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Monday, August 17, 2015

Remembering Julian Bond and other News

Julian Bond recently passed away, but his memory will forever be remembered. He was an icon of the civil rights movement and the overall human rights movement. He was born in January 14, 1940 in Nashville, Tennessee. His parents are Julia Agnes (Washington) and Horace Mann Bond. From an early age, he knew about WEB DuBois, Paul Robeson, and other heroes of the movement. He graduated from George School or a private Quaker preparatory boarding school near Newton in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He was active in the civil rights Movement. He was involved (along with others) in the founding of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee or SNCC in April 17, 1960. Ella Baker inspired SNCC members regularly. SNCC was created in order to show militancy in fighting against Jim Crow apartheid and any form of anti-black discrimination and oppression. Their militancy inspired other organizations. SNCC was more progressive than the SCLC (which was headed by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) and the SCLC was more progressive than the NAACP (during the 1950’s and the 1960’s). Julian worked in Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, etc. in fighting for civil rights and using voter registration drives. Bond left Morehouse College in 1961 to work in civil rights in the South. Julian Bond was a key person in protesting against segregation in public facilities in and other Jim Crow laws of Georgia. SNCC included people like Diane Nash, Kwame Ture, John Lewis, Rudy Lombard, Angeline Butler, and so many other human beings. SNCC was involved in the Freedom Rides that fought for interstate travel in a non-segregated basis. On 1965, Julian Bond was one of 11 African Americans elected to the Georgia House of Representatives after the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act. Julian Bond became a State Congressman of Georgia despite opposing the Vietnam War (and reactionaries in Congress trying to prevent him from having a seat because of his anti-war views). Dr. King supported Bond’s right to dissent and the Supreme Court voted in Julian Bond’s favor in 1966. In that sense, Julian Bond was in the Georgia state legislature. Julian Bond had a progressive voting record. He refused to vote when the legislature elected segregationist Lester Maddox of Atlanta as governor of Georgia over the Republican Howard Callaway. In 1968, he didn’t follow through on being a Vice Presidential candidacy for the Democratic Party since he was too young to do so. A person must be 35 or older to serve in that office when Julian Bond was 28 in 1968. Julian Bond lost to John Lewis in a United States House of Representatives race from Georgia’s 5th congressional district in 1986. The election was brutal and contentious. Julian Bond was the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center in 1971. He served until 1979, but he remained a board member and President emeritus for the rest of his life. In 1998, he was selected chairman of the NAACP. He made the NAACP a more progressive organization. He supported human rights for all people of every background. He believed in environmental justice and was arrested at the White House for civil disobedience in opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline back in February of 2013. He continued to expose the reactionary Tea Party movement and he fought against the suppression filled voter ID laws. He condemned the gutting of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court, which is a disgrace. He was a strong Brother who outlined his views and he stood up for what he believed in. RIP Brother Julian Bond.

The Gilded Age was a very important era in Chicago’s history. In 1871, there was the Great Chicago Fire. Most of the city was burned up. It lasted from Sunday October 8 to early Tuesday on October 10, 1871. It killed up to 300 people and destroyed about 3.3 square miles. It left more than 100,000 residents homeless. Much of the city’s central business district was destroyed. The fire started in a small barn that bordered the alley behind 137 and DeKoven Street. The fire was spread by the city’s use of wood as a predominant building material during that time period in a style called balloon frame, a drought before the fire, and strong southwest winds. In 1871, the Chicago Fire Department had 185 firefighters with just 17 horse-drawn steam engines to protect the entire city. The streets, sidewalks, and many buildings were built of wood. The Chicago Water Tower was one of the few surviving buildings after the Chicago Fire. After the fire, Chicago caused the incorporation of stringent fire safety codes that included a strong preference for masonry construction. Danish immigrant Jens Jenson was celebrated landscape designer. He wanted a democratic approach to landscaping. He was also informed by his interest in social justice and conservation. He rejected democratic formalism. Jenson was heavily involved in the creation of four Chicago parks like Columbus Park. Some of the region’s most influential millionaires had some of his garden designs. The World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 was constructed on former wetlands at the present location of Jackson Park along Lake Michigan in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. The land was reclaimed according to a design by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead. The temporary pavilions which followed a classical theme were designed by a committee of the city’s architects under the direction of Daniel Burnham. The Exposition drew 27.5 million visitors. It was considered among the most influential world’s fairs in history, affecting art, architecture, and design all over the nation. There was the revival of the Beaux Arts architecture style as well. Skyscrapers and other new technologies developed during the Gilded Age. Tall masonry buildings was said to be unstable because of the soft, swampy ground near the lake. Yet, builders used the innovative use of steel framing for support and invented the skyscraper in Chicago. Much of the modern architecture in urban communities nationwide takes influence from Chicago.  The Jeffersonian grid in Chicago was built upon more. The Haymarket affair was when labor rights activists fought for an 8 hour work day. There was a peaceful demonstration on May 4, 1886 in Chicago. This was done near the West side. A bomb was thrown at the police and 7 cops were killed. Violence soon broke out. A group of anarchists were indicted and convicted. Some were hanged and others were pardoned. This represented a new era of the labor movement in America and this history is commemorated in the annual May Day celebrations. The Progressive Era in 1900 did cause people to issue reforms in the American criminal justice system in Chicago. So, during the Guided age, Chicago grew as prominent as New York City.  

Any Presidential candidate, who wants the votes of black people, has to discuss about education. College affordability is one of the most important issues of Millennials and the rest of the American people. STEM fields are very important. These fields have built civilizations for thousands of years. Also, we have a great history of black people being involved in such fields for centuries and thousands of years. We know that student debt now is at about $1.3 trillion, which is a serious problem. We have to make college affordable and address poverty, political disenfranchisement, and social justice issues. Without addressing poverty, education can’t be addressed fully. Hillary Clinton’s plan is a smorgasbord of conservative and liberal ideas on education. Also, HBCUs need more than money just sent to them. They need investments that are targeted to execute programs to develop STEM-related job fields (with an emphasis on technology, etc.), mentoring programs (so students in many poorer communities can fulfill their own aspirations), and other specific actions that can build up the black community for the future. Funding HBCUs should be done in conjunction to other policies in order for society to address other problems in our communities. People have the right to look at the college plans from Hillary Clinton and from the rest of the candidates and make up their own minds. It's BeyoncĂ©’s hair and it's her business on how she wants to present her hair. Some folks are trying to be slick. The writer was slick and folks called her out on it. I will never be content until black liberation is a reality. I will advocate for justice and fight against evil. People have the right to be angry at injustice and at evil (not at people individually) while loving truth and wisdom. The passion for liberty and the non-compromise with evil should never be relinquished or eliminated. Good will triumph over evil in the end. Black people have the right to stand up for justice and liberation (as advocated by Harriet Tubman, Gloria Richardson, Fannie Lou Hamer, and other heroic Brothers and Sisters). So, I will believe in my views.

There is a lot of news going on in Ferguson in the past few days.   Recently, the state of emergency has been lifted (which was once declared by St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger). We have seen hundreds of police clad in riot gear and wielding assault rifles.  Officers formed a human barricade spanning several blocks along West Florissant Avenue, the center of protests over the past year. When protesters refused to exit the street, police carrying riot shields rushed the crowd, and officers began violently arresting many. At one point, an officer showered military-grade pepper spray on all the protesters in his vicinity. This information has not been readily mentioned in the mainstream media. During the crackdown, police evidently targeted Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly, ripping off the press badge around his neck as he shouted “I’m media! I’m media!” Reilly and Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery were both charged with trespassing and interfering with a police officer while in Ferguson last year. In reality, the two were unlawfully arrested, and an officer assaulted Lowery by slamming him into a soda machine at the McDonald’s where they were arrested. Both journalists are expected to fight these unjust charges. Police arrested protesters in a brutal fashion. When police arrived at Interstate 70, a man was jumping backward away from the crowd, waving his hands in the air, shouting, “This is what democracy looks like!” An officer approached him from behind, lifted him above shoulder height, and slammed him to the ground. Eight officers then pinned his body to the freeway in a dog pile with their knees to his back, handcuffing him. Police also arrested a young girl, who told fellow protesters during her arrest that she was only 12 years old. Police claim that an ID card they later processed said she was 18. Numerous other protesters were arrested violently, with officers slamming them to the ground and jamming their knees into their backs. Everybody knows that we (as black people) are the moral conscience of America. No one can name one era of American history where black people have not made their voices heard from Phillis Wheatley to Ella Baker. The song (from Janelle Monae and others) does remind us of the music of our ancestors as we are of black African descent. As other people have mentioned, one problem is the legal system. There are unjust laws now that give the police unbridled power to oppress people (that is why many black legal scholars are fighting to change laws, so people's lives and rights are defended). That should change. Liberation is about personal freedom. Also, liberation is a structural change in society where our human rights are protected. A racist will be a racist. They will not change by this great protest song of Janelle Monae including other Brothers and Sisters. The families, of the black people who have passed, are strong people and they certainly are thankful for a song like this. The epidemic of police terrorism proves that we don't have a totally democratic society (that is why California is the first state to ban grand juries in police shooting cases, because of many grand juries refusing to indict cops who are accused of murdering unarmed black people). Black righteous indignation at evil is not wrong. We have the right to express our opposition against oppression and organize solutions.

The Black Chicago Renaissance has a great impact in the history of black Americans just like the Harlem Renaissance. Chicago’s black Renaissance lasted from the 1930’s to the 1950’s. It was a time of an explosion of the growth of black culture. Black people during this time period focused on art, literature, music, and other aspects of great culture. There were black visual artists, musicians, intellectuals, and other human beings who expressed the black aesthetic in diverse ways. It showed the multifaceted nature of black life. The Black Renaissance in Chicago was influenced by the Great Migration when tens of thousands of Southern black people came into Chicago. They came into the area of the segregated South Side mostly. African American migrants resided in a segregated zone on Chicago’s south side, extending from 22nd Street on the north to 63rd Street on the south, and reaching from the Rock Island railroad tracks on the west to Cottage Grove Avenue on the east.This zone of neighborhoods was known as the “black belt” or “black ghetto." They suffered overcrowding, joblessness, and poverty. Yet, even during the Great Depression, black people in Chicago organized their own institutions to promote community solidarity and growth. More black consciousness grew. There were theater troupes that explored works by black playwrights. Jazz, blues, and new gospel music inspired many artists during this time period. Richard Wright and Margaret Walker founded the South Side Writers Group in order to provide support and feedback to a group of black Renaissance writers. There were the growth of black owned newspapers and magazines like the Chicago Defender, Chicago Sunday Bee, Negro Story Magazine, and Negro Digest, also played an important role in the cultivation and spread of literature during the Renaissance.  These important institutions gave jobs and opportunities to journalists, writers, and they encouraged emerging writers to print their work. Even the WPA and the Works Progress Association gave financial support to artists. Writers and authors did amazing work. Chicago is on great center of urban African American arts, blues, jazz, dance, theater, literature, and sociological study. Marion Perkins was a great black sculptor. Vivian Harsh was the first African American to head a branch of the Chicago Public Library. She promoted the civic and social cultivation of the Black Renaissance. She worked in the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, which was founded by Carter G. Woodson. She collected literary works by African Americans. She created programs and forums at the George Cleveland Hall Branch Library to promote the cultural and intellectual pursuits for the residents on the South Side. She loved black people and black history. Today, there is the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature continues to grow and expand under the stewardship of the Chicago Public Library Woodson Regional Branch staff. Henry Avery was an amazing painter. Gwendolyn Brooks is a great poet, artist, and a strong person. William Carter was excellent, and Elizabeth Catlett was an artist too. Gordon Parks was a great photographer who was a friend of Malcolm X. Katherine Dunham was an amazing dancer and there are so many names of Brothers and Sisters who worked during the Black Chicago Renaissance. William Edouard Scott was an active member of the South Side Community Art Center and his work, “There Were No Crops This Year,” won a first prize at the Negro Exposition in 1940. The talented Sister Lorraine Hansberry,  and musicians like Louis Armstrong, Thomas A. Dorsey, and Earl Hines contributed a great deal for Chicago and for the rest of America (including the world).

By Timothy

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