Category Archives: Civil Rights

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

Malcolm-X: X-Resurrection with Macka B

Bless up this special day, Malcolm X, we’ll never forget you:

 X-RESURRECTION by Steel Pulse
[Malcolm X]
Born in Omaha Nebraska
May 19 Year 25
Was the son of a Garvey teacher
We will keep his name alive
Youthful years were full of adventure
Drifted to a life of crime
In jail he learned to be our leader
Thank God he was released on time

Spoke out against Jim Crows injustice
And never turned the other cheek
There’s no room for non violent protest
Yes these words were what he preached
Taught us bout Pan Africanism
To put my people back on their feet
Take whats ours robbed by the system
He said by any means

Let Malcom live through us
Black liberation is a must

They have tried to rid his name
From history books and magazines
They even tried to criticize
His greatness and philosophy
Against all kinds of exploitation
For all of us he bore the pain
We won’t let him be forgotten
No he did not die in vain

Put away the misconception
That he came to teach us hate
So Wake up from your sleep and slumber
Wake up before its too late
We need to resurrect that spirit
A lease of life the people need
To fight resistance from the system
He said by any means

Live Malcom live through us
Black liberation is a must

By any means by any means
By any means necessary

461px-Malcolm-x

Raspect: Thanks to Malcolm X, we keep on growing, keep on learning.

National Day for the Abolition of Slavery and the Slave Trade (France)

Yes Mi Irieites,
Victor_Schoelcher

May 10th is also the National Day for the Abolition of Slavery and the Slave Trade in France.  This has been commemorated for the 7th year now, this year.

As a matter of fact, although slavery was abolished by the French in 1794 when it became a republic, the effect did not come into reality until some 54 years later, in 1848.  This came about after a series of uprisings throughout the colonies, especially in Guadeloupe.  One of the main characters was Victor Schoelcher, a French abolitionist writer and the main spokesman for an abolitionist group from Paris.  He formed an abolition society in 1834, working for the abolition of slavery on the Caribbean islands.   His program to continue publishing articles against such atrocities started in 1833 ’til 1847.

I and I are aware.

19 Years Ago: Nelson Mandela’s Inauguration

Nelson_Mandela-2008_(edit)

Exactly four years and two months after his release from Victor Verster prison, May 10th 1994, Nelson Mandela was sworn in as the first black African democratically elected President of South Africa.  This was the beginning of a “Government of National Unity.”

This eventful day was attended by over 4,000 guests and was witnessed across the world by at least a billion viewers.

These were trying times.  I never thought I would live to see the demolition of the Berlin Wall or the first Black president of the USA or even the release of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.   So this one is for the non-believers; “Faith DOES move mountains.”

Mr. Mandela, now 94, stay strong!!

Richie Havens: Rise in Eternal Glory!

Hail Mi Irieites -

As you know by now, Richie Havens passed away yesterday on Earth Day.

I had the good fortune to see him live for the first time at a club in Birmingham called Barbarellas. I must have been about 19 years old at the time.

Years later, Steel Pulse went on to be on an opening billing with him in D.C., in the early 80s. To this day I have yet to see anyone strum the acoustic guitar with the energy he had. Richie, you will never be forgotten!!

More about Richie here >>

Martin Luther King: “I Have Been to the Mountaintop”

Hail Mi Irietes,

This is of special interest.  Today, April 4th 2013, marks the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Here are a few excerpts from his last speech, given the day before he was killed in Memphis, Tennessee [full speech >>

Recently, in the United Nations General Assembly, we sang a song in honor of Dr. King. We all still have much to learn. Here are just a few select quotes that stand out as beacons in a world of injustice:

  •  “A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: ‘This is not just.’”
  • “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death”.
  • “I have not urged a mechanical fusion of the civil rights and peace movements. There are people who have come to see the moral imperative of equality, but who cannot yet see the moral imperative of world brotherhood. I would like to see the fervor of the civil-rights movement imbued into the peace movement to instill it with greater strength. And I believe everyone has a duty to be in both the civil-rights and peace movements. But for those who presently choose but one, I would hope they will finally come to see the moral roots common to both.”

More information on Dr. King.

Bless, D.

WATCH: Steel Pulse perform at the United Nations General Assembly Hall, NYC

Hail Mi Irieites,

Here’s a video of the proceedings at the United Nations on March 22nd.  Steel Pulse joined the various guests as part of the Commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.  On the video, we come on at the 1:16:31 mark, for about 18 minutes, and then for the finale - at 2:07:44 – where we join Marcus Miller and the rest of the celebrants to perform Bob Marley‘s Get Up, Stand Up. 

Steel Pulse was truly honored to be a part of this special occasion. Here’s an interview I did with UN Radio.

Bless! D

A Tribute to Chinua Achebe

chinua-achebe

Hail Mi Irieites,

We just lost one of the great voices in the world of literature. Chinua Achebe, the Nigerian writer and statesman, passed away in Boston at the age of 82. I never got to meet him, which is a regret, but my biggest regret is that he did not win the Nobel Prize, as he so richly deserved.

Of Achebe, here is what Nelson Mandela says: “There was a writer named Chinua Achebe in whose company the prison walls fell.”

Achebe shows us how an artist finds their own voice, as he found his own power in the stories that he told. He was and will remain a Father of African literature and a voice against injustice and cultural violence. If you haven’t read his most famous book – Things Fall Apart -  you owe it yourself to do so. It’s going to be sold out any minute, so check the library.

Bless. D

United Nations – “Forever Free: Celebrating Emancipation”

Hail Mi Irieites,

UNemancipation

This week the United Nations is honoring the victims of the transatlantic slave trade. On the 22nd, Steel Pulse will be performing as part of this tribute in the General Assembly Hall, United Nations, New York. UN Foundation Girl Up Champion Monique Coleman will host the event featuring performers from Africa, the Caribbean and the United States:

  • Benyoro
  • Cameroon National Ballet
  • UNESCO Artist for Peace Marcus Miller
  • Somi
  • Steel Pulse

Speakers at the concert include:

  • H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations
  • Ms. Shorna-Kay Richards, Chargé d’Affaires a.i., Deputy Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations and Chair of the Permanent Memorial Committee
  • Mr. Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information

This year is particularly important, with many key anniversaries in the fight against slavery – including 220 years since France’s General Emancipation decree liberated all slaves in present-day Haiti; 180 years since the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 ended slavery in Canada, the British West Indies and the Cape of Good Hope; and 170 years ago, the Indian Slavery Act of 1843 was signed. Slavery was also abolished 165 years ago in France; 160 years ago in Argentina; 150 years ago in the Dutch colonies; and 125 years ago in Brazil.

2013 is also the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States, which declared that, on 1 January 1863, all persons held as slaves within any States, or designated part of the State, the people whereof shall be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.

The Door of No Return (lyrics) from African Holocaust was perhaps our best tribute to the tragic legacy of slavery:

For those who are unaware, slavery continues in this time.

slaverystats

Here are some links to overstand what’s happening, and how you can get involved:

Bless. D