Monday, September 19, 2016

Pan African Culture.

In August of 1968, Shirley Chisholm was elected as the Democratic National Committeewoman from New York State. Soon, she became a member of the United States Congress. In 1968, she ran for the U.S. House of Representatives from New York’s 12th Congressional district. This was done by a court mandated reapportionment plan. Reapportionment means the changing of seats of a legislative body depending on the changes in population involving the results of an election. This plan redrawn to focus on Bedford-Stuyvesant and it was expected to result in Brooklyn’s first black member of Congress. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. in `1945 was the first black member of Congress from New York City as a whole. Edna F. Kelly sought re-election in a different district. Chisholm announced her candidacy in January of 1968. She received organizational support. Her slogan was “Unbought and Unbossed.” During the Democratic primary, she defeated 2 other black opponents. They were Senator William S. Thompson and labor official Dollie Robertson. In the general election, she staged an upset victory over James L. Farmer, Jr., the former director of the Congress of Racial Equality who was running as a Liberal Party candidate with Republican support, winning by an approximately two-to-one margin. Chisholm thereby became the first black woman elected to Congress.  In Congress, she worked in the House Agricultural Committee. She helped to promote programs to help the hungry and poor. She supported the food stamp program and was involved in the creation of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (or WIC) program. Chisholm would credit Rabbi Menachem M. Scheneerson to the fact that many poor babies now have milk and poor children have food. She worked in the Veterans’ Affairs Committee too. She faced discrimination, but she continued to fight onward. She joined the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971 as one of its founding members. She was one the founding members of the National Women’s Political Caucus too in the same year. She along with New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug introduced a bill to provide $10 billion in federal funds for child services by 1975. They did this on May 1971. A less expensive version was introduced by Senator Walter Mondale. It was passed by the House and Senate as the Comprehensive Child Development Bill. Then President Richard Nixon vetoed it in December of 1971 (he claimed that it was too expensive and would undermine the institution of the family, which is ludicrous). Shirley Chisholm ran for President in 1972. She explored her candidacy as early as July of 1971.

She officially announced her presidential bid on January 25, 1972 in a Baptist church in her district in Brooklyn. She wanted a bloodless revolution in the Democratic nomination convention. Chisholm became the first black major-party candidate to run for President of the United States, in the 1972 U.S. presidential election, making her also the first woman ever to run for the Democratic (U.S. Senator Margaret Chase Smith had previously run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1964). Her campaign wasn’t funded greatly. She struggled to get votes, but she was viewed as a symbolic political person. She was disrespected and ignored by much of the Democratic political establishment and received little support even among some of her black colleagues. Her husband supported her 100 percent though. In May 1972, the Secret Service protected her because of threats made against her life. Previously, Conrad Chisholm was her bodyguard. She won a lot of votes in California. She won 28 delegates in the primaries. Her supporters were people from NOW, African Americans, women, Latinos, etc. The 1972 Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida was the rise of the progressives in a high level. Senator George McGovern was nominated as the nominee. He was defeated by Nixon during the Presidential election. Among the volunteers who were inspired by Shirley Chisholm’s campaign was Barbara Lee, who continued to be politically active and was elected as a progressive congresswoman 25 years later. Later, Chisholm promoted more progressive policies like reductions in military spending, education funding, health care, opposition to the draft, opposition to the Vietnam War, women rights, etc. She wanted better treatment of Haitian refugees when Jimmy Carter was President. She wanted to end the Internal Security Act of 1950. Chisholm's first marriage ended in divorce in February 1977. Later that year, she married Arthur, a former New York State Assemblyman. She retired from the Congress in 1982 and she was dissatisfied with the course of liberal politics in the wake of the Reagan Revolution. In other words, she opposed the many far right policies of Reagan and the compromising of many politicians who claimed to be “liberal.” She taught politics and sociology from 1983 to 1987 in Mount Holyoke, Massachusetts. She campaigned for Jesse Jackson’s Presidential campaigns in 1984 and in 1988. She continued to speak out for freedom and justice. She passed away on January 1, 2005 in Ormond Beach near Daytona Beach, Florida. In February 2005, "Shirley Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed," a documentary film, aired on U.S public television. It chronicled Chisholm's 1972 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. It was directed and produced by independent African-American filmmaker Shola Lynch. The film was featured at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004. On April 9, 2006, the film was announced as a winner of a Peabody Award. Shirley Chisholm was a hero and a legend. RIP Sister Shirley Chisholm.

Afro-Canadians are a very great and resilient people. They make up a minority of Canada’s population, but they have an extensive history and cultural heritage. Afro-Canadians are from the United States, some are born in Canada, some are from Africa, some are from South America, and some are from the Caribbean. Therefore, they include Jamaicans, Nigerians, Haitians, Afro-Latinos, etc. Most Black Canadians are of Caribbean origin. There are about 945,665 Afro-Canadians living in Canada today. Most are from Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia. About 30% of Black Canadians have Jamaican heritage. 60% of Black Canadians are under the age of 35. 57% of Black Canadians live in the province of Ontario. 97% of Black Canadians live in urban areas. The first recorded black person to set foot on land in Canada was a free man named Mathieu de Costa. He was traveling with the navigator Samuel De Champlain. He arrived in Nova Scotia between 1603 and 1608. De Costa was the translator for the French explorer Pierre Dugua, Sieru de Monts. One slave in Canada was Olivier Le Jeune. He was the first recorded black slave transported from Africa to Canada. He was from Madagascar. Back then, both Native Americans and black people were slaves. Centuries ago, a lot of slaves in Canada lived in Montreal. Quebec and Trois-Rivieres were other regions with a high slave population too. Many people in Canada also aided runaway slaves. This caused the government to Issue an ordonnance in 1734, stating that the public should not employ runaway slaves and captains should not carry them out of the territories without severe penalty. During the period of 1769-1794, numerous advertisements existed for the return of runaway slaves in the Quebec Gazette. During the American Revolutionary War (which lasted from 1775 to 1783), the British promised freedom to the slaves who fought for the British. Many slaves became free in Nova Scotia and some were brought into slavery again. After the Revolutionary War, about 3,000 black people were transported to Nova Scotia. Black people faced discrimination, segregation, and slavery in Nova Scotia.  Due to the failure of the British government to support the settlement, the harsh weather, and discrimination on the part of white colonists, 1,192 Black Loyalist men, women and children (in 14 ships) left Nova Scotia for West Africa on January 15, 1792. They settled in what is now Sierra Leone, where they became the original settlers of Freetown. They, along with other groups of free transplanted people such as the Black Poor from England, became what is now the Sierra, also known as the Krio. Under pressure of the new refugees, the city of Saint John amended its charter in 1785 specifically to exclude blacks from practicing a trade, selling goods, fishing in the harbor, or becoming freemen; these provisions stood until 1870. Although by then, they were largely ignored.  Slavery was abolished in Nova Scotia in 1787 and in 1793 in Ontario or Upper Canada. In the War of 1812, the British took back slaves seeking refuge to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Others settled in southwestern Ontario. By 1834, slavery was abolished in all British territories. The Underground Railroad (which lasted from the 1820’s to the 1860’s) saved lives and brought thousands of ex-slaves into Canada. The refugee slaves which settled in Canada did so primarily in South Western Ontario, with significant concentrations being found in Amherstburg, Colchester, Chatham, Windsor, Sandwich. These settlements acted as centers of abolitionist thought, with Chatham being the location of abolitionist John Brown's constitutional convention which preceded the later raid on Harper's Ferry.

While the first newspaper published by a black woman was founded in North Buxton by the free black woman Mary Ann Shadd which pressed for Black emigration to Canada as the best option for fleeing African Americans. Detroit was a major transit point with locals like Chatham and Sarnia in Ontario being a final destination. Black people still faced segregated lives and discrimination in Canada. They went to segregated schools. In 1850, Canada West passed the Common Schools Act, which segregated the school system. Nova Scotia passed a similar act later.  Blacks went to sub-par schools that were under-funded. Many black people settled in the Vancouver Island district after 1858. Governor Douglas encouraged black immigration from California on the condition that most would defend the territory. Many black people left California because of discriminatory resident taxes. 400 hundred black families sailed to Canada. One famous black person the territory was John Sullivan Deas, a businessman. Mifflin Gibbs was the first black Canadian politician and he was elected to the Victoria City Council. Anderson Ruffin Abbott, the first Black Canadian to be a licensed physician, participated in the American Civil War and attended the deathbed of United States President Abraham Lincoln. Because of segregation and other grievances, after the Civil War in the U.S., Canada experienced a decrease of the black population, from 60,000 to 18,000, in a thirty year period. Some Afro-Canadians lived in western Canadian areas like Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Some settled in Alberta between 1905 and 1909. During WWI, few black people served with white Canadian soldiers. Many black Afro-Canadians worked in ditches and trenches without experiencing combat. By World War II, many black people served in mixed regiments and refused to serve in construction regiments. Most black people in Canada (like in America) wanted to be free after they fought in the war. From the 1950’s to the present, many black immigrants from the Caribbean came into Canada in a higher level. Black Canadians has contributed greatly to Canadian culture. Many of the first visible minorities to hold high public offices were black like Michaelle Jean, Donald Olive, Stanley G. Grizzle, Rosemary Brown, and Lincoln Alexander. In 1975, a museum telling the stories of African Canadians and their journeys plus contributions was formed in Amhertsburg, Ontario. It is called the Amberstburg Freedom Museum. IN the Atlantic region of Canada, the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia was formed in Cherrybrook. Today, police brutality issues persists in Toronto and other places of Canada. Black Canadians have made great contributions in society.

Afro-Cubans are here and strong. Most of their ancestry came from West Africa. They have developed influences in Cuban literature, music, art, dance, and other aspects of culture.  Over one million Afro-Cubans live in Cuba presently. Many of them have African origins like from the Yoruba (or Lucumio, Akan, Arara, Congo, Igbo, Carabali, Madingo, Fula, Makua, etc.). Afro-Cubans are found all over Cuba. Most are found in Eastern Cuba. Havana has the highest number of black people of any city in Cuba. Many African immigrants recently are coming into Cuba from Angola especially. Many immigrants came from Jamaica, and Haiti. They mostly settle in the eastern part of the island. Afro-Cuban populations have increased after the 1959 Cuban revolution, which was led by Fidel Castro. This was caused by the mass migration from the island by the mostly white Cuban professional class. Some Afro-Cubans have left Cuba to America too. There have been Afro-Diasporic linkages between Afro-Cubans and African Americans as documented by Caribbean Historian Frank Andre Guridy, Associate Professor of History and African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Forging Diaspora: Afro-Cubans and African Americans in a World of Empire and Jim Crow (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010). There were massive cultural interactions among Afro-Cubans and African Americans from 1898 to the start of the Cuban Revolution. Both communities experienced racism and discrimination then and now. Many Afro-Cubans went into Nigeria (which is the home of Yoruba and Igbo cultures) as ex-slaves during the 17th and 19th centuries.  In Equatorial Guinea, they became part of the Emancipados; in Nigeria, they were called Amaros. Despite being free to return to Cuba when their tenure was over, they remained in these countries marrying into the local indigenous population. Many Afro-Cubans fought to free Angola from imperialism during the Angolan Civil War. Haitian Cubans exist too. Afro-Cuban religion can be broken down into three main currents: Santeria, Palo Monte, and Abakuá, and include individuals of all origins. Santería and Abakuá both have large parts of their liturgy in African languages (Yorùbá, Igbo and Ñañigo, respectively) while Palo uses a mixture of Spanish and Kikongo. Santería is syncretized with Roman Catholicism. Afro-Cuban music uses rhythms, instruments, and other facets of sound. Even today, racism is found in Cuba. Many black people are excluded from tourism jobs. Many people shun discussions about racism in Cuba. Also, many Afro-Cubans are standing up to oppose racism and oppression in Cuba too. Many leaders of the Cuban Revolution including Fidel Castro publicly condemned racism. Yet, racism is still a serious problem in Cuba. During the 1920's and 1930's Cuba experienced a movement geared towards Afro-Cuban culture called Afrocubanismo (or the promotion of black culture, literature, painting, etc. in Cuba). Poems and essays by black writers began to be published in the 1930's in newspapers, magazines and books, where they discussed their own personal heritage. Afro-Cuban and Afro-Cuban heritage artists such as Nicolás Guillén, Alberto Arredondo and Emilio Ballagas brought light the life experiences of Afro-Cubans. Today, there are numerous Afro-Cuban human rights activists, athletes, musicians, poets, writers, actors, actresses, etc. who are contributing their talents in Cuba and throughout the world as well. Many well-known Afro-Cubans who live in Cuba or elsewhere are Gina Torres, X Alfonso, Laz Alonzo, Lola Falana, Faizon Love, Ana Fidelia Quirot Moré, Regla Torres, Martín Dihigo, and Yarisley Silva.

By Timothy

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