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Friday, October 02, 2015

Tragedy in Oregon and other News

RIP to the victims who passed. I send prayers and condolences to the victims' families and friends. The UCC Shooting in Roseburg, Oregon was a tragedy. Murder is always evil and wrong. The community college where the shooting took place was in Umpqua Community college. This mass shooting killed 10 human beings. The murderer’s name is Chris Harper Mercer. I won’t mention the name of the murderer anymore after this here since it is important to recognize the victims. The murderer was a 26 year old man. Roseburg, Oregon is just 175 miles south of Portland. Witnesses said that he was asking people of their religious background. If they said that they were Christian, then he shot them. According to Portland’s KATU News, the shooting began around 10:30 AM Pacific Time. The killer opened fire in the Community College’s Snyder Hall, a science building and reportedly fired shots into multiple classrooms. The local News-Review Today interviewed Kortney Moore, 18, who was in class when her teacher was shot in the head by the gunman through a window. The paper reports that, “The shooter was inside at that point, and he told people to get on the ground. The shooter was asking people to stand up and state their religion and then started firing away.” The murderer was killed after he exchanged gunfire with the police. On his body, there were found one long gun and two smaller handguns. A blog post attributed to the murders shows the young man reflecting on the attention given to Vester Flanagan. UCC has 3,300 full students including 16,000 part time students. We know what must be done, but many establishment politicians are afraid of the NRA. Conservatives talk about mental health and we do need investments in mental health, but the Congress has refused to support any legislation to use money to investment in helping people with mental health problems. At the end of the day, a human life is more valuable than a gun. There should be a commission to investigate the many causes of gun violence. There should be a federal targeting of illegal gun trafficking. There should be more investments in gun training and gun safety programs. There should be continued enforcement of gun laws and a banning of people (with severe mental illness) from owning a gun after adjudication. There must be a radical fight against poverty and against bad social conditions in this nation. This is a public health crisis. This incident is the 45th mass shooting in America. Also, we should oppose mass shootings everywhere not just in Oregon.

Without question, this is a despicable policy in a state with a long history ironically involved in the fight for voting rights. Over 50 years ago, Brothers and Sisters protested in Selma and all over Alabama to fight for voting rights. Many people shed blood (in the Bloody Sunday incident where police had brutalized innocent, peaceful protesters) and many people died (like Jimmie Lee Jackson, James Reeb, and Viola Liuzzo). The Voting Rights Act was passed. Now, we have reactionaries restricting voting rights with Voter ID laws and Alabama is closing down 31 offices in the state. We even have the Supreme Court gutting parts of the Voting Rights Act. This will increase the burden where black people and the poor seek to get drivers’ license. Driver licenses are key things used in fulfilling the voter ID requirement in Alabama. Alabama has a Republican controlled legislature that refused to raise taxes or use other alternatives in addressing its budget crisis. Some Republicans in Alabama want to shut down state parks, etc. This policy will further disenfranchise Alabama citizens. The reasonable policy of increasing voting rights ought to be established by expanding voting requirements (without the usage of massive restrictions of voting requirements when vote fraud is very minuscule in our generation). The state of Alabama itself estimated that 250,000 eligible voters lacked the proper ID, but gave out only about 1,000 as of last April. In the 2014 midterm elections, hundreds of voters were disenfranchised by the ID requirement, and election turnout was the lowest it has been since the mid-1980s. So, voting rights is a real issue in America. The struggle is not over by a long shot. That is why the Moral Mondays movement is found in North Carolina where courageous human beings are opposing NC's strict Voter ID law. That is why people are constantly fighting against other reactionary voter ID laws which limit voting times, limit voting requirements, and it has other restrictions. We are all in favor of voting rights and justice.

Amandla Stenberg is beyond her years. She has not only great insights on defending the human autonomy of black women. She is also very down to Earth, humble, and insightful. When people attack her personally, she has responded with wit and great analysis. So, I have a great amount of respect for her. It is greatly true that her black mother taught her not only about consciousness, but about the truth that liberation can never come unless girls and women have their human rights protected and preserved in society. She is a biracial young person. Just because she is biracial, doesn’t mean that her human dignity should be degraded. She is a human being and she has the right to talk about cultural appropriation and other important matters involving racial issues. Also, we have to know that many black women, who have spoken about what Amandla has spoken, have been ignored and disrespected. We know that light privilege and colorism are real. The voices of black women who speak truth to power must be respected. This doesn’t mean that Amandla’s voice doesn’t matter. We can fight colorism, racism, discrimination, and other evils without hating on biracial human beings. Her voice matters. Also, the voices of black women (who are unsung and well known) matter too. We have learned so much from strong black women like Septima Clark, Gloria Richardson, Mary Louise Smith, Gwendolyn Elaine Armstrong, Ella Baker, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Mae Mallory, Xerona Clayton, and so many other Black Sisters who fought injustice and loved black people with a great love. We are a loving people. Society should always promote the accurate principle that black girls and black women can achieve great accomplishments, that their strength is powerful, and that their lives should be respected. We live in a world where misogynoir is common, but we fight against misogynoir, so justice can be made for all. I wish the best for Amandla Stenberg.

After Reconstruction (during the late 1870’s), Atlanta changed massively. One editor of the Atlanta Constitution back then called Atlanta the city of the “New South.” He meant that the city was evolving from agriculture and slavery to a more diversified, economic city. Atlanta was one city which was modernizing during this time period. For example, Grady and others supported the creation of the Georgia School of Technology (which is now the Georgia Institute of Technology). It was founded in the city’s northern outskirts in 1885. Unfortunately, Grady supported the Confederate Soldiers’ Home in 1889. Georgia Tech was created in Atlanta as well. In 1880, Sister Cecilia Carroll, RSM, and three companions traveled from Savannah, Georgia to Atlanta to minister to the sick. With just 50 cents in their collective purse, the sisters opened the Atlanta Hospital, the first medical facility in the city after the Civil War. This later became known as Saint Joseph's Hospital. By 1871, the horse drawn street cars developed and later starting in 1888, electric streetcars fueled real estate development and the city’s expansion. Wealthy residential areas existed in Washington Street (south of downtown) and Peachtree Street (north of the central business district) back then. West became the suburb of choice for the city’s elite by the 1890’s. Yet, Inman Park, which was planned as a harmonious whole, soon overtook it in prestige. Peachtree Street’s mansions reached even further north into Midtown Atlanta. This was where Amos G. Rhodes’ mansion was located. Rhodes was the founder of Rhodes Furniture Company in 1875 and his mansion (called Rhodes Hall) can be visited now. By 1880, Atlanta surpassed Savannah as Georgia’s largest city. As Atlanta grew, ethnic and racial tensions continued to grow. A small number of new European immigrants came into Atlanta by the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Black people were disenfranchised in Atlanta by white racists who used legislation and militias in violating the human rights of black people. The white racists gained power not only in Atlanta, but nationwide. The poll tax in Atlanta came about in 1877. A poll tax was when black people had to pay money or endure unnecessary, invasive tests in trying to vote. By 1900, not even college educated black men could vote in Atlanta. African Americans back then still formed their own businesses, other institutions, churches and a strong, educated middle class. Atlanta during this time period was greatly involved in the Coca-Cola Company. In 1886, John Pemberton developed the soft drink in response to Atlanta and Fulton County going "dry". The first sales were at Jacob's Pharmacy in Atlanta. Asa Griggs Candler acquired a stake in Pemberton's company in 1887 and incorporated it as the Coca Cola Company in 1888. In 1892 Candler incorporated a second company, The Coca-Cola Company, the current corporation. By the time of its 50th anniversary, the drink had reached the status of a national icon in the USA. Coca-Cola's world headquarters have remained in Atlanta ever since. In 1991 the company opened the World of Coca-Cola, which has remained one of the city's top visitor attractions. In 1895, the Cotton States and International Exposition was held at what is now Piedmont Park.

There were almost 800,000 visitors at the event. The exposition was established in order for people to promote the region to the world. They wanted to show the world about new technologies and products. They also wanted to encourage trade with Latin America. The exposition featured exhibits from several states including various innovations in agriculture and technology. President Grover Cleveland presided over the opening of the exposition. But the event is best remembered for the both hailed and criticized "Atlanta Compromise" speech given by Booker T. Washington. That speech was made by Booker T. Washington in which he said that black people should have equality by using industry, hard work, he secretly fought segregation later on in his life, he wanted economic development in the black community, and it was a compromise. Washington wanted Southern white leaders to make sure that black people would have education and due process of law while he wanted black people to not agitate for immediate social justice. In other words, he wanted to show the Southern whites that black people were very loyal to America while he said that progress could never exist while black people were mistreated of their human rights. Washington had founded Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in black belt Alabama. He or Booker T. Washington (who have financially allied with large capitalist interests) via his Atlanta Compromise speech wanted black people to work in the midst of the tyranny of the white political elite while Southern whites would be required to receive basic educational and economic opportunities. That is not what I agree with since power concedes nothing without a demand and liberation is caused by ending oppression without compromise. Also, we can never accommodate anything to the oppressor. We fight the evil agenda of the oppressor and that's how freedom comes about. In his Atlanta address of 1895, he railed against immigrants: “To those of the white race who look to the incoming of those of foreign birth and strange tongue and habits for the prosperity of the South, were I permitted I would repeat what I say to my own race, ‘cast down your bucket where you are’." Washington never wanted to openly antagonize white Southerners (since he felt that using a step by step gradual approach will cause black people to have justice and freedom in the long term), but we have to agitate for freedom now despite the sensibilities of others. His views on economic issues were blatantly pro-capitalist, self-help (or "pull yourself by your own bootstrap mantra), pro- entrepreneurship, etc. A lot of the words that you heard from Elijah Muhammad, Louis Farrakhan, and Marcus Garvey have a great influence from Booker T. Washington. Some black people to this very day call Booker T. Washington a traitor and others call him a hero. When I was growing up, many called him many names. The truth is more nuisanced. Even though Booker T. Washington was wrong in refusing to fight for immediate social justice ASAP,  he wasn’t wrong in everything that he said. He was right in wanting education, agriculture, etc. in the black community, but we need more than just education. We need economic and social justice too. In other words, we have to do both (we have to gain the economic power base, the industry, and we have to promote progressive views of tolerance, of egalitarianism, and of revolutionary change for the proletariat including the poor. We must fight back via political agitation). So, while Washington and DuBois had disagreements, they both agreed that education was key in improving the conditions of African Americans. We all agree on that principle. I can't support Booker T. Washington's accommodating views or him fighting against the 1908 Alabama coal miners strike. We have to use political agitation for justice and we have to grow education. There must be a radical redistribution of political and economic power, so all people can have true liberation.

By Timothy

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