BLACK HISTORY MONTH: A POIGNANT LOOK AT THE WHITNEY PLANTATION

This… blew me away. This slave plantation museum about an hour outside of New Orleans confronts a poignant look at a past that is not so far in the past. Many want to look pass this part history and treat it as if it did not exist… In case you haven’t seen or heard of the Whitney Plantation Museum, I want you to see that: “The first museum in America dedicated entirely to slavery opened a few months ago in Wallace, Louisiana. Michelle Miller visits the museum and found a surprising history, not only about the plantation, but her own family.” In my own lifetime, and I’m not even 60 years old yet, I’ve seen in person a “white only” water fountain. I did not go to an integrated school until I was in the 5th grade and I used to work at a movie theatre that as a child, all of the black people had to sit in the balcony. I can’t even imagine the experiences of my elders. Thank God I did not have to experience some of the things that they did. I’m not sure that I would have survived.

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THE “REAL” LONE RANGER – BLACK HISTORY MONTH

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Have you ever heard of U.S. Deputy Marshal Bass Reeves? There are those who say that he was the inspiration for The Lone Ranger. His life was extremely risqué and interesting to say the least. He was born in 1838 as a slave in Crawford County, Arkansas. After accompanying his master in joining the Civil War, he heard of the Emancipation Proclamation. He then proclaimed himself to be a free man and escaped. He became the master of disguises and ended up in Oklahoma Territory. He learned how to speak five Native American languages fluently. He was embraced by the Cherokee.
He worked as a farmer and raised his kids. He also helped to track criminals. In 1875, Judge Isaac Parker hired him as one of 200 Deputy Marshals in the Oklahoma Territory sent out to tame “Indian Country.”

A newspaper of his times reported, “Place a warrant for arrest in his hands and no circumstance can cause him to deviate.”
The image above may not appear because I am not on my home computer. I will definitely make that image available as soon as I get home.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH – LANGSTON HUGHES

The Ballad Of The Landlord

Landlord, landlord,
My roof has sprung a leak.
Don’t you ‘member I told you about it
Way last week?

Landlord, landlord,
These steps is broken down.
When you come up yourself
It’s a wonder you don’t fall down.

Ten Bucks you say I owe you?
Ten Bucks you say is due?
Well, that’s Ten Bucks more’n I’l pay you
Till you fix this house up new.

What? You gonna get eviction orders?
You gonna cut off my heat?
You gonna take my furniture and
Throw it in the street?

Um-huh! You talking high and mighty.
Talk on-till you get through.
You ain’t gonna be able to say a word
If I land my fist on you.

Police! Police!
Come and get this man!
He’s trying to ruin the government
And overturn the land!

Copper’s whistle!
Patrol bell!
Arrest.
Precinct Station.
Iron cell.
Headlines in press:
MAN THREATENS LANDLORD
TENANT HELD NO BAIL
JUDGE GIVES NEGRO 90 DAYS IN COUNTY JAIL!

BLACK HISTORY MONTH REVISITED

This is one of those must watch videos. Meet 106 year old Virginia McLaurin. Mrs. McLaurin was born in 1910 when William Taft was president.  She was married at the tender age of 14 and widowed at 17.  She has lived through 18 American presidents.

Two years ago in 2014, McLaurin received an award in her hometown, Washington, D.C. for volunteering. She spends that time with students who have mental disabilities. When she was given the award, she indicated to a reporter that her one wish was to meet the President of The United States. It took two years but she was invited to The White House this year for Black History Month.

McLaurin was so elated to see President Obama and The First Lady that she broke out in a dance.  This is truly a Black History Moment.

“I always tell people, live the best they know how,” she said. “Don’t steal. Don’t cheat.”

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: LANGSTON HUGHES

The above poem is by Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967). Hughes was a poet, playwright, novelist, and a social activist. He has a number of poems that are extremely outstanding including Ballad of the Landlord.
Listed below are just a few of the quotes he is known for:

1. What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up Like a raisin in the sun?… Or does it explode?

2. Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.

3. I have discovered in life that there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go, if you really want to go.

MAYA ANGELOU: PHENOMENAL WOMAN

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Today is February 1st 2016 and it marks the beginning of Black History Month.

As one of the most diverse countries on earth, America continues to celebrate the history of Black Americans during the month of February.  Despite our storied past, and great strides towards inclusion, there are still many barriers that separate us.  What initially started as a week in 1926, this celebration was officially recognized as a month-long event by the government in 1976.  Some consider Black History Month as an antiquated event yet they fail to realize that  this is a time not only for Black Americans but a time for all to celebrate the rich backgrounds of all.  Today, I’m honoring an individual who certainly embraced all during her time on this planet.  That individual is Maya Angelou who was born on April 4, 1928 in St. Louis MO and died on May 28, 2014 in Winston Salem NC.  Maya Angelou was definitely a

Phenomenal Woman

By Maya Angelou 1928–2014 Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

BEFORE ROSA PARKS THERE WAS…

Claudette Colvin.

You’ve got to check out this clip.  This woman’s name is Claudette Colvin.  Few people know her story. When she was 15, she refused to move to the back of the bus and give up her seat to a white person — nine months before Rosa Parks did the very same thing.  Now her story is the subject of a new book, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice.  Check her out above and you will know… the rest of the story.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: A SALUTE TO JOHN LEWIS

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On February 21, 1940, two sharecroppers bore a son who they named John Lewis.  Lewis grew up to be a force to be reckoned with in so many important ways; especially for blacks in America.  Even as a young kid, he became moved by the involvement of activists regarding the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  He especially became enamored with the words of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.  Lewis was so captivated that he became a part of the Civil Rights Movement.  He has since been on the forefront of the human rights struggle here in America.  In a large since, Lewis is owed much more credit than he gets.

I recently met John Lewis at a Home Depot in Atlanta.  He was there shopping with his son.  I was surprised at how small he was in stature.  I had pictured him to be a much larger man.  Honestly, he is much larger than can be imagined.  As a young man, Lewis became a nationally recognized leader.  He was labeled one of the Big Six leaders of the Civil Rights Movement and he was a keynote speaker at the celebrated March on Washington.  He has been awarded over 50 honorary degrees from some of the most respected colleges and universities throughout the United States, including Princeton University, Duke University, Harvard University, Howard University, Morehouse College, and Fisk University.

Lewis recently sat down to be interviewed by the Associated Press and he spoke about the film “Selma”.

“It is very powerful.  It is very moving.  It is real.  It is so real.  It says something about the distance we’ve come in laying down the burden of race.”  Lewis also addressed that day “Bloody Sunday” as it is now called.

“We broke down those signs that said, ‘White Waiting’, ’Colored Waiting’, ’White Men’, ’Colored Men’, ’White Women’, ’Colored Women’.’ We got a Voting Rights Act passed 50 years ago, a Civil Rights Act passed.  But we still have a distance to go, Lewis said.

“In many communities today, the question of race is still very real.  You can feel it.  You can almost taste it.  But you cannot deny the fact that America is a different America.  Even in the heart of the Deep South, those signs are gone.  And they will not return.  People registered.  And they are voting.”

One can only imagine the mental and physical struggle that this 75 year old man has ended.  He was first elected to Congress in 1986.  He is now serving his 15th term.

President Barak Obama and Former President George W. Bush will join Lewis and a bipartisan congressional delegation for part of a 3 day civil rights journey to Alabama on March 7, 2015 for the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act.

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JOHN LEGEND & COMMON 2015 OSCARS

After seeing this performance of “Glory” from the movie Selma by John Legend & Common at the 2015 Oscars, I simply felt numb.  Their performance was the highlight of the night and brought many audience members to tears.  And then… the acceptance speeches afterwards for Best Song were poignant.  Their words help to put a punctuation mark  on BLACK HISTORY MONTH and the continued struggle…

Common’s speech:

“The spirit of this bridge connects the kid from the south side of Chicago, dreaming of a better life, to those in France standing up for their freedom of expression, to those in Hong Kong, protesting for democracy,” he said. “This bridge was built on hope, welded with compassion and elevated with love for all human beings.”

John Legend added the following:

“We say that Selma is now, because the struggle for justice is right now,” he said. “We know that the Voting Rights Act that they fought for 50 years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. We know that right now, the struggle for freedom and justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today then were under slavery in 1850.” He concluded with: “We are with you, we see you, we love you and march on.”

If I were there, you would have probably seen my tears rolling as well.

 

 

NOOOO! NOT ON THIS TRAIN!

Take a look at this video.  Can you imagine this being the norm?  This type of racism and so much more was endured by our ancestors on a daily basis.  Now here we are in 2015 and this type of evil has the nerve to parade itself in this way.  In this particular instance, fans of the Chelsea Football Club (a soccer team) were videoed preventing a black man from getting on a metro train in London.  You have to see this for yourself to believe it.  They were heard shouting “we’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it!”

When…. will this madness end???