Archive for the ‘RACISM’ Category
International Socialist Review, September-October 1967
Rev. Albert Cleage
Myths About Malcolm X:
Mark up: Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
Rev. Albert Cleage, chairman of the Detroit Inner City Organizing Committee, gave this speech at a memorial meeting for Malcolm X at the Friday Night Socialist Forum in Detroit, February 24, 1967.
I am not a Marxist – I don’t pretend to be, I don’t even pretend to know anything about it. I am a black man in a world dominated by white oppression, and that is my total philosophy. I would like to get rid of that oppression, and that is my total objective. So I bring to this occasion rather a simple approach – personal reflections on the significance of Malcolm X.
I can remember a number of occasions when I talked to him, when I was with him, when I spoke on platforms with him; and so I am not indebted to printed material for my impressions of Malcolm X. I remember the last time he was in the city – not so much the speech, which was not one of his best by any means; it reflected, I think, much of the tension that he was under, much of the confusion, the constant living on the brink of violence. But I can remember him backstage, in the Gold Room I think they call it, of Ford Auditorium. Recently he had suffered smoke inhalation, the doctor had given him an injection, he was trying to sleep, he was irritable. But he was here because he had promised to be here, because he thought some people were concerned about what he had to say.
I remember him at the King Solomon Baptist Church on one of the occasions he spoke there – sort of in concealment backstage, constantly harassed with the danger of assassination. And I can remember the occasion at the King Solomon Baptist Church when he gave the Message to the Grass Roots, which I think is his best speech, his most typical statement, and which I personally think is his last will and testament. I remember him, I talked to him, I agreed with him. He was a Muslim, I am a Christian, and yet I can think of no basic matter upon which we disagreed.
Two years after his death Brother Malcolm is more important to more people than he was at any time during his lifetime. I think this is true. Young people who never saw him, who never heard him, speak of him with reverence and say, “I love Malcolm.” This is a
tremendous thing. Older people who heard and saw him select from the things they heard and saw the things they want to remember, or even the things it suits their purpose to remember. This too is quite a thing – that an individual should be important enough to be remembered even with distortions or for reasons not quite only of love.
Brother Malcolm has become a symbol, a dream, a hope, a nostalgia for the past, a mystique, a shadow sometimes without substance, “our shining black prince,” to whom we do obeisance, about whom we write heroic poems. But I think Brother Malcolm the man is in danger of being lost in a vast tissue of distortions which now constitute the Malcolm myth. The Malcolm myth or the Malcolm myths, the complex of myths which more and more tend to cluster about Brother Malcolm, remind us of what happened to Jesus Christ. I think I understand much more now the things that are written and said about Jesus, because I can understand how the life of a man dedicated to people can so easily become a focal point for the things people want to make that life mean.
The Malcolm myth or myths depend for substance upon the last chaotic and confusing year or two of his life – fragmentary statements growing out of his trip to Mecca and his efforts to bring the problems of black people in America to the attention of African leaders. Out of this period of his life comes the confusing complex of myths. According to the myth, his pilgrimage to Mecca turned Brother Malcolm into an integrationist. I’ve heard that seriously stated by people who claim to be scholars and students of the life of Brother Malcolm. In Mecca, they say, he saw blue-eyed whites and blacks worshipping and living together, in love, for the first time in his 39 years – and his whole concept of white people changed. This is the myth. And he rejected his former position that the white man is the enemy and that separation is inescapable. This is the myth.
The implication here is that this new insight changed his orientation; that with this new insight he was now free to join the NAACP, or to sing We Shall Overcome with Martin Luther King, or to become a Marxist and join the Socialist Workers Party. And certainly, if we accept this basic myth as being true, as being fact, if his experience in Mecca changed his conception of white people, then all the implications certainly follow logically. If in terms of his experience in Mecca he came to believe that there is no enmity between black and white, that blacks and whites can march together in unity and brotherhood, then why shouldn’t he join the NAACP, or sing We Shall Overcome, or become a Marxist in the Socialist Workers Party?
I say that is the myth, and from my personal point of view, realizing that we are in the position of the blind man who inspected the elephant and tried to describe what an elephant is, I say I do not believe this myth. I reject it completely, totally and absolutely. I say if Malcolm X, Brother Malcolm, had undergone this kind of transformation, if in Mecca he had decided that blacks and whites can unite, then his life at that moment would have become meaningless in terms of the world struggle of black people, and we would not have any occasion to be here this evening. So I say I do not believe it.
Brother Malcolm knew history and he was guided by his interpretation of history. He interpreted the things that happened to him in terms of his knowledge and his understanding of the past. He would not have been taken in by what happened in Mecca. Brother Malcolm knew that the Arab Muslims had been the backbone of the slave trade. Those of you who have a sentimental attachment to the “Black Muslims” in America, or the Muslims that happen to be black, might not like to remember that the slave trade with black Africans in Africa was fostered, encouraged and carried on by the Arab Muslims in Africa. Brother Malcolm knew this. He would not have been taken in by the window dressing in Mecca. He would not have forgotten this important fact – that blacks and whites do not unite above the basic fact of race, of color. He would not have forgotten this in Mecca any more than in New York or Chicago or San Francisco. He knew that in Saudi Arabia they are still selling black Africans into slavery, they still make forays into Black Africa and bring back black slaves for sale in Arab Muslim countries. Brother Malcolm knew this. And to me it is preposterous to say that in Mecca he became an integrationist.
Also, according to the myth, Brother Malcolm tried to internationalize the black man’s struggle in America. Certainly he brought the black man’s struggle to the attention of African leaders. The implication is that Brother Malcolm felt that the black man in Africa could help us through the United Nations and that we would be better off before the white man’s World Court than before the white man’s Supreme Court. I do not believe it. Malcolm knew that one cracker court is just like another cracker court. He knew it, I know it and you know it. And to say now that he came to the conclusion that, if he could get the black man’s problem in America before the World Court, it would somehow mysteriously be changed and transformed is ridiculous. To take it before the World Court would have been interesting – but certainly no solution. We are no more apt to get justice before the World Court than before the Recorder’s Court downtown here in the city of Detroit. Crackers run both of them.
Don’t be afraid, brothers, don’t be afraid – I am not hurting the image of Malcolm. I am just’trying to save it, because you are about to lose it, you are about to forget what Malcolm said. By taking the last moments of confusion, when he was getting ready to be assassinated, and saying that the confused little statements he made in those last moments were his life – that’s a lie, that wasn’t his life. I heard him, I talked to him, I know what his life was, and he understood the relationship between blacks and whites.
Certainly Brother Malcolm wanted to relate our struggle, the struggle of black people in America, to the struggle of black people everywhere. I say to the struggle of black people everywhere, because
that is a struggle that he understood, that I understand and that you understand. I am not talking about relating it to the struggle of oppressed people everywhere, but relating it to the struggle of black people everywhere. But he expected little help from the Africans and the African nations. Malcolm wasn’t running around Africa thinking that the African nations were going to free us. Malcolm wasn’t that kind of an idiotic idealist. He went to our black brothers because they were our brothers. He talked to them about our problems because their problems are our problems, and we are as concerned about their problems as we want them to be about our problems. But he didn’t go to Africa expecting them to free us.
Sometimes we forget that, and we sit around waiting for somebody in Africa to send somebody over here to free us – “like Malcolm said they were going to.” He never said it and they are never going to do it. If you are going to be free, you are going to free yourself, and that is what Malcolm told us. The African nations can’t free us, they can’t save us. They couldn’t save Lumumba in Africa, they couldn’t wreak vengeance upon those who perpetrated his death in Africa. They couldn’t save the Congo; they couldn’t save the black people of Rhodesia; they couldn’t free the black people of South Africa. Then why should we sit here in our own oppression, our own suffering, our own brutality, waiting for some mysterious transformation when black armies from Africa are coming over here and free us? They could use some black armies from over here to free them.
Malcolm never said it, and don’t be misled by the statement that Malcolm tried to internationalize the black man’s struggle. He tried to tell us quite simply that the white man has given you hell here in the United States and he is giving black men hell all over the world. It is one struggle – black men fighting for freedom everywhere, in every country, in the United States, in Africa, in Vietnam, everywhere. Black men fighting against white men for freedom. He tried to tell you that the white man is not going to free you. I don’t care what persuasion or philosophy he has, he is not going to free you, because if he frees you, he must take something away from himself to give it to you.
Funny how we can so easily forget what Malcolm said. I don’t believe it. Certainly he wanted to relate it to the black man’s struggle throughout the world. He knew we were struggling against the same enemy. He knew that we could expect no more justice from the World Court than from a Supreme Court. So much for the Malcolm myth.
Brother Malcolm’s contribution is tremendous. What Brother Malcolm contributed to the black man’s struggle in America and throughout the world cannot be equaled or surpassed by the life of any man. Oh, we can think of individuals like Marcus Garvey. When he looked at the world and said, “Where is the black man’s government?” it was tremendous. Because he understood that the black man was engaged in a struggle against an enemy, and that if he was engaged
in a struggle there were certain things that were necessary – he had to have power, he had to have a government, he had to have economies, he had to have certain things. Marcus Garvey understood it. But no man surpasses Malcolm in his understanding of the meaning of the struggle in which black people are engaged everywhere in the world. And there was no subterfuge or confusion or weak-kneed pussyfooting in Malcolm as long as he lived.
I want to tell you this: we get all confused because we don’t know who assassinated him. I don’t believe that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad assassinated him. You believe whatever you want to, I do not believe it. And because we get confused about who assassinated him, we say there was never any good in Elijah Muhammad or the “Black Muslims.” I don’t believe that either. I believe that the basic truths that Malcolm X taught came from the basic philosophy and teachings of Elijah Muhammad. I believe that the basic contribution which he made, the basic philosophy which he taught, stems directly from the teachings of Elijah Muhammad and the “Black Muslims.” I do not accept all the teachings of Elijah Muhammad or the “Black Muslims,” but I understand what Malcolm X did to those teachings. He took the teachings of a cult, with all the mythology of the “Black Muslims,” and universalized them so that black people everywhere, no matter what their religion, could understand them and could accept them.
I can accept the teachings which he abstracted from the cult philosophy and mythology of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. I do not believe in the story about Yacub and creating the white man as the devil in 6,000 years, but that has nothing to do with the essential truth. I do not believe that the white man is the devil. He does devilish things, but I don’t believe that he is a devil. Because to say that he is a devil is to say that he is more than human, and I don’t believe that. You know that in the Christian religion the devil was flung out of heaven; he was an angel, he was more than a man, and to believe that the white man is a devil is to attribute to him supernatural powers. That is a cult mystique. There is nothing about the white man that is supernatural. He is just exactly like we are – that’s why we can understand him so well. There is nothing mysterious about what he does. He wasn’t condemned to be a devil for 6,000 years – he just acts like a devil because it suits his purpose, and he mistreats us, he oppresses us, he’s brutal to us, because it’s in his interest – not because he is a devil.
It is closer to the truth to say that he is a beast, and that is what Malcolm said. You would like to forget that now, but every time I talked to him, he referred to the white man as a beast. And those of you who are white here will agree with him that most white people are beasts – you can’t deny it. On the basis of the way the white man has treated black men in America and throughout the world for 400 years, you cannot deny that he certainly had a truth there when he said that the white man is a beast. But not a devil. A beast is lower than a man, a devil is higher than a man. Certainly the white man is not a devil, but he is in many instances a beast.
Malcolm was different when he was in the “Black Muslims.” You have got to remember that too – he had a power base then. You know, as quiet as it is kept, it is one thing to operate out of something, to talk out of something, to have something behind you when you go into a town or a city – to go knowing that there are people there who are preparing things for you. It is another thing to step out by yourself and try to go around the country without a power base, without any protection, without any organization in front. And that was the difference when Malcolm X stepped out of the Muslim movement and became an individual. Then he faced the harassment, the danger, the confusion and everything in these last years that those who want to distort Malcolm X want to make so much out of. At the beginning, when he was with the Muslims, there was a power base from which he operated, a philosophical foundation upon which he could build. And he built well and he operated well in terms of a power base. He abstracted the general truths that we still remember. And these things we have got to preserve – we have got to preserve, brothers, I’m telling you, we have got to preserve.
We have a great tendency to turn our leaders over to somebody else. Who is the custodian of Malcolm’s tradition? Who is the custodian? (Voice from audience: “We are.”) But we aren’t acting like it. You know who the custodian is, don’t you? – there he sits, right there. If Mr. Breitman stopped writing, nobody would write anything. And he’s doing it in terms of what he believes is a proper interpretation. If we want to preserve our heroes, we have to become the custodians of that tradition. Who is the custodian of DuBois? Black people? No, we don’t have one thing that he wrote. The Communist Party has it, and they will let us read what they want us to read. I’m talking to you black brothers, I don’t care what the rest of these people think. We have got to become the custodians of our own heroes and save them and interpret them the way we want them interpreted. And if you don’t do it, then you have to accept what somebody else says they said. Who is the custodian of Paul Robeson? (Voice from audience: “The Communists.”) All right, we don’t have it. The great things he said, all of the things – where are they? The CIA has taken over perhaps all of the African Encyclopedia that DuBois was working on in Ghana. Nobody knows where it is. We don’t protect these things. We are careless and we get caught up in the myths that other people spin for us. In another five years our children won’t know what Malcolm X was really like. Because we won’t write it down, and everything that is written that they can put their hands on will be saying that Malcolm X said something he never said, that Malcolm X meant something he never meant.
I say Malcolm X was tremendously important, beyond even our comprehension today, because Malcolm changed the whole course of the black man’s freedom struggle – the whole course of that freedom struggle not only in America but throughout the world. Black people everywhere in Africa, in the United States, everywhere, black people are fighting today a different battle than they fought before Malcolm began to talk. A different battle because Malcolm laid down certain basic principles that we can never forget. He changed the whole course. The first basic principle that Malcolm laid down that we can’t forget is this: The white man is your enemy. That is a basic principle, we can’t forget it. I don’t care what else they drag in from wherever they drag it – remember one thing, Malcolm X taught one truth: The white man is our enemy. We can’t get away from it, and if we accept and understand that one basic truth, his life was not lived in vain. Because upon that one basic truth we can build a total philosophy, a total course of action for struggle. Because that was the basic confusion which distorted the lives of black people, which corrupted the movements of black people. That was the basic area of our confusion, and Malcolm X straightened that out.
The white man is an enemy – he said it. We must break our identification with him, and that was his basic contribution. He didn’t just say it, he didn’t sit off someplace and just write it – he went out and he lived it. He asked for moments of confrontation. He said we have got to break our identification, we can’t go through life identifying with the white man or his government. You remember what he said down there at King Solomon Baptist Church: You talk about “your” navy and “your” astronauts. He said forget it, we don’t identify with these people, they are the enemy. And that is the basic truth. We must break our identification with the enemy, we must confront him, and we must realize that conflict and violence are necessary parts of a struggle against an enemy – that is what he taught. Conflict, struggle and violence are not to be avoided. Don’t be afraid of them – you heard what he said. There has got to be some bloodshed, he said, if black men want to be free – that is what he taught. Now you can’t take that and say that he believed in blacks and whites marching together. He said black men have got to be willing to shed their blood because they believe that they can be free. The white man is an enemy.
We must take pride in ourselves – you know that is what he said. But he didn’t make a mystique out of Africa. He didn’t sit down in a corner and contemplate his navel and think about the wonders of Africa. He said we have a history that we can be proud of. Africa is our history, African blood is our blood, African soil is our soil. We can take pride in our past – not by sitting down and contemplating it, but by using it as the basis for a course of action in today’s world, as a basis for confrontation with the enemy, as a basis for struggle, for conflict, and even for violence, if necessary. We fight because we are proud; and because we are proud, we are not going to lie down and crawl like snakes on our bellies. We are not going to take second-class citizenship sitting down, saying, “Well, in a few years maybe things will change.” We want to change it now. That is what Malcolm told us, that is what we believe, and that is the basis of our struggle today.
A corollary of that, which you must understand and which is essentially Malcolm’s contribution, is that integration is impossible and undesirable. Integration is impossible – he said it time and time and time again, under all kinds of circumstances – integration is impossible and undesirable. Now this was harder for black people to take than for white people. Because white people never wanted it in the first place, and were determined that it would never come to pass in the second place. But black people had been led to believe that it was a possibility, always just around the corner. So black people had pegged all of their organizational efforts toward integration. We sang We Shall Overcome Someday, believing that overcoming meant integrating. The NAACP pegged its whole program on the possibilities of integration. We are going to build an integrated world, we are going to build a world in which black people and white people live together, we are going to build an integrated world – that is what Dr. Martin Luther King said. “I’ve got a dream for America tonight, a dream when the children of slaves shall walk hand-in-hand with the children of slavemasters.” And we believed it until Malcolm X told us it is a lie. And that is a genuine contribution – it is a lie.
You will never walk hand-in-hand with anybody but black people, let me tell you. If you do, it is just a moment of mutual hypocrisy in which you are both engaged, for some purpose best known to yourselves. You may build a position of strength, a position of power from which you can negotiate with strength instead of weakness, and if you are willing to negotiate, then you can talk to the white man as an equal. That is as close to brotherhood as there is – there is no other brotherhood. If you talk to a man as an equal, he is your brother. But there is no other kind of equal. You cannot get down on your knees and talk up to a man and talk about brotherhood. Because you stopped being a brother when you got down on your knees. And if you are afraid to get up and look him in the eye and take a chance of getting killed if necessary, then there is no hope of brotherhood for you. Integration is impossible and undesirable – Malcolm taught it.
We have our own communities. The white man “gave” them to us. He forced us into them. He separated himself from us. And white people went all around the country all the time Malcolm was alive, saying, “He wants separation.” They had separated themselves from us in every area of life, and yet they said, “He is bad, he is wicked, he wants separation.” And if he had asked for integration seriously, they would have killed him more quickly.
He said we are going to control these separate communities. We have them, the white man “gave” them to us, and we are going to stop being ashamed of them. We are going to live in them and we are going to make them the best communities in the world. We are going to make the schools in them black schools and good schools. We are going to make our housing black housing and good housing. We are no longer going to believe that a block is no good till a white man comes and buys a house on it. We are no longer going to believe that if we can move into a community where half of the people on the street are white, that that is a better community. We are going to take our separate communities, we are going to work with them, we are going to control them, we are going to control their politics, we are going to control their economy – we are going to control our community.
Malcolm X laid the entire foundation for everything Stokely Carmichael says. Stokely hasn’t said one word that was not completely implicit in everything that Malcolm X taught. He is just a voice carrying on upon the basic foundation that Malcolm X put down. Integration is impossible and undesirable. We are going to control our own communities. We are going to stop worrying about being separate. We are not worried about busing black children into white neighborhoods. We are not worried about open occupancy, except that we want the right to live any place, and unless we are given that right, we will take it. And when we take it, we will still live together, because we do not want to live with you. That is a philosophy, that is Malcolm X’s philosophy. We have learned it, we still remember it, and there is nothing you can do today to take it away from us. But I’m telling you, brothers, we have got to write it down because they are about to mess it up so we won’t recognize it next year.
The whole civil rights movement has changed. The NAACP is washed up, through, finished. The Urban League is nothing but the social service agency it started out to be. The civil rights movement now is nothing but Stokely Carmichael and Floyd McKissick – that’s it. Because they got the message. They are building today on what Malcolm said yesterday. The civil rights movement, the freedom struggle, the revolution – call it what you will – black men fighting for freedom today are fighting in terms laid down by Brother Malcolm. No other terms. You can’t go out into the community – the brother here said “let’s go out into the community” – you can’t go out into the community with anything other than what Malcolm X taught. Because they won’t listen to you, they won’t hear you.
The whole movement has changed. The last great picnic, as Floyd McKissick said, on the White House lawn, that “great freedom march” – that was the end, that was it. From here on in, black people are trying to build, to organize. Malcolm in his last days was trying to make the transition to organization, to structure; to fight not only in terms of words, of ideas, but to build the organizational structure. He didn’t do it. But he was making the transition because he realized that the next stage is an organizational stage – that if you want to be free, if you want power, you have got to organize to take it.
When you were just begging the white man to give you something, you didn’t need organization. All you needed was a kneeling pad so that you could kneel down and look humble. But if you want power, you have got to organize to get it – you have got to have political power, you have got to have economic power, you have got to organize. Malcolm realized that, and the feeble beginnings he made in the area of organization were pointing the way. Today we have got to carry on that organizational struggle that Malcolm pointed out.
I was in New York, I went to his headquarters while he was over in Africa, I talked with his lieutenants. They didn’t have the slightest idea of what was going on. They loved Malcolm, and they were sitting in the Hotel Theresa in a suite of rooms, but they didn’t have the slightest conception of how to organize. They were waiting for Brother Malcolm to come home so he could tell them what to do. I said, “My God, one man never carried such a load all by himself! He has men here who are supposed to be doing something and they are sitting there waiting for him to come back.” And they were carrying around his letters – he would write back a letter and they were carrying it around like it was the Bible: “Look, we’ve got a few words from Brother Malcolm.”
He did not want reverence – he wanted people who could do something, who could organize, who believed in action, who were willing to go out and sacrifice; and he didn’t have them. And all of us today – black people, brothers from coast to coast – when we get together and do reverence to Malcolm, let us remember that the last message was organize. We didn’t do it and that is why he died. We didn’t have organization enough to protect him. We didn’t have organization enough to give him funds to do what he had to do. We let him die. The message is the same today, and still we are not organizing, we are not doing the work that has to be done. If you love Brother Malcolm, write your poems at night and organize and work in the daytime for power. Because until you get power, Malcolm X is just a memory. When we get power, we will put his statue in every city, because the cities will belong to us. Then we can do him reverence.
But until we get power, let’s not play with images and myths. Let’s remember that he gave us certain principles, certain ideas, and we have got to do something with them. All of us have the task – to organize, to build, to fight, to get power. And as we get it, as we struggle for it, we will remember that we are struggling because we believe the things that he taught. That is the message of Malcolm, and don’t let anybody get you all mixed up. He never turned into an integrationist, never. He wasn’t fooled in Mecca, he wasn’t fooled in Africa. He told it like it was and he knew it like it was. That is our Malcolm. Some other folks may have another Malcolm – they are welcome to it. But brothers, don’t lose our Malcolm.
Myths About Malcolm X: Two ViewsThe Black Ghetto; Preface By Rev. Albert B. Cleage, Jr., Introduction By James Shabazzhttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=bib-05-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0805083359&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr
|THIS IS THE PUNISHMENT RACISTS SHOWED BLACK PEOPLE DURING THEIR STRUGGLE TO EAT WHERE THEY WANTED TO, WORK AND VOTE ANYWHERE IN ALABAMA,IN THIS CASE!! THIS shows a white man with a baseball bat about to strike a middle-aged black woman. In the background, another white man rains down punches on another black woman’s head. Among the white spectators is a man armed with a steel rod, another holding a bottle, and yet another carrying a chain. Moore said later that he was haunted by the power of the photograph to show much more than the eye could see in the heat of the moment.http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=bib-05-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=B000FC1KWU&fc1=000000&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr|
Million Man March
In 1996, the largest gather of black men in the nation’s history gathered on the mall in Washington D. C. for a Day of Atonement and reconciliation. The event offered black men who attended a kind of public ritual that would allow them to repent for failing to care adequately for their families and their communities and to dedicate themselves to doing better.
>LYNCHING!- LEST WE FORGET-THE KILLING OF BLACK MEN (AND WOMEN TOO!) UP TO 2010! -UPDATED WITH MORE PICTURES AS I GET THEM!February 24, 2011
Unidentified lynching of an African American male. Circa 1908, Oxford, Georgia.(http://withoutsanctuary.org/main.html
|Bennie Simmons, alive, soaked in coal oil before being set on fire. June 13, 1913. Anadarko, Oklahoma.|
|The corpses of five African American males, Nease Gillepsie, John Gillepsie, “Jack” Dillingham, Henry Lee, and George Irwin with onlookers.
August 6, 1906. Salisbury, North Carolina.
|Unidentified corpse of African American male. 1900-1915, Trenton, Georgia.|
Silhouetted corpse of African American Allen Brooks hanging from Elk’s Arch, surrounded by spectators. March 3, 1910. Dallas, Texas.
|Spectators at the lynching of Jesse Washington. May 16, 1916. Waco, Texas.|
|The bludgeoned body of an African American male, propped in a rocking chair, blood splattered clothes, white and dark paint applied to the face and head, shadow of man using rod to prop up the victims head. Circa 1900, location unknown.|
|The lynching of four unidentified African Americans. Circa 1900, location unknown.|
|The lynching of Dick Robinson and a man named Thompson. October 6, 1906, Pritchard Station, Alabama.|
|Unidentified corpse of African American male. Gallows, courthouse-jail, and windmill in background. Nine onlookers, two young boys. 1900-1915
As the dust of the Civil war settled, many Blacks saw an era of prosperity and hope. This dream was cut drastically as a concerted effort was begun by whites to destroy any advances which Blacks had made for themselves. This effort was extremely successful in removing Blacks from the many state and federal offices which Reconstruction had allowed them to hold. But this was not enough.
Lynching is the practice whereby a mob–usually several dozen or several hundred persons–takes the law into its own hands in order to injure and kill a person accused of some wrongdoing. The alleged offense can range from a serious crime like theft or murder to a mere violation of local customs and sensibilities. The issue of the victim’s guilt is usually secondary, since the mob serves as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner. Due process yields to momentary passions and expedient objectives.
Often the word ‘riot’ conveys in one’s head the idea of Black urban residents rebelling as seen since the 1960s. But riots were a part of America long before Blacks decided to take part. Throughout the United States, riots erupted as angry white citizenry of all classes took to the streets to terrorize and attack Blacks.
Christian-Charles de Plicque, Evangelist/Journalist
Angel House International Missions Ministries Karleby Finland
Article available in: Also in French & Swedish
Strange Fruit: Lyrics & Music by: Abel Meeropol 1939 (A Jewish School teacher)
Angel House International Missions Ministries Finland wishes to express much gratitude to the African American Holocost Society for the use of the photos in this article.
Emmett Till Case – The Nation Is Horrified by the Emmett Till Murder – Jet Magazine, September 15, 1955
>EMMETT TILL LYNCHING! -2009 UPDATE AND THE BLACK MAN WHO DEFENDED THE CASE! AND THE STORY OF A MODERN DAY LYNCHING ATTEMPT !January 28, 2011
>EMMETT TILL WAS LYNCHED BECAUSE HE WAS A PROUD BLACK MAN IN 1955! -BLACKS WERE FINALLY FED UP AND THAT WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT WHEN BLACK STARTED FIGHTING BACK SYSTEMATICALLY!-BLACK MEN ARE STILL BEING LYNCHED IN AMERIKKKA!January 28, 2011
The Emmett Till Case-1
Emmett Till was a fourteen year-old, African American boy who was viciously and mercilessly murdered three days after whistling at Carolyn Bryant, who was the wife of a white store owner named Roy Bryant. This incident occurred while he was visiting some of his family members in an area near Money, Mississippi in 1955 during that summer. Afterward, he was unrecognizable because all of the distinctive features of his face had been destroyed. His mother, Mamie Bradley, was so enraged by this occurrence that she held a funeral in which the entire body is shown for him so that the public could witness the effects of the unnecessary and immoral murder of her son. The massacre of Emmett Till would forever be noted as the spark that ignited the Civil Rights Movement and encouraged many leaders to step forward in order to stand up for equal rights.
Emmett Louis Till, the only son of Louis and Mamie Till, was born in Chicago, Illinois on July 25, 1941. Emmet was primarily raised by his mother because his father was drafted into the U.S. Army by 1943, serving far away from his family in Italy. Spending most of his life with his loving mother, she decided to allow Emmett to spend his summer down in Money, Mississippi with his cousins and Uncle Mose Wright when Emmet was 14 years old in 1955. Emmett was eager to explore the south and
|Emmett Till & Mamie Till|
visit his relatives; however, he was unsure about the danger and prejudice that he would be exposed to. Before Emmett bid farewell to his mother, she warned him to be on his best behavior, especially when he associates with white folks down in the South because she was aware about the segregation and racism that led to the many murders that had taken place frequently.
When Emmett arrived on the 21st of August with his cousin Curtis Jones from the train, they both stayed with Emmett’s Great-Uncle Mose Wright, a cotton sharecropper who lives along the Mississippi Delta. At this time before the Civil Rights Movement, Tallahatchie County in Money, Mississippi had much stricter Jim Crow Laws than Chicago, especially since the Supreme Court had forced integration in southern schools. On August 24, 1955, the boys drove around the town and stopped at Bryant’s Grocery Store to purchase some candy. Emmett was bragging and showing his friends a picture of his white girlfriend outside the grocery and meat market. Consequently, the boys dared him to enter into the store and ask the white woman behind the counter out on a date, but since he was unaware of the severity of the consequences of breaking Jim Crow Laws, h
|Bryant’s Grocery Store|
e took on the challenge. On his way out of the store, Emmett said, “Bye baby,” and whistled at Carolyn Bryant, who worked behind the counter and was the store owner’s wife. Reports of his bold actions spread quickly through Tallahatchie County.
When this incident occurred, Roy Bryant, the owner of the market was away, but when he returned three days later and heard about it, he and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, set out to get revenge on Emmett.(2) They planned to simply beat Emmett with their .45 pistols and show him the waters of the Tallahatchie River to frighten him. (3) Mose Wright reported that at 2:30 the next morning, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam came into his home, armed with pistols and flashlights to kidnap Emmett. (2) Mose didn’t think that they would kidnap and eventually kill Emmett, but that they would simply talk to him, so he released Emmett. (3) In less than twenty-four hours, Milam and Bryant were apprehended on kidnapping charges, which they admitted to, but denied that they murdered Emmett. (2)
After kidnapping Emmett, they took him into the back of Milam’s home to beat him with pistols, but he antagonized them the entire time and never showed pain or remorse, so they took him to the Progressive Ginning Company to get a seventy-five pound fan, which was part o
|Emmett’s Identification RIng|
f a cotton gin. Afterward, they transported him to the bank of the Tallahatchie River, where they forced him to carry the fan to a certain spot, and ordered him to remove his clothing, and asked if he still thought that they were joking. When he still didn’t appear to be afraid and taunted them again, J.W. Milam shot Emmett in the head near his ear. After shooting him, they tied him up with barbed wire to the fan and threw his dead body into the Tallahatchie River, which had a depth of twenty feet. Afterward, they burned his clothing, probably to remove evidence. Three days later, two fishermen found the disfigured body of Emmett Till floating in the Tallahatchie River. (3)It was almost impossible to determine the owner of the body because the face was so badly disfigured. Emmett’s right eye had been gouged out, he had a broken nose, and there was a bullet hole in the side of his head where he had been shot. Moses Wright was only able to identify the body because of the ring with his father’s initials on Emmett’s finger.
|Roy Bryant & J.W. Milam|
Emmett Till’s mom, Mamie immediately went to Mississippi to identify her son’s body after she was informed from Mose Wright. After she was notified by the news of her son’s gruesome murder, she had his body sent back to Chicago, where she had a funeral with an open casket so that the public could witness the effects of the unnecessary and violent murder of her 14 year old son. There were 50,000 people who attended his funeral, including reporters from Jet Magazine, which brought international attention to the lynching. (4)
The trial of Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam occurred on September 19, 1955 in Sumner, Mississippi. There were 12 white men from Tallahatchie County in the jury of the murder trial, as African-Americans and women weren’t allowed to serve in this jury. At the trial, Bryant a
|The Mutilation of Emmett Till’s Face|
nd Milam claimed that they had safely released Emmett after kidnapping him on that fateful night, that Emmett was still alive. and that Emmett’s body wasn’t the body that was found in the Tallahatchie River. Although it was difficult to find witnesses for the case, Willie Reed testified, saying that he heard screaming being emitted from the Milam home, Mose Wright testified to the fact that Bryant and Milam had kidnapped Emmett, and Mamie, his mother, testified that the body was indeed Emmett’s.Even though there was substantial evidence against them, Bryant and Milam were released free of charges. After the trial, they were paid 4,000 by Look Magazine for their confession to the murder of Emmett Till, but were never punished for this heinous crime. (4)
What started the whole problem was Carolyn Bryant and her testimony that enraged her husband to seek revenge in Emmett Till. During the trial, she testified that she was by herself in the store until a group of black kids was out front. She claims that Emmett entered the store to purchase some bubble gum, so she handed him the gum, but he grabbed her hand and asked for a date. She declares that she wasn’t interested in a date but Emmett wouldn’t let her get by. Eventually Emmett left the store and went back outside. She wanted to go obtain a gun in her husband’s car and Emmett gave her the “Wolf Whistle.” According to Carolyn’s testimonies, these could be many of the possible events that could have taken place that evening, yet we are still unsure until this very day as to what actually really happened, and what Carolyn testified to the jury.
The murder of Emmett Louis Till sparked the Civil Rights Movement because it portrayed the gruesome effects of racism and discrimination throughout the world. The death of 14 year old Emmett gave whites a bad reputation, which contributed to the rise of new Civil Rights Movements that ended segregation and inequality. Very much like a domino effect, the murder of Emmett Till shortly led to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling segregation in public recreational facilities unconstitutional, then with Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat to a white male on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and then the Montgomery Bus Boycott was set off in motion. The Emmett Till Case inspired many individuals to stand up for what they believed in because Milam and Bryant were most definitely not innocent. During that time period, prejudice was so dreadful that witnesses who decide to testify must be escorted to and from their destination with safety precautions. A major impact of the Emmett Till Trial would be Dr. Martin Luther King. He was a big contributor towards the Civil Rights Movement, particularly when he gave his first civil rights speech and becomes president of the Montgomery Improvement Association. As a dedication towards the Emmet Till Trial, the Civil Rights Act of 1957 was developed, thus leading up to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. giving his famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington. All of these events signify the beginning of the black civil rights movement in America, and in the end, President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964, banning discrimination and segregation.
[1.] Cozzens, Lisa. “The Murder of Emmett Till”. June 2,2009
[2.] Crowe, Chris. “The Lynching of Emmett Till”. The History of Jim Crow. June 2,2009
[3.] Huie, Bradford, William. “The Shocking Story of Approved killing in Mississipi”. Spartacus Educational. June 2,2009 <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/till/sfeature/sf_look_confession.html>.
McElrath, Jessica. “The Murder of Emmett Till”. About.com, a part of The New York Times Company. June 1,2009 <http://afroamhistory.about.com/od/emmetttill/a/emmetttill_2.htm>.
[5.] Moody, Anne. ” Emmett Till”. Spartacus Educational. June 2,2009
[6.] “Timeline: The Murder of Emmett Till”. PBS. June 2,2009
>SLAVERY! -SEE THE SLAVE CASTLES AT GHANA AND CRY YOUR HEART OUT BLACK PEOPLE!-ALL THAT WE HAVE BEEN THRU!-SISTER ALLISON SAMUELS AT NEWSWEEK TELLS HOW SHE SAW IT!January 19, 2011
By Allison Samuels | NEWSWEEK
By Allison Samuels | NEWSWEEK
It takes four hours on an un-air-conditioned minibus called a tro-tros to get from Accra, the capital of Ghana, to the town of Elmina. The drive is lovely, especially when the road dances above the beautiful Cape Coast and when it enters Elmina’s twisty streets lined with palm trees and hundreds of people trading fish like we buy hamburgers at McDonald’s. The town’s main attraction is a huge white castle that sits on top of a hill. From the road it appears so suddenly, it takes your breath away. The Elmina Castle, with its enormous white walls and red-tile roofs peering out onto the Indian Ocean, could easily be confused for some decaying Mediterranean resort. Such a pretty buildingâ€”for a hellhole. Elmina Castle is actually one of 20 buildings running along the Ghanaian coast that housed African captives before they were shipped off to the New World. Which is why these buildings are more commonly, and oxymoronically, known as slave castles.
The Portuguese built Elmina Castle in 1482 as a trading post for goods bartered for local gold and gems. As demand for slaves increased in America and the Caribbean, the castle began to store a more precious and perishable trade. Although the castle is empty now, there are many reminders of its horrible past on the inside. In the middle of the courtyard stands a cast-iron ball and chain the size of a backyard barbecue; slaves who disobeyed, including women who refused to sleep with their captors, were shackled to it and left to die in the burning African sun. The castle’s interior is rimmed with closet-size rooms where the Africans waited for their dock at the shore. When our guide offered my tour group a chance to get locked into a cell to experience what it might have felt like to be held there, I was the only one to decline. The tears were beginning to well up as I wandered off alone, thinking of how my ancestors would have been crammed on top of each with no room to breath, and without knowing that their lives would only get worse on the ships that would take them through the “middle passage” and across the ocean. If they made it that far.
The tour ended at a dank, dark cell that housed only a door: the “door of no return,” an iron gate that led to the planks where the captives were loaded on the ships. Wreaths, flowers and other mementos surrounding the door now pay tribute to the lives that passed through it, and were changed or lost forever. As I peered through the holes in the gate and gazed at the Indian Ocean beyond, I realized that walking in the footsteps of my African ancestors was perhaps even more painful than I imagined it would be ever since I watched Roots as a child in the ’70s. That feeling was complicated by the fact that because the history of slavery isn’t taught in the Ghanaian schools, many of the children and adults I met simply thought of me as a foreigner, and what they call “ye vu”â€”white visitor. I felt like a stranger in a land where the people looked exactly like me. Yet I felt like a native, too. I guess going home can be like thatâ€”sadness and wonder all mixed together. That’s especially true when you follow the path back to your ancestors and find yourself looking at the door of no return.
>BACK TO AFRICA!- PRISCILLA RETURNED EVEN AFTER DEATH FROM THE SLAVE FIELDS OF AMERIKKKA TO HER COUNTRY SIERRA LEONE!January 5, 2011
A ‘Priscilla’s Homecoming’ Journal
A week with ‘Priscilla’s Posse’
By Jeanine Talley
I spent a week in early summer 2005 with Priscilla’s descendant, Thomalind Martin Polite, her husband, Antawn, and an entourage of about twenty other Americans (and one woman from Britain) touring and experiencing the spirit and welcome of the “lion mountain” country of Sierra Leone. The small nation rests on the curve of Africa’s west coast, encompassing the continent’s farthest western point and its largest natural harbor. Its capital, Freetown, with a population of 1.2 million, rests just outside that harbor.
Freetown was founded in the late 1700s by a group of newly freed slaves who fought on the side of the British in the American Revolutionary War. These black soldiers came mostly from South Carolina and Virginia plantations. At first the British evacuated them to Canada but later decided to return the Africans to their homeland. A large, ancient cotton tree in Freetown is said to have started life when these settlers first arrived and remains a source of pride and nationalism to this day. Sierra Leone continued to exist as a British colony for another 169 years until it gained independence in 1961.
Who is Pricilla?
As the last notes of the uniquely composed narrative song written and performed by the Freetong Players, a local a cappella group, drifted through the large meeting room, the speechless crowd scarcely knew how to respond to such an emotional musical experience. Only a few moments ago, I watched Polite’s face shake with emotion as the song’s words embraced her almost as if the spirit of Priscilla was sitting in that very room. For the audience, it was an incredible, euphoric moment. Priscilla was a child of strength, resilience and determination; and after years of living in a foreign land, her descendant had brought her spirit home.
But Polite experienced an extra surprise. As JMU professor Joe Opala later said, “It wasn’t until that night at the embassy [when] the Freetong Players performed, singing [Priscilla's] story, [that Polite] really believed that they were welcoming her home [too].” So the event honored not only the ancestor who was kidnapped from her land so many years ago but also the living descendant who, too, was returning home.
Our seven days spent as “Priscilla’s Posse” included a full schedule of meetings with Sierra Leone’s president, vice president and other high ranking governmental officials; presentations at the American Embassy and National Museum; theatrical performances at Fourah Bay College; boat trips to a traditional Susu village and slave castle; and a reception at the American ambassador’s residence.
It is not possible to describe all of the details or accurately capture the awe we felt during our visit. We witnessed hundreds of Susu village dancers and musicians compete for Polite’s attention and recognition in a Yeliba performance; we sang “Amazing Grace” to the beat of African drums during an early morning service honoring women (Polite included) in the Star by the Sea Catholic Church; and we laughed with Sierra Leone’s president when he joked that it may take parliament a while to “pass the paperwork,” after offering Thomalind and Antawn Polite dual citizenship to his country.
Nothing compares to the chartered bus ride through the country as children screamed “Priscilla! Priscilla!” and slapped the vehicle’s sides if they were close enough or to the experience of standing on the last piece of land where thousands of captured Africans last touched their beloved home. We finally understood the strength that the 10-year–old Priscilla must have had to withstand every imaginable obstacle and return home after 249 years.
Meeting Sierra Leone’s president
The Polites sat close together on a stiff, overstuffed couch; Antawn’s large frame seemed uncomfortable in his suit jacket and tie while Thomalind, looking even more petite when next to her husband, sat quietly in a black suit dress accented by a giant pearl necklace and bracelet. She absentmindedly occupied her restless hands by patting down her already perfectly set hair. It was obvious that she, too, was nervous. Or perhaps it was some kind of anxious expectancy, an emotion similar to that Priscilla must have felt when she finally reached her new home in the ‘Land Across the Big Water’ –– an experience completely new in every sense of the word.
But on this day the Polites were not starting an entire new life in a land unknown to them, they were waiting to meet the president of Sierra Leone. President Kabbah must have sensed their nervousness because as soon as he spoke he put everyone at ease with his laughter, wit and charm. The Polites were presented gifts of traditional clothing, jewelry and handicrafts and thanks from the amazing country that welcomed them. They immediately eased back into their seats and the atmosphere returned to what it had been all week –– that of comfort and family.
To a small crowd of American and African journalists, the U.S. Ambassador to Sierra Leone, and a few Sierra Leoneans from the neighboring islands, Opala described the slave castle as it would have looked in its prime operational years –– gravel walkways; 40–foot high fortress walls; iron cannons wth the crest of the king of England; offices, workshops, and storeroom providing space for the guns, cotton cloth and rum offered in exchange for slaves; and strong rooms to keep the gold and ivory bought from the Africans.
This place was indeed a “bizarre, inhumane juxtaposition of a rich man’s estate, prison and fortress” said Opala. Although a small space physically, it housed a huge Georgian–style two–story home, complete with a fireplace that was never used because of the region’s tropical heat and an upper level veranda where the commander of the castle could entertain guests. Directly behind the house were the slave yards. The prison’s enclosed spaces were divided –– men were in the wider, larger yard, and women and children were in the smaller, cramped one.
The African sun beat down, and the high prison walls and the towering “factory house” cut off the river’s breeze. The suffocating heat made the space feel smaller than it already was. “Overcrowded” could not justifiably describe these yards where crowds of people suffered.
Walking around the small fortress, one felt a depressing weight at the thought of such a misuse of land and resources. Awe for the obvious human ingenuity in creating such a magnificent physical space gave way to massive disappointment and rage for its purpose.
Polite was overwhelmed; her face reflected pain, sorrow and horror as the tortures the captive Africans would endure were described. She said that standing on Bunce Island was “the most incredible moment” of the entire trip. Despite the sadness and the history, or maybe because of them, she felt nearer to her great, great, great, great, great–grandmother than at any other time during the homecoming. “Just knowing that Priscilla was there 249 years ago, and there I was standing on the same ground made the cycle complete.”
Traveling with Priscilla’s Posse, indeed being in Africa itself, was one of the most privileged experiences I’ve ever had. It was more than a historical trip back to slavery times, and it was more than time spent honoring a determined survivor of the era. Priscilla’s Homecoming was the kind of welcome home many black Americans can only dream about. It embraced not only Thomalind Polite but also everyone else setting foot on the country’s white beaches and invited them to stay awhile so that they might hear the story of the many children whom Sierra Leone, “Mama Salone,” lost and those who have returned.
About the Author
<a target=”_blank” href=”http://www.amazon.com/In-Sierra-Leone-ebook/dp/B003DKKO8W?ie=UTF8&tag=bib-05-20&link_code=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969″>In Sierra Leone</a><img src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=bib-05-20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B003DKKO8W” alt=”" style=”border: medium none ! important; margin: 0px ! important; padding: 0px ! important;” border=”0″ width=”1″ height=”1″><a target=”_blank” href=”http://www.amazon.com/In-Sierra-Leone-ebook/dp/B003DKKO8W?ie=UTF8&tag=bib-05-20&link_code=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969″>In Sierra Leone</a><img src=”http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=bib-05-20&l=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969&o=1&a=B003DKKO8W” alt=”" style=”border: medium none ! important; margin: 0px ! important; padding: 0px ! important;” border=”0″ width=”1″ height=”1″><br>