Monday, November 02, 2015

History and Culture in early November of 2015

The start of the march from Selma to Montgomery came after Wednesday, March 17, 1965. This was when federal judge Johnson ruled in favor the protesters. The Judge said that the protesters have the First Amendment right to march and that couldn’t be abridged by the state of Alabama at all. This was a week after Reeb’s death. Judge Johnson sympathized with the protesters for some days. He withheld the order until he received an iron clad commitment of enforcement from the White House. President Johnson wanted Wallace to protect the marchers or at least give the President permission to send troops. Wallace refused to do either action as he believed in state’s rights. So, the President gave his commitment to Judge Johnson on the morning of March 17 that he would protect the marchers. The President federalized the Alabama National Guard on March 20. Also, Johnson sent 1,000 military policemen and 2,000 army troops to escort the march from Selma. The ground operation was supervised by Deputy U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark. Johnson sent Joseph A. Califano Jr. (who served as the Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense back then) to outline the progress of the march. Califano reported on the march at regular intervals for the four days. March 21 was when almost 8,000 people assembled at Brown chapel A.M.E. Church to commence the trek to Montgomery. Most of the people there were black Americans, but there were also white people, Asians, and Latino human beings there as well. Spiritual leaders of many races, religions, and creeds marched abreast with Dr. King like Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Greek Orthodox Archbishop, Rabbis Abraham Joshua Herschel and Maurice, and at least one nun, all of whom were depicted in a photo that has become famous. The Dutch priest Henri Nouwen joined the march on March 24. In 1965, the road to Montgomery was four lanes wide going east from Selma. It narrowed to two lanes through Lowndes County and widened to four lanes again at the Montgomery county border. Under the terms of Judge Johnson's order, the march was limited to no more than 300 participants for the two days they were on the two-lane portion of Highway-80. At the end of the first day, most of the marchers returned to Selma by bus and car, leaving 300 to camp overnight and take up the journey the next day. On March 22, and 23, 300 protesters marched in chilling rain across Lowndes County. They camped in muddy fields.  At the time of the march, the population of Lowndes County was 81% black and 19% white, but not a single black human being was registered to vote.  There were 2,240 whites registered to vote in Lowndes County, a figure that represented 118% of the adult white population (in many southern counties of that era it was common practice to retain white voters on the rolls after they died or moved away). This is why Kwame Ture and other would go into Lowndes County and register black people to vote for political power. Kwame Ture and Cleveland Sellers worked hard and courageously to register voters in Lowndes County. Later, Kwame Ture formed the Lowndes Country Freedom Organization, which promoted black power and had a Black Panther as a logo. During the morning of March 24, the march crossed into Montgomery County. The highway was again in four lanes. More marches came by bus and car to join the line. There were thousands of marches by the evening. Their final campsite at the City of St. Jude was a complex on the outskirts of Montgomery. A “Stars for Freedom rally” was created in a makeshift stage. Those performed were singers Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennett, Frankie Laine, Peter, Paul and Mary, Sammy Davis, Jr., Baez, Nina and The Chad Mitchell Trio. Thousands more people continued to join the march.

On Thursday, March 25, 25,000 people marched from St. Jude to the steps of the State Capitol Building where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the speech entitled, "How Long, Not Long." After delivering the speech, King and the marchers approached the entrance to the capitol with a petition for Governor Wallace. A line of state troopers blocked the door. One announced that the governor was not in. Undeterred, the marchers remained at the entrance until one of Wallace's secretaries appeared and took the petition. Later in the night, Viola Liouzzo (a civil right activist who wanted voting rights for black people. Viola was from Michigan during the time) was assassinated by Ku Klux Klan members. She was driving marches from Montgomery to Selma. One Klansmen in the care was the FBI informant Gary Rowe who fired the shots. This third march was huge nationally and internationally. Voter registration drives increased in black majority areas of the South. During 1965, Martin Luther King was promoting an economic boycott of Alabama products to put pressure on the State to integrate schools and employment. There was the Hammermill boycott of the Hammermill paper company. It is found in Selma. SNCC called for a national boycott of Hammermill paper product until they ended racist policies. SCLC joined the boycott. The company called a meeting of the corporate leadership, SCLC's C.T. Vivian, and Oberlin student leadership. Their discussions led to Hammermill executives signing an agreement to support integration in Alabama. C.T. Vivian, who was an SCLC activist and so many women were involved in the Selma movement. President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in August 1965, which outlawed the overtly flagrant and longstanding violations of the pot Civil War 14th and 15th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. LBJ was dealing and responding to the crisis of the movement of the working class. Dr. King was in the midst of many factions like the conservative leaderships of the NAACP, the Urban League, and some section of the black church on one side and the more radical organizations of the groups of CORE, SNCC, etc. on the other side. These groups wanted the same goal, but differed on tactics.

The black masses worked in the movement too. The American ruling class knew it was hypocritical to see segregation in America while promoting the faux image of “democracy” overseas when they promoted imperialism in Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, Greece, etc. So, the Voting Rights Act was passed after a mass struggle of the masses came about. The work of SNCC and DCVL members were priceless in the voting rights fight in Selma. Young children was involved in the movement too like Sheyann Webb and Rachel West. The Selma movement represented the end of the first era of the civil rights movement. It started a new era of the civil rights movement which dealt with economic issues, social issues, and the situations of black people of the communities of the North, the Midwest, and the West Coast. The Selma movement showed how effective grassroots community organizing is in a revolutionary struggle for justice.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. allied with LBJ on the Voting Rights Act. Yet, Dr. King would later criticize the Johnson administration in public for Johnson shortchanging the War on Poverty while spending billions of dollars on the Vietnam War. He gave a great speech criticizing the Vietnam War in 1967 in New York City in the Riverside Church. With 11,000 blacks added to the voting rolls in Selma by March 1966, they voted for Baker in 1966, turning Clark out of office. Sheriff Jim Clark would be convicted of drug smuggling and served time in prison for his actions. Karma is nothing to be played with. Enforcement of the Voting Rights Act would be a gradual process in Alabama. In 1960, there were a total of 53,336 black voters registered in the state of Alabama; three decades later, there were 537,285, a tenfold increase.

The war on drugs existed long before Nixon. Back during the early 20th century, the government used policies that restricted the usage and access of marijuana, etc. Also, many agencies harassed people with drug addiction. Racists use the racist “reefer madness” stereotype to demonize black people, other people of color, and the poor. Richard Nixon modernized the War on Drugs with strict policies. Reagan took it to the next level with his hypocritical Just Say No campaign and his racially imbalanced sentencing rules. Today, we only see a stronger conversation on this issue about the War on Drugs, because people from across the political spectrum publicly say that the War on Drugs failed (and there is more of a spotlight of white people suffering drug addiction. I don’t wish drug abuse on anyone, but there are double standards. A black person with drug addiction is stereotyped and demonized a lot worse than a white person with drug addiction. We know that statistics show that black people use drugs in an equal or even lesser level than white people in America). A comprehensive approach is needed to end the War on Drugs and promote alternatives. There should be the elimination of mandatory minimum sentencing laws. There should be more investments in treatment and assistance to those who have drug addiction issues. Also, there should be the legalization of the medical usage of marijuana for people. Rehabilitation programs should be invested. The War on Drugs has ruined the lives of many black people. It has violated our human rights and it is a huge economic burden for people. In the age of austerity and neoliberalism, we don’t need the War on Drugs. Evil people have exploited drugs for nefarious purposes like how the British Empire used opium to harm the Chinese people and how the Iran Contra scandal (during the Reagan years, which was a bad time for our community) exposed the complicity of many government officials in nefarious actions. We are ironically in a war against the War on Drugs. We want it to be gone.

Houston has a long history. In the beginning, Houston was filled originally with Native Americans. The Paleo Indians lived in Texas between 9,200 and 6,000 B.C. these nomadic people hunted mammoths and bison latifrons using atlatls. They may have links to the Clovis and Folsom cultures. By the 4th century millennium B.C., the population of Texas increased. The climate changed and the giant mammals became extinct. Native Americans who lived in Texas for thousands of years were the Pueblo, the Mound Builders of the Mississippi Culture, and there were influences of the Mesoamerica cultures, which was centered in the south of Texas. By 500 B.C., Native Americans in East Texas were in villages. They were farming and building the first burial mounds. They influenced the Mississippian culture. Different Native American peoples lived in Texas like the Alabama, Apache, the Atakapan, Bidai, Caddo, Coahuiltecan, Comanche, Cherokee, Coushatta, Hasinai, Jumano, Karankawa, Kickapoo, Kiowa, Tonkawa, and Wichita. The name Texas comes from the word “taysha.” That word in the Caddoan language of the Hasinai means “friends" or "allies.”  The first European to see Texas was Alonso Alvarez de Pineda. He led an expedition for the governor of Jamaica Francisco de Garay in 1520. While searching for a passage between the Gulf of Mexico and Asia, Álvarez de Pineda created the first map of the northern Gulf Coast. This map is the earliest recorded document of Texas history. Later, French colonists traveled into Texas back during the late 1600’s. La Salle led an expedition to Louisiana back in 1684. French colonization was mostly gone in Texas by 1690. The Spanish controlled Texas from 1690 to 1821. On January 23, 1691, Spain appointed the first governor of Texas, General Domingo Terán de los Ríos. Many of these Spanish colonists wanted control, conversion of the Native Americans to Catholicism, and expansion of the Spanish Empire. Spain and France would fight for control of North America. Also, Texas is a known place where Native Americans resisted both French and Spanish occupation. The Spanish couldn’t convert the Hasinai tribe of East Texas, but they were friendly with each other. The Hasinai were enemies of the Lipan Apache. The Apache attacked the Spanish in San Antonio and in other places of Texas.  A temporary peace was finally negotiated with the Apache in 1749, and at the request of the Indians a mission was established along the San Saba River northwest of San Antonio. Later, Louisiana was given to France by 1799.  Although the agreement was signed on October 1, 1800, it did not go into effect until 1802. The following year, Napoleon sold Louisiana to the United States. The original agreement between Spain and France had not explicitly specified the borders of Louisiana, and the descriptions in the documents were ambiguous and contradictory. The U.S. wanted most of West Florida and all of Texas. Soon, the drive for Mexican independence developed. Revolutionaries in Mexico wanted independence and Spain wouldn’t give up Texas without a fight. Spanish troops reacted harshly, looting the province and executing any Tejanos accused of having Republican tendencies. By 1820 fewer than 2000 Hispanic citizens remained in Texas. The situation did not normalize until 1821, when Agustin de Iturbide launched a drive for Mexican Independence. Texas became a part of the newly independent nation without a shot being fired, ending the period of Spanish Texas. The Mexican nation wanted more settlers to come into Texas to prevent Comanche raids. So, Mexican Texas liberalized its immigration policies and allowed more immigrants from outside Mexico and Spain to come into Mexican Texas. Settlers would be granted large pieces of land to empresarios. The first grant was to Moses Austin and he passed it to his son Stephen F. Austin after his death. Texas grew quickly as more settlers came into the land. The population of Texas grew rapidly. In 1825, Texas had about 3,500 people, with most of Mexican descent. By 1834, the population had grown to about 37,800 people, with only 7,800 of Mexican descent. Mexican law banned slavery, which was good. The bad news is that the Anglo settlers used slavery in Texas territory, which was illegal. America wanted to purchase Texas.  Mexican authorities decided in 1830 to prohibit continued immigration from the United States. New laws also called for the enforcement of customs duties angering both native Mexican citizens (Tejanos) and recent immigrants. The Anahuac Disturbances in 1832 was a revolt against Mexican rule. Then, the revolt happened against the nation’s first President. Texians sided with the federalists against the current government and drove all Mexican soldiers out of East Texas. They took advantage of the lack of oversight to agitate for more political freedom. Texians met at the Convention of 1832 to discuss requesting independent statehood, among other issues.  The following year, Texians reiterated their demands at the Convention of 1833. The Federalists and the centralists wanted power and they debated. The Battle of Gonzales started the Texas Revolution. The Texians won and defeated Mexican troops. The government collapse originally in 1836. Mexican President Antonio López de Santa Anna personally led an army to end the revolt. The Mexican expedition was initially successful. General José de Urrea defeated all the Texian resistance along the coast culminating in the Goliad massacre. Santa Anna's forces, after a thirteen-day siege, overwhelmed Texian defenders at the Battle of the Alamo. News of the defeats sparked panic among Texas settlers. So, the Texas declared itself an independent republic in March 2, 1836. The Texian Army, commanded by Sam Houston attacked and defeated Santa Anna’s forces in the Battle of San Jacinto. By December 29, 1845, Texas became an U.S. State. During the Texas Revolution, New York real estate promoters (John Kirby Allen and Augustus Chapman Allen) wanted a location to be built a city of government and commerce. They purchased 6,642 acres (27 km²) of land (on a site adjacent to the ashes of Harrisburg) from T. F. L. Parrot, Austin’s widow for $9,428. In August of 1836, the Allen Brothers named the city after Sam Houston whom both brothers admired. The city of Houston was granted incorporation by the state legislature on June 5, 1837. The town had only about 1,500 people and 100 houses back then. Early Houston had issues of prostitution, profanity, dueling, brawling, etc. So, people in Houston wanted to fight against these things. The President of Texas was Sam Houston. He moved the capital to Houston on June 27, 1842. Later, the capital of Texas would be in Austin by 1844. Germans came into Texas and Houston during the Revolutions of 1848 in German states. Mexican workers would build railroads. Houston shipped cotton, lumber, and other manufacturing products. Alexander McGowen established the iron industry, and Tom Whitmarsh built a cotton warehouse. A fire ravaged Houston on March 10, 1859, but the city rebuilt itself soon after the fire. Enslaved African Americans lived near Houston in the thousands before the civil war. Many of them worked in sugar and cotton plantation. Most were domestic and artisan workers in Houston.  In 1860 forty-nine percent of the city's population was enslaved. Frost Town, a nearby settlement south of the Buffalo Bayou, was swallowed by Houston.

By Timothy

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