Monthly Archives: July 2007

OKAY, HERE WE GO AGAIN….

Seems Mayor Ken Corley is on a crusade to clean up the sleepy little town of Brazoria all by his lonesome (well, almost all by his lonesome). Sometime during the month of January, 2007, the mayor of Brazoria tried to get a ban on the use of the word nigger voted into law. (I did a post on this same small Texas town when the mayor propsed a ban on the word “nigger” in that same town:  https://kathmanduk2.wordpress.com/2007/01/23/small-texas-town-proposes-ban-on-the-n-word )  Anyone caught using this word would have received a fine. But, since so many citizens of Brazoria were against this ban, the mayor decided against pursuing the issue.

Now this same mayor is back with another ban, this time concerning baggy jeans/pants worn by young people.  Below is the story.

Brazoria banning baggy britches?

05:10 PM CDT on Monday, July 30, 2007

By Rucks Russell / 11 News The City of Brazoria, one of the oldest in the state of Texas, is stirring up one of the newest debates around over baggy pants, sagging beneath the waist.

AP

 

A matter of style to some and a decency issue to others.

The long simmering dispute in the city of 2,800 is about to boil over, thanks to a new measure being considered at the highest levels of local government.

It would make the sagging, baggy pants against the law.

Mayor Ken Corley, who’s hoping to craft an ordinance similar to one recently passed in a Louisiana town, threatening violators with fines and even jail time. “It’s not anything I want to do, it’s something I’m compelled to do.”

Baggy pants

What do you think about the proposed ban on baggy pants in Brazoria?

“Good idea! I’m tired of looking at saggy britches.”

“Ridiculous! Nobody needs the fashion police.”

“I don’t wear pants.”

He calls it common sense trumping the controversial fashion sense.

The disagreement crosses generational lines.

“I don’t want to change it. It ain’t cool,” said Allen King.

“If they don’t like the way I look, don’t look at me,” said Thomas Kind.

Rucks: “Would you support this law?”

Al McCord: “Yes sir I would, yes I would.”

The question now is will city council members.  In the meantime, Brazorians with a pension for wearing their pants loose may want to consider buckling up.

E-mail 11 News reporter Rucks Russell

Link:  http://www.khou.com/topstories/stories/khou070730_jj_baggypantsbrazoriaban.c8162033.html ************************************************************************************

Okay, what do you want to bet that most of the people who are going to be fined for this ordinance/ban (providing it passes) are going to be young black males? Hmm? Do we really believe that most of the people fined/and or arrested are mostly going to be of the light, non-black persuasion? I don’t think so. Probably the honorable mayor has some young men in his family who are rubbing him the wrong way by wearing these baggy jeans around him and since they probably won’t listen to reason (his reason) well, he’s just going to make sure that they and all the baggy pants-wearing young men tow the line with this proposed ban.

Also to be taken into consideration is that more than just young black men are wearing these baggy, sagging, ridin’ below the ass-crack pants; there are many young non-black males who wear their pants this way. So, if Hiz Honor is able to get this ban enacted, there had better not be a lot of racist, prejudicial discrimination as to who will or will not be fined/and or jailed for breaking this proposed law.

But, I am ever the pragmatic realist.

I see many young black men fined/and or arrested for breaking this ban. I see very many non-black young men NOT being fined/and or jailed, with the excuse given for them that: 

 “Well, they are just young men who did not know any better. We’ll just let them off with a warning. Okay, boys, don’t do it again.

“As for you n*****s, get the hell into the paddy wagon, you are doing 25-to-life, with a $10,000 fine. Shut up! And don’t give us any lip!”

Wait a minute. Saggin’ spelled backswards, spells “niggas”.

It’s deja-vu all over again.

Ah, justice, fairness and decency.

It is to laugh.

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MISSING PRETTY WHITE WOMAN SYNDROME, PART 1

Last month, over at Alas, A Blog, I left some comments on a post (“It’s the Interracial Sex, Folks”:  http://amptoons.com/blog/?p=3481) that Rachel of http://www.rachelstavern.com  had submitted for discussion. This post concerned the media circus that surrounded the Bobby Cutts murder of Jessie Davis. This was the case of a white woman who had gone missing. Since she was a pregnant woman due to give birth at any moment, many people reading the newspapers and viewing television reports were understandably distraught over this woman’s disappearance. But, as the information on the case began to build, many people had to face facts that this case was more than just a case of a missing pregnant woman.

Unfortunately it was another example of the “Missing Pretty White Woman Syndrome” or, the “Pretty White Damsel in Distress Syndrome”. Missing white woman syndrome (MWWS), also known as Missing Pretty Girl Syndrome, is a term used to describe disproportionate media coverage of white female victims. The individual may be missing, murdered, captured, or even have faked her own abduction; the essential element of the syndrome is that her gender, race, prettiness, age, or social background is to have extended the media coverage and public interest in her case. And many people who want to face reality know that black women, and other women of color, do not rate the respect to receive the PMWWS treatment. Black women do not rate having their humanity validated if their relatives call the police and alert the news that they are missing. The foot-dragging, the callous disregard, the cold impersonal treatment that is given to the families of missing black women, black girls, black boys (and even men of all races who go missing) is rampant in this society. And in this case, especially since it involved a black policeman who now stands accused of murdering the white victim, many people saw this as just another example of the “Black Brute” gone wild. And also often left out of these discussions or acknowledgements is America’s denial of its sick sordid racist history and continued mistreatment and devaluation of black women and girls. Black women get none of the high profile treatment in the media that white women receive. When one of us goes missing we do not even register as a blip on the radar of the media, the police or the rest of non-black woman America’s conscience. Many black women, girls, men and boys go missing, but, because they are black, and not white women or girls, there existence is considered as less than and does not merit the public outcry that is so often accorded to white females. Therefore, my responses to Rachel’s post states that black women and girls continue to have to fight against the denigration of our womanhood, our humanity—-a vicious cycle set into motion over 400 years ago from the cruel hatred that white men and boys time and time again showed in their depraved and perverted mistreatment of black women, which is still an uphill battle we black women must fight. Not only must we fight against the racism and sexism from white men, but, we must also fight against the racist, sexist hatreds of men of other races—Native American men, Black American men, Black African men, Asian men, Latino men, Arab men—all the men of many races who have bought into the sick sadistic lies started by white men against black women over 400 years ago—-lies and myths to justify the abominations done to black women by white men——all men. Lies and myths that some men of other races are ready to believe at the drop of a hat. Lies, myths and stereotypes that many men of other races are ready to believe instead of looking at the inner beauty and worth of all black women as human beings with just as much right to live in this world as women of other races. Black women have been disparaged and attacked ever since we have been in this country since 1619, and America has not let up on her attack against us, and she never will. Four hundred years plus of deeply ingrained hatred against a race of women who have done nothing wrong against anyone in this country; a race of women who have given their very best to this country. Four hundred years plus of psychotic vicious hatred. Four hundred years plus of wrongs done against black women that would sicken and turn the stomach. Four hundred years plus of being torn apart, both figuratively, and literally. Until America comes to terms with her savage racist, sexist history, this country will continue to stay behind in improving its race relations. Until white-run America acknowledges publically the sick wrongs it has done to black men—-and especially the monstrous wrongs done to black women—expect this country to never rise above what it can truly become—a country that truly lives by the Bible, the US. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Civil Rights Act and Brown v. the Board of Education (which the U.S. Supreme Court recently gutted and destroyed last month). Until white-run America decides to grow some backbones and decide to stop being *white men and women* and worshippers of *whiteness* and instead decide to become *real men and women*  and confront their racist, sexist past, figure on America continuing down the road to self-destruction from her not acknowledging the sins of her bloody, sexist, racist history. Mandolin Writes:
June 26th, 2007 at 8:29 am

The following are my responses to some of the comments on the Cutts/Davis case:

I was particularly appalled by some of the “white women deserve it for getting with a Brother” sentiment, where the commenter seemed to be positioning hirself as a person of color? Am I unreasonable for suspecting that they lie?

SamChevre Writes:
June 26th, 2007 at 8:44 am

I was particularly appalled by some of the “white women deserve it for getting with a Brother” sentiment, where the commenter seemed to be positioning hirself as a person of color? Am I unreasonable for suspecting that they lie?

Not unreasonable, but based on my experience probably wrong.

Two of my sisters (white, as I am) have black boyfriends. (They’ve been together for 5 years in one case, 7 in the other.) This is in the small-town South, so an area with a good deal of fairly open racism still. Both relationships get much more unfavorable attention (and more aggressively unfavorable) from black women than from anyone else.

Ann Writes:
June 26th, 2007 at 9:10 am

“Both relationships get much more unfavorable attention (and more aggressively unfavorable) from black women than from anyone else.”

Yeah, that’s the thing.

I guess for a black woman I must be an aberration to that so-called “norm”. I have never ever run after a BM/WW couple spewing hateful comments at them; I have never looked at and rolled my eyes upon seeing a BM/WW couple; I have never stared in disgust at a BM/WW couple. I don’t know, must be something wrong with me. If anything when I am walking past a BM/WW couple or glance their way, the black man looks down in shame upon meeting my eye contact. Hmm. Go figure. Why any black woman would worry herself about who a black man was in bed with makes no sense to me. For all she knows, no telling how that particular black man is treating that particular white woman. All is not always rosy behind closed doors.

But, I can understand where some black women who think that way feel the way they do.

This society devalues black women.

This society would rather see black men married to white women, rather than ANY MAN married to black women. (I know. Hard to believe, but true. The desire to see black women devalued is but one more form of white supremacist destruction of black people. Destroy the black woman, and you have completely destroyed the black race.) The media shows practically no positive images of BM/BW couples on TV or in films. Black women’s beauty is denigrated (”nappy headed hos”), and add to the fact the history of how white men have defiled and debauched black women for over 400 years, is it any wonder that so many black women fear the advances of white men? Could she be faulted for wondering if the white man is only interested in her for “perverted, wild animalistic sex”? Could it be that the black woman knows that she is rated less than in this society starting with all the lies and slander the white man has been telling on black women for centuries, for decades? Lies, stereotypes and slander started by the white man during slavery, and continued all the way through segregation for almost 90 years? Lies that some men of other races, along with white men, are all too ready to believe? And the white male run media that creates racist, sexist stereotypes against black women are not alone. There is a triumvirate that works against black women:  WHITE MEDIA PIMPS: the white men who own the corporations of newspapers, television, radio airwaves, and record producing companies, white men who create the controlling images of black women and girls and who get rich off the degradation of black women; BLACK RAPPER WHORES who spew hatred against black women in their racist, sexist so-called music, black men who are whores for currying favor with Massa, black men who love the almighty buck so much they are willing to destroy black women in the process to get rich quick, or at least to die trying; and the PROSTITUTOR/JOHNS PUBLIC that falls on its knees to open its mouth to receive this filth vomitted from the mouths of the white men and black men in the media industry who create the gangsta rap-filth that denigrates all black women, when that public buys this black-woman hating filth that masequerades as *music*.

Many black women would like to reach out and allow white men and men of other races into their lives. But, if most, but not all, of the men they meet treat black women with disdain; look at black women as if they have no right to be at that particular workplace, treat black women as if they are only “Good enough to fuck, but, not good enough to marry”, treat black women as if they have no right TO BE in this world, then many black women will continue to have fear and trepidation in seeking out IRs.

Most black women do not have utter hate for the white woman.

Most black women see daily how black women are discarded, ignored and left out of life in this country, especially in the dating/marriage aspects. Many black women know that no matter how beautiful, decent and marriageable they are, they will never be accorded respect and adoration that they are due as women. Many black women know that no matter what we do, it will never be enough in many people’s eyes, especially those men who have bought into the belief that black women are not to be cherished, not to be treated with love and adoration.

And that is the cruelest and most unkindest cut of all.

Mandolin Writes:
June 26th, 2007 at 9:22 am

Oh, absolutely. I think that’s a brilliant summation, Ann.

The commenter in question seemed, to me, to be positioning himself as a black man (although I might have been doing that default-to-male thing mentally), which was why it was so striking to me. But probably not legitimately, and I withdraw my comment.

I undewrstand why there is so much tension along the lines of interracial dating. From some positions (frex: what Ann outlines above) it makes more sense than from others (frex: white men who want to see “savages on blondes”). I think it’s one of the places where intersections of race and gender are most clear and bizarre…

Rachel S. Writes:
June 26th, 2007 at 11:23 am

Ann that was very well put. I think people have the mistaken notion that black women hate interracial relationships btw BM and WW, but as Ann said black women hate being denigrated and put last in line when it comes to desirability as mates.

I personally get very little opposition from black women, and much of that has to do with how my partner and I interact with the black women we know and encounter. I know white women in IR’s who make derogatory comments about black women, and are afraid of black women. That subtle fear show through in their interactions, and I think that makes black women upset. Also, many black women get upset when black men accept racist stereotypes about attractiveness or date white women who do so. (This is not speaking to Sam’s sisters mentioned above. I’m talking about people I know.)

SamChevre Writes:
June 26th, 2007 at 12:25 pm

I’m apparently bad at making my points clear.

I like Mandolin’s point in her post, but (I think) mine is somewhat different.

My point is that “people who noisily dislike your interracial relationship” does not necessarily include most of “people who harm you because of your interracial relationship.”

SamChevre Writes:
June 26th, 2007 at 11:59 am

It seems I ought to follow up and make two points.

Both my sisters would say that black women are overwhelmingly supportive of them and their relationships. Of the small group of people that noisily oppose their relationships, black women are an large majority–but that’s a majority of a quite small group.

There’s a key word in the paragraph above–did you notice it? That word is noisily. The person who yells at you randomly on the street is noisy, and easy to identify–but fairly ignorable. The person whose rental property is no longer available because he dislikes the fact that your partner is black is not as identifiable, and not as noisy–but is much more damaging.

Ann Writes:
June 26th, 2007 at 3:03 pm

“The person whose rental property is no longer available because he dislikes the fact that your partner is black is not as identifiable, and not as noisy–but is much more damaging.”

And how many black women are in that category who are in the position to deny white people rental property, housing, a good job, a better education?

What Rachel said is true.

How white women in relationships with black men treat black women sends the message to black women what that white woman thinks of black women. And yes, many white women are afraid of black women. They know that in addition to the hateful way that white men mistreated black women and girls (yes, little girls, when white men committed acts of pedophilia on little black girls by raping them during slavery and segregation), during America’s extreme racist history, white women also see how this society degrades and devalues black women in present-day America.

Tell me, when was the last time you saw on TV stereotypical, insulting images of Mammy, Sapphire, Slut/Jezebel/Whore, Welfare Queen stereotypes that constantly disparaged the gender AND race of white women? When was the last time, if you hear it blasting from some human being’s car stereo, “Bitches…hos….suck my d++k!” directed at white women? When was the last time you saw ad after ad after commercial that celebrated the beauty of a black woman’s features with a black actress/model who had very black skin, natural hair, full lips? Where have you seen commercial after commercial, magazine spread after magazine spread, where you saw ads of dark-skinned black women in over 50% of the ads?

If you are like most Americans, practically none, unless you subscribe to a black publication.

And I will echo, Rachel.

It is hellish enough that white men through the media, through films and through their distorted lies of history, have done all the damage they could to destroy the image of black women. I expect that from them. They are the ones who have left this legacy of hatred of black women. They are the ones who have polluted and poisoned people’s minds against black women. White men have been trying to destroy black women ever since we have been in this country, and they still have not let up. Yes, they can no longer fuck, rape, impregnate us against our will nor fuck over us the way pappy and grand-daddy could a few decades ago, but, the mistreatment has only morphed into a more subtle attack with the use of the media.

It damnable enough that there are many white women who hate that black women have been able to survive all of the sick, twisted, perverted shit that white men did to black women and that we came out better humans than all the filth through the many years that sought to destroy us.

But, it hurts even worse, when it hits close to home. It hurts when the men of your own race in trying so desparately to curry favor with Massa (and Missus) are more than ready to tear down the women of their own race.

It is bad enough when black women have to fight a battle on two fronts (the hatred and venom of white men and white women); it’s doubly painful when some of the black men of your own race join in on the attack. Men who have internalized racist, sexist hatred of black women.

“Both my sisters would say that black women are overwhelmingly supportive of them and their relationships.”

Good to hear that.

But, the majority of white women behave coldly, nasty (rude, snappy comments), indifferent and in many case just plain hostile to black women. They know in what they see and hear, that this society beats black women down every chance it gets. They know that this society hates that black women have survived and shown that no white man, white woman or anyone else could destroy us. But, on the other hand, this continued barragement of anti-black woman treatment from the general society (i.e., anyone who is not a black woman) can, and does, take its toll.

And as for those few black women who “noisily” berate your sisters in public, think of what must have happened to them at the hands of white men, black men, and men of other races.

(”And the less privilege the person who’s making the criticism has, the more it feels like an attack. In this post, Ginmar quotes Amanda Marcotte: “The less right you have to talk in the eyes of the hierarchy, the louder you seem. Which is probably why black women are seen as the loudest people ever.”* from Mandolin’s post)

Black women have been through some vicious hells in this country. We have never been treated as worthy of having our bodies, spirits and minds treated with overwhelming respect and consideration. We have never been worthy of having our voices heard through all the hate and disrespect that has been shown towards us. We HAVE to speak up vocally for ourselves, because no one else (save a few people who care about us)  will do it for us. We speak up for ourselves the most. We’ve had to. America has never wanted to listen to the voices of black women. America still does not.

The truth still stands.

Black women get the shitty end of the stick in this country.

We always have.

Bobby V. Writes:
June 29th, 2007 at 9:08 am

Our shameful history of miscegenation carries deep cultural significance on many levels. For males, associating sexual performance with penis size reinforces the belief that an erect penis, the larger the better, is a sine qua non of any successful hump. Combine this with the racist myths of the black male’s unlimited sexual prowess and his concupiscence for white women, and one can begin to fathom the emotional weight associated with interracial sex.

Ann Writes:
June 29th, 2007 at 9:38 pm

“Our shameful history of miscegenation carries deep cultural significance on many levels. For males, associating sexual performance with penis size reinforces the belief that an erect penis, the larger the better, is a sine qua non of any successful hump. Combine this with the racist myths of the black male’s unlimited sexual prowess and his concupiscence for white women, and one can begin to fathom the emotional weight associated with interracial sex.”

True.

But, you leave out a very important factor in racist miscegenation.

In order to get to the “black savage brute” who would violate any white woman, you cannot leave out the most important aspect of this dynamic:

white men’s mistreatment of black women during slavery and segregation.

You cannot leave out this very important part of this dynamic. You cannot talk about one (WW/BM) without speaking of the other (BW/WM). Because this is what set into motion the white man’s fear and digust of white woman/black man sex. It was what was done to black women by white men that set into motion the position and condition we are in in this country today.

Because of the massive gang rapes committed by white men during slavery and segregation, the white man had to justify his defilement of black women. He knew that his wanton degradation of her was seen by the black man, daily, monthly, yearly. The white man fathered tens of thousands of children with the black woman, children he denied. Because the white man raped and debased the black woman he knew in his guilt that he had created a race of people raped into existence and therefore, he feared that the black man would do to the white woman what the white man had done to black women for over 400 years.

Four hundred years is a very long time.

Rape. Pedophilia. Acts of outrages and sexual excesses that would shame a rabid dog were done to black women. And the white man saw that the sexual cruelties done to black women and girls and the resulting progeny were a daily reminder of his psychotic mistreatment of an entire race of women.  Also, with the end of slavery, the white man feared that he would no longer have ease of access to the black woman’s body. This further enraged him because with the debauchery of black women’s bodies during slavery, it was accepted that black women were to always and forever more be sexual outhouses for the white man, that he would forever have free, unlimited sexual access to her body, and fearing the abolition of slavery would end his continued wanton and degrading mistreatment of black women and girls, the white man flew into a rage, that what was for so long his and his alone (the greedy hoarding of both the black woman AND the white woman) would come to an end, the white man enacted segregationist laws that would continue to keep the black woman in a state of de jure and de facto degradation. In essence, the white man wanted to forever keep the black woman as a sexual latrine for his most basest, grossest and inhumane sexually degenerate practices.

Knowing that the result of his actions (his mixed-blood children) walked around as living reminders of his cruelty, he began to fear the black man’s vengeance. He began to fear that what he did to the black woman things that were so shameful and hateful, that words could not begin to describe the unspeakable acts of the most grossest abominations that he did—–then and there the white man began the act of  projection against his perceived fears of the black man:

“Since I have degraded the black woman so, when will the black man eventually start to do to my “women” what I have done to his “women” for centuries? His sister? His aunt? His daughter? His mother?”

Then and there the die was cast.

Because of the white man’s guilt, and fear and rage, he projected onto the black man the image of bestial beast, of savage brute, when in reality it was the white man who was the bestial beast, savage brute who caused an entire race’s bloodline to be polluted (with rapist white blood).

Then in the late 1890s, the vicious lynchings started.

The “over-sexed, hung like an ape, walking life support system for a huge insatiable penis” image of the black man was born. The savage “can’t wait to lay up with a white woman brute” black man was born. The “we must protect, defend and honor our white woman” psychosis was born. And soon, black men’s (as well as black women’s bodies) were hanging from Southern trees; black men’s bodies were tortured and burned; black men’s bodies had sex crimes committed against them ( for what is castration if not a sex crime?)

And the savage lynching bee spectacles that lasted for nearly 100 years occurred.

The white man projected onto the black man all his sexual transgressions that he had committed against innocent black women and girls.

Then and there the black man as “Brute” as “Black Beast” was born.

Therefore, the white man was punishing the black man for the transgressions he had committed against the defenseless black woman.

And the more he raped the black woman, the more he put the white woman upon that pedestal.

The more he creeped down to the black cabins during segregation, the more his guilt grew.

And the more his fear grew.

To even think of a white woman being with a black man sent him into a rage. No white woman in the white man’s mind could possibly love a black man; no white woman could possibly find a black man as having any humanity. No white woman could possibly desire a black man.

Therefore the white man greedily kept the white woman away from the black man and constantly told her, (and himself as well) that no sane, pure white woman could possibly have anything whatsoever to do with a black man. And the white man set about to destroy the “beast” he had created in his sick, demented mind. No white woman was safe around a black man, so the slightest look at a white woman brought with it death.

The legacy of that twisted perversion of sex by the white man still lives with us today:

*Black man as brute beast rapist (no white woman could possibly want anything to do with him. If she does, she is the lowest of the low, insane, demented, trash)

*Black woman as animal, “good enough to fuck, but, not good enough to marry”; insatiable “Whore/Jezebel/Slut” not worthy of having her humanity validated.

Even today, when a WW/BM couple is seen it illicits rage and torment in the white man. Since the white man can no longer castrate and lynch the black man physically before the white woman’s eyes, he feels he must lynch the black man in her eyes by not hiring the black man for high positions/careers, by economically tearing him down; allowing in many instances the black man only obtaining employment in certain low-paying jobs. He can no longer physically tear the black man apart, but, he constantly strives to tear him down economically and socially in the white woman’s eyes. But, on the other hand, the site of a BW/WM does the opposite because it is still acceptable in this scociety, this country that a black woman is to be given no human regard and is to always be used, not just by the white man, but, by ALL men. Lay up with her, sexually use her, maybe even get her pregnant like in the good ‘ol days; abandon her and her child, but, under no circumstances honor and respect her in marrying her. Make no mistake, the white man has not stopped working on destroying the black woman either. He disparages her beauty. He negates, marginalizes and erases from people’s psyche’s her womanhood—–he in essence renders her VISIBLE BUT YET STILL INVISIBLE. Not worthy of love or respect.

Whereas on the other hand, the white woman is to always be accorded the utmost respect and to always have her humanity validated.

That is why many people look at a white woman and question “Why should she be with him (the black man)?”

On the other hand, a black woman is seen as having no right to have the love and adoration of any man, and that her womanhood has to constantly be impugned and assailed every chance anyone gets to do that to her. She is to be used and then thrown into the garbage dumpster by all men, no matter what their race. Those men who have not the backbone to think for themselves but are all too ready to believe any and all hated lies and disparagements that are said about all black women. Men of many races who don’t have the balls to stand up and think and reason for themselves and see the humanity of all black women.

So, you see, you cannot speak of the BM/WW aspect without mentioning the BW/WM aspect of this dynamic, the residue of which is a holdover from the depravities of slavery and Jim Crow segregation.

It did not start with the white woman/black man.

It started with the black woman/white man binary where the debauchery of black women set this dynamic of black sex/black privates/black bodies were vile, evil, filthy, and perverse into motion.

But, it also set into people’s psyche’s the dynamic of white bodies/ white sex/white privates as pure and normal.

It is the white man’s perversion and filthying of interracial sex that has left a damnable and twisted sexual fabric in this country that exists to this day.

And it started with the white man’s subjugation and defilement of the black woman.

Which is why the white man feels that he is to always have all the women he can greedily get his hands on; the white woman is not to have anything to do with the black man; the black man is to be looked upon as a sex beast; and the black woman is to be looked upon as a mule, as an animal to be worked to death, fucked to death, kicked to death both figuratively, and literally.

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A GIRL LIKE ME

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17fEy0q6yqc

View it and weep.

How things stay the same.

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NINA SIMONE

There is a quotation attributed to Richard Pryor that states: “White people had Judy Garland — We had Nina.”  Nina Simone (born Eunice Kathleen Waymon, 1933-2003) was a masterful, superb singer-songwriter, pianist, arranger, composer,  goddess, a civil rights activist, “High Priestess of Soul”, and a beautiful woman the likes of which the world will never see again. There are so many of her songs that I love, including, “Four Women” (a song of four different women who epitomize America’s racist, sexist mistreatment of black women), “Mississippi Goddamn” 

  (a scathing indictment of white America’s racist mistreatment of her black citizens);

 “To Be Young, Gifted and Black”,

her black ballad which would become Black America’s national anthem,  “Strange Fruit”,

…….her inspiring rendition of the legendary Billie Holliday classic), and my favourite, “My Baby Just Cares For Me”, 

a song that is an homage to the beauty of black women (ironically the song appeared in a Chanel No. 5 commercial decades ago).

Nina recorded over 40 live and studio albums, the biggest body of her work being released between 1958 (when she made her debut with Little Girl Blue) and 1974. Songs she is best known for include “My Baby Just Cares for Me”, “I Put a Spell On You”, “I Loves You Porgy”, “Feeling Good”, “Sinnerman”, “To Be Young, Gifted and Black”, “Strange Fruit”, and “Ain’t got no-I got life”. The “High Priestess’s” music and message made a strong and lasting impact on Black American culture, illustrated by the numerous contemporary artists citing her as an important influence (among them Alicia Keys, Jeff Buckley and Lauren Hill), as well as the extensive use of her music on soundtracks and in remixes.

At a concert debut, Nina made a classical piano recital, at the age of ten. During her performance, her parents, who had taken seats in the front row, were forced to move to the back of the hall to make way for white people. Nina refused to play until her parents were moved back to their seats. This incident of racism propelled her into the Civil Rights Movement. Nina aspired to become a classical pianist. With the help of a private tutor she studied for an interview to further study piano at the Curtis Institute, but she was rejected. Simone believed that this rejection was directly related to her being black, as well as being a woman. It further fueled her hatred of the widespread and institutionalized racism present in the U.S. during the period. It seemed that her dream to become the first Black American classical pianist would not be fulfilled.

Nina played at the Midtown Bar & Grill on Pacific Avenue in Atlantic City to fund her study. The owner said that she would have to sing as well as play the piano in order to get the job. She took on the stagename “Nina Simone” in 1954 because she did not want her mother to know that she was playing “the devil’s music”. “Nina” (meaning “little girl” in Spanish) was a nickname a boyfriend had given to her and “Simone” was after the French actress Simone Signoret, whom she had seen in the movie Casque d’or. Simone played and sang a mixture of jazz, blues and classical music at the bar, and by doing so she created a small but loyal fan base.

Simone’s regal bearing and commanding stage presence earned her the title “High Priestess of Soul”. Her live performances were regarded not as mere concerts, but as happenings. In a single concert she could be a singer, pianist, dancer, actress, activist, as well as both therapist and patient all simultaneously.

Nina Simone14.JPG

On her debut album for Philips, Nina Simone In Concert (live recording, 1964), Nina openly openly addressed the racial inequality that was prevalent in the United States with the song “Mississippi Goddam”. It was her response to the murder of Medgar Evers and the Sixteenth  Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four little black girls (Addie Mae Collins (aged 14), Denise McNair (11), Carole Robertson (14), and Cynthia Wesley (14)—were killed in the blast, while 22 more were injured) . The song was released as a single, being boycotted in certain southern states. With “Old Jim Crow” on the same album she reacts to the Jim Crow Laws.

Together with Langston Hughes, Simone turned the late Lorraine Hansberrys unfinished play “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” into a civil rights song. She performed it live on Black Gold (1970). A studio recording was released as a single, and the song became the official “National Anthem of Black America” and has been covered by Aretha Franklin (on 1972s Young, Gifted and Black) and Donny Hathaway.

Simone had a reputation in the music industry for being volatile and sometimes difficult to deal with, a characterization with which she strenuously took issue. In 1995, she shot and wounded her neighbour’s son with a pneumatic pistol after his laughing disturbed her concentration.  She also fired a gun at a record company executive whom she accused of stealing royalties.  It is now recognised that this ‘difficulty’ was not just the result of an overly-perfectionist rigor, but her raging outbursts and diva-like extremes were actually the result of a psycho-medical condition, most probably a bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder. Simone reluctantly took medication for her condition from the mid sixties on. All this was only known to a small group of intimates, and kept out of public view for many years, until the biography Break Down And Let It All Out written by Sylvia Hampton and David Nathan revealed this secret in 2004.

Nina left the United States in September 1970. The continuous performances and decline of the Civil Rights movement had exhausted her. Simone stayed in Barbados for quite some time, and had a lengthy affair with the Prime Minister, Errol Barrow.  A close friend, singer Miriam Makeba, convinced her to come to Liberia. After that she lived in Switzerland and the Netherlands, before settling in France in 1992. Simone’s divorce from her husband and manager can be seen as the end of her most successful years in the American music business, and the beginning of her (partially self-imposed) exile and estrangement from the world for the next two decades.

After her last album for RCA Records, It Is Finished (1974), it was not until 1978 that Simone was convinced by CTI Records owner Creed Taylor to record another album, Baltimore. While not a commercial succes, the album did get good reviews and marked a quiet artistic renaissance in Simone’s recording output. Her voice had not lost its power over the years, but developed an additional warmth and a vivacious maturity.

Her autobiography, I Put a Spell on You, was published in 1992 and recorded her last album A Single Woman in 1993.

In 1993 Simone settled near Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. She had been ill with breast cancer for several years before she died in her sleep at her home in Carry-le-Rouet on April 21, 2003, aged 70. Her funeral service was attended by singers Miriam Makeba and Patti Labelle, poet Sonia Sanchez, actor Ossie Davis and hundreds of others. Elton John sent a floral tribute with the message “We were the greatest and I love you”. Simone’s ashes were scattered in several African countries. She left behind a daughter Lisa Celeste, now an actress/singer who took on the stagename Simone and has appeared on Broadway in Aida.

On Human Kindness Day 1974 in Washington DC more than 10,000 people paid tribute to Simone for her music and commitment to humanity.

The documentary Nina Simone: La Legende was made in the 90’s by French filmakers. It was based on her autobiography I Put A Spell On You and features live footage from different periods of Nina’s career, interviews with friends and family, various interviews with Nina herself while she was living in the Netherlands, and on a trip to her birthplace.

Plans for a Nina Simone biographical picture were released at the end of 2005. The movie will be based on Nina Simone’s autobiography I Put A Spell On You (1992) and will also focus on her relationship in later life with her assistant, Clifton Henderson, who died in 2006. TV writer Cynthia Mort (Will & Grace, Roseanne) is working on the script, and singer Mary J Blige has been slated to take on the lead role. The movie is scheduled for a 2009 release.

Among numerous awards and accolades, Nina received two honorary degrees in music and humanities from the University of Massachusetts and Malcolm X College. She preferred to be called “Dr. Nina Simone” after these honors were bestowed upon her. Only two days before her death, Nina was awarded with an honorary diploma by the Curtis Institute, the school that had turned her down at the start of her career.

Blessed are those who were able to see her perform in person. For those of us who were not so lucky, here is her performance of her song,  “Four Women”.

Rest in peace, Eunice.

Four Women
 
 
  My skin is black
My arms are long
My hair is wooly
My back is strong
Strong enough to take the pain
It’s been inflicted again and again
What do they call me
My name is aunt sarah
My name is aunt sarah
My skin is yellow
My hair is long
Between two worlds
I do belong
My father was rich and white
He forced my mother late one night
What do they call me
My name is siffronia
My name is siffronia
My skin is tan
My hair’s alright, it’s fine
My hips invite you
And my lips are like wine
Whose little girl am i?
Well yours if you have some money to buy
What do they call me
My name is sweet thing
My name is sweet thing
My skin is brown
And my manner is tough
I’ll kill the first mother I see
Cos my life has been too rough
I’m awfully bitter these days
Because my parents were slaves
What do they call me
My
Name
Is
Peaches 

Links:

http://www.ninasimone.com/welcome.html

http://www.seeingblack.com/2003/x060403/nina_simone.shtml

http://www.boscarol.com/nina/index.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/2965225.stm

(Additional information from Wikipedia Encyclopedia)

Simone (Lisa Lawson) the daughter of Nina Simone (Eunice Waymon) singing ‘Breakdown’, a song she wrote for her mother just before she died in 2003. Video filmed in Paradiso Amsterdam, The Netherlands, June 2007:

http://vagalume.uol.com.br/paradisio/videos/ALDqqAkPBJk-simone-singing-for-her-mother-nina-simone.html

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LUCY PARSONS

Lucy Parsons.jpg
 

Her name is practically non-existent in the annals of the American labor movement. She was described in the 1930s by the Chicago Police Department  as “more dangerous than a thousand rioters.” She was a black, Native- and Mexican-American revolutionary anarchist labor activist from the late nineteenth and early 20th century America. For more than six and a half decades she has been relegated to obscurity from inclusion in the American labor movement, even though she fought against the injustices of poverty, exploitation of the poor, police brutality, racism, capitalism, government repression of dissent, homelessness, and the judicial murder condoned by the state/government her entire life.

If you are like most people you have never heard of Lucy Parsons. She was a force to be reckoned with in the early days of the labor movement.

The names of Eugene V. Debs (one of the founders of the International Labor Union, the Industrial Workers of the World [IWW], and five-time Socialist Party of America candidate for President of the of the United States); Samuel Gompers (a key figure in American labor history. Gompers founded the American Federation of Labor [AFL, which later merged with the Congress of Industrial Organizations, AFL-CIO] and held the position as president of the organization for all but one year from 1886 until his death in 1924); John L. Lewis (autocratic president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMW) from 1920 to 1960, and the driving force behind the founding of the Congress of Industrial Organizations); Walter P. Ruether (a labor leader who made the United Automobile Workers a major force not only in the auto industry but also in the Democratic party in the mid 20th century), and James Riddle “Jimmy” Hoffa (American labor leader, gangster, fraudster and criminal convict,  president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s), are all well-known to many Americans. But, Lucy Parsons remains an unheralded prominent figure.

Born in Texas of enslaved parents of Black American, Native American and Mexican ancestry, she often went by the name of Lucy Gonzales.  She was a trailblazer in radical theory and criticism. In historical perspective, she stands as one of the most original and radical thinkers and activists of her time.  She rejected electoralism and began calling for the immediate destruction of the state and the destruction of all hierarchy. She was a self-proclaimed and unapologetic anarchist. She argued for the dissolution of the state and that the end of capitalism was necessary for the creation of an anti-racist society. She was an ardent feminist before such a word existed, she argued against extending the vote to women on the grounds that the state should be smashed, not accommodated, that the entire system should be torn down, gutted, obliterated. She was one of the founding members of the International Workers of the World in 1905. In addition to being an anarchist, she was a labor organizer, writer, editor, publisher and mesmerizing orator. She was a founder of the Chicago Working Women’s Union, an organized group of garment workers that called for equal pay for equal work (as well as an end to the 10-hour workday, and for the enactment of the 8-hour workday), and she even called for housewives to join in with the demand of wages for housework. Lucy was a member of the Knights of Labor, one of the first serious labor federations in the country, and a founding member of the International Working People’s Association, an early anarcho-syndicalist labor organization, founded on the principles of worker’s solidarity, direct action and worker’s self-management. Lucy was the author of groundbreaking essays such as “The Principles of Anarchism,” “Southern Lynchings,” and “To Tramps,” essays which offered a radically new take on organizing, violence, and direct action. She vehemently denounced racist violence (lynchings, savage burnings and torture, massive gang rapes) in the South and the exploitation of black Americans a decade before Ida B. Wells began her more well-known career. Finally, she launched a scathing critique of Western civilization (“Our Civilization: Is It Worth Saving?”) and its central institutions of hypocrisy and depravity and spoofed the logic of imperialism and its cultural chauvinism. In the paper The Alarm, the journal of the International Working People’s Association (IWPA) she addressed class and civilization [especially white Western “civilization”], and in her article, “A Christmas Story”, she  attacked the racist and chauvinistic logic of imperialism and Manifest Destiny. Seventy five years before the Black Panthers, she urged armed self-defense against racist violence, but also called on black Americans to not limit themselves to self-defense.

It can certainly be said of Lucy Parsons that she was an exemplary figure who had an astonishing impact on the early days of the American labor movement.

She lived in Texas during Reconstruction of the 1870s. She would have seen unspeakable acts of brutality done against black Americans just a few years out of slavery. She could have heard of or witnessed many murders, rapes, beatings, mutilations, and various other crimes committed against black Americans by the Klan. In this environment she may have re-invented herself as a woman of Native American/Mexican ancestry. If so, considering the vicious racial climate she lived in, it would be understandable. And if so, this act would have been a form of self-preservation against the depravities and abombinations of virulent racist whites.

In this world, Lucy met Albert Parsons, a former Confederate soldier, who married Lucy after the Civil War and
became a believer in the social equality of the races. Their marriage (possibly legal, possible not, for at that time it was illegal for whites to marry black people) flew in the face of racist whites beliefs and under threats from racist whites, and they faced constant attacks and the threat of death. Albert himself was also threatened and attacked by the Klan (a bullet from an encounter with the Klan remained lodged in his body for the remainder of his life), as a leader in organizing black Americans. Certainly her marriage to Albert Parsons, a former Confederate soldier turned Radical Republican, was viewed as controversial. Shortly after their 1871 marriage, they left Waco, Texas, for Chicago, then a center of labor unrest and radical political movements. After Albert was blacklisted from the printing trade, Lucy supported the family as a dressmaker.

After moving to Chicago with her husband, Albert, in 1873, she began organizing workers. In 1873, Chicago was a city of misery for tens of thousands of immigrant workers brought in to be used as machines and cast aside. Lucy continued to work as a dressmaker to help support her family of herself, her husband, and their two children, when Albert was fired because of his involvement with the labor movement.

Members of the Chicago Citizens Association who conducted an investigation of how these immigrants lived were sickened by what they saw — children picking through the garbage and animal litter from the meatpacking plants, scrounging for things to sell. The children were often racked with illness. Fifty percent never reached age five. Families lived in tiny, dirty shacks without windows, floors or toilets. Houses built for six or seven often housed 30 or 40 people. There were thousands of hungry children unable to go to school because the family needed them to work.

The Chicago economic establishment was either uncaring or downright hostile. And they included the most prominent of the well-known robber barons.

Marshall Field (founder of Marshall Field and Company, the Chicago-based department stores,  and because of his innovations in customer service, the quotes “Give the lady what she wants” and “The customer is always right” are  attributed to Field);  Phillip Armour (formed Armour and Company in 1867, which soon became the world’s largest food processing and chemical manufacturing enterprise, headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Armour & Co. was the first company to produce canned meat and also one of the first to employ an “assembly-line” technique in its factories); his rival, Gustavus Swift (founder of the  meat-packing empire Swift & Company);  and George Pullman (best remembered as the inventor of the Pullman sleeping car, and for violently suppressing striking workers in the company town he created, Pullman, Chicago).

The relief fund for the poor, for instance, was taken over by Marshall Field. Field used it for his own business investments for rebuilding after the Chicago fire. Even the major daily newspaper aligned itself with the business tycoons of Chicago.

“When a tramp asks you for bread,” the Chicago Tribune advised, “put strychnine or arsenic on it and he will trouble you no more.”

Shortly thereafter, the Illinois National Guard was formed to suppress poor people who were organizing and striking for better working conditions. The despair and despondency crushed the citizens of Chicago. The seeds of rebellion had been nurtured from the economic, political and social violence that had been meted out to the Chicago community, and the people had had enough of the landed gentry and monied rich who ground them up like human fodder to serve the needs of the greedy and selfish rich. The people were beyond tired of being ground into the dust, and they began to fight back against those who looked upon them as a perpetual renewable source of exploitation by the haves of the world.

Into these volatile conditions, Lucy Parsons entered. Lucy and Albert both became members of the Socialist Labor Party (the oldest socialist political party in the United States that advocated Marxism and the second oldest socialist party in the world.) Albert became well-known in the Chicago labor movement. Both Lucy and Albert joined the Knights of Labor (the Knights demanded an end to child labor and convict labor, equal pay for women, and the cooperative employer-employee ownership of mines, factories, and other businesses). She began organizing workers and led thousands of them out on strike protesting poor working conditions, long hours and abuses of capitalism. Albert was soon a leader in organizing the poor. Lucy began to feel most at home with anarchism, and she soon became an ardent devotee to this most radical concept of the political and economic fight for justice:

“Anarchism has but one infallible, unchangeable motto, ‘Freedom.’ Freedom to discover any truth, freedom to develop, to live naturally and fully.”

 On May 3 1886, a strike at McCormick Harvest Works in Chicago became violent as police fired into a crowd of unarmed strikers. Many strikers were wounded, and four were killed. On May 4th, reacting to the events, radicals called a meeting in Haymarket Square to discuss the situation. The peaceful meeting was disrupted by police, and an unknown figure threw a bomb, killing one officer. One of the worst violations of US civil rights occured over the next few days, as police swept the town looking for any and all anarchists and radicals. Although he was not even at Haymarket Square that day, Albert was one of the eight men accused of the bombing and he was indicted and convicted for his alleged participation. Police Captain John Bonfield, a brutal thug, had led the charge on the gathering of workers and evidence suggests that he may have been involved in the bomb-throwing. Albert went into hiding until the first trial date, at which point he walked into court to turn himself in and sit with his comrades.

Albert Parsons was targeted for death by city leaders. After Albert turned himself in to the police, the trial proceeded. In October, 1887, after a lengthy trial wrought by injustices, Albert, along with seven other anarchists (Louis Lingg, Michael Schwab, Oscar Neebe, August Spies, Adolph Fischer, Samuel Fielden and George Engel) were declared guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.  Lingg killed himself in prison. Two others, Schwab and Fielden, were sentenced to life in prison, while Neebe got 15 years; and the other 4, Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolph Fischer, and George Engel, Haymarket martyrs, were hung. 

 As the Haymarket “trial” unfolded, Lucy Parsons’ belief in justice and in the necessity for revolution was confirmed. It seemed irrefutable that Chicago was incapable of showing justice for its working class.

Following the sentencing of the Haymarket 8, Lucy Parsons vigorously agitated in and out of the United States on behalf of Albert and the other martyred comrades. She delivered speeches constantly and sold thousands of copies of the final statements of the Haymarket martyrs everywhere she went. Word spread of the Haymarket affair and soon it had become international in scope, reaching and inspiring untold numbers of activists.

Primarily as a result of Lucy Parsons’ work the Haymarket martyrs became historic inspirations, creating a wave of anarchists worldwide. Emma Goldman, Voltairine de Cleyre, Alexander Berkman and many other famous anarchists of history were moved, inspired and drawn to anarchism as a result of the Haymarket events. Labor activists the world over dedicated May 1st, May Day, on behalf of the Haymarket martyrs, and scores of radical labor activists and labor unions, including the Industrial Workers of the World, were inspired and moved to action by the tragedies of 1886. The Haymarket affair is one of the most important episodes in US labor and anarchist history.

The depth of Lucy’s courage was prodigeous. Lucy Parsons was undaunted by physical abuse by the police, undeterred by vile threats from thugs, or by malicious lies in the Chicago newspapers. She cried in despair over the dead body of her husband Albert in 1886.

After that, she never again cried publically.

After her husband’s death, Parsons continued revolutionary activism on behalf of workers, political prisoners, people of color, the homeless, and women. Lucy preached justice for the poor by way of revolution. She was forceful and convincing. The most powerful men in the city – Field, Armour, Pullman, etc. – made a concerted effort to silence her. For the next 50 years, in blatant disregard of her rights, she was arrested wherever she spoke.

On her tours, Lucy was met with enthusiastic crowds and intense state repression. Almost every city she visited attempted to block her from speaking, creating dramatic showdowns with local authorities and offering a prelude to the free-speech fights she would lead as one of the founders of the Industrial Workers of the World. Although she was arrested a handful of times, she persisted relentlessly, forging ahead with the help of loyal activists around the country.

Lucy Parsons led a Christmas Day march to 18th and Prairie Avenue where marchers showered the Field mansion with catcalls and rotten tomatoes. Soon after, Field moved his family to the North Shore — near the new Fort Sheridan which was built to protect the rich from the poor.

Neither city officials, police abuse, years of gnawing poverty and hunger nor blindness in her later years reduced Lucy Parsons’ enthusiasm for the cause or for the welfare of the workers.

Lucy were an astonishing woman.  She and so many other anarchist and labor movement people lobbied for the 8-hour workday. For the abolition of slave wage conditions on the job.  She pioneered the idea of the sit-down strike, relentlessly advocated sabotage as a tool in the class struggle, and argued forcefully for an all-inclusive union that made no distinction based on class, sex, or race and spoke out specifically for the rights of sex-workers. She vigorously opposed war and imperialism in the face of massive repression and the betrayal of many of her former colleagues during WWI. 

Although Parsons was primarily a labor activist, she was also a staunch advocate of the rights of black Americans. She wrote numerous articles and pamphlets condemning racist attacks and killings. Her most significant piece being “The Negro: Let Him Leave Politics to the Politician and Prayer to the Preacher.” Published in The Alarm on April 3rd, 1886, the article was a response to the Iynching of thirteen black Americans in Corrollton, MS. In it, she claimed that blacks where only victimized because they were poor, and that racism would inevitably disappear with the destruction of capitalism.

In 1892 she published the short lived Freedom, which attacked Iynchings and black peonage.  She also published a paper called The Liberator. In 1927 she was made a member of the National Committee of the International Labor Defense, a communist-led organization that defended labor activists and unjustly accused black Americans such as the Scottsboro Nine and Angelo Herndon.

Her later work included the defense of other anarchists and labor activists on trial for false charges, such as Sacco and Vanzetti and Tom Mooney and Warren Billings. The 1890’s witnessed the formation of a major rift between Lucy and others in the movement, especially Emma Goldman, over the more abstract arguments that anarchist papers carried at the time. Most of these anarchist debates pivoted around the issue of free love. Lucy believed that marriage and the family existed naturally in the human condition and criticized anarchist papers for carrying articles attacking these institutions. Her speeches against these topics, which she felt were far below the importance of directly working against capitalist oppression, alienated her from other anarchist leaders.

Lucy also wrote about the press, and how even in her own time, newspapers suppressed and manipulated information with their disinformation and misinformation in reporting incidents which occurred. Lucy wrote essays, “The Importance of a Press” and “Challenging the Lying Monopolistic Press” that alerted people that the fourth estate could be just as destructive to citizen’s interests as much as any robber baron, or government institution.

Her writings on sex and patriarchy, as well as  her thoughts on race and racism, require closer reading, and certainly deserve greater attention.

In February, 1941, in one of her last major appearances, Lucy spoke at the International Harvestor, where she continued to inspire crowds. On March 7, 1942 at the age of 90, Lucy died from a fire that engulfed her home. 

Her lover George Markstall died the next day from wounds he received while trying to save her. To add to this tragedy, when Lucy Parsons died, the police seized and destroyed her letters, writings and library.  She almost disappeared from history, but, many of her writings did survive.

Lucy’s library of 1,500 books on sex, socialism and anarchy were mysteriously stolen, along with all of her personal papers. Neither the FBI nor the Chicago police told Irving Abrams, who had come to rescue the library, that the FBI had already confiscated all of her books. The struggle for fundamental freedom of speech, in which Lucy had engaged throughout her life, continued through her death as authorities still tried to silence this radical woman by robbing her of the work of her lifetime. 

She is buried near her husband, near the Haymarket Monument.

On July 16, 2007, a book that purportedly belonged to Lucy Parsons was featured on a segment of the PBS television show, History Detectives. During the segment it was determined that the book, which was a biography of Albert Parson’s life and trial, was most likely a copy published and sold by Parsons as a way to raise money to prevent her husband’s execution. The segment also provided background on Parson’s life and the Haymarket Riot.

Lucy Parsons has been practically written out of history in the teachings of the labor movement. Being black, a woman, and working class has not only meant that she was excluded from history but also that she was not trusted to speak for herself by those who have included her, those who have added their own biases in supposedly telling her story. And her being an anarchist did not cause traditional authors (most of them Marxists) nor  liberal scholars who prefer the likes of the Emma Goldmans’ of the labor movement, women with an uncomplicated identity (white) whose analysis more closely mirrors that of the New Left, to wholeheartedly embrace her strong ideas.

But, I will let Lucy speak for herself, for it is in her writings that she comes alive and lives on if only so many more people would learn of the tremendous impact she had on the working class, the poor, the black Americans only a few years out of slavery, and the immigrants newly arrived into a territory where they sought with native Americans to forge a brave new world free of discrimination from the brutality of class/race/gender discrimination.

 “THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE WILL BE HEARD”

Words and writings by Lucy Parsons

The twentieth anniversary of the 11th of November, which has just been observed in Chicago, was a great success from many standpoints, notably among which was the increased number of young people who took part in it. . . .

As these years speed by, our comrades’ lives will be better understood; their great work for the uplifting of humanity understood and appreciated. This has been the case of the martyrs of all ages….

“The Voice of the People” will yet be heard.

The Demonstrator
November 20, 1907

It is now 18 months since I published the [Famous Speeches of the Haymarket Martyrs]. In that time I have traveled from Los Angeles, Wa Vancouver, B.C., to New York city, twice. I have devoted my entire energies to visiting Locals of the AF of L. From those Locals I have received most courteous treatment everywhere. I have credentials from some of the best known central bodies in this country, including the Central Federated Union of New York city. I am continually rapping at the doors of Locals, being admitted and selling the speeches. The result is that I have sold 10,000 copies and am just going to place my order with the printer for the sixth edition, making 12,000.

I regard these speeches as the greatest piece of propaganda literature extant; and when circulated among organized labor are bound to bear fruit.

The Agitator
December, 15, 1911

The Haymarket meeting is referred to historically as “The Haymarket Anarchists’ Riot.” There was no riot at the Haymarket except a police riot. Mayor Harrison attended the Haymarket meeting, and took the stand at the anarchist trial for the defense, not for the state.

The great strike of May 1886 was an historical event of great importance, inasmuch as it was . . . the first time that the workers themselves had attempted to get a shorter workday by united, simultaneous action…. This strike was the first in the nature of Direct Action on a large scale. . . .

Of course the eight-hour day is as antiquated as the craft unions themselves. Today we should be agitating for a five-hour workday.

The Industrial Worker
May 1, 1912

The Eleventh of November has become a day of international importance, cherished in the hearts of all true lovers of Liberty as a day of martyrdom. On that day was offered to the gallows-tree martyrs as true to their ideal as ever were sacrificed in any age….

Our comrades were not murdered by the state because they had any connection with the bombthrowing, but because they were active in organizing the wage-slaves. The capitalist class didn’t want to find the bombthrower; this class foolishly believed that by putting to death the active spirits of the labor movement of the time, it could frighten the working class back to slavery.

The Agitator
November 1, 1912

Parsons, Spies, Lingg, Fischer and Engel: Although all that is mortal of you is laid beneath that beautiful monument in Waldheim Cemetery, you are not dead. You are just beginning to live in the hearts of all true lovers of liberty. For now, after forty years that you are gone, thousands who were then unborn are eager to learn of your lives and heroic martyrdom, and as the years lengthen the brighter will shine your names, and the more you will come to be appreciated and loved.

Those who so foully murdered you, under the forms of law – lynch law – in a court of supposed justice, are forgotten.

Rest, comrades, rest. All the tomorrows are yours!

The Labor Defender
November 1926

Once again on November 11 a memorial meeting will be held to commemorate the death of the Chicago Haymarket martyrs. 1937 is the fiftieth anniversary, and this meeting bids fair to be more widely observed than any of the forty-nine previous ones. . . .

On that gloomy morning of November 11, 1887, I took our two little children to jail to bid my beloved husband farewell. I found the jail roped off with heavy cables. Policemen with pistols walked in the inclosure.

I asked them to allow us to go to our loved one before they murdered him. They said nothing.

Then I said, “Let these children bid their father good-bye; let them receive his blessing. They can do no harm.”

In a few minutes a patrol-wagon drove up and we were locked up in a police station while the hellish deed was done.

Oh, Misery, I have drunk thy cup of sorrow to its dregs, but I am still a rebel.

The One Big Union Monthly
November 1937
 

Source:
Roediger, Dave, and Franklin Rosemont, eds. Haymarket Scrapbook. Charles H. Kerr Publishing Co., Chicago, 1986.

“TO TRAMPS, THE UNEMPLOYED, THE DISINHERITED, AND THE MISERABLE”

by Lucy E. Parsons
Alarm, October 4, 1884. Also printed and distributed as a leaflet by the International Working People’s Association.

TO TRAMPS,
The Unemployed, the Disinherited, and Miserable.

A word to the 35,000 now tramping the streets of this great city, with hands in pockets, gazing listlessly about you at the evidence of wealth and pleasure of which you own no part, not sufficient even to purchase yourself a bit of food with which to appease the pangs of hunger now knawing at your vitals. It is with you and the hundreds of thousands of others similarly situated in this great land of plenty, that I wish to have a word.

Have you not worked hard all your life, since you were old enough for your labor to be of use in the production of wealth? Have you not toiled long, hard and laboriously in producing wealth? And in all those years of drudgery do you not know you have produced thousand upon thousands of dollars’ worth of wealth, which you did not then, do not now, and unless you ACT, never will, own any part in? Do you not know that when you were harnessed to a machine and that machine harnessed to steam, and thus you toiled your 10, 12 and 16 hours in the 24, that during this time in all these years you received only enough of your labor product to furnish yourself the bare, coarse necessaries of life, and that when you wished to purchase anything for yourself and family it always had to be of the cheapest quality? If you wanted to go anywhere you had to wait until Sunday, so little did you receive for your unremitting toil that you dare not stop for a moment, as it were? And do you not know that with all your squeezing, pinching and economizing you never were enabled to keep but a few days ahead of the wolves of want? And that at last when the caprice of your employer saw fit to create an artificial famine by limiting production, that the fires in the furnace were extinguished, the iron horse to which you had been harnessed was stilled; the factory door locked up, you turned upon the highway a tramp, with hunger in your stomach and rags upon your back?

Yet your employer told you that it was overproduction which made him close up. Who cared for the bitter tears and heart-pangs of your loving wife and helpless children, when you bid them a loving “God bless you” and turned upon the tramper’s road to seek employment elsewhere? I say, who cared for those heartaches and pains? You were only a tramp now, to be execrated and denounced as a “worthless tramp and a vagrant” by that very class who had been engaged all those years in robbing you and yours. Then can you not see that the “good boss” or the “bad boss” cuts no figure whatever? that you are the common prey of both, and that their mission is simply robbery? Can you not see that it is the INDUSTRIAL SYSTEM and not the “boss” which must be changed?

Now, when all these bright summer and autumn days are going by and you have no employment, and consequently can save up nothing, and when the winter’s blast sweeps down from the north and all the earth is wrapped in a shroud of ice, hearken not to the voice of the hyprocrite who will tell you that it was ordained of God that “the poor ye have always”; or to the arrogant robber who will say to you that you “drank up all your wages last summer when you had work, and that is the reason why you have nothing now, and the workhouse or the workyard is too good for you; that you ought to be shot.” And shoot you they will if you present your petitions in too emphatic a manner. So hearken not to them, but list! Next winter when the cold blasts are creeping through the rents in your seedy garments, when the frost is biting your feet through the holes in your worn-out shoes, and when all wretchedness seems to have centered in and upon you, when misery has marked you for her own and life has become a burden and existence a mockery, when you have walked the streets by day and slept upon hard boards by night, and at last determine by your own hand to take your life, – for you would rather go out into utter nothingness than to longer endure an existence which has become such a burden – so, perchance, you determine to dash yourself into the cold embrace of the lake rather than longer suffer thus. But halt, before you commit this last tragic act in the drama of your simple existence. Stop! Is there nothing you can do to insure those whom you are about to orphan, against a like fate? The waves will only dash over you in mockery of your rash act; but stroll you down the avenues of the rich and look through the magnificent plate windows into their voluptuous homes, and here you will discover the very identical robbers who have despoiled you and yours. Then let your tragedy be enacted here! Awaken them from their wanton sport at your expense! Send forth your petition and let them read it by the red glare of destruction. Thus when you cast “one long lingering look behind” you can be assured that you have spoken to these robbers in the only language which they have ever been able to understand, for they have never yet deigned to notice any petition from their slaves that they were not compelled to read by the red glare bursting from the cannon’s mouths, or that was not handed to them upon the point of the sword. You need no organization when you make up your mind to present this kind of petition. In fact, an organization would be a detriment to you; but each of you hungry tramps who read these lines, avail yourselves of those little methods of warfare which Science has placed in the hands of the poor man, and you will become a power in this or any other land.

Learn the use of explosives!

Dedicated to the tramps by Lucy E. Parsons.
 

Source:
http://courses.washington.edu/spcmu/speeches/lucyparsons.htm

“SPEECH  TO THE IWW IN 1905,

 by Lucy Parsons
Lucy Parsons addressed the founding convention on two occasions and her speeches touched on issues close to her heart: the oppression of women and how to develop radical new tactics to win strikes. Her idea clearly were in advance of the time, presage the “sit-in” strikes of the 1930s, the anti-war movement of the 1960s, and her words resonate today. Delegate applause interrupted her speech several times and at the end.


We, the women of this country, have no ballot even if we wished to use it, and the only way that we can be represented is to take a man to represent us. You men have made such a mess of it in representing us that we have not much confidence in asking you . . .We [women] are the slaves of slaves. We are exploited more ruthlessly than men. Whenever wages are to be reduced the capitalist class use women to reduce them, and if there is anything that you men should do in the future it is to organize the women. . . .Now, what do we mean when we say revolutionary Socialist?We mean that the land shall belong to the landless, the tools to the toiler, and the products to the producers. . . . I believe that if every man and every woman who works, or who toils in the mines, mills, the workshops, the fields, the factories and the farms of our broad America should decide in their minds that they shall have that which of right belongs to them, and that no idler shall live upon their toil . . . then there is no army that is large enough to overcome you, for you yourselves constitute the army . . . .My conception of the strike of the future is not to strike and go out an starve, but to strike and remain in and take possession of the necessary property of production. . . .. . . . Let us sink such differences as nationality, religion, politics, and set our eyes eternally and forever toward the rising star of the industrial republic of labor; remembering that we have left the old behind and have set our faces toward the future. There is no power on earth that can stop men and women who are determined to be free at all hazards. There is no power on earth so great as the power of intellect. It moves the world and it moves the earth. . . .I hope even now to live to see the day when the first dawn of the new era of labor will have arisen, when capitalism will be a thing of the past, and the new industrial republic, the commonwealth of labor, shall be in operation.I thank you.
 

Source:
[Speech is found in the official Minutes of the 1905 IWW Convention in Chicago from a copy found at the Tamiment Library of New York University’s Bobst’s Library, and is slightly edited for clarity]
Copyright 2004 by William Loren Katz [williamlkatz.com]
I devote page 296 to her in my THE BLACK WEST [Touchstone, 1996]

“THE PRINCIPLES OF ANARCHISM”

by Lucy E. Parsons
A Lecture by Lucy Parsons

Comrades and Friends:

I think I cannot open my address more appropriately than by stating my experience in my long connection with the reform movement.

It was during the great railroad strike of 1877 that I first became interested in what is known as the “Labor Question.” I then thought as many thousands of earnest, sincere people think, that the aggregate power, operating in human society, known as government, could be made an instrument in the hands of the oppressed to alleviate their sufferings. But a closer study of the origin, history and tendency of governments, convinced me that this was a mistake; I came to understand how organized governments used their concentrated power to retard progress by their ever-ready means of silencing the voice of discontent if raised in vigorous protest against the machinations of the scheming few, who always did, always will and always must rule in the councils of nations where majority rule is recognized as the only means of adjusting the affairs of the people. I came to understand that such concentrated power can be always wielded in the interest of the few and at the expense of the many. Government in its last analysis is this power reduced to a science. Governments never lead; they follow progress. When the prison, stake or scaffold can no longer silence the voice of the protesting minority, progress moves on a step, but not until then.

I will state this contention in another way: I learned by close study that it made no difference what fair promises a political party, out of power might make to the people in order to secure their confidence, when once securely established in control of the affairs of society that they were after all but human with all the human attributes of the politician. Among these are: First, to remain in power at all hazards; if not individually, then those holding essentially the same views as the administration must be kept in control. Second, in order to keep in power, it is necessary to build up a powerful machine; one strong enough to crush all opposition and silence all vigorous murmurs of discontent, or the party machine might be smashed and the party thereby lose control.

When I came to realize the faults, failings, shortcomings, aspirations and ambitions of fallible man, I concluded that it would not be the safest nor best policy for society, as a whole, to entrust the management of all its affairs, with all their manifold deviations and ramifications in the hands of finite man, to be managed by the party which happened to come into power, and therefore was the majority party, nor did it ten, nor does it now make one particle of difference to me what a party, out of power may promise; it does not tend to allay my fears of a party, when entrenched and securely seated in power might do to crush opposition, and silence the voice of the minority, and thus retard the onward step of progress.

My mind is appalled at the thought of a political party having control of all the details that go to make up the sum total of our lives. Think of it for an instant, that the party in power shall have all authority to dictate the kind of books that shall be used in our schools and universities, government officials editing, printing, and circulating our literature, histories, magazines and press, to say nothing of the thousand and one activities of life that a people engage in, in a civilized society.

To my mind, the struggle for liberty is too great and the few steps we have gained have been won at too great a sacrifice, for the great mass of the people of this 20th century to consent to turn over to any political party the management of our social and industrial affairs. For all who are at all familiar with history know that men will abuse power when they possess it, for these and other reasons, I, after careful study, and not through sentiment, turned from a sincere, earnest, political Socialist to the non-political phase of Socialism, Anarchism, because in its philosophy I believe I can find the proper conditions for the fullest development of the individual units in society, which can never be the case under government restrictions.

The philosophy of anarchism is included in the word “Liberty”; yet it is comprehensive enough to include all things else that are conducive to progress. No barriers whatever to human progression, to thought, or investigation are placed by anarchism; nothing is considered so true or so certain, that future discoveries may not prove it false; therefore, it has but one infallible, unchangeable motto, “Freedom.” Freedom to discover any truth, freedom to develop, to live naturally and fully. Other schools of thought are composed of crystallized ideas-principles that are caught and impaled between the planks of long platforms, and considered too sacred to be disturbed by a close investigation. In all other “issues” there is always a limit; some imaginary boundary line beyond which the searching mind dare not penetrate, lest some pet idea melt into a myth. But anarchism is the usher of science-the master of ceremonies to all forms of truth. It would remove all barriers between the human being and natural development. From the natural resources of the earth, all artificial restrictions, that the body might be nurtures, and from universal truth, all bars of prejudice and superstition, that the mind may develop symmetrically.

Anarchists know that a long period of education must precede any great fundamental change in society, hence they do not believe in vote begging, nor political campaigns, but rather in the development of self-thinking individuals.

We look away from government for relief, because we know that force (legalized) invades the personal liberty of man, seizes upon the natural elements and intervenes between man and natural laws; from this exercise of force through governments flows nearly all the misery, poverty, crime and confusion existing in society.

So, we perceive, there are actual, material barriers blockading the way. These must be removed. If we could hope they would melt away, or be voted or prayed into nothingness, we would be content to wait and vote and pray. But they are like great frowning rocks towering between us and a land of freedom, while the dark chasms of a hard-fought past yawn behind us. Crumbling they may be with their own weight and the decay of time, but to quietly stand under until they fall is to be buried in the crash. There is something to be done in a case like this-the rocks must be removed. Passivity while slavery is stealing over us is a crime. For the moment we must forget that was are anarchists-when the work is accomplished we may forget that we were revolutionists-hence most anarchists believe the coming change can only come through a revolution, because the possessing class will not allow a peaceful change to take place; still we are willing to work for peace at any price, except at the price of liberty.

And what of the glowing beyond that is so bright that those who grind the faces of the poor say it is a dream? It is no dream, it is the real, stripped of brain-distortions materialized into thrones and scaffolds, mitres and guns. It is nature acting on her own interior laws as in all her other associations. It is a return to first principles; for were not the land, the water, the light, all free before governments took shape and form? In this free state we will again forget to think of these things as “property.” It is real, for we, as a race, are growing up to it. The idea of less restriction and more liberty, and a confiding trust that nature is equal to her work, is permeating all modern thought. From the dark year-not so long gone by-when it was generally believed that man’s soul was totally depraved and every human impulse bad; when every action, every thought and every emotion was controlled and restricted; when the human frame, diseased, was bled, dosed, suffocated and kept as far from nature’s remedies as possible; when the mind was seized upon and distorted before it had time to evolve a natural thought-from those days to these years the progress of this idea has been swift and steady. It is becoming more and more apparent that in every way we are “governed best where we are governed least.”

Still unsatisfied perhaps, the inquirer seeks for details, for ways and means, and whys and werefores. How ill we go on like human beings eating and sleeping, working and loving, exchanging and dealing, without government? So used have we become to “organized authority” in every department of life that ordinarily we cannot conceive of the most common-place avocations being carried on without their interference and “protection.” But anarchism is not compelled to outline a complete organization of a free society. To do so with any assumption of authority would be to place another barrier in the way of coming generations. The best thought of today may become the useless vagary of tomorrow, and to crystallize it into a creed is to make it unwieldy.

We judge from experience that man is a gregarious animal, and instinctively affiliates with his kind co-operates, unites in groups, works to better advantage, combined with his fellow men than when alone. This would point to the formation of co-operative communities, of which our present trades-unions are embryonic patterns. Each branch of industry will no doubt have its own organization, regulations, leaders, etc.; it will institute methods of direct communications with every member of that industrial branch in the world, and establish equitable relations with all other branches. There would probably be conventions of industry which delegates would attend, and where they would transact such business as was necessary, adjourn and from that moment be delegates no longer, but simply members of a group. To remain permanent members of a continuous congress would be to establish a power that is certain soon or later to be abused.

No great, central power, like a congress consisting of men who know nothing of their constituents’ trades, interests, rights or duties, would be over the various organizations or groups; nor would they employ sheriffs, policemen, courts or jailers to enforce the conclusions arrived at while in session. The members of groups might profit by the knowledge gained through mutual interchange of thought afforded by conventions if they choose, but they will not be compelled to do so by any outside force.

Vested rights, privileges, charters, title deeds, upheld by all the paraphernalia of government-the visible symbol of power-such as prison, scaffold and armies will have no existence. There can be no privileges bought or sold, and the transaction kept sacred at the point of the bayonet. Every man will stand on an equal footing with his brother in the race of life, and neither chains of economic thralldom nor metal drags of superstition shall handicap the one to the advantage of the other.

Property will lose a certain attribute which sanctifies it now. The absolute ownership of it-“the right to use or abuse”-will be abolished, and possession, use, will be the only title. It will be seen how impossible it would be for one person to “own” a million acres of land, without a title deed, backed by a government ready to protect the title at all hazards, even to the loss of thousands of lives. He could not use the million acres himself, nor could he wrest from its depths the possible resources it contains.

People have become so used to seeing the evidences of authority on every hand that most of them honestly believe that they would go utterly to the bad if it were not for the policeman’s club or the soldier’s bayonet. But the anarchist says, “Remove these evidence of brute force, and let man feel the revivifying influences of self responsibility and self control, and see how we will respond to these better influences.”

The belief in a literal place of torment has nearly melted away; and instead of the direful results predicted, we have a higher and truer standard of manhood and womanhood. People do not care to go to the bad when they find they can as well as not. Individuals are unconscious of their own motives in doing good. While acting out their natures according to their surroundings and conditions, they still believe they are being kept in the right path by some outside power, some restraint thrown around them by church or state. So the objector believes that with the right to rebel and secede, sacred to him, he would forever be rebelling and seceding, thereby creating constant confusion and turmoil. Is it probable that he would, merely for the reason that he could do so? Men are to a great extent creatures of habit, and grow to love associations; under reasonably good conditions, he would remain where he commences, if he wished to, and, if he did not, who has any natural right to force him into relations distasteful to him? Under the present order of affairs, persons do unite with societies and remain good, disinterested members for life, where the right to retire is always conceded.

What we anarchists contend for is a larger opportunity to develop the units in society, that mankind may possess the right as a sound being to develop that which is broadest, noblest, highest and best, unhandicapped by any centralized authority, where he shall have to wait for his permits to be signed, sealed, approved and handed down to him before he can engage in the active pursuits of life with his fellow being. We know that after all, as we grow more enlightened under this larger liberty, we will grow to care less and less for that exact distribution of material wealth, which, in our greed-nurtured senses, seems now so impossible to think upon carelessly. The man and woman of loftier intellects, in the present, think not so much of the riches to be gained by their efforts as of the good they can do for their fellow creatures. There is an innate spring of healthy action in every human being who has not been crushed and pinched by poverty and drudgery from before his birth, that impels him onward and upward. He cannot be idle, if he would; it is as natural for him to develop, expand, and use the powers within him when no repressed, as it is for the rose to bloom in the sunlight and fling its fragrance on the passing breeze.

The grandest works of the past were never performed for the sake of money. Who can measure the worth of a Shakespeare, an Angelo or Beethoven in dollars and cents? Agassiz said, “he had no time to make money,” there were higher and better objects in life than that. And so will it be when humanity is once relieved from the pressing fear of starvation, want, and slavery, it will be concerned, less and less, about the ownership of vast accumulations of wealth. Such possessions would be but an annoyance and trouble. When two or three or four hours a day of easy, of healthful labor will produce all the comforts and luxuries one can use, and the opportunity to labor is never denied, people will become indifferent as to who owns the wealth they do not need. Wealth will be below par, and it will be found that men and women will not accept it for pay, or be bribed by it to do what they would not willingly and naturally do without it. Some higher incentive must, and will, supersede the greed for gold. The involuntary aspiration born in man to make the most of one’s self, to be loved and appreciated by one’s fellow-beings, to “make the world better for having lived in it,” will urge him on the nobler deeds than ever the sordid and selfish incentive of material gain has done.

If, in the present chaotic and shameful struggle for existence, when organized society offers a premium on greed, cruelty, and deceit, men can be found who stand aloof and almost alone in their determination to work for good rather than gold, who suffer want and persecution rather than desert principle, who can bravely walk to the scaffold for the good they can do humanity, what may we expect from men when freed from the grinding necessity of selling the better part of themselves for bread? The terrible conditions under which labor is performed, the awful alternative if one does not prostitute talent and morals in the service of mammon; and the power acquired with the wealth obtained by ever so unjust means, combined to make the conception of free and voluntary labor almost an impossible one. And yet, there are examples of this principle even now. In a well bred family each person has certain duties, which are performed cheerfully, and are not measured out and paid for according to some pre-determined standard; when the united members sit down to the well-filled table, the stronger do not scramble to get the most, while the weakest do without, or gather greedily around them more food than they can possibly consume. Each patiently and politely awaits his turn to be served, and leaves what he does not want; he is certain that when again hungry plenty of good food will be provided. This principle can be extended to include all society, when people are civilized enough to wish it.

Again, the utter impossibility of awarding to each and exact return for the amount of labor performed will render absolute communism a necessity sooner or later. The land and all it contains, without which labor cannot be exerted, belong to no one man, but to all alike. The inventions and discoveries of the past are the common inheritance of the coming generations; and when a man takes the tree that nature furnished free, and fashions it into a useful article, or a machine perfected and bequeathed to him by many past generations, who is to determine what proportion is his and his alone? Primitive man would have been a week fashioning a rude resemblance to the article with his clumsy tools, where the modern worker has occupied an hour. The finished article is of far more real value than the rude one made long ago, and yet the primitive man toiled the longest and hardest. Who can determine with exact justice what is each one’s due? There must come a time when we will cease trying. The earth is so bountiful, so generous; man’s brain is so active, his hands so restless, that wealth will spring like magic, ready for the use of the world’s inhabitants. We will become as much ashamed to quarrel over its possession as we are now to squabble over the food spread before us on a loaded table. “But all this,” the objector urges, “is very beautiful in the far off future, when we become angels. It would not do now to abolish governments and legal restraints; people are not prepared for it.”

This is a question. We have seen, in reading history, that wherever an old-time restriction has been removed the people have not abused their newer liberty. Once it was considered necessary to compel men to save their souls, with the aid of governmental scaffolds, church racks and stakes. Until the foundation of the American republic it was considered absolutely essential that governments should second the efforts of the church in forcing people to attend the means of grace; and yet it is found that the standard of morals among the masses is raised since they are left free to pray as they see fit, or not at all, if they prefer it. It was believed the chattel slaves would not work if the overseer and whip were removed; they are so much more a source of profit now that ex-slave owners would not return to the old system if they could.

So many able writers have shown that the unjust institutions which work so much misery and suffering to the masses have their root in governments, and owe their whole existence to the power derived from government we cannot help but believe that were every law, every title deed, every court, and every police officer or soldier abolished tomorrow with one sweep, we would be better off than now. The actual, material things that man needs would still exist; his strength and skill would remain and his instinctive social inclinations retain their force and the resources of life made free to all the people that they would need no force but that of society and the opinion of fellow beings to keep them moral and upright.

Freed from the systems that made him wretched before, he is not likely to make himself more wretched for lack of them. Much more is contained in the thought that conditions make man what he is, and not the laws and penalties made for his guidance, than is supposed by careless observation. We have laws, jails, courts, armies, guns and armories enough to make saints of us all, if they were the true preventives of crime; but we know they do not prevent crime; that wickedness and depravity exist in spite of them, nay, increase as the struggle between classes grows fiercer, wealth greater and more powerful and poverty more gaunt and desperate.

To the governing class the anarchists say: “Gentlemen, we ask no privilege, we propose no restriction; nor, on the other hand, will we permit it. We have no new shackles to propose, we seek emancipation from shackles. We ask no legislative sanction, for co-operation asks only for a free field and no favors; neither will we permit their interference.(“?) It asserts that in freedom of the social unit lies the freedom of the social state. It asserts that in freedom to possess and utilize soil lie social happiness and progress and the death of rent. It asserts that order can only exist where liberty prevails, and that progress leads and never follows order. It asserts, finally, that this emancipation will inaugurate liberty, equality, fraternity. That the existing industrial system has outgrown its usefulness, if it ever had any is I believe admitted by all who have given serious thought to this phase of social conditions.

The manifestations of discontent now looming upon every side show that society is conducted on wrong principles and that something has got to be done soon or the wage class will sink into a slavery worse than was the feudal serf. I say to the wage class: Think clearly and act quickly, or you are lost. Strike not for a few cents more an hour, because the price of living will be raised faster still, but strike for all you earn, be content with nothing less.

*****

Following are definitions which will appear in all of the new standard Dictionaries:

Anarchism-The philosophy of a new social order based on liberty unrestricted by man made law, the theory that all forms of government are based on violence-hence wrong and harmful, as well as unnecessary.

Anarchy-Absence of government; disbelief in and disregard of invasion and authority based on coercion and force; a condition of society regulated by voluntary agreement instead of government.

Anarchist-No. 1. A believer in Anarchism; one opposed to all forms of coercive government and invasive authority. 2. One who advocates Anarchy, or absence of government, as the ideal of political liberty and social harmony.

Selected Lucy Parsons Quotations:

• Let us sink such differences as nationality, religion, politics, and set our eyes eternally and forever toward the rising star of the industrial republic of labor.

• The involuntary aspiration born in man to make the most of one’s self, to be loved and appreciated by one’s fellow-beings, to “make the world better for having lived in it,” will urge him on the nobler deeds than ever the sordid and selfish incentive of material gain has done.

• There is an innate spring of healthy action in every human being who has not been crushed and pinched by poverty and drudgery from before his birth, that impels him onward and upward.

• We are the slaves of slaves.

We are exploited more ruthlessly than men.

• Anarchism has but one infallible, unchangeable motto, “Freedom.” Freedom to discover any truth, freedom to develop, to live naturally and fully.

• Anarchists know that a long period of education must precede any great fundamental change in society, hence they do not believe in vote begging, nor political campaigns, but rather in the development of self-thinking individuals.

• Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth.

• Strike not for a few cents more an hour, because the price of living will be raised faster still, but strike for all you earn, be content with nothing less.

• Concentrated power can be always wielded in the interest of the few and at the expense of the many. Government in its last analysis is this power reduced to a science. Governments never lead; they follow progress. When the prison, stake or scaffold can no longer silence the voice of the protesting minority, progress moves on a step, but not until then.

• Let every dirty, lousy tramp arm himself with a revolver or knife on the steps of the palace of the rich and stab or shoot their owners as they come out. Let us kill them without mercy, and let it be a war of extermination and without pity

• You are not absolutely defenseless. For the torch of the incendiary, which has been known with impunity, cannot be wrested from you.

• If, in the present chaotic and shameful struggle for existence, when organized society offers a premium on greed, cruelty, and deceit, men can be found who stand aloof and almost alone in their determination to work for good rather than gold, who suffer want and persecution rather than desert principle, who can bravely walk to the scaffold for the good they can do humanity, what may we expect from men when freed from the grinding necessity of selling the better part of themselves for bread?

• So many able writers have shown that the unjust institutions which work so much misery and suffering to the masses have their root in governments, and owe their whole existence to the power derived from government we cannot help but believe that were every law, every title deed, every court, and every police officer or soldier abolished tomorrow with one sweep, we would be better off than now.

• Oh, Misery, I have drunk thy cup of sorrow to its dregs, but I am still a rebel.
 

REFERENCES:

“Lucy Parsons: Freedom, Equality and Solidarity:  Writings and Speeches, 1878-1937”, Charles H.Kerr, 2004.

“Death in the Haymarket:  A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement and the Bombing that Divided Gilded Age America”, by James Green. Pantheon Books, March 7, 2006.

LINKS:

http://www.lucyparsons.org

http://www.lucyparsonsproject.org

http://www.waste.org/~roadrunner/ScarletLetterArchives/LucyParsons/FuryForJustice.htm

LABOR ORGANIZATIONS:

http://www.iww.org

http://www.aflcio.org

http://www.teamster.org
 

TELEVISION:

http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/investigations/504_lucyparsons.html

http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/pdf/504_lucyparsons.pdf

OTHER RELATED LINKS:

http://www.infoshop.org/faq/secAcon.html

http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=460

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REFERENCES:

1.
Lucy Parsons, American revolutionary. by Carolyn Ashbaugh (Paperback – Jan 1, 1976)

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JULY 1967

It happened last week.

It almost went unheralded without a peep.

It went by and all across much of America, except for Newark, New Jersey, and those outside of Newark who remembered, the 40TH Anniversary of the riots that shook Newark, NJ and set off a bloody summer, occurred.

 Newark was neither the first nor the last great urban upheaval of the 1960s. Los Angeles’s Watts neighborhood had burned in 1965, West Side  in Chicago in 1966, the inner cities of  Tampa, and  Cincinnati, earlier in 1967. After the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in  Memphis in the spring of 1968, rioting broke out in more than 100 other cities, including Washington and  Baltimore.  Detroit was the worst, a week-long conflagration so fierce it killed 43 people, injured hundreds and destroyed huge swaths of the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods. Standing alongside 12th Street’s smoldering ruins on the riot’s final day, Detroit’s mayor thought the area looked “like  Berlin in 1945.”

In 1967, Newark was undergoing huge economic and social shifts. Factory jobs, which had provided the city’s economic base in the first half of the 20th century, were leaving the city in large numbers, contributing to high rates of poverty and unemployment. According to the Hughes Commission that studied the 1967 uprising, more than a third of black men between ages 16 and 19 were unemployed at the time. The anger and desperation of a community bitterly disappointed by continued police actions of brutality and economic injustice after years of civil rights progress, created a black community reeling with devastation and hopelessness. In addition, as the city’s white population moved to the suburbs or to other states, the black population surged, shifting the city’s racial makeup to one in which blacks were the majority.

Newark’s housing had also declined considerably. The city itself described 40,000 of Newark’s 136,000 housing units as substandard or dilapidated in a 1966 application for federal aid.

At the same time, Newark’s political structure was slow to change. While the white population dropped by almost half between 1950 and 1967 — from 363,000 to about 158,000 — and the population of black Americans tripled — from 70,000 to an estimated 220,000 — the city continued to be run almost exclusively by whites. Whites kept power in their hands, and refused to work for the interests of black citizens. Black representation was almost nonexistent in the government, the police department, and the private sector. Government corruption was also rampant. The city’s government was believed to be closely tied to organized crime, and municipal jobs and contracts were doled out to contractors and construction firms that largely excluded black citizens.

These conditions reached a boiling point on July 12 through July 17, 1967, when a black cab driver’s arrest triggered violent protests and the looting of commercial buildings. To restore order, state police and National Guard troops joined local officers on the streets of Newark, escalating the violence. Media manipulation painted a picture of lawless roving bands of blacks when in reality the initial protests started out peacefully. Newspapers and television reporting of blacks breaking into a Sears store (which sold guns) and supposedly arming themselves, inflamed the rest of the city against black people and gave the police carte blanche to shoot and kill. Rumors of snipers shooting police further fanned the flames of racial unrest (the injured police in fact were shot by their own officers in the ensuing violence). When the violence died down, 26 people had been killed and more than $10 million in property damage incurred. In 1967, racial tensions erupted in violence in 125 American cities. The most destructive of these so-called “riots” took place in Detroit, Michigan, and Newark, New Jersey.

Today, Newark is still struggling.  The city has grown even more dangerous, rising from the 29th most dangerous U.S. city in 2006 to the 20th this year. The homicide rate is already higher than it was in 2006. Former Mayor Sharpe James, is facing the possibility of a federal probe for corruption.  With the poverty level at 25 percent, unemployment at 10 percent, and municipal workers (many of whom are Newark residents) facing massive layoffs to close a $180 million budget gap, Newark, on October 25, 2007, will unveil a $355 million dollar investment touted as reviving the downtown area: a hockey arena.

A hockey arena.

With massive unemployment, health care in crisis, housing still substandard, education still on a de facto level, and Newark decides that building a sports arena is more important and needed instead of working to alleviate the deteriorating conditions of its citizens?

The lives of newark’s citizens are more important than any hockey arena. The neighborhoods are in decay and ruin and the people live lives of fear and terror, on a level no better than a part of Afghanistan, Iraq or Lebanon. The citizens of the poorest neighborhoods lives lives that make walking down the street an act of defying death. The citizens are living in a war zone of substandard education, massive unemployment, economic blight, municipal disregard, and social and residential segregation. Have not the “riots” of 1967 taught Newark anything? Have not the deaths and property loss shown them that not remembering the past causes us to repeat it? Does Newark want to go down the same road of death and bloodshed again? And make no mistake, Newark of today is still a powderkeg that can happen again if people become so apathetic and complacent in their greed to have all for them, and none for their fellow citizens.

But, I have hope for Newark. Because the people who live there, the citizens, have hope for their home. They want change and they continue to work for that change because Newark, NJ is their home. 

Newark has an Olmstead-designed park, a world-class arts center,  the Newark Museum, a score of exceptional eateries, Rutgers University and fine architecture including the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart and apartment buildings designed by Mies van der Rohe. Newark has the landmarks, the history—but, its people must want to see real changes for all of Newark’s citizens. And the citizens must hold their leaders accountable to implement changes that will be for the better for all citizens of Newark.

Can a Newark happen in other cities across America?

I believe so.

If America continues on her path of hypocrisy and callous disregard for the least of her citizens, she will heap destruction upon herself. To not learn from the past is to be condemned to repeat it.

 And the “Bloody Summer” of 1967 is something I would not want to see happen again in America.

But, that choice is up to America.

And all the “Newarks” across America.

A more united America.

Or a more balkanized America, warring and tearing itself to pieces from within.

It’s going to be a long summer.

LINKS:

http://www.npl.org/Pages/ProgramsExhibits/Programs/1967.html

http://blog.nj.com/ledgernewark/2007/07/crossroads_part_1.html

http://www.1010wins.com/pages/677327.php?contentType=4&contentId=685664

http://www.pbs.org/pov/pov2007/revolution67/index.html

http://www.thirteen.org/newark/history3.html

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A BEAUTIFUL FLOWER THAT BLOOMED AMONGST US

On June 11, 2007, former First lady Lady Bird Johnson passed away.

Lady Bird Johnson.

“Lady Bird”.

I’ve become accustomed for so long to calling her Lady Bird like so many Americans, that even until this day, I still do not think of her actual given name, Claudia Alta Taylor Johnson. Born on a former slave plantation house on the outskirts of town, which her father had purchased shortly before her birth, her parents, both natives of Alabama, were of English and Scottish descent.

 

Though she was named for her mother’s brother Claud, during her infancy, her nursemaid, Alice Tittle, proclaimed her  as “purty as a ladybird,” and that nickname virtually replaced her given name for the rest of her life. Her father and siblings called her Lady, though her husband called her Bird. During her teenage years, her schoolmates called her Bird, though mockingly, since she reportedly was not fond of the name.

 Lady bird 1915.jpg

Born on December 22, 1912, in a country mansion near Karnack, Texas, she received her nickname “Lady Bird” as a small child; and as Lady Bird she was known and loved throughout America. It seemed that name would become prophetic, as there has seldom been a First Lady so attuned to nature and the importance of conserving the environment, especially the native flora that was unique to America.

As the wife of former President Lyndon Baines Johnson, she was a stalwart and steady influence in his life, during his political campaigns, during the hell of Vietnam, when she lost many children to miscarriages in the earlier years of their marriage, and when she finally became a mother, with the arrival of her two daughters, Lynda Bird (now Mrs. Charles S. Robb) in 1944 and Luci Baines (Mrs. Ian Turpin) who was born three years later. She took a highly active part in her husband’s war-on-poverty program, especially the Head Start project for preschool children.

After JFK’s murder, she entered the White House, and immediately put her own Texas stamp upon it. But, it was her conservation efforts to alert Americans to the beauty and importance of the natural plant life that America alone had. She created a First Lady’s Committee for a More Beautiful Capital, then expanded her program to include the entire nation. She created the National Wildflower Research Center. Throughout her life, she was an advocate for beautification of the nation’s cities and highways and conservation of natural resources. The former First Lady was a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

And nowhere in her conservation efforts was it more greatly seen in her working to convince the Americans to learn to appreciate the beauty of wildflowers all across America, as people drove the highways. She sought to open people’s eyes to the splendor and magnificence of the humble native wildflower species which have been in America way before the Europeans came, way before the native First Nation people came. She sought to educate people that foreign plants, no matter how beautiful, could not compare to the lovely natural beauties that have graced this country for many millenia. Many people driving up and down the highways have never given much thought to how nature has adorned the scenery with such bright displays of vivid color, a veritable palette of orange, reds, pinks, yellows, and blues.

The California poppies that open their petals as if they are preparing to trumpet forth music:California poppy.jpg

The yellow-red Coreopsis:
Plains Coreopsis.jpg

The Indian Paintbrush:

And my most favourite of all, the Texas Bluebonnet:

In 1987, she persuaded Congress to pass a bill to dedicate 1/4 of 1% of each state’s highway budget to the preservation of wildflowers. Pretty soon she got many people involved, not just the average citizen, but, also , the state tranportation department, helping people see that highways were roads that passed by beauty all the time.

Nebraska.

California.

Washington.

Maine.

Texas.

So, when you drive down the highway, please take the time to look at all the beautiful wildflowers that so many of us take for granted. Stop. Park your car, and get out and truly stop to smell the roses—only this time, stop to appreciate the unique beauty that is America, in its native wildflowers that are as uniquely our own as they differ from state to state.

And most of all, remember that it was Lady Bird Johnson who helped many Americans realize the lovely splashes of color that have been right before our very eyes for so long, if only because many of us had come to take for granted flowers which are found nowhere else on God’s Earth.

To this day, I cannot look at the Texas Bluebonnet without thinking of Lady Bird Johnson.

And because of that, I am sure she took some up with her soul to Heaven, and now, Heaven is just much more beautiful.

Rest in peace, Lady Bird.

MrsJohnson.png

( Portrait of Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Taylor  (age about six months) and  Alice Tittle, who nicknamed her “Lady Bird”.  Credit:  LBJ Library, image date, circa early 1913, Karnack, Texas.)

(First photo above, Lady Bird as an infant, with her nursemaid Ms. Alice Tittle)

(Second photo above, a portrait of Lady Bird at about age 3.)

(Third photo above, official White House portrait of Lady Bird Johnson, painted in 1968 by Elizabeth Shoumatoff.)

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