August 30, 2017
There is an alternative politics of memory that Americans can also practice, and it might help to keep fascists out of public squares and do something concrete, literally at the same time: Honor Reconstruction. Remembering Reconstruction ought not to shunt aside the politics of Confederate memorials. Yet remembering this pivotal era certainly deserves to be built into the new national politics of memory. The sesquicentennial of Reconstruction is September 1, 2017.
August 1, 2017
As I write this article, I am not sure what day the Civil War began or what day it ended. The facts that I do know about the Civil War are not worth repeating here, as that story already occupies plenty of space in American text. My muse, instead, is about the particular vestige of slavery that the Civil War bequeathed to us on Dec. 6, 1865, that now forms the basis of our struggle to end mass incarceration and prison slavery in 2017.
April 28, 2017
On April 19, 2015, Freddie Gray of Baltimore, Maryland, was murdered by officers of the Baltimore Police Department while in their custody. An article published in The Atlantic three days after Gray’s death pointed out the historical precedent for this particular kind of state violence. The author wrote, “Black men dying at the hands of the police is of course nothing new.” The “peculiar institution” of this violent and racist system can be better understood by tracing the lineage of the police back in time.
November 1, 2016
On Labor Day here at the William P. Clements Unit, a prison in remote Amarillo, Texas, the prisoners awoke to a late breakfast: a single PBJ sandwich, a small bowl of dry cereal and no beverage. This grossly inadequate meal, which is our common fare during institution-wide lockdowns, signaled that a weeks- or months-long lockdown was in effect. Hunger pangs set in almost immediately.
May 22, 2016
This is a public notice to all freedom fighters, activists and community leaders: SLAVERY IS NOT DEAD! Did the 13th Amendment abolish slavery? Ask anyone in the United States this question and they will answer most emphatically: Yes, of course it did. If you, the person reading this article and call to action, believe this as well, please allow me to inform you: You are wrong! Slavery is not dead! Rather than abolish slavery, the 13th Amendment LEGALIZED it!
August 2, 2015
When Bree Newsome pulled down the Confederate flag from in front of the South Carolina statehouse in Columbia on June 27, she gave brief, heroic expression to an anger felt far beyond the Lowcountry over the bloody massacre in Charleston 10 days earlier. The young Black activist’s exemplary act of protest recalled a series of events three decades ago, not in a bastion of the Old South ruled by Republican nut jobs, but 2,500 miles away in liberal San Francisco.
May 2, 2015
Classic Black (June 4 , 6 and 7, Southside Theater, Fort Mason Center) and A Night of Tribute in Dance: Blanche Brown (May 28, Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center) are shining examples of the majestic spectrum of African American artistic excellence in the Bay Area and two of 150 performances that are part of SFIAF 2015. Co-presented by Fort Mason Center, SFIAF 2015 runs May 21-June 7.
April 10, 2015
Our 45-year protracted “civil war” between Damus (Bloods) and Kiwes (Crips) has probably claimed thousands of lives, if not millions, and it probably will claim a lot more lives if we don’t begin to change this vortex of violence that has plagued us as a people internally. The unifying of our strengths is basic to our people’s survival.
December 6, 2014
Rwandan Dutch citizens and political asylum seekers in the Netherlands demonstrated in The Hague, the country’s capital, on Saturday, Nov. 29. They called on the Dutch government to stop supporting the dictatorship of Paul Kagame and stop deporting Rwandans at Kagame’s request. After watching the video of the demonstration, I spoke to Jean Flammé, a Belgian attorney for a Rwandan facing extradition for supporting Victoire Ingabire.
November 23, 2014
I was born and raised in Missouri, so hopefully I can shed some light on how Ferguson, a little Missouri suburb of 21,000 people, became the focus of the nation, and even the world. I am getting the stench that they’re about to pull the pin on another grenade to throw that community into upheaval, so first let’s take a hard look at what they’ve been through and why. First of all, when we think of racism, we tend to think of Mississippi and Alabama due to the events of the ‘60s. However, Missouri was one of the bloodiest states during the Civil War because it was so divided – and it is still that divided today, as we’ve seen in Ferguson.
July 9, 2014
The Glide Memorial Church family worked wonders at the celebration of San Francisco native Maya Angelou’s life that she requested before she died. They juxtaposed carefully chosen visual moments with prerecorded Maya moments, which made her presence so palatable that the sanctuary lights came under the control of Spirit Maya and played with our collective vision – the room almost dark and the lights flickering off and on.
May 26, 2014
As we pause to remember the nation’s war dead, it’s worth remembering that Memorial Day was first celebrated by Black Union troops and free Black Americans in Charleston, South Carolina at the end of the Civil War. The free Black population of Charleston, primarily consisting of former slaves, engaged in a series of celebrations to proclaim the meaning of the war as they saw it.
May 2, 2014
Black labor and business in the North before 1862: Labor and business conditions were slightly better for Negroes in the North than in the South, but discriminatory practices were far from absent. Unlike the South, where slaves were protected in their crafts through the paternalistic assistance of their white masters, Northern free Negroes were faced with severe competition from immigrant workers who were preferred over native Blacks.
March 31, 2014
Here we attempt to trace some of the historical antecedents and current socioeconomic processes that have served to prevent Black and Mexican American entrepreneurs from being assimilated into the mainstream of national business activities. In so doing, we must examine the evolution of Negro and Mexican American labor in the United States and its relationship to white-controlled labor unions, business and government.
March 14, 2014
“12 Years a Slave,” the story of a free Black man kidnapped by slave traders, has won an Oscar for Best Picture of the Year and a slew of other awards. But in one important respect, the movie comes up short. Missing from the film is the slave rebellion and revolt that Solomon Northup portrayed so vividly in his book.
July 16, 2013
It is hot enough in Corcoran, California, to melt people. That being said, it still wasn’t hot enough to keep upwards of 400 people from braving 103-degree weather to mobilize and rally at Corcoran State Prison in support of over 30,000 prisoners on hunger strike in California. The immediate goal is to stop the cruelty and torture that being held in isolation represents. The long-range objective is liberation.
July 1, 2013
Bibliotheque Parrainage, a New Orleans based non-profit, is working to rebuild libraries in Haiti. During the July 4th weekend in New Orleans, Bibliotheque Parrainage is hosting a fundraising bus tour of the Louisiana 1811 Slave Revolt, the largest slave revolt in the United States. Funds raised from this July 4th weekend adventure will be used for assistance to the Nationale Bibliotheque in Haiti.
May 22, 2013
The Democratic Republic of Congo, the world’s poorest country, has not only been ravaged by civil wars, but by decades of grandiose development schemes that inevitably failed. The World Bank and other donors are now concocting the continent’s biggest pie in the sky: the $80 billion Grand Inga Dam on the Congo River.
March 30, 2013
Leo L. Robinson believed in the power of the union, and in the power of the people. He fought to change the conditions of women within the ILWU just as fiercely as he fought against the apartheid regime of South Africa. “Inhale the spirit of Leo Robinson. Embody the spirit and go into struggle and battle for victory. Victory is ours only if we struggle,” said one of several who spoke at the memorial service.
March 2, 2013
Ida B. Wells was a fiery crusader for African American justice at a time when angry white men indulged in lynching as acceptable behavior. Her determination, courage, ambition and refusal to back down helped change the course of history. Her talents as an investigative reporter, successful writer and newspaper owner were unbeatable weapons.