Monthly Archives: February 2008

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: JANUARY 1, 1808

It happened this year.

January 1, 2008.

The 200TH Anniversary of the abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in the United States of America. On March 2, 1807, the United States Congress, in accordance with the Constitution, banned the importation of African slaves, with the ban taking effect on January 1, 1808.

An Act to Prohibit the Importation of Slaves into any Port or Place Within the Jurisdiction of the United States, From and After the First Day of January, in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Eight:

Article 9, Section 2:   The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

United States Constitution

That this country had not the backbone nor the respect towards its black citizens to publicly honor or acknowledge this very important date in American history says very much, or better yet, very little about this country and its continued contempt and callous disregard for the presence and contributions of her black citizens.

From 1619 to 1808, for 189 years, black people went from indentured servitude to outright complete inhumane barbaric chattel slavery. But, before black people were branded with the stigma of slavery, before black people were assigned the caste and degradation of slavery not in spite of their black skin but because of their black skin, there was the enactment of the most brutal form of slavery the world has ever known, and that form of slavery was the creation of racist, white supremacy American slavery—-the so-called “peculiar institution.”

The kidnapping and enslavement of innocent black Africans who did nothing wrong to deserve such cruel mistreatment by white humans was found in the dreaded Middle Passage, a living nightmare of a voyage across the Atlantic—a voyage on a slave ship that could last upwards of up to three to four months.

  • Map of Africa 1771 (copyright The University of Florida Map and Imagery Library) (13)

An interesting old map of Africa reflecting European understanding of the continent and its regions at the time. The engraving says ‘Engraved for Drake’s Voyages.’ Francis Drake set sail for Africa from England with 5 ships in 1577; however, research done by the University of Florida Map and Imagery Library indicates that the cartographic information on the map most likely depicts 18th century knowledge of Africa. Below Cape Verde to the west is ‘Negroland,’ and to the east is ‘Nubia.’  Below ‘Negroland’ is ‘Lower Ethiopia’ and then ‘Upper Guinea,’ which in terms of today’s Africa includes, from west to east,  Côte D’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria. Below ‘Upper Guinea’ is ‘Lower Guinea,’ about where Angola is today. To the east, below ‘Nubia,’ is ‘Abissinia’ and then ‘Upper Ethiopia,’ which is roughly where Ethiopia is today.

  • Slave Ports in West Africa in 1750 (Slavery in America, an educator’s site made possible by New York Life) (15)

Slave ports in West Africa in 1750 are shown, identifying those held by the British, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and Danish. Gorée Island, the slave trading port opposite Dakar, Senegal, is only three kilometers from the coast and cannot be seen on this map. In addition to these ports were slave trading locations on the east side of Africa, at Mozambique, Zanzibar, and Madagascar.

  • Slave Trade From Africa to the Americas (Slavery in America, an educator’s site made possible by New York Life) (17)

Slave trade routes from Africa to the Americas during the period 1650-1860 are shown. There were additional routes to the New World from  Mozambique, Zanzibar and Madagascar on the east side of Africa. Most of the slaves from the east side were brought to Portuguese controlled Salvador in the state of Bahia, Brazil, along with many other slaves from Angola. Brazil received more slaves from Africa than any other country in the New World. The 500,000 African slaves sent to America represents 10% of the number sent to Brazil, and 11% of the number sent to the West Indies. According to the estimates of Hugh Thomas (12), a total of 11,128,000 African slaves were delivered live to the New World, including 500,000 to British North America; therefore, only 4.5% of the total African slaves delivered to the New World were delivered to British North America. Also from Hugh Thomas, the major sources of the 13 million slaves departing from Africa (see slave ports map, above) were Congo/Angola (3 million), Gold Coast (1.5 million), Slave Coast (2 million), Benin to Calabar* (2 million), and Mozambique/Madagascar on the east coast of Africa (1 million).

*Benin refers to the historic Kingdom of Benin (not to be confused with today’s country of Benin), in Nigeria just below the Slave Coast. Calabar is farther down the coast of Nigeria, close to the border with Cameroon, on the Bight of Biafra in the Gulf of Guinea (see Nigeria today map, below).

SOURCE: MAP OF AFRICA: THE ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE & SLAVERY IN AMERICA

Defenseless black human beings were held on these filthy slave ships that were a testament of white man’s inhumanity to black women, men and children.

The Atlantic slave trade, also known as the transatlantic slave trade, was the trade of African people supplied to the colonies of the “New World” that occurred in and around the Atlantic Ocean. (I take offense at the use of the word trade used to describe this massive barbaric crime against black humanity. Transatlantic Massacre/Genocide is a more correct and  truthful  descriptor.) This massacre/genocide lasted from the 16th century to the 19th century. Most enslaves were shipped from West Africa and Central Africa and taken to the New World (primarily Brazil). Some enslaves were captured by European slave traders through raids and kidnapping, but most were obtained through coastal trading with Africans. Most contemporary historians estimate that between 9.4 and 12 million Africans arrived in the so-called New World, although the number of people taken from their homelands is much considerably higher. The slave-massacre is sometimes called the Maafa (  The word Maafa (also known as the African Holocaust or Holocaust of Enslavement) is derived from a Kiswahili word meaning disaster, terrible occurrence or great tragedy. The term collectively refers to the 500 years of suffering (including present times) of people of African heritage through slavery, imperialism, colonialism, invasions, oppression, and exploitation)  by African and Black-American scholars, meaning “holocaust” or “great disaster” in Swahili. The enslaves were one element of a three-part economic cycle—the Triangular Trade  ( the sick triangular trade in human history of the 18th century between West Africa, the West Indies, and Europe (alternatively: West Africa, the West Indies, and northern colonies in British North America). Of these, the sea lane west from Africa was the notorious Middle Passage; its cargo, abducted or recently purchased African enslaves  and its Middle Passage—which ultimately involved four continents, four centuries and millions of innocent black African people.

Triangle trade euro.png

An example of the three-way massacre in the North Atlantic.

Slavery is as old as the human race, from ancient Rome, Greece, Asia, the New World and Africa. But, it became a sadistic form of bondage race-based slavery, when Europeans entered into it, thus creating one of the most dehumanizing form of slavery that the world had never known, next to Muslim slavery.

In the beginning of the transatlantic massacre, whites bought prisoners of war from black tribes, but soon greed and lust for the traffic in human flesh became a reason for profit on both sides–European and African–to sell innocent humans away from their families into a lifetime humiliating slavery. Soon black people in the millions were stolen from the only home they had ever known and were sold for mere trinkets by greedy white Europeans and greedy black Africans. Men, women and children sold for mere beads, shells or cloth.

Different cowries.jpg
Cowrie shells used as money in the slave trade.

Soon millions upon millions of black human beings became nothing but commodities, chattel, less than an animal for over 500 years.

And the crossing of the Atlantic in the filthy holds of slave ships took its merciless toll on so many black African people.

KingoKingdom.jpg
The Portuguese in awe of the majesty of the Manikongo. The Portuguese were initially impressed by the Kingdom of Kongo. The ravaging decimation of native people from slave trading would eventually lead to disintegration and depopulation of the once mighty Kongo.

Black kings of tribes who went into this mass inhumanity with the Portuguese tried to stop the slave-raiding of the Portuguese.

In letters written by the Manikongo, Nzinga Mbemba Affonso, to the King João III of Portugal, he writes that Portuguese merchandise flowing into is what is fueling the trade in Africans. He requests the King of Portugal to stop sending merchandise but should only send missionaries. In one of his letters he writes:

“Each day the traders are kidnapping our people – children of this country, sons of our nobles and vassals, even people of our own family. This corruption and depravity are so widespread that our land is entirely depopulated. We need in this kingdom only priests and schoolteachers, and no merchandise, unless it is wine and flour for Mass. It is our wish that this Kingdom not be a place for the trade or transport of slaves.”

Many of our subjects eagerly lust after Portuguese merchandise that your subjects have brought into our domains. To satisfy this inordinate appetite, they seize many of our black free subjects…. They sell them. After having taken these prisoners [to the coast] secretly or at night….. As soon as the captives are in the hands of white men they are branded with a red-hot iron.”  SOURCE

But, it was too late. The slave trade was established by then and nothing could stop it. Soon slave ships were bound to the New World for the next 500 years.

The Slave Trade by Auguste Francois Biard.jpg
Photograph of the painting “The Slave Trade” by Auguste-Francois Biard, 1840. As of June 2007 it hangs at the entrance to the “From Slavery to Freedom” exhibit at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Slave ship diagram.png
Diagram of a slave ship from the Atlantic slave trade. From an Abstract of Evidence delivered before a select committee of the House of Commons in 1790 and 1791.

 

Slave Auction Ad.jpg
Reproduction of a handbill advertising a slave auction, in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1769.

 

During the horrific Middle Passage across the Atlantic on slave ships, many black men, women and children were destroyed on the altar of greed and lust for monetary profit in the enslavement of human beings. Many millions of black people suffered indignities and bestialities that even a dog or cat should never suffer. Degradations and defilements that would turn one’s stomach:

When European slavers kidnapped black Africans and marched many of them from the interior down to the slave coasts to be packed onboard, black people went through what is called The Door of No Return in the House of Slaves, the final exit point of the enslaves from Africa. It is on Goree Island, off the coast of Senegal in West Africa, where, black women and men were herded like so many animals, crowded into filthy, unsanitary holding pens. Frightened beyond belief, with nowhere to use the bathroom, the floor on which they stood built up with up to two feet and more from human excrement due to the future enslaves having nowhere to relive themselves. Vomit as well would have been prevalent because of stomach-turning nausea and terror. Tears that would have been shed from the certain knowledge that HERE for the last time they would stand on African soil, would have washed the walls and floors of this reminder of man’s inhumanity to woman, man and children. Human beings were chained and shackled. As many as 30 men would sit in an 8-square-foot cell with only a small slit of window facing outward. Once a day, they were fed and allowed to attend to their needs, but still the house was overrun with disease. They were naked, except for a piece of cloth around their waists. They were put in a long narrow cell used for them to lie on the floor, one against the other. The children were separated from their mothers. Their mothers were across the courtyard, likely unable to hear their children cry. The rebellious Africans were locked up in an oppressive, small cubicle under the stairs; while seawater was sipped through the holes to step up dehydration.

Goree1.jpg
GOREE ISLAND

Above their heads, in the dealer’s apartments, balls and festivities were going on. But even more poignant and heart wrenching than the cells and the chains was the small “door of no return” through which every man, woman and child walked to the slave boat, catching a last glimpse of their homeland.

 
 
Young Black Professional Guide to the Door of No Return
 Tour group walking back into Cape Coast Castle through the Door of No Return
Here, for the last time, they would go through this narrow, stooped door to leave behind the only world they had ever known, to be beaten, stripped of their native clothing, searched and fingered viciously like so many cattle, poked, pried, and degraded from the disease-ridden hands of Europeans opening up the African’s mouths to examine their teeth and the private areas  of both women and men, fondled and disrespected by slavers who had nothing but cruel regard for their human cargo.
 The red-washed walls of the House of Slaves, in which The Door of No Return is located, was one of many places on the island that kept slaves both for domestic use and to sell to visiting ships.
 
Eventually, a few whites saw the inhumanity of the slave massacre and began to lobby for its abolition.

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

But, it was the British a year earlier in 1807, who would abolish slavery before America did.

Last year, they paid respect to and commemorated the hand they had in the annihilation and despoilment of the lives, bodies, cultures and centuries of traditions that were destroyed by the slave massacre due to English involvement in the trafficking in human bondage.

 

SOURCE

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

“Captured Africans”, Kevin Dalton Johnson’s, quayside work, Lancaster UK.  (SOURCE)

 

 

Atlantic Slave Trade:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_slave_trade

 

SOURCE

https://kathmanduk2.wordpress.com/2007/08/23/lest-we-forget/

The Trans-Atlantic Slave trade resulted in a vast and as yet still unknown loss of life for African captives both in and outside of America. Approximately 8 million Africans were killed during their storage, shipment and initial landing in the New World. The amount of life lost in the actual procurement of slaves remains a mystery but may equal or exceed the amount actually enslaved. If such a figure is to be believed, the total number of deaths would be between 16 and 20 million.

The savage nature of the massacre, in which most of the enslaves were prisoners from African wars, led to the destruction of individuals and cultures. The following figures do not include deaths of African enslaves as a result of their actual labor, slave revolts or diseases they caught while living among New World populations.

After being captured and held in the factories, enslaves entered the infamous Middle Passage.  Milton Meltzer’s Slavery: A World History research puts this phase of the slave trade’s overall mortality at 12.5%. Around 2.2 million Africans died during these voyages where they were packed into tight, unsanitary spaces on ships for months at a time. Measures were taken to stem the onboard mortality rate such as mandatory dancing above deck and the practice of force-feeding any enslaves that attempted to starve themselves. The conditions on board also resulted in the spread of fatal diseases. Other fatalities were the result of suicides by jumping over board by enslaves who could no longer endure the conditions. Before the shipping of enslaves was completely outlawed in 1853, 15.3 million “immigrants” had arrived in the Americas.

A database compiled in the late 1990s put the figure for the Transatlantic Slave Trade at more than 11 million people. Estimates as high as 50 million have been floated. For a long time an accepted figure was 15 million, although this has in recent years been revised down. Most historians now agree that at least 12 million slaves left the continent between the fifteenth and nineteenth century, but 10 to 20% died on board ships. Thus a figure of 11 million enslaves transported to the Americas is the nearest demonstrable figure historians can produce. (SOURCE)

In Britain and in other parts of Europe, opposition developed against the slave trade. Led by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and establishment Evangelicals such as William Wilberforce, the movement was joined by many and began to protest against the trade, but they were opposed by the owners of the colonial holdings. Denmark, which had been active in the slave trade, was the first country to ban the trade through legislation in 1792, which took effect in 1803. Britain banned the slave trade (but not slavery itself) in 1807, imposing stiff fines for any slave found aboard a British ship. The Royal Navy, which then controlled the world’s seas, moved to stop other nations from filling Britain’s place in the slave trade and declared that slaving was equal to piracy and was punishable by death. The United States outlawed the importation of slaves on January 1, 1808, the earliest date permitted by the constitution for such a ban.  (SOURCE)

The British showed enough respect to acknowledge and own up to their role in the slave trade.  On November 27, 2006, Tony Blair made a partial apology for Britain’s role in the African slavery trade. However African rights activists denounced it as “empty rhetoric” that failed to address the issue properly. They feel his apology stopped shy to prevent any legal retort. PM Blair again apologized on March 14, 2007.   On January 30, 2006, President Jacques Chirac said that 10 May would henceforth be a national day of remembrance for the victims of slavery in France, marking the day in 2001 when France passed a law recognising slavery as a crime against humanity.

At the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, African nations demanded a clear apology for slavery from the former slave-trading countries. Some EU nations were ready to express an apology, but the opposition, mainly from the United Kingdom, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal and the United States  (the biggest benefactors from slavery) blocked attempts to do so. A fear of monetary compensation/reparations was one of the main reasons for the opposition. Even though the African communities saw the writing on the wall and the future decimation of their African people into slavery, and fought and tried to stem its tide (Nzinga Mbemba Affonso ) slavery overran their kingdoms, and the impact of race-based slavery left those African kingdoms and societies thrown into a living nightmare.

Most definitely is the need to mention the Arab Muslim slave traders who destroyed countless millions of black lives, Arab rapists, enslavers and murderers who gave not a damn about the defenseless Africans they kidnaped and sold into a life of bondage. Arabs who to this day give not a damn about the humanity of blacks, both in the United States and in Africa:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Icy3_bNcJI

America on the other hand gave not a damn to even acknowledge publicly in Congress or by words from the President of the United States the role this country had in the destruction of millions of lives due to the rapacious gluttony of enslaving their fellow sisters and brothers.

Not one word.

Not one utterance from a congressperson or senator all across America.

Then again that is  not surprising considering how this country in its continued hypocrisy still refuses to come to terms with the legacy of racism of American slavery and American Jane/Jim Crow segregation against its black citizens.

Maulana Karenga states that the effects of slavery were “the morally monstrous destruction of human possibility involved redefining African humanity to the world, poisoning past, present and future relations with others who only know us through this stereotyping and thus damaging the truly human relations among peoples.” He states that it constituted the destruction of culture, language, religion and human possibility.

The vestiges of that 450 years of inhuman cruelty still live with us all in America.

The silence and disrespect shown towards black Americans is beyond callous. It is unfathomable. That this country shows such utter disregard towards the history of forced migration of black Africans to this country, enslavement for over 350 years of chattel inhumane slavery, 100 years of atrocities of mass rapes against black women and girls and the psychotic sick lynchings of black men and boys—-that America still has not reconciled itself with that part of its history still portends that this country never will acknowledge the legacy of slavery and segregation.

Two hundred years ago the government of America abolished the Atlantic Slave Trade.

Two hundred years later the present government showed nothing but disrespect towards its black citizens.

Not a Day of Atonement, not a Day of Recognition, not a Day of Reconciliation, not a Day of Remembrance.

America still harbors contempt and hatred for her black citizens, and that is constantly shown in her disregard, her ignoring, her treating with invisibility the existence of black citizens in her midst, especially where the issue of slavery is concerned.

Black life meant nothing then before January 1, 1808.

Black life still means nothing after January 1, 2008.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

REFERENCES:

A MUST READ BY ERIC FONER:  “FORGOTTEN STEP TOWARD FREEDOM

 SOURCE – 1-16:

  1. Thomas, Hugh.The Slave Trade. Simon and Schuster, 1997.
  2. Klein, Herbert S. and Jacob Klein. The Atlantic Slave Trade. Cambridge University Press, 1999. pp. 103-139.
  3. (1998) King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa. Houghton Mifflin Books. ISBN 0618001905.
  4. BBC QUICK GUIDE:  THE SLAVE TRADE – http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6445941.stm
  5. Klein, Herbert S. and Jacob Klein. The Atlantic Slave Trade. Cambridge University Press, 1999. pp. 103-139.
  6. Welcome to Encyclopædia Britannica’s Guide to Black History: http://www.britannica.com/blackhistory/article-24156
  7. Migration Simulation: http://www.worldhistorynetwork.org/migrationsim/
  8. Ronald Segal, The Black Diaspora: Five Centuries of the Black Experience Outside Africa (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1995), ISBN 0-374-11396-3, page 4. “It is now estimated that 11,863,000 slaves were shipped across the Atlantic. [Note in original: Paul E. Lovejoy, “The Impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade on Africa: A Review of the Literature,” in Journal of African History 30 (1989), p. 368.]”
  9. Eltis, David and Richardson, David. The Numbers Game. In: Northrup, David: The Atlantic Slave Trade, 2nd edition, Houghton Mifflin Co., 2002. p. 95.
  10. Stannard, David. American Holocaust. Oxford University Press, 1993
  11. Quick guide: The slave trade; Who were the slaves? BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6445941.stm
  12. Stannard, David. American Holocaust. Oxford University Press, 1993
  13. Gomez, Michael A. Exchanging Our Country Marks. Chapel Hill, 1998
  14. Thornton, John. Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800 Cambridge University Press, 1998
  15.  Stride, G.T. and C. Ifeka. Peoples ad Empires of West Africa: West Africa in History 1000-1800. Nelson, 1986
  16. “Effects on Africa”. Ron Karenga: http://www.africawithin.com/karenga/ethics.htm

RELATED LINKS: http://www.liverpoolblackhistory.co.uk/

“NEW YORK OPENS SLAVE BURIAL SITE”: https://kathmanduk2.wordpress.com/2007/10/05/new-york-opens-slave-burial-site/

DIGITAL HISTORY – SLAVERY FACTS SHEET/WPA SLAVE NARRATIVES: http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/historyonline/slav_fact.cfm 

INTERNATIONAL SLAVERY MUSEUM: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ism/

THE SLAVE TRADE ARTS MEMORIAL PROJECT

 BRITAIN AND THE SLAVE TRADE: THE ROAD TO FREEDOM

Advertisements

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: WHITE MEN CHALLENGING RACISM ~ CONCLUSION

At the end of the Civil War, freed ex-slaves were ready to take their place in American society as full human beings with the promise of all rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution through the enactment of the 13TH Amendment (abolition of slavery), the  14TH Amendment (rights to citizenship and due process of law), and the  15TH Amendment (giving black freedmen the right to vote). With the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and savage white mob rule, the hopes of these laws that should have protected millions of black citizens were dashed on the rocks of white supremacy.

As many black people stood up to and fought against the hatreds of white supremacy, so too did a few white men who saw that the South could only rise if it treated and accorded humanity to all of its citizens—white, and black.

The white-run South during Reconstruction fought vehemently against the federal government’s intervention and whites vowed to keep the power of the electorate, ownership of land, and fair wages out of the hands of free black people. The white South re-wrote history, casting itself into the role of “victim”, and the new black citizens as the “victimizing aggressors”. The Nadir of inhuman race hatred began after 1877 and lasted all the way into the early 1970s of the next century. The Nadir when white butality of the condoned the sanctioning of mass rapes of defenseless black women and girls to continue, and the mass lynchings spectacles against black men and boys, which  escalated during Jim Crow segregation. Even then, in the most profane of times, there were still a few white men who never lost the faith to do the right thing. To this day, historical bias propagandized during the hellish Nadir still distorts and sows lies in high school textbook after textbook in history books and Civil War monuments all across this country. That there was a Nadir, or even that racism played a continuing role in American life, North as well as South, goes unmentioned in many history textbooks. Therefore, we learn that when history was/is written and who did the writing makes a very profound difference.

History belongs to the victors, and in many cases, to the liars.

But, the lies of history do not rule forever. The truth no matter how beaten into the ground, does triumph:  here in Texas, there in Mississippi, later in Maryland, tomorrow in Florida.

The truth prevails, not always on time and not always in our lifetimes, but, the truth does triumph.

But, even during that time, there were still white men who stood on the side of right, white men who worked in solidarity with black women and men. History is often the tale of the winners, and is usually told by the winners, who often make it their main effort to leave out the wrongs of their history and spin webs of lies of what a glorious untainted past they the victors had. Hence the ‘Gone With the Wind’, ‘Myth of the ‘Redeemed South’ lie as if the South was ever was taken from the whites by blacks in the first place.

But, the winners write the history. It is what they leave out that is just as important as what they allow to leave in for the future.

Forgotten by many are the few white men who stood against racist depravities and perversions of justice.  History is often deliberate omission of the wrongs done by a society, but most of all history is often a distorted lie of what society allows to be representative of truth.

History needs to be learned and spoken of, and that includes the white men who were anti-racist before there was such a term.

The white men I will speak of lived in the 20TH Century, and some still live in the 21ST Century. These are their stories, in their own words.

The lives and stories of these men need to be recovered from the lies that have buried for so long from mistruths, half-truths and outright lies.

That there were a few white men who chose a different path, a path of truly loving their brother’s keeper, is a story that deserves to be told.

________________________________________________________________________

HERBERT APTHEKER  (July 31, 1915 – March 17, 2003) CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST

“My parents were very wealthy.  We had a great big house and lived in Brooklyn, which at the time was rural. We had gas lights and very few neighbors and no Black people whatsoever. Mama hired a Black woman from Trinidad. Her name was Angelina Corbin. She was a big woman and very dark. She lived with us in the room next to mine. Mother had trouble pronouncing “Angelina”, and with permission we called her “Annie”. Annie was as important to me as was Mama, and I loved them both equally. I soon saw that Mama treated Annie as one of the family.

Annie raised me because Mother had four other children and was busy. Annie bathed me, dressed me, fed me. I don’t know why she did not let me kiss her. I remember trying to kiss her, but she never let me do it. She would push me aside and say,  “Just be a good boy.” She was absolutely decisive in upbringing. I saw her everyday.

The next thing that was of fundamental importance was that Papa was making a business trip in the summer to Alexander City, Alabama. I asked if I could join him, and he said, “Yes.” I was about twelve or thirteen, which was about 1930. Depression had set in; it was very deep in the South. When we got to Washington, D.C., I saw Jim Crow for the first time in my life. I was astonished.

In Georgia, Papa had some sort of car trouble. We were stopped by the side of the road. I got out with a bag of cookies that mother had baked. Alongside the road there was a field. Deep in the field was a shack without a door. It had a cloth instead of a door. Standing at the threshold was a Black woman who looked just like Annie, with arms akimbo. In the field in front of her was a Negro child, perhaps my age, maybe a little younger, very thin, in rags. We saw each other. So I moved toward him, and I took out a cookie. I handed it to him, but he didn’t take it. He bent forward, and he took a bite out of it and left it in my hand. I didn’t know what to do. I was at a loss. So I turned around and ran back to the car. That scene is very vivid in my mind. I can see it now. My mind has been damaged from the stroke, but I can see that.

*   *   *

 I went to Columbia University. But at that time, Columbia did not allow Jews uptown. They had a ghetto school in Brooklyn. It was called Seth Low Junior College. It had two floors of a building that housed a law school, but the teachers and the books were the same as at Columbia. We were all Jewish or Italian. I had become a leader of the student body in the struggle against Spain. I became known.

One day I was visited by a Black man who was an attorney in Chicago. His name has skipped my brain. This man was originally from Oglethorpe County, Georgia. He told me of the peonage that existed in Georgia and that it was really a form of slavery. He wondered if anything could be done about it. I took him to William L. Patterson, who was also a lawyer, but he had given up the practice of law, become a leader of the Communist Party, and devoted himself to the struggle. So I took this fellow to see Patterson, and Patterson did what I thought he would do. He organized us, saying, “We now have the Abolish Peonage Committee. Herbert, you’re the secretary” and told the other man that he was the chairman. So we now had an Abolish Peonage Committee. We began to meet with famous people of the left.

We realized that we had to go down and get some of these people out of Georgia. You had to be white, and so I went. I was about twenty. I went as a traveling salesman, under the name of Beale. I don’t know what I was selling. Of course the Black people knew I was coming—it was arranged ahead of time. I used to meet one or two, usually one, at night in a whorehouse above a saloon. Usually Black women serviced men in the whorehouse, so it was not unuaual for me to be up there and have a Black woman come to me. The Black women I was meeting were not whores; they were slaves on plantations.

There were thousands of them being exploited on the plantations.

In this way, I would be able to give a bus ticket to a woman each night so that she could go north. We had raised enough money through the Abolish Peonage Committee, including from the party. I would give them the ticket and some money and tell them that they’d be going to New Orleans—they couldn’t go north from Georgia. In New Orleans, we had comrades who owned a bookstore. I would tell the Black woman,  “They know you’re coming; they will meet you; you can trust them with your life. They will have a ticket for you to Nashville. In Nashville, there is a woman who is a piano teacher. She will take care of you and send you to Chicago, where you will be free.” That’s what we did.

Well, I stayed in a different room every night, and in this way, we freed maybe fifthteen people, maybe more. I used to shave about three times a week, and there was a separate washroom at this place. There was a mirror. I don’t think it had a door. And there was a Black man sweeping, and he said, “Go home.” I turned to him, and he didn’t look up, and I asked him, “What did you say?” He said louder, “Go home, now,” which meant, of course that I had been discovered. So, I went home.”

On giving advice to younger anti-racist men:

“I’ve never thought about that, but I’d say that one of the important things is history. Of course the knowledge of the history and the reality is vital. To the best of your ability, you should spread it, let people know. That is what I’ve done. That’s what I’ve tried to do. You have to inform yourself of the realities of history, of what slavery was, of what Black people, especially Black women, went through. And you have to learn about the postslavery so called freedom. I think it helps to saturate your conscious with that, so that you understand what you are dealing with— a horror that has to be overcome and how difficult it is. And knowing that we white people are responsible for the horror. Therefore, if we have some conscience, we should be very important in eliminating the horror. That’s my life. That’s the way I see it. I think that’s logical, and a person should be persuaded of that.

“I think it’simportant that people understand that it’s not easy. If this is serious, if you’re really committed to an egalitarian existence in life, it’s not simple. Because the society is otherwise. You are a rebel. You have to be careful of your behaviour, that you’re not superior to others who are unfortunate enough to have the prejudice. And if you are superior, you’ll never change them. You have to watch your own behaviour. You mustn’t be supercilious or a big shot. You musn’t think, “These poor, stupid people don’t understand.” Well, they don’t understand. But they are not stupid, and they’re not poor people. They just don’t understand.”

___________________________________________________________________________

ART BRANSCOMBE ~ ‘MILITANT INTEGRATIONIST AND A PATRIOT’ (Art was 81-years-old at the time of this interview.)

“For a long time, Blacks were absolutely forbidden to live here in Park Hill. It was the same in other cities around the country because of the policy of the National Association of Real Estate Boards from about 1920 to about 1950. Starting about 1918 or 1919 in Chicago, the realtors asked the business leaders there to stop letting Blacks live wherever they wanted to live. They were getting spread around too much, and the Chicago Board of Realtors asked them to restrict Black residents to areas where they already were and fill up those areas with Blacks before they opened up any more blocks. That’swhere our big ghettos came from.

“About 1955, after the area to the west of us filled up with Blacks, a developer bought a few blocks north of here and announced he was going to sell to Blacks. The whispers and then the panic started soon after that. In may of 1956, the ministers of seven of the big white churches here delivered a joint sermon, welcoming Blacks to the neighborhood, telling their parishioners that they should welcome Blacks to the neighborhood. All this did was increase the panic.

“We moved here in 1959. We had trouble getting a loan for this place. The first two or three mortgage bankers we approached said, “No way. If you were Black, we’d give you a loan, but we’re not giving loans to whites in that neighborhood anymore.” Finally we got a loan from a banker who lived in Park hill.

“Soon after we moved in, we started hearing rumors among our neighbors that the NAACP was going to move a welfare family into the middle of the block and scare the whites out. Flyers from realtors started landing on the front porch, saying, “Wouldn’t you like to move out while you can still get a good price for this house?” That’s how the panic was being purposely spread by realtors to buy these houses up cheap and sell them dear to the Blacks—-Negroes as they were called in those days. I had better things to worry about than that.

“Eventually we got a flyer from a Montview Presbyterian Church nearby, saying that they were going to have a meeting on the “changing character of the Park Hill neighborhood.” The people at the meeting formed a laymen’s committee to see what they could do. Out of that in due time came the Park Hill Action Committee. The core of it was lay persons from seven churches; the agreement was that if the laymen would carry the flag and take the flak, the ministers and their churches would try to raise funds to support us. I guess either Bea [Art’s wife] or I were the first chair of the public relations committee. That committee rode off in all directions at once, trying to figure out what to do. Nobody knew what the hell was going on. So we had to find out what was going on and figure out what to do about it.

“The goals of that initial group were to preserve property values. Part of the motivation was fear—not so much us since we’d bought this house for only $13,500—but most of our neighbors thought they were going to lose their life’s investment. There were also some people who believed that we had to do the right thing—welcome people. If white people fled, they weren’t going to learn anything.

(Bea chimes in): In my view, the person who put the real goals together was Art Branscombe. In my view–and I’m undoubtedly biased–I feel that in this little area of 25,000-30,000 people, he was the Thomas Jefferson; he articulated the goals.

“As we got to know more Black people and found out what they were going through—they kept telling us about various manifestations of racism in their lives—we saw things happening that we’d never noticed before. When we’d run across some of our Black neighbors downtown or on the street somewhere, they’d hurry by saying hello. We asked them about this. They said, “Well, we’re used to white people not saying hello to us.” So when I satrted saying hello to these people as I came on them, why, that made quite a difference. That really opened up things. Just a little thing like that never occurred to me—I passed people on the street downtown, and so what?

“There was one man in particular, a Black pediatrician who was moving into a house nearby, on Albion Street. I went to see him one day, and he was just furious because there were “For sale” signs on houses across the street and next to him. He said to me, “What are these clowns doing moving out of here? I’ve got a better education than any of them; I make more money than they do. How come they’re moving out when I’m moving in?”

I started to realize that there was a lot more to this; it wasn’t the NAACP putting welfare families into the middle blocks, the way the rumors had it. Somebody was telling those whites to move out. They weren’t getting this idea all by themselves. Of course, they’d been telling us to move out, too. So that was my changing attitude on the whole business. I started out just believing that this was about preserving our property values, but pretty soon I started to realize what a tough row the Blacks were facing here, and this wasn’t their doing; it was somebody else directing this, making it happen.

“I was reading these books about segregated neighborhoods, learning about what happened in other cities. As I got more involved and realized what the heck was going on, why, I got madder  and madder at the real estate people, except that the president of the Board of realtors lived down on the next block and turned out to be a nice guy.

I think it took me only about three or four months to realize that preserving property values wasn’t the real answer to this. We had to make it possible for Blacks to live whereever they wanted to live, for Christ’s sake. This was just a matter of ordinary humanity and justice and whatnot. That’s what did it for me. That’s what changed me from just another middle-class white guy trying to preserve property values into an increasingly militant housing integrationist.

I realize what was happening to us: that this was white racism that I was fighting. I and some of the other leaders of Park Hill Action began to realize that we couldn’t solve Park Hill’s problems inside Park Hill. We had to open up the rest of the city to Black residents. That was why we supported strengthening the Fair Housing Act, and also we hatched a scheme of sending out what we called “missionaries” to the suburbs. We’d go in interracial teams to different suburban churches and urge those people out there to set up human relations councils to welcome any Blacks who were courageous enough to move out there. What really made it impressive to those people out there was that here was a real, live Black—well spoken and educated—with a white person, coming out to speak to them.

.   .   . 

Asked about his experience in taking direction and leadership from women:

(Bea responds): He’s had three daughters, all of whom are feminists.

“Oh, boy, I’ve been surrounded here! Ye gods. No way I could have avoided being somewhat of a feminist!

(Bea): He’s been my prince and taken care of me on stuff I know he doesn’t particularly like to do, but he’s done it graciously. He’s a  gentleman.

“Ah, yeah, sometimes.

(Bea): Yeah, sometimes, not always. But toward me, you’re always a gentleman.

.   .   .

Two months after the interview, in the summer of 2000, Bea died. When he was editing this narrative, Art told us, “We were a team in this work. I miss her terribly.”

___________________________________________________________________________

PAT CUSICK ~  ‘COMMUNITY ORGANIZER’ (Pat was 70-years-old at the time of this interview.)

I have only two white friends. I don’t hang out with white people. I really don’t associate with white people. I haven’t thought about that until recently. There was a big shift for me in my willingness to hang out with white people that’s related to my sexual orientation. In the early 1960s, I had not come out of the closet. I knew I was gay, but I hadn’t come out. In 1963, my mental sexual object choice shifted from white men to Black men. Up to that time, my ideal sexual choice was blonde-haired and blue-eyed. That totally shifted in a month. Looking back on that, I can figure that out. There were two things. White men were a danger to me—white people were beating me, kicking my teeth out. And my heroes were the Black high school students. At every step of the way, white meant danger to me.

Here in the neighborhood where I live now, the people I fight with every day are white. The whole white privilege thing is pervasive in their lives. The greatest example was last Thursday. There are two Black guys from Roxbury who want to develop a shopping complex down the street. The city tried to slow them down, and yet at the same meeting, the city is pushing Best Western to move quickly on developing  a site just up the street.

“Now the NAACP ranks hotels in terms of what it’s like for Black folks to work there. Best Western is the worst category. At the planning meeting, we asked the representative from Best Western about this, and he said that he didn’t know anything about that. This was a very patrician-looking guy with silver hair. I knew that this guy owned several Best Westerns, and so I asked him, “In the hotels you own, how many people of color work there?” He said, “I’m a liberal. I don’t know. I don’t keep track of those things in my business.” I was outraged. I said, “You know, if you’re going to build here, you will report weekly on the race of the construction crew”—because these were Boston requirements—“and you will do that if you want this hotel.” I felt like I had been thrown back into the 1950s and 1960s. He got very angry, and he didn’t understand it. His white privilege was all over the place. Unfortunately, he got the hotel he wanted.

Do you care if white people like you?

No. If you look at all the pictures hanging up on the walls of my apartment, other than my socialist grandfather, there are not many pictures of white people. Almost all of them are of people of color.

“There are no white people in this neighborhood. Well, actually, that’s not true. There’s the white gentry.This is one of the most poverty-stricken neighborhoods in Boston and one of the most affluent at the same time. This is a neighborhood of haves and have-nots, and I’m interested in identifying with the haves, especially not the gay white gentry in this neighborhood. I got over being ashamed of being gay and came out of the closet. And I’ve also been ashamed of being gay because of the way they act and the racism in that community. It’s very much a kind of trench warfare here between the haves and the have-nots.

Do feel any sense of loss in not hanging out with white people?

None whatsoever. It’s not hostility. It’s just that they don’t matter to me. They matter because they do a lot of damage. Now this sounds really crazy. I don’t think of myself as a white person that much—I don’t ponder it. On the other hand, people are always telling me, “You’re Black.” I’m not trying to be Black. I never tried to be Black. In fact it’sinsulting to me if someone says that to me because it’s saying that to be humanistic, you have to be Black. If a white person is sensitive and progressive, people will say that you’re trying be to Black, when you are just trying to be a white person who is a human being who has certain values.

“Lord, it took me a long time to come out. But around Black folks now, I never hesitate to come out. It’s easy to slip back into the closet, so I will intentionally go out of my way to come out. I’ll casually say something like, “As a gay person, . . . .” That helps me not to go back into the closet. I don’t think I could, but nevertheless, it’s insurance that I don’t go back in.

Did yoy ever question your commitment to challenging racism?

I’m an organizer. There are consequences when we challenge the people in power. I was part of a coalition with Mel King, Dianne Wilkerson, Bryon Rushing, and others to stop Northeastern University from expanding into Black neighborhoods. Because of my involvement in that, my angency, S N A P, will never get funding from the city. And I have a reputation of being a bulldog. I have to watch that, too. The local HUD office then characterized our coalition, which is all people of color except me, as “Cusick’s gang.” That’s a racist statement.

“.  .  .  .I can’t conceive of leaving this work. My life as I know it would die if I did. I’m delighted with my life.”

TO BE CONTINUED.     .    .    .

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

INTERNATIONAL DAY TO ELIMINATE RACISM

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: History

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on March 21st.

On that day in 1960, police shot and killed 69 people (including eight women and ten children) and injured 180 at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa. More than 80% of those killed had been shot in the back.

7,000 individuals had gathered to rally against apartheid and its “pass laws,” which required all Africans to carry a Pass Book, enabling the South African government to restrict and monitor their whereabouts. Anyone found without a passbook could be arrested and detained for up to thirty days.

The Sharpeville Massacre led the General Assembly of the United Nations to proclaim March 21 International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and call on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

( See UN Resolution 2142 (XXI) )

It Takes a Globe

Every year, the international community commemorates that tragedy, but also joins together to combat racism and discrimination.

In 1989, Canada was the first country in the world to hold a national March 21 campaign. A Canadian website celebrates the day and sponsors annual events.

This year, the Social and Human Sciences Sector is organizing a series of activities at UNESCO in Paris.

A few organizations are working on an international scale to provide support and an ongoing backdrop for the mission of this day.

UNESCO

UNESCO leads a global quest for tolerance and a fight against racism, discrimination and xenophobia – which their website states, is at the heart of UNESCO’s mandate.

Their research contributes to the identification of effective responses to obstacles limiting human rights, such as extreme nationalism, ideologies of intolerance, and new forms of discrimination arising from technological and scientific progress.

In order to respond to the challenges emerging in modern societies, UNESCO has adopted a new Integrated Strategy to Combat Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia and Intolerance. Priorities include: scientific research on the phenomena of racism, discrimination and xenophobia; development of new educational approaches and teaching materials; mobilization of opinion leaders and political decision-makers against racism and discrimination; preservation of diversity in multi-ethnic and multicultural societies; and combating racist propaganda in media, particularly in cyberspace which has been identified as the primary source of hate group expansion.

The UN Sponsors a Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is a body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by its State parties.

It meets in Geneva and normally holds two sessions per year consisting of three weeks each. It also publishes its interpretation of the content of human rights provisions, known as general recommendations (or general comments), on thematic issues and organizes thematic discussions. For more information about the work of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, visit their website.

You Too Can Share a Positive Message

Given the recent surge in hate group activity on a global scale, it is important that we take time this year to honor this day.

Hate groups have attempted in recent years to hijack this day by collaborating in a dissemination of pro-white/anti-tolerance messages. This year again, several sites are advocating that individuals and organizations fly flags and wear apparel displaying anti-tolerance messages on March 21 to celebrate World White Pride instead.

You can help to drown these messages and make voices for unity louder by sharing the UN slogan which is “United to Combat Racism: Equality, Dignity, Justice.”

Send colorful Anti-Racism Day E-Cards to friends and colleagues for free courtesy of http://www.Care2.com, the largest Online Network for people who Care2 make a difference in the environment, human rights, education, healthy living, women’s rights, animal welfare, and much more.

RELATED LINKS:
CEIU-SEIC: 

http://www.ceiu-seic.ca/page_1706.cfm

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

ABOUT INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAYInternational Women’s Day has been observed since in the early 1900’s, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.1908
Great unrest and critical debate was occurring amongst women. Women’s oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. Then in 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.

1909
In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman’s Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on 28 February. Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.

1910
At a Socialist International meeting in Copenhagen, an International Women’s Day of no fixed date was proposed to honour the women’s rights movement and to assist in achieving universal suffrage for women. Over 100 women from 17 countries unanimously agreed the proposal. 3 of these women were later elected the first women to the Finnish parliament.

1911
Following the decision agreed at Copenhagen in 1911, International Women’s Day (IWD) was honoured the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March. More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women’s rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. However less than a week later on 25 March, the tragic ‘Triangle Fire’ in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working women, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. This disastrous event drew significant attention to working conditions and labour legislation in the United States that became a focus of subsequent International Women’s Day events. 1911 also saw women’s ‘Bread and Roses’ campaign.

1913-1914
On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. In 1914 further women across Europe held rallies to campaign against the war and to express women’s solidarity.

1917
On the last Sunday of February, Russian women began a strike for “bread and peace” in response to the death over 2 million Russian soldiers in war. Opposed by political leaders the women continued to strike until four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. The date the women’s strike commenced was Sunday 23 February on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia. This day on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere was 8 March.

1918 – 1999
Since its birth in the socialist movement, International Women’s Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike. For decades, IWD has grown from strength to strength annually. For many years the United Nations has held an annual IWD conference to coordinate international efforts for women’s rights and participation in social, political and economic processes. 1975 was designated as ‘International Women’s Year’ by the United Nations. Women’s organisations and governments around the world have also observed IWD annually on 8 March by holding large-scale events that honour women’s advancement and while diligently reminding of the continued vigilance and action required to ensure that women’s equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life.2000 – 2007
IWD is now an official holiday in Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother’s Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that ‘all the battles have been won for women’ while many feminists from the 1970’s know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women’s visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.

However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.

Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements. While there are many large-scale initiatives, a rich and diverse fabric of local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women’s craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.Many global corporations have also started to more actively support IWD by running their own internal events and through supporting external ones. For example, on 8 March search engine and media giant Google even changes its logo on its global search pages. Corporations like HSBC host the UK’s largest and longest running IWD event delivered by women’s company Aurora. Last year Nortel sponsored IWD activities in over 20 countries and thousands of women participated. Nortel continues to connect its global workforce though a coordinated program of high-level IWD activity, as does Accenture both virtually and offline. Accenture supports more than 2,000 of its employees to participate in its International Women’s Day activities that include leadership development sessions, career workshops and corporate citizenship events held across six continents – in eight cities in the United States and in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Spain, South Africa and the UK. Accenture also coordinated am IWD webcast featuring stories about Accenture women worldwide that ran uninterrupted for 30 hours across 11 time zones via Accenture’s intranet. Year on year IWD is certainly increasing in status. The United States even designates the whole month of March as ‘Women’s History Month’.So make a difference, think globally and act locally !! Make everyday International Women’s Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.

The International Women’s Day website is proudly provided by Aurora, a company that connects business and professional women and actively promotes companies’ employer brands, their job vacancies and their business products / services. Aurora owns and maintains the IWD website and for many years has promoted IWD activity globally through providing this FREE global register of IWD event listings used by women, the media, governments, charities and industry. This is a central global register of IWD events, for downloading IWD logos and for helping women’s groups from all around the world communicate their IWD messages. Aurora wishes all groups a successful and effective IWD 2008. Although much progress has been made for women’s equality, it is important that we are never complacent. For more information about Aurora’s or Aurora’s products/services, click here or visit some of Aurora’s further websites such as the women-focused jobsite wheretowork.com/women.

__________________________________________________________________________

RELATED LINKS:

WEBSITE – http://www.internationalwomensday.com/

2008 IWD EVENTS – http://www.internationalwomensday.com/events.asp

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

INTERNATIONAL DEATH PENALTY ABOLITION DAY

International Death Penalty Abolition Day (1 March 2008)
 1 March is International Death Penalty Abolition Day, a day that marks the occasion in 1847 when the state of Michigan became the first English-speaking territory in the world to abolish capital punishment. The death penalty is a violation of human rights. Abolition of the death penalty is an evolving standard of international law. Below you will find links to information on the status of the death penalty worldwide, abolition of the death penalty campaigns and learning materials to be used in classrooms or public education  campaigns.

loading...

 Selected learning materials

Study Guide on the Right to Life
This guide provides a brief introduction into safeguards to protect the human rights to life, including international standards against the death penalty and extra-judicial killings. http://www.hrea.org/index.php?base_id=159

Death Penalty Curricula for High School
This curriculum addresses history of the death penalty, arguments for and against, court cases on the death penalty and additional resources. The site includes two sample units plans for teachers. Each of the units involves an extensive amount of group work, simulations, persuasive and individual essay writing, and class participation.  http://www.hrea.org/index.php?base_id=104&language_id=1&erc_doc_id=335&category_id=18&category_type=3&group=

International standards on the death penalty
This document gives extracts of international and regional instruments (treaties, declarations) relevant to the abolition or restriction of the death penalty, arranged by subject. Among other things, the instruments set forth safeguards and restrictions on the death penalty. The appendix of this document includes the texts of the relevant sections of the instruments.  http://www.hrea.org/index.php?base_id=104&language_id=1&erc_doc_id=1283&category_id=23&category_type=3&group=

Useful Links

Declaration by Senator Feingold in the United States Congress marking the first International Abolition Day, 1 March 2000

World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

The Death Penalty: Questions and Answers PDF file

International treaties to abolish the death penalty:
– Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty (1989)  http://www.hrea.org/index.php?base_id=104&language_id=1&erc_doc_id=454&category_id=24&category_type=3&group=Human%20rights%20treaties%20and%20other%20instruments
– Protocol No. 6 to the European Convention on Human (1983) 
– Protocol No. 13 to the European Convention on Human Rights (2002)
– Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty (1990)

Council of Europe Theme File on Death Penalty

Amnesty International Website Against the Death Penalty

Amnesty International-USA’s Program to Abolish the Death Penalty

The Death Penalty in the United States (Human Rights Watch)

Death Penalty Information Center (USA)

http://www.hrea.org/index.php?base_id=318

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

HELPING GIRLS IN EAST AFRICA

Help thousands of girls in East Africa.
The Kids League (TKL) has been chosen as a finalist in the “Nike – Changemakers Sport for a Better World Competition”.

Three projects will be declared winners by popular online voting. The voting began on February 18th and closes on Sunday March 2nd.  Winners will be announced on Monday March 3rd and each will receive US$5,000. The Kids League (profiled in Sisterhood Agenda Magazine’s Spring 2007 issue) would like to invite you to support their innovations by voting on the Changemakers website at:

http://www.changemakers.net/competition/sports

TKL’s qualifying  innovation is to help more girls take part in sports programmes and go to school by developing, manufacturing and marketing low-cost sanitary protection using local materials. They have partnered and linked together our friends at Moving the Goalposts (MTG)  in Kenya to develop this programme in conjunction with the developer of the “Makapads” system, Professor Musaazi of Makerere University . This makes TKL a truly East African partnership in development, an innovation in itself!

You can read more about “Tunaweza (Kiswahili: we can do it!): Girls Helping Themselves in East Africa” at:

http://www.changemakers.net/en-us/node/2672.

[The innovation is listed under TKL’s partners name – Moving The Goalposts, Kenya.]

Voting is very simple and quick and you must vote for 3 agencies, so please help make a difference for our global sisters!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

MEGAN WILLIAMS FAMILY SAYS SENTENCE TOO LIGHT, CALLS FOR PROTEST MARCH

By SHAYA TAYEFE MOHAJER
FEBRAURY 28, 2008
Associated Press Writer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The parents of a black woman who was allegedly tortured by six white men and women in Logan County are lashing out at the county’s prosecutor for not demanding harsher penalties.

Matthew and Carmen Williams held a news conference Wednesday at the First Baptist Church in Charleston to voice their frustration with Logan County Prosecutor Brian Abraham.

“We were OK with the first two deals that (Abraham) made with Alisha Burton and George Messer, but then he started getting up to plea deals with Karen Burton and Frankie Brewster,” said Carmen Williams, referring to four of the defendants. “I think they should have gotten, to be honest, life in prison. We were very dissatisfied.”

Her 20-year-old daughter Megan Williams was allegedly held captive at Brewster’s trailer in Big Creek for days last summer, forced to eat feces, sexually assaulted and stabbed. Megan Williams was rescued Sept. 8 after an anonymous caller alerted deputies.

Karen Burton, her daughter Alisha Burton, Brewster and Messer all were initially charged with kidnapping, which carries a maximum life sentence. Alisha Burton and Messer each pleaded guilty to kidnapping and assault but received 10-year sentences. Karen Burton and Brewster pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

“To me, what’s going on here is a slap in Megan’s face. Not mine, but Megan’s. They promised her one thing, and then destroyed it,” Matthew Williams said before breaking down into tears and leaving the podium.

Abraham said all six defendants were given identical charges before the investigation was complete, and that those charges were never intended to stand throughout the criminal process.

“Each defendant will be held accountable for his or her personal actions in the case,” said Abraham. “I have and will base all of my decisions on the evidence that the investigation has revealed.”

The Williams family said the 49-year-old Brewster’s sentence could be especially light. Brewster pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault, which carries a 10- to 25-year prison term. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 12.

Karen Burton, 46, of Chapmanville, pleaded guilty to malicious wounding, assault and violating Williams’ civil rights. If served consecutively, the charges could result in 30 years in prison. Karen Burton was the only defendant charged with a hate crime.

Burton’s sentencing is set for March 3 at the Logan County Courthouse. The Williams family urged protesters to attend that hearing. They plan to organize a car pool to depart from First Baptist Church at 8 a.m. that day.

“We want to impact the city of Logan with our presence, and we want to see justice served,” said Bishop James Carter, the family’s pastor.

Felony charges including kidnapping and sexual assault are pending against Brewster’s son, 24-year-old Bobby Brewster of Big Creek and Danny Combs, 20, of Harts. A seventh defendant, Karen Burton’s son, Linnie Burton Jr., 21, was indicted on a misdemeanor battery charge.

At Wednesday’s news conference, Abraham was also criticized for not providing consistent information to the family about plea agreements.

http://www.dailymail.com/News/200802270606

(Hattip to Phyllis Dugas of http://pvdugas.wordpress.com )

__________________________________________________________________

I want to throw something. I want to scream. I want to curse. I want to just let go and lose what little faith I have left in me for the human race.

I want to see this country pay for all the wrongs it has done to black men and women for the last 450 years.

I want to see black Americans cease their going to the courts—-the places where there still resides the murderers and destroyers of black people’s bodies and spirits. I want to see black citizens cease going to those who give not a damn for what happens to black people.

I want to see black citizens go to the Hague and the United Nations and bring this country to international justice for continued crimes against black humanity.

I am sick of the damn plea deals, the backdoor bargains that prosecutors and lawyers have made through the centuries and decades that favor whites over blacks. I am sick of the courts that are a mockery of justice, courts that have been dealing out death to black citizens—legal, and extralegal DEATH.

 

“Karen Burton, her daughter Alisha Burton, Brewster and Messer all were initially charged with kidnapping, which carries a maximum life sentence. Alisha Burton and Messer each pleaded guilty to kidnapping and assault but received 10-year sentences. Karen Burton and Brewster pleaded guilty to lesser charges.”

Ten fucking damn years for a kidnapping charge? For a damn federal charge? Ten lousy damn years?

“To me, what’s going on here is a slap in Megan’s face. Not mine, but Megan’s. They promised her one thing, and then destroyed it,” Matthew Williams said before breaking down into tears and leaving the podium.”

 Matthew, it is more than a slap in the face. It is rape, sodomy, kidnapping, brutal assault, scalding, and force-feeding feces all over again. This joke, this travesty, this filth of a court has defiled and attacked little Megan all over again.

Then again, why does this not surprise me?

Oh, yeah, this is America the honorable, America the magnanimus, America the just, America the Great Whore of Babylon, where black life has always been cheap and debased.

“Abraham said all six defendants were given identical charges before the investigation was complete, and that those charges were never intended to stand throughout the criminal process.”

“….those charges were never intended to stand throughout the criminal process.”

Never intended to stand? Why charge a criminal if you will not pursue the charges you filed on them? What, you charge them with kidnapping then you change your mind later and decide to charge them with lesser charges just because you, prosecutor, felt like changing your mind? You charge them with kidnapping which is a federal offense that carries a life sentence, then in the next breath, they recieve 1o years? Why? Because you were too lazy or hateful to follow through on what you started in your legal procedings?

Or was it because these were fine, upstanding innocent put-upon white people who were accused of horrific crimes by a black woman, so let’s all feel sorry for the mistreated white criminals and kick, slap in the face, gut and sucker-punch and stomp down and beat up on Megan Williams by convicting these savages with lesser charges? As if Megan has not suffered enough?

Oh, I forgot, all black women lie. All black women force-feed themselves dog and rat feces; all black women cut and stab themselves; all black women rape themselves; all black women kidnap and lock themselves up into darkened tool sheds where they will expose themselves to extreme heat in the day, and freezing temperatures at night? All black women force themselves to drink from a toilet? All black women subject themselves to the most degrading forms of abuse that no human being should have to suffer through?

Yeah, that’s us  lying black women. We never tell the truth. We do not have any kind of value or human worth in the eyes of this society, so why even put away in prison the monsters that seek our destruction?  Isn’t that right Mr. Prosecutor Abraham? You have simply spit in Megan’s face with these insulting lesser charges that were given to these pieces of human excrement.

“Karen Burton was the only defendant charged with a hate crime.”

A group of lower-lifeforms commit bestial acts of perversions on a defenseless young woman and only one of them gets a hate crime charge.

Damn.

Now this.

Justice.

There is no justice in America for black people—-never has been—-never will be.

“The Williams family said the 49-year-old Brewster’s sentence could be especially light. Brewster pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault, which carries a 10- to 25-year prison term. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 12.

“Karen Burton, 46, of Chapmanville, pleaded guilty to malicious wounding, assault and violating Williams’ civil rights. If served consecutively, the charges could result in 30 years in prison.

“Felony charges including kidnapping and sexual assault are pending against Brewster’s son, 24-year-old Bobby Brewster of Big Creek and Danny Combs, 20, of Harts. A seventh defendant, Karen Burton’s son, Linnie Burton Jr., 21, was indicted on a misdemeanor battery charge.”

Maybe 10 years; maybe 5 years; maybe less than 5 years. With good behaviour, these things may be out of prison in less than 2 to 5 years each.

That’s American justice—or shall I say, (in)justice for you.

What’s the use of believing in the (in)justice system of America? What’s the use of having faith that your day in court will accord you the fairness that millions of black people throught the history of this country, have never received?

Today, little Megan was told by the court system that she mattered nothing to them. Today, Megan Williams and her family were told that they did not have the right to see her attackers have the most harshest of sentences thrown at them. Today Megan was told that as a black woman she meant not a damn thing in the eyes of the law, and that these pieces of feces were better than her and deserved more leniancy than any court of law should have given them.

“At Wednesday’s news conference, Abraham was also criticized for not providing consistent information to the family about plea agreements.”

Of course they did not keep you informed of the court procedings on what plea deal/bargainings were occurring. You are a black family, why should Abraham have kept you informed? Why should he have cared enough to let you know what was transpiring behind closed doors on how the outcome of what these charges would be?

You are a black family, a black family that stood up for your defenseless daughter/sister/cousin, and that more than anything was reason enough for the courts to slap Megan in the face and give these things nothing but a pat on the back and a slap on the wrist.

And that is the utmost cruelty of it all.

The message sent to the rest of America is that you can still rape, batter, kidnap, imprison, beat, stomp on, cut on, curse at, hurl racist slurs in the face of, degrade and practically kill a BLACK WOMAN and in the end no one in the court system will give a damn.

8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized