“The whole thing, my friends, is a bloody farce, and that the police and soldiers did nothing to stem the murder thirst of the mob is a conspiracy on the part of the civil authorities to condone the acts of the white mob against Negroes.” Marcus Garvey
With a few minor changes in the words, one would think this quote was in reference the unrest happening right now in Ferguson, Missouri due to the killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson, but it isn’t.
The quote above by Marcus Garvey was delivered when he responded to the 1917 East St. Louis Race Riot, nearly 100 years ago.
Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association, historically known as the UNIA, responded to the race riot of East St. Louis by calling it a “crime against humanity.” This riot occurred after 470 African Americans has been hired to fill positions left abandoned by white workers that had gone on strike against the local Aluminum Ore Company. The angry whites of the town filed formal complaints to the Mayor against Black migration to the city of East St. Louis. Soon after the formal complaints, an alleged attempted robbery of a white man by an unarmed Black man began to circulate. As a result, an angry white mob began beating and violating the Blacks of the city—these actions resulted in the National Guard being called in to quell the violence, but it only grew worse. The end result of the St. Louis Race Riots, amidst all of the violence and the maimed and murdered African Americans, was that several officers of the East St. Louis police force were indicted for not doing enough to eradicate the mob violence.
Marcus Garvey, born in St. Ann’s Bay Jamaica on August 17, 1887 was a fearless, enterprising man of great conviction. Highly inspired by the formerly enslaved American hero, Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey set out to establish a united Black people. He encouraged repatriation to Africa, the industrialization of Blacks and the establishment of an organization that would help Blacks to meet his goals, the UNIA formed in 1914. Further inspired by the large numbers of Black people living in Harlem, Marcus Garvey relocated the UNIA to Harlem’s 138th Street in 1917, and was a leading voice against racial injustice every time these injustices arose. As demonstrated above, Marcus Garvey spoke against the East St. Louis Race Riots of 1917, and his vigilance against the killings that occurred during the Red Summer of 1919 led to the continued growth of the UNIA.
Using Madison Square Garden as his venue, Marcus Garvey attracted 25,000 people to hear him deliver the Declaration of Rights the Negro Peoples of the World at the UNIA International Convention of 1920.
This man was on a mission.
To fulfill his dream of Blacks repatriating to Africa, Marcus Garvey and the efforts of the UNIA purchased a fleet of ships, The Blackstar Steamship Line. Although the ships were never able to fulfill the purpose intended by Garvey and the UNIA, purchasing the ships was a promising move by any Black leader, and a clear testament to the UNIA’s economic prowess.
Like most leaders of his time, Marcus Garvey was not devoid of controversy that would taint his reputation among Black followers and other Black organizations. The point, however, is that Marcus Garvey was a visionary and he was emphatic about the direction he thought would suit Black people best. He had an “All Black Everything” vision; under the banner of Red, Black and Green he envisioned a Black Army. He lauded Black women as “queens” that gave “color to the world.” He also was clear and staunch in this assertion that he was equal to the white man and he wanted other Blacks to feel and know the same thing.
Marcus Garvey, having been consumed by the poetic and political potential of the United States, specifically Harlem (He was in Harlem in the height of the Harlem Renaissance), as well as the ideas of Black Unity and a Black nation, Marcus Garvey was a true Renaissance Man.
Marcus Garvey died in 1940 while in London, England after having two strokes.
He has influenced people who still follow his teachings, Garveyites. Rastafarianism is highly influenced by Garveyism. The man heralded by Ossie Davis as “our own Black shining Prince,” El Hajj Malik El Shabazz (Malcolm X), was raised by a Garveyite, his father Earl Little. And, all around the world we can find many examples of people holding true to Marcus Garvey’s call, “Up you mighty race; you can conquer what you will.”
On this Centennial (100 years!) of the UNIA and on what would have been the 127th year of Mr. Garvey’s birth, we say HAPPY BIRTHDAY Marcus Garvey!
Today August 7th, 2014, NewsOne writer Donovan X. Ramsey posted an article on NewsOne.com with the title, “Why Can’t Obama Talk To Black Americans Like That?” My Fraternity Brother and friend, Donald Anthony Wheeler tagged me in it on a Facebook post and asked for my thoughts.
This article questioned why all of the encouragement and praise President Obama recently offered the 500 African fellows in the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), which was a part of the greater U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit held in Washington, D.C. from August 4th – August 6th, 2014, is not extended from President Obama to Black Americans.
To the YALI fellows President Obama offers the following:
“I want to thank you for inspiring us with your talent and your motivation and your ambition,” he said, looking out to the fellows. “You’ve got great aspirations for your countries and your continent. And as you build that brighter future that you imagine, I want to make sure that the United States of America is going to be your friend and partner every step of the way.” Later in the speech, he added, “So the point of all of this is we believe in you. I believe in you. I believe in every one of you who are doing just extraordinary things.”
In this very frank article Mr. Ramsey supported that President Obama’s inspirational words to these African youth were “uncommon” to Black Americans, specifically when reviewing earlier messages and speeches President Obama has made to Black American audiences And, Mr. Ramsey even goes a step further to say that this encouragement made him a little bit “jealous.”
I think we all get a little bit jealous whenever someone, other than ourselves, gets a little piece of President Obama’s highly warranted attention And, even deeper, I understand where Mr. Ramsey is coming from, too. The idea that there are throngs of young, Black, youth living just outside of the White House, and all over America, but yet he creates a Young African Leaders Initiative is hard to swallow.
But, if we look at it another way, President Obama is doing what he has been fated to do, and I’m okay with his decision.
In 2013, I was a witness to President Obama’s visit to a Brooklyn, NY high school–Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), the school in which I currently teach. Just in knowing President Obama would visit the school sent an understated hysteria that resonated more like the anticipation one has when he or she is about to meet his or her hero for the first time. Ultimately, when President Obama spoke to this predominately Black (Black American, Caribbean, African and Afro-Latin@) population, he shared a very similar message of doing well and believing in the future of this post-millenial generation with all of the students in attendance. I looked in their faces as President Obama spoke and they were hanging onto his every word.
As Mr. Ramsey’s article points out, there have been instances in which critics like the Reverend Jesse Jackson and others have felt that President Obama was “talking down to Black people.” For example, Mr. Ramsey highlights President Obama’s commencement message to the Morehouse College Class of 2013–he even suggests that the President compromised the graduates’ joy and happiness on that day in his message of accountability and ridding themselves of excuses.
“We’ve got no time for excuses — not because the bitter legacies of slavery and segregation have vanished entirely; they haven’t. Not because racism and discrimination no longer exist; that’s still out there. It’s just that in today’s hyper-connected, hyper-competitive world, with a billion young people from China and India and Brazil entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything you haven’t earned,” he said.
I think most of us would simply be happy to know that President Obama was “in the building” at our graduation, let alone being able to say he offered our commencement address. But, not to make light of Mr. Ramsey’s claims, President Obama did not tell this class that he believed in them. And, no–he did not offer these students a partner in America. But, he did something far greater–he showed up and mentored each of these students individually by providing them with a blueprint as to how he became the Commander-In-Chief. Of course that message would depend on the way in which the graduate was willing to receive the message.
And, President Obama’s messages and actions become even rosier for me.
I am not a fan of casting aspersions on the work that President Obama has done and is doing–I don’t suggest that Mr. Ramsey is, either. But, I am wholeheartedly in favor of speaking my truth about what I glean from how I witness, hear, and understand these works. Again, President Obama is doing what he has been fated to do–to reconnect the African Diaspora as only it can be done through America, and more specifically, through the efforts of its Black American president.
While chattel slavery affected all of the African Diaspora in severe ways, I will be brash and controversial enough to admit that Black Americans are a pretty special group to have “made it” to America even during the arduous slave trade. We are even more significant because we have survived the legacy of the other elements that have been diffused in America as a result of its involvement in chattel slavery–the peculiar institution. By virtue having “made it” to America and also by being citizens, Black Americans have also gained access, albeit limited, to the all of the resources of this country. These resources have continually been sought out by the Caribbean Black and the African. Through accessing Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) like Kwame Nkrumah, or by aligning with the daily struggles of being Black in America through the creation of the Black Power movement by Stokely Carmichael, or by helping to shape the voice of the Harlem Renaissance like Claude McKay, America has always provided great ideas of possibility to Blacks outside of America.
President Obama is doing his job by keeping the doors open to Caribbean and African Blacks to continue this work. On the Continent of Africa, there is what is known as the “Door of No Return” but the very name of that infamous door, while it will never be obsolete, is now taking on a different meaning through what President Obama is doing and how he is encouraging Young African Leaders and also Africa’s Black American kin.
President Obama makes me proud every day because he took the chance to run for America’s presidency, and by successfully becoming America’s president, he has changed the way the world will forever view Black people and our access to the world–whether we are American or Disaporan Black.
From my vantage point, I don’t stand in competition with Blacks from around the world, but in solidarity. President Obama’s message to them is already a message I have heard and internalized long before this recent U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit–so, it is indeed a message to me, also.
According to the Superman Poll, you have a 100% approval rating from this voter. While you cannot do it all, you have remained steadfast in advocating and ensuring that some of America’s most vulnerable are cared for—Obama Care has changed the lives of many, Student Loan Forgiveness has given college-loan debtors some hope, and your most important leadership has been to inspire other members of the your team, like Attorney General Eric Holder, to openly speak against and investigate disparaging policy practices as they affect incarcerated people, especially Black males and other Men of Color.
According to the Perception Poll, you have a 100% approval rating from this voter for changing the way the world perceives which Americans are willing, able and capable of leading our nation, its people and its position as a leader among nations of the world. The My Brother’s Keeper Initiative is such a smart initiative in sending a message about the perception about the importance of Black Males in our nation. The latest economy results are in—there is growth and jobs have been added to our economy!
According to the Cool Factor Poll, you have a 100% approval rating because I dig your cool—you can sing (remember the Apollo?), you can really play basketball, and I dig how relatable I find you and your family—Mrs. Obama as your wife and First Lady is the real deal. How cool!
According to the Intelligence Factor Poll, you have managed to show that it is okay to be a smart, study Political Science, be an expert on the Constitution, and be a well-written and well-published attorney. For that you have a 100% approval rating from me!
According to the Foreign Policy Poll, I have witnessed considerable growth in your leadership around the world, especially in this second term. None of us like what is happening in Gaza between Israel and Palestine, but one of the first changes I supported you requesting that Israel return to the use of the pre-1967 boundary lines in 2011. It was a start in establishing some semblance of equity in a turbulent region, but more importantly, I appreciate the fact that America, under your leadership found it important to condemn Israel’s actions in Sunday’s August 3rd, 2014 bombing of a Gaza UN school. We’re making some progress and that’s a good thing! And, you still always work toward peace. You have an 100% approval rating from this voter.
While I am having a lot of fun with these polls, I want it to be known that I find you to be way more than the average president and far greater than marginal–there is a lot of evidence to support my findings. I want today to be memorable and what birthdays are made of, even for the President of the United States of America: CAKE, CANDLES, and FUN!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, President Obama!
Have you ever wondered what an unapologetic life looks like? One needs to look no further than to the poetic, critical, and requited life of Mr. James Baldwin, affectionately known by his loved ones as “Jimmy”.
He is a world treasure!
Had Mr. Baldwin not succumb to the esophageal cancer that conquered his physical body on December 1st, 1987, he would be sitting with us wearing his bright, bold, uncommon, gap-toothed smile, perhaps holding a cigarette and sharing some insightful words of wisdom amongst friends. His words would probably be a critique on the ways in which our nation has progressed racially, or not. Never one to tire of an economic, social and political commentary on the ways of the American and international world, I imagine that Mr. Baldwin’s billowing words would eventually recess and retreat into his mind to be picked up later, as he analyzes whatever nature landscape has appeared in his midst.
“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” ~James Baldwin
I only wish that as a high school and college student I had been more exposed to this literary force of more than 25 works and this phenomenal American man. Equally, I only wish that my birth would have intersected the times sooner so that I would have had the chance to meet him, speak with him or simply catch a glimpse of this beautiful man through the lens of a disposable camera.
Recently, during my time at Yale, I was researching in the Beinecke Library, Yale’s repository of rare books and manuscripts, to sift through James Baldwin’s papers like an archaeologist on an archaeological dig. What I found was a man, a thinker, an archivist, and man who doodled! On his time-stained, brown-paged manuscripts he doodled pictures of women, perhaps taking a break from the complexities of his mind by trying his left hand at an understated hobby–drawing. and, also on these pages, he recorded his life and structured conversations for us to continue having with the hopes of transforming America into a better nation of laws, people and mores.
“I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” James Baldwin
Just writing about him makes me share my own bright, gap-toothed smile as I think about the way he has impacted my thinking and opened my being to what it means to live an unapologetic life. James Baldwin was an immaculate writer and superb wordsmith, but what I will always admire the most about him is the way truth escaped through his full lips and into bitter and sweet air, never to be lost in time because he recorded this truth on the pages of his books, it was woven into the couches of talks shows and captured on the reels of tape.
“Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death–ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life.” James Baldwin
Happy 90th Birthday Mr. Baldwin!
On Wednesday July 30th, 2014, with a vote of 225-201, the House of Representatives voted to give John Boehner, the United States Speaker of the House, the authority to sue the President of the United States.
That’s right. Our dysfunctional 113th Congress came together for a vote along party lines to sue our President–every Democrat voted against the resolution to sue and all but five (5) Republicans voted in favor of the suit!
At the helm of this dysfunction is the 64-year old, stiff, stoic, and seriously egotistical John “B.B” Boehner. Sworn in as our nation’s 61st Speaker of the House, it is the job of “B.B.” to preside over the House of Representatives—one of two houses that comprises Congress. The members of the House of Representatives are determined by each state’s population which means more populous states have greater voices and votes in the legislative (law-making) processes of the House of Representatives.
“B.B.” has 435 people under his watch. Based on the productivity of this current Congress, it appears as if they all have pretty much been watching each other because they have clearly not been working.
So why the law suit?
By constitutional decree, “B.B.” is second in line to the presidency, and that may have a lot to do with his treatment of President Obama since becoming the Speaker on January 3rd, 2011. I have a feeling that somewhere deep in his orange-stained encapsulated mind he believes that he can do a better job. But, the historical record shows the only thing “B.B.” is capable of doing well is saying, “No.” This Congress has been the least effective Congress in the history of America—even more ineffective than the 80th ‘Do Nothing’ Congress that served with President Harry Truman!
According to the Christian Science Monitor, the real reason “B.B.” has moved forward with this expensive and frivolous law suit is because of the Republican’s accusation of President Obama’s “executive overreach—exceeding his constitutional powers and unlawfully going around Congress.” The Wall Street Journal contributed Boehner’s decision was reinforced by alterations that were made to the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obama Care.
Clearly the framers of the Constitution knew how to keep one another in check because they implicitly imbedded and explicitly granted really important duties, responsibilities, and privileges to the different branches of government. Because the Republicans of this Congress have been so staunch in their resolve to see President Obama fail, and since the Republicans were not successful in preventing President Obama from reelection, they just flat-out became uncooperative, leaving President Obama without a choice but to use the Executive Order and executive privilege to run this country and to make decisions that Congress, that appeared to be defunct at times, refused to help him with. But, President Obama still appealed to them and he still operated within the confines of the Constitution and under the oath he took to defend the Constitution when he was sworn in as president.
Under the partial congressional leadership of Boehner, our nation has suffered sequestration, been faced with issues with our nation’s credit standing, and most importantly Americans have suffered by the non-passage of legislation to provide jobs, support our veterans, and improve the overall quality of life in health, education, and wages.
Bad Boss Boehner and his followers have no respect for the position of the president, show no remorse for the further suffering they have inflicted on the American people, and don’t care about the international implications their actions dictate about how others around the world treat President Obama and respect our system of democracy. In true bad fashion, they have strong-armed the political process like a bunch of sophisticated crooks.
The history that President Obama has made by breaking and removing the glass ceiling of political exclusion for Americans in this country can never be undone. That’s good!
But, the fact that America really wants to become a better nation, but unfortunately-stagnated, small-minded people wish to prevent our progress, is disturbing and bad.
Of all of the putrid and disturbing things for the Speaker of the House to do, using his position to “speak” ideas of anarchy and dysfunction deeper into our government is really low and bad.
When this Congress’s history is recorded, it will not be for a record of all of the good and progressive ways in which it elevated America. Instead, it will be a record of them getting paid for bad, litigious, and intentionally unproductive ways to discredit the office of the president, maintain the status quo of political party chaos, and prevent the upward mobility of Americans and this nation.
America, we have roughly 95 days until mid-term elections are held on Election Day, November 4th, 2014.
YOU have the power to rid our government of Bad Bosses like John “B. B.” Boehner and bad-boss practices. You must simply care about what is happeing in our government, read everyday to stay informed–ThePoliDay Report is a great place, and most importantly you must VOTE!