Tuesday, August 15, 2017

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

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The African American Story Part 7 (The Second Era) 

Black Excellence of the 1990's

Black excellence flourished during the 1990’s. The 1990's was a decade of new firsts for African Americans and an age of flavor, creativity, inspiration, and outstanding talent. The first black mayor of New York City, whose name is David Dinkins, was inaugurated on January 1, 1990. He was 62 years old. David Dinkins ran on a campaign of inclusion, hope for the future, and the growth of a better New York City. Later on January 13, 1990, Douglas Wilder was inaugurated as the first black Governor of the United States. Wilder was a Korean War veteran. His historic 1989 gubernatorial campaign had him appealing to black Americans and many white rural voters too. As governor, he executed both conservative nad progressive policies. He won the Spingarn Medal for 1990 from the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People. In the same year, August Wilson won a Pulitzer Prize for the play The Piano Lesson. In November 1990, Sharon Pratt Kelly was elected mayor of Washington, D.C., and she became the first African American woman to lead a large American city. Marcelite Jordan Harris was the first black woman brigadier general in the U.S. Army (back in 1990) and the first woman to command a mostly male battalion. Also, in 1990, Walter E. Massey is the first African American to head the National Science Foundation, Donna Marie Cheek becomes the first black member of the U.S. Equestrian Team, and Carole Ann-Marie Gist of Detroit, Michigan becomes the first African American to win the Miss USA pageant. Barack Obama was the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review on February 5, 1990. Devil in a Blue Dress on June 1990 was written by Walter Mosley. He is a great black author.

On June 20, 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison in South Africa. Nelson Mandela experienced over 20 years of imprisonment, because he opposed the nefarious evil of the apartheid system. He toured NYC and other cities in America.  In November 1990, Charles Johnson won the National Book Award for his book on the illegal 19th century slave trade called, “The Middle Passage.” Henry Louis Gates worked in the African Studies Department and the WEB DuBois Institute in Harvard. This was in 1991. He worked with many scholars like Ghana-born philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, William Julius Wilson, Cornel West, and historian Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham. Future baseball Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson of the Oakland Athletics broke Lou Brock’s all time stolen base record by stealing his 939th career base on May 1, 1991. Movies like Ghost, New Jack City, and Boyz n The Hood showed great performances from African Americans like Whoopi Goldberg, John Singleton as a director, Cuba Gooding Jr., Ice Cube, Laurence Fishburne, Wesley Snipes, and Morris Chestnut. This films not only showed the diversity of black American life. They captivated audiences worldwide in their complex story-lines, their mature character arrangement, and their inspirational entertainment (that deals with life lessons as well). Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust came out in 1991 and it was directed by an African American woman. The National Civil Rights Museum opened in Memphis, TN. Memphis was the city where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lead his final crusade for economic justice involving sanitation workers. On August 8, 1992, The Dream Team won the Olympic gold medal in basketball in Barcelona. They included some of the greatest basketball players in history and they further internationalized the game of basketball too.  People like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, David Robinson, Clyde Drexler, and others performed in a high level. They also gave autographs to their basketball opponents. Helicopters surrounded them when they were outside and they increased their worldwide popularity. By the 1990’s, the WNBA would exist and basketball would go into new heights of excellence.

By 1992, 35 year old astronaut Mae Carol Jemison (a Stanford graduate with a medical degree from Cornel) became the first African American woman to travel into space. She is a doctor education wise and she continues to promote STEM fields for people of color and everyone else to this very day. The first African American woman Senator was Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois. She was born and raised in Chicago and she was an attorney too. She celebrated her victory in Chicago in 1992 and she is a Democrat. Derek Walcott was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Rita Love would be Poet Laureate in 1993. In 1993, Avery Brooks, would be Commander Benjamin Sisko on Deep Space Nine of the Star Trek TV show series. The show lasts until 1999. Maya Angelou gave her poem “On the Pulse of the Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C. Arthur Ashe from Richmond, VA passed away on February 6, 1993 from AIDS related complications. A monument which celebrates Arthur Ashe’s life was shown by 1996. Arthur Ashe constantly promoted black freedom and wrote a book that detailed the contributions of black athletes. The Tom Joyner Morning Show, which was ahead of its time, reached syndication by January 1994. It talked about African American issues, relationships, health, and other important issues.

In 1994, Isabel Wilkerson wrote about the Great Migration in her book, “The Warmth of Other Suns.” She was the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism. To this very day,  Isabel Wilkerson has advanced progressive causes (she rightfully has condemned the hateful racism from the white nationalists and white supremacists in Charlottesville, VA in 2017). Henry Louis Gates and Cornel West wrote books about their lives and race in 1994. They represented the new generation of progressive scholars during the 1990’s.  Art has been promoted by Thelma Golden and Kara Walker in NY in 1994. Dorothy West’s “The Wedding” book is popular and she was 87 years old. Shirley Ann Jackson (she was the first black woman to earn a PhD from MIT) was sworn as the chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Committee. She later became the first black President of New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and inheritance” was released by Barack Obama in 1995. This talks about his life in honest terms. The book talked about his identity, his parents, and the motivation that he has in order for him to achieve great accomplishments during his life. On May 6, 1995, Ron Kirk won the mayoral race in Dallas, becoming the first African American mayor of the city. Dr. Helene Doris Gayle becomes the first woman and the first African American Director of the National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in 1995. By 1996, Muhammad Ali lit the flame in the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Back then, I was almost 13 years old and I definitely remember the 1996 Summer Olympics very vividly. The 1996 Summer Olympics showed the talent of many athletes like Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson, Gail Devers, Gwen Torrance, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and other human beings.

Heroic Financial analyst Bari-Ellen Roberts was a black woman in 1996 who fought against racial discrimination. Discrimination was found in Texaco and Texaco agreed to pay more than $140 million to the victims of discrimination. In June 1997, Harvey Johnson, Jr. was sworn in as the first black mayor of Jackson, Mississippi. On October 25, 1997, African American women participated in the Million Woman March in Philadelphia, focusing on health care, education, and self-help. In 1997, Geoffrey Canada uses his education program to help students in NYC. Wynton Marsalis's "Blood on the Fields" becomes the first jazz composition to win a Pulitzer Prize in Music. in 1997 too. In the same year, Lois Jean White is the first African American to be elected president of the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA). Amistad was released in 1997. This movie was about the freedom sent to Joseph Cinque and other black people who were kidnapped on a ship by European criminals. Steven Spielberg directed the movie. Djimon Hounsou (who was born in Benin, he lived in France, and now he lives in America) was the lead actor in the movie. The film was magnificent.

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By April 13, 1997, a 21 year old Tiger Woods won the Masters Golf tournament. His father Earl Woods inspired him. He started a new era of more black people and people of color increasingly joining golf as a sport. Nelson Mandela received an honorary degree from Harvard in 1998. On January 13, 1999, after thirteen seasons and six NBA championships, professional basketball star Michael Jordan retires from the game as a player (he never comes back to the NBA except in 2001 to play for the Washington Wizards). Encarta Africana was released as CD-ROM in 1999 that has images, videos, and graphics about black history. It was edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Kwame Anthony Appiah of Harvard. The first black woman coach to win an NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship was Carolyn Peck on March 28, 1999. She coached Purdue to victory. Peck was the first black woman to win the New York Athletic Clubs’ Winged Foot Award. Later, she was the head coach of the WNBA’s Orlando Miracle. Laurence Fishburne was part of the Matrix movie in 1999 too. Juneteenth was released by Ralph Ellison posthumously in June 1999. Maurice Ashley becomes the world's first black chess grandmasters, the game's highest rank back in 1999 too. In September 11, 1999, at Arthur Ashe Stadium in NYC, Serena Williams (at the age of 17) beat Martina Hingis to win the U.S. Open Championship. She was the 2nd African American woman to do so after Althea Gibson to win such a match. Venus Williams won Wimbledon in 1999 too. This started a long journey of 2 of the greatest women tennis players in history. They have transcended the sport and Serena Williams has been called by some as the greatest athlete of the 21st century.

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Bill Clinton

The Presidency of William Jefferson Clinton was definitely significant in the history of Black America. I lived throughout both of his terms. I know about his life and his policies. When I was a child, I viewed him as very liberal. As I go older and as I learned more about the world (and the beauty of social democratic principles), I saw his much more moderate political views. Before he was President, he was a leader of the DLC or the Democratic Leadership Committee. The DLC led a movement (since back during the 1980's) away from the old school liberalism of the New Deal and the Great Society to turn into a moderate new movement of the Third Way (or a new Democrat. We call them neoliberals). These neoliberals promoted fiscal conservativism in many cases, globalization, and compromise with the GOP on many issues from economics to foreign policy affairs. Bill Clinton was in that mold. Bill Clinton has great charisma and political intelligence on a high scale. Therefore, he used a campaign to defeat George H. W. Bush during the 1992 election. Bill Clinton promised many liberal proposals from tax increases for the wealthy, more investments in education, and other policy positions. Likewise, he showed his moderate streak throughout the 1992 campaign. One example is that he falsely compared Sistah Soujah to David Duke, because he misinterpret what Sistah Soujah had to say. Sistah Soujah is a very wise black woman who was ahead of her time in her political views, in her courage, and in her promotion of black self-awareness plus black self-determination. Sistah Soujah responded to Bill Clinton in eloquent terms. Here is some her historic response:

"...Peace. I stand before you today feeling very confident, steadfast and powerful; at the same time, I am surprised, that I as a young African woman, have impacted and effected the development of not only national politics, but international politics as well. It is very shocking to me that in a time of American economic recession, and inner city urban chaos, Democratic presidential contender Bill Clinton has chosen to attack not the issues, but a young African woman who is very well educated, alcohol free, drug free and a successful self employed businesswoman, and community servant...Bill Clinton says that Sister Souljah is a racist like David Duke, a well known ex-Klan member and White supremacist, but was a member in an all White segregated club up until this year...Bill Clinton portrays himself as compassionate, yet he supports giving prisoners lobotomies, removing sections of the brain...Sister Souljah does not own a gun, has not shot or killed anyone, did not invade Grenada, Panama, Nicaragua, Kuwait or Angola. Sister Souljah has never ordered the National Guard into anyone's community and has not made drug deals with Noriega.

Sister Souljah has never been a member of a terrorist organization, has no history of crime, has not burned crosses on anybody's lawn or lynched or hanged White people from trees. Sister Souljah has not systematically denied people the right to study and enjoy their culture in the so-called public education system. Sister Souljah did not send Haitians back to Haiti as though they were sub-human...The context in which my statements were made in the Washington Post was this, and I paraphrase speaking in the mind-set and in the mind of a gang member: Were you surprised at what happened in L.A.? No, I was not, White people should not have been surprised either; they knew that Black people were dying everyday in the streets of Los Angeles to gang violence created by poverty and social chaos, but they did not care. If young Black men in L.A. would kill their own kind, their own Brothers and Sisters, what would make White people think they wouldn't kill them too? Do White people think they're better, or is it that White death means so much more than Black death? Breaking it down, this means injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. As Sister Souljah, I reserve the right to fight against White racism--I have not ordered anyone to kill anyone. My album creates pressure on White America--a lot of pressure, and pressure is what America needs, deserves, and inherited--no justice, no peace."

The economic recession of 1991 influenced the victory of Clinton along with Perot being in the race. Perot was a populist campaign and many of the Reagan Democrats voted for Clinton. Bill Clinton during the campaign was constantly asked about an adultery allegation from Gennifer Flowers, who was a friend of Clinton. Many in the media accused him of being a draft dodger. In essence, the 1992 campaign was the first Presidential campaign where issues dealing with many sexual scandals existed in the high level. Clinton only won 43 percent of the popular vote. He was the first Southern Democratic President since Jimmy Carter. 82 percent of African Americans voted for Bill Clinton while 11 percent voted for George H. W. Bush. Black people helped carry the narrow of victory for Clinton in many states like Ohio, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Georgia (where a high number of black people lived at). His inauguration had Maya Angelou and other speakers. It took place in 1993. Maya Angelou spoke beautifully and eloquently about the dream that humankind ought to embrace. Among us (who are black Americans), there were high hopes for him. We wanted him to take the issue of race seriously and honestly. As history has shown, his Presidency has been filled with triumphs and failures. His Presidency was a combination of legitimate actions and serious mistakes. Today, he is among one of the most popular Presidents and he is in the history book for many reasons. In order to evaluate the legacy of the Clinton years fairly as it relates to black Americans, we have to mention his Presidency in chronological order.

Immediately, his cabinet experienced scandals. Zoe Baird didn’t become the Attorney General since she admitted that she employed undocumented workers in her home. Back then, xenophobia was abundant like today. Kimba Wood left the nomination too. Lani Guinier, a great unapologetic progressive woman, was slandered so much by the far right that she wasn’t the candidate for a key Justice Department post back in 1993. She lost her fight for the post of Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. Many black people were in his cabinet like Ronald Brown (as Secretary of Commerce), but many black people opposed the backlash from many Republicans against qualified, progressive black cabinet candidates. Spellman College President Johnetta Cole wasn’t allowed to be Secretary of Education, because conservatives attacked her progressive political views. As early as 1993, Bill Clinton appointed Hillary Clinton to head the Task Force on National Health Care reform. Hillary Clinton during this time would fight for national health care. The Clinton administration fought for it, but they failed because of massive opposition and it was taboo back then for a President to pass national health care. Shortly after taking office, Bill Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 on February 5, which required large employers to allow employees to take unpaid leave for pregnancy or a serious medical condition.

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This shows Bill Clinton signing the Crime Bill. 

This action had bipartisan support, and was popular with the public. On May 19, 1993, Clinton fired seven employees of the White House Travel Office, causing the White House travel office controversy even though the travel office staff served at the pleasure of the president and could be dismissed without cause. The White House responded to the controversy by claiming that the firings were done in response to financial improprieties that had been revealed by a brief FBI investigation. One of the most important bills that Clinton signed was the Budget bill of 1993. It was moderate. In August, Clinton signed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, which passed Congress without a Republican vote. It cut taxes for 15 million low-income families, made tax cuts available to 90 percent of small businesses, and raised taxes on the wealthiest 1.2 percent of taxpayers. Additionally, it mandated that the budget be balanced over a number of years through the implementation of spending restraints. In November of 1993, he signed the Brady Bill, which was a gun control measure. At first, Bill Clinton wanted gay people to openly serve in the military back in 1992, but he compromised and followed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (which means that a gay or lesbian person can serve as long as he or she doesn’t tell anyone and the military doesn’t ask anyone about his or her sexual orientation). It was gone by 2011 by the act of President Barack Obama. Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders wanted to have drug legalization to decline crime and Clinton was a moderate, so he criticized her remarks. Elders is an expert in social policy and medicine for decades. She was later removed from office. So, some black cabinet members were treated with blatant disrespect and that was wrong. In 1993, Vince Foster died and Clinton issued a missile attack in Iraq in response to the assassination plot of Iraqis who tried to assassinate President George H. W. Bush.

Bill Clinton worked with Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin to sign the historic Oslo Peace Accords. Both Arafat and Rabin would shake hands on that occasion. The Oslo Peace Accords was the time when peace was so close, but so far away at the same time in the Middle East. By the end of 1993 on December 8, Bill Clinton signed the controversial North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA. NAFTA accelerated globalization and had mixed results. It definitely didn’t prevent millions of American jobs from being outsourced. Also, research has shown has NAFTA has harmed workers in America and Mexico. Here are some examples. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that the agreement cost Ohio 50,000 jobs between 1993 and 2004. In the last seven years (from 2001-2008), Ohio lost more than 200,000 manufacturing jobs--as a consequence of plants moving to the U.S. South, the shallowness of the 2000s economic recovery and increasing productivity, among other factors. Mexican agriculture has been devastated by NAFTA because it is unable to compete with U.S. producers, which benefited from subsidies from the U.S. government that were 20 times higher than Mexico's as of 2005. The truth is that NAFTA was a problem because NAFTA was a policy of neoliberal globalization that allowed the ruling class to reap massive benefits while ignoring the legitimate economic needs of many American, Canadian, and Mexican workers (in other words, workers internationally not just in America should unite to confront the corporate oligarchy).

By 1994, Clinton allowed President Aristide to be in power in Haiti while preventing Haitian refugees from coming into America. In 1994, the Republican backlash came ahead with Republicans controlling most of the House. Gingrich led the charge with the Contract with America, which was a list of conservative plans for America. Bill Clinton was in a tough place and he worked with his advisors to figure out what was next. Bill Clinton signed the Crime Bill in 1994. It was opposed by progressives, many African Americans, and some conservatives (because of its gun control provisions).

Bill Clinton believed that being tough on crime and adding more police in the streets will decrease crime and cause a better America. The problem was that the Crime Bill expanded death penalty provisions and it didn’t understand the complex nature of crime. Crime must require rehabilitation not just punishment. The Crime Bill definitely expanded the prison industrial complex. Hillary Clinton was wrong to use the racially charged words of “super predators” to describe many black youth in low income neighborhoods. Back then, a lot of people didn’t realize the unintended consequences of the Crime Bill. The 1994 Rwanda was one of the saddest crises in world history. It was about Hutus in Rwanda murdering Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Over 1,000,000 people were murdered in Rwanda. While the slaughter took place, African American political scientist Ronald Walters called on black churches to help the Rwandan refugees. The Clinton White House had done nothing to intervene even in humanitarian aid. Clinton later admitted that this was one of his most bad foreign policy mistakes of his administration. While this was going on, the Republicans disgracefully attacked affirmative action, economic reforms, and other progressive policies. During the 1990’s, there was an increase of African American church burnings. I saw news about this during the late 1990’s too.

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According to the Atlanta based Center for Democratic Renewal, between January 1990 and May 1996, 57 cases of firebombing or occurring of African American houses of worship existed (there were 57 cases of firebombing of vandalism of from January 1995 and May 1996). President Clinton in June of 1996 created a National Churches Arson Task Force to investigate these racist arson attacks. Many students cleaned up churches. Many hate crimes against black people and other minorities existed. Religious cults grew. There was the Waco incident where cult leader David Koresh died in an explosion. Debates about FBI’s response existed. The Oklahoma City Federal Building was bombed by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nicholas in 1995. Bill Clinton gave an eloquent speech of advancing resolve including comfort and it was a turning point in his administration. From that time onward, he gained more popularity and won the 1996 election. Before that time, attacks on affirmative action continue. Proposition 209 banned affirmative in action in California.  Economist Julianne Malveaux opposed this plan.  The Whitewater scandals continued from 1993 onward. With the 1995 crisis of Yugoslavia, Clinton allows NATO to act in Sarajevo and other places. Bosnian Serbs negotiate with NATO to end the bloodshed. The Dayton, Ohio peace settlement is reached in November of 1995. The government shut of late 1995 continued and this gave Gingrich unpopularity. The GOP also was blamed by many for the crisis (of the government shutdown).

One of Bill Clinton’s most controversial acts was the signing of the welfare reform bill. This was an assault on the New Deal policy of helping the poor. It happened on August 22, 1996. The law is called the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act. Bill Clinton promoted the concepts of “personal responsibility” throughout his Presidency. Many African Americans and liberals opposed the law. Many Democrats and Republicans helped Clinton to allow him to signed the law. This law ended the AFDC or the Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Paul Edelman resigned from his post in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in protest of the law. The law appealed to the far right who falsely scapegoated poor and black Americans for welfare issues when most black people aren’t on welfare and welfare is a key part of helping families worldwide for thousands of years. The usage of states using block grants and drug requirements involving welfare disrespected the dignity of many struggling families. THE NET effect of Clinton's reforms has been an overall increase in the poverty rate, from 13.7 percent in 1996 to 14.8 percent in 2014. About one in every seven Americans lives below the official poverty line.

The rise in extreme poverty--Americans who live on less than $2 per day--increased by 159 percent between 1996 and 2011. In the richest country on earth, a total of 1.65 million households are trying to survive on this meager amount. On September 21, 1996, Clinton signed into law the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage for federal purposes as the legal union of one man and one woman, allowing individual states to refuse to recognize gay marriages performed in other states. The 1996 election had Bill Clinton defeating Bob Dole. There was economic progress by 1996 and Dole had great difficulty in making the case that he would be so much better than Bill Clinton. Bill Clinton knew this and sent commercials outlining his accomplishments. Bill Clinton also eloquently debated Bob Dole in numerous debates. Bill Clinton was the only second Democratic President in the 20th century to win a second term. The first was Franklin Roosevelt. He or Clinton moved on the right on many issues in order for him to gain votes. Economic growth and many reforms by 1996 propelled Bill Clinton to victory. He was inaugurated on January 20, 1997. By 1997, Bill Clinton had some of his greatest accomplishments. In the January 1997 State of the Union address, Clinton proposed a new initiative to provide health coverage to up to five million children. Senators Ted Kennedy—a Democrat—and Orrin Hatch—a Republican—teamed up with Hillary Rodham Clinton and her staff in 1997, and succeeded in passing legislation forming the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the largest (successful) health care reform in the years of the Clinton Presidency. That year, Hillary Clinton shepherded through Congress the Adoption and Safe Families Act and two years later she succeeded in helping pass the Foster Care Independence Act.  In 1997, he signed the balanced budget bill. It was moderate with tax cuts and tax increases on the wealthiest Americans. Bill Clinton apologized for the Tuskegee Experiment crime where innocent black people were giving syphilis without their permission and untreated for decades since 1932. He apologized for America’s involvement in the trans-Atlantic slave trade in 1998. He promoted a Presidential Race Initiative in order to attack racism and promote interracial dialogue. Historian John Hope Franklin headed the program and it was going forward. There were powerful debates on race and solutions.

By 1998, Bill Clinton’s Presidency would change. Bill Clinton by January 20, 1998 initially denied a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky, who was a White House intern at the time. Later, he admitted it and he committed adultery. This scandal would spread and many Republicans wanted Clinton to be impeached for lying under oath. By 1998, the budget has a surplus for the first time since 1969. Clinton supported the Good Friday Peace Accords among Catholic and Protestant leaders in Northern Ireland. In August of 1998, Osama bin Laden and his forces attacked U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Osama bin Laden lived in Afghanistan. Later, Bill Clinton would led bombing strikes in Sudan and Afghanistan. Most of the American public supported Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal. Bill Clinton apologized and Jesse Jackson was his counsel on the affair. Clinton’s popularity soared into new heights by 1999. Clinton will not be impeached by the Senate in 1999. NATO and U.S. bombing in Serbia started in 1999. Clinton accused Serbia of being involved of ethnic cleansing of Albanians. He accused Slobodan Milosevic of being a war criminal. The NATO bombings were controversial since NATO bombed civilian locations not just military targets. In 1999, Clinton signed into law the Financial Services Modernization Act also known as the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, which repealed the part of the Glass–Steagall Act that had prohibited a bank from offering a full range of investment, commercial banking, and insurance services since its enactment in 1933.

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Bill Clinton continued to try to find peace among Israelis and Palestinians from 1998 into the 21st century. The USS Cole was bombed in Yemen in October 12, 2000. The end of the Clinton administration saw large peacetime economic growth. Much of that growth came into the lives of Americans. Also, much of that growth involves low wage jobs. The stock market grew. There was a new era of change. The end of the Clinton administration saw new changes, new possibilities, and the increased polarization of the American people. The Congressional Budget Office reported a budget surplus between the years 1998 and 2000, the last three years of Clinton's presidency.  Bill Clinton has great intelligence and he is one of the most astute political figures in American history. Also, he has his centrist streak that didn’t go far enough at times to make the Dream real. Clinton left office with the highest end-of-office approval rating of any U.S. president since World War II. Clinton presided over the longest period of peacetime economic expansion in American history.

Many African Americans made great accomplishments during his Presidency and many African Americans suffered during that era too (especially involving the prison industrial complex). Today, we know the truth about Bill Clinton. He is a capitalist politician who has done many policies that represented the transitional period after the Cold War and before 9/11. Many of his policies are antithetical to the interests of people of black African descent without question. The Clinton Presidency represented the resiliency of the black community and how far that we had to go in the fight for freedom and justice.

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One of the most debated topics involving American history has been about OJ. To this very day, people discuss about his life. His story, as others have mentioned, is an American story. His life proves that many believe in the delusion that wealth equals happiness and just because some may allow you to have massive material items doesn’t mean that these same people respect you as an equal. OJ Simpson has self-hatred and this is shown by his erratic actions, his total downplaying of his Blackness, and his unresolved insecurities. He knew the truth about racism and the system of oppression, but he made a conscious decision to ignore the important issues of our community. One example is in 1969. OJ told NY Times journalist Robert Lipstye a story. He was in Joe Namath’s bar called Bachelors III in New York. He was in a table of mostly black people. “He overheard a white woman at the next table saying, ‘Look, there’s O.J. sitting with all those n____s,’” Lipsyte told ESPN.  “I remember in my naiveté, saying to O.J., ‘Gee, wow, that must have been terrible for you.’ And he said, ‘No, it was great. Don’t you understand? She knew that I wasn’t black. She saw me as O.J.’” Former SWAT Officer Pete Weireter, who recalls Simpson asking, “What are all these n___s doing in Brentwood?” after his famous car chase on June 17, 1994. There are other stories like this which showed OJ Simpson’s sad, disturbing internal self-hatred. In a paradoxically way, OJ Simpson is a representation of the racism, contradictions, and the total anti-black nature of the capitalist Western system.

To begin, OJ Simpson was born in San Francisco, California in 1947. He was raised in the housing projects of Potero Hill in San Francisco. He was raised by his mother. His mentor Willie Mays (who is one of the greatest baseball players in history) saved his life from the situations in low income areas. He started to play football. He played in USC in college and played for the Buffalo Bills by 1969. He was one of the greatest players in football history. He went to the NFL Pro Bowl 5 Times (from 1972 to 1976). He won MVP in 1973. He was the rushing leader 4 times and was the rushing touchdown leader 2 times. He was the fastest player to get 2,000 rushing yards in one season. OJ was acceptable to many.

His first wife was a gorgeous black woman whose name is Marguerite L. Whitley. With a black wife and children, it wasn’t enough for OJ. So, he started to make the great mistake of using adultery against his first kindhearted wife. OJ Simpson dated Nicole Brown in 1977 (while OJ was married to Marguerite). She or Nicole was a waitress in a nightclub called Daisy. Adultery is always wrong and evil. Then, the divorce happened in 1979. He married Nicole Brown in February 2, 1985. By that time, he retired from football. He was in commercials, he was in movies (including TV shows), and he thought psychologically that he was immune from the system of white racism. He internalized a lot of naiveté and ignored the truth that black people in this country are scrutinized heavily and targeted by the capitalist order for exploitation. OJ Simpson didn’t just do adultery. He committed domestic violence against Nicole Brown on multiple occasions, which is wrong too. His life would change forever in 1994. On June 13, 1994, the bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman were found outside of Simpson’s Brentwood townhouse. Their bodies were very bloody. 3 days later, OJ Simpson was on a car chase with the police. His former USC teammate Al Cowlings was with him in the vehicle. According to Al Cowlings, he talked OJ Simpson out of committing suicide. The car chase was televised internationally. After the chase, OJ Simpson was arrested at his mansion and OJ was charged with the murder of his ex-wife including her friend. The country back then was in shock over a previously beloved person (especially beloved by many in white America and in black America) found accused of murder. OJ Simpson would plead not guilty to all charges on June 20, 1994. The hearing came about in June 1994. The judge, who presided over the case, was Judge Lance A. Ito. Simpson's preliminary hearing was held.

Prosecutors wouldn't seek the death penalty against OJ as they said in September 9, 1994. They wanted him to be in prison for life without parole. More than 200 prospective jurors reported for duty as the trial of OJ. Simpson started in late September 1994. The jury was made of mostly black men and black women. Ultimately, the jury was made up of 9 black people, 2 white people, and one Hispanic person. They are sworn as jurors on November 3, 1994. They are sequestered in a secret location by January 9, 1995. The trial is televised worldwide. Much of the coverage is shown every single day on various networks or channels. The leading prosecutors in the case were Deputy District Attorney Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden. On January 24, 1995, the prosecution presents the argument that since OJ couldn’t control Nicole Brown Simpson, he murdered her and her friend out of malice and jealousy. The prosecution also said that DNA analysis has shown Simpson's blood at the scene of the crime, then OJ Simpson is guilty.

Much of the evidence that the prosecution has shown to the jurors like the — bloody glove, bloody socks, blood in and on the Bronco — was discovered by Los Angeles Police Detective Mark Fuhrman. The bloody shoe prints at the crime scene were identified by FBI shoe expert William Bodziak as having been made by a pair of extremely rare and expensive Bruno Magli shoes; only 29 pairs of this style were sold in the United States. The large size 12 (305 mm) prints matched Simpson's shoe size. OJ soon released his book in 1995 called “I Want to Tell You.” The Defense team is led by Defense attorney Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. Many labeled the defense team as the dream team which included very popular lawyers like F. Lee Bailey, Alan Dershowitz, Robert Kardashian, Shawn Holley, Carl E. Douglas, and Gerald Uelmen. Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld were two additional attorneys who specialized in DNA evidence. Johnny Cochran said that the DNA evidence is corrupted and issued other words in his opening statement that makes him believe that OJ Simpson is innocent (on January 30, 1995).

Two attorneys specializing in DNA evidence, Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, were hired to attempt to discredit the prosecution's DNA evidence. Cochran and the defense team also said that misconduct by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is related to systemic racism. Many LAPD people came on the witness stand like Officer Robert Riske of the LAPD. He said that he picked up Nicole’s phone without glove and without dusting it for fingerprints. By February, the jurors, Judge Ito and attorney visited the Simpson Rockingham Avenue home, the crime scene, and other locations. The prosecution lost the case in part because of Mark Fuhrman. Fuhrman was a gift to the defense team. Fuhrman was a LAPD Detective. He was cross examined by attorney F. Lee Bailey. He or Fuhrman lied and denied making racist comments and dismissed the suggestion that he messed with evidence involving the murder investigation of OJ Simpson. He committed perjury and new tapes have shown him making racist remarks.

On March 21, 1995, Brian “Kato” Kaelin took the stand about the hours before the stabbings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman. LAPD criminalist Dennis Fund admitted under oath that errors were made at the crime scene on April 4, 1995. DNA evidence is researched and told by Cellmark Diagnostics lab director Robin Cotton. By early June of 1995, jurors saw the autopsy photographs of the 2 victims. On June 15, 1995, OJ Simpson tries on the gloves. He said that they are too tight. On July, the prosecution via Marcia Clark said that the people rest. Then, the defense used its argument. Arnelle Simpson (or the daughter of OJ Simpson) testified on her father’s behalf in the trial. Arnelle supports her father completely. The defense shows blood samples that they claim that the prosecution didn’t show. Later, on August 1995, it is revealed by Screenwriter Laura Hart Mckinny that Mark Fuhrman used racial slurs and gloated about police brutality (as found on tape). In September 1995, Mark Fuhrman pleaded the 5th Amendment against self-incrimination after asked by defense lawyers who charged that he framed OJ Simpson. He refused to answer the questions but cited the 5th Amendment.

Judge Ito ordered the prosecution to begin its rebuttal even though the defense hasn’t rested yet on September 12, 1995. Both sides rest their cases in September 22, 1995. Prosecutors Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden delivered their final arguments on September 27, 1995. Defense attorneys Johnnie Cochran Jr. and Barry Scheck deliver the closing argument. “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit,” Cochran told the jury. Marcia Clark released 911 tapes of Nicole Simpson calling for help because of domestic violence abuse on 1989 and on 1993. On October 3, 1995, the verdict is read.

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OJ Simpson is found by the jury to be not guilty. I was in the 7th grade in my classroom when the verdict was read. The classroom had used the television to allow the entire classroom to witness the verdict of the trial. Many black people in America cheered and many white people were shocked by the verdict. It showed the racial disagreements on the same issues that continue to this very day. It represented how controversial the judicial system is.  For a long time, many black people have been falsely convicted over crimes and OJ Simpson was a black man who was not convicted by a jury. Back then, most black Americans viewed him as innocent and most white Americans viewed him as guilty. According to a 2016 poll, 83% of white Americans and 57% of black Americans believe Simpson was guilty of the murders. OJ Simpson was found liable for the deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman on February 5, 1997. So, he has to pay restitution. The money is about $33.5 million in damages. He has other legal troubles. The major legal trouble was 2007 robbery. OJ Simpson and a group of men stole some of his memorabilia items. Later, he is convicted and he claims that another person used a gun on another person. At his parole hearing on July 20, 2017, the board decided to grant Simpson parole. His release date is October 1, 2017. He will have served nine years. His life has been filled with chaos and bizarre situations.

Since we know the truth about his life, many people have renewed interest about this story. There is In FX's cable TV mini-series The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (February 2016), based on Jeffrey Toobin's book The Run of His Life: The People v. O. J. Simpson (1997). In the mini-series, Simpson is portrayed by Cuba Gooding Jr. The documentary mini-series, O.J.: Made in America (released January 22, 2016 at Sundance), directed by Ezra Edelman and produced by Laylow Films, is an American 5-part, 7.5-hour film that previewed at the Tribeca and Sundance Film Festival. Also, it was aired as part of the 30 for 30 series airing on the ABC and ESPN sister networks. I like the 30 for 30 series from ESPN myself.

The documentary didn’t just talk about race, celebrity, and race relations in Los Angeles. It exposed the brutal Drug War and the evils of police brutality including other injustices going on in America (like the problems found in the incarceration state) back then and today. The film won a 2017 Academy Award for best Documentary Feature. Tons of people have said that it is a great documentary. The tragedy of OJ Simpson is that he expressed an askance attitude for many black people and ironically enough most people that truly cared for the man has been black people (which includes his family). He tried to promote the myth that success and fame makes you immune to the problems of the black collective. Later, he made serious mistakes that almost made him serve life in prison. His story is a lesson and a warning that naiveté is never an option for anyone to embrace, adultery is evil, the love of Blackness is sacrosanct, and it shows the importance of commitment to justice is a legitimate path to follow.

The fantasy of post racialism has been fully exposed to the world with the OJ Simpson life story. OJ is a reflection of America’s criminality since its inception, because many in America have used massive criminality (especially against Native Americans, black people, etc.). In a way, OJ is a representation of the sickness of how racism, racial-self-hatred, and oppression can manifest itself in unique ways. Some even use OJ as an excuse to promote the racist myth that criminality is exclusive to black people, but the truth is that one male's acts should never be blamed on all black people. It is truly sad that some people so obsess with fame and fortune that they lose their sense of self. Yes, we aren’t OJ (who is a black man who is about to leave prison soon. I wish no evil to come upon him. My only wish for OJ is for him to wake up for real).

We are human beings who see the value in our black minds, our black bodies, and our black souls.

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More Events of the 1990's

President George H. W. Bush chosen Clarence Thomas to be nominated to court after Thurgood Marshall retired from the bench. Bush thought Thomas would be easily confirmed, but that wasn’t the case. Marshall was a progressive and Thomas was a conservative. George H. W. Bush was a conservative President, but he was much more liberal than his predecessor Ronald Reagan. Bush did what he did since he wanted the advance the interests of black conservatives and black neoconservatives when most African Americans were neither. Thomas worked many years in the Reagan Administration with Anita Hill. Anita Hill later accused him of sexual harassment and gender discrimination. Anita Hill brought her testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Her testimony did a positive thing in bringing more awareness to the evil of sexual harassment in the workplace and in life in general. Many people supported Hill and others opposed her. Yet, she has been consistent in her story and recently, more women have accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. Thomas accused liberals of using a “high tech lynching” because of his political philosophy, but sexual harassment is an evil that must be addressed and eradicated without apology.

His nomination was challenged, but he was confirmed. Thomas would go on and be a conservative on the court like Alito. Many conservatives always genuflect Clarence Thomas. The truth is that Clarence Thomas not only opposed affirmative action. He supported a decision to gut parts of the Voting Rights Act. The truth is that Clarence Thomas is a hypocrite by benefiting from affirmative action, but he opposes it. He claims to be supportive of the interests of the people, but he was an attorney with the Monsanto Chemical Company in St. Louis, Missouri. In cases regarding the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, Thomas often favors police over defendants. I don't agree with his judicial philosophy.

Thomas is an ally of many white conservatives who desire not black liberation or even economic justice, but a return to the bad old days where environmental protections are gutted and the agenda of states' rights (which white supremacists used to oppress black people) are promoted over human rights. He represents a far right movement among some black people who desire the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, the ignoring of the necessity to fight for social justice, and the right wing backlash against the progressive victories that we won (these victories include Social Security, the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, the Clean Air Act, Medicaid, Medicare, etc.). Anita Hill continues to speak for the rights of women (many women came into Congress because of her testimony) and she continues to inspire many people globally.

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It has been over 25 years since the LA rebellions of 1992, but I remember it just like yesterday. I was 8 and a half years old when it occurred. The rebellion didn’t happened because one of one event. It occurred by a combination of complex social and economic reasons. Los Angeles was born centuries ago and by the 1980’s, Los Angeles was changing. That time saw the rise of economic inequality, deindustrialization, the epidemic of police excessive usage of force against citizens, and new ethnic dynamics. One aspect of this dynamic was the growth of Korean businesses in predominately African American communities. Many Koreans back then were recent immigrants to America. Many black people felt that Koreans exploited black people and refused to give black people jobs in their stores. Many Koreans underestimated the vicious cycle of racial oppression that black people were experiencing (for decades in LA). The Korean population was divided among liberal Koreans who sincerely wanted racial reconciliation and human justice and more conservative Koreans who desired a more law and order philosophy (many of them heavily supported the Republican Party). Police mistrust is now new in Los Angeles. The Watts rebellion of 1965 came after decades of police terrorism and housing plus job discrimination against human beings.

The “tough on crime” rhetoric and the further militarization of police agencies continued since the 1960’s. Many SWAT Team units massively grew since the 1960’s rebellions. Nixon promoted “law and order” including Reagan. This was an overt attack not only on black activism for change, but on the Warren court decisions that gave people constitutional protections from unlawful arrest and from the violation of habeas corpus rights. The underground drug trade, the War on Drugs (which was used as a pretext to dismantle many democratic rights especially under the Reagan administration), the prison industrial complex, continued poverty in poor areas, and gangs who enacted unjust violence exacerbated the tensions in Los Angeles. By the 1970’s, the post-World War II boom ended. Police state power in America grew along with police brutality (against black people, Hispanic people, etc.). This was mixed with massive union busting, unequal consumer services, lax educational services, layoffs, and cutbacks in social programs. Desperation was in the air by the 1980’s and early 1990’s. This entire situation caused an explosion of hurt, pain, and rebellion. The LA rebellion was done by black people, Hispanic people, and others.

Also, many racial and police related incidents accelerated the cause of the 1992 Los Angeles rebellion. One was Latisha Harlins (who was an innocent black girl) being killed by one Korean store owner. She was only 15. First, Soon Ja Du owned the Empire Liquor store. Harlins had money and put a bottle of orange juice in her backpack. Du falsely believed that Harlins wanted to steal when Harlins had money in her hand. Du grabbed Harlins by the sweater and snatched her backpack. Harlins used self-defense and struck Du 3 times with her fist. Harlins walked away. Later, the orange juice was dropped during the event. Du snatched the bottle from her. Harlins starts to leave and Du got a handgun to murder her in cold blood in the back of her head. She died instantly. This was in March 16, 1991. Later, the court only found her guilty of voluntary manslaughter. She was only given 5 years probation and 400 hours of community service plus a $500. This was a total injustice. Tupac dedicated a song to Latasha Harlins in his song “Keep Ya Head up” and other songs. Ice Cube made a song about the incident in the song “Black Korea” from his album Death Certificate.

District Attorney Ira Reiner denounced Judge Karlin and pledged to use an unusual California law to bar her from trying criminal cases. "This was such a stunning miscarriage of justice that Judge Karlin cannot continue to hear criminal cases with any public credibility," he asserted. Denise (or Harlins’ aunt) tried her best to recall the Judge Karlin, but she was unsuccessful. The Harlins family held vigils outside the Du residence every year on the anniversary of her sentencing. RIP Sister Latasha Harlins.  The unjust beating of Rodney King by police terrorists ignited the rebellion also. The evening started in the evening of March 3, 1991. Rodney King had a high speed chase. He traveled through Lakeview Terrace in LA. Later, he came into a stop.

After the two passengers were placed in the patrol car, five white Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers – Stacey Koon, Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind, Theodore Briseno, and Rolando Solano – attempted to subdue King, who came out of the car last.  Rodney King was tasered and brutally beaten with batons. Rodney King was severely injured. The video footage was recorded by a camcorder by a local resident named George Holliday from his apartment in the vicinity. It was 12 minutes long. Some clips were not released to the public. That footage was shown to the world. People issued widespread condemnation of the brutal assault against Rodney King. Even the mayor and LAPD chief of police Daryl Gates condemned the excessive use of force. Minority communities for years and decades complained about excessive usage of violence against people of color in Los Angeles. Some hoped that justice would be served and the officers involved in the beating of Rodney King would be in prison for a long period of time.

Many wanted Gates to resign. Later, there was the independent commission of the incident. The Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department, informally known as the Christopher Commission, was formed in April 1991, in the wake of the Rodney King beating, by then-mayor of Los Angeles Tom Bradley. It was chaired by attorney Warren Christopher (who later became U.S. Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton). "The commission was created to conduct 'a full and fair examination of the structure and operation of the LAPD,' including its recruitment and training practices, internal disciplinary system, and citizen complaint system." This commission was similar to the Kerner report from the 1960’s. The Christopher Commission exposed how many significant LAPD officers used excessive force ignoring written guidelines on conduct to citizens. It found that management in the LAPD prevented accountability. It wanted new standard of accountability to make sure that people (who are cops) are responsible.

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The commission highlighted the problem of "repeat offenders" on the force, finding that of approximately 1,800 officers against whom an allegation of excessive force or improper tactics was made from 1986 to 1990, more than 1,400 had only one or two allegations. But 183 officers had four or more allegations, forty-four had six or more, sixteen had eight or more, and one had sixteen such allegations. Generally, the forty-four officers with six complaints or more had received positive performance evaluations that failed to record "sustained" complaints or to discuss their significance. This was a serious problem and black people have every right to be outraged at this pattern of oppression against our community. Four officers were charged with assault. The police trial was changed from Los Angeles County to Simi Valley in Ventura County. Simi Valley is a more conservative place. The jury was made up of nine whites, one biracial man, one Latino person, and one Asian person. The prosecutor was Terry White, who was an African American. The trial existed in 1992. On April 29, 1992, the jury acquitted all 4 officers of every charge (They couldn’t agree on a verdict for the fourth officer charged with using excessive force). This caused shockwaves in the black community. The justice system has opposed the interests of black people for a long time and this verdict was a turning point. Director John Singleton, who was in the crowd at the courthouse, predicted, "By having this verdict, what these people done, they lit the fuse to a bomb." The rebellion happened from April 29, 1992 to May 4, 1992.

The rebellion peaked in the next 2 days. April 29 was on a Wednesday. A dusk to dawn curfew and the deployment of the California Army National Guard eventually caused the rebellion to end. 63 people died during the event including 8 being killed by the police including 2 killed by guardsmen. As many as 2,383 people were reported injured. Estimates of the material losses vary between about $800 million and $1 billion. Approximately 3,600 fires were set, destroying 1,100 buildings, with fire calls coming once every minute at some points. Widespread looting also occurred. Stores owned by Koreans and other Asian ethnicities were widely targeted. On April 29, 2/3 of the LAPD were in Ventura, CA or out of town. The verdict came in 3:15 pm. By 3:45, more than 300 people appeared at the Los Angeles County Courthouse to protest the verdict. Anger and some incident happened in the Florence Avenue area. Mayor Bradley deplored the verdict, but wanted people to use calm without violence. At Florence and Halldale, 2 officers wanted assistance to arrest a young suspect. They arrive and arrested the youth.

The young man was roughly handled and his name was 16 year old Seandel Daniels. The crowd berated the police as Daniels was known in the community. Bart Bartholomew (who was later attacked and had his driver side window broken), a freelance photographer for The New York Times, and Timothy Goldman, who began to record events with a camcorder over the next two hours. Lieutenant Moulin ordered the officers out of the area since he feared that the police would use deadly force. The officers were outnumbered and left. They didn’t have riot equipment. The crowd celebrated and moved south to Florence and Normandie. A liquor store named Tom’s Liquor was broken into by over 100 people.  As Timothy Goldman continued to record the scene on a personal camcorder, the Los Angeles News Service team of Marika Gerrard and Robert Tur arrived overhead in a news helicopter, broadcasting from the air. Henry Watson and other men assaulted Larry Tarvin, who was a truck driver. Many people beat up Asians and whites. An African American named Rodney helped Larry Tarvin to escape. The attack on Reginald Denny was at 6:46 pm. He was another truck driver. A group of black individuals almost beat him to death.  Damian Williams threw a brick at Denny that struck him in the skull, fracturing it in 91 places. One black man, Bobby Green Jr. of South Central LA saved Denny’s life. Fidel Lopez, a self-employed construction worker and Guatemalan immigrant, was pulled from his GMC pickup truck and robbed of nearly $2,000. Members of the rioters including Damian Williams smashed his forehead open with a car stereo as another rioter attempted to slice his ear off. He was spray painted black in his body.

Another black man saved Lopez's life. Many people protested and used violence in Parker Center. Many turned over vehicles and set objects ablaze. Firefighters were shot at by people.  One firefighter was shot in the stomach. The first of the National Guard units, the 670th Military Police Company, had traveled almost 300 miles (480 kilometers) from its main armory and arrived in the afternoon to assist local police. They were initially deployed to a police command center and they began handing out bulletproof vests to the firefighters after encountering the unit whose member had been shot. Later the same evening, after receiving ammunition from the LA Police Academy and a local gun store, the MPs deployed to hold the Martin Luther King Shopping Mall in Watts. People protested and threw rocks in Lake View Terrace, LA. The curfew from Mayor Tom Bradley came on Thursday. The rebellion spread into Central Los Angeles from South Central. It came into Hollywood too. Then, it went south into Inglewood, Hawthorne, Compton, and Long Beach (which are cities in Southern California). Korean Americans used groups of gun armed people to protect their stores too. There were open gun battles between Koreans and others involved in the rebellion. Then President George H. W. Bush opposed the rebellion and allowed the California Army National Guard to intervene.

On May 1, 1992,  Rodney King at an impromptu news conference in front of his lawyer's Los Angeles offices on Wilshire & Doheny, tearfully saying, "People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?" Governor Pete Wilson wanted federal assistance. Bush invoked the Insurrection Act via Executive Order 12804. This allowed federalized Army National Guard and federal military personnel to come. The military came and many sports events were postponed. On May 2, 30,000 people attended a peace rally in Koreatown to support local merchants and support racial healing, around 11 am. The crisis calmed down by Sunday. During the aftermath, thousands of people in Los Angeles cleaned up their communities. Few violent incidents continued days later. Schools, banks, and businesses reopened. To Korean Americans, this event was Sa-I-Gu or four-two-nine” in Korean (which was the date of April 29, 1992). Ironically enough, the rebellion increased political activism of Korean Americans and other ethnic groups. Some wanted to unite with other minorities in LA to fight racial oppression and scapegoating, which were liberal Koreans. Others wanted to promote economic and social policies of the Republican Party. The Koreans wanted to advance their political causes just like African Americans wanted to promote our political causes. Also, it is important to respect the black people’s legitimate grievance of advancing more black owned enterprises in mostly black communities too. In other words, many black people felt that many Korean store owners disregarded the cultural sensibilities and the economic rights of black Americans in the black community. Hispanic people were involved in the rebellion too.

Many black people and Hispanic people united during the time for the sake of opposing political disenfranchisement and economic oppression. The rebellion was a multiethnic affair. Many Korean American, African American, and Hispanic American stores were destroyed in the rebellion. The rebellion existed by complex reasons of urban denial of legitimate services, police brutality, corporate exploitation, ethnic tensions, and economic inequality. The African-American Congressional representative of South Central Los Angeles, Democrat Maxine Waters, said that the events in L.A. constituted a "rebellion" or "insurrection" caused by the underlying reality of poverty and despair existing in the inner city. This state of affairs, she asserted, were brought about by a government which had all but abandoned the poor through the loss of local jobs and by the institutional discrimination encountered by people of racial minorities, especially at the hands of the police and financial institutions. She is 100 percent right. The criminal officers, who beaten Rodney King, were tried again on federal charges of this violation of civil rights. The decision came on April 17, 1993.  Two officers—Officer Laurence Powell and Sergeant Stacey Koon—were found guilty, while officers Theodore Briseno and Timothy Wind were acquitted.

Rodney King was awarded $3.8 million in damages from the City of Los Angeles for the attack. Many organizations stepped forward to rebuild Los Angeles; South Central's Operation Hope and Koreatown's Saigu and KCCD (Korean Churches for Community Development), all raised millions to repair destruction and improve economic development. Many donations helped people to rebuild LA, but most of the local stores in the poorest areas were never rebuilt. Rodney King would pass away by an accidental drowning on June 17, 2012. 25 years later, racial tensions have improved in Los Angeles. Yet, economic inequality has grown since that time. The reason is that the middle class has declined since 1992. More middle class people live in the suburbs. Also, there is an increase of tech and service jobs (mostly gotten by the upper class and the rich) which many poor residents readily don’t have access to. The report by the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs concluded that unemployment and poverty have worsened in some areas, and per-capita retail sales have dropped, due partially to a lack of large stores. Homelessness is still a problem in Los Angeles.

The black population has radically declined in LA. From 1992–2007, the black population dropped by 123,000, while the Latino population grew more than 450,000. According to the Los Angeles police statistics, violent crime fell by 76% between 1992 and 2010 and tensions between racial groups have lessened; 60% of residents (like Dee Young) reported racial tension has improved in the past 20 years with decreasing gang activity. Likewise, police brutality is a problem in America. Groups like Black Lives Matter made the world see this problem also. The 1992 rebellion in LA was a prelude to future rebellions in Ferguson (in 2014) and Baltimore (in 2015). It was a reminder that we must fight for our rights in order to have freedom. Part of this freedom is about advancing black liberation.

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The Million Man March

The Million Man March took place on October 15, 1995. I was in the seventh grade when it took place. I saw the coverage of it on TV in my middle school classroom. Before the march, there was the movement for the establishment of such a march. By the early 1990’s, the crime rates in America declined, yet more repressive bills existed which expanded the prison industrial complex, racial profiling, and continued police brutality. Environmental hazards existed in many poor, black neighborhoods and the poverty rate was high for many black Americans back then. It is important to recognize the long legacy of black activism for liberation which involved the African Blood Brotherhood, members of the OAAU, members of the UNIA, pan-African movements, Hubert Harrison, Assata Shakur, Ella Baker, Robert F. Williams, the Deacons of Defense, etc. As early as the 1980’s, new civil rights leaders existed. Some people even wanted to blame black people for every problem in the black community, which is ludicrous under the guise of “personal responsibility.” Debates continued and a crisis leadership manifested in Black America by the early 1990’s. The 1994 Republican takeover of Congress and the GOP’s Contract with America caused the growth of the conservative movement in America.

The 1994 black leadership summit had discussions among the old school desegregationists and the younger generation of progressive black leaders. Also, C. Delores Tucker, Joe Madison (a radio commentator), and Dick Gregory criticized hip hop music that advanced misogyny and a glamorization of violence. As hip hop grew, some in the older generation sometimes lacked a sophisticated understanding of hip hop's diversity and many positive qualities of some hip hop artists (like Arrested Development, Kurtis Blow, MC Lyte, Lauryn Hill, Ladybug Mecca, Bahamadia, etc.). Conversely, many hip hop artists refused to realize that the N word, glamorizing unjust violence, and debasing black women in lyrics is the antithesis of Blackness or black empowerment. In order words, artists like NWA, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, and others are completely wrong in using every anti-black word and anti-black woman word imaginable in their lyrics. We have to confront anyone who degrades black people. More black men on a higher level have to confront black males who are ruining our communities for real. One of the silliest arguments in the world is that some artist say that they use degrading lyrics to reflect what they see in the world as a mirror. The truth is that a mirror is to show what is real and a mirror can be used to correct what you see too. Therefore, we can easily describe the problems of society without misogynistic lyrics and without anti-black, colorist lyrics.

By the 1990’s, Louis Farrakhan (whose views are very similar to the views of the famous conservative Booker T. Washington) gained much more acceptance in some segments of the black community. He is the leader of the Nation of Islam and many of his views are blatantly patriarchal and conservative. As early as December 1994, he called for a million black men to come into Washington, D.C. in order to promote atonement among black men and calling black men to have more involvement in their families and communities. The movement wanted black women to participate in it, but not have direct leadership or a leading participation in the march. This caused controversy as many black women criticized Farrakhan for refusing to allow black women to be leaders in this movement as black women are the backbone of the black freedom struggle. In every era of black history, Black Women were in a leading role in organizing for social change. Sexism, xenophobia, and any form of bigotry are antithetical to being Pro-Black.

There is a long history of many black conservative fundamentalists not only embracing patriarchal supremacism, but allying with white supremacists (one example is how Elijah Muhammad allowed Neo-Nazi Lincoln Rockwell to be in Chicago in the NOI rally back in the 1960’s. Far right white conservative and Texas oilman H. L. Hunt gave money to the Nation of Islam decades ago too. H.L. Hunt’s full name was Haroldson Lafayette Hunt). Benjamin Chavis was another leader of the Million Man March too. Chavis left the NAACP and a great civil rights legend Myrlie Evers-Williams was the new leader of the NAACP in 1995. She brought the NAACP into new growth and organizational strength. Farrakhan was unique in having already strong ties in the hip hop industry and his action to organize gang truces. So, he appealed to the youth with his message of black pride, but many people ignored his other massively conservative ideologies. Later, many liberals and progressives from Jesse Jackson to Cornel West joined in the march. Most African Americans supported the march. A minority of feminists, progressives, and other leftists accused Farrakhan of being racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, separatist, and homophobic (It is important to note that in American history, the most homophobic group of people aren't black people, but white supremacists or white racists. Also, it is important to note that some black people unfortunately have bigotry against many people and that bigotry must always be opposed and condemned 100 percent. It is the responsibility of black men to fight against misogynoir, because we have to be part of the solution). So, it is wrong to collectively slander black women and it is wrong to collectively slander black men too. Black women and Black men deserve justice and black liberation 100 percent.

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The Million Man March was large. The founder of the National African American Leadership Summit, Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Jr. served as National Director of the Million Man March. One million black people including children traveled on planes, cars, and buses to Washington D.C. on October 1995. It was a day of massive solidarity. Women speakers were there from Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, Faye Williams (who was a D.C. attorney) and Dorothy I. Height. It was the largest African American rally in Washington, D.C. in American history. It was a peaceful rally that stood up for responsibility, against intraracial violence, and advanced a call to action. The Million Man March was a success. Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, and other conservatives and DLC Democrats supported the ideologies of the march (not necessarily Louis Farrakhan) because the march played on many conservative themes of nuclear family promotion and a sense of personal responsibility.

That is why it is no secret that the black Right and the white Right agree on advancing capitalist economics, patriarchy, self-help, less government involvement, and a conservative interpretation of morality. Many black people in the rally were sincere in fighting against the evils in the world and advancing positive solutions to complicated problems in the black community. Many wanted to legitimately oppose the slander that all black men were drug trafficking, violent, and extreme criminals who wanted to harm people. The truth is that there are tons of black men and black women who are scholars, teachers, athletes, engineers, doctors, lawyers, and other positive role models in the world. One aspect of the result of the march was the growth of voter registration in the black community.

On the same day, there was a parallel event called the Day of Absence, organized by female leaders in conjunction with the March leadership, which was intended to engage the large population of black Americans who would not be able to attend the demonstration in Washington. On this date, all blacks were encouraged to stay home from their usual school, work, and social engagements, in favor of attending teach-ins, and worship services, focusing on the struggle for a healthy and self-sufficient black community. Further, organizers of the Day of Absence hoped to use the occasion to make great headway on their voter registration drive. The Million March included black people of diverse views. Overall, the march wanted black men to have atonement to God and enrich his communities. Louis Farrakhan is a great orator and he gave a very eloquent speech during the March. The 20th Anniversary of the Million Man March was more inclusionary and it was called Justice or Else on October 2015. Before that march, many women had marches of their own in Philadelphia and the youth march came about in NYC. The legacy of the Million Man March was that it made more visible the concerns of many black men and it represented the internal debates about where to go as it relates to the black American community. It also exposed the truth that black women deserve leadership too not just black men. One big mistake of the march was that it downplayed the leadership history and leadership legacy of black women.

The Black Radical Congress existed to promote progressive activism in the black community during the late 1990’s. For many who traveled into Washington, D.C. during the 1995 Million Man March, it changed their lives forever. Many people became better people and further inspired to care for their families and communities. Atonement is an interesting concept. There is nothing wrong with rectifying our individual mistakes. Yet, we should never atone for the crimes commented by the oppressors against black people, working people, and the poor. In other words, “personal responsibility” is not responsible for police terror, unemployment, assaults on health care, etc.

These evils are caused by the capitalist system. The truth is that there must be a class analysis of the problems in our community and any solution requires the unification of the poor and working class (in the formation of a cohesive political agenda). There must be a political and economic program that addresses poverty and other injustices in order for true black liberation to exist. Many sincere black people were in the Million Man March in order to be inspired to be better men. That is true. Anyone blaming black people collectively for their own oppression is a liar. While we believe in black liberation, we don’t believe that black liberation is not related to the oppression of others. In order words, we reject reactionary politics. We believe in progressive solutions.

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African American music and culture of the 1990's

Music and culture from black people during the 1990’s represented creativity and dynamic talent. It was the decade of the growth of iconic groups. 1990’s was the time of my childhood and music from the 1990’s certainly inspired me in many endeavors of my life. During that decade, hip hop grew massively in cultural terms, economic terms, and in social terms. Hip hop reached the golden era in its peak by the 1990’s. Also, African Americans were performing R&B, soul, rock, electronic, dance, pop, funk, grunge, reggae, country music, techno, neo-soul, and other genres. By the early 1990’s, fusion genres developed like new jack swing, hip hop soul, g-funk, and neo-soul was supported by people worldwide. Dance and pop music dominated the decade along with hip hop music as well. By 1990, many legends passed away like Sarah Vaughan, and Sammy Davis Jr. In 1990, A Tribe Called Quest and Ice Cube issued their debut albums called People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm and AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. Both albums outlined the diversity and influence of rap music. Kim Abbleby, who is from the UK, made records in the year of 1990 too. Many black people were in Eurodance groups and pop groups in general like Technotronic (which had people from Africa and Belgium) and Black Box, Crystal Waters, and C+C Music Factory. Bell Biv DeVoe debuted their album as well  Lonnie Gordon is one unsung artist involved in creating creative music.

Women in hip hop have existed since the beginning of hip hop. It is important to cite the contributions of many women artists of hip hop. There were early women artists like Sha Rock, Lady B, the real Roxanne, Roxanne Shante, Sparky d, Salt and Pepa, Antionette, JJ Fad, She Rockers, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Sweet Tee, Monie Love, Cookie Crew, Nikki D, Neneh Cherry, MC Luscious, Yo Yo, Dimples D, and Sister Soujah. More artists who are women included Lisa “Left Eyes” Lopes, Suga T, Mia X, Ladybug Mecca, Lauryn Hill, Boss, Da Brat, Bahamadia, Heather B, Lil Kim, Charli Baltimore, Foxy Brown, Jean Grae, Nonchalant, Queen Pen, Missy Elliot, Eve, Lady of Rage, Rah Digga, Trina, and many other artists. Therefore, hip hop music is always enriched with women performing it.

In the early 1990’s, Jody Whatley performance magnificently. Another unsung artist was Karyn Layvonne White. During the early 1990’s, MC Hammer made many hits. Mariah Carey had her debut album called Mariah Carey with her song Vision of Love. She would go on to have a long lasting career filled with Grammy Awards and other accomplishments. By 1991, Michael Jackson’s Dangerous album sold a lot. It focused on many issues of racial tolerance, music, black history, and other themes. OPP from Naughty By Nature came out in 1991. Whitney Houston and Prince released music in 1991 as well. Tupac would release his debut album of 2Pacalypse Now in 1991. The album from Tupac as ahead of it time by discussing about the Black Panthers, the FBI, police brutality, the value of black life, and other issues relevant in our communities. Tupac Shakur was born in East Harlem, NYC in 1971. Her mother was a Black Panther named Afeni Shakur. Afeni was falsely accused of trying to blow up buildings in NYC. She was acquitted as part of the Panther 21. His mother taught him about consciousness and reading. Many of Tupac's relatives and friends were tied to the revolutionary struggle for black liberation. Tupac Shakur moved constantly during his youth. He moved into Baltimore where he met with his life long friend Jada Pinkett Smith. Tupac would learn about the arts, literature, dancing, and other aspects of living in the Baltimore Performing Arts school called Baltimore School for the Arts. He moved into Marin City, California. From there, his career in hip hop would grow into new heights.

The debut album of Boyz II Men existed in 1991. Boyz II Men represented their hometown of Philadelphia and expressed great ballads dealing with love and romance. Women empowerment always was shown by Salt-N-Pepa throughout the 1990’s. They desired human expression and they did it with their songs and music videos. and originally Latoya Hanson, who was replaced in 1986 by Deidra Roper ("DJ Spinderella") continue to love hip hop. In 1992, Whitney Houston’s The Bodyguard film soundtrack would sell over 45 million copies worldwide. Her leading single, “I Will Always Love You” became the bestselling single by a female artist of all time. It sold over 15 million copies. R&B groups like Jade prospered in 1992. From 1992-1995, Atlanta’s Kris Kross made songs like Warm It Up and Jump Jump. I heard of those songs as a child. In the 1990’s, TLC made songs about women’s empowerment, love, advice on life, and love of music. Shanice’s “I Love Your Smile” was a positive record and Shanice is a great Sister. She has a down to Earth personality and she is very spiritual woman. After NWA broke up (because of disputes over money and direction), Dr. Dre released his debut album called the Chronic. It sold millions and once again opened up the debate on rap music. Some black people viewed rap music as an expression of freedom of speech. Other black people wanted rap music to stop any of its lyrics that glamorized violence and promoted misogyny. This debate was had by C. Delores Tucker, the NAACP, rap artists themselves, etc., which continues to this very day near 2020.

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In 1993, Snoop and Wu-Tang Clan released their albums. This caused the further development of hip hop music. Mariah Carey sold 32 million copies in her Music Box album. Shaggy, Brian McKnight, Sybil, and Will Smith had records in 1993 too. In 1993, Toni Braxton released her debut album called Toni Braxton. It was an immediate success and Toni Braxton is one of the greatest signers of our generation and she was born in Maryland. Toni Braxton loves to sing and her sisters can sing great too. Xscape’s Just Kickin It came out in 1994. Xscape is based from Atlanta, Georgia. Coolio’s Fantastic voyage, Michelle Gayle’s Sweetness, and Eternal’s Just a Step from Heaven were released in 1994 too. In 1994, the Notorious B.I.G. released Ready to Die. It influenced NY-based hip hop. Notorious B.I.G. was raised in Bedford Stuyvesant, NYC. Soon, the shooting of Tupac Shakur would cause a dispute among Bad Boy records and Death Row records. This dispute would grow. Cowards murdered both Tupac Shakur in 1996 and Notorious B.I.G. in 1997. In 1994 and 1995, Brandy started to make mainstream records. 1995 was influenced by Montel Jordan too. Real McCoy showed pop and dance music. Adina Howard made her album and songs in 1995 like “Freak Like.” One anthem of the 1990’s was Des’ree’s 1995 song “You Gotta Be.” Another anthem from TLC would be “Waterfalls” in the same year including Coolio ft. L.V.’s Gangstas Paradise. In 1995, Michael Jackson released his new album called HIStory,: Past, Present, and Future, Book 1.”

It had the song “You Are not Alone,” which was the first single ever to enter the Billboard Hot 100 at number one. One Sweet Day sold tons of records in 1995 having Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey on the song. The Fugees grew with their album “The Score.” Wyclef Jean was a person with producing gifts. Lauryn Hill was a great lyricist in the group who inspired souls with her conscious commentaries on issues. Pras was also a great artist too.  In 1996, Gabrielle from the UK showed inspirational music and Total made many soulful music too. Monica gained more popularity in 1995 and in 1996. Throughout the 1990’s, gospel music grew and inspired even a younger generation with Ce Ce Winans, BeBe Winans, Kurt Franklin, and other artists. Hootie and the Blowfish made an impact in country music. In 1997, there was the start of the shiny suit era. R&B artists by 1997 made a great comeback with New Edition, Mary J. Blige, Ginuwine, Rome, Tina Moore, Boyz II Men, etc. Missy Elliot came in the late 1990’s to create some of the most creative records in music history. DMX gained more popularity. Lauryn Hill released her great album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” in 1998. It talked about love, black people, romance, and other issues. It was her masterpiece in my view.

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By 1999, the music evolved into new heights. Hip hop became a billion dollar business. R&B music soared into new heights with artists like Monica, Brandy, Toni Braxton, Aaliyah, Donell Jones, Blackstreet, Dave Hollister, Destiny’s Child, TLC, and other Brothers and Sisters who love music. Music became more diverse and creative by the 1990’s. There were groups from Outkast to God’s Property. Time has changed, but the commitment to excellence remained.

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Black Culture was widespread throughout the 1990’s. The truth is that as black people, we don't have to agree with each other on everything and that's fine. We can express ourselves in a diversity of ways. Our diversity is our strength and that principle is representative of the beauty of black culture. There was an explosion of black films that inspired us. During 1990, Def by Temptation and To Sleep with Anger dealt with many subjects of suspense and drama. 1991 saw an explosion of action and drama films like New Jack City, Daughter of the Dust, Jungle Fever, and the Five Heartbeats. Malcolm X was a film that dominated 1992 with its monumental lessons on black history and the courage ascendance of a black revolutionary leader. Denzel Washington and Angela Bassett were born in my opinion for the roles of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz. Justice in 1992 saw the growth of Tupac Shakur as an actor. Boomerang in 1992 dealt with black people in the corporate world and it dealt with how complicated romantic relationships can be. What Love Got to do with it was a biopic about Tina Turner's life. Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne starred in the film. Menance II Society was released in 1993 which outlined life in Los Angeles, California in dealing with low income African Americans. Poetic Justice was released in 1993. Posse also came about in 1993 too. The movie outlined the unsung history of black Americans living in the frontier West. 1993's CB4 (which starred Chris Rock and Rachel True) is even relevant today as it outlines the lesson in comedy that originality is better than falsity involving musical expression. Drop Squad  came out in 1994 too. It deals with self-hatred and blackness. Above the Rim was released in 1994. Black Is...Black Ain't is a 1994 documentary from Marlon Riggs that talks about the multifaceted aspects of African American culture. The documentary made the point that black people are not monolithic and when we embrace our diversity, we can grow into the next level. The film was ahead of its time to tackle colorism, sexism, bigotry, and racism back in 1994. The horror film Tales from the Hood came about in 1995. 1995 was a powerful year of black films. That year saw the existence of Higher Learning, Waiting to Exhale, Losing Isaiah, Dead Presidents, Cry the Beloved Country, The Tuskegee Airmen, Bad Boys, Friday, and other films.

The movie Devil in A Blue Dress from 1995 was influenced by Walter Mosley’s book of the same title from 1990. He wrote many mystery novels too. They showed the perspective of an African American person on life from the 1940’s to the 1960’s. President Bill Clinton was a fan of his literature. One of the greatest events in the 1990’s was when Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990. He suffered mistreatment and injustice for decades in prison. Once he left, he toured the world. In June of 1990, he visited New York City. 750,000 people celebrated him in a parade and he toured many American cities. Nelson Mandela promoted democracy and fought against apartheid until it ended totally by 1994 when he was elected South Africa’s first black President of South Africa. Nelson Mandela is our hero. He spoke to the United States Congress too. He gave a wreath on the grave of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He traveled into Miami, Los Angeles, and Oakland.

In 1996, Ghosts of Mississippi (which is about the murderer of Medgar Evers being convicted), A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, and Get on the Bus were released. In 1996, Will Smith and Vivica A. Fox starred in Independence Day, which was a science fiction movie about humanity defeating an alien enemy. Set it Off was released in 1996 with an ensemble cast about desperate women trying to get money using illegal means. The Nutty Professor starred Eddie Murphy and Jada Pinkett Smith. In 1997, Eve's Bayou, Rosewood, Hoodlum, Fakin Da Funk, BAPS, Soul Food (which deals with the black family, overcoming obstacles, food, and togetherness), 4 Little Girls (which was a Spike Lee documentary about the murder of the 4 girls from the Birmingham Baptist Church), and Men in Black existed. In 1998, movies like Slam, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, He Got Game, Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Belly, The Players Club, etc. By 1999, more films came about like In Too Deep, Black and White, Life, The Best Man, Any Given Sunday, The Wood, and other movies.

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air existed in 1990. Throughout the 1990’s was a Golden Age of Black television. A Different World, Martin, Roc, Living Single, Hanging with Mr. Cooper, Sinbad, In Living Color, NY Undercover, Sister Sister, South Central, Family Matters, In the House, Moesha, Smart Guy, The Wayans Brothers, The Steve Harvey Show, Thea, The Parent ‘Hood, The Jamie Foxx show, The Parkers, and other shows were born in the 1990’s. It showed the diversity, the beauty, and the strength of black life. It showed how Blackness is diverse and very dynamic. Charles Johnson’s “The Middle Passage” was highly praised in 1990. The groundbreaking film “The Boyz n the Hood” in 1991 was directed by John Singleton, who is from Los Angeles for real. The movie realistically showed the risks that black inner city youth experience daily. It showed many lessons about family togetherness, being conscious of the community, and expressing opposition to any injustice. Julie Dash’s Daughter of the Dust was very critically acclaimed in 1991 too.

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During the 1990’s, Savion Glover and others used tap dance in “Bring in da’ Noise/Bring in da funk” performances. This celebration of dance and music was done in Broadway and nationwide. In January of 1994, the Tom Joyner Morning show was in syndication. This show was very popular and outlined African American issues for years. Tom Joyner would participate in charities, speak his mind, and research the issues of the day. During the 1990’s, African Americans used quilts, family gatherings, and used diverse fashion. Many people wore jerseys and some wore suits. Some wore their hair conservatively and some didn’t. A Maryland student Aaron McGruder created the Boondocks comic strip in 1996. His comic strip talked about black life in unapologetic terms. The comic strip exposes the issues of race, capitalism, discrimination, television, and politics. He would use satire to critique BET too. Later, he would develop his own show on Comedy Network called Boondocks.

Chris Rock’s show on HBO in February of 1997 was honest, provocative, and showed the world of the thinking of the black comedian Chris Rock (who was born in NYC). He used his experiences to question the world as he saw it in a humorous, satirical fashion.  Soul Food in 1997 made it known that generations of black survival must be respected, and the black family is powerful. How Stella Got Her Groove back is about one successful African American woman (played by Angela Bassett) trying to have fun in her mundane life. She finds happiness in falling in love with a very young man. The movie also describes real life situations that do go in the black experience. By the late 1990’s, more black women have leading acting roles in movies like Vivica A. Fox, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Queen Latifah, Angela Bassett, Vanessa Williams, Nia Long, Lonette McKee, Lynn Whitfield, Loretta Devine, Janet Jackson, Alfre Woodard, Robin Givens, Lela Rochon, Whitney Houston, Sanaa Lathan, Halle Berry, and other black women. By 1999, black culture is more international. Black culture isn’t just one separate entity. It is global and it is part of the American culture.

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Police Brutality Issues (and legal issues)

Police misconduct was definitely an epidemic during the 1990’s. During that decade, there was constant discussion about the racial discrimination in the judicial system and elimination of voting rights for some criminals (even after criminals paid their debts to society). Crime rates declined during the 1990’s while the prison population in America increased. The 1999 U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found that black people represent 14 percent of total illegal drug use, but represent a higher number of those convicted of such drug usage. More police forces were militarized and promoted excessive actions in getting suspects or even harassing innocent people in stop and frisk in NYC and other urban communities nationwide. On August 9, 1997, a thirty year old Haitian immigrant Abner Louima experienced police brutality. He was in NYC. Louima was arrested and taken to a Brooklyn police precinct station. He was beaten by the police. Also, he was forced into a toilet and placed a wooden stick up under him in a violation of his human rights. He suffered internal injuries. Many Haitian Americans and black people in general protested this abuse. 5,000 people demonstrated at Manhattan’s City Hall. The NYC Police Commissioner Howard Safir said that race was not a factor in the Louima situation, which is a boldfaced lie. Many officers were convicted of abusing Louima and some were not convicted. To this very day, Abner Louima is an activist against police brutality.

One of the most horrendous events in the 1990's was the murder of James Byrd Jr. by white supremacists on June 7, 1998. James Byrd Jr. was a father and he loved his family. He was only 49 years old when he died. The event started when James Byrd Jr. accepted a ride from Shawn Berry (age 24), Lawrence Russell Brewer (age 31) and John King (age 23). Berry, who was driving, was acquainted with Byrd from around town. The 3 murderers then beat him, and chained him on the murderers' pick up truck. They dragged up for three miles behind a pick-up truck along an asphalt road. Byrd, who remained conscious throughout most of the ordeal, was killed when his body hit the edge of a culvert, severing his right arm and head. The murderers drove on for another mile before dumping his torso in front of an African-American cemetery in Jasper. Byrd's lynching-by-dragging gave impetus to passage of a Texas hate crimes law. It later led to the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, commonly known as the Matthew Shepard Act, which passed on October 22, 2009, and which President Barack Obama signed into law on October 28, 2009. James Byrd Jr.'s son continue to promote social activism. The murderers of James Byrd Jr. were convicted.

On February 4, 1999, a young Guinean immigrant named Amadou Diallo was confronted by the entrance to his Bronx apartment building by 4 plainclothes police officers. They were from the NY Police Department’s Street Crimes Unit. Diallo reached for his pocket to show the officers his ID, but the officers murdered him by shooting him 41 times. He was struck 19 times and he died. Immediately, rallies and protests existed all over NYC and throughout the nation. These protests included African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and progressive whites. Over 1,000 people in New York City were arrested for civil disobedience at police headquarters.

Many people arrested were Charles Rangel of Harlem, former Mayor David Dinkins, NAACP Executive Director Kweisi Mfume, Al Sharpton, and Carolyn Goodman (the mother of the murdered son Andrew Goodman from 1964 in Mississippi. Andrew Goodman was part of Freedom Summer). The Diallo case existed for a year. Also, Police Commissioner Howard Safir and then NYC mayor Rudolph Giuliani (who promoted “law and order) testified before the Civil Rights Commission on May 26, 1999. The Congressional Black Caucus had hearing on police brutality too. 4 officers were acquitted in 2000 on February 25. This caused outraged. This injustice caused many to lose faith in a system that doesn’t respect black human lives. To this very day, police misconduct is talked about nationwide and worldwide. Amadou Diallo’s mother continues to speak out against police brutality and fight for racial healing to this very day. The 20th century closes and a new chapter would exist involving Black America.

By Timothy

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