Category Archives: Civil Rights

50 Year Later: The March on Washington

Hail Mi Irieites,

50march

50 Years ago, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. uttered these words on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial >> Join I tomorrow in DCNow is the Time!

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Remembering Marcus Mosiah Garvey

Hail Mi Irieites,

Marcus Mosiah Garvey was born this day in 1887. Here’s a short clip from our upcoming documentary that’s relevant today:

Garvey was unique in advancing a Pan-African philosophy to inspire a global mass movement and economic empowerment focusing on Africa known as Garveyism. Promoted by the UNIA as a movement of African Redemption, Garveyism would eventually inspire others, including the Nation of Islam. In fact, some Rastas even view Garvey as a prophet. The intent of the movement was for those of African ancestry to “redeem” Africa and for the European colonial powers to leave it. His essential ideas about Africa were stated in an editorial in the Negro World entitled “African Fundamentalism”, where he wrote: “Our union must know no clime, boundary, or nationality… to let us hold together under all climes and in every country.”

Although Garvey promoted Pan Africanism and the Back to Africa movement, one point does need clarification.  It was Reverend James Morris Web, a clergyman from Chicago and an associate of Garvey who said “look to Africa where a Black king shall be crowned he shall be the redeemer.” This prediction of H.I.M. Haile Selassie’s ascent to the throne of Ethiopia is often wrongfully attributed to Marcus Garvey.

In 1965, during a trip to Jamaica, Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King laid a wreath at Garvey’s shrine. It was MLK who said that Garvey “was the first man of color to lead and develop a mass movement. He was the first man on a mass scale and level to give millions of Negroes a sense of dignity and destiny. And make the Negro feel he was somebody.”

Two other interesting historical points:

Malcolm X‘s parents, Earl and Louise Little, met at a UNIA convention in Montreal. Earl was the president of the UNIA division in Omaha, Nebraska and sold the Negro World newspaper, for which Louise covered UNIA activities.FlagGhana

Kwame Nkrumah named the national shipping line of Ghana the Black Star Line in honor of Garvey and the UNIA. Nkrumah also named the national soccer team the Black Stars as well. The black star at the center of Ghana’s flag is also inspired by the Black Star.

The UNIA red, black, and green flag has also been adopted as the universal Black Liberation Flag.

Garvey’s message of unity lives on:

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”

“Liberate the minds of men and ultimately you will liberate the bodies of men.”

“There shall be no solution to this race problem until you, yourselves, strike the blow for liberty.”

“I know no national boundary where the Negro is concerned. The whole world is my province until Africa is free.”

“The Black skin is not a badge of shame, but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness.”

“Intelligence rules the world, ignorance carries the burden.”

“If you haven’t confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won even before you have started.”

“The ends you serve that are selfish will take you no further than yourself but the ends you serve that are for all, in common, will take you into eternity.”

As Marcus Say: “Rally Round the Flag!” Check the opening song at 2:09 >>

Juror B29: “George Zimmerman got away with murder”

One of the first comments I made in regards to the Trayvon Martin shooting, was within days of the incident.  I stated that American justice will be in the balance, whatever the decision.  I was also hoping that what ever decision made was based on “truth and rights,” as oppose to the cunningness of lawyers.

As the story unravels itself, another juror has come forward now saying that “Zimmerman got away with murder.”  She went on to say that she held on to her decision as long as she could for a second degree murder conviction.

Amazing…

Happy 95th, Nelson Mandela!


Yes Mi Irieites,

I did promise that I would get back to you on this.  Time has ticked away, but no second has passed without us having thoughts for Nelson Mandela in our hearts.

At the beginning of the month, I received a few phone calls pertaining to Mandela being in hospital and his condition on “being hopeless.”  At that time I was asked by a few close friends to put something together for him before he goes.  I made reference of getting back to them on the issue but never did.  My reason? I had this deep belief that if Nelson survived all the turmoil the way he did for all those years, there was no reason why he would not be unable to gather that well known inner energy he has to be around for his 95th birthday.

My instincts paid off and I feel good about that.  So here is one more tribute to Madiba himself; Nelson, you served us well.  We are honoured to be witnesses and beneficiaries of your achievements in life.

Neither will we forget Winnie.

As the struggle continues, we wish you all the best on this special day, 18th July 2013.

Bless!

Well Said, Rachel Jeantel

Hail Mi Irieites,

Just saw the Piers Morgan CNN talk show, featuring Rachel Jeantel.  After watching her testimony for the second time, I have to say, it was a lot more impressive than when I initially saw it.  And as for the interview with Piers  Morgan, I found her to be a very straightforward and upright individual, though young and obviously inexperienced.

It is hard to comprehend that there are people that are still out there that cannot see that this case was about race.  Rachel pointed out that the mere fact that the jury was comprised of races contrary to Trayvon Martin’s ethnic background, made her understand that justice would not be served.  Rachel didn’t need an IQ of 200 to rationalise that.

And after listening to the Anderson Cooper’s interview with one of the jurors, it was evident that she (the juror) was biased from the beginning.   She believed what she wanted to believe. There was no blood on the hands of Trayvon Martin that belonged to Zimmerman, despite the fact that Zimmerman claimed that Trayvon was trying to smother him after he was punched on his “bloody nose.”  In other words, blood would definitely be on one’s hands if such an incident happened.  How did they – the jury – not see that? A no brainer.

Amazing… Where is  J U S T I C E ?

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!!”

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