2017 marks the centennial of the nation’s bloodiest race riot in the 20th century in East St. Louis, Illinois. Migrant Black people were hired to work as miners to replace striking white workers at the Aluminum Ore Co. The white workers stormed City Hall demanding redress from the mayor. Shortly thereafter, news of an attempted robbery of a white man by an armed Black man set off the reign of terror in downtown East St. Louis in which unarmed Black men, women and children were pulled from trollies and street cars and beaten and shot down in the street.
Judith Jamison looked regal on stage with Farai Chideya last month in The Forum Conversations at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Her message seemed to be one of preparedness and presence – being, as our sister Ayana Vanzant says, in spirit. Muslims call this the sirata-l-mustaqim or the path of the rightly guided.
This is the month we wear our Blackness with pride – so walk on, walk on. I want to thank Rhodessa Jones, Shaka Jamal, Pat Jamison, Elaine Lee, Walter Turner, Vera Nobles and Elouise Burrell for your leads and references for South Africa.