February 13, 2015

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January 19, 2015

OURstory: Martin Luther King Day

Today's date is significant because it is Martin Luther King Day. The official holiday, on the third Monday of January, began in 1986. It was the first new American holiday since 1948, when Memorial Day was created as a "prayer for peace" day. Also it was only the second national holiday in the twentieth century (the other was Veterans Day, created as Armistice Day in 1926 to honor those who died in World War I). King is the only American besides George Washington to have a national holiday designated for his birthday (those of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee and others are celebrated in some states but not nationwide).

Internationally, King is one of the few social leaders of any country to be honored with a holiday (Mahatma Gandhi's birthday is observed in India).

In honor of this date ... Martin Luther King Day ... we have the text of his speech I have a Dream. This speech by King was delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963.


"Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, we must face the tragic fact that the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize an appalling condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation.

So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God's children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.

Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold, which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.

We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our White brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little Black boys and Black girls will be able to join hands with little White boys and White girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee! Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring. When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Sometimes I worry that Martin Luther King's legacy has been reduced by many of us to this speech. Please share your village voice about MLK ... without referring to this speech. What other aspect of his life and legacy do you think is important for us to consider on this date?

January 18, 2015

OURstory: Lynching in America

Some of the most graphic photographs that I've ever seen in my life contained the images of Black men people being lynched. Collector James Allen uncovered an extraordinary visual legacy: photographs and postcards taken as souvenirs at lynchings throughout America. He published these photographs in his book Without Sanctuary. You can experience the images as a flash movie with narrative comments by James Allen, or as a gallery of photos. Please be aware before entering the site that much of the material is very graphic and very disturbing.

African Americans suffered grievously under lynch law. With the close of Reconstruction in the late 1870s, southern whites were determined to end northern and Black participation in the region's affairs, and northerners exhibited a growing indifference toward the civil rights of Black Americans. Taking its cue from this inter-sectional white harmony, the federal government abandoned its oversight of constitutional protections. Southern and border states responded with the Jim Crow laws of the 1890s, and white mobs flourished.

With Blacks barred from voting, public office, and jury service, officials felt no obligation to respect minority interests or safeguard minority lives. In addition to lynchings of individuals, dozens of race riots--with Blacks as victims--scarred the national landscape from Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1898 to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1921.

Between 1882 (when reliable statistics were first collected) and 1968 (when the classic forms of lynching had disappeared), 4,743 persons died of lynching, 3,446 of them Black men and women. Mississippi (539 Black victims, 42 white) led this grim parade of death, followed by Georgia (492, 39), Texas (352, 141), Louisiana (335, 56), and Alabama (299, 48). From 1882 to 1901, the annual number nationally usually exceeded 100; 1892 had a record 230 deaths (161 Black, 69 white).

Although lynchings declined somewhat in the twentieth century, there were still 97 in 1908 (89 Black, 8 white), 83 in the racially troubled postwar year of 1919 (76, 7, plus some 25 race riots), 30 in 1926 (23, 7), and 28 in 1933 (24, 4). Sadly, we still see signs that racial demons can reared their head in 2007.

Statistics do not tell the entire story. These were recorded lynchings; others were never reported beyond the community involved. Furthermore, mobs used especially sadistic tactics when Blacks were the prime targets. By the 1890s lynchers increasingly employed burning, torture, and dismemberment to prolong suffering and excite a "festive atmosphere" among the killers and onlookers. White families brought small children to watch, newspapers sometimes carried advance notices, railroad agents sold excursion tickets to announced lynching sites, and mobs cut off Black victims' fingers, toes, ears, or genitalia as souvenirs.

Nor was it necessarily the handiwork of a local rabble; not infrequently, the mob was encouraged or led by people prominent in the area's political and business circles. Lynching had become a ritual of interracial social control and recreation rather than simply a punishment for crime.

Recently lynching has come to have a contemporary informal use as a label for social vilification, particularly in the media, and particularly of African Americans. However, I recall that even the Don Imus situation resulted in headlines using the word 'lynching'.

I hope that we never use the terminology as loosely here in the Afrosphere.

NOTE:  This was originally posted on this blog in May 2007.
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January 5, 2015

Happy Birthday: Kappa Alpha Psi (1911)

My father and grandfather were both Nupes. Neither of them are with us today. However, I think that they would be pleased to know that their fraternity ... Kappa Alpha Psi ... is celebrating its 104th birthday today.





Do you have any Nupes in your family? If so, call 'em up and say Happy Birthday!
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January 3, 2015

Sotomayor Accuses Colleagues of Trying to ‘Wish Away’ Racial Inequality

Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s fierce defense of the affirmative action efforts such as the ones that helped move her from a Bronx housing project to the upper echelons of American law found renewed voice in an impassioned dissent that accused colleagues of trying to “wish away” racial inequality — and drew a tart response from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

In her most personal moment in 41 /2 years on the court, Sotomayor read part of her dissent from the bench to emphasize her disagreement with six colleagues who upheld Michigan’s constitutional amendment banning the consideration of race in public university admissions.

It is a 58-page dissent, longer than the combined efforts of four other justices who wrote. The court’s first Latina justice directly took on Roberts’s view that the nation’s continued reliance on racial classifications hinders rather than promotes the goal of a color-blind society.

Read the rest of this Washington Post article.

January 2, 2015

Village Tip: 15 Ideas to Improve Your Networking

I have shared tips on 'The Art of Networking' in the past. I thought that the time was right to be more specific. Here are 15 things you should *DO* if you want to make your networking work!
  1. Do ask for what you want.  No one is there to take care of you.  Anticipate that contacts may say 'No' and don't be offended if they do.
  2. Do be business-like ... always!
  3. Do circulate at meetings.  Learn to introduce yourself to strangers.
  4. Do continue to develop your expertise and visibility to enhance your value to the network.
  5. Do deliver when you say you will.
  6. Do follow good rules of social etiquette.
  7. Do follow-up on leads. 
  8. Do give sensitive and caring feedback to members of your network.
  9. Do maintain confidentiality.  Protect your sources.
  10. Do not abandon former networks as you climb higher.
  11. Do not be discouraged.  If given the brush off by one contact in your network, move on!
  12. Do offer to pick up the tab!
  13. Do refine your 'want list' and only ask for one thing at a time.
  14. Do test out the reliability of any information you receive.
  15. Do try to give as much as you get from network contacts.  Reciprocity is the name of the game.  Do not wait to be asked!

These are some ideas on how you can maximize your positive results from networking. Have any of these ideas worked for you in the past? Do you have other ideas that we may have missed?

January 1, 2015

'Am I Not Human?' Blogging Campaign

Please let us know if you plan to participate in our monthly campaign. We seek bloggers interested in sharing information about human rights violations with their blog readers on the 27th of each month.

All of us need to do something. Protest. Meditate. Pray.

In the case of bloggers ... we want you to blog on the 27th of each month. Just share information on behalf of our human siblings in all suffering areas who are either barred from communication by their governments, or lacking in technology to ask: Am I Not Human?

Will you join us?

Kwanzaa: Imani ('Faith')


Habari Gani? Imani (ee-MAH-nee)!
Day 7. January 1

To believe with all our hearts in our parents, our teachers, our leaders, our people and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

When life seems to bring nothing but a string of defeats and disappointments, we've got to have faith that something good is still in store for us. With this faith, we can forge ahead and continue to put forth our best effort. Without it, we give up and accept what comes our way, good or bad. Our precious dreams begin to seem absurdities.

It is imperative that we see ourselves as worth and deserving of a good life. There may be rejections; it may take us a while; but as long as we stay in the game, there's every chance we'll score. On the sidelines, we can only watch as others do the work and the winning.

Perhaps it is time for us to celebrate this seventh principle of the Nguzo Saba principle, 'Imani'! Perhaps it is time ... as we enter for a new year ... to step out on faith.

On this day, I will spend five minutes to relax and visualize success in achieving one of my goals.

Those are my thoughts about Imani. Please take a moment to join this online Kwanzaa celebration with me. What do you think when Imani comes to mind?

Harambee!
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