Friday, July 07, 2017

The African American Story Part 6: The Civil Rights Movement (The 2nd Era)

<b> Muhammad Ali, far right, in Toronto, 1966</b><br><br> <b>George Clooney:</b> “I grew up in Kentucky, so Muhammad Ali was a very big figure — not just in the world. He was the most famous athlete, and one of the most famous people in the world, but he was also a Kentuckian. We were very proud of that. It made a very big difference to us. For those of us who had grown up in the culture of the antiwar movement and the civil rights movement, and all those things were going on, he became such...Dr. King and Joan Baez at a march to integrate schools in Grenada, Miss., in 1966. Bob Fitch, via Department of Special Collections, Stanford University LibrariesThe BPP sought to end racism & sexism. Black Panthers were brothers and sisters, who fought alongside each other & it was an egalitarian subculture; much more so than mainstream America in the 60′s.  In the subculture of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Movement during the era of the Civil Rights, the women had stature, presence and perhaps, almost as much power as the men did in this movement. Black Panther women’s voices were heard, encouraged, and they said what they wanted.
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The African American Story Part 6: The Civil Rights Movement (The 2nd Era)

The Fair Housing Movement

The fight for fair housing existed for decades before the 1960’s. Federal legislation involving housing that fought discrimination would exist in the 1960’s. Housing is a civil right and a human right. Black people, for centuries, have been denied real housing rights in American society. Many black people have been denied to live where they want. In many cases, when black people independently tried to get housing, they experienced discrimination. Some houses have been burned to the ground by racists historically too. Housing relates to credit, resources, and other aspects of human living. Housing can grow in value, so black people being denied adequate housing is a denial of power. Racist covenant policies existed in the Midwest and the West Coast. Racism in housing existed in the South and in the North too. Black people fought back via lawsuits, protests, and other forms of activism. One law that fought against housing segregation was the Rumford Fair Housing Act in California. This state law was passed in 1963. Later, it was overturned by mostly white California voters and real estate lobbyists in 1964 with Proposition 14. This was a discriminatory law and Ronald Reagan supported that evil law too. The Watts Rebellion happened in 1965 and scholars have documented how the rebellion was influenced in part by housing issues. The California Supreme Court invalidated Proposition 14 and reinstated the Fair Housing Act. Many civil rights leaders fought for fair housing including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, James Bevel, and Al Raby.  They were involved in the Chicago Freedom Movement in the year of 1966.

In the following year, James Groppi and the NAACP Youth Council also attracted national attention with a fair housing campaign in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I heard of this movement years ago. Both movements faced violent resistance from white homeowners and legal opposition from conservative politicians. The fair housing movement faced strong opposition from Congress. After the 1966 Congressional elections, many progressive politicians were out of office. Legislation was filibustered. Senator Walter Mondale, who advocated for the bill, noted that over successive years, it was the most filibustered legislation in US history. It was opposed by most Northern and Southern senators, as well as the National Association of Real Estate Boards. A proposed "Civil Rights Act of 1966" had collapsed completely because of its fair housing provision. Mondale commented that: “A lot of civil rights [legislation] was about making the South behave and taking the teeth from George Wallace, [but] this came right to the neighborhoods across the country. This was civil rights getting personal.” Federal housing rights legislation finally was passed in 1968 with the Civil Rights Act of 1968. It was passed after the King assassination. The law banned discrimination involving housing based upon race. The black freedom movement shocked the bourgeoisie (who wanted the status quo), confronted police brutality, and fought back against the racist capitalist system.

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The Black Power Movement

The Black Power movement is one of the most dynamic, interesting movements in human history. It has galvanized many black people. It has been a movement, which has been debated to this day. The concept of Black Power has been spoken about before the 1960’s like from Richard Wright and others. The Black Power movement has been influenced by the views of Marcus Garvey, the NOI, the Deacons of Defense, Malcolm X, the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, Pan-Africanism, etc. Yet, the modern Black Power movement existed in 1966 in Greenwood, Mississippi (on the date of June 16, 1966). At that location, Kwame Ture spoke up to speak about Black Power in fighting for black Americans to register to vote. This came after James Meredith was shot by a racist coward in a Mississippi road (in his March Against Fear. James Meredith wanted to promote voting rights for black Mississippians). Dr. King, Kwame Ture, and Floyd McKissick came to the aid of Meredith of supporting him. At first, Whitney Young and Roy Wilkins supported the March against Fear. They left, because both had disagreements with Kwame Ture on the issue of nonviolence. The movement of Black Power existed because of numerous factors. Many felt that the civil rights movement didn’t go far enough in addressing poverty, the police brutality, and other economic issues of the North, the Midwest, and the West Coast. Some rejected nonviolence as a way of life and wanted a more militant movement for social change. One big lie is that the Black Power Movement was racist. It is not. Black Power wanted black liberation not racism in the world. There are diverse factions of the Black Power movement. The common image that we see of the Black Power movement dealt with the Black Panthers. This was the progressive faction of the movement. There is also the conservative faction that believed in Black Capitalism.

There were also the cultural nationalists who believed in accepting African culture, but many of them refused to enact political activism to make change. They wanted change from cultural efforts.  There were other factions too. What unified them were their embrace of their black African heritage, their promotion of an independent, autonomous black powerbase that can benefit black people, their advocacy of self-defense in an explicit fashion, their belief in self-determination, and their advocacy of black liberation. Black Power in essence was a call for independence among all black people among our communities nationally and internationally. It wasn’t endorsing segregation or integration per se. It advocated the economic, social, and political enrichment of black people regardless. The Black Power movement was a cultural revolution too. There were black poets, writers, and dancers who wrote about pro-black and pro-African themes. More people wore dashikis and afros. People spoke African languages like Swahili. It was a vibrant cultural time. Immediately in 1966, most of the moderate Civil Rights leaders opposed Black Power. Roy Wilkins of the NAACP viewed it as racist in his 1966 NAACP Convention. Some white liberals called it reverse racism. Whitney Young of the Urban League criticized the conception of Black Power.

Kwame Ture in his historic October 29, 1966 Black Power speech in Berkeley, California in the following terms: "Now, then, in order to understand white supremacy we must dismiss the fallacious notion that white people can give anybody their freedom. No man can give anybody his freedom. A man is born free. You may enslave a man after he is born free, and that is in fact what this country does. It enslaves black people after they’re born, so that the only acts that white people can do is to stop denying black people their freedom; that is, they must stop denying freedom. They never give it to anyone...The, the political parties in this country do not meet the needs of people on a day-to-day basis. The question is, how can we build new political institutions that will become the political expressions of people on a day-to-day basis? The question is, how can you build political institutions that will begin to meet the needs of Oakland, California? And the needs of Oakland, California, is not 1,000 policemen with submachine guns. They don’t need that. They need that least of all. (applause) The question is, how can we build institutions where those people can begin to function on a day-to-day basis, where they can get decent jobs, where they can get decent houses, and where they can begin to participate in the policy and major decisions that affect their lives?"

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. took a more nuisance position. He acknowledged the positives of Black Power which dealt with economic and political development among the black community, but he rejected separatism. Dr. King would later endorse the Poor People's Campaign which wanted people including workers of all colors to have economic justice. Bayard Rustin opposed the Black Power movement from a class perspective accusing it of having no strong political or economic program (in order words, Rustin said that since automation was growing, many jobs would be lost. So, he wanted African Americans to form a coalition with workers of all colors in order to achieve economic justice in using the Democratic Party as a vehicle). By 1966, many black and white people left SNCC and CORE in viewing those groups as too nationalistic and in their minds too separatist from John Lewis, James Peck, to Charles Sherrod, etc. Nevertheless, the black youth, black poor people, and the black middle class in many cases appealed to the message of Black Power.  By 1967 and 1968, the movement grew.

The black capitalist Black Power Conference was held in Newark, NJ on July of 1967. It was organized by the black Republican Nathan Wright. The conference wanted a piece of the action. Many corporations funded Black Power activists who believed in capitalism (which is not perfect). The scholar Harold Cruse viewed Black Power as similar to the views of Booker T. Washington (in calling it reformist) and being not revolutionary. To many Black Power advocates' credit, many of them legitimately opposed the Vietnam War as a war of aggression and being unjust. SNCC issued a statement in opposition to the war back in 1966 and this inspired Dr. King to oppose the Vietnam War more forcefully in public as well. Kwanzaa was created by the cultural nationalist Maulana Karenga in 1967. I don’t agree with the conservative Karenga on many issues. It is what it is. Some members of the Black Power movement were outright sexism. Sexism is evil. Kwame Ture did the right thing to promote love of Africa and the love of Blackness. Yet, he made the mistake of saying in a joke that the best position of women in the movement is "prone." I didn't know what prone meant at first until I researched what the word meant. Kwame True was wrong to say that comment. Every woman has the right to stand up and fight for her own freedom and human autonomy by any means necessary point blank period exclamation point. Also, it was women who were the key administrators and made up of the backbone of SNCC. The Black Power movement attacked nonviolence as a way of life without question. Rev. Adam Clayton Powell in NYC rejected nonviolence as the most effective civil rights strategy by 1968. Beyond in 1969, the Black Power movement grows. There is the Black Manifesto of James Forman in 1969 along with the 1969 National Black Sisters Conference (which attacks racism and sexism in the world. Sister M. Martin de Porres Grey organizes 155 women from 79 national and international congregations to form the National Black Sisters' Conference), and the Black Theology views of James H. Cone. So, the Black Power Movement was multifaceted or diverse in its manifestations, but they (or Black Power advocates) were unified in desiring black liberation.

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Black Music, Movies, and the Arts (from 1966-1968)

The late 1960’s from 1966 to 1968 saw a huge amount of films, literature, theater, and art that reflected the time of civil rights, Black Nationalism, and changes in the racial dynamics of American society. One of the most important films of the time was called “Black Girl” in 1966. It was film directed by Ousmane Sembène, starring Mbissine Thérèse Diop. Mbissine plays Diouana, a young Senegalese woman. She moves from Dakar, Senegal to Antibes, France to work for a rich French couple, In France, she wants to live a cosmopolitan lifestyle. Yet, she endures mistreatment by the couple and racism in France. She questions her life in France as well. It was the first Sub-Saharan film by an African filmmaker to receive international attention. The film ends tragically and it represents the evil system of colonialism and imperialism that still goes on today. Mbissine Thérèse Diop would go on to act in another movie and be involved in textiles. Sidney Poitier would go on to make many more historic films. He would be in the Duel at Diablo in 1966.

In July of 1966, Stan Lee and his Marvel comic team form a new character in the Fantastic Four series. He is called Black Panther (or T’Challa). He is dressed in all black and he wants to avenge the murder of his father, the African king of T’Chaka of the Wkanda nation. The Panther also has a Ph.D. in physics. He battles the Klan too. This inspires the future movie of the Black Panther, which will come out by 2018 too. 1966 saw hits from the Temptations, the Supreme, Stevie Wonder, and other Motown Artists. James Brown had hits in that year with “I Got You (I Feel Good)” and “It’s a Man’s man’s Man’s World.” Stax Records excelled with Eddie Floyd’s Knock on Wood. The Supremes’ You Keep on Hangin’ On was on the top of the Billboard hot 100 in 1966 along with Percy Sledge’s “When a Man Loves a Woman.” By December of 1966, Kwanzaa was invented by Black Nationalist leader Maulana Karenga. Kwanzaa celebrates communal principles in the form of Swahili words. Swahili is a language spoken originally by black people in Eastern Africa on the coast of the Indian Ocean. Some of these principles are umoja (unity), kujichagulia (self-determination), ujima (collective work and responsibility), ujamaa (Cooperative economics), nia (purpose), kumuba (creativity), and Imani (faith). The beginnings of the Black Arts Movement may be traced to 1965, when Amiri Baraka, at that time still known as Leroi Jones, moved uptown to establish the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School (BARTS) following the assassination of Malcolm X. It focuses on black cultural growth. It features black poets, writers, and artists. Larry Neal wrote about the BAM and one of its early adherents was Amiri Baraka. Some of the BAM has been filled with misogyny and anti-Semitism, which I don’t agree with. Future legends of the black arts movement would be Sonia Sanchez and Nikki Giovanni. Among the well-known writers who were involved with the movement are Maya Angelou, Hoyt W. Fuller, and Rosa Guy. According to the Academy of American Poets, "many writers--Native Americans, Latinos/as, gays and lesbians, and younger generations of African Americans have acknowledged their debt to the Black Arts Movement."

The movement lasted for about a decade, through the mid-1960s and into the 1970s. Other BAM artists have shown great works spanning art, literature, and theater. By 1967, Sidney Poitier was involved in the film “To Sir, with Love.” That film is about a black teacher trying to help educate many rowdy mostly white students in England. The 1967 film “In the Heat of the Night” was one of his most popular films. Sidney plays a black detective from Philadelphia who travels south into Sparta, Mississippi in order to solve a crime. He works with an initially reluctant police sheriff. Sidney’s character is Mr. Tibbs. Mr. Tibbs experiences racism, harassment, and hatred from white racists. He works with both black and white people in trying to solve the case. Also, the films show the scene where it is the first time in mainstream film where a black man slaps a white man in self-defense. The film was in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement and it was filmed in Illinois and in the South (in Tennessee). His other 1967 film called, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” was about interracial relationships which was still taboo in America in many places. The character that Sidney plays has extraordinary qualifications.

The 1968 film “For Love of Ivy” is about Black Love when Sidney Poitier gets into a relationship with a gorgeous black woman (who is played by Abbey Lincoln). The film is a romantic comedy. It is important to note that Abbey Lincoln is a great jazz vocalist, songwriter, and actress. She wrote and performed her own compositions. She was a civil rights activist. She was born in Chicago and raised in Calvin Center, Cass County (in Michigan). She passed away in the year of 2010.

Rest in Power Sister Abbey Lincoln. Yes, Black Love is Beautiful.

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One of the greatest actresses of all time is Sister Cicely Tyson. She has performed magnificently in theater, acting, and other areas of life. She is a role model for so many people,especially black women. She is a living legend. She is a very intelligent, glamorous,and beautiful black woman. Cicely Tyson has been in movies during the 1950's, the 1960's and beyond. She was born in Harlem, NYC and she is 92 years old. 

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One of the most dynamic films of 1967 was “Hurry Sundown.” It describes the rural South in detail. It focused on conflicts over land and territory. It shows the brutal nature of racism and the beauty of love. Also, it reminds us that the problems of yesteryear didn’t go away during that time period. They persist today. The director of the film was Otto Preminger. The film included actors and actresses like Diahann Carroll, Beah Richards, John Philip Law, Michael Cane, Jane Fonda, Faye Dunaway, and so many other people. Diahann Carroll would go onward to star in the 1968 show called Julia. Julia is the first show on TV history that stars an African American woman. The shows allows Carroll to play Julia (a widowed single mother) who works as a nurse. She takes care of her son. On June of 1967, the Dirty Dozen film was released. It features Jim Brown as one of the lead actors in the film. The movie is about a military leader training convicted criminals to execute a military mission against the Nazis of Europe. It is based during the Second World War. On October 23, 1967, Kwame Ture and his coauthor Charles V. Hamilton release their manifest called, “Black Power: The politics of liberation.” Charles V. Hamilton is a political scientist from the Roosevelt University in Chicago. The book in essence promotes the idea of black people organizing and supporting the own institutions independently. Otis Redding and his group of back up musicians including the pilot die in a plane crash on December 10, 1967. Otis Redding was a great soul singer and his music sold greatly posthumously. He was only 26 years old.

In 1967, African American women made many hits in music. Aretha Franklin top the R&B and Billboard 100 charts with her song “Respect.” Respect is an anthem for women and other oppressed peoples. Gladys Knight, Bettye Swann, and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas made great records in 1967 too. Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” was a great record that sold greatly in Europe and in America. Melvin Van Peebles directed his film about black soldiers in France called, “The Story of a Three-Day Pass” in 1968. On Eldridge Cleaver, he released his book of essays called “Soul on Ice” on March 25, 1968. Of course, I don’t agree with Cleaver on every issue. Soul on Ice is a very controversial book. It has tons of profanity, Cleaver admits in the book that he raped black and white women, and it criticized many civil rights leaders.

The actress Nichelle Nichols from Star Trek has displayed strength and grace in that science fiction show. Also, Aretha Franklin continued to make hit records like Chain of Fools, Think, etc. She was on the cover of TIME magazine under the banner of “The Sound of Soul” by June of 1968.  James Brown released the great anthem, “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” back in 1968. Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a great black woman musician. Black theology took hold of America by 1968 and beyond. Ebony talked about the ethology in March of 1969. It has been promoted by Detroit minister Albert B. Cleage Jr. and others. Veteran comedian Moms Mabley, Jim Hendrix (who performed in Woodstock), and Gordon Parks (who directed the film the Learning Tree) excelled in their talents in the year of 1969. By the end of the 1960’s, more black people wore dashikis, Afros, and other pro-African clothing. It was a cultural shift into a more positive, pro-black, and inspirational direction. The 1960’s saw a black cultural revolution in the arts.

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This is the truth. This is the truth about how crooked cops have oppressed our people. This is real talk. 

The Rebellions

The rebellions in America from 1963 to 1968 changed America forever. They were a part of the expressions frustrations of many about the injustices going on in the United States of America. These rebellions were different from the anti-black riots from white racists in that white racists had the intention specifically to murder and target black people violently. These rebellions of the 1960’s were created out of anger and out of hurt from neglect and oppression from capitalist America. The Second Great Migration allowed millions of African Americans to go into large urban centers in the North, the Midwest, and the West. Black people in those locations still faced de facto segregation (which is segregation by unwritten policies not by legal mandate), struggling educational services, police brutality, racism, discrimination, and bad social plus economic conditions. The 1963 Birmingham rebellion was a watershed movement in American history. This was long before the Watts rebellion. Black people in the South used self-defense for centuries and this rebellion was the beginning of the others in the future years after 1963. It started after white racists bombed many homes belonging to African Americans like the Gaston Motel, and the home of A.D. King (or Dr. King’s brother). The bystander Roosevelt Tatum survived one bombing too. Tatum said that the local police planted the bombs and A.D. King demanded that the FBI arrest local police members. Dr. King received a death threat. The Klan threatened people too. The Klan abhorred the agreement reached in Birmingham. On May 11, 1963, it started. One officer was stabbed. Many people started to reject nonviolence. State troopers came. One tank arrived. Armed cops patrolled the streets. White journalists and black people were sequestered in a bombed motel with no food or water until morning. President Kennedy wanted to promote law and order.

JFK enacted Operation Oak Tree which involved military force to end the rebellion in Birmingham. Operation Oak Tree was the first time in modern United States history that the federal government deployed military power in response to civil unrest without a specific legal injunction to enforce. Yet, Malcolm X accurately stated that Kennedy didn’t intervene when bombs were coming in the homes of black people or when dogs bit black men, black women, and black children in the streets. Malcolm X said that he only responded when black people used rebellion and self-defense. He’s right. New York Congressman Adam Clayton Powell said that if Kennedy didn’t move quickly on civil rights in Birmingham and nationwide, then rebellions would spread nationwide including the capital of Washington, D.C. He was right also. Ironically, the rebellions of the 1960's increased the speed in which civil rights legislation would be passed. In August 1-4, 1963, white racists use bricks and bottles to harm the house of Reginald Williams (who is a black man) in the Englewood section of Chicago. More than 220 people are arrested.

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The image on the left shows Sister Gloria Richardson standing up against injustice in 1963. The image on the right shows the events of the Harlem rebellion of 1964. 

There was the Cambridge rebellion in 1963 too. Cambridge was in Maryland in the Maryland section of the Eastern Shore. The Civil Rights movement in Cambridge was led by Gloria Richardson and SNCC against the pro-segregationist police and the oppressive power structure. I have been to Cambridge, Maryland before in real life. The movement wanted to end discrimination. The Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee (CNAC) is founded soon after these initial demonstrations to support and continue local protests as early as 1962. SNCC and the CNAC also wanted fair housing, equal employment opportunities, and desegregation of public accommodations. The power structure refused to budge. On June 14, 1963, a protest happened. Later, businesses were burned. White and African American citizens exchanged gunfire and then martial law was declared by Governor Tawes. Governor Tawes declared martial law and deployed the Maryland National Guard to Cambridge after the CNAC refuses a year-long moratorium on protests. The guardsmen remain in the town for a 25-day period, from June 14 through July 8. During the summer, both white and blacks exchange gunfire continuously and the Maryland National Guard occupied Cambridge. In 1964, rebellions grew. During the summer of 1964, they existed in New York City, Rochester (in New York State), Philadelphia, Elizabeth (in New Jersey), Paterson (in New Jersey), and Dixmoor (or a suburb in Chicago). The common factor among all of these rebellions is that these locations are filled with people who were victims of many injustices (like police brutality, racism, housing discrimination, economic exploitation, de facto segregation, and educational issues). Many people in the rebellions were working class. Most of these rebellions took place during the Summer of 1964.

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During the Watts rebellion of 1965 in Los Angeles changed everything. It happened when the police in Watts arrested a black person. The person’s mother’s intervened and the rebellion happened. For years, black people in Los Angeles were oppressed by the police. African Americans since the 1950’s have complained about excessive force by the police and discriminatory practices. Restrictive covenant policies restricted African Americans, Latino Americans, and Asian Americans from receiving adequate housing of their choice. White racists in the early 1950’s bombed homes, fired homes, and burnt crosses on the homes of black Americans in Suasion Avenue. White gangs harassed black people in LA since the 1920’s.  In August of 1965, the Watts rebellion happened. Homes were bombed. Stores were destroyed. The California Army National Guard arrested people. The military response was huge and some people used physical combat against the military.

This was the beginning of some of the biggest urban unrest since the Civil War. Most of those involved in the rebellion had no criminal record. They were mostly working class human beings. Between 31,000 and 35,000 adults participated in the riots over the course of six days, while about 70,000 people were "sympathetic, but not active." Over the six days, there were 34 deaths, 1,032 injuries, 3,438 arrests, and over $40 million in property damage. In a 1966 essay, black civil rights activist Bayard Rustin stated: "The whole point of the outbreak in Watts was that it marked the first major rebellion of Negroes against their own masochism and was carried on with the express purpose of asserting that they would no longer quietly submit to the deprivation of slum life."

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. immediately came into Watts to access the situation. He was booed by some black people. This shocked him since tons of black people supported. He later said in self-reflection that the people booing were expressing dissatisfaction at the system. Dr. King said that the rebellion was part of the frustration of black Americans. While he condemned the violence, he recognized that something must be done to address the needs of the black residents of Watts. Dr. King said that "a riot is the language of the unheard." The McCone Commission report identified the root causes of the riots to be high unemployment, poor schools, and other inferior living conditions for African Americans in Watts. The McCone Commission called for “emergency literacy and preschool programs, improved police-community ties, increased low-income housing, more job-training projects, upgraded health-care services, more efficient public transportation, and many more." Most of these recommendations were not acted upon. In 1966, rebellions happened in Chicago, Omaha, Cleveland, Waukegan (in Illinois), Benton Harbor (in Michigan), in Atlanta, and in other places. The 1967 rebellions were large and it was called by the media as ‘long hot summers.’

The biggest of such rebellions happened in Detroit from July 23-29, 1967. I wasn't born during that time, but my parents were alive then. It happened during the post-World War II boom (from 1945-1973), which many middle class people had economic growth while the poorest of Americans still suffered a great deal. It was an uprising and one of the most serious uprisings in American history. It happened because of many reasons. A white racist gang killed Danny Thomas, who was a black Army veteran. The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Acts were passed and they were great, progressive legislation, but economic inequality wasn't truly addressed by the federal government. By the late 1960's, housing and racial discrimination were rampant in Detroit. City schools were underfunded as compared to the suburbs just before the rebellion.

That is why a diversity of black people in Detroit from integrationalists to Black Nationalists wanted real change in their lives. Incidents of racist terror continued in Detroit well into the 1960's. Danny Thomas was a black Army veteran and he was killed by a racist white gang just before the rebellion. Danny Thomas was a courageous man who tried to protect his pregnant wife from the sexual advances of the racist gang. She later lost the baby. The police refused to arrest the gang. The incident was kept out of the major newspapers until the city's Black newspaper made it a banner headline. Since the 1950’s, there has been massive white flight. Detroit is known for its racism spanning decades and centuries.

The police raided an after-hours club in Detroit. The police claimed that the club was didn’t have a legal license. One cop slammed the window of a social club with a sledgehammer.  Later, in a memoir, Walter Scott III, a doorman whose father was running the raided blind pig, took responsibility for starting the riot by inciting the crowd and throwing a bottle at a police officer. Then, the rebellion happened. It involved looting, sniper fire, burning of cars, and other actions. Local, state, and federal authorities were called. During these rebellions, police brutality was abundant too. As scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor (who is an expert on housing issues and the rebellions of the 1960's) has written in her article, "Rediscovering race and class after Katrina":

"...But we can’t get away at only looking at what the political parties were doing. After all, politicians and bosses have always relied on scapegoating and racism to push through a repressive agenda. In the 1960s, the three parties in power—the Republicans, the Democrats, and the Dixiecrats—were met with resistance every step of the way. From the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements to the women’s liberation movement there was an alternative to status-quo lies. From 1964 through 1968 there were Black rebellions in most cities across the United States. These violent explosions against racism, poverty, and police brutality forced the government to name oppression and exploitation as the main problems in America’s cities. Lyndon Johnson was forced to wage a war on poverty in response to the Black Power movement. You cannot really discuss race and class without talking about class within race..."

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Shortly before midnight on Monday, July 24, President Johnson authorized the use of federal troops in compliance with the Insurrection Act of 1807, which authorizes the President to call in armed forces to fight an insurrection in any state against the government. This gave Detroit the distinction of being the only domestic American city to have been occupied by federal troops three times. The U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division and 101st Airborne Division had earlier been positioned at nearby Selfridge Air Force Base in suburban Macomb County. Starting at 1:30 on Tuesday, July 25, some 8,000 Michigan Army National Guardsmen were deployed to quell the disorder. Later, their number would be augmented with 4,700 paratroopers from both the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, and 360 Michigan State Police officers. The local police assaulted those they have arrested both blacks and whites. 12th Street (in the Virginia Park area of Detroit) is a major focus point of the black community in Detroit. From Albert B. Cleage, Jr. to Malcolm X, Detroit has a long history in the black freedom movement.

The Algiers Motel incident was when the police murdered innocent people. The economic damage and the human life loss were huge. Thousands of people were injured. Damaged ranged above $40 million. Almost 400 families were homeless. The result of the rebellion was 43 dead, 1,189 injured, over 7,200 arrests, about 5,000 people were left homeless, and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed. The events caused the Housing bill in the state level to be passed in Michigan. It caused an acceleration of white flight. After 1967, Detroit’s infrastructure started to rapidly decline because of loss of tax revenue, underfunding, an exodus of people from Detroit, and the deindustrialization. The scale of the riot was surpassed in the United States only by the 1863 New York City draft riots during the American Civil War and the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Detroit once had some of the highest growth of the black middle class in the nation. Detroit is resilient and today, Detroit has tons of real people doing great work. Many black nationalists like H. Rap Brown welcomed these rebellions as precursors to the revolution.
 For decades, Detroit's population declined and there was the bankruptcy of Detroit during the 21st century. Also, there has been many activists in Detroit fighting for a new, better Detroit to this very day. Their efforts should be acknowledged and respected. The rebellions of the 1960's represented how American capitalism was fallible (in the sense of it claiming to be for the rights of people domestically while funding reactionary foreign policy actions overseas) and the issues of class oppression and racial oppression must be addressed if we are to be in the Promised Land of justice for real. Even the Kerner report outlined that economic oppression and racism were contributing factors to the rebellion. Today, we see the growth of the middle class and the rich. We see also the growth of the economic inequality and militarism in the world. The rebellions of the 1960's was exploited by the powers that be, so they could make militarized more of the local police, to expand the mass incarceration state (under the guise of "law and order" which reactionaries use all of the time), and to use other evil methods of suppression. The Detroit rebellion caused the increased military involvement in the lives of suppressing future rebellions. Also, Coleman Young was soon mayor of Detroit. He was the first black mayor of Detroit.

The Detroit rebellion was a reminder that hurting, oppressed people don't need scapegoating. They need adequate resources, compassion, and respect to achieve their own aspirations in life. Still, Detroit residents are resilient and they a'int backing down. They are our Brothers and our Sisters.

Dr. King condemned the violence in the rebellions while understanding that riots are the voices of the unheard (and that you must do more than just condemn a riot. You have to understand what causes riots in order to find the solutions).

Also, one important comment about the 50th anniversary of the Detroit rebellion was about the social activism. After the rebellion, many black workers formed the the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM), an organization of Black workers based at Chrysler's Dodge Main assembly plant born out of a wildcat strike less than a year after the rebellion, and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, which sought to unite together Revolutionary Union Movements (RUMs) of Black auto workers in Detroit. These groups fought for racial justice and workers rights well into the 1970's. General Baker was a labor organizer. He was a co-founder of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM) back in May of 1968 and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers (LRBW). Detroit has always been on the cutting edge of revolutionary politics for a long time.

1967 saw rebellions in Cincinnati, Buffalo, Newark, Plainfield (in New Jersey), Cairo (in Illinois), Cambridge (in Maryland), Saginaw (in Michigan), and Milwaukee.

This time is also the 50th anniversary of the rebellion in Newark, New Jersey too. It lasted from July 12-17, 1967. It happened after the police assaulted a black man in custody. Before the rebellions, Newark was suffering greatly by the late 1960's. The Great Migration caused many black Americans to come into Newark. As early as the 1950's, deindustrialization, redlining (or the intentional use of housing discrimination against black residents, so more black residents could live in low income neighborhoods by design), a lack of black political representation in Newark, police brutality, lax education, and racism plagued the lives of black people in Newark. People were desperate. Unemployment and poverty were also very high with the traditional manufacturing base having been fully eroded and withdrawn from the Northeast US by 1967. Further fueling tensions was the final decision by the state of New Jersey to clear a vast tract of land in the central ward of its tenement buildings, displacing thousands, to build the new University of Medicine and Dentistry facility. (In subsequent years the UMDNJ facility would become an important primary care facility for the remaining residents).

Back then, the mayor of Newark was Hugh Addonizio. He tried to elect black representation in local government, but racial profiling was rampant in the city. This unrest came to a head when two white Newark policemen, John DeSimone and Vito Pontrelli, arrested a black cabdriver, John William Smith. Smith was arrested and beaten by the police. Some people thought that Smith was dead, but he wasn't. People soon throw bottles and bricks at the police wearing hardhats. Later, the rebellion spread throughout the city. 24 people were killed. The famous black playwright Amiri Baraka was clubbed viciously by the police in the rebellion. Springfield Avenue was one epicenter of the rebellion. Many innocent people were killed. Early in the evening of July 15 a woman named Rebecca Brown was killed in a fusillade of bullets directed at the window of her second floor apartment. This event helped to set off the worst of the fighting. By the sixth day, looting, violence, and destruction ultimately left a total of 16 civilians, 8 suspects, a police officer, and a firefighter dead; 353 civilians, 214 suspects, 67 police officers, 55 firefighters, and 38 military personnel injured; and 689 civilians and 811 suspects arrested. Property damage exceeded $10 million. A little child was killed too.

The rebellion ended by the police, the National Guard, and other authorities. The result of the rebellion was further social and economic problems in Newark. After 1967, more people (including many white people, which is what we Americans call white flight) left Newark into the northern New Jersey suburbs. For decades, Newark has experienced poverty and other issues. Recently, there are continued efforts to change Newark into a positive direction. Newark's Downtown has developed and more programs have developed. We have a long way to go. We remember those who lost their lives and the point that we have to continue to work for social justice. Revolution '67 was one award winning documentary that described the events.

The 1968 Orangeburg Massacre in South Carolina involved the police killing innocent black demonstrators (who were protesting racial segregation in a bowling alley in Orangeburg, SC. Many of the protesters were students from South Carolina State University) in February 8, 1968. South Carolina State University is a HBCU or a Historically Black College or University. The state and local police officers fired guns on an unarmed group of black students. 3 students were killed and 27 people are wounded. It was an injustice by the police. In a state trial in 1970, the activist Cleveland Sellers was convicted of a charge of riot related to the events on February 6 at the bowling alley. He served seven months in state prison, getting time off for good behavior. He was the national program director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In 1973 he wrote The River of No Return: The Autobiography of a Black Militant and the Life and Death of SNCC. Twenty-five years later, Sellers was officially pardoned by the governor of South Carolina. Cleveland Sellers was an innocent man who was oppressed by a racist regime in America. After the April 4, 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., rebellions happened in over 100 cities. Roy Wilkins and many moderate civil rights leaders wanted calm.

Kwame Ture said that white America made a big mistake when Dr. King was murdered. Some people felt that nonviolence wouldn’t work to cause change. Johnson called Coretta Scott King to send condolences and to promote a sense of justice. Attorney General Ramsey Clark pushed the FBI to find the murderer. Troops and tanks were in the streets of Washington, D.C. in the 1968 rebellions. Troops with machine guns were guarding the U.S. Capitol. This (or the 1968 rebellions after the evil King assassination) was the biggest insurrection in America history since the Civil War. There were questions about whether the nation would survive. There were questions on whether people can come together.

We, who live in this generation, are the answers to those questions. The truth is that the nation survived. The truth is that both nonviolence and self-defense are legitimate avenues of activism and hope should always be embraced by any oppressed people. The rebellions taught us that the voices of the oppressed must not only be heard, but respected. We are not naïve either. We have a long way to go. Imperialism, racism, police terrorism, sexism, xenophobia, and other forms of fascism still exist globally. Those evils must be eradicated completely. Compassion and empathy go a long way in fighting for justice. The movement continued and persisted.

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Decisions from the Warren Court

The Warren Court changed history permanently. The court was probably the most liberal court in American history. It changed so many laws in American society. Earl Warren had an evolution himself. He was more conservative (he was a Republican. He was Governor of California for a number of years) and then he became more progressive on issues as time went onward. He lived from 1891 to 1974. He was one of the most influential Supreme Court Justices in history. He was not perfect as no human is perfect. Earl Warren made the mistake to endorse the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The internment of Japanese Americans was evil and wrong period. He was part of an anti-Asian Society called Native Sons of the Golden West. I don’t agree with his membership in that hate group. William J. Brennan Jr. Thurgood Marshall, and other liberals on the Court would agree with many of Warren’s progressive decisions too. Warren was right to agree with the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision which ended legal public school segregation federally. The ruling was unanimous too. The Court focused more on civil liberties too not just on property rights. The Supreme Court back then also focused on interpreting Congressional district policy and voters’ rights. The Supreme Court ruled in agreement with the principle of “one man, one vote.” The situation was that one of the apportionment of seats in state legislatures. During the 10th century, a large group of voters moved from rural to urban areas.

Yet, many state governments had not changed or reapportioned electoral districts to reflect the new demographics. This caused an electoral imbalance, because in many states, rural areas had more power and urban areas had less power than their populations actually mandated. In the decision of Baker v. Carr (1962), the Supreme Court ruled that reappointment should be on the basis of “one man, one vote.” In other words, the electoral districts must reflect the number of people in those districts. In Reynolds v. Sims (1964), the Supreme Court reaffirmed the previous decision on the issue. It added that any other situation other than “one man, one vote” violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Warren Court legitimately protected the rights of the accused as well.  Accused people have rights too. Mapp v. Ohio (1961) said that evidence illegally obtained by any authority violated the Fourth Amendment and had to be excluded from federal and state cases. Gideon v. Wainright (1963) allowed the Supreme Court to decide that all accused criminals had the right to lawyers whether they could afford one or not. This caused the increase of public defenders to defend people.

The 1964 decision of Escobedo v. Illinois expanded the previous decision to mention that every accused lawbreaker had to be offered access to a lawyer before questioning (and all evidence obtained from a suspect who had not been of his or her right to a lawyer could not be used in court). One of the most famous cases of the time was Miranda v. Arizona from 1966. It ruled that police officers can’t force faulty confession leading into self-criminalization. It allowed officers to read arrested, accused persons their Miranda rights before they are taken into custody. In other words, a person must be known of their Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights before being questioned. This expanded civil liberty rights indeed.

The Warren endorsed the separation of church and state. I believe in the separation of church and state. The 1962 Engel v. Vitale decision is one of the most misinterpreted decisions in history. That decision didn’t ban all forms of school prayer in public schools. What it did do what that a public school can’t require students to recite a state-sanctioned prayer. So, the school can’t force students to prayer out of official state policy. Mandatory school prayer in public school is a violation of the First Amendment according to the Court. The Abington v. Schempp decision of 1963 banned Bible reading in public schools by force. Therefore, it declared school-sponsored Bible reading in public schools in the United States to be unconstitutional.  Some welcomed these decisions. Others abhor these decisions, especially many religious conservatives. We debate these issues to this very day.

Moreover, in one of the landmark cases decided by the Court, Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), the Warren Court announced a constitutionally protected right of privacy. As Chief Justice, he swore in four consecutive Presidents: Eisenhower (in 1957), Kennedy (in 1961), Johnson (in 1965) and Nixon (in 1969). The landmark civil rights decision of the Loving v. Virginia case of 1967 allowed for interracial marriage. It ended state anti-miscegenation laws nationwide (such laws existed in Virginia, Alabama, Missouri, Texas, Florida, etc.).  Back then, many states banned interracial relationships. In 2000, Alabama became the last state to adapt its laws to the Supreme Court's decision, when 60% of voters endorsed a ballot initiative that removed anti-miscegenation language from the state constitution. The decision changed many lives forever. Earl Warren opposed Nixon throughout his life. On that date of July 9, 1974, he was visited by Justices Brennan and Douglas. Warren could not resist asking his friends whether the Court would order President Nixon to release the sixty-four tapes demanded by the Watergate investigation. Both justices assured him that the court had voted unanimously in United States v. Nixon for the release of the tapes. Relieved, Warren died just a few hours later. His funeral was held at Washington National Cathedral. He was interred at the Arlington National Cemetery. He was 83 years old. He lived a long life and his life signals for us that progressive thinking has caused countless blessings in the lives of Americans and other human beings worldwide.

The Warren Court transformed life so much in America, we are influenced by the court's decisions to this day.

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Black America and Athletics

There has been a long history of African Americans and athletics. During the Civil Rights Movement, black people from across America not only performed sports. They also expressed social commentaries in favor of civil rights, black human rights, and progressive changes in society. Their stories are part of our stories, because we share the common link of desiring a better world. Black Americans have broken down barriers in achieving great accomplishments. During the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Louise Stokes and Tidye Pickett (who are both black women. They didn’t participate in the Los Angeles 1932 Olympics because of their race, which is evil) represented their country. Jesse Owens won gold in multiple races and he had a legendary career in track and field too.  Alice Coachman was a star track and filed athletes from Tuskegee Institute. She was the first black woman to win Olympic gold. She set records with her high jump at the 1948 Olympics in London. World War II prevented her from getting more gold medals. The first African American on an Olympic basketball team and the first African American gold medal basketball winner was Don Barksdale in 1948. The black female tennis player Ora Washington won her first American Tennis Associations singles title in 1929. Jackie Robinson was the first black African American in a MLB team during the 20th century. The team was the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. The great Althea Gibson won 10 straight titles and she was the first black woman to win Wimbledon. By the 1950’s, more African Americans came into the NBA and other sports.

Willie Thrower was the first black quarterback to play in the NFL during the post-WWII era. He played for the Chicago Bears in 1953. The first African American to join the PGA tour was Charlie Shifford. In 1950, Althea Gibson became the first black player (male or female) to compete in a U.S. Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA) event, the national championship at Forest Hills, in Queens, New York. Althea Gibson also won her first Grand Slam singles title at the French Open in 1956. She won back to back titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 1957 and 1958. Gibson became the first black woman to join the LPGA or the Ladies Professional Golf Association in 1964.

Wilma Rudolph had polio as young child. She regained her strength. She won 3 gold medals in the 1960 Olympics in Rome. She won the 100 and 200 meter dash including the 400 meter relay. Also, in the same year, Muhammad Ali won a gold medal in boxing in Rome too. Willye White was the first American woman to compete in five Olympic Games (1956, 1960, 1964, 1968 and 1972); she won silver in the long jump in 1956 and in the 4×100-meter relay in 1964. The 1960’s represented a new era of black athletics in American. Many athletics didn’t just play sports. They were also active in the Civil Rights Movement too. Muhammad Ali gave a strong influence in the black freedom struggle. He not only defeated Sonny Liston in February of 1964. He spoke in favor of Blackness and he soon opposed the Vietnam War. So, he refused to be drafted into the military because of his religious and political views. Muhammad Ali represented a new generation of the modern black athlete (filled with determination, confidence, and unapologetic expression of Blackness). By 1967, many reactionaries hated his anti-war views and he was stripped of his fight to fight in America. It would take years for him to fight again, but his confidence and his accurate words on promoting freedom have inspired black people in the 1960’s and beyond. Muhammad Ali defined himself. Bill Russell was one of the greatest basketball players in history. In 1955 and in 1956, he won NCAA championships for the University of San Francisco. He not only loved defense. He was a master of the game of basketball. He dunked the ball, he passed the ball to his teammates, and he loved the game. He game to the Boston Celtics to win a historic 11 times. He had a gold medal in the 1956 Olympics.

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The black women (on the left) here are Wilma Rudolph, Lucinda Williams, Barbara Jones, and Martha Hudson at the Rome Olympics. The black woman on the right is the great track and field legend Wyomia Tyus. She was born in Griffin, Georgia. She won gold medals in the 1964 Olympic games in Tokyo and in the 1968 Games in Mexico City. She later became a teacher and was founding member of the Women's Sports Foundation. 

Bill Russell worked with his teammates and he supported civil rights. While he lived in Boston, many racists in Boston harassed him and cursed at him. His property was damaged, but Bill Russell continued to fight for his rights. Red Auerbach retired and Bill Russell became the first black coach of a NBA team. Russell played against Wilt Chamberlain constantly. Bill Russell is a total legend along with Oscar Robertson (who was the first black man to win a major national player of the year award in college basketball during 1959). Football would have a powerful history in our community too. Ernie Davis was the first black person to win the Hesiman Trophy. He, Jim Brown, and other players revolutionized the game of football. Jim Brown would support Muhammad Ali’s decision to oppose the draft and developed economic programs in helping black people. The 1968 Olympics would be in Mexico City. Black athletes threatened to boycott the Olympics in 1967 and in 1968. Yet, they decided to go. They formed discussions about what to do to make the world known about racial discrimination in America. Tommie Smith and John Carols in that Olympics would raise their fists in the air signifying black Power. This was a great protest against injustice. They were punished by the Olympic committee, but they stood by their views afterwards. By the end of the 1960’s, the face of sports radically changed to include more black men and black women.

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Other Issues

Other information is important to know about the Civil Rights Movement. The Civil Rights Movement was diverse. Some black Americans believed in nonviolence. Some followed the Black Power movement. Some believed that activism should go slower. Others believed that issues within the black community should be addressed. Some believed that law and order would bring about change. Rev. Joseph H. Jackson supported the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1956, but he was a conservative and told his denomination to not be involved in civil rights activism involving civil disobedience by 1960. He allied with Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago and the Chicago Democratic machine against the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who wanted housing rights during the year of 1966. He denounced Dr. King, SNCC, and the SCLC, because of them using social activism via the means of social resistance. He wanted civil rights to be done by “law and order.” The problem is that much of the laws then and now are without logic and promotes disorder against the lives of black people. An unjust law is no law at all. The law is never infallible therefore resistance to unjust laws is necessary in order for freedom to be reached. Jackson opposed the sit ins and the movement using civil disobedience (although, the early Americans centuries ago used civil disobedience and outright insurrection against the British Crown to form the American nation that he so loved). He rejected Black Power too.

Ironically, Dr. King appealed to the Constitution and love of country in organizing his actions. Dr. King wanted the whole society to be changed radically instead of just focusing on national patriotism. Rev. Jackson (who believed in a conservative black patriotism) was from an older generation who in many cases believed that self-help alone could make change. He believed in a patriotism that had faith in the system. So, Rev. Joseph H. Jackson focused on more individual means while Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. focused on more collective means in establishing justice for humanity. The movement wasn’t headed by one man. Sociologist Doug McAdam has stated that, "in King's case, it would be inaccurate to say that he was the leader of the modern civil rights movement...but more importantly, there was no singular civil rights movement. The movement was, in fact, a coalition of thousands of local efforts nationwide, spanning several decades, hundreds of discrete groups, and all manner of strategies and tactics—legal, illegal, institutional, non-institutional, violent, non-violent. Without discounting King's importance, it would be sheer fiction to call him the leader of what was fundamentally an amorphous, fluid, dispersed movement." Some black people were in favor of legal segregation (who wanted the white power structure to control their lives. Church ministers, businessmen and educators were among those who wished to keep segregation and segregationist ideals in order to retain the privileges they gained from patronage from whites, such as monetary gains), which is treason in my eyes. These proponents were different than the Black Nationalists. Black sellout defenders of segregation wanted the status quo while black nationalists disagreed with both NAACP-style integration and Jim Crow. Black nationalists wanted autonomous all-black institutions controlled solely by black people without Jim Crow oppression. They believed in self-determination in a nationalist fashion.

The overall scope of the black freedom movement wanted freedom and justice for black people. The Civil Rights movement was slandered as heavily controlled by Communists by Hoover and the John Birch Society including other far right extremists. On December 17, 1951, the Communist Party–affiliated Civil Rights Congress delivered the petition We Charge Genocide: "The Crime of Government Against the Negro People", often shortened to We Charge Genocide, to the United Nations in 1951, arguing that the U.S. federal government, by its failure to act against lynching in the United States, was guilty of genocide under Article II of the UN Genocide Convention.  The petition was presented to the United Nations at two separate venues: Paul Robeson, concert singer and activist, to a UN official in New York City, while William L. Patterson, executive director of the CRC, delivered copies of the drafted petition to a UN delegation in Paris. William L. Patterson was a Communist. He helped the black freedom movement in defending the Scottsboro boys in Alabama in 1931. The Communist Party was very influential among many African Americans from the 1930’s to the 1950’s. The 1950’s was the time of McCarthyism and some Communists made the mistake of supporting the Stalin-Hitler agreement (which turned many people off of Communism along with the totalitarianism of Stalin).

As earlier Civil Rights figures such as Robeson, Du Bois and Patterson became more politically radical (and therefore targets of Cold War anti-Communism by the US. Government), they lost favor with both mainstream Black Americans (who were anti-Communist) and the NAACP. The NAACP was overtly anti-Communist, especially by the 1950's. Roy Wilkins and Thurgood Marshall were key anti-Communist pro-NAACP leaders. The mainstream of the Civil Rights Movement distanced themselves from Communists. According to Ella Baker, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference adopted "Christian" into its name to deter charges of Communism. J. Edgar Hoover used surveillance of the movement too. This action was challenged by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (or SNCC). SNCC embraced people who people who were Communists and non-Communists for a person’s political views should never be used as an excuse for political persecution. The NAACP disagreed with this move. The American Jewish community supported the Civil Rights Movement heavily. Many Jewish students and Jewish adults funded CORE, SCLC, and the SNCC. Many Jewish people were volunteers. Unfortunately, we live in a time now that many Hoteps and white racists are anti-Semitic and I condemn anti-Semitism as evil and wrong period.

Jewish people were about half of the white northern volunteers involved in the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer project and approximately half of the civil rights attorneys active in the South during the 1960’s. Jewish leaders were arrested while heeding a call from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in St. Augustine, Florida, in June 1964, where the largest mass arrest of rabbis in American history took place at the Monson Motor Lodge—a nationally important civil rights landmark that was demolished in 2003 so that a Hilton Hotel could be built on the site. Abraham Joshua Heschel, a writer, rabbi, and professor of theology at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, was outspoken on the subject of civil rights. He marched arm-in-arm with Dr. King in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march. In the 1964 murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, the two white activists killed, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, were both Jewish. Brandeis University, the only nonsectarian Jewish-sponsored college university in the world, created the Transitional Year Program (TYP) in 1968, in part response to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination. The faculty created it to renew the university's commitment to social justice. Recognizing Brandeis as a university with a commitment to academic excellence, these faculty members created a chance to disadvantaged students to participate in an empowering educational experience. The American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, and the ADL promoted civil rights.

Jewish people were active in the civil rights movement in the South. Many Jewish individuals in the Southern states who supported civil rights for African-Americans tended to keep a low profile on "the race issue", in order to avoid attracting the attention of the anti-Black and anti-Semitic Ku Klux Klan. However, Klan groups exploited the issue of African-American integration and Jewish involvement in the struggle to launch acts of violent antisemitism. As an example of this hatred, in one year alone, from November 1957 to October 1958, temples and other Jewish communal gatherings were bombed and desecrated in Atlanta, Nashville, Jacksonville, and Miami, and dynamite was found under synagogues in Birmingham, Charlotte, and Gastonia, North Carolina. Some rabbis received death threats, but there were no injuries following these outbursts of violence. African Americans and Jewish people in the South didn’t experience a massive strained relationship. The North is a different story. There was a more strained relationship among American Americans and Jewish people in the North. Many communities of the North had white flight, urban decay, police brutality, anti-black racism, and rebellions. Many Jewish Americans were often the last remaining whites in the communities.

Black Power grew by the late 1960’s. Many black people believed in justice for Palestinian people back then (especially among SNCC members). This was not anti-Semitism. Palestinians deserve human liberation and independence just like anyone else. No nation is perfect and legitimately exposing Israel's imperfections is not anti-Semitism too. SNCC members did in many cases supported the Palestinian liberation movement as early as the 1960's. Other activists were outright anti-Semites. In New York City, most notably, there was a major socio-economic class difference in the perception of African Americans by Jewish people. Jewish people from better educated Upper Middle Class backgrounds were often very supportive of African American civil rights activities while the Jews in poorer urban communities that became increasingly less supportive largely in part due to more negative and violent interactions between the two groups. The New York City teachers' strike of 1968 also signaled the decline of relations among some black and Jewish people in the North. Black people wanted community control while Jewish people wanted their teacheing jobs maintained.  The New York City teachers' strike of 1968 was a months-long confrontation between the new community-controlled school board in the largely black Ocean Hill–Brownsville neighborhoods of Brooklyn, and New York City’s United Federation of Teachers. The strike dragged on from May 1968 to November 1968, shutting down the public schools for a total of 36 days. The strike pitted community against union, highlighting a conflict between local rights to self-determination and teachers' universal rights as workers. The strike ended on November 17, 1968, when the New York State Education Commissioner asserted state control over the Ocean Hill–Brownsville district.The dismissed teachers were reinstated, three of the new principals were transferred, and the trusteeship ran the district for four months. The aftermath of the strike would influence NYC for decades to come.

Black people suffered economic exploitation by many capitalists in urban communities of the North (these capitalists were both non-Jewish people and Jewish people). This exploitation is based on class oppression, discrimination, racism, and other issues. It has nothing to do with every single Jewish person on Earth. Black people are victims of the policies of the 1%. Black Power was taken to another level inside prison walls. In 1966, George Jackson formed the Black Guerrilla Family in the California San Quentin State Prison.

The prison rights movement did receive its origin from the 1960’s. Back then, black people were tortured, murdered, raped, abused, and disrespected in prisons. Many Freedom Rides in Mississippi’s prisons were heavily punished. Many black prisoners developed a militant consciousness while being in prison. The Cold War existed during the Civil Rights Movement. Many people criticized America’s hypocrisy of promoting democracy overseas while racial discrimination and violence existed among American citizens domestically. This reality influenced civil rights legislation to be passed. The Third World was struggling for liberation from colonialism and imperialism. Many in the Black Power Movement allied with anti-imperialist movements overseas. This is why the Black Power Movement included Black Panthers who opposed the Vietnam War and supported revolutionary movements overseas at the same time.

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The year of 1966 was one of the most dynamic years of the Civil Rights Movement. This was the year of the growth of the Black Power movement, the creation of the Black Panther Party of Oakland, and further fights for housing rights and economic justice. In the year, black voters in increasing numbers would vote in Mississippi, Alabama, and other southern states. In 1966, the National Welfare Rights Organization is formed to improve the lives of mothers receiving welfare payments. On January 3, 1966, the civil rights leader Floyd McKissick succeeded James Farther as the national director of CORE. January 7 was the time when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, the SCLC, and other local Chicago organization started the Chicago Freedom Movement. They wanted to end slums (as high rising public housing known as “projects” isolated people from grocery stories and parks. They were densely populated with cramp, bad conditions. That is why people organize tenants to fight back against these problems) and form adequate housing for black people. Also, it was about eliminating housing discrimination and promoting economic justice for Chicago residents. Many people warned Dr. King that Dr. King would fail in the most segregated city of the Midwest, but he continued. He knew that the North must be liberated too not just the South. The black population was diverse. Many black leaders opposed Dr. King since some were conservatives, some liked the status quo, and others wanted to solve the problems themselves. There was the historic rally at Soldier Field, which had 30,000 people in Chicago. Dr. King gave a speech and led 5,000 protesters from the rally to Chicago’s City Hall. King tapes the movement’s demands on the door.

Dr. King fought and promoted demands, but the campaign achieved mixed results. There was a later open housing agreement, but they weren’t readily enforced. Violent confrontation would develop over housing. Dr. King was hit in the head with a rock in one rally. Black people in Chicago and the suburbs continued to speak up despite Mayor Richard Daley’s op position. Operation Breadbasket would form to fight job discrimination and promote boycotts against companies who enacted racial discrimination. Dr. King allowed Reverend Jesse Jackson to execute the program. On January 11, 1966, Vernon Dahmer died when his home was firebombed. He was a great civil rights leader in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The murderer Mississippi Klan Imperial Wizard Sam Bowers was only convicted by 1998. On January 18, 1966, Robert C. Weaver became the first black Cabinet member when he was sworn in as the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Constance Baker Motley was the first African American and first women to be appointed a federal judge on January 25, 1966. In 1966, the novelist Chester Himes wrote great literature to describe race and greed found in Harlem, NYC. His two famous works were “Cotton Comes to Harlem” and “The Heat’s On.”

On February 24, 1966, Dr. King and Elijah Muhammad met to discuss about black people and human rights in Chicago. They disagreed on some issues, but they agreed on black people having a right to have self-determination and the promotion of freedom for black people. Andrew Brimmer was the first African American to be appointed governor of the Federal Reserve Board on February 26, 1966. By March 7, the Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act.  A rebellion in Watts happens again in March 15 where 2 people are dead in Los Angeles. Black Mississippians on April 30, 1966 form a tent city in view of the White House windows. It was created to protest housing conditions in Mississippi. Kwame Ture replaces John Lewis as Chairman of SNCC. SNCC further embraces Black Power and Black Nationalism. 2,400 leaders would go into Washington, D.C. to have the White House Conference on Civil Rights. Dr. King is not there. Dr. King, Kwame Ture, and others complete the March against Fear from June 7-26, 1966. They fight for human rights after James Meredith was shot in Mississippi. The march ends in Jackson where a large rally existed. As the Black Power movement grows, the NACP in its national convention rejects Black Power in July 9, 1966. On September 12, 1966, the police in Grenada, Mississippi allow a mob to attack black students at a newly integrated school. In 1966, Barbara Jordan was elected to the Texas Senate. She was the first African American woman to win that post since 1883. She would introduce the first minimum wage bill in Texas. She worked to form the state’s Fair Employment Practices Commission. By 1972, she was the first black southern woman to be sent to Congress. Dr. King and folks singer Joan Baez led a march in Grenada, MS to protest the beatings of African American schoolchildren after schools are desegregated (on September 19).

By September 19, a filibuster prevents the Civil Rights Bill of 1966 from passing because of the housing discrimination ban in the bill.  In October 1966, the Black Panther Party for Self Defense was formed by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton. The pro-socialist organization wants an end to police brutality, the development of great housing, true education, stop black people from being drafted to the military, restitution or reparations, the release of black people from jail, and black liberation overall. In Grenada by October, about 200 black citizens are arrested for protesting the harassment of black children. Edward Brooke, who was a Republican from Massachusetts, was elected as the first African American U.S. Senator since Reconstruction. Aubrey Norvell pleads guilty to shooting James Meredith during the March against Fear on November 21, 1966. SNCC rules to exclude all white activists from its membership. Kwame Ture wanted white people to organize among themselves in their communities to end racist institutions while black people organize among ourselves to end racial oppression. This caused a rift and SNCC continued to embrace Black Nationalism. A lack of a powerful class analysis, declining members, and a confusion on future directions caused SNCC to end by the 1970's. The end of 1966 saw the growth of new movements, the increase of militancy in the freedom struggle, and the continuation of the Civil Rights Movement in new, dynamic ways.

Alderwoman Vel Phillips began the fight for open housing in 1962 when she introduced the Phillips Housing Ordinance–a bill that outlawed housing discrimination–to her peers in the Milwaukee Common Council. Milwaukee already had a fair housing law,...Image result for milwaukee open housing 1967

These are people in Milwaukee fighting for opening housing during the late 1960's. 


The year of 1967 would be one of the most important and dynamic years of the Civil Rights Movement. During this year, Harold Cruse wrote his book entitled, “The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual: A Historical Analysis of the Failure of Black Leadership.” This book criticized many black leaders and criticized the notion of integration in general. He advocated the growth of black cultural institutions. The book was accurate to advocate the growth of black institutions and black culture. His work represented the shift of more people embracing Black Power. It inspired black scholars to sometimes evaluate their own views. It criticized many leaders from W.E.B. DuBois to Dr. King. Of course, I don’t agree with Harold Cruse’s criticisms of West Indian black people. I don’t agree with Cruse on other issues too (like his criticisms of socialists and progressives). Cruse’s work outlines the evolution of intellectual thought in the black community. Cruse ironically inspired the growth of the black studies movement in America. Soon, black studies departments would exist in universities across the United States, which is good thing. In 1967, “US” which is an exhibit of civil rights photography was shown in Harlem’s Countee Cullen Library. On January 16, 1967, in Macon County, Alabama, Lucius D. Anderson became the first black sheriff in the South since Reconstruction.

In February of 1967, NAACP Treasurer Wharlest Jackson was assassinated in Mississippi. Wharlest was a great worker in Natchez, MS. Natchez was filled with segregation back then. Back in 1965, local NAACP President George Metcalf was severely wounded by a KKK bomb planted in his car. He wanted to have integration. Later, Natchez experienced boycotts, tensions, the National Guard, and other issues. By 1967, Mississippi slowly integrated. Wharlest Jackson worked at an integrated job. White racists are angry in the Armstrong factory. That factory is known to have Klan activity. Jackson was a Korean War veteran and he received death threats. On February 27, 1967, his car blew up in an explosion. The FBI concluded that the bomber is the Klansman Raleigh Glover (he is leader of the Silver Dollar violent faction, which included members of the local law enforcement).

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She (or the woman pictured above) is a black woman named Vel Philips. She is in her 90's today. Back during the 1960's, she fought for civil rights and housing rights. She graduated from Harvard and a law school from Wisconsin. She worked hard in Milwaukee. Both she and her husband became active locally in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in support of a city redistricting referendum (there were at that time no black members of Milwaukee's Common Council). In 1956, Phillips became the first woman and the first African-American member of the Common Council in Milwaukee; since Common Council members were called "Alderman," she was given the title "Madam Alderman" by local officials. She was arrested at a rally following the firebombing of an NAACP office, the only city official to be arrested during the summer of 1967, bringing further national media attention to the city. The NAACP, Commando (which is a self-defense group), and other civil rights organizations marched in August of 1967 to promote fair housing and civil rights in Milwaukee. White racists threw bricks and other objects at the protesters. The Catholic priest Groppi (who ironically left the priesthood later in life and was married plus he had children) was involved in the movement as well. Vel Philips continues to work in civil rights to this very day. Vel Philips was very influential in getting the 1968 Fair Housing law passed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She has inspired Gwen Moore (who is the Both she and her husband became active locally in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in support of a city redistricting referendum (who is Wisconsin's first African-American and Milwaukee's first female member of the United States House of Representatives) and tons of people in the Milwaukee community. Vel Philips is a heroic black woman. 

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No arrests are made. On March 22, 1967, a federal court for the first time orders the state of Alabama not just an individual school board to desegregate its public schools. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1967 gives his famous anti-Vietnam war speech on Riverside Church in NYC. From April 8-10, 1967, black students show a rebellion at Fisk University and Tennessee A&M after Kwame Ture’s speech in Fisk. On April and May of 1967, the Black Panthers create 2 periodicals. Their names are the Black Panther Party: Black Community News Service and The Black Panther. By May 2, 1967, the Black Panthers historically and heroically march into the California state capitol in Sacramento in order to voice their opposition to the Mulford bill (which limits how guns are displayed in public).  Bobby Seale marched with 30 Panthers into the statehouse. Governor Ronald Reagan was on the Capitol lawn speaking to a group of students. Ronald Regan was not only the one of the fiercest enemies of the Black Panthers, but he opposed the progressive movement in change in general (he even opposed pro-housing legislation). The Mulford Act was unfortunately passed and it banned loaded guns being showed in public plays. On May 11, 1967, student protesters confronted the police at the all-black university of Jackson State. The police fired into the crowd and killed one student. The National Guard came into the location and the conflict ended.

 In May of 1967, Benjamin May was shot twice by the police in Jackson, Mississippi.  In 2001, a grand jury finds that Benjamin Brown was shot by Jackson police captain Buddy Kane and Mississippi Highway Patrolman Lloyd Jones. By this time both men are dead.  Brown’s family settled with Jackson City Council by 2003. On May 12, 1967, H. Rap Brown replaced Kwame Ture as national Chairman of SNCC. In a rebellion at Texas Southern University in Houston, one police officer was killed on May 16, 1967. By June 13, 1967, Thurgood Marshall was the first African American nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 19th, the U.S. District Court said that de facto segregation in D.C. was unconstitutional, and then the city must desegregate its schools by the fall.  By the summer of 1967, the cities of America experience rebellions. Another rebellion happens in Cambridge, Maryland by July 24, 1967. Later, legislation involving riots come about. The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders investigated the rebellions and found out that white racism, economic devastation, discrimination, etc. were the causes of the insurrections.

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On July 4, 1967, in yet another denial of free speech, almost 60 people are arrested for "Parading without a permit" while trying to march to the Bogalusa City Hall. This is in the state of Louisiana. On July 23 and 24 more than 100 people, roughly three-quarters of them students, march 20 miles from Bogalusa to Franklinton the parish seat to protest a range of issues and specifically the release of the two white men who had murdered Clarence Triggs a year earlier. They are demanding equal rights for Blacks under the law and that, "Negroes may safely traverse the highways at night, without fear of violence or intimidation."

On August 1967, the Bogalusa, Louisiana civil rights movement continues. By this time, progress is slow. Black Power rhetoric appeals to more black people in the area. BCVL leader A. Z. Young talks about demonstrations and low little change is occurring. So, he promotes boycotts in order for power to grow. The 1967 protests were nonviolent. The Deacons for Defense and Justice provide armed protection against bombings, assassinations, ambushes, drive by shooting, and other acts of white terrorism. BCVL leader organize a march from Bogalusa to Baton Rouge or the state capitol. They plan to have Black Power advocates like H. Rap Brown of SNCC to speak there. They protesters wanted an end to police brutality. They wanted equal rights for African Americans. They wanted an end to employment discrimination by the state of Louisiana. They desired black people to be hired by the highway Patrol and the police. National Guard and state troops protect the marchers. White racists throw bottles, broken glass, rocks, and eggs plus scatter nails on the road ahead of them. The National Guard disarmed a dynamite bomb beneath the bridge. They go to Baton Rouge by July 19, 1967. People speak like A. Z. Young. H. Rap Brown didn’t appear. A.Z. Young tells the crowd, "I'm not here to incite a riot or to create a disturbance, but to get jobs for black folks."  400-500 people were at the rally. The crowd is mostly African Americans. Months later, black people are hired as state troops.

Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) from August 1967 promoted a $30 billion bill that would provide nondiscriminatory full employment, education, and housing. Conyers would be one of the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus. He promoted a study of reparations for the descendants of enslaved Africans too. The National Urban Coalition was created to help the poor in urban areas by July 3, 1967. On August 15, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King gave his historic annual SCLC address. He wanted civil disobedience in urban areas in northern cities. He spoke about criticizing capitalism and he opposed the Vietnam War again. About 250 black people are arrested at the University of Illinois during a demonstration. On October 1, 1967, there is the Wall of Respect. This was a large mural at 43rd Street and Langley Avenue on Chicago’s South Side is dedicated. The wall shows images of accomplished African Americans. On October 20, 1967, 7 Klanspeople are convicted of conspiracy in the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers (whose names are Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner). Conspirator Edgar Ray Killen is later convicted in 2005. Huey P. Newton was arrested in October 28, 1967 after charges of killing an Oakland police officer and wounding another one. Newton was convicted of the charge of voluntary manslaughter and his conviction was overturned when evidence showed that another officer shot the bullets that killed Frey and injured Newton. The “Free Huey” movement existed before his relief.

By 1967, the Black Panther Party became a national organization with chapters nationwide. On November 7, 1967, Carl Stokes in Cleveland and Richard Hatcher in Gary, Indiana became the first black mayors of large U.S. cities. This represented the increase of political power among black Americans. People voted these men based on merit. On December 5, 1967, cops cowardly dragged a black female protester in Milwaukee. She wanted to demonstrate for open housing. More than 800 protesters celebrated the 100th day of demonstrations. In December of 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. calls for the Poor People’s Campaign. This campaign calls for the redistribution of wealth to help the poor citizens of Americans. It would be one of Dr. King’s final crusades for justice.  1967 would be one of the most explosive years of the movement.

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Early 1968

1968 was one of the most explosive years of the Civil Rights Movement. In 1968, there was a documentary film called, "No Vietnamese Ever Called Me a N___________." Dorothy Lee Bolden organized the National Domestic Workers Union in the same year too. Robert Clark in 1968 was the first African American to join the Mississippi legislature in the 20th century. In February of 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. met with the black activists H. Rap Brown and Kwame Ture. In this meeting, Dr. King wants them to keep future campaigns nonviolent. Dr. King was promoting the Poor People's Campaign back then. By February 19, 1968, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (which was shared by Illinois Governor Otto Kerner) issues its report on the rebellion. The report accurately found that the blame should be placed on poverty, discrimination, unequal enforcement of the law, substandard education, inferior housing, bad public services, and white racism. On March 19, 1968, students at Howard University seize an administration building and demand more African-American studies sources. The students demanded that Howard use a curriculum and its campus culture to reflect the lives of young African Americans. This is part of the new Black Studies movement, which will take years to allow black studies and studies of other ethnic groups to be common place in colleges plus universities nationwide. By March 28, 1968, Dr. King marches with sanitation workers on strike in Memphis, Tennessee. The protest turns violent as one 16 year old was killed and the police arrests 280 people. March 31, 1968 was the time when LBJ announced in public television that he will not seek reelection. By April of 1968, the country of America was in total confusion, chaos, and uncertainty. Government repression and racist attacks persisted, which caused many black heroic activists to be jailed, murdered, and harmed. Many people were brought off by far rightwing ideology. Black Americans among diverse quarters continue to fight for our human rights.

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"...A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death..."

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Riverside speech in New York City (on April 4, 1967).

The Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War

The Vietnam War was one of the most controversial, brutal wars in American history. It divided Americans based on class and generation. Also, black Americans were involved in the war from being opposed to it to being in the service during the Vietnam War era. This era was intertwined with the civil rights movement since the Civil Rights Movement existed during the peak of American involvement of the Vietnam War. It was during the Cold War where debates about the war existed. African American soldiers were drafted and the time period had complexities. Many black people had diverse views on the war, but African Americans were among the most anti-war critics of the Vietnam War historically. In order to understand the role of African Americans during this war, a comprehensive display of information must be shown. Vietnam has been dominated by French imperialism and Japanese imperialism for years. After World War II, Ho Chi Minh wanted Western support. Ho Chi Minh (who opposed the lynching of black people in America during the early 20th century) even cited the Declaration of Independence as a means for him to try to gain support from Americans. The West refused and supported French domination in a cruel gesture. The French were defeated and the Vietnamese people split into North and South Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh led the Communist movement back during the 1950’s. Diem (who was a U.S. trained person) led Southern Vietnam. Diem was so brutal that protests existed. Some dissidents of the Diem regime committed suicide by burning themselves on fire. Back during the early 1960’s, Malcolm X opposed the Vietnam War. American advisers came into Vietnam since the days of Eisenhower. JFK expanded the advisors and their roles in Vietnam. Malcolm X said that America was arrogant and would be defeated by the Vietnamese forces. He was right. Some evidence has shown that Malcolm X opposed the war during the 1950’s too. As the Vietcong emerged, the White Paper wanted more U.S. involvement in Vietnam by December of 1961. Kennedy had conflicting reports on how the war was going.

President John F. Kennedy planned on sending about 1,000 troops out of Vietnam, but he was a dedicated anti-Communist who didn’t want Vietnam to be run by the Viet Cong. The coup of Diem by the military generals caused Vietnam to exist in even more political instability. After Kennedy’s assassination, LBJ executed an even more aggressive, militaristic stance on Vietnam policy. The Gulf of Tonkin incident by August 2, 1964 was used by LBJ to extend more policies to attack Vietnamese territories. On March 2, 1965, Operation Rolling Thunder started. This was about the bombing of North Vietnam in order to stop the advance of the Vietcong. It would continue for many years and many civilians would die from this bombing too. The first anti-war Teach-in came about by the SDS on March 24, 1965. The SDS was a new Left organization that was an early opponent of the Vietnam War. By June 8, 1965, U.S. troops in a higher level go into combat missions. Many members of the Civil Rights Movement opposed nuclear weapons and opposed the Vietnam War from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, members of SNCC, James Baldwin, Robert Williams, etc. Dr. King spoke out against the war as early as 1965 in public. As the war escalated in 1964-1965, the anti-war movement grew. In this midst of these events, black soldiers were growing in the American military.

Black people were in the war in a disproportionate percentage as compared to the overall population of America.   According to the Oxford Companion to American Military History from 1999, “...During the height of the U.S. involvement, 1965-69, blacks, who formed 11 percent of the American population, made up 12.6 percent of the soldiers in Vietnam. The majority of these were in the infantry, and although authorities differ on the figures, the percentage of black combat fatalities in that period was a staggering 14.9 percent, a proportion that subsequently declined. Volunteers and draftees included many frustrated blacks whose impatience with the war and the delays in racial progress in America led to race riots on a number of ships and military bases, beginning in 1968, and the services' response in creating interracial councils and racial sensitivity training…” It is a fact that the vast majority of people who received the draft were black people, the poor, and those without a college education. Many people with deferments were among the rich, the college educated, many upper and middle class whites, and others with privilege. The draft was not only unfair. It was classist and racist. Many poor people, who were desperate for survival, were in the draft. In 1966, Project 100,000 existed to allow more poor people to go into the military. This increased black and poor human beings to go into Vietnam.

Deaths disproportionately affected African Americans. Racism existed in the Marine base at Camp Lejeune and the Army’s Fort Benning during this Vietnam War era. Black American soldiers worked as doctors, fought in combat, and worked in a diversity of fields. Many celebrities performed in bases where soldiers were stationed. Corporal Albert French was in Vietnam. One Medal of Honor recipient was Private First Class James Anderson Jr. USMC. He was killed in action on a patrol northwest of Quang Tri by using his body as a human shield to protect other soldiers. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. During the war, white, Asian, Latino, and black soldiers fought together. Specialist Fourth Class Esther M. Gletaon (a black woman) worked as a clerk typist for the Women’s Army Corps detachment at Long Binh in Vietnam during the late 1960’s. First Lieutenant Joseph Biggers participated in the war too. Many veterans were heavily mistreated after they came back from Vietnam. Some were denied job opportunities and some suffered exploitation. That is wrong and we all condemn those acts of mistreatment. Many black people in military bases in Vietnam fought racism, even opposed the war, and organized movements for social change.

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The civil rights movement was heavily divided about the Vietnam War. Throughout the majority of the American involvement of the Vietnam War, some civil rights movement leader like Roy Wilkins and Whitney Young supported the Vietnam War for years. They embraced an anti-Communist liberalism that believed in the myth that the Communism in South Vietnam would threaten to dominate all of Southeast Asia. In 1964, numerous SNCC members criticized the war. By early 1965, SNCC leader and civil rights activist Bob Moses oppose the Vietnam War strongly. He agreed with the New Left that the war in Vietnam violated the rights of the Vietnamese people just like Jim Crow segregation of the South harmed the democratic rights of black Americans. One event in the black community that changed everything was the murder of Sammy Younge in early 1966. Younge was involved in the 1965 Selma movement for voting rights. He was part of SNCC and was a military veteran (along with being a leader of the Tuskegee Institute Advancement League). In Tuskegee, Alabama, Sammy Younge used a “white only bathroom” in January 3, 1966. He did so since Jim Crow by that time was illegal. He talked with a white racist. Later, the white racist murdered Younge like a coward in his back of his head. The murderer is named Marvin Segrest, a white gas station attendant at a Standard Oil station. SNCC Chairman John Lewis was shocked by the murder of an innocent man. People were sad. John Lewis publicly criticized the war. The murderer was acquitted. This injustice caused SNCC to issue their January 6, 1966 public statement in total opposition to the Vietnam War. Their historic statement is the following:

“…The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee has a right and a responsibility to dissent with United States foreign policy on any issue when it sees fit. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee now states its opposition to United States' involvement in Vietnam on these grounds: We believe the United States government has been deceptive in its claims of concern for the freedom of the Vietnamese people, just as the government has been deceptive in claiming concern for the freedom of colored people in such other countries as the Dominican Republic, the Congo, South Africa, Rhodesia, and in the United States itself. ... The murder of Samuel [Younge] in Tuskegee, Alabama, is no different than the murder of peasants in Vietnam, for both [Younge] and the Vietnamese sought, and are seeking, to secure the rights guaranteed them by law. In each case the United States government bears a great part of the responsibility for these deaths. Samuel [Younge] was murdered because United States law is not being enforced. Vietnamese are murdered because the United States is pursuing an aggressive policy in violation of international law…”

Back in 1966, it is taboo for anti-war criticism of the Vietnam War, especially done by black people. Many people criticized the SNCC Statement. The “moderate” Atlanta Journal accused SNCC of using treason. The NAACP and the Atlanta World (which is an African American newspaper) criticized John Lewis’ words too. Yet, John Lewis courageously pressed onward. After this, Julian Bond on January 10, 1966 was refused to be seated by the Georgia state representatives, because of his views in opposition to the Vietnam War. Julian Bond supported SNCC’s statement which was anti-war. He supported those who refused to submit to the military draft. He was elected in 1965. Among other elected African Americans back then, they were some of the first black elected state Congressmen of Georgia since Reconstruction. Julian Bond’s statements caused a huge McCarthyism, anti-communist hysteria among white reactionary state Georgia representatives (like the racist James Lane). Julian Bond received death threats. The New Left and the ACLU support Julian Bond’s cause. Dr. King support Jed Julian Bond’s right to speak his mind. The Supreme Court ruled in Julian Bond’s favor to allow him to have the seat in the state Georgia legislature. By most of 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was pressured to tone down his anti-war views in public. Dr. King knew that the war was wrong and he worked in the movement in Chicago for human justice during that year.

Later, in 1966, the Black Panther Party would be formed in Oakland, California. They not only opposed police brutality. They believed in socialism and wanted an end to the Vietnam War as they opposed imperialism. Their Party Platform wanted black people to not be drafted into military service. A large section of the Black Power movement was anti-war and many members of this movement were involved in protests against the Vietnam War too. The famous heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali refused to be drafted, because he opposed the Vietnam War. By 1967, he was stripped of his title. He would go on to speak nationwide on issues of black consciousness, black history, the war of Vietnam, and other subjects. In the1960’s, Muhammad Ali would be part of the Nation of Islam. Muhammad Ali inspired black people and the youth to embrace courage and to fight injustice.

By December of 1966, Dr. King spoke at Abraham Ribicoff’s Subcommittee on Government Operations. He said that the bombs of Vietnam run the chance of a decent America. In order words, he wanted more economic resources to be used in domestic affairs than the funding of the war. In December, he planned to go to Jamaica to write his final book entitled, “Where Do We Go From Here?” I have read the book before and it's a great book. By January 14, 1967, he saw images of Vietnamese babies being mutilated by napalm bombs. This had an emotional impact on him since this evil war harmed the life of not only grown adults, but babies. William Pepper’s article made him oppose the war even more. Dr. King came into Jamaica from Miami and started to write. Rev. Bevel came to Dr. King wanted him to be a part of the anti-war march in America. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would do it. After Jamaica, Dr. King told his close advisors (Andrew Young, Stanley Levison, and labor leader Cleveland Robinson) that he would oppose the war in public and ally with the peace movement.

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While many of his advisers didn’t want him to take a more militant stand on the war, Dr. King proceeded. He knew of the risks and of the criticism that would come his way. Yet, he did it courageous. He spoke out against the Vietnam War on February 25, 1967 (in his “The Causalities of the War” speech) with the support of U.S. Senators Ernest Gruening, Mark Hatfield, George McGovern, and Eugene McCarthy. The FBI monitored Dr. King anti-war activities back in early 1967. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. later was involved in the March 25, 167 anti-war march in Chicago. He was at the Chicago Coliseum with Dr. Benjamin Spock (who was anti-war too). One of his greatest speeches would be his Riverside address which was given on April 4, 1967. It was held in New York City in Riverside Church. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave a very eloquent, thoughtful analysis of the Vietnam conflict and reasons on why he opposed the war. He spoke about the history of Vietnam and how Ho Chi Minh was never part of a worldwide Communist conspiracy to rule the world. Ho Chi Minh had a more nationalistic urge to advocate for independence against Western colonialism.

Even the VietCong included Communists, Buddhists, nationalists, peasants, religious groups, etc. who worked in a collation called the NLF or the National Liberation Front. By 1967, over 400,000 American troops existed in Vietnam. Dr. Martin Luther King led it be known that he wanted a timetable for total U.S. military withdrawal from Vietnam. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist, pacifist clergyman who rejected Communism, but supported democratic socialism. He viewed the Vietnamese struggle as a resistance movement for independence. He wanted both sides to embrace peace. Dr. King was in the middle of the youth groups of CORE and SNCC and the more old-school groups of the NAACP, Urban League, etc. Dr. King’s speech was in a sense a call for the improvement of America with love for America. Vincent Harding was the man who helped Dr. King to write his speech. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wanted an immediate end to the bombing in North and South Vietnam, a unilateral cease fire, stop U.S. military intervention in Laos, accept the rebel National Liberation Front in Vietnam’s future, and create a date of withdrawal of foreign troops from Vietnam. This was a withdrawal position.

Immediately, reactionaries and moderate civil rights leaders criticized Dr. King’s anti-war stance. Many establishment African American people followed Cold War liberalism or the myth that we must militarily defeat every Communist on Earth in order to have peace. Members of the Amsterdam New and the Pittsburgh Courier criticized him. Jackie Robinson, Whitney Young, Roy Wilkins, Carl Rowan, and other black people opposed his views too. The Johnson administration was furious at him. Bayard Rustin (who was a pacifist himself) criticized Dr. King, because he believed that the primary focus should be on domestic affairs to get the Johnson agenda rolling not on international matters. Rustin didn’t want an immediate withdrawal of troops from Vietnam, because he believed that a totalitarian government would exist in its place. Rustin wanted a coalition among the civil rights activists, labor, and the Democratic Party in order to get changes going in American society. Bayard Rustin who defends King's "right to debate" the war but tells black people not to join the anti-war movement because the problems they face are "so vast and crushing that they have little time or energy to focus upon international crises." Though he was a pacifist and Conscientious Objector, Rustin later tells African-Americans to join the military "to learn a trade, earn a salary, and be in a position to enter the job market on their return."

Carl Rowan used the old slander that Dr. King is taking advice from Communists. He also called Dr. King an egomaniac in the Reader’s Digest article. The Detroit Free Press supported Dr. King’s stance. Life (in one article, called Dr. King’s Riverside speech as “a demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi”), the New Times, and the Washington Post criticized Dr. King’s stance. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had an argument with Whitney Young in 1967 at Great Neck, NY in a fundraiser. Young accused Dr. King of abandoning the poor for his anti-war views. Dr. King responded that what you say may give you a foundation grant, but not get you into the Kingdom of truth. Young pointed at Dr. King stomach and said you’re eating well and Harry Wachtel came in to break things up. After the April speech, Dr. King and LBJ would never speak face to face again. Donations to the SCLC massively declined. The FBI continued to illegally monitor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the SCLC. On April 1967, Dr. King would be part of the MOBE anti-war rally. Kwame Ture was there to give his speech. Kwame Ture and Dr. King agreed with opposing the war. Also, CORE leader Floyd McKissick salutes Dr. King on his views. He said, “"I'm glad to have [King] with us, no question about that." Dr. Benjamin Mays, King's teacher from Morehouse College in Atlanta calls King, "One of the most courageous men alive today." He defends the speech. Sam Washington of the Chicago Defender said that Dr. King is showing a good example and more people are coming to his side. SCLC leader Dorothy Cotton and Rev. Andrew Young spoke of the pressure that Dr. King was under.

Kwame Ture gave the following views on the Vietnam War at Garfield High School in Seattle, Washington on April 19, 1967:

"...But now what you have to get crystal clear in your minds is that nobody gives anybody their freedom. People can only deny somebody their freedom. It's very important. We are all born free. We are enslaved by the institutions of racism that white America produces. Our job is to stop America from being racist; not to... not to give us our freedom...Black Power is the coming together of black people to fight for their liberation by any means necessary. [Applause]...They say we are culturally deprived. Culture is anything man made. If they say we are culturally deprived, they are denying our very existence. Don't let 'em do it to you. We got culture! We got Dr. W.E.B. DuBois! We got Countee Cullen! We got Leroi Jones! We got Mahalia Jackson! We got... [Applause] Yeah! Yeah! We got the Staple Singers! We got the Mighty Clouds of Joy. We got James Brown! We got Ray Charles! [Applause] Yeah! And to put the icing on the cake we got Reverend C.F. Franklin and his soulful daughter, Aretha Franklin! [Applause]... In the Vietnamese War, let America prove something to us. We will not fight in their war. [Applause] How could you let them destroy your humanity? How could you let them put you in a uniform and go fight people who have never done anything to you. How could you? When are we going to get the strength to tell this country we will not let her destroy us?.."

Black women were leaders of the anti-Vietnam War movement too. Many black women opposed the Vietnam War as an attack on their families (like Diane Nash of SNCC visiting Vietnam in December of 1966 and later criticizing the war). Many black women lost their brothers, their sons, their husbands, their uncles, and their cousins due to the Vietnam War. A black woman named Gwen Patton (from SNCC) helped found NBAWADU in 1968. In order to do this, they allied themselves with two other prominent predominantly Black social movement organizations: the Black Panther Party and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In her writings and speeches, she explained her intellectual rationale for a Black Power anti-war group. They were twofold. First, she argued that Black Power activists needed an organization that mobilized at the intersection of racism and imperialism, or one that pinpointed how “the atrocities of imperialism and that of Vietnam [were] only a stepping stone to world exploitation by the American imperialists.” NABWADU activists organized anti-war marches in Washington, D.C. Its members had an anti-war conference in 1968 where over 700 attended. In September 1969 in Chicago, fifteen members of NBAWADU temporarily disrupted draft calls by breaking into the Sixty-third Street Selective Service, and burning the 1-A, or draft eligible, files. Gwen Patton opposed the war and also fought against the evils of imperialism, patriarchy, imperialism, racism, etc. She wanted black women to be free and show the truth that black women are political warriors too, not just men.

By 1968, changes came about. By January 18, 1968, Eartha Kitt was invited to the White House. She was in an luncheon. She criticized America's involvement in the Vietnam War in front of the hostess Lady Bird Johnson (who was the First Lady back then).  Kitt was asked by Lady Bird Johnson about the Vietnam War. She replied: "You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. No wonder the kids rebel and take pot." During a question and answer session, Kitt stated:

"The children of America are not rebelling for no reason. They are not hippies for no reason at all. We don’t have what we have on Sunset Blvd. for no reason. They are rebelling against something. There are so many things burning the people of this country, particularly mothers. They feel they are going to raise sons — and I know what it's like, and you have children of your own, Mrs. Johnson — we raise children and send them to war."

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Kitt was investigated later by the FBI and the CIA. The powers that be disgracefully harmed Eartha Kitt's career for years. She would make a glorious comeback by the 1970's. Many people admired the Vietcong soldiers. Many of them were Vietnamese women holding rifles and fighting. The Tet Offensive was a massive North Vietnamese attack on South Vietnamese targets. American soldiers were heavily injured and killed. American forces responded and became victorious in the Tet Offensive. Yet, it showed the public of the stalemate of the war and how an American victory wasn’t going to be possible. Even Walter Cronkite has said after the Tet Offensive that the war is lost. LBJ soon publicly said that he won’t seek re-election. The anti-war movement grew into new heights by 1968. Protests nationwide continued. The Civil rights movement increasingly would be anti-war. Black people demonstrated against the war from Harlem, NYC to San Francisco. It would be after the King Assassination when Whitney Young and Roy Wilkins would go on to publicly oppose the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement had link historical links and both events definitely impact our world today.

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Memphis and the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

By the end of the 1960’s, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other heroic activists fought for the Poor Peoples Campaign and for the Memphis sanitation striking movement. The Poor Peoples Campaign started in 1967. It was about a multiracial coalition (made up of African Americans, Latino Americans, Asian Americans, poor whites, etc.) that wanted to march to Washington, D.C. to desire the federal government to send billions of dollars to abolish poverty in American society. It wanted an economic bill of rights, economic rights for poor Americans, a guaranteed annual income, adequate housing, and a commitment to full employment. Dr. King said that the Vietnam War neglected the needs of the poor and that war harmed the vision of the Great Society. Welfare rights activists and Marian Wright Edelman contributed heavily to the Poor People’s Campaign. Dr. King also wanted civil disobedience, if necessary work stoppages, to fight injustices. The movement publicly announced the Poor People’s Campaign in during early December 1967. Not everyone in the SCLC agreed with this. Jesse Jackson wanted other priorities. Rustin opposed civil disobedience. Yet, Dr. King continued with the plans. He wanted people to arrive in Washington, D.C. by May 2, 1968. The SCLC announced the campaign on December 4, 1967. King delivered a speech which identified "a kind of social insanity which could lead to national ruin." In January 1968, the SCLC created and distributed an "Economic Fact Sheet" with statistics explaining why the campaign was necessary. King avoided providing specific details about the campaign initially and attempted to redirect media attention to the values at stake.

The Poor People’s Campaign held firm to the movement’s commitment to non-violence. “We are custodians of the philosophy of non-violence,” said King at a press conference. “And it has worked.” King originally wanted the Poor People's Campaign to start in Quitman County, Mississippi because of the intense and visible economic disparity there. In February 1968, King announced specific demands: $30 billion for antipoverty, full employment, guaranteed income, and the annual construction of 500,000 affordable residences. Dr. King visited Marks, Mississippi to see starving black children, and poverty in a vicious way. The FBI wanted to disrupt and monitor the campaign, because they oppose Dr. King's progressive views. Nixon didn’t want the demands to exist. Dr. King courageously moved forward. While this was going on, the Memphis sanitation strike continued.

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She is Sister Cornelia Crenshaw and a dedicated leader of the Memphis striking workers. 

For a long time, Memphis was a victim of racism and economic discrimination. Some of the worst anti-black violence in American history took place in Memphis (like the 1866 anti-black riot in Memphis). By the 1960’s, the conservative mayor Henry Loeb refused to promote public unions. Black workers faced discrimination, lax wages, and horrible conditions in various jobs. Thomas Oliver tried to form a local union. He was restricted to do so. By February 1, 1968, 2 black sanitation workers were killed by a city truck for trying to escape the rain. This changed everything. A strike soon existed. Maxine Smith, T.O. Jones, James Lawson, Bill Lucy, and so many people joined forces to fight for their human rights. The strike lasted for over 2 months. Cornelia Crenshaw and other people were leaders in the Memphis sanitation workers movement too. The more anti-nonviolence Invaders wanted to join and they did. They disagreed with many of the nonviolent activists (like Rev. James Lawson), but they desired the same goal which is justice for the striking workers.

Rev. James Lawson was a pacifist and a minister who was totally committed. Many of the strikers wore “I Am a Man” posters to show the word that they are men. The police used police brutality against protesters. Dr. Martin Luther King came into Memphis on March 18, 1968. Many of his allies didn’t want him to go, but he did since if the strike is successful, the Poor People’s Campaign would be successful in his mind. A snowstorm prevented another march. The march came on March 28, 1968. We know now that provocateurs caused violence and the violence by the police existed too. Dr. King and others left. People were maced and filled with tear gas. The media in many cases falsely blamed Dr. King for the chaos and Dr. King vowed to do another march. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was told to go to Mason Church to speak on April 3, 1968. He was tired, but the crowd was waiting for him.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. came into the Church to give his famous “I Have Been to the Mountaintop” speech. It was a great speech and he moved the crowd. These are the final words of the "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech which has been delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In Mason Temple (Church of God in Christ Headquarters), Dr. King was emotional and inspirational. The crowd in Memphis, Tennessee was stirred up. Here are Dr. King's last words:

 "...And they were telling me --. Now, it doesn't matter, now. It really doesn't matter what happens now. I left Atlanta this morning, and as we got started on the plane, there were six of us. The pilot said over the public address system, "We are sorry for the delay, but we have Dr. Martin Luther King on the plane. And to be sure that all of the bags were checked, and to be sure that nothing would be wrong with on the plane, we had to check out everything carefully. And we've had the plane protected and guarded all night." And then I got into Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers?

Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! And so I'm happy, tonight.

I'm not worried about anything.

I'm not fearing any man!

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!"

One day later, he was assassinated at 6 pm. on April 4, 1968. Rebellions happened in over 100 U.S. cities and the strike would end on April 16, 1968, which caused an agreement to be reached. The striking workers celebrated and a new era would exist. Future actions of workers would be successful in Charleston, South Carolina by 1969 (of hospital workers) and in Atlanta by 1970. The Poor People’s Campaign continued in June 1968. It was a failure (as Congress refused to send strong legislation), but it raised awareness on the problems of poverty and economic exploitation. Programs that helped the poor were further created. Resurrection City was the encampment in D.C. that provided awareness of poverty during the Poor Peoples Campaign. It soon ended when government authorities shut the camp down. People were forced to leave the Washington Mall. Ralph Abernathy led the Poor Peoples Campaign after Dr. King was assassinated. The Poor Peoples Campaign represented the same issues we deal with today from housing discrimination, economic exploitation, educational problems, poverty, and economic inequality.

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The rise of 1968 outlined the end of one era of Black American history. A new era started, which was the Post Civil Rights Era (from 1968 to 2008). Later, the Age of Obama would commence (2008-2017), and of our current era (2017-present). The next chapter of the series (which will delve into the last 50 years of the experiences of Black America) will be the final chapter of the African American History series.

By Timothy

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