November 11, 2015

History of Veterans Day

I never served in the military. There are many villagers like me who never wore a uniform nor faced the unknown terror of war fought on foreign soil. As such, I thought it would be helpful to share this brief history of Veterans Day.

Veterans Day, originally known as Armistice Day, originated after World War I. The fighting between the Allies and Germany ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. To honor that, President Wilson issued a proclamation in 1919 that the armistice would be commemorated November 11.

By 1926, 27 states had made Armistice Day a holiday. In 1938, Congress passed a bill making it a national holiday. After World War II and the Korean War, the name was changed to Veterans Day to honor all U.S. veterans in 1954. In 1968, legislation changed the national commemoration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. It soon became apparent, however, that November 11 was a date of historic significance to many Americans and President Gerald Ford officially returned the observance to its traditional date effective in 1978.

When Nov. 11 falls on a Sunday, the holiday is observed the next day.

Regardless of your thoughts on the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq ... today is a day that we can honor all of our brothers and sisters in the military.

Today, my thoughts go out to the families of Rear Admiral Benjamin Hacker and Captain Charles Hicks. These two naval officers, now deceased, are part of my family tree ... and I am very proud of both of them.

Villagers, share your village voice about anyone that you know in the military. Let's beat our drums in a positive manner about them today.

November 10, 2015

'Message to the Grassroots' by Malcolm X

American Rhetoric published a list of the Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century. Malcolm X delivered Top Speech #91 in Detroit MI on November 10, 1963.

Below is audio clip and text of the speech known as 'Message to the Grassroots'.

I would like to make a few comments concerning the difference between the Black revolution and the Negro revolution. There's a difference. Are they both the same? And if they're not, what is the difference? What is the difference between a Black revolution and a Negro revolution? First, what is a revolution? Sometimes I'm inclined to believe that many of our people are using this word "revolution" loosely, without taking careful consideration [of] what this word actually means, and what its historic characteristics are. When you study the historic nature of revolutions, the motive of a revolution, the objective of a revolution, and the result of a revolution, and the methods used in a revolution, you may change words. You may devise another program. You may change your goal and you may change your mind.

Look at the American Revolution in 1776. That revolution was for what? For land. Why did they want land? Independence. How was it carried out? Bloodshed. Number one, it was ba
sed on land, the basis of independence. And the only way they could get it was bloodshed. The French Revolution -- what was it based on? The land-less against the landlord. What was it for? Land. How did they get it? Bloodshed. Was no love lost; was no compromise; was no negotiation. I'm telling you, you don't know what a revolution is. 'Cause when you find out what it is, you'll get back in the alley; you'll get out of the way. The Russian Revolution -- what was it based on? Land. The land-less against the landlord. How did they bring it about?Bloodshed. You haven't got a revolution that doesn't involve bloodshed. And you're afraid to bleed. I said, you're afraid to bleed.

[As] long as the white man sent you to Korea, you bled. He sent you to Germany, you bled. He sent you to the South Pacific to fight the Japanese, you bled. You bleed for white people. But when it comes time to seeing your own churches being bombed and little Black girls be murdered, you haven't got no blood. You bleed when the white man says bleed; you bite when the white man says bite; and you bark when the white man says bark. I hate to say this about us, but it's true. How are you going to be nonviolent in Mississippi, as violent as you were in Korea? How can you justify being nonviolent in Mississippi and Alabama, when your churches are being bombed, and your little girls are being murdered, and at the same time you're going to violent with Hitler, and Tojo, and somebody else that you don't even know?

If violence is wrong in America, violence is wrong abroad. If it's wrong to be violent defending Black women and Black children and Black babies and Black men, then it's wrong for America to draft us and make us violent abroad in defense of her. And if it is right for America to draft us, and teach us how to be violent in defense of her, then it is right for you and me to do whatever is necessary to defend our own people right here in this country.

Amazing to hear words that were spoken 51 years ago by Malcolm X. What are your thoughts as you listen or read his words?

November 8, 2015

Happy Birthday Minnie Riperton (1947-1979)

Minnie Riperton was born on this date in 1947. Her goal at a very young age was to become a famous singer. Riperton studied opera and spent months learning how to breathe and listening to and holding vowels.

She left school early to make $10 a song, singing backup at local studios. Some reports indicate that Minnie signed her first contract at 14, while others report her to be 16. [SOURCE]

In 1969, she recorded the album "Come To My Garden" which was released in 1971, then came "Perfect Angel" and "Adventures in Paradise" in 1974 and 1975.

The song that inspires me whenever I hear it is simply entitled, 'Loving You'. She sang it with gusto in 1974 on Soul Train:

In 1976, Riperton announced that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had undergone a modified mastectomy. Her "experience" (as she referred to her illness) would give her yet another reason for her life ... lending her celebrity and compassion for others to become a spokesperson for breast cancer awareness, the need for self-examination, and the benefit of early detection.

In addition to being a mother, wife, activist, fund raiser, lecturer, wife, and mother, she signed with Capitol Records, a contract that gave her the creative freedom and production quality that she desired. During the summer of 1978, creating what would be her last album, simply entitled "Minnie." She passed away in her husband’s arms on July 12, 1979, at 31 years of age.

Happy Birthday Minnie!

October 11, 2015

Anita Hill, Statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee

American Rhetoric published a list of the Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century. Anita Hill delivered Top Speech #71 in Washington DC on October 11, 1991. Her statement was given during the Senate hearings to confirm Clarence Thomas as a Supreme Court justice. Below is audio clip and text of the opening statement that Ms. Hill gave to the Senate Judiciary Committee. [SOURCE]

Ms. Hill: Mr. Chairman, Senator Thurmond, members of the committee: My name is Anita F. Hill, and I am a professor of law at the University of Oklahoma. I was born on a farm in Okmulgee County, Oklahoma, in 1956. I am the youngest of 13 children. I had my early education in Okmulgee County. My father, Albert Hill, is a farmer in that area. My mother's name is Irma Hill. She is also a farmer and a housewife.

My childhood was one of a lot of hard work and not much money, but it was one of solid family affection, as represented by my parents. I was reared in a religious atmosphere in the Baptist faith, and I have been a member of the Antioch Baptist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, since 1983. It is a very warm part of my life at the present time.

For my undergraduate work, I went to Oklahoma State University and graduated from there in 1977. I am attaching to this statement a copy of my resume for further details of my education.

Senator Biden: It will be included in the record as if read.

Ms. Hill: Thank you. I graduated from the university with academic honors and proceeded to the Yale Law School, where I received my JD degree in 1980. Upon graduation from law school, I became a practicing lawyer with the Washington, DC, firm of Ward, Hardraker, and Ross.

In 1981, I was introduced to now Judge Thomas by a mutual friend. Judge Thomas told me that he was anticipating a political appointment, and he asked if I would be interested in working with him. He was, in fact, appointed as Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights. After he was -- After he had taken that post, he asked if I would become his assistant, and I accepted that position.
In my early period there, I had two major projects. The first was an article I wrote for Judge Thomas's signature on the education of minority students. The second was the organization of a seminar on high-risk students which was abandoned because Judge Thomas transferred to the EEOC where he became the chairman of that office.

During this period at the Department of Education, my working relationship with Judge Thomas was positive. I had a good deal of responsibility and independence. I thought he respected my work and that he trusted my judgment. After approximately three months of working there, he asked me to go out socially with him.

What happened next and telling the world about it are the two most difficult things -- experiences of my life. It is only after a great deal of agonizing consideration and sleepless number -- a great number of sleepless nights that I am able to talk of these unpleasant matters to anyone but my close friends.

I declined the invitation to go out socially with him and explained to him that I thought it would jeopardize at what -- at -- at the time I considered to be a very good working relationship. I had a normal social life with other men outside of the office. I believed then, as now, that having a social relationship with a person who was supervising my work would be ill-advised. I was very uncomfortable with the idea and told him so.

I thought that by saying no and explaining my reasons my employer would abandon his social suggestions. However, to my regret, in the following few weeks, he continued to ask me out on several occasions. He pressed me to justify my reasons for saying no to him. These incidents took place in his office or mine. They were in the form of private conversations which not -- would not have been overheard by anyone else.

My working relationship became even more strained when Judge Thomas began to use work situations to discuss sex. On these occasions, he would call me into his office for reports on education issues and projects, or he might suggest that, because of the time pressures of his schedule, we go to lunch to a government cafeteria. After a brief discussion of work, he would turn the conversation to a discussion of sexual matters.

His conversations were very vivid. He spoke about acts that he had seen in pornographic films involving such matters as women having sex with animals and films showing group sex or rape scenes. He talked about pornographic materials depicting individuals with large penises or large breasts involved in various sex acts. On several occasions, Thomas told me graphically of his own sexual prowess.

Because I was extremely uncomfortable talking about sex with him at all, and particularly in such a graphic way, I told him that I did not want to talk about these subjects. I would also try to change the subject to education matters or to nonsexual personal matters such as his background or his beliefs. My efforts to change the -- the subject were rarely successful.

Throughout the period of these conversations, he also, from time to time, asked me for social engagements. My reaction to these conversations was to avoid them by eliminating opportunities for us to engage in extended conversations. This was difficult because at the time I was his only assistant at the Office of Education -- or Office for Civil Rights.

During the latter part of my time at the Department of Education, the social pressures and any conversation of his offensive behavior ended. I began both to believe and hope that our working relationship could be a proper, cordial, and professional one.

When Judge Thomas was made chair of the EEOC, I needed to face the question of whether to go with him. I was asked to do so, and I did. The work itself was interesting, and at that time it appeared that the sexual overtures which had so troubled me had ended. I also faced the realistic fact that I had no alternative job.

While I might have gone back to private practice, perhaps in my old firm or at another, I was dedicated to civil rights work, and my first choice was to be in that field. Moreover, the Department of Education itself was a dubious venture. President Reagan was seeking to abolish the entire department.

For my first months at the EEOC, where I continued to be an assistant to Judge Thomas, there were no sexual conversations or overtures. However, during the fall and winter of 1982, these began again. The comments were random and ranged from pressing me about why I didn't go out with him to remarks about my personal appearance. I remember his saying that some day I would have to tell him the real reason that I wouldn't go out with him.

He began to show displeasure in his tone and voice and his demeanor and his continued pressure for an explanation. He commented on what I was wearing in terms of whether it made me more or less sexually attractive. The incidents occurred in his inner office at the EEOC.

One of the oddest episodes I remember was an occasion in which Thomas was drinking a Coke in his office. He got up from the table at which we were working, went over to his desk to get the Coke, looked at the can and asked, "Who has pubic hair on my Coke?" On other occasions, he referred to the size of his own penis as being larger than normal, and he also spoke on some occasions of the pleasures he had given to women with oral sex.

At this point, late 1982, I began to feel severe stress on the job. I began to be concerned that Clarence Thomas might take out his anger with me by degrading me or not giving me important assignments. I also thought that he might find an excuse for dismissing me.

In January of 1983, I began looking for another job. I was handicapped because I feared that, if he found out, he might make it difficult for me to find other employment and I might be dismissed from the job I had. Another factor that made my search more difficult was that there was a period -- this was during a period of a hiring freeze in the government. In February 1983, I was hospitalized for five days on an emergency basis for an acute -- for acute stomach pain, which I attributed to stress on the job.

Once out of the hospital, I became more committed to find other employment and sought further to minimize my contact with Thomas. This became easier when Allison Duncan became office director, because most of my work was then funneled through her and I had contact with Clarence Thomas mostly in staff meetings.

In the spring of 1983, an opportunity to teach at Oral Roberts University opened up. I participated in a seminar -- taught an afternoon session and seminar at Oral Roberts University. The dean of the -- of the university saw me teaching and inquired as to whether I would be interested in furthering -- pursuing a career in teaching, beginning at Oral Roberts University. I agreed to take the job in large part because of my desire to escape the pressures I felt at the EEOC, due to Judge Thomas.

When I informed him that I was leaving in July, I recall that his response was that now I would no longer have an excuse for not going out with him. I told him that I still preferred not to do so. At some time after that meeting, he asked if he could take me to dinner at the end of the term. When I declined, he assured me that the dinner was a professional courtesy only and not a social invitation. I reluctantly agreed to accept that invitation, but only if it was at the very end of a working day.

On, as I recall, the last day of my employment at the EEOC in the summer of 1983, I did have dinner with Clarence Thomas. We went directly from work to a restaurant near the office. We talked about the work I had done, both at Education and at the EEOC. He told me that he was pleased with all of it except for an article and speech that I had done for him while we were at the Office for Civil Rights. Finally, he made a comment that I will vividly remember. He said that if I ever told anyone of his behavior that it would ruin his career. This was not an apology, nor was it an explanation. That was his last remark about the possibility of our going out or reference to his behavior.

In July of 1983, I left Washington, D.C. area and I've had minimal contacts with Judge Clarence Thomas since. I am of course aware from the Press that some questions have been raised about conversations I had with Judge Clarence Thomas after I left the EEOC. From 1983 until today, I have seen Judge Thomas only twice. On one occasion, I needed to get a reference from him, and on another he made a public appearance in Tulsa.

On one occasion he called me at home and we had an inconsequential conversation. On one occasion he called me without reaching me, and I returned the call without reaching him, and nothing came of it. I have, on at least three occasions, been asked to [act] as a conduit to him for others.

I knew his secretary, Diane Holt. We had worked together at both EEOC and Education. There were occasions on which I spoke to her, and on some of these occasions undoubtedly I passed on some casual comment to then Chairman Thomas. There were a series of calls in the first three months of 1985, occasioned by a group in Tulsa, which wished to have a civil rights conference. They wanted Judge Thomas to be the speaker and enlisted my assistance for this purpose.

I did call in January and February to no effect, and finally suggested to the person directly involved, Susan Cahall, that she put the -- that she put the matter into her own hands and call directly. She did so in March of 1985. In connection with that March invitation, Ms. Cahall wanted conference materials for the seminar and some research was needed. I was asked to try to get the information and did attempt to do so.

There was another call about another possible conference in the July of 1985. In August of 1987, I was in Washington, D.C. and I did call Diane Holt. In the course of this conversation, she asked me how long I was going to be in town and I told her. It is recorded in the message as August 15. It was, in fact, August 20th. She told me about Judge Thomas's marriage and I did say, "Congratulate him."

It is only after a great deal of agonizing consideration that I am able to talk of these unpleasant matters to anyone except my closest friends. As I've said before these last few days have been very trying and very hard for me, and it hasn't just been the last few days this week. It has actually been over a month now that I have been under the strain of this issue.

Telling the world is the most difficult experience of my life, but it is very close to having to live through the experience that occasion this meeting. I may have used poor judgment early on in my relationship with this issue. I was aware, however, that telling at any point in my career could adversely affect my future career. And I did not want early on to burn all the bridges to the EEOC.

As I said, I may have used poor judgment. Perhaps I should have taken angry or even militant steps, both when I was in the agency, or after I left it. But I must confess to the world that the course that I took seemed the better as well as the easier approach.

I declined any comment to newspapers, but later when Senate staff asked me about these matters I felt I had a duty to report. I have no personal vendetta against Clarence Thomas. I seek only to provide the committee with information which it may regard as relevant.

It would have been more comfortable to remain silent. It took no initiative to inform anyone -- I took no initiative to inform anyone. But when I was asked by a representative of this committee to report my experience, I felt that I had to tell the truth. I could not keep silent.

Clarence Thomas responded to Anita Hill's statement by saying that he was the victim of a 'high tech lynching for uppity Blacks'. Anita Hill's statement moved the issue of 'sexual harassment' to the forefront of all of us in the workplace. Do you remember this high drama from 1991? What are your thoughts today about her testimony?

October 10, 2015

Mary Church Terrell, 'What It Means to be Colored in Capital of the U.S.'

I look at my young daughters and nieces and wonder if they are aware of the powerful nubian women in history who blazed a path for them in this world? Do they know about Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954)?

Sis. Terrell was an educator, activist and professional lecturer. She was known for for her work as an early civil rights leader, women's rights advocate, founder of National Association of Colored Women, and charter member of the NAACP.

Her skills on the lecture circuit earned her a place on the list of the Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century produced by the folks at American Rhetoric. Mary Church Terrell delivered a speech entitled "What It Means to be Colored in Capital of the U.S." (Top Speech #44) on October 10, 1906 at the United Women's Club in Washington, DC.

Obviously, there is no available video or audio of her speech, however, we do have the full text transcript [SOURCE].

Thank you very much.

Washington, D.C., has been called "The Colored Man's Paradise." Whether this sobriquet was given to the national capital in bitter irony by a member of the handicapped race, as he reviewed some of his own persecutions and rebuffs, or whether it was given immediately after the war by an ex-slaveholder who for the first time in his life saw colored people walking about like free men, minus the overseer and his whip, history saith not. It is certain that it would be difficult to find a worse misnomer for Washington than "The Colored Man's Paradise" if so prosaic a consideration as veracity is to determine the appropriateness of a name.

For fifteen years I have resided in Washington, and while it was far from being a paradise for colored people when I first touched these shores it has been doing its level best ever since to make conditions for us intolerable. As a colored woman I might enter Washington any night, a stranger in a strange land, and walk miles without finding a place to lay my head. Unless I happened to know colored people who live here or ran across a chance acquaintance who could recommend a colored boarding-house to me, I should be obliged to spend the entire night wandering about. Indians, Chinamen, Filipinos, Japanese and representatives of any other dark race can find hotel accommodations, if they can pay for them. The colored man alone is thrust out of the hotels of the national capital like a leper.

As a colored woman I may walk from the Capitol to the White House, ravenously hungry and abundantly supplied with money with which to purchase a meal, without finding a single restaurant in which I would be permitted to take a morsel of food, if it was patronized by white people, unless I were willing to sit behind a screen. As a colored woman I cannot visit the tomb of the Father of this country, which owes its very existence to the love of freedom in the human heart and which stands for equal opportunity to all, without being forced to sit in the Jim Crow section of an electric car which starts form the very heart of the city– midway between the Capital and the White House. If I refuse thus to be humiliated, I am cast into jail and forced to pay a fine for violating the Virginia laws....

As a colored woman I may enter more than one white church in Washington without receiving that welcome which as a human being I have the right to expect in the sanctuary of God. . .

Unless I am willing to engage in a few menial occupations, in which the pay for my services would be very poor, there is no way for me to earn an honest living, if I am not a trained nurse or a dressmaker or can secure a position as teacher in the public schools, which is exceedingly difficult to do. It matters not what my intellectual attainments may be or how great is the need of the services of a competent person, if I try to enter many of the numerous vocations in which my white sisters are allowed to engage, the door is shut in my face.

From one Washington theater I am excluded altogether. In the remainder certain seats are set aside for colored people, and it is almost impossible to secure others. . .

With the exception of the Catholic University, there is not a single white college in the national capitol to which colored people are admitted. . . . A few years ago the Columbian Law School admitted colored students, but in deference to the Southern white students the authorities have decided to exclude them altogether.

Some time ago a young woman who had already attracted some attention in the literary world by her volume of short stories answered an advertisement which appeared in a Washington newspaper, which called for the services of a skilled stenographer and expert typewriter. . . . The applicants were requested to send specimens of their work and answer certain questions concerning their experience and their speed before they called in person. In reply to her application the young colored woman. . . received a letter from the firm stating that her references and experience were the most satisfactory that had been sent and requesting her to call. When she presented herself there was some doubt in the mind of the man to whom she was directed concerning her racial pedigree, so he asked her point-blank whether she was colored or white. When she confessed the truth the merchant expressed. . . deep regret that he could not avail himself of the services of so competent a person, but frankly admitted that employing a colored woman in his establishment in any except a menial position was simply out of the question. . . .

Not only can colored women secure no employment in the Washington stores, department and otherwise, except as menials, and such positions, of course, are few, but even as customers they are not infrequently treated with discourtesy both by the clerks and the proprietor himself. . . .

Although white and colored teachers are under the same Board of Education and the system for the children of both races is said to be uniform, prejudice against the colored teachers in the public schools is manifested in a variety of ways. From 1870 to 1900 there was a colored superintendent at the head of the colored schools. During all that time the directors of the cooking, sewing, physical culture, manual training, music and art departments were colored people. Six years ago a change was inaugurated. The colored superintendent was legislated out of office and the directorships, without a single exception, were taken from colored teachers and given to the whites. . . .

Now, no matter how competent or superior the colored teachers in our public schools may be, they know that they can never rise to the height of a directorship, can never hope to be more than an assistant and receive the meager salary therefore, unless the present regime is radically changed....

Strenuous efforts are being made to run Jim Crow cars in the national capital. . . . Representative Heflin, of Alabama, who introduced a bill providing for Jim Crow street cars in the District of Columbia last winter, has just received a letter from the president of the East Brookland Citizens’ Association “indorsing the movement for separate street cars and sincerely hoping that you will be successful in getting this enacted into a law as soon as possible.” Brookland is a suburb of Washington.

The colored laborer’s path to a decent livelihood is by no means smooth. Into some of the trades unions here he is admitted, while from others he is excluded altogether. By the union men this is denied, although I am personally acquainted with skilled workmen who tell me they are not admitted into the unions because they are colored. But even when they are allowed to join the unions they frequently derive little benefit, owing to certain tricks of the trade. When the word passes round that help is needed and colored laborers apply, they are often told by the union officials that they have secured all the men they needed, because the places are reserved for white men, until they have been provided with jobs, and colored men must remain idle, unless the supply of white men is too small. . . .

And so I might go on citing instance after instance to show the variety of ways in which our people are sacrificed on the altar of prejudice in the Capital of the United States and how almost insurmountable are the obstacles which block his path to success. . . .

It is impossible for any white person in the United States, no matter how sympathetic and broad, to realize what life would mean to him if his incentive to effort were suddenly snatched away. To the lack of incentive to effort, which is the awful shadow under which we live, may be traced the wreck and ruin of score of colored youth. And surely nowhere in the world do oppression and persecution based solely on the color of the skin appear more hateful and hideous than in the capital of the United States, because the chasm between the principles upon which this Government was founded, in which it still professes to believe, and those which are daily practiced under the protection of the flag, yawn so wide and deep.

This speech was written over 100 years ago. What do you think about it?

October 9, 2015

Believe in Ohio: Mentoring Matters ... Shavon's Story

We need mentors. Dr. Julian Earls shares his thoughts on the mentor process. Our hope is that you will find a way to become a mentor for a young person in the state of Ohio.

We are trying to reach 100 mentors in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus. We truly need your help to find 100 mentors over these 100 days. Reply to this message over visit our mentor sign-up sheet if you want to be part of the solution for delivering on this STEM-based business plan competition in urban areas of Ohio.

I first met my mentor when I was in his math class at Tri-C. He has made a big impact on me both academically and personally. He gave me opportunities not only in the STEM field, but helped me work towards by career goal. He also gave me the chance to meet professionals in STEM field so I can learn from them. He guides me through school to make sure I stay on top of my schoolwork.

He is very honest, whether you like it or not. He got to know me and truly understand me. Whenever I don’t know something he is the first person I contact. If only words can express how truly thankful I am to have worked with him.

Shavon Castro, Student
Cuyhoga Community College
Cleveland, OH

Shavon’s story is why we need mentors. The Urban STEM Mentoring Network is designed to assist high school students for only 1 hour per month. Click on to assist the Shavon’s in our community.

September 29, 2015

Believe in Ohio: 'Mentoring Matters ... Alisa's Story'

I am a student at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio and became aware of a mentoring program there through the Black American Council. My mentor has helped me both professionally and personally. He ensured that I stayed on track with all of my math courses to achieve my Associate Degree.

My mentor also introduced me to the National Technical Association (NTA), the nation’s oldest professional organization supporting minorities in engineering and technology. Through NTA I am deeply involved with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) and participate in robotics competitions, STEM presentations along with other activities that help prepare me for science careers. With the help of my mentor, by engaging in the programs that my mentor helps provide, I’ve grown a great deal in STEM knowledge and experience.

Importantly, my mentor inspires me by the way he gives back to the community. One day, thanks to the example that my mentor shows through his support, dedication and passion, I will mentor other students so they can also follow the path of a great journey to success.

Alisa Smith, Computer Network Technology Student
Cuyahoga Community College
Cleveland, Ohio

Alisa’s story is why we need mentors. The Urban STEM Mentoring Network is designed to assist high school students for only 1 hour per month. Click on to assist the Alisa’s in our community.