Aime Fernand David Cesaire: 100 Anniversaire

One more thing Mi Irieites,

afdcToday, June 26th 2013 is a special tribute to Aime Fernand David Cesaire, the Martinican poet, author, historian, politician and activist, who was born exactly 100 years ago, (26th June 1913 – 17th April 2008).

Aime Cesaire, who was also a teacher and strong influence on fellow native Frantz Fanon, was and still is Martinique’s pride and joy.

He has been noted to be the primary force that challenged the French authorities for Martinique to gain its cultural identity as black Africans subjected to colonialism.  At one point in the 1940′s Cesaire, like many others back in the day, aligned himself with the principles of Communist Russia, but later retracted these beliefs.

Some of his best written works have been “Discourse of Colonialism,” (1950), that denounced colonial racism, “Toussaint L’Ouverture,” (1960) a book based on the life of the Haitian Revolutionary Leader and “The Tempest,” an adaptation of the Shakespearean play, geared for a black audience (1968).

In 2001 Cesaire retired from his active duties.  He had held many positions including the Mayor of the capital, Fort De France as well as the President of the Regional Council of Martinique.

One of his last controversial stances was the snubbing of the President to be, Nicolas Sarkozy, in 2007.  Apparently, the French government was looking about imposing in the schools and textbooks, the ideology of ‘French colonialism’ being a “positive role.”    The Martinicans  protested intensely.  After a series of heart problems, Cesaire died on 17th April 2008 and was given an honorary State funeral.  Sarkozy, now President of France, attended but made no comment.

The national airport in the town of Lamentin has been renamed after this fearless individual.

Thank you Aime Cesaire, one of the greats of the Francophone Black Diaspora, for sustaining Martinique’s  heritage.  In other words, “You Big!!”

Juneteenth: Freedom Day

EmancipationProclamation

Hail Mi Irieites,

Here’s an important page in history (via Wikipedia) >>

During the US Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, with an effective date of January 1, 1863. Although it declared that slaves were to be freed in the Confederate States of America in rebellion against the federal government, it had minimal actual effect. Even after the ending of military hostilities, as a part of the former Confederacy, Texas did not act to comply with the Emancipation Proclamation.

On June 18, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of its slaves. On June 19, standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa, Granger read the contents of “General Order No. 3″:

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

That day has since become known as Juneteenth, a name coming from a portmanteau of the word June and the suffix, “teenth”, as in “Nineteenth”, coined by 1903.

Leon Spinks: the only man to take a title from Muhammad Ali in the ring

Yes, Mi Irieites,

First of all, I thank each and everyone for my birthday shout out.  The support gets bigger and bigger each year.  And I am still overwhelmed by it.

Secondly, For all the fans at “Reggae in the Desert,” Las Vegas and the “River Bend Festival,” Chattanooga, TN, we thank you for coming along.  There were many that said they have not seen the band perform live in over 20 years.  Don’t be a stranger – from now on!

Today was a historical day in regards to boxing.  This day June 18th 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of the great Muhammad Ali being knocked down for the very first time in his career by the British Champion boxer, Henry Cooper.  Cooper knocked Ali down in round 4.  Ali  was saved by the bell.  Muhammad came back in the following round to stop Cooper with a severe damage to his right eye.

leonspinks
And guess who we got a chance to meet while in Vegas?  Another legendary boxer: Leon Spinks.

Leon was the first boxer to literally take the title from Ali in the ring. Ali’s other losses were non-title contests or bouts where Ali was the challenger. The only time before that was when Ali was stripped of his title by the US government for refusing to fight in Vietnam.

Sid and I teamed up with Leon at a bar at the Hilton Hotel (the very place the Spinks vs Ali fight took place, just over 35 years ago).  With excitement I was naming and recollecting the Spinks/Ali first encounter to Leon, saying that the fight took place in 1978.  But Spinks fired back at me saying “no the year I beat Ali was in 1975.”  I said, “No because Ali had not too long beat George Foreman.”  But Leon insisted it was 1975.  So as puzzled as I was, I accepted his challenge.  After all, it was HE that was tangling with the then Champ back then, not me.  He ought to know….. so I thought.

As we were getting ready to watch the play called “Raiding the Rock Vault” (a great play by the way), we saw someone that remembered hosting the fight and said to me, ‘IT WAS 1978, right here.”  Wow!  So there you go Leon, if you get a chance to read this.  Well, it was great meeting, a really humble individual who’s looking pretty good considering what he use to do for a living.

Stay blessed Leon, and a “Happy 60th year to you, Sir.”

P.S  Thanks Rande, for making this happen…
P.P.S.  Another boxing history note: When Leon’s brother Michael Spinks defeated Larry Holmes for the IBF heavyweight championship in 1985, they became the first brothers to have held world heavyweight championships.

Medgar Evers: 50 Years After

Yes Mi Irieites,

Medgar_Evers

This is a tribute to one of the most legendary activists of all time, N.A.A.C.P. leader, Medgar Evers, who was assassinated this day June 12th, 1963.  This marks the 50th anniversary of his death.

Medgar was born in Decatur, Mississippi July 2nd 1925, (the same year as Malcolm X).  He became very active in the civil rights movement after being rejected from enrolling in the University of Mississippi, back in 1954.  The South had a fortress of opposition that limited and confined Afro Americans in regards to schooling, housing, work, public facilities and places of entertainment.  It was only a mere eight years previous to this assassination that Emmett Till got murdered.  So the state of Mississippi was already recognized as a bastion of racism.

Medgar was determined to be vocal and confrontational about this situation in so many ways.  As he had put it, “Jim Crow Laws Must Go,” which was the slogan that was written on the t-shirt he was wearing the day he died.

Many historical events were taking place throughout the year of 1963.  For example, the day before the shooting, Governor George Wallace of Alabama and also a (then) staunch advocate of segregation, made a desperate attempt to bar students, Vivian Malone and James Hood from a local auditorium; a place exclusive to whites.  Special officers of the law eventually intervened and overturned this.  President Kennedy also made a speech on national TV that day in support of the Civil Rights Movement.

The period leading up to Medgar Evers’ death was full of threats and reprisals.  This included a Molotov cocktail thrown into the parking area of his home and an attempt to run him over while he was leaving an N.A.A.C.P meeting, in Jackson.

Statue_of_Medgar_EversDuring my childhood, back in the UK, Evers’ name was not as predominant as Dr Martin Luther King, or Malcolm X.  It was during my adulthood that I realised the impact that this individual had on the Civil Rights Movement in the US at that time.  After analysing the events and his story I can honestly say, this individual takes the prize.   His environment was isolated and he was not one to be crowded with bodyguards.  Therefore he must have known within himself that the stance he was taking against society would cut his life short.

I continue my “Big Ups” to all the muzos’ that supported his cause during those tumultuous years:  Bob Dylan (Only a Pawn in their Game), Nina Simone (Mississippi Goddamn) and Phil Ochs (Too Many Martyrs), to name a few.

And a maximum respect to Myrlie Evers-Williams, his widow, who I saw for the first time, making a speech at the Obama Inauguration.  Previous to that Mrs. Evers-Williams was invited to christen a ship in honor of her “late” husband in 2011.  A statue of Medgar now stands erected outside a library in Jackson, MI.

Medgar, I don’t know why I use the word “late,” because as far as we are concerned, your “Greatness” came right on time.

Farewell, Sister Ayanna Ade

adehouston

Here’s a special tribute to my dearest friend and activist, Sister Ayanna Ade, whose memorial was held earlier this afternoon, at the SHAPE Community Center in Houston, Texas.

Although we had not met as often as we had in the past, Ayanna held a special place in my heart.  She was an honorable individual, serving the community as an activist and organizer. Until recently she was actively engaged in the movement to abolish the death penalty in Texas.

I will treasure the memories, Sister.

A word out to Samora; I know mom is happy right now for your moment of liberation and she will be counting on you to continue her positive influence and legacy. Peace Brother.  Hope to meet you again, soon….

D