Florida House Black Caucus members took direct action on the House floor

In an extraordinary display this week in the state House chamber, Black Democrats loudly chanted, wore T-shirts that read “Stop the Black Attack,” and staged a sit-in protest that shut down debate over African American representation in the redistricting process. “When Black votes are under attack, we stand up and fight back,” the crowd of Black lawmakers yelled on the House floor. For years now, that’s not always been the case in the GOP-controlled Legislature, where Black lawmakers and Democrats often get rolled over as Republican legislators approve their conservative agendas.

— source orlandoweekly.com | Apr 27, 2022

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Harvard’s Legacy of Slavery

Harvard University has pledged to spend $100 million to redress the school’s deep ties to slavery. The move comes after the school issued a 130-page report Tuesday that revealed at least 41 prominent people connected to the school owned enslaved people.

The report states, quote, “Enslaved men and women served Harvard presidents and professors and fed and cared for Harvard students. Moreover, throughout this period and well into the 19th century, the University and its donors benefited from extensive financial ties to slavery.”

Harvard’s school newspaper, the Crimson, dedicated its front page listing the names of individuals enslaved by leadership, faculty, staff and donors at Harvard University between 1636 and 1783. The Harvard Crimson wrote, “almost certainly an undercount.” The editors’ note added, quote, “For these people, we often know only their nicknames; for a few, we know only their race and gender. This is the result of the systemic erasure that to this day continues to deny enslaved people their histories,” The Harvard Crimson said.

— source democracynow.org | Apr 28, 2022

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Alice Walker and the Price of Conscience

There is a steep price to pay for having a conscience and more importantly the courage to act on it. The hounds of hell pin you to the cross, hammering nails into your hands and feet as they grin like the Cheshire cat and mouth bromides about respect for human rights, freedom of expression and diversity. I have watched this happen for some time to Alice Walker, one of the most gifted and courageous writers in America. Walker, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her novel The Color Purple, has felt the bitter sting of racism. She refuses to be silent about the plight of the oppressed, including the Palestinians.

“Whenever I come out with a book, or anything that will take me before the public, the world, I am assailed as this person I don’t recognize,” she said when I reached her by phone. “If I tried to keep track of all the attacks over the decades, I wouldn’t be able to keep working. I am happy people are standing up. It is all of us. Not just me. They are trying to shut us down, shut us up, erase us. That reality is what is important.”

The Bay Area Book festival delivered the latest salvo against Walker. The organizers disinvited her from the event because she praised the writings of the New Age author David Icke and called his book And the Truth Shall Set You Free “brave.” Icke has denied critics’ charges of anti-Semitism. The festival organizers twisted themselves into contortions

— source scheerpost.com | Chris Hedges | Apr 25, 2022

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Why Racism, Not Race, Is a Risk Factor for Dying of COVID-19

COVID-19 has cut a jarring and unequal path across the U.S. The disease has disproportionately harmed and killed people of color. Compared with non-Hispanic white people, American Indian, Black and Latinx individuals, respectively, faced 3.5, 2.8 and 3.0 times the risk of being hospitalized for the infection and 2.4, 1.9 and 2.3 times the chance of dying, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The reason for these disparities is not biological but is the result of the deep-rooted and pervasive impacts of racism, says epidemiologist and family physician Camara Phyllis Jones. Racism, she explains, has led people of color to be more exposed and less protected from the virus and has burdened them with chronic diseases. For 14 years Jones worked at the CDC as a medical officer and director of research on health inequities. As president of the American Public Health Association in 2016, she led a campaign to explicitly name racism as a direct threat to public health. She is currently a Presidential Visiting Fellow at the Yale School of Medicine and is writing a book proposing strategies for a national campaign against racism.

As the country began to confront the unequal impact of COVID and the ongoing legacy of racial injustice it represents, Jones spoke with Scientific American contributing editor

— source scientificamerican.com | Claudia Wallis | Jun 12, 2020

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55 Years After KKK Murder of Mississippi NAACP Leader

It’s Black History Month. This month marks 55 years since the assassination of an NAACP leader in the city of Natchez, Mississippi. On February 27, 1967, Wharlest Jackson Sr. died when a bomb attached to his car exploded. At the time, Jackson was the treasurer of the NAACP in Natchez. He died on his way home from working, his first day of work at the Armstrong Tire and Rubber plant. He had just been promoted to a job never held by a Black man before. Wharlest Jackson Sr. was 36 years old, the father of five. The FBI suspected the assassination was carried out by the inner circle of the Ku Klux Klan, known as the Silver Dollar Group, but no one was ever charged in his murder.

This tragic story is told in a new documentary that examines the civil rights struggle in Natchez. It’s called American Reckoning.

— source democracynow.org | Feb 11, 2022

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History of Racism in America Amid Growing Attack on Voting Rights

I think this is one of the very interesting things. What you just read would likely be banned in any number of states that have, quote-unquote, “anti-CRT” laws. And this is the danger of trying to erase the facts of our history. We can’t look back and say, “Wait a minute, we’ve here before. We’ve been at this exact place before.” And if we don’t learn from what happened then, we are doomed to take the wrong path as we go forward.

The entire purpose of this film is to ask people to take a long hard look at our actual history of white supremacy and anti-Black racism. That is something that has been really erased from the common narrative and creation story about America. And this film and the Who We Are Project is intent on getting it back, getting it back for all of us.

And I had been a criminal defense lawyer for decades and working on issues of racial justice that entire time. And it got very, very personal. And I was scared, so I started to read. And I don’t really know what I was looking for, but I know what I found. And what I found were all kinds of facts about the history of white supremacy and anti-Black racism, the role that those two things played in the founding of our country and going

— source democracynow.org | Jan 14, 2022

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A freeway ripped the heart out of Black life in Detroit

In 1945 in Detroit, Michigan, a man who is believed to be the first African-American independent record producer opened up a blues and gospel record store called Joe’s Record Shop. The store was lined with vinyl records and music posters, with a big, upright piano in the back. Joe Von Battle started the business by selling records from his personal collection. Later, he remodeled the store to include a recording studio. His shop was a focal point for the music scene on Hastings Street — the center of Black business and entertainment in 1950s Detroit.

“People sang up and down the street, they played their guitars on the corner, they sang gospel,” said Von Battle’s daughter, 67-year-old Marsha Philpot, “so my dad began to record these people.”

Von Battle recorded blues artists like John Lee Hooker and was the first person to ever record Aretha Franklin. At one point, Joe’s Record Shop had 35,000 albums in its inventory and generated the present-day equivalent of $2.5 million in revenue. “My father had been very, very successful in his record business,” Philpot said.

But in 1960, Von Battle was forced to close his shop and relocate to make way for I-375 — a giant, four-lane sunken freeway. Over a mile of Hastings Street and its surrounding land was turned over to developers, dismantling the once thriving epicenter of Black life in Detroit in order to create a high-speed thoroughfare from downtown to the surrounding suburbs. Hastings Street was home to more than 300 Black-owned businesses, including restaurants, doctors’ offices, and even eight grocery stores. Hundreds were forced to relocate or close permanently. Today, there isn’t a single Black-owned grocery store in Detroit, the Blackest big city in America.

— source grist.org | Jena Brooker | Dec 01, 2021

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