Tuesday, August 15, 2017

(The African American Story Part 7 (The Second Era) Part 2

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The beginning of the 21st century was a new epoch in our history. The issues of racism and class oppression continued to be discussed in our community. The Cold War is over and the nadir of the Clinton Presidency existed. More discussions about police brutality and race persisted in America. The new millennium sparked the age of both old fights for social justice and new realities filled with advanced technology, social media, reality TV shows, and generational debates on lyrics and the N word. It wouldn’t be until February of 2000 when the Oklahoma state legislature would receive a recommendation from the Tulsa Race Riot Commission that reparations are to be paid to the survivors of the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. The Tulsa riot was when tons of jealous white racists murdered and terrorized black people in Tulsa, Oklahoma back in 1921. On July 1, 2000, months after a January rally of almost 50,000 protesters, the Confederate flag was lowered from the South Carolina state capitol dome. It would be years later until the Confederate flag is banned from public state grounds. One of the most controversial events of Black American history was the selection of George W. Bush as President. The 2000 election was very controversial. The 2000 Presidential race was when Al Gore faced off against George W. Bush. Al Gore wanted to show that he would promote trust funds and investments in technology (along with centrist goals of trying to eliminate the national debt by 2012 and $500 billion of targeted tax cuts), while George W. Bush, who was a former Texas Governor, desired to be President too. Al Gore was Vice President back then. He gained tons of African American support in wanting to continue the legacy of Bill Clinton. Bush wanted a “compassionate conservativism.” Bush is known for supporting the death penalty and believing in many far right policies. We know about Clinton’s neoliberal centrism too. It was one of the closest elections in history. There is tons of evidence of thousands of black Americans being barred from voting in Florida and many of their voting records being declared void (as proven and documented by the journalist Greg Palast, etc.). Many Florida precincts, with mostly African American people, had ballots declared “void by technical reasons.” The modern Republican Party is all about a promotion of capitalism. There were disputes and lawsuits relating to the 2000 election.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to allow Bush to “win” the election on December 12, 2000. I was 17 years old during that time. 90 percent of African Americans voted for Al Gore while only 8 percent of black Americans voted for George W. Bush. Jesse Jackson led a march on December 13, 2000 to protest the state handling of the 2000 Presidential election. Members of the Black Congressional Congress in January 6, 2001 protested the Supreme Court decision in Congress. Yet, Vice President Al Gore confirmed the 2000 election results without his protest or criticism. 20 black Representatives walked into the Congressional session in protest. Maxine Waters rightfully exposed the evil fraud of the 2000 election too. This was when I was a senior in high school. The inauguration of President George W. Buh in 2001 was filled with protests and outrage. On January 20, 2001, Colin Powell was made the first African American to be the Secretary of State. Later, Condoleezza Rice would be the first African American woman Secretary of State in America. Both of them would exemplify great intelligence, huge accomplishments, mistakes, and profound controversies.

The June 2001 Hip Hop Summit discussed many issues and it celebrated hip hop’s cultural power and critiqued its components too (as misogyny, glamorization of violence, misogynoir, materialism, and other forms of bigotry must be confronted in the hip hop industry). It was hosted by Russel Simmons (who had to apologize for his disgraceful action in mistreating Harriet Tubman) and other artists were there like Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaata, Grandmaster Flash, etc. The Summit desired to use hip hop artists and others to form political power that can change communities in a positive direction. A wide spectrum of scholars and social activists were in the summit like Martin Luther King III, Cynthia McKinney, Cornel West, Michael Eric Dyson, Tricia Rose, then NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, Louis Farrakhan, Benjamin Chavis, etc. The attendees agreed to focus on fighting for social justice issues which includes criminal justice matters.

From August 31 to September 7, 2001, “the UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance” took place in Durban, South Africa. African Americans were supportive of the conference. The Conference condemned racism, discrimination, economic exploitation, and Zionism. There were debates about reparations for people of black African descent, the slave trade, and other important issues.

The evil attacks of September 11, 2001 changed the landscape of black people and the human race forever. The attacks were in New York City, Virginia (as the Pentagon is in Virginia), and Pennsylvania. Thousands of people died. The victims of the attacks were black people, and men and women plus children of diverse races and creeds. Immediately, the war on terror started. Also, many Muslims were violated of their rights early on by late 2001. Islamophobia grew in America. George W. Bush overtly said that he is executing a “crusade” against terrorism. George W. Bush would also say that Islam and Muslims in general are not responsible for the attacks on 9/11. Bush is right on that point. The 9/11 attacks were done by extremists and evil people who are not representative of a specific creed or religion. The Patriot Act was passed which compromised many of our cherished civil liberties. By October 2001, the West attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan.

I remember the police shooting of an unarmed black man (who was Timothy Thomas) in Cincinnati that caused a rebellion in the city on April of 2001.

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The Iraq War

Immediately after 9/11, the Bush administration desired a military confrontation with Iraq. Also, by 2002, many people used false justifications as a means to promote war against Iraq. Many anti-war protests existed back in 2002 and many people passed legislation that gave President the authorization of force to be used against Saddam Hussein. Not only did many Republicans support that legislation, but many Democrats did so too. By early 2003, Bush sent Colin Powell to the United Nations in order to make the case for an American invasion by claiming that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was a direct threat to the region and to America. We know that Iraq was not a direct threat to America and Saddam Hussein had no extensive, massive weapons of mass destruction in 2003. So, deceptions were promoted by the administration and by even some in the media to advance the war narrative. Back then, even in 2003, it was very taboo to be anti-war. That is why Phil Donahue’s show was heavily criticized for being anti-Iraq War and many social activists were threatened because of opposition to the Iraq War.

The invasion of Iraq by American military forces existed on March of 2003. I remember it just like it was yesterday and I was a sophomore in college back then. A large part of the African American community opposed the war from the beginning. Many black people also were in the military in the battlefields of both Iraq and Afghanistan at the same time. At first, the American forces quickly defeated the Iraqi forces and came into Baghdad in a matter of months. Later, Western forces used policies that strengthened the resistance and caused chaos in Iraq which hasn’t been completely gone to this very day. There was the de-Baathization of the Iraqi military, conflicts over governmental power among Iraqis, and a persistent resistance movement in Iraq against American occupation. Many Sunni people (who suffered discrimination by many Shia) became so desperate that some allied with the evil, reactionary ISIS group. The Iraq War was one of the biggest foreign policy mistakes in American history. The Iraq War didn’t end terrorism in the Middle East.

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It made terrorist networks more complex in their actions from overt military warfare to cyber terrorism. The Iraq War was an imperialist adventure that many people in the Middle East have paid the price for with their lives. In March 2003 poll; only 44 percent of African Americans supported the war. Most white Americans and most Latinos back then supported the invasion. This proves that the powerful anti-war spirit existed in tons of African Americans from WEB DuBois, Malcolm X, and to Dr. King (which is a great thing). By April 23, 2003, Gallup found that only 29 percent of black Americans supported the Iraq War.

The Iraq War was another sign of the war on terror continuing. This era of the war on terror curtailed our civil liberties and civil rights, it created more far right people to express more of their Islamophobia, it also made us more aware of the continued unjust racial profiling, surveillance, and harassment of black communities. The war on terror was used by the political order to advance the systems of neoliberal capitalism and racism/white supremacy. The Iraq War was a very ominous example of the failure of neoconservative extremism and the truth that only a progressive political solution can cause reconciliation and peace among Sunnis and Shias in the Middle East.

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I will never forget Hurricane Katrina. It was a natural disaster that killed many lives. It once again represented how important the issues of race and class must be talked about in order for democratic solutions to exist. It exposed once again the callousness of the Bush administration and the failure of all levels of government to solve the problem of lax infrastructure in New Orleans. The Hurricane Katrina disaster lasted from August to September 2005. I was a senior in college back then. It devastated families, ruined lives, and caused a massive exodus of black Americans from New Orleans into Houston, Austin, Baton Rouge, Detroit, Atlanta, and across the nation. Some in the media slandered the black victims as “refugees.” The Bush administration clearly did a bad job in helping the poorest of the victims. FEMA was formed in 1979 and it has been filled with corruption, cronyism, and scandals. Also, the local and state government made mistakes like ignoring decades long warnings of building up New Orleans’ safety systems to protect human life.

For example, the 2002 special report of the New Orleans Times-Picayune warned that a hurricane could damage the levees and cause unspeakable damage in the region. Scientists and investigative reporters have warned authorities about the vulnerability of the levees near Lake Pontchartrain for a long time. Louisiana, Mississippi, and southwestern Alabama were the places that received the most damage. Over 1,800 people died from Katrina. Over 500,000 people were displaced from the region from the natural disaster too. Hundreds of bodies flooded among the waters. Charity Hospital was shut down. I never forgot Glen Beck’s disrespectful comments about the victims of Katrina too.

When many of the black victims tried to cross the bridge (across the Mississippi River) into the suburbs, white mobs including armed police with guns forced them to return into the city. Many of these white far right people shot and killed black people back then.  Crooked cops killed 2 unarmed black people (who were James Brissette and Ronald Madison) in the Danzinger Bridge. Spike Lee has shown the truth in his documentary “When the Levees Break.” Also, Spike Lee has another documentary that deals with Katrina and the BP disaster on the Gulf Coast too. The BP disaster was about BP having an oil spill. That spill polluted waters, which harmed people and killed wildlife. I read that many of the FEMA locations had poisons in them too. The Bush/Cheney team was shopping, celebrating in a baseball game, etc. while people were dying in the streets of New Orleans. What made me angry was about how the cowardly racists were blaming the black people and the poor when they were victims of a natural disaster. Koch Industries being involved in corporate exploitation doesn't surprise me. The Koch Brothers were involved in aiding three strikes laws back during the 1990's. Malik Rahim, who is founder of Common Ground Relief, is one of the heroes of Katrina.

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Many victims were stranded in New Orleans’ downtown Morial Convention Center. People were trapped for days without water and food. FEMA Director Michael Brown refused to send fire departments and emergency vehicles or personnel into devastated areas unless requested by state and local authorities. This was when electricity and Internet access in that region was down. The disrespect of black suffering by the corporate elite is commonplace. When Kanye West said that George W. Bush doesn’t care about black people, he expressed sadness and anger at black mistreatment by the system.

Also, heroes (of every color) stood up to help the suffering, rescue victims, and gave food plus water to human beings. After 10 years, things have changed and other things have remained the same. The massive economic inequality in New Orleans is part of our call during this century to really address poverty. Katrina dispersed thousands of our Brothers and our Sisters nationwide while select corporations have gentrified many areas of New Orleans. Capitalists have made a killing at the expense of dead bodies and the accumulation of our wealth and our land in the city. There has been a massive increase of rent costs 10 years later and affordable housing is a serious problem today. Rents in New Orleans have doubled from an average of $488 a month before Katrina to $926 in 2015. Black culture will always be a part of New Orleans as our people played a huge rule in the culture, music, cuisine, and soul of the city of New Orleans.

The greatness of jazz is forever etched in New Orleans’ consciousness. Today, further investment in the city’s infrastructure is needed. Not only that, we need a further effort to fight for the economic rights of the poor and working class people of New Orleans too. Poor people are suffering. Black people and poor people in the city deserve dignity. George W. Bush coming to New Orleans back in 2015 is ironic since he was one of the many people responsible for the disastrous government response in the first place (that event represents the reactionary, extremist nature of the Bush Presidency). President Barack Obama talked with people and gave his speech back in 2015 too.

We know that neoliberal policies, Empire, and gentrification won’t work to help the masses of black people. There should definitely be a revolutionary, reconstruction plan in the region (done by all levels of government), so black people can develop into the next level. Everyone agrees that we have a long way to go. In the Lower Ninth Ward, in 2015, only 36 percent of the pre-Katrina population has returned.  Since 2005, thousands of teachers were fired in NOLA and New Orleans is dominated by charter school educational services. The Lower Ninth Ward has not received adequately resources to rebuilt (it was the last region in the city to receive electricity, etc.) while the French Quarter and other areas are massively rebuilt. The Sanchez Center in the lower Ninth Ward was only opened in May of 2015. Today, there are 100,000 less African Americans living in New Orleans than in 2005. I read about environmental issues in the city too and we should address environmental issues. Therefore, we know that many brave activists are helping people in the city of New Orleans now. They need our solidarity and our support. We want not only New Orleans to be greater. We want the world to be greater as well.

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Heroes Passing away

One hero who passed away was Rosa Parks on October 25, 2005. She was 92 years old. Rosa Parks was a champion of black freedom and her legacy of perseverance, courage, and grace will last eternally. Her courage was shown in refusing to go into the back of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. That sparked the more than yearlong boycott to end segregation involving public transportation. She promoted equality and social justice. The civil rights movement was inspired heavily by older movements and the mass actions of the working class and the poor. By that time (during 2005), opposition to the Bush administration was huge because of their far right domestic and foreign policies.  In October 29, 2005, her coffin was flown to Montgomery and taken in a horse drawn hearse to St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church. It was in repose at the altar. A memorial service was held in the next morning.  One of the speakers, United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said that if it had not been for Parks, she would probably have never become the Secretary of State. She is right. In the evening the casket was transported to Washington, D.C. and transported by a bus similar to the one in which she made her protest, to lie in honor in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.

Since the founding in 1852 of the practice of lying in state in the Rotunda, Parks was the 31st person, the first American who had not been a U.S. government official, and the second private person (after the French planner Pierre L'Enfant) to be honored in this way. She was the first woman and the second black person to lie in state in the Capitol. An estimated 50,000 people viewed the casket there, and the event was broadcast on television on October 31, 2005. A memorial service was held that afternoon at Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, D.C. Her body and casket was sent to Detroit. It lay in repose at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Her funeral service was 7 hours long. It was held on November 2, 2005. The service was in Greater Grace Temple Church. After the service, an honor guard from the Michigan National Guard laid the U.S. flag over the casket and carried it to a horse-drawn hearse, which was intended to carry it, in daylight, to the cemetery. As the hearse passed the thousands of people who were viewing the procession, many clapped, cheered loudly and released white balloons. Parks was interred between her husband and mother at Detroit's Woodlawn Cemetery in the chapel's mausoleum. The chapel was renamed the Rosa L. Parks Freedom Chapel in her honor.

Later, Coretta Scott King passed away on January 30, 2006. She passed away of ovarian cancer. For long decades, she was a champion of civil rights and human rights. She promoted not only civil rights. She believed in pacifism, nuclear disarmament, economic justice, and economic rights. She also opposed apartheid in South Africa. She was 78 years old. Her body was carried by a horse drawn carriage to Georgia State Capitol where she was laid out in her honor. She was the first African American and female to do so. Over 16,000 mourners paid their respects to Coretta Scott King as they filed past her casket. Her funeral service took place in Lithonia, Georgia on February 7, 2006. Many people mourned her passing. It was at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. It was bigger than the Ebenezer Baptist Church (which had Coretta Scott King as a member since the early 1960’s and where was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral in 1968). Many people were there. U.S. Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and their wives attended (except for First Lady Barbara Bush who had a previous engagement).

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Then Senator, Barack Obama was there too. Mrs. King was at first interred in a temporary mausoleum on the grounds of the King Center. Later, her body was placed next to the husband’s remains. She wanted her remains to lie next to her husband’s at the King Center. By November 20, 2006, the new mausoleum containing both bodies of Dr. King and Mrs. King was unveiled in front of friends and family. It is the third resting place of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The funeral was filled with speakers from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush. President Jimmy Carter and Rev. Joseph Lowery gave speeches that sent funeral orations. This was the time of the Bush Presidency and during the early stages of the Iraq War. Both speakers criticized the Bush administration overtly. Rev. Lowery opposed the Iraq War just like Coretta Scott King did when she was alive.

Rev. Lowery said the following words: “…She deplored the terror inflicted by our smart bombs on missions way afar. . . . We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there. But Coretta knew, and we knew, that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty abounds. For war, billions more, but no more for the poor…”

President Carter talked about Coretta Scott King’s struggle for civil rights and said that her family was a target of secret government wiretapping. He criticized U.S. government policy involving wiretaps and then came thunderous applause and standing ovations. Coretta Scott King fought for the end of Jim Crow segregation, fights against poverty, the fight against Western militarism, and human tolerance. Equality and justice comes by making sure that people’s economic life and social life are made to be progressively ordered to benefit the masses of the people beyond a wealthy few.

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Jena Six

Jena Six was a defining moment in African American movement. It related to many racial tensions in Jena, Louisiana. There were nooses handing in the school area of a Jena educational facility. The incident started after a black student in a high school asked the principal at a school assembly if he could sit under the tree where many white students sat at during breaks. The next day, three nooses in the school were found handing from the tree. The students, who hung them, were at first expelled. Yet, the superintendent of schools intervened and gave them a three day suspension, which is ludicrous. Black students gathered under the tree to protest the bad decision. On November 1, 2006, a private party was held at the Jena Fair Barn. Fights occurred between white and black people. Then, Baker was attacked. The people accused of the assaulted were called Jena Six. Many of our Brothers and our Sisters were in risk of receiving outrageously high sentences and that is why people came into Louisiana to protest the situation. Catrina Wallace and Caseptla Bailey were the backbone of the drop the charges campaign that culminated in tens of thousands of people marching in Jena on September 2007. It is important to mention that black women stood up in great numbers to defend the Jena Six. We always honor and appreciate the wisdom and power of black women forever. Catrina Wallace passed away by murder. Catrina Wallace was one of the greatest activists in the Jena Six movement. She worked continuously in community organizing and she was a strong Sister.

Rest in Power Sister Catrina Wallace.

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The 2006 Election

The Iraq War, the Bush administration bad handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the start of the collapse of the United States housing bubble, Bush’s legislative defeat of his plan to partially privatize Social Security, many 2006 Republican scandals, corruption, and the failure of many Republicans to make massive change in America, and the political tensions caused the Democratic Party to win most of the House and the Senate by 2006. This caused a historic change and it made more black politicians in Congress to gain more influence. This occurred during George W. Bush’s second term. The Democrats won a majority of governorships and state legislatures from the Republican Party. It was the first time when a woman served as the Speaker of the House, who was Nancy Pelosi, or the leader of the Democrats in the House of the Representative. She was the highest-ranking woman in the history of the government of the United States upon her election as Speaker in January 2007.  It was also the first election in U.S. history in which the losses for one side were so lopsided that the victorious party did not lose a single incumbent or open seat in Congress or governor's mansion. This was a new era.

Many Democrats wanted to increase the minimum wage, repeal tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, implement all of the 9/11 Commission recommendations, end subsidies for oil companies, restricting lobbyists, and other proposals. Representative John Conyers of Michigan back then was the chairman of the House Committee of the Judiciary (this monitors the federal courts and the Department of Justice). Conyers was a co-founder of the CBC or the Congressional Black caucus, He worked with Dr. King in opposing the Vietnam War, he was a Korean War veteran, and was a lawyer in 1958. He has a long career in the House. Charles Rangel by 2006 was in the CBC for decades. He was a House representative from Harlem since 1971 after Adam Clayton Powell Jr. left the seat. He continues to fight poverty, drug addiction, and deals with issues relating to the urban black community and the rest of Americans. He isn’t in Congress anymore today. He was a Korean War veteran too. Bennie G. Thompson was the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee. He fought for rural poor and black farmers to receive compensation for decades of discrimination. Juanita Millender-McDonald was the House Administration Committee chair. Yet, she sadly passed away in 2007. In 2006, Deval Patrick became the second black American governor in American history. He was governor of Massachusetts. The first black governor was Virginia’s Douglas L. Wilder.

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Black Excellence during the 2000's

By the 21st century, Black Excellence continued. By the year 2000, there were 34,658,190 African Americans. In the year of 2000, Rev. Vashti M. McKenzie was the first African American woman bishop of the African Methodist Zion Church. Lilian Elaine Fishbourne was the first black woman Admiral of the U.S. Navy in the year 2000 too. By February 15, 2000, a unanimous vote caused Harvard to create its full doctoral program in African American studies. Temple University had such a program too. This is important since African American history is part of overall human culture. On April 26, 2001, Thelma Golden curated the Freestyle art exhibition. The art exhibition opened at the Studio Museum in Harlem, NYC. It showed the work of many black men and black women who showed post-black art or diverse forms of art shown by black people. Dr. Ruth Simmons was the first African American President of any Ivy League school of Brown University. She was a 56 years old expert in Romance languages plus literature. She was President of Smith College previously too. She is a great educator and research Brown University’s roots to slavery financially. In November of 2001, Shirley Clarke Franklin was the first African American woman to head the government of a major Southern city when she was elected mayor of Atlanta. She helped to make Atlanta greener. She helped to rebuild an Atlanta sewer system in the city. She also helped to further modernize the city of Atlanta. The Tavis Smiley Show premiered on National Public Radio on January 7, 2002. Suzan-Lori Parks was the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (for her play Topdog/Underdog. It had actors Jeffrey Wright and Mos Def playing rival brothers in a card game in their apartment).

One human being is an important part of history. She is Vonetta Flowers. At the 2002 Winter Olympics, she, along with driver Jill Bakken, won the gold medal in the two-woman event, becoming the first black person to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics. She has twins and is living a Blessed Life.

By November 8, 2002, Laila Ali (daughter of Muhammad Ali) defeated Valerie Mahfood in a boxing match. Laila Ali unified the three women’s super-middleweight boxing championship. Laila Ali is a boxing legend and a human being who is a role model for so many human beings. On 2002, Halle Berry and Denzel Washington win Oscars. Also, in the same year, Dennis Archer became the first African American to be elected President of the American Bar Association. Dennis Archer was the former mayor of Detroit. October 18, 2004 was when a new Frederick P. Rose Hall center would open to celebrate Jazz. Wynton Marsalis opens this new center. By January of 2005, Condoleezza Rice became the Secretary of State. She was the second African American human being and the first African American woman to hold that position. On February 18, 2006, speed skater Shani Davis became the first black athlete to win an individual gold medal in a Winter Olympics sport when he clinched the men’s 1,000 meter event at the games in Turin, Italy. 4 years later, he was the first man to win back to back gold medals in the event at the Vancouver games. Corey Booker was the Mayor of Newark in 2006. On May 19, 2006, Sophia Dannenberg was the first African American and the first black woman to reach the top of Mount Everest. By 2004, reverse of the Great Migration happens when more black Americans are living in the South from Atlanta to Houston.

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Sister LaTasha Colander is a great athlete. She won the gold medal from the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia. She had it from the 4 X 400 relay race. She is also from Portsmouth, Virginia. She was placed into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. I'm from Virginia and this has great importance to me and others. In 2000, she established the LC Treasures Within Foundation – a foundation with the mission to strengthen kids, families and the world through education, sports and spirituality. She is a great role model and a great human being. Yes, the 757 is always in the House. 

On November 7, 2006, Deval Patrick was elected Governor of Massachusetts. He became the second African American in the nation after Reconstruction (after Douglas L. Wilder from Virginia in 1989) to be popularly elected to his position. On early 2007, Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy was the first African American coach to guide his team to win a Super Bowl ring. Forest Whitaker win and Best actor Oscar for his role of The Last King of Scotland (about Idi Amin). Jennifer Hudson wins one for Best Supporting Actress for Effie White on Dreamgirls (a movie from the Broadway play). Authors like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (who is a black woman from Nigeria) and Edwidge Dticat (who is Haitian) write literature about black life in diverse ways. On March 17, 2007, David A. Paterson was sworn in as Governor of New York after the resignation of Elliot Spitzer. He was the first legally blind American Governor. Also, he is the first African American Governor of New York State and he was the fourth black governor of any state.  In September 17, 2008, author and legal scholar Annette Gordon-Reed released her groundbreaking study called, “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family.” It discussed about the generations of Sally Hemings and her family. The book won the Pulitzer Prize for History for her work. Her book won the National Book Award.

During the Summer Olympic games in Beijing, massive achievements were made. The Redeem Team won their first USA men basketball championship since 2000. The members were Carlos Boozer, Jason Kidd, LeBron James, Deron Williams, Michael Redd, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Tayshaun Prince, and Carmelo Anthony.  Throughout the 2000's, Kobe Bryant was a great player and by the end of the first decade of the 21st century, Lebron James became the best player in the league. Lebron James is the greatest player right now in the NBA. While I think that Michael Jordan has greater accomplishments than Lebron James (I believe that Michael Jordan is a greater basketball player than Lebron James), Lebron James is greater than Michael Jordan in terms of a expressing a better social consciousness in public. I honor Michael Jordan's skills, but LeBron James has been outspoken on race, Trump, police brutality, etc.

The 2008 USA women's Basketball team won 4 straight from 1996 to 2008 and continued to win 2 straight afterwards. The members of the 2008 women Olympic team were Seimone Augustus, Sue Bird, Lisa Leslie, Candice Parker, Kara Lawson, Cappie Poindexter, Katie Smith, Tina Thompson, Diane Taurasi, DeLisa Minton-Jones, Sylvia Fowles, and Tamika Catchings. Serena Williams and Venus Williams won a gold medal in the 2008 Olympics for women's doubles. In 2008, Cynthia McKinney accepts the Green Party nomination in the Presidential race. On January 31, 2009, Michael Steele was chosen as the chair of the Republican National Committee. He is the first African American with that position. For a long time, many Republicans have shown blatantly racist ideology. Steele (to his credit) recently condemned Trump's 2017 bigoted remarks. Steele was raised by a widowed mother and he is from a family of sharecroppers.

On February 2009, then 58 year old Eric Holder became the first black Attorney General in American history. He accurately told the truth during a Justice Department event celebrating Black History Month that America continues to be a "nation of cowards" when it comes to racial discussions. On May 28, 2009, Lynn Nottage won the Pulitzer prize for her stage drama Ruined. She loves to show frank stories. She represents the new generation of great 21st century playwrights (like Marcus Gardley, Katori Hall, Suzan-Lori Parks, Lydia Diamond, and Tarell McCarney). On July 1, 2009, then 50 year old Ursula Burns became CEO of he Xerox Corporation. She was the first African American woman to be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. She became chairwoman too. Her mother inspired her. From 2000-2009, black accomplishments continued to grow in the new digital age.

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African American Music and Culture during the 2000's

The music of the first decade of the 21st century was filled with Internet-sent music, creativity, the growth of pop stars, the further expression of iconic performers (like Beyoncé), hip hop dynamically evolving, and other genres flourishing. That decade saw the information age and the tech age merged into musical expression. This decade of the 2000's saw the birth of Auto-Tune and media player programs like iTunes which caused more accessibility of music. Music and music videos flourished on YouTube by the mid to late part of the 2000's. Contemporary R&B was very popular during this decade, especially by the early to mid-2000's. Mis-Teeq was a British girl female, consisting of lead singer Sabrina Washington, rapper, singer and songwriter Alesha Dixon and singer Su-Elise Nash.  Hip hop dominated the charts of the early 2000's. By the year 2000, Toni Braxton released her album called, “Heat.” Her famous song on the album was “He Wasn’t Man Enough.” It had a cameo from Robin Givens. Her album had ballads mixed with an urban sound. Toni Braxton won a Grammy.

Jill Scott released her debut album called, “Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1.” Her album touched on many subjects and she represented that great Philly soul sound too. The album was filled with talent from songs like “The Way” to “A Long Walk.” The hip hop artist from St. Louis named Nelly made music in the 21st century too. Also, Kelly Rowland released album and great songs during this time too. On October 31, 2000 the hip hop group from Atlanta named OutKast released their historic album “Stankonia.” It received a 5 mic from the Source. Back then, many people hated Southern hip hop. This album showed the creativity, soul, and lyricism that southern hip hop has always shown for years and decades. It increased the profile of other Southern hip hop artists like UGK, Ludacris, Goodie Mob, Lil’ Jon, No Limit, Cash Money, etc. OutKast opened doors for many people beyond just New York City or Los Angeles in terms of music. NYC’s Ghostface Killah released his album called Supreme Clientele and Jay Z shown his album The Dynasty Roc La Familia. Erkyah Badu’s “Mama’s Gun” was released. D’Angelo released his album named Voodoo. Whitney Houston (of her Greatest Hits album), Mya (with her Fear of Flying album in 2000), and Ja Rule had their albums released as well. Like Water, Like Chocolate was released by the hip hop artist Common in 2000 too. Common would show urban sounds mixed with a conscious message in his songs. During the early to mid 2000's, Destiny's Child dominated the charts too. The year of 2001 saw an explosion of artists showing hip hop, R&B, and soul music. Macy Gray released her album called the Id. Ja Rule shown his album. Michael Jackson made his comeback with Invincible. Usher’s 8701 was released in the same year and the sounds of the Neptune grew. Jay Z released his critically claimed album of the Blueprint and Alicia Keys made her great debut album of Songs in a Mirror. Her voice is incredible. In 2001, Nas released Stillmatic which became one of his most popular albums. De La Soul released Bionix with classic music.

Aaliyah released her self-titled album too in 2001. She passed away in August of 2001, which was very sad as a product of an airplane crash. Aaliyah was one of the nicest, down to Earth musicians of our generation. She always had a sweet spirit and she loved music a great deal. Rest in Power Sister Aaliyah. In 2002, Musiq Soulchild and Jay Z (with Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse) released their albums. Sean Combs, Xzibit, Big Tymers, and others had shown their albums in 2002. 2003 would be a blockbuster year in music. Beyoncé released her debut solo album named “Dangerously in Love.” Her songs in 2003 were very popular from Crazy in Love, Naughty Girl, and Me, Myself, and I. Beyoncé back this time was a member of Destiny’s Child too.  Her album had up-tempo music, hip hop, etc. Beyoncé achieved the journey went into a journey to achieve even more success as one of the most popular, talented artists of the 21st century. Hip hop had Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (from OutKast), Ludacris’s Chicken-n-Bear, Get Rich or Die Tryin (from 50 Center), Elephunk from The Black Eyed Peas, DMX’s Grand Champ, and the Black Album (from Jay Z) all released in 2003. All albums showed the diversity of hip hop music. I don’t agree with R Kelly and R Kelly released his album in the same year too. Ashanti, Alicia Keyes, and other R&B artists released their work in 2003 too.

Kanye West in 2004 released the College Dropout. This started the controversial, long career of Kanye West as a soloist hip hop artist as he was a producer by that time too. Usher’s Confessions in 2004 sold 1.1 million in one week too. From 2002 and beyond, Missy Elliot continued to make records and albums. Amerie debut album came about in 2002 with “All I Have.” During the 21st century, independently minded hip hop artists like Talib Kweli, Lupe Fiasco, the Roots, etc. shown their music to the world. Ciara’s first album “Goodies” was released in 2004. Ciara would have a long career in music and acting. She is a great dancer.

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From 2005-2009, a new era began in music in general. Many artists used experimentation in a higher level. Rihanna’s first album came about in 2005 called Music of the Sun. 2005 saw Kanye West’s Late Registration, The Game’s Documentary, Young Jeezy’s Let Get It: Thug Motivation, Lil Wayne’s the Carter II, Missy Elliot’s, The Cookbook, Beanie Sigel’s the B Coming, and 50’s Cent’s the Massacre. Mariah Carey made a huge comeback with her album, “The Emancipation of Mimi.” Amerie’s Touch album was successful with the classic hit, “One Thing.” By 2006, R&B and hip hop including pop music grew on the charts. Jay Z returned with his album Kingdom Come. Rick Ross released his Port of Miami album. Beyoncé released B’Day in 2006. It has anthems like Green Light, Ring the Alarm, etc. Common, Kanye West, and Alicia Keys released albums in 2007 too. Rihanna’s Umbrella song in 2007 was one of the most popular songs in the 21st century. It came from her 2007 Good Girl Gone Back Album. In 2008, TI, Lil Wayne, Erykah Badu, Usher, Bun B, and other artists released their music. The 21st century saw the younger generation assert themselves. By 2009, Raekwon released music and Jay Z opposed Autotune with his album Blueprint 3 in 2009. Mos Def released Ecstatic in 2009. Maxwell, Rick Ross, and others shown new music in 2009 too. One of the saddest moments of 2009 was the passing of Michael Jackson. From the 1960's to 2009, Michael Jackson have shown the world songs, movies, and other forms of expression. He was a genius. He loved his fans and he cherished the wonder of music. Michael Jackson had the best selling album in history and inspired many artists of this generation. He was the most famous entertainer of his time.

During the 21st century, Gospel music evolved and grew. Mary Mary and Kurt Franklin appeared to the younger generation of gospel music fans during the 2000's. CeCe Winans, BeBe Winans, Yolanda Adams, Marvin Sapp, Fred Hammond, Shirley Caesar, Israel Houghton, Karen Clark Sheard, Kim Burrell, LeCrae, Twinkie Clark, Dottie Peoples, Tasha Cobbs, and other musicians have performed in the 2000's.

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African American culture dealt with movies too. Movies of the first decade of the 2000's have shown action, comedy, adventure, romance, and other themes of everyday human life. Love and Basketball was one of the greatest films of the year 2000. It was about 2 lovers finding love in basketball. It starred Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan, who are both great African American people. The controversial satire Bamboozled came about in the year 2000 too. The football movie Remember the Titans starred Denzel Washington, Nicole Ari Parker, and others. The film is about an integrated football team in Alexandria, Virginia during the early 1970’s working together to win a championship in the midst of racial conflicts (where they find common ground). The remake of Shaft existed in 2000 too starting Samuel L. Jackson. In 2001, a great comedy Kingdom Come existed with Vivica A. Fox, Jada Pinkett Smith, etc. Black Knight, Down to Earth, The Brothers, Two Can Play That Game, and other films showed comedy, romance, and adventure in 2001. Training Day starring Denzel Washington was released in 2001 as well. One of the most relevant films of 2002 was Brown Sugar. It starred Sanaa Lathan and Taye Diggs. It is about 2 childhood friends who unite and love each other while loving hip hop at the same time. Barbershop was released in the year of 2002. In 2003, Bad Boys 2 came out with Gabrielle Union, Will Smith, and Martin Lawrence.

2004 saw Crash (which is about police brutality, race, and people), Proud (about African Americans in the military), Against the Ropes, Alien vs. Predator, Blade: Trinity, Woman Thou Art Loosed, Breaking all the Rules (featuring Jamie Foxx and Gabrielle Union), Fade to Black, Fat Albert, and other movies. From 2005 to 2009, new films grew. Hitch, Guess Who, Madagascar, Favela Rising, and other films existed in 2005. Catch a Fire, Phat Girlz, Blood Diamonds, Dreamgirls, and the Last King of Scotland were released in 2006. The Great Debaters, Rush Hour 3, and American Gangster was released in 2007. By 2008, Miracle at St. Anna, Medicine for Melancholy, A Good Day to be Black and Sexy, Lakeview Terrace, Iron Man, etc. During 2009, movies like Black Dynamite, The Blind Side, Good Hair, Princess and the Frog, and Law Abiding Citizen dealt with African American life.

Many of the new generation of actors and actresses of the 2000's include: Meagan Good, Beyoncé, Donald Glover, Yaya DaCosta, Marques Houston, Rutina Wesley, Tiffany Haddish, Sanaa Lathan, Regina King, Anika Noni Rose, Sharon Leal, Jennifer Hudson, Gabourey Sidibe, Trai Byers, Lauren London, Brandon T. Jackson, Naturi Naughton, Aja Naomi King, Raven-Symone, Kerry Washington, Danai Gurira, Kevin Hart, Tatyana Ali, Brandy, Keshia Knight Pulliam, and other African Americans.

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African Americans in the 2000's TV shows dealt with comedy, drama, and other themes like Girlfriends, the Game, All About Us, The Boondocks, Like Family, The Bernie Mac show, Moesha, The Parkers, The Proud Family, Everybody Hates Chris, The Hughleys, My Wife and Kids, Chappelle Show, One on One, Half and Half, The Wire, The Cleveland Show, and other shows. Also, the increase of reality TV and music voting shows existed from American Idol, Flavor of Love, etc.

The first decade of the 21st century saw the beginnings of what we witness on TV today in the 2010’s. It was the fruit of the new inventions, new social realities, and diverse American identities that we manifest in.

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The Rise of Barack Obama in the Senate

Barack Obama is a political phenomenon. He is a man with a black father and a white mother. He has great intelligence, eloquence, and charisma. From decades ago, he had political ambitions. After being a constitutional professor and working in a law firm, he decided to go into the Senate state campaign. He was elected in the Illinois Senate in 1996. He succeeded Democratic Senator Alice Palmer from the 13th District in Illinois. The district was in Chicago South Side neighborhoods from Hyde Park-Kenwood south to South Shore and west to Chicago Lawn. Barack Obama worked in bipartisan legislation and sponsored a law that gave tax credits to low income workers, negotiated welfare reform, and promoted increased subsidies for childcare. He was re-elected to the Illinois Senate in 1998. He defeated Republican Yesse Yehudah in the general election, and was reelected again in 2002. In 2000, he lost a Democratic primary race for Illinois's 1st congressional district in the United States House of Representatives to four-term incumbent Bobby Rush by a margin of two to one. Bobby Rush was a former Black Panther. He sponsored legislation to monitor racial profiling. He later fought for the U.S. Senate campaign. He announced his candidacy in 2003.

His political media consultant was David Axelrod. By 2003, he was an early opponent of the Iraq War. In October 2, 2002, he addressed a large Chicago anti-Iraq War rally and spoke out against the war. He opposed it in March 2003 via a speech too. He gave his historic 2004 Democratic National Convention speech seen by 9.1 million people. It was well received and elevated his status in Democratic Party circles. He defeated Alan Keyes (or a Republican) in the Senate race.

He won 70% of the vote by the November 2004 election. He was sworn in on January 3, 2005. He was the only Senate member of the Congressional Black Caucus back then. He promoted government transparency and other policies when he was an U.S. Senator. He was a friend of Senator Richard Lugar (a Republican). Obama also sponsored a Senate amendment to the State Children's Health Insurance Program, providing one year of job protection for family members caring for soldiers with combat-related injuries. He was on many committees as a Senator. They included:  the Senate Committees for Foreign Relations, Environment and Public Works and Veterans' Affairs through December 2006. He visited the world as a Senator. He visited Europe, Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

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By February 10, 2007, in a cold day, Barack Obama announced his candidacy for President in Springfield, Illinois. He said his words in front of the Old State Capitol building. He talked about ending the Iraq War, energy independence, reforming health care, and other themes about hope and change. In the final section of his speech, he said the following words:

"...And if you will join me in this improbable quest, if you feel destiny calling, and see as I see, a future of endless possibility stretching before us; if you sense, as I sense, that the time is now to shake off our slumber, and slough off our fear, and make good on the debt we owe past and future generations, then I'm ready to take up the cause, and march with you, and work with you. Together, starting today, let us finish the work that needs to be done, and usher in a new birth of freedom on this Earth..."

The journey of Barack Obama and his family would continue to make history.

By Timothy

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