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Vol. 1

The Uprising

In this volume we are showcasing the history of discrimination toward African-Americans and how its led to a number of uprisings throughout history. African-American history is American history. Scroll to explore our shared history through historical happenings, personal experiences, and art.


2020
01.

FROM THE EDITOR

The Uprising

By Erica Nicole

The year, 2020. Full of optimism, hope, new visions, the come up! Quickly turned into the year of reckoning. A few realignments if you will — I remember taking a walk outside during [quarantine] lockdown and thinking the sky was clearer, the grass and trees seemed greener. Started to see insects I had not seen in years. Basically mother nature needed us to go in the house and rest our nerves for a bit. She had some healing to do. A little Saturday morning, windows open, jams blaring throughout the house spring cleaning, if you will.

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Then May comes along, in all of her glory — One day. Two acts of violence. Plus a Nation of people who are angry, restless, frustrated, worrisome, with social media at their finger tips. Equates to an uprising that we as a country must face.

It’s not your fault. All you did was grow and they got mad!
— Durand Bernard

If this isn’t the truth — All we ever did was be black, overcome, evolve, create, and found something as simple as joy in life on new land. See that’s the best part of us as black people, African-Americans, descendants of greatness; we will find our joy in every moment. Unbreakable. Resilient. We will find our reason to sing, dance, laugh, and create in the face of tyranny. Hell, sometimes we don’t even need a reason. We do it because it just feels good to our spirit.

It’s in these moments of darkness, when we need comforting. Who’s to comfort us? Who comforts us, when the people that would comfort us needs comforting themselves?! How many times do we have to self-sooth. How many generations need to self-sooth? We can’t anymore, because we are tired. Beyond tired. An uprising notes the breaking point of an oppressed people. Racial inequality and police brutality has been an ongoing ever presence in our community; from the slave catcher to the current day boys in blue. Our resilience and our determination for generations is what pushes us through. What has simmered for decades has now come to surface, what’s to come of… the UPRISING.

It’s not your fault. All you did was grow and they got mad!

— Durand Bernard


1841
02.

The Creole Case

By Samuel Momodu

The Creole Case was the result of an American slave revolt in November 1841 on board the Creole, a ship involved in the United States coastwise slave trade. As a consequence of the revolt, 128 enslaved people won their freedom in the Bahamas, then a British possession. Because of the number of people eventually freed, the Creole mutiny was the most successful slave revolt in US history.

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In the fall of 1841, the brig Creole, which was owned by the Johnson and Eperson Company of Richmond, Virginia, transported 135 slaves from Richmond for sale in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Creole had left Richmond with 103 slaves and picked up another 32 in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Most of the slaves were owned by Johnson and Eperson, but 26 were owned by Thomas McCargo, a slave trader who was one of the Creole passengers. The ship also carried tobacco; a crew of ten; the captain’s wife, daughter, and niece; four passengers, including slave traders; and eight slaves of the traders.

Madison Washington, an enslaved man who escaped to Canada in 1840 but was captured and sold when he returned to Virginia in search of his wife Susan, was among those being shipped to New Orleans. On November 7, 1841, Washington and eighteen other male slaves rebelled, overwhelming the crew and killing John R. Hewell, one of the slave traders. The ship’s captain, Robert Ensor, along with several crew members, was wounded but survived. One of the slaves was badly wounded and later died.

The rebels took overseer William Merritt at his word that he would navigate for them. They first demanded that the ship be taken to Liberia. When Merritt told them that the voyage was impossible because of the shortage of food or water, another rebel, Ben Blacksmen, said they should be taken to the British West Indies, because he knew the slaves from the Hermosa had gained their freedom the previous year under a similar circumstance. On November 9, 1841, the Creole reached Nassau where it first was boarded by the harbor pilot and his crew, all local black Bahamians. They told the American slaves that under British law they were free and then advised them to go ashore at once.

As Captain Ensor was badly wounded, the Bahamian quarantine officer took First Mate Zephaniah Gifford to inform the American consul of the events. At the consul’s request, the British governor of the Bahamas ordered a guard to board the Creole to prevent the escape of the men implicated in Hewell’s death.

The British took Washington and eighteen conspirators into custody under charges of mutiny, while the rest of the enslaved were allowed to live as free people including some who remained in the Bahamas and others who sailed to Jamaica. Five people, which included three women, a girl, and a boy, decided to stay aboard the Creole and sailed with the ship to New Orleans, returning to slavery. On April 16, 1842, the Admiralty Court in Nassau ordered the surviving seventeen mutineers to be released and freed including Washington. In total, 128 enslaved people gained their freedom, which made the Creole mutiny the most successful slave revolt in US history.


2020
03.

Moses

By CT Romeo


chicot county race war
1871
04.

Chicot County Race War

By Samuel Momodu

In late 1871, Chicot County, Arkansas, was taken over by several hundred African Americans led by state senator and county judge James W. Mason. The murder of an African American lawyer, Wathal G. Wynn, by three white men—John W. Saunders, Jasper Dugan, and Curtis Garrett—angered the black citizens of Chicot County, causing them to take the men from the county jail and kill them. The killings prompted many white residents to flee the county.

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The conflict began in December 1871 when Wathal G. Wynn, who, according to some sources, was James W. Mason’s brother-in-law and was killed in a store in Lake Village, the Chicot County seat. Wynn, one of the first graduates of the newly created Howard University Law School, had been admitted to the Arkansas Bar the previous September.

In early December, a public meeting was called to decide whether to use county money to help finance two railroads being built through the northern part of the county. After the meeting, a Lake Village store owner, John W. Saunders, and two other men, Jasper Dugan and Curtis Garrett, became involved in an argument with Wynn who allegedly called Saunders a liar. In response, Saunders drew his pistol and killed Wynn. The local authorities arrested Saunders, Dugan, and Garrett and put them in the county jail.

Mason responded to the murder by sending a letter to Ohio Republican Congressman A.G. Riddle in which he contended that Wynn was actually killed by the three men, all allegedly members of the Ku Klux Klan, for his attempts to organize black voters for the Republican Party. The letter was later published in the Washington Chronicle and reprinted in the New York Times.

Meanwhile, approximately three hundred African American men went to the jail; removed Saunders, Dugan, and Garrett; took them into the woods; and shot them dead. As many of the county’s white citizens, fearing a reign of terror, left the area, leaving African Americans in control of the town and county. What actually happened next is clouded by differing reports from Democratic and Republican newspapers. The Democratic press reported a reign of terror by local blacks, while the Republican papers said that the county was tense, but reports of violence and destruction were exaggerated.

James W. Mason, who in 1872 was elected sheriff of the county, was held responsible for the race war and was indicted by the Chicot County Court for instigating the violence. In the summer of 1873, Mason was arrested and charged with murder. He was held in the neighboring Drew County jail until the next meeting of the circuit court. Colonel John A. Williams, an ex-Confederate officer, was appointed special judge in the case by Arkansas’s Republican Governor Ozro A. Hadley. After a trial of several weeks, Mason was released on a writ of habeas corpus. Mason served out his term as sheriff of Chicot County which ended in 1874. Although Democrats regained control of Arkansas politics, African Americans continued to hold most of the offices in Chicot County until 1883.


05.

Act Like It

By K Brooks

I was born in the ’50s, raised in the ’60s and ’70s, by working-class parents, in a working-class neighborhood, where businesses and schools were owned and run by us, for us. Being raised in this period I was privileged to experience three seasons of American culture, segregation, the end of segregation, and the beginning of integration. This period allowed me to experience a way of life that was new and different for my parents.

Early on, I did not recognize segregation for its true meaning. I just knew that where we lived and the places we went, there were only people of color and I was cool with that. My early memories of segregation were at “Black Only” Carrs and Sparrows beaches, where I remember great times with family and friends full of food fun, and live entertainment.

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However, the March on Washington in August, followed by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November of 1963 expanded my awareness of the happenings of the world in which I lived. It was around this time that segregation was ending, and places we were previously not welcomed, became available to us.

My first memories of integration were from my family’s decision to frequent the beach at Sandy Point State Park. With food prepared, coolers full, bathing suits, floatation devices, and towels packed, we loaded up and headed out, and being from a large family, we traveled deep.

It was at this family outing, at a State-owned public beach where we once were not welcomed, that I learned a life lesson that would last me to this day. It was during this trip that an uncle said something that I am not sure if he knew the impact it would have on me. Upon arriving at the park, my uncle said, “We belong here, act like it”. I’m not sure why he said it, or who or if he was speaking to anyone directly, but it caught my ears and it is something I live by to this day. That day we just didn’t show up and try to find a space, we made a space. When we went to the water, we gathered in the middle of the beach. Food, family, and fun. We belonged there and we acted like it. It was during this outing that I learned to know I belonged. That is why wherever I am, I know I belong, and I act like it.

“I’m not sure why he said it, or who or if he was speaking to anyone directly, but it caught my ears and it is something I live by to this day.”


06.

Black

By LeJuane Bowens

You don’t need to remind me of what I am
My history let’s me know that I am either its genetic achievement or its mistake
I am Black
A word that’s trying to find meaning
In a world that sees me as not having any
The word black, like the word Nigger, can be looked at as a disrespectful term
Yet in ancient Roman times, the word Niger was defined as saturated brilliance
Fast forward to the darkest part of Nigeria where Kings and Queens were kidnapped
Looked at like black gold sold within the trade market
To slave traders, the saturation of Africans on slave ships across the middle passage was brilliant
Black can be a movement unseen to the world’s eye or a brought into your scope by propaganda
The hardest part is trying to find out which one you want to occupy
Underground railroads don’t exist unless you rock a T-Shirt that says so
Or you go on twitter and follow its hashtag when it’s convenient
Black used to be one of my favorite African American sitcoms
I used to sit down and chuckle at the Huxtables in a different world far from my own
Now I’m prone to watching how we crumble Empires under the power of what’s considered Love & Hip Hop
Black acceptance has always come with sacrifices,but now we sacrifice integrity in order to be accepted
I thought we did this shuck & jive a long time ago
Overseer..I’m sorry….Officer,
Let me take your Billy club and beat myself to the Color Purple
Let me hang myself with the “supposed” freedoms which you proclaim I have
Let me ball up my fist & raise it in the air to symbolize revolution
While others see that as an aggressive stance
Responding that black and revolution are synonymous to tires
Because both can fall flat when punctured in the right place
Black, at any given time, can even be a bigot to its own complexion
I’ve seen too many of us holding hands singing, “We Shall Overcome”
All the while, we’re pulling each other down and trying to overcome like the crabs in the barrel that we’ve become
This black can be at war with itself
That’s because this nation is afraid of us
And best thing to do is get rid of us all
Ask yourself when you wake up in the morning and see your reflection
Are living with the blood to fight
Or is it easier to die and become America’s doormat to be walked over
And once you’ve come up with an answer
Then maybe you can define
What it means to be
Black.
© LeJuane Bowens 2015


07.

War on the Black
Panther Party

By K Brooks

Evidence of Intimidation & Fascist Crimes by the USA
The War on the Black Panther Party

1968-1969
240% Increase of Arrest & Release
between 1968 & 1969. (temporary
detainment with charges dropped).
572% Increase of Arrested & Charge
between 1968 & 1969. (time served
in jail and/or prison).
25% Increase of Police Raids between
1968 & 1969 (at Black Panther
Party Headquarters).
37.5% Increase in Murders at the hands
of police by COINTELPRO tactics
between 1968 & 1969.
267.8% Total of Indimidation & Fascist
Crimes between 1969 & 1969.


08.

Overboard

By Boris “Bluz” Rogers

2020

For the day they go back to throwing
black girls overboard
tossing you over the side of slave
ships
into the thick of blue ocean water
I hope that with everything that this
world
has told you have to be
That beautiful swimmers was one
of them

This country has shown you
all the troubled waters your ancestors
had to wade through
all the sexist undercurrent bullshit
black women are faced with

Your legs should know the strength
of what it is to tread in that water
To keep your head above their expectations
So you don’t drown
When they toss you

When you don’t do what they ask
you to
When you don’t move when they
want you to

Black girl
When your frame
begins to look like something easily
handled
Your mind
is something they cant control
Prepare for them to take you overboard
Prepare your lungs to inhale their
anger
Prepare the grace in your neck for
the ugliest chokehold

To my daughters
When the Rosa Parks in your bones
Wont let you rise from “his seat”
Wont let you comprise the tired
in your feet
Wont bow to the authority
Be heavy.
Be ready.
Be an anchor with rage and razor wire.
For the day they start tossing black
girls like you
overboard

Image Courtesy of J. Robertson

“Twenty-five Columbia blacks were tried on charges of shooting at white policeman in nearby Lawrenceburg, Tennessee.”

Image: The Daily Herald,
Columbia, Tennessee, 1943


1946
09.

The Columbia Race Riot

By Samuel Momodu

The race riot in Columbia, Tennessee, a town of 10,911, from February 25 to 28, 1946 was early example of post-World War II racial violence between African Americans and whites in the United States. On February 25, 1946, James Stephenson, a World War II veteran, and his mother, Gladys Stephenson, went to Castner-Knott, a local department store, to pick up the radio they had taken for repair, not knowing it had been sold to another customer.

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When Mrs. Stephenson demanded the radio, William Fleming Jr., a store employee, confronted her. Defending his mother who was being verbally abused, Stephenson began fighting Fleming and threw him through a window, injuring him. Stephenson and his mother were arrested and charged with disturbing the peace.

Both pleaded guilty and received a $50 fine. The Stephensons were arrested again after William Fleming Sr. filed charges against them on behalf of his son for assault with the intent to commit murder. Julius Blair, a local black businessman, posted the Stephensons’ bond and they were released.

During the same time, however, a white mob after hearing about the fight between Fleming and Stephenson, gathered at the Maury County Courthouse while black townspeople came together in Mink Side, a black business section. Concern about the fight and the possibility of mob violence against the entire black community, prompted many of them to arm themselves. They decided to turn out the lights in Mink Slide and began shooting out the streetlights.

Hearing the gunshots, the Columbia Police Chief sent four patrolmen to Mink Side. When the police arrived, blacks blocked their entry. More shots rang out and the four officers were wounded. Following the shooting, Tennessee State Safety Commissioner Lynn Bomar led other police officers and state highway patrolmen into Mink Side. When they arrived, they began indiscriminately firing into buildings, searching homes, confiscating weapons, and, according to some, stealing residents’ property. During the confrontation, more than one hundred black women and men were arrested.

On February 28, 1946, the Maury County deputies began questioning the prisoners about the shooting of the policemen. Three black men were singled out as most likely responsible: James Johnson, William Gordon, and Napoleon Stewart. During the interrogation, Tennessee highway patrolmen arrived and took the three men, whom they accused of shooting at them, to the sheriff’s office. Two of the prisoners, Johnson and Gordon, took weapons from the officers and began shooting at the other patrolmen. The patrolmen returned fire, killing both Johnson and Gordon and injuring one other prisoner. Stewart was not injured during the shooting.

The executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Walter White, and chief legal counsel Thurgood Marshall, came to Columbia to organize a defense for the remaining prisoners. They brought in attorneys Z. Alexander Looby of Nashville and Maxwell Weaver of Chattanooga, for the upcoming trial.

Twenty-five Columbia blacks were tried on charges of shooting at white policemen in nearby Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. On October 4, 1946, an all-white jury surprisingly found only two of the twenty-five blacks guilty, and the charges were later dropped. One reason for the verdict: many whites in Lawrenceburg felt embarrassed that trial had to occurred in Lawrenceburg instead of Columbia where the riot occurred. The Columbia Race Riot of 1946 foreshadowed the growing militancy of blacks that would be seen in the numerous urban uprisings of the 1960s.


Left – Image Courtesy of JRobertson.NYC — Washington, D.C.
Right – Image Courtesy or Christian Smooth — Washington, D.C.
10.

The Boxes

By Margaret J. Baxter

When completing any sort of application, you usually must fill the form out in its entirety. You answer all the questions as truthfully as you can and you make sure you check all the boxes. Leaving nothing unanswered so you don’t seem unqualified and face rejection. It may sound strange, but I equate completing those applications to raising a black boy in this country. As his mom, I constantly feel like I am checking his boxes! Stay with me folks, this will make sense in a bit!

A few short years ago I found out I was pregnant and my only thought other than having a healthy child was having a son. Pregnancy can be overwhelming but as excited as I was about having this boy it never dawned on me what he would have to face, until he arrived.

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The joy, the elation, the raw emotions surrounding his arrival slowly faded into reality…OH MY GOD, my son is here! From that moment in November, I started checking the boxes of his life to work hard to show that he wasn’t just another black kid, oh wait, just another black boy. I wanted him to be seen for his personality and who he would grow up to be, but I knew what would be noticed first was the color of his skin.

My first thought was what do we name him? He needed a name with character and meaning yet still sounded professional and racially ambiguous enough so on paper he has a chance to compete for any opportunity presented. Why does that even have to be a thought? Why should I be concerned that his name could cause judgement ever before someone meets him personally? It’s a sad reality that I had to face. I wanted him to have an equal shot against anyone with a pedigree or a country club membership. They see our names and the color of our skin and the assumptions begin from that moment.

As he grew, I realized he would likely be bigger than his classmates and with his big personality I stayed keen on people using the words like “aggressive” or “forceful” to describe him. No, my 2-year-old is just exceptionally passionate and is emoting, no need for concern. It’s amazing how labels start to form when kids are mere toddlers. I pride myself in making sure his daycare teachers know both his Dad and I by face and name, no one would ever say his parents aren’t active in his school life. There will be no negative labels on my watch!

And here we are in the present, knocking on the door of him turning 4. He observes everything and asks hundreds of questions (some of which I honestly don’t know how to answer). He soaks everything in like a sponge and can have some of the most logical and insightful conversations that blow me away each day. How do I explain to him why he could be seen as a threat? How do I equip him with enough knowledge to know what to do in any encounter with the police? His dad and I haven’t yet figured out how to explain this to him but here’s what I am doing. I’m working to fill his mind with every positive black image possible! I’m showing him we are more than what the media portrays and dream your biggest dreams without allowing anyone to diminish them. I’m showing him that no ma]er how hard your day is your home is always your solace place and will be full of love and appreciation for who you are. I want him to continue to be fearless and curious when things excite him. You see, my son’s name is Atlas and while I don’t want him to feel the burdens of the world on his back, he has to know they exist and I want him to walk out in the world knowing that he can rule it.

So, why am I checking his boxes? I want him to be armed with everything possible that the world could use against him. I want him to be educated, street smart, charming, confident, and everything in between. Our world is scary, but I want his success to be scarier. Be bigger, be braver, and challenge the norms. I’m checking the boxes so he can beat every stereotype ever thrown his way. I know it may seem like I’m thinking by raising him a certain way I’m shielding him from reality. No, it’s the opposite I want him to know why we act the way we act, why his parents made certain choices, why there are fears, and most importantly the extreme joy and honor it is to be a Black Man.


11.

Gospel

By B. Evans

A body was murdered and we threw
up our hands to heaven like
grandma used to
every Sunday when the rent was due.
We would all look up
to see where her help came from. Sometimes
it didn’t come, but we didn’t question how
the lights stayed on. or
how the table never wanted of food.

That pew is where we learned of
prayer and the gospel –
the giving and the receiving –
How a prophet can die and come back
again as long as we believe.
But now we believe
that if he died in the street,
with his hands up
them we must be able to bring him back.
Print image,
shout name,
and the resurrection will happen exactly
how the good book said it would.

But it doesn’t.
And the children leave the pew to
learn of religion. How the non-believers take
the image that best fit their story
and call it fact. Preach of bronze skin –
All they see is a rebellious metal beaten
to form. Speak of hair like wool –
watch them call his locs probable cause.
Say his message was of peace –
and all they hear is that a savior
did not come to free the ones
putting people in chains.
This is not the first
time an innocent man was killed
from the fear of possibility.
When we were children we sat in
that church and learned of a martyr who
began as a baby; born into poverty by
a mother who did not plan on having him.
A baby that became a man who
died without a father, and no one blamed
the death on his absence.
Learned of his great deeds and
hands that could heal. Learned of the man, but
not the boy who was allowed to become.
He was not beaten bloody for making too loud
a joyful noise in the temple.
He was not labeled a thug based
upon the sinners he surrounded himself with.
The boy believed he was meant to
save his people, and no one killed
a child before they made a
holy book of his words.
Have we forgotten Mary was
a woman of color? She was told
that her child was a king of kings –
A holy being destined for great things as long
as she raised him right and
Respectable.
All to have him die
at the hands of those enforcing
the law. Isn’t sacrifice what all
the murders are about? Just another
cycle of Black women giving up
their children for the hope of change.
All birthing messiahs
whose soul purpose is
to die for the sake of other people.
The killing of one to save the many –
The resurrection of faith
in policy,
or law enforcement,
or God.
Or is it –
The fear of the countless
possibilities a Black body has?
How a universe cannot be birthed
from chaos – it needs a higher
being to make sense of that Blackness.
And what is the history of Blackness but
the waiting of light to give it meaning.
Every child with the skin color of night
is a Big Bang theory praying it does not
meet a God who believes the child can not
Exist.
But they do
Exist.
A Black child is a scientific anomaly:
They do survive in a space
uninhabitable by anyone but them.
They do create light
even while collapsing into themselves.
They are the intersection of science and religion;
the belief that they are and the
hope that they can become.
They have twisted our faith to justify
genocide; A belief system to reason why
so many are dead. But we will not let them rewrite
the words of our messiahs. We will not sit back
and watch our martyr’s ecome a quote to calm
the masses. A stained glass to adorn the prisons.
We know how they died and who
nailed their hands to crosses. My grandmother
rose her hands because she
believed her help would come.
We have turned the streets into pews.
Our protest
a joyful noise.
Our hands up
ready for the help,
ready foe the change
our children are dying for.
We are waiting for enough
people to believe our dead are holy.
That they are enough to have faith in.
That if they can come back from death,
We all can.


1949
12.

The Groveland Four

By Samuel Momodu

The Groveland Four case was a 1940s example of injustice toward young African American men falsely accused of raping white women. The Groveland Four were four young black men, Ernest Thomas, Charles Greenlee, Samuel Shepherd and Walter Irvin, who were accused of raping Norma Padgett, a 17-year-old white woman on July 16, 1949, in Lake County, Florida. Thomas was killed by Sheriff Willis McCall on July 26, 1949, during the search for the four while Irvin, Shepherd, and Greenlee were arrested.

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Much of the early life of the Groveland Four is unknown. Ernest Thomas was married to Ruby Lee Jones. Charles Greenlee first arrived in Lake County, Florida in July 1949. Thomas had convinced Greenlee that he could find work in the county. Samuel Shepherd was a World War II veteran and the son of a prosperous local black farmer. Walter Irvin was also a World War II veteran.

On July 16, 1949, Thomas, Greenlee, Shepherd, and Irvin were accused of kidnapping and raping Norma Padgett and assaulting her husband Willie Padgett. According to her husband, their car broke down after the couple left a dance. Padgett claimed that the four black men stopped to offer them assistance but instead assaulted him and kidnapped his wife. After a manhunt, Greenlee, Shepherd, and Irvin were arrested and taken to Lake County jail, where they were tortured. Thomas avoided capture for a week, but he was killed by Lake County Sheriff Willis McCall.

The following day, as news spread around Lake County about the rape, a mob of more than 100 men gathered at the jail demanding that Greenlee, Shepherd, and Irvin be released to them. Sheriff McCall told the mob that the three had already been transferred to a state penitentiary, when in fact they were still in the Lake County Jail. The mob then vented its anger on the small Groveland African American community, shooting residents and setting fire to homes. Some whites, however, helped blacks escape the violence around the area. Meanwhile Greenlee, Shepherd, and Irvin were tried. Although medical evidence did not show signs of Padgett being raped, an all-white jury found the three men guilty. Shepherd and Irvin received the death penalty, while Greenlee received life in prison.

The U.S. Supreme Court later tossed out the three convictions, forcing a retrial in November 1951. As the three were being transported back to Lake County, Florida from the state penitentiary, Sheriff McCall shot and killed Shepherd and seriously wounded Irvin. Irvin’s retrial on November 13, 1952 resulted in another guilty verdict and death sentence from an all-white jury. In 1955, his sentence was reduced to life in prison by Florida Governor LeRoy Collins.

Walter Irvin was released from the state penitentiary in 1968 but died a year later from a heart attack. He was 39 years old. Charles Greenlee, the last surviving member of the Groveland Four, was released on parole in 1962 and moved to Nashville, Tennessee. He died on April 18, 2012. at 78 years old. In 2017, the state issued an apology to the families of the Greenland Four. All four men were posthumously pardoned on January 11, 2019 by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.


2020
13.

Sacrificial Offerings

By Ayanna Albertson


2020
14.

Separate but Equal

By Erica Nicole

In 1954, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the education of any child would in-fact be created equal; relatively speaking. We know this to be Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, where Oliver Brown sought a class-action suit against the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. A catalyst, some may say, in the crumbling of Jim Crow laws. Unfortunately, it would take 20+ years for this ruling to see its full potential.

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Now, what if its the late 80s /early 90s and your parents chose for you to go to an African-centered school? Just as a parent nowadays would choose to send their child to a private school. How would you imagine that child’s daily school life to be? Lackluster, underserved, or black as hell? Well, as a product of both traditional public school and an Afro-centric school, I’d like to tell you that my education was very on par with traditional private schooling, slightly advance than public school, and yes BLACK AS HELL!!

This little school in Washington, DC has been my pride and joy all my life. Many of its core values have stuck with me to this day. One being — “Exposure is the Key to Intelligence.” At a young age, I do not believe any of us knew just how much we were exposed to and that our neighborly counterparts were not privy of such gifts. This was our normal. Everyone did this, right? Everyone knew these songs, these notable people, right? Yes George Washington Carver, was as famous as George Washington to me. I mean when you find 100 plus uses for the peanut, soybean, and sweet potato one has to be famous, right? Oh, how the mind of a young one works. So young, so naive.

Everyone knows all three versus of Lift Every Voice and Sing…. Wrong! But guess who does… this small school of little Black and Brown children. Why? Because while most of the kids in our neighborhoods were pledging allegiance to the flag first thing in the morning we were lifting our voice, and singing that we are going to let our little light shine. We learned of Sojourner Truth, Mary McCloud-Bethune, W.E.B DuBois well before the Founding Fathers. To be honest, I may have known of Abraham Lincoln before George Washington but that comes with the territory, right? Who was Christopher Columbus to young me?…the guy that landed in the Caribbean.

See our heritage was not lost upon us, it was the top priority. Black Boy Joy was an everyday occurrence, while Black Girl Magic was instilled in us daily. Our beauty, intelligence, and individuality were not shunned upon, it was uplifted and celebrated. My teachers would wear dashiki’s, head wraps, cowrie shells, chew on sugar cane sticks, and walked a little taller than the average person I’d see walking past our play yard. There was a pride within them that was undeniable. We were more than just students that they got rid of at the sound of a bell. We were a family and a community that celebrated together. Halloween, nope, block party in the basement! With dancers, karate, go-go bands, etc. We dressed up, not as ghouls, goblins, and the latest cartoon superhero. Nope, we were “Doin’ The Right Thing”, like Spike and members of the Alvin Ailey dance company. Christmas, Ha! How about Kwanzaa. Every morning we would come in dressed up, lit the Kinara, asked Habari Gani, “What’s the News”,
and went on about our day to learn in our perspective core classes. Our education went beyond standard state-issued textbooks. MLK Day we marched our little selves around the block singing “We Shall over come”, all to watch Eyes on the Prize later on in the day. We were a small community of proud black teachers that found joy in teaching and instilling pride in small black and brown children that looked like them.

Many people do not have this type of experience, this sense of culture until college. Many specifically seek out Historical Black Colleges and University’s (HBCU’s) to find a connection. To be steeped in their “Blackness” daily. Imagine having this connection at 5 or 8 years old. Imagine understanding the complexities in the beauty of your skin and hair, while grasping reading comprehension, the metamorphosis of a caterpillar, and long division. Imagine learning that there is more to this Country and your genetic makeup than the same six people skimmed over every February. See aesthetically such an Afro-Centric school may look like it intends to teach its students how to be black. Instead, it embraces each student’s blackness. It may look as though it is to produce mini Huey P. Newton’s. Instead, it removes the metaphoric white veil of selfawareness and consciousness. It lets its students know their ROOTS have grown far deeper than one repetitive chapter in the history books. And for this, I must celebrate an education that is separate but equal.


library sit in newspaper article
1961
15.

The Tougaloo Nine

By Samuel Momodu

The Tougaloo Nine were nine students who, in 1961 while undergraduates at Tougaloo College, staged sit-ins at the all-white Jackson Main Library in Jackson, Mississippi. Prior to the sit-ins, African Americans were prohibited from using the city’s main library. The Nine—Meredith Coleman Anding Jr., James Cleo Bradford, Alfred Lee Cook, Geraldine Edwards, Janice Jackson, Joseph Jackson Jr., Albert Earl Lassiter, Evelyn Pierce, and Ethel Sawyer—were members of the Jackson Youth Council of the NAACP.

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Medgar Evers, who was who then president of the Jackson branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), trained Tougaloo Nine for the sit-in protest.

On March 27, 1961, the Tougaloo Nine began their protest by entering the Jackson Main Library. Typical of civil rights demonstrators of that era, the women wore dresses and the men wore shirts and ties. The Nine first visited the George Washington Branch (Colored) to request books they knew would not be in that facility. When they were told the books were not there, they went to Jackson Public Library where they attempted to stage a “read-in.” They sat at different tables across the library reading library books quietly. The Librarian called the Jackson police who arrived and asked them to leave. When they did not, the nine were arrested, charged with of breach of the peace, and
jailed.

Later that day, students from Jackson State College, a predominantly black institution, organized a prayer vigil in support of the Tougaloo Nine. Hundreds of people attended the vigil which was broken up by Jackson State College President Jacob Reddix, who was backed by city police. Three students—Joyce and Dorie Ladner and student body President Walter Williams, who organized the prayer vigil—were expelled from Jackson State College for their support of the Tougaloo Nine.

On March 28, other Jackson State students boycotted classes in protest, held another rally, and marched to the Jackson City Jail were the nine were being held. They were joined by townspeople led by Medgar Evers. Jackson Police used tear gas and dogs against the protesters which included women and children. An 81-year-old man suffered a broken arm from an attack by a police officer with a nightstick. Evers’s supporters raised bail for the protesters who were arrested. They were later represented by local civil rights attorney Jack Harvey Young Sr.

The Tougaloo Nine went to trial on March 28, 1961 and were all found guilty of breach of the peace. Each student was sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $100. The judge however suspended the sentences on the condition that there would be no further demonstrations. There were none.

Nonetheless the Tougaloo Nine’s actions led the NAACP to file a class action lawsuit on January 12, 1962 against the Jackson Public Library, calling for its integration. In June 1962 U.S. District Court Judge William Harold Cox ordered the Library to desegregate. Although the Tougaloo Nine episode was one of the first desegregation victories in the 1960s civil rights campaign in Mississippi, the story was largely ignored at the time. On August 17, 2017, the Tougaloo Nine was honored for their contributions with a freedom trail marker in Jackson, Mississippi.


family singing in their kitchen
16.

Bloody Sunday

By A. Lumpkin

The thing no one remembers about Bloody Sunday, is the day before was just Saturday night – a few Colored folks gathered in the living room to discuss the walk they would take the next day. Amelia fried the kind of catfish that could only come from East Savannah while Coretta stirred the collard pot just enough to fold the vinegar in. Martin told jokes at the kitchen table ‘til folks stopped sipping their lemonade, afraid the laughter would transform the mouth into some kind of water hose.

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Nina got to singing, the way she did – that New Negro Classic music – ‘til Bayard stood and taught them all a new kind of freedom shuffle. And it went like that – the kids in the corner – mimicking their aunts and uncles’ games ‘til the quiet hush of a righteous movement lulled them off to sleep.

The next morning, it was leftovers and grits, everyone fighting for the chance to say grace, knowing this might be the last opportunity to lead their friends in prayer – to go to God for the rights they’d been seeking, but mostly the right to meet again and eat and laugh the way they had done just the night before. Because Selma wasn’t a buzzword yet for everything that is wrong in this country, just a place where Martin III watched his daddy play the dozens with a group of folks who would never dream of calling him Dr. King – not even the boys at the door with the shotguns cocked and ready, leaning in from the front porch to ask for more biscuits and tea.

And maybe a photograph transformed the nation to the kind that cared about colored bodies, but the thing no one says about Bloody Sunday is that night, the movement was a waiting room – a hushed murmur making the decision to soon march again – even while the cute boy from Tuskegee sat at Amelia’s hospital bedside, humming some Marvin Gaye along with We Shall Overcome. And no one knows which song it was that lulled her back to consciousness, her face still swollen and bruised from where the concrete kissed her stubborn cheek – pressed it warm as autumn leaves beneath a loaded billy club ‘til the rubble of shattered bones crunched like branches underfoot.

She married that boy a few years later, but only because he marched on Tuesday, then came to tell the story of how some girl brought fish and cornbread. They all pretended to love it because they were too tired to say it wasn’t seasoned right, and at least they hadn’t lost their taste buds back on Edmund Pettus Bridge, where so many things were left behind. Most folks who made it to dinner that night did not make it out of the movement alive, or at least without watching their best friends’ funerals while the boys from the front door watched their backs, and didn’t that miss the point of it all – to give the whole of their lives that struggle and still owe their grief as well? Still owe their pride and uplifted heads at a time when they need only be asked to weep?

And isn’t that what we mean now to say that Black Lives Matter? Not just the dead ones? But the ones that are one day laughing and the next standing at a hospital door, or jail cell, or cemetery thinking, “My God, where did it all go?” The thing no one knows about Bloody Sunday is the day before was just Saturday night. Just friends so in love with each other’s laughter, they fought for each other’s lives.


2020
17.

To My People of Ash & Soot

By Dasan Ahanu


Blueprint II

By Terry Boddie


blackmanwhitehouse.co

2020
19.

Buying Back the Block

The Block —The stoop. Our hood. In plain terms; our neighborhood. Another painstaking term that was taken back and fed with some love. In the 1800’s “The Block” referenced the Slave Trade block. Where property was frequently auctioned and sold. Though a familiar place for many, this was not a place of comfort or a place to call home.

Over the past 150 years, the government made multiple promises and passed pages of legislation to help formerly enslaved people and their descendants gain footing in America. To be treated more as an equal rather than a stepping stone. Unfortunately, over time these promises as a whole have proven to be empty.

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Today, the old story goes, African Americans were promised “40 acres and a Mule”1. True, if all slaves lived in Savannah, GA. — After the Civil War, Gen. William T. Sherman, hosted a meeting with local black leaders. Afterward, Sherman signed Field Order 15, promising 400,000 acres of confiscated land and some leftover Army mules to newly freed slaves. Roughly giving each family 40-acres. That was until the Confederates came back home from war. As the land was not his to give away.

But honestly, Is any of this land theirs to give?

Since 1619, in the course of many hardships on this new land slaves and African Americans have been carving out their space in this country. From Chicago — New York — DC — Memphis — to Tulsa. With sizable black populations and wealth consistently growing, the promise to gain footing was proven once again to be empty; Greenwood District, 1921. Tulsa, Oklahoma, 35 blocks better known as Black Wall Street were burned down in a race war.

The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house, They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change,” Audre Lorde – Essay,1984

Jim Crow never said he would play fair.

Any promises or potential hope for a better future always had an underlying agenda, one so bold that a redline seemed to form around the African American communities. Between the 1930s and the late 1960s banks would use maps to dictate and determine who was eligible to get loans. Often making it impossible to secure a home mortgage. If one was obtained the stipulations and interest rate was beyond comparable to those of their white counterparts. The promise to be equal and to act fair in 1968, empty. Somewhat.

In recent years we have seen a trend of African American’s buying back The Block. Obtaining their 40+ acres; mules aside. Rebuilding and redefining a legacy. Amidst a pandemic, where our country is crumbling beneath our feet daily, African Americans have found ways to push through and overcome.

While we were all locked in our homes, begging for reprieve, Robert Hartwell2 decided to fill our social media3 timelines with a moment for the ancestors. A “Generational move” as he calls it. Hartwell a former broadway actor, saw a home, made an internal claim, called the seller, and was told that it was a cash only offer. “I’m sure this takes you off the table”, the sellers way of telling him no; to bad the ancestors told him Yes! Hartwell paid cash purchasing an 1820s colonial home in Great Barrington, Mass.

“I don’t come from money, but this purchase changes our story.” – Robert Hartwell

Not to be outdone by Robert Hartwell, the Rodgers Family4 decided to rise to the occasion and give us something else to celebrate on our timelines. On the 10th year anniversary of her business, Rachel Rodgers and family showed us what a 53-acre ranch celebration looked like.

Out of frustration, exhausting, and an extreme sense of urgency 19 families from Georgia and Florida pulled their money together to purchase 97-acres of land outside of Atlanta, GA to build generational wealth. — Ujamaa, a Swahili word defined as Cooperative Economics. The Freedom Georgia initiative5 is the definition personified.. They have a vision to create a safe haven and community for black families and their allies.

Fawn Weaver, CEO of Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey6, read a New York Times article7 that introduced to the world another name behind the brand that we know as Jack Daniels. This article sparked her curiosity to find out more about this mystery man Nathaniel Green, affectionately known as Uncle Nearest. Not only did she take many years to research the story behind the man, as well as interview many of his descendants, she took it a step further and created the brand we know today. Now owning the 313-acre Dan Call Farm8, which were used by Green and Daniels. As well as the historic Tolley House9, built by the sister of Jack Daniels and widely known to have been the residence of many Jack Daniel’s Master Distillers. This is
not to be outdone by the 270-acre Sandy Creek Farms, now the home to Nearest Green Distillery.



2020
20.

Moses Pt. 2

By CT Romeo


And Still We Rise

man with guitar and tongue out

We are not a monolith.
We are not bound by our color or circumstance.
We perservere.

We rise.

We are joy.
We create culture.
We mend pain.
We are full.

We are joy.

We ache, but we stand for what is good and what is just and we fight.
We press forward.

We rise.

Thank you for sharing this experience.
Volume 1 – The Uprising – Our Rhythm, Our Blues.



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