museum’s leadership decided to bid on the bus in the Internet auction.

The Henry Ford museum entered the auction of October 25, 2001, and was the high bidder at $427,919. The other final bidders for the bus, both of whom were convinced of its authenticity, were the Smithsonian Institution and the city of Denver, Colorado.

At the same time, the Museum successfully bid on the Montgomery City Bus Lines scrapbook of newspaper articles with the Rosa Parks bus identified in two places. With additional grants the Henry Ford Museum has completely restored “The Bus.”

My mother, Louise Williams had to ride the buses to and from work in the 1950s and knew other women who rode the bus and witnessed how the Blacks were treated and she chose to boycott the buses during the boycott also. She walked or rode a cab, but mostly walked.

I can’t explain the feeling that I got everytime I got on that bus. It made me feel great; sometimes I even cried. Now everyone who gets to see and touch the bus at the museum can get to feel that too.

I wrote about the bus and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The book is The Thunder of Angels. I did this for the people who were involved in the boycott and never got their story told. I believe God put this on me to do because of the bus and my mother’s bad experiences on the buses in the 50s. I got to meet a lot of the boycott soldiers who became my friends and they told their stories to me to tell.

Look up The Thunder of Angels: The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the People Who Broke the Back of Jim Crow by Donnie Williams and you will see a little about the book and myself. Beware I am a new author. I own a grocery store here in Montgomery. It took me 20 years to write this book.

Thanks, Donnie

Restored Cleveland Avenue Bus

Photos
All photos courtesy of Donnie Williams, except the final photo of the restored bus. Photo of restored bus by Erica Chappuis. Click on the two newspaper clippings to enlarge.

~
[Editor’s note: It is an honor to publish this article by Donnie Williams for the 50th anniversary of the day when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man on the Cleveland Avenue bus in Montgomery, Alabama. This article grew out of the correspondence between Mr. Williams and Marsha Joyner, after he found her latest piece on HungryBlues early in November. In that piece, Marsha was pictured in front of what she and many others had been led to believe was the original bus where Rosa Parks performed her momentous act of civil disobedience on Dec. 1, 1955. Fortunately, Mr. Williams has set the record straight with this teaser for his new book.

Marsha Joyner has posted an MS Word version of this article on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Coalition-Hawaii website. –BG]

(Originally posted at Benjamin Greenberg’s blog Hungry Blues Blog, December 1, 2005.  Permalink:  http://hungryblues.net/2005/12/1/the-bus/)

VIDEO LINKS:

http://www.biography.com/broadband/main.do?video=mf230_mlkstory_160

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JUNETEENTH

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19TH that a band of union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston Island, Texas with the news that the Civil War had ended, and was won by the Union North forces, and that all the enslave people in the states in rebellion against the union were henceforth, and forever free from a lifetime of inhumane servitude.

Note that this was two and half years after President Abraham Lincoln‘s Emancipation Proclamation—which became official January 1, 1863—went into effect. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Robert E. Lee of the Confederate forces in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence the strength behind the Proclamation and overcome resistance from the slave holders.

Many attempts have been made at trying to explain this travesty and ludicrous delay of two and a half years in the receipt of this important news have resulted in many versions that have been passed down through the years. One often told story is of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another is that the news was deliberately withheld by the slave masters to maintain the enslaved labor force on the plantations to get more work out of the enslaved, illegally, since the enslaves were freed by the Proclamation. The greediness of the slave holders in this regard would not have been so far fetched. Still another is that the federal troops actually allowed the slave masters to reap the benefits of one last cotton crop harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Proclamation. All or none of these guesses may be true. Whatever the reasons, conditions in  Texas remained the same for the enslaves even after slavery was abolished.

GENERAL ORDER NUMBER 3

Upon landing on the shores of Galveston Island, Gen. Granger read aloud the Proclamation to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3, which began significantly with the words:

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

The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation. While many lingered to learn of this new employer to employee relationship, many left before these offers were completely off the lips of their former masters – attesting to the varying conditions on the plantations and the realization of freedom. Even with nowhere to go, many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom. North was a logical destination and for many it represented true freedom, while the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove  some into Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma, or moving out West, to California, Nevada and Arizona. Settling into these new areas as free women and men brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore nonexistent status for black people in America.

The celebration of June 19TH was coined “Juneteenth” because of Texas enslaves emancipation on June 19, 1865, and it grew with more participation from the survivors of the cruelty and hardship of slavery. This was a time for descendants remaining family members to gather together and reassure each other and pray for each others continued safety and advancement in the new life they were all undertaking.

Juneteenth continued to be a highly revered holiday in Texas many decades later, with many former enslaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston Island on Juneteenth.

The festivities and food of Juneteenth involve a range of acivities that still continue to this day:

-Prayer services

-Guest speakers which involve community elders who recount the past

-Rodeos

-Barbeque (meats such as lamb, pork and beef, though not available everyday, were brought)

-Watermelon

-Baseball

-And the ever ubiquitous strawberry-red soda (“Big Red” soda)

Dress was very important to the ex-enslaves. Never having much clothing to wear during slavery, and usually given once a year, one pair of shoes, pants, a shirt, or a dress, often hand-me-downs from the slave master and mistress, enslaves put much thought into their costumes when they celebrated this most important holiday. According to some historical recordings, the newly emancipated enslaves during the initial emancipation celebrations, tossed their ragged garments into the creeks and rivers and adorned themselves with clothing taken from the previous masters.

Finding a place to celebrate was not easy for the celebrants. Sometimes they were barred from the use of public property for their festivities, often finding themselves far out in rural areas near creeks, rivers and lakes. They could avail themselves of fishing, picnics, horseback riding, and games of horseshoes. Eventually some black people became land owners, and were able to donate land dedicated for the festivities.  Often the church grounds was the site for the festivities. A true Juneteenth celebration left the celebrants very well satified and with enough conversation to last until the next year.

One of the earlier recorded land purchases for Juneteenth celebrations was by a Rev. Jack Yates. This fund-raising event raised $1,000 and the purchase of Emancipation Park in Houston, Texas. Houston’s Emancipation Park, established in 1872, became the center of Juneteenth celebrations in that city.  The celebration was particularly meaningful because freedpeople bought this park in 1872 and gave it to the city. In Mexia, Texas, the local Juneteenth organization purchased Booker T. Washington Park, which became the Juneteenth celebration site in 1898. There were accounts of white landowners demanding that workers return to work and not enjoy their hard-earned day of celebration, but, most whites allowed their workers to relax on this most important day off, and some even made donations of food and money.

Over the years, Juneteenth celebrations began to decline in the early 1900s. In classrooms textbooks gave more emphasis on Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863 as the official date abolishing slavery and little or nothing of the unique impact of General Granger’s arrival on June 19TH was taught or emphasized in textbooks. With the Depression forcing many people into the cities to work, rural celebrations of Juneteenth declined even more. In the cities, employers were less enthusiastic in allowing their employees time off to celebrate, therefore, unless Juneteenth fell on a weekend, there was little chance to take time off from work to celebrate.

With the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s, a resurgence in Juneteenth occurred due from pride many black youths acquired in the struggle for racial equality, linking the struggles of the civil rights to the struggles of their ancestors. Juneteenth, which was a unique Texan holiday began to take root all across the country due to native Texans moving out of the state and taking many of the aspects of the holiday with them. Many people unfamiliar with the history of Juneteenth began to learn of this fascinating holiday, and all across America, many  black communities embraced Juneteenth and began to claim it as their own. All across black America, from New York to Chicago to Los Angeles, and even as far away in Japan, with the holiday celebrated by U.S servicemen on military bases,  Juneteenth has become the holiday of ALL black Americans.

In June 1974, Houston Mayor Fred Hofheinz issued a proclamation making June 19 “Emancipation Proclamation Day in Houston.”

That same year Rev. C. Anderson Davis began the annual Juneteenth Parade in downtown Houston. On June 13, 1979Juneteenth became the official state holiday through the tireless efforts of Rep. Al Edwards, a black American state legislator, with the successful passage of a bill he had introduced into the Texas legislature, as the first emancipation petition granted official state recognition. No other state before Texas had done that, and this event in and of itself was momentous.

Today, Juneteenth continues to grow in communities and organizations around the country. In recent years a number of National Juneteenth Organizations have taken their place alongside of older organizations, all with the desire to promote the knowledge and appreciation of this most unique holiday of black American history. Even of more greater importance would be the passage of Juneteenth as a federal holiday. If such a gesture was done, it would be the start of getting on the road of reconciliation between black America and white America. It will not remove many of the vestiges and legacies of slavery, but, it is worth a start.

Juneteenth celebrates the struggles of black Americans to free themselves from bondage, it celebrates and encourages self-development, respect for those ancestors who came before, and to acknowledge and never to forget their sufferings, for young people to never forget their roots, and to take pride in their place in this society, this country, this world, as well as to develop a respect for other people’s cultures.

Even though Juneteenth has taken on a national and even global scale of celebration, the events of June 19, 1865 in Texas should not be forgotten, for all the historic beginnings of this beloved holiday go back to the coastal beach when a Union general landed 142 years ago to give the order that all the enslaves of Texas were henceforth and forever free.

Juneteenth may be two and a half years older than the official Emancipation Proclamation delivery, and, in many people’s minds, it may be two and a half years behind the time of the original proclamation, but, Juneteenth holds a very special place in this Texans heart.

May all the black ancestors who came before me who suffered through days of sorrow, the many black ancestors who refused to give up hope of the day of eventually receiving their freedom, never have their memory forgotten.

Juneteenth started out as a Texas holiday.

It is now a national holiday for not only black Americans, but, it is also a holiday for all Americans and many people around the world.

I’m sure that my black ancestors would be so happy to know of that.

They did not suffer in vain.

May I always make them proud of me in all that I endeavor.

Happy Juneteenth to everyone!

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RELATED LINKS:

 Francis E. Abernathy, Patrick B. Mullen and Alan B. Govenar, eds., Juneteenth Texas: Essays In African-American Folklore (1996).  See also www.griotcalendar.org 

http://texasjuneteenthusa.com/events.html

http://www.lycos.com/info/juneteenth-juneteenth-celebration.html 

http://www.juneteenth.com/0texas_us.htm    

http://www.txjuneteenth.com/index.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/topics/Gordon+Granger

http://info.sen.ca.gov/pub/99-00/bill/asm/ab_0051-100/hr_60_bill_20000615_introduced.pdf

http://www.19thofjune.com/archive/06191865.htm

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A LEGACY OF LOVE

A Legacy of Love by Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955)  

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Mary McLeod Bethune

I leave you love.  Love builds.  It is positive and helpful.  It is more beneficial than hate.  Injuries quickly forgotten quickly pass away.  Our aim must be to create a world of fellowship and justice. “Love thy neighbor” is a precept which could transform the world if it were universally practiced.

I leave you faith.  Without faith, nothing is possible.  With it, nothing is impossible.  Faith in God is the greatest power, but great too is faith in oneself.  Our ancestors struggled for liberty in conditions far more onerous than those we now face, but they never forget their sufferings and their sacrifices, for they were the foundations of the progress of our people.

I leave you racial dignity.  We must recognize that we are the custodians as well as the heirs of a great civilization.  We have given something to the world as a race and for this we are proud and fully conscious of our place in the total picture of mankind’s development.  I have never been sensitive about my complexion.  My color has never destroyed my self-respect nor has it ever caused me to conduct myself in such a manner as to merit the disrespect of any person. 

I leave you fully a responsibility to our young people. 
The world around us really belongs to youth for youth will take over its future management.  Our children must never lose their zeal for building a better world.  They must never be discouraged from aspiring toward greatness for they are to be leaders of tomorrow.  Nor must they forget that the masses of our people are still underprivileged, ill-housed, impoverished, and victimized by discrimination.  We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct the power toward good ends.

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ISABELLA BAUMFREE

“I sell the shadow, to support the substance.”  Sojourner Truth

 

A women’s rights advocate who would become widely known for a single speech delivered in Ohio in the summer of 1851, Sojourner Truth, was born a slave named Isabella Baumfree, who by the 1840s had renamed herself and dedicated her life to traveling through New York and New England and speaking to abolitionist and religious audiences. On June 1, 1843, Truth changed her name to Sojourner Truth and told friends, “The Spirit calls me, and I must go.” She left to make her way traveling and preaching about abolition.

Over six feet tall, very dark-skinned and striking in appearance, the illiterate ex-slave was an eloquent orator who, as Frederick Douglass once said,   “cared very little for elegance of speech or refinement of manners.” She spoke at the national women’s rights convention at Worchester, Massachusetts, in 1850, and in 1851 she addressed the women’s rights convention in Akron, Ohio.

She attended the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio where she delivered her famous speech Ain’t I a Woman, a slogan she adopted from one of the most famous abolitionist images, that of a kneeling female slave with the caption “Am I Not a Woman and a Sister?”

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Reminiscences by Frances D. Gage
Akron Convention, Akron, Ohio, May 1851
“There were very few women in those days who dared to “speak in meeting”; and the august teachers of the people were seemingly getting the better of us, while the boys in the galleries, and the sneerers among the pews, were hugely enjoying the discomfiture, as they supposed, of the “strong-minded.” Some of the tender-skinned friends were on the point of losing dignity, and the atmosphere betokened a storm. When, slowly from her seat in the corner rose Sojourner Truth, who, till now, had scarcely lifted her head. “Don’t let her speak!” gasped half a dozen in my ear. She moved slowly and solemnly to the front, laid her old bonnet at her feet, and turned her great speaking eyes to me. There was a hissing sound of disapprobation above and below. I rose and announced “Sojourner Truth,” and begged the audience to keep silence for a few moments.”
“The tumult subsided at once, and every eye was fixed on this almost Amazon form, which stood nearly six feet high, head erect, and eyes piercing the upper air like one in a dream. At her first word there was a profound hush. She spoke in deep tones, which, though not loud, reached every ear in the house, and away through the throng at the doors and windows.”

 

 

 

Over the next decade, Truth spoke before dozens, perhaps hundreds, of audiences. From 1851 to 1853, Truth worked with Marius Robinson, the editor of the Ohio Anti-Slavery Bugle, and traveled around that state speaking. In 1853, she spoke at a suffragist “mob convention” at the Broadway Tabernacle in New York City; that year she also met Harriet Beecher Stowe.  In 1856, she traveled to Battle Creek, Michigan, to speak to a group called the Friends of Human Progress. In 1858, someone interrupted a speech and accused her of being a man; Truth opened her blouse and revealed her breasts.

Sojourner’s speech, which included the repetition of one striking question,  “Ar’nt I a woman?” was a poignant example of the denial of rights to black American women.

Truth spoke about abolition, women’s rights, prison reform, and preached to the Michigan Legislature against capital punishment. Not everyone welcomed her preaching and lectures, but she had many friends and staunch support among many influential people at the time, including Amy Post, Parker Pillsbury, Frances Gage, Wendell Phillips, William Lloyd Garrison, Laura Smith Haviland, Lucretia Mott, and Susan B. Anthony.”

Truth died on November 26, 1883, at her home in Battle Creek, Michigan. Her remains were buried there at Oak Hill Cemetery beside other family members. Her last words were “Be a follower of the Lord Jesus.”

Sojourner’s impact on many people through the years has been phenomenal:

  • 1862 — William Story’s statue, “The Libyan Sibyl”, inspired by Sojourner Truth, won an award at the London World Exhibition.
  • 1892 — Albion artist Frank Courter is commissioned to paint the meeting between Truth and President Lincoln.
  • 1975 — Philosopher Peter Singer uses Truth’s quotes in his book Animal Liberation
  • 1981 — Truth is inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York.
  • 1981 — Feminist theorist and author, bell hooks, titles her first major work after Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech.
  • 1983 — Truth is in the first group of women inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in Lansing.
  • 1986 — U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp honoring Sojourner Truth.
  • 1997 — The NASA Mars Pathfinder mission’s robotic rover was named “Sojourner” after her.
  • The leftist group the Sojourner Truth Organization is named after her.
  • The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America commemorates her as a renewer of society, with Harriet Tubman.

Here is her speech to the assembly that Sojourner, was a woman who stood her ground. A woman who knew the tough, harsh, bitter—-yet hopeful road, that lay ahead for the black women of her time, and for the many black women who would come after her.

Ain’t I a Woman?

By Sojourner Truth

 

 

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Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place. And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man-when I could get it-and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [Intellect, someone whispers.] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negro’s rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my half-measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ‘cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ came from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.

Sojourner Truth’s Speech  (As reported in the Anti-Slavery Bugle, June 21, 1851)

RELATED LINKS:

“SOJOURNER TRUTH: A LIFE AND LEGACY OF FAITH”

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HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

Father’s Day is a primarily secular holiday inaugurated in the early 20TH Century to complement Mother’s Day in celebrating fatherhood and parenting by males, and to honor and commemorate fathers and forefathers. Father’s Day is celebrated on a variety of dates worldwide, and typically involves gift-giving to fathers and family-oriented activities.

In the United States, the first modern Father’s Day celebration was held on July 5, 1908, in Fairmont, West Virginia. It was first celebrated as a church service at Williams Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church South, now known as Central United Methodist Church. Grace Golden Clayton, who is believed to have suggested the service to the pastor, is believed to have been inspired to celebrate fathers after the deadly mine explosion in nearby Monongah the prior December. This explosion killed 361 men, many of them fathers and recent immigrants to the United States from Italy. Another possible inspiration for the service was Mother’s Day, which had recently been celebrated for the first time in Grafton, West Virginia, a town about 15 miles away. Father’s day originates as far back as 1839 in celebration of the fathers that went to war in the Battle of Iransop in which 123 fathers lost their lives defending the outpost.

Another driving force behind the establishment of the integration of Father’s Day was Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd, born in Creston, Washington. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, as a single parent reared his six children in Spokane, Washington. She was inspired by Anna Jarvis’s efforts to establish Mother’s Day. Although she initially suggested June 5, the anniversary of her father’s death, she did not provide the organizers with enough time to make arrangements, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June. The first June Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, in Spokane, WA.

Unofficial support from such figures as William Jennings Bryan was immediate and widespread. President Woodrow Wilson was personally feted by his family in 1916. President Calvin Coolidge recommended it as a national holiday in 1924. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson made Father’s Day a holiday to be celebrated on the third Sunday of June. The holiday was not officially recognized until 1972, during the presidency of Richard Nixon.

In recent years, retailers have adapted to the holiday by promoting male-oriented gifts such as electronics ,tools and greeting cards. Schools and other children’s programs commonly have activities to make Father’s Day gifts.

(Information courtesy of Wkipedia Encyclopedia.)

 The image of fathers suffers very much in this society. Fathers are looked upon as some entity that you can take, or leave. And from the looks of things, many would prefer to leave the importance of fathers behind. How did we come to this? Minimizing, trivializing the importance of fathers? In print, in the media, in movies and on TV, fathers are shown as just so much nonessential, useless stumbling blocks that get in the way, irritate and annoy, anger and enrage, the collective body of the rest of America. It’s almost as if many people wish that fathers would just stop being the buzzing annoying insects that many people look upon them as, and just quietly shut up and go away.  Fathers get such short shrift in this society. In the movies they are shown as inept, bungling, and out of touch, and sometimes the visual imagery and written text portrays them as simpletons who don’t know whether they are coming, or going. But, it was not always this way with fathers.

Two centuries ago, fathers had practically 100% custodial rights to their children. Today, a mother is more likely to obtain custody of the children in a divorce. When many people think of fathers, they do not begin to consider the profound impact fathers have on their children’s lives. Impact that can be positive as well as negative.

Fathers can push children to independence. Fathers can make a difference in a child’s world, by helping them build confidence and character. By teaching their children a trade, how to take things apart, and put them back together, fathers can teach children how things work; fathers can teach children patience in learning to figure the inner workings of machinery, especially in the realm of working on a car. Fathers can teach children how to prepare themselves for the workforce. Fathers can instill a work ethic in their children, to where that child, upon becoming an adult, will do their job good enough and a little more than what is asked of them, to where they do their work with pride, with accomplishment, to where they are proud to sign their name to all the work they do in life.

Fathers can instill respect into their children.  A father who loves and admires women can instill into his sons to treat ALL women with adoration, kindness, tenderness, love and joy, no matter what the race, color, religion or nationality of the woman. Fathers can teach their sons that were this world tomorrow to wake up bereft of all women, that this world would be a horrible place to live in. Fathers can teach their sons to always respect the wishes, needs and desires of women, that no matter how tough we women try to make ourselves out to be, that we are vulnerable and delicate, and that women should be loved and appreciated for all the sweetness that we bring to men’s lives.

Fathers should teach their sons that a woman’s mind, soul, and body is sacred, and not some empty vessel for a man to take his rage out on. Fathers who have a profound love of women can teach their sons to never abuse or mistreat a woman; that there have been women who have  had men’s backs when no one was in that man’s corner. Fathers should teach their sons that there may be women who go to bat for a man when all others will fail him and desert him, and that men should not deliberately sell women short, nor go out of their way to degrade or debase women.

 

Fathers can teach empathy towards all human beings in this world. Fathers can go beyond teaching the old maxim,  “If you want to understand a person’s life, walk a mile in their shoes”. Empathy is not feeling sorry for someone. That is pity. Empathy is listening to someone; being a sounding-board for them and hearing their hurt, their pains, their sorrows. Empathy is not  “I told you so”; empathy is “I’ll be there in whatever way I can, because you are my child, and I love you with all my heart and soul.”

Fathers can teach patience in how to do things. If you don’t get it right the first time, persist, with patience, and while you are at it, work to find out why the endeavor was not done right, and how you could have done it better. Patience takes time to build, and a child who sees their father show patience in his relationships with those around him, the more that child will acquire a more patient approach in many areas of their lives—–towards, his relatives, his neighbors, his co-workers—-himself.

Fathers foster development. Fathers at play with their children, are doing more than throwing a ball, playing chess, checkers, or dominoes. Fathers at play with their children teach skills at learning how to lose gracefully, and how to win without rubbing it into the loser’s face. Fathers at play with their children build physical and emotional strength, and they build character that enables child to learn to work with others , thereby creating teamwork, companionship, comradery, and trustworthiness of being counted on to keep their word, because your word is bond, and should never be discounted, nor treated cavalierly.

Fathers most importantly send the message of how a man can love and respect a woman in the world of sex and intimacy.

A father who hugs, caresses, gently touches, kisses and playfully banters with his wife in front of his child sends a message far more lasting than all the words, cards, flowers and candy he can give his wife, the mother of his children.

A father who shows love of his wife in front of his children sends the message that  being kind and loving to your wife, not being overbearing or harsh, is what a man does to show love to the mother of his children.

And that is a message that a daughter picks upon from how father treats or mistreats mother and other women.Yes, fathers have a very important impact they can make on a girl’s life, and that importance should never be disregraded nor ignored.

A daughter who sees her father treating her mother with the tenderest and most patient of care, sees that not only is her mother worthy of humane consideration, but, she, the daughter, sees that she too is worthy of love and respect. She sees how her mother’s humanity is validated and treated not with insignificance. She sees how her father’s concern for Mom’s and daughter’s happiness matters to him. She sees how her father marches, protests and challenges racist and sexist stereotypes, that affect not only her, but all other women; she sees how women are not the enemy, not an abnormality, but, that women are the compliment to men, that women are the gifts that a kind, merciful, and loving God created and gave to man, because God saw how lonely man was and therefore, he created women to be more than a helpmate to man, but, instead, God made woman to be a companion for man, someone to share his life with, someone to help him through those days when the whole world would tell him that he amounted to nothing, someone to laugh and joke with, someone to hold his hand when in public he could not cry, but, in private, he could shed the tears in front of her that he dare not show before others.

Fathers, like mothers, are not given a manual on how to raise the perfect child. Many fathers can be overbearing and hard on their children, but, fathers should step back and try to exercise gentleness to their children and to vex not their children. Fathers, like mothers, often do the best they can. Too many people look upon fathers as if they are the mules who are to go out to work, bring home the bacon, and then have to hear the proverbial, “Wait till your father gets home” when having to chastise the child may be the furtherest thing from Dad’s mind. Sometimes, Dad just wants to come home to a quite house, and for all the problems of the household to wait—-wait just a few minutes while he gains his composure from the beating that the outside world has given him.

Today, June 17, 2007 is Father’s Day.

For those of you who have lost your fathers, I offer you my condolences. You have lost someone who was a very important part of your life. Hopefully your relationship with him had as much joy and happiness as could possibly have been encountered.

To those of you whose fathers still are counted among the living, please let Dad know how much you love him. Muster up the courage to tell him:

“Dad, I love you. Thanks for giving me that last of your money in your pockets just so that I might have a new pair of shoes. Thanks for coming to school for the PTA meeting, no matter how tired you were, having just left work. Thanks for footing the bill for college. Thanks for taking care of yourself so you could be there to give me away for my wedding.

 “Dad, thanks for being such a loving father, even though I have not told you.

“Dad, you’re the best.

“I love you so very much.”

I know Dad may act like he can go without hearing you say you love him, but, make no mistake about it. Behind all of that stoic facade and he-man bravado, Dad would give anything to hear the three most cherished words in the English language:

“I love you.”

I know some of you may have a hard time telling Dad how much you love him, but, like I said in my Mother’s day essay, practice standing in front of a mirror and practice saying the words, “I love you.” When you see Dad today, go up to him, hug him, and tell him you love him. You will feel so much happier doing it. Trust me, you will.

Whatever you do on Father’s Day, whether it is to give Dad the proverbial necktie, a set of tools, or a gift card, please let him know how much he is appreciated as an extremely important part of your life.

Take Dad to the zoo, a play, a movie.

Enjoy Dad’s presence in your life, because once he leaves this world, a very important part of yourself will be taken from you.

Whatever you do on this day with Dad, enjoy.

Make it the best Father’s Day ever.

Happy Father’s Day to everyone.

 Andover ties.JPG

 

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