Tuesday, August 31, 2010

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. TV Celebrates Black August 365 Days A Year!

“Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our
situation, understand that fascism is already here, that people are
dying who could be saved, that generations more will live poor
butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done; discover
your humanity and your love in revolution.”~BPP Field Marshall George Jackson
 “The media's the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that's power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”~Malcolm X

 W.E. A.L.L. B.E. TV Celebrates Black August 365 Days A Year!


W.E. A.L.L. B.E. TV: The Ballad Of Robert Charles & The New Orleans Riot Of 1900.

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 W.E. A.L.L. B.E. TV: In Silent Solidarity: Remembering 'The Silent March' 50 Years Later...A Conversation With Rev. C.T. Vivian

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You Can Watch It In Three Parts On W.E. A.L.L. B.E. TV's YouTube Channel:

In Silent Solidarity: Remembering 'The Silent March' With Rev. C.T. Vivian Part 1

In Silent Solidarity: Remembering 'The Silent March' With Rev. C.T. Vivian Part 2

In Silent Solidarity: Remembering 'The Silent March' With Rev. C.T. Vivian Part 3 


W.E. A.L.L. B.E. TV: The Education Of A Black Radical... 
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W.E. A.L.L. B.E. TV: The Education Of A Black Radical: A Conversation With The Honorable Judge D'Army Bailey (Part 1)

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. TV: The Education Of A Black Radical: A Conversation With The Honorable Judge D'Army Bailey (Part 2)

W.E. A.L.L. B.E.TV: The Education Of A Black Radical: A Conversation With The Honorable Judge D'Army Bailey (Part 3)


W.E. A.L.L. B.E. TV: Florence Mills The Blackbird Of Harlem Tribute

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Florence Mills The Blackbird Of Harlem Tribute Part One

Florence Mills The Blackbird Of Harlem Tribute Part Two

Florence Mills The Blackbird Of Harlem Tribute Part Three


W.E. A.L.L. B.E. TV: And Rhythm Was His Business...Jimmie Lunceford: A Memphis Music Legend
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And Rhythm Was His Business...Jimmie Lunceford: A Memphis Music Legend Part One

And Rhythm Was His Business...Jimmie Lunceford: A Memphis Music Legend Part Two

And Rhythm Was His Business...Jimmie Lunceford: A Memphis Music Legend Part Three


W.E. A.L.L. B.E. TV: The Black Maverick: Dr. T.R.M. Howard, The Forgotten Civil Rights Hero
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The Black Maverick: Dr. T.R.M. Howard, The Forgotten Civil Rights Hero Part One

The Black Maverick: Dr. T.R.M. Howard, The Forgotten Civil Rights Hero Part Two

The Black Maverick: Dr. T.R.M. Howard, The Forgotten Civil Rights Hero Part Three


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***Black August Is The Real Black History Month*** 

Remembering The Real Dragon- An Interview With George Jackson May 16 And June 29, 1971

Remembering The Real Dragon- An Interview With George Jackson May 16 And June 29, 1971

Interview by Karen Wald and published in Cages of Steel: The Politics Of Imprisonment In The United States
(Edited by Ward Churchill and J.J. Vander Wall)

Karen Wald: George, could you comment on your conception of revolution?

George Jackson: The principle contradiction between the oppressor and oppressed can be reduced to the fact that the only way the oppressor can maintain his position is by fostering, nurturing, building contempt for the oppressed. That thing gets out of hand after a while. It leads to excesses that we see and the excesses are growing within the totalitarian state here. The excesses breed resistance; resistance is growing. The thing grows in a spiral. It can only end one way. The excesses lead to resistance, resistance leads to brutality, the brutality leads to more resistance, and finally the question will be resolved with either the uneconomic destruction of the oppressed, or the end of oppression. These are the workings of revolution. It grows in spirals, confrontations, and I mean on all levels. The institutions of society have buttressed the establishment, so I mean all levels have to be assaulted.

Wald: How does the prison liberation movement fit into this? Is its importance over-exaggerated or contrived?

Jackson: We don't have to contrive any.... Look, the particular thing I'm involved in right now, the prison movement was started by Huey P. Newton and the black panther party. Huey and the rest of the comrades around the country. We're working with Ericka [Huggins] and Bobby [Seale, chairman of the BPP; at the time they were co-defendants in a murder trial in New Haven, Connecticut, on charges which were subsequently dismissed], the prison movement in general, the movement to prove the to the establishment that the concentration camp technique won't work on us. We don't have to contrive any importance to our particular movement. It's a very real, very-very real issue and I'm of the opinion that, right along with the student movement, right along with the old. Familiar workers' movement, the prison movement is central to the process of revolution as a whole.

Wald: Many of the cadres of the revolutionary forces on the outside have been captured and imprisoned. Are you saying that even though they're in prison, these cadres can still function in a meaningful way for the revolution?

Jackson: Well, we're all familiar with the function of the prison as an institution serving the needs of the totalitarian state. We've got to destroy that function; the function has to be no longer viable, in the end. It's one of the strongest institutions supporting the totalitarian state. We have to destroy its effectiveness, and that's what the prison movement is all about. What I'm saying is that they put us in these concentration campshere the same as they put people in tiger cages or "strategic hamlets" in Vietnam. The idea is to isolate, eliminate, liquidate the dynamic sections of the overall movement, the protagonists of the movement. What we've got to do is prove this won't work. We've got to organize our resistance once we're inside, give them no peace, turn the prison into just another front of the struggle, tear it down from the inside. Understand?

Wald: But can such a battle be won?

Jackson: A good deal of this has to do with our ability to communicate to the people on the street. The nature of the function of the prison within the police state has to be continuously explained, elucidated to the people on the street because we can't fight alone in here. Oh Yeah, we can fight, but if we're isolated, if the state is successful in accomplishing that, the results are usually not constructive in terms of proving our point. We fight and we die, but that's not the point, although it may be admirable from some sort of purely moral point of view. The point is, however, in the face of what we confront, to fight and win. That's the real objective: not just to make statements, no matter how noble, but to destroy the system that oppresses us. By any means available to us. And to do this, we must be connected, in contact and communication with those in the struggle on the outside. We must be mutually supporting because we're all in this together. It's one struggle at base.

Wald: Is the form of struggle you're talking about here different from those with which we may be more familiar with, those which are occurring in the third world, for example?

Jackson: Not Really. Of course, all struggles are different, depending upon the whole range of particular factors involved. But many of them have fundamental commonalities which are more important than the differences. We are talking about a guerrilla war in this country. The guerrilla, the new type of warrior who's developed out of conflicts in the third world countries, doesn't fight for glory necessarily. The guerrilla fights to win. The guerrilla fights the same kind of fight we do, what's sometimes called a "poor man's war." It's not a form of war fought with high tech weaponry, or state-of-the-art gadgets. It's fought with whatever can be had-captured weapons when they can be had, but often antiquated firearms, homemade ordnance, knives, bows and arrows, even slingshots-but mostly through the sheer will of the guerrilla to fight and win, no matter what. Huey [P. Newton] says "the power of the people will overcome the power of the man's technology," and we've seen this proven true time after time in recent history.
You know, guerrilla war is not simply a matter of tactics and technique. It's not just questions of hit-and-run or terrorism. It's a matter of proving to the established order that it simply can't sustain itself, that there is no possible way for them to win by utilizing the means of force available to them. We have to prove that wars are won by human beings, and not by mechanical devices. We've got to show that in the end they can't resist us. And we will! We're going to do it. There's never going to ever be a moment's peace for anyone associated with the establishment any place where I'm at, or where any of my comrades are at. But we're going to need coordination, we're going to need help. And right now, that help should come in the form of education. It's critical to teach the people out there how important it is to destroy the function of the prison within the society. That, and to show them in concrete terms that the war is on - right now! - and that in that sense we really aren't any different than the Vietnamese, or the Cubans, or the Algerians, or any of the other revolutionary peoples of the world.

Wald: In an interview with some imprisoned tupamaros, urban guerrillas in Uraguay, the question was raised about the decimation of the ranks of tupamaros; comrades killed or imprisoned by the state. Those interviewed assured me that there were far more people joining the ranks than were being lost to state repression, and that the movement was continuing to grow. Do you feel the same confidence about the black panther party, about the revolutionary movement as a whole in this country?

Jackson: We're structured in such a way as to allow us to exist and continue to resist despite the losses we've absorbed. It was set up that way. We know the enemy operates under the concept of "kill the head and the body will die." They target those they see as key leaders. We know this, and we've set up safeguards to prevent the strategy from working against us. I know I could be killed tomorrow, but the struggle would continue, there would be two hundred or three hundred to take my place. As Fred Hampton put it, "You can kill the revolutionary, but you can't kill the revolution." Hampton, as you know, was head of the party in Chicago, and was murdered in his sleep by the police in chicago, along with Mark Clark, the party leader from Peoria, Illinois. Their loss is tremendous, but the struggle goes on. Right?
It's not just a military thing. It's also an educational thing. The two go hand-in-hand. And it's also a cyclical thing. Right now, we are in a peak cycle. There's tremendous energy out there, directed against the state. It's not all focused, but it's there, and it's building. Maybe this will be sufficient to accomplish what we must accomplish over the fairly short run. We'll see, and we can certainly hope that this is the case. But perhaps not. We must be prepared to wage a long struggle. If this is the case then we'll probably see a different cycle, one in which the revolutionary energy of the people seems to have dispersed, run out of steam. But - and this is important- such cycles are deceptive. Things appear to be at low ebb, but actually what's happening is a period of regroupment, a period in which we step back and learn from the mistakes made during the preceding cycle. We educate ourselves from our experience, and we educate those around us. And all the while, we develop and perfect our core organization. Then the next time a peak cycle comes around, we are far readier then we were the last time. It's a combination of military and education, always. Ultimately, we will win. You see?

Black August: A Story Of African Freedom Fighters

Black August 2009: A Story Of African Freedom Fighters

Posted By blockreportradio On August 3, 2009

by Kiilu Nyasha

Black August is a month of great significance for Africans throughout the Diaspora, but particularly here in the U.S. where it originated. “August,” as Mumia Abu-Jamal noted, “is a month of meaning, of repression and radical resistance, of injustice and divine justice; of repression and righteous rebellion; of individual and collective efforts to free the slaves and break the chains that bind us.”

On this 30th anniversary of Black August, first organized to honor our fallen freedom fighters, Jonathan and George Jackson, Khatari Gaulden, James McClain, William Christmas and the sole survivor of the Aug. 7, 1970, Courthouse Slave Rebellion, Ruchell Cinque Magee, it is still a time to embrace the principles of unity, self-sacrifice, political education, physical fitness and/or training in martial arts, resistance and spiritual renewal.

The concept, Black August, grew out of the need to expose to the light of day the glorious and heroic deeds of those Afrikan women and men who recognized and struggled against the injustices heaped upon people of color on a daily basis in America.

One cannot tell the story of Black August without first providing the reader with a brief glimpse of the “Black Movement” behind California prison walls in the ‘60s, led by George Jackson and W.L. Nolen, among others.

As Jackson wrote: “[W]hen I was accused of robbing a gas station of $70, I accepted a deal … but when time came for sentencing, they tossed me into the penitentiary with one to life. It was 1960. I was 18 years old. … I met Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Engels and Mao when I entered prison and they redeemed me. For the first four years I studied nothing but economics and military ideas. I met Black guerrillas, George ‘Big Jake’ Lewis and James Carr, W.L. Nolen, Bill Christmas, Torry Gibson and many, many others. We attempted to transform the Black criminal mentality into a Black revolutionary mentality. As a result, each of us has been subject to years of the most vicious reactionary violence by the state. Our mortality rate is almost what you would expect to find in a history of Dachau. Three of us [Nolen, Sweet Jugs Miller and Cleve Edwards) were murdered several months ago [Jan. 13, 1969] by a pig shooting from 30 feet above their heads with a military rifle.” (“Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson”)

When the brothers first demanded the killer guard be tried for murder, they were rebuffed. Upon their insistence, the administration held a kangaroo court and three days later returned a verdict of “justifiable homicide.” Shortly afterward, a white guard was found beaten to death and thrown from a tier. Six days later, three prisoners were accused of murder, and became known as The Soledad Brothers.

“I am being tried in court right now with two other brothers, John Clutchette and Fleeta Drumgo, for the alleged slaying of a prison guard. This charge carries an automatic death penalty for me. I can’t get life. I already have it.”

 On Aug. 7, 1970, George Jackson’s brother Jonathan, only 17, invaded the Marin County Courthouse alone, planning ultimately to free the Soledad Brothers. “You can take our pictures. We are the revolutionaries!” Jonathan shouted.

On Aug. 7, 1970, just a few days after George was transferred to San Quentin, his younger brother Jonathan Jackson, 17, invaded Marin County Courthouse single-handed, with a satchel full of handguns, an assault rifle and a shotgun hidden under his raincoat. “Freeze,” he commanded as he tossed guns to William Christmas, James McClain and Ruchell Magee. Magee was on the witness stand testifying for McClain, on trial for assaulting a guard in the wake of a guard’s murder of another Black prisoner, Fred Billingsley, beaten and teargased to death.

A jailhouse lawyer, Magee had deluged the courts with petitions for seven years contesting his illegal conviction in ‘63. The courts had refused to listen, so Magee seized the hour and joined the guerrillas as they took the judge, prosecutor and three jurors hostage to a waiting van. To reporters gathering quickly outside the courthouse, Jonathan shouted, “You can take our pictures. We are the revolutionaries!”

Operating with courage and calm even their enemies had to respect, the four Black freedom fighters commandeered their hostages out of the courthouse without a hitch. The plan was to use the hostages to take over a radio station and broadcast the racist, murderous prison conditions and demand the immediate release of The Soledad Brothers. But before Jonathan could drive the van out of the parking lot, the San Quentin guards arrived and opened fire. When the shooting stopped, Jonathan, Christmas, McClain and the judge lay dead. Magee and the prosecutor were critically wounded, and one juror suffered a minor arm wound.

Magee survived his wounds and was tried originally with co-defendant Angela Davis. Their trials were later severed and Davis was eventually acquitted of all charges. Magee was convicted of simple kidnap and remains in prison to date – 46 years with no physical assaults on his record. An incredible jailhouse lawyer, Magee has been responsible for countless prisoners being released – the main reason he was kept for nearly 20 years in one lockup after another. Currently at Corcoran State Prison, he remains strong and determined to win his freedom and that of all oppressed peoples.

In his second book, “Blood in My Eye,” published posthumously, George Jackson noted: “Reformism is an old story in Amerika. There have been depressions and socio-economic political crises throughout the period that marked the formation of the present upper-class ruling circle and their controlling elites. But the parties of the left were too committed to reformism to exploit their revolutionary potential. … Fascism has temporarily succeeded under the guise of reform.” Those words ring even truer today as we witness a form of fascism that has replaced gas ovens with executions and torture chambers: plantations with prison industrial complexes deployed in rural white communities to perpetuate white supremacy and Black and Brown slavery.

The concentration of wealth at the top is worse than ever: One percent now owns more wealth than that of the combined 95 percent of the U.S. population; individuals are so rich their wealth exceeds the total budgets of numerous nations – as they plunder the globe in the quest for more.

“The fascist must expand to live. Consequently he has pushed his frontiers to the farthest lands and peoples. … I’m going to bust my heart trying to stop these smug, degenerate, primitive, omnivorous, uncivil – and anyone who would aid me, I embrace you.

Khatari Gaulden and Hugo “Yogi” Pinell sit together in the San Quentin yard.

“International capitalism cannot be destroyed without the extremes of struggle … We are the only ones … who can get at the monster’s heart without subjecting the world to nuclear fire. We have a momentous historical role to act out if we will. The whole world for all time in the future will love us and remember us as the righteous people who made it possible for the world to live on. … I don’t want to die and leave a few sad songs and a hump in the ground as my only monument. I want to leave a world that is liberated from trash, pollution, racism, nation-states, nation-state wars and armies, from pomp, bigotry, parochialism, a thousand different brands of untruth and licentious, usurious economics.” (“Soledad Brother”)

On Aug. 21, 1971, after numerous failed attempts on his life, the state finally succeeded in assassinating George Jackson, then field marshall of the Black Panther Party, in what was described by prison officials as an escape attempt in which Jackson allegedly smuggled a gun into San Quentin in a wig. That feat was proven impossible, and evidence subsequently suggested a setup designed by prison officials to eliminate Jackson once and for all.

However, they didn’t count on losing any of their own in the process. On that fateful day, three notoriously racist prison guards and two inmate turnkeys were also killed, presumably by Jackson, who was shot and killed by guards as he drew fire away from the other prisoners in the Adjustment Center (lockup) of San Quentin.

Subsequently, six A/C prisoners were singled out and put on trial – wearing 30 pounds of chains in Marin Courthouse – for various charges of murder and assault: Fleeta Drumgo, David Johnson, Hugo L.A. Pinell (Yogi), Luis Talamantez, Johnny Spain and Willie Sundiata Tate. Only one was convicted of murder, Johnny Spain. The others were either acquitted or convicted of assault.

Pinell is the only one remaining in prison and has suffered prolonged torture in lockups since 1969. He is currently serving his 19th year in Pelican Bay’s SHU, a torture chamber if ever there was one. A true warrior, Pinell would put his life on the line to defend his fellow captives.

As decades passed, our Black scholars, like Mumia Abu-Jamal, learned of other liberation moves that happened in Black August. For example, the first and only armed revolution whereby Africans freed themselves from chattel slavery commenced in Haiti on Aug. 21, 1791. Nat Turner’s slave rebellion began on Aug. 21, 1831 (coincidence?), and Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad started in August. As Mumia stated, “Their sacrifice, their despair, their determination and their blood has painted the month black for all time.”

Let us honor our martyred freedom fighters as George Jackson counseled: “Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our situation, understand that fascism is already here, that people are dying who could be saved, that generations more will live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done; discover your humanity and your love in revolution.”

Kiilu Nyasha, Black Panther veteran, revolutionary journalist and Bay View columnist, hosts the TV talk show Freedom Is a Constant Struggle every Friday at 7:30 p.m. on SF Live, San Francisco cable channel 76. She can be reached at Kiilu2@sbcglobal.net [2].

More Civil Rights Movement On W.E. A.L.L. B.E. :

America Goes Dark

Photo (c) Bob Gomel for Life,
republished in 2001 in Fortune's 9/11 Issue
America Goes Dark
NY Times
August 8, 2010

The lights are going out all over America — literally. Colorado Springs has made headlines with its desperate attempt to save money by turning off a third of its streetlights, but similar things are either happening or being contemplated across the nation, from Philadelphia to Fresno.

Meanwhile, a country that once amazed the world with its visionary investments in transportation, from the Erie Canal to the Interstate Highway System, is now in the process of unpaving itself: in a number of states, local governments are breaking up roads they can no longer afford to maintain, and returning them to gravel.

And a nation that once prized education — that was among the first to provide basic schooling to all its children — is now cutting back. Teachers are being laid off; programs are being canceled; in Hawaii, the school year itself is being drastically shortened. And all signs point to even more cuts ahead.

We’re told that we have no choice, that basic government functions — essential services that have been provided for generations — are no longer affordable. And it’s true that state and local governments, hit hard by the recession, are cash-strapped. But they wouldn’t be quite as cash-strapped if their politicians were willing to consider at least some tax increases.

And the federal government, which can sell inflation-protected long-term bonds at an interest rate of only 1.04 percent, isn’t cash-strapped at all. It could and should be offering aid to local governments, to protect the future of our infrastructure and our children.

But Washington is providing only a trickle of help, and even that grudgingly. We must place priority on reducing the deficit, say Republicans and “centrist” Democrats. And then, virtually in the next breath, they declare that we must preserve tax cuts for the very affluent, at a budget cost of $700 billion over the next decade.

In effect, a large part of our political class is showing its priorities: given the choice between asking the richest 2 percent or so of Americans to go back to paying the tax rates they paid during the Clinton-era boom, or allowing the nation’s foundations to crumble — literally in the case of roads, figuratively in the case of education — they’re choosing the latter.

It’s a disastrous choice in both the short run and the long run.

In the short run, those state and local cutbacks are a major drag on the economy, perpetuating devastatingly high unemployment.

It’s crucial to keep state and local government in mind when you hear people ranting about runaway government spending under President Obama. Yes, the federal government is spending more, although not as much as you might think. But state and local governments are cutting back. And if you add them together, it turns out that the only big spending increases have been in safety-net programs like unemployment insurance, which have soared in cost thanks to the severity of the slump.

That is, for all the talk of a failed stimulus, if you look at government spending as a whole you see hardly any stimulus at all. And with federal spending now trailing off, while big state and local cutbacks continue, we’re going into reverse.

But isn’t keeping taxes for the affluent low also a form of stimulus? Not so you’d notice. When we save a schoolteacher’s job, that unambiguously aids employment; when we give millionaires more money instead, there’s a good chance that most of that money will just sit idle.

And what about the economy’s future? Everything we know about economic growth says that a well-educated population and high-quality infrastructure are crucial. Emerging nations are making huge efforts to upgrade their roads, their ports and their schools. Yet in America we’re going backward.

How did we get to this point? It’s the logical consequence of three decades of antigovernment rhetoric, rhetoric that has convinced many voters that a dollar collected in taxes is always a dollar wasted, that the public sector can’t do anything right.

The antigovernment campaign has always been phrased in terms of opposition to waste and fraud — to checks sent to welfare queens driving Cadillacs, to vast armies of bureaucrats uselessly pushing paper around. But those were myths, of course; there was never remotely as much waste and fraud as the right claimed. And now that the campaign has reached fruition, we’re seeing what was actually in the firing line: services that everyone except the very rich need, services that government must provide or nobody will, like lighted streets, drivable roads and decent schooling for the public as a whole.

So the end result of the long campaign against government is that we’ve taken a disastrously wrong turn. America is now on the unlit, unpaved road to nowhere.

Black And Jewish, And Seeing No Contradiction

 Robert Stolarik for The New York Times
Shais Rison, left, and Yitzchak Jordan are black Orthodox Jews, a rarity in New York and the nation.

Black And Jewish, And Seeing No Contradiction

August 27, 2010
Black and Jewish, and Seeing No Contradiction

In yeshivas, they are sometimes taunted as “monkeys” or with the Yiddish epithet for blacks. At synagogues and kosher restaurants, they engender blank stares. And dating can be awkward: their numbers are so small, friends will often share at least some romantic history with the same man or woman, and matchmakers always pair them with people with whom they have little in common beyond skin color.

They are African-Americans and Orthodox Jews, a rare cross-cultural hybrid that seems quintessentially Brooklyn, but received little notice until last week, after Yoseph Robinson, a Jamaican-born convert, was killed during a robbery attempt at the kosher liquor store where he worked.

At his funeral and in interviews afterward, a portrait emerged of a small, insular but energized community that is proud but underpinned by a constant tug of race and religiosity.

In Crown Heights, one of the city’s hubs of Orthodox Jewish life, blacks and Jews have long lived side by side and have occasionally clashed. In 1991, riots broke out after a car in a motorcade carrying a Hasidic leader veered onto the sidewalk, killing one black child and badly injuring another.

Nobody keeps track of how many black Orthodox Jews are in New York or across the nation, and surely it is a tiny fraction of both populations. Indeed, even the number of black Jews over all is elusive, though a 2005 book about Jewish diversity, “In Every Tongue,” cited studies suggesting that some 435,000 American Jews, or 7 percent, were black, Hispanic, Asian or American Indian.

“Everyone agrees that the numbers have grown, and they should be noticed,” said Jonathan D. Sarna of Brandeis University, a pre-eminent historian of American Jewry. “Once, there was a sense that ‘so-and-so looked Jewish.’ Today, because of conversion and intermarriage and patrilineal descent, that’s less and less true. The average synagogue looks more like America.

“Even in an Orthodox synagogue, there’s likely to be a few people who look different,” Professor Sarna said, “and everybody assumes that will grow.”

Through the Internet, younger black Orthodox Jews are coming together in ways they never could before.

In Crown Heights, a group has struggled to form a minyan, the quorum of 10 men required for group prayer, though Mr. Robinson’s death leaves them one short. On the first Wednesday of each month, about 15 to 20 called “Jews of color” (not all of them Orthodox) meet to trade their experiences and insights. There is also a New York branch of the national group Jews in All Hues.

“They are strengthening their blackness through Judaism,” said Asher Rison, 62, a black Jew who lives in the Mill Basin section of Brooklyn, said of the younger generation. “They don’t have a place of their own, so they are trying to carve out their own niche.”

Mr. Rison converted more than 25 years ago after meeting his wife, who is also black and traces her Orthodox roots back to the late 1800s. The oldest of their five children, Shais, 28, is the founder of Manishtana.net — a Web site that plays off the classic Passover question, “Why is this night different?” — and Jocflock.org, a dating site for Jews of color, sometimes dubbed “J.O.C.’s.”

Shais Rison said he opted for a yarmulke over the black fedora worn by many Orthodox men and preferred his gefilte fish as his mother prepares it, seasoned with Jamaican peppers and spices. He said balancing being black and an Orthodox Jew was part of the broader identity struggle of being black.

“I have encountered people who actually get that Judaism isn’t about skin color,” he said. “But the majority of people will stare at you as you walk down the street. You would think that we were covered in chicken feathers.”

Shais Rison said it was often other black people who questioned him and his Jewish friends of color, viewing them as suspicious or as sellouts. And not all black Orthodox Jews agree on how to balance their loyalties. Some, he said, “see being Jewish as not being black anymore.”

“Those are the people who don’t want to associate or get together with other black Jews,” he said. “Everyone wants to play the only one, like ‘I’m a black Jew, and I want my struggle to be unique so people will look at me as a commodity.’ ”

Yochanan Reid, a former musician who was attracted to Judaism during a difficult period in his life and converted about six years ago, said he was “a Jew first.”

“There are those who consider themselves black and Jewish and those who consider themselves Jewish,” said Mr. Reid, 29. “But, where do I live? I live where the Jews live. I speak the language that the Jews speak. You eat kosher food because you are a Jew. You dress a certain way. I am also black, but how does that define me? I am a Jew first.”

Akeda Fulcher, a family court advocate who lives in Crown Heights, said that she was a fourth-generation observant black Jew, and that new efforts at multicultural curriculums in Jewish schools helped ease racial tension among the Orthodox.

“There is nothing in the Torah that says you can’t be black and Jewish at the same time,” she said. “I think it gives my Judaism flavor. I think that my foods, my music, my dance, my struggles — everything that makes me a black woman also make me a beautiful black Jewish woman. There is no difference between the two for me. I am what God made me, and everything about me is beautiful because of that.”

Yitzchak Jordan, a black Orthodox rapper, said he became interested in Judaism as a child in Baltimore, learning from his Puerto Rican grandmother, whose own father had worked for a Jewish family upon moving to the mainland. At 14, he started wearing a yarmulke and observing Shabbat. He converted about 10 years ago, and he later studied at a yeshiva in Jerusalem.

Walking along Kingston Avenue one afternoon last week with Shais Rison, Mr. Jordan, who is known as both Yitz and Y-Love, was greeted by young white, Orthodox Jews with handshakes and head nods. “I love your music, man!” one told him. In Basil, a new kosher cafe, he beamed between bites of pizza as one of his songs played over the speakers.

Mr. Jordan said that he had a large following in Israel that his music had been embraced by a generation of young Jews that feels marginalized.

“A black Orthodox Jewish kid is far less likely to grow into an Orthodox Jewish adult because you have a lot of racism in the school system, not so much institutionalized but more like social racism,” he said. “When people hear my music or see my face on a T-shirt, they can relate.”

The Billionaires Bankrolling The Tea Party

Charles & David Koch

The Billionaires Bankrolling The Tea Party

ANOTHER weekend, another grass-roots demonstration starring Real Americans who are mad as hell and want to take back their country from you-know-who. Last Sunday the site was Lower Manhattan, where they jeered the “ground zero mosque.” This weekend, the scene shifted to Washington, where the avatars of oppressed white Tea Party America, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, were slated to “reclaim the civil rights movement” (Beck’s words) on the same spot where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had his dream exactly 47 years earlier. 

Vive la révolution! 

There’s just one element missing from these snapshots of America’s ostensibly spontaneous and leaderless populist uprising: the sugar daddies who are bankrolling it, and have been doing so since well before the “death panel” warm-up acts of last summer. Three heavy hitters rule. You’ve heard of one of them, Rupert Murdoch. The other two, the brothers David and Charles Koch, are even richer, with a combined wealth exceeded only by that of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett among Americans. But even those carrying the Kochs’ banner may not know who these brothers are.
Their self-interested and at times radical agendas, like Murdoch’s, go well beyond, and sometimes counter to, the interests of those who serve as spear carriers in the political pageants hawked on Fox News. The country will be in for quite a ride should these potentates gain power, and given the recession-battered electorate’s unchecked anger and the Obama White House’s unfocused political strategy, they might. 

All three tycoons are the latest incarnation of what the historian Kim Phillips-Fein labeled “Invisible Hands” in her prescient 2009 book of that title: those corporate players who have financed the far right ever since the du Pont brothers spawned the American Liberty League in 1934 to bring down F.D.R. You can draw a straight line from the Liberty League’s crusade against the New Deal “socialism” of Social Security, the Securities and Exchange Commission and child labor laws to the John Birch Society-Barry Goldwater assault on J.F.K. and Medicare to the Koch-Murdoch-backed juggernaut against our “socialist” president. 

Only the fat cats change — not their methods and not their pet bugaboos (taxes, corporate regulation, organized labor, and government “handouts” to the poor, unemployed, ill and elderly). Even the sources of their fortunes remain fairly constant. Koch Industries began with oil in the 1930s and now also spews an array of industrial products, from Dixie cups to Lycra, not unlike DuPont’s portfolio of paint and plastics. Sometimes the biological DNA persists as well. The Koch brothers’ father, Fred, was among the select group chosen to serve on the Birch Society’s top governing body. In a recorded 1963 speech that survives in a University of Michigan archive, he can be heard warning of “a takeover” of America in which Communists would “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the president is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us.” That rant could be delivered as is at any Tea Party rally today. 

Last week the Kochs were shoved unwillingly into the spotlight by the most comprehensive journalistic portrait of them yet, written by Jane Mayer of The New Yorker. Her article caused a stir among those in Manhattan’s liberal elite who didn’t know that David Koch, widely celebrated for his cultural philanthropy, is not merely another rich conservative Republican but the founder of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, which, as Mayer writes with some understatement, “has worked closely with the Tea Party since the movement’s inception.” To New Yorkers who associate the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center with the New York City Ballet, it’s startling to learn that the Texas branch of that foundation’s political arm, known simply as Americans for Prosperity, gave its Blogger of the Year Award to an activist who had called President Obama “cokehead in chief.” 

The other major sponsor of the Tea Party movement is Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks, which, like Americans for Prosperity, is promoting events in Washington this weekend. Under its original name, Citizens for a Sound Economy, FreedomWorks received $12 million of its own from Koch family foundations. Using tax records, Mayer found that Koch-controlled foundations gave out $196 million from 1998 to 2008, much of it to conservative causes and institutions. That figure doesn’t include $50 million in Koch Industries lobbying and $4.8 million in campaign contributions by its political action committee, putting it first among energy company peers like Exxon Mobil and Chevron. Since tax law permits anonymous personal donations to nonprofit political groups, these figures may understate the case. The Kochs surely match the in-kind donations the Tea Party receives in free promotion 24/7 from Murdoch’s Fox News, where both Beck and Palin are on the payroll. 

The New Yorker article stirred up the right, too. Some of Mayer’s blogging detractors unwittingly upheld the premise of her article (titled “Covert Operations”) by conceding that they have been Koch grantees. None of them found any factual errors in her 10,000 words. Many of them tried to change the subject to George Soros, the billionaire backer of liberal causes. But Soros is a publicity hound who is transparent about where he shovels his money. And like many liberals — selflessly or foolishly, depending on your point of view — he supports causes that are unrelated to his business interests and that, if anything, raise his taxes. 

This is hardly true of the Kochs. When David Koch ran to the right of Reagan as vice president on the 1980 Libertarian ticket (it polled 1 percent), his campaign called for the abolition not just of Social Security, federal regulatory agencies and welfare but also of the F.B.I., the C.I.A., and public schools — in other words, any government enterprise that would either inhibit his business profits or increase his taxes. He hasn’t changed. As Mayer details, Koch-supported lobbyists, foundations and political operatives are at the center of climate-science denial — a cause that forestalls threats to Koch Industries’ vast fossil fuel business. While Koch foundations donate to cancer hospitals like Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York, Koch Industries has been lobbying to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from classifying another product important to its bottom line, formaldehyde, as a “known carcinogen” in humans (which it is). 

Tea Partiers may share the Kochs’ detestation of taxes, big government and Obama. But there’s a difference between mainstream conservatism and a fringe agenda that tilts completely toward big business, whether on Wall Street or in the Gulf of Mexico, while dismantling fundamental government safety nets designed to protect the unemployed, public health, workplace safety and the subsistence of the elderly. 

Yet inexorably the Koch agenda is morphing into the G.O.P. agenda, as articulated by current Republican members of Congress, including the putative next speaker of the House, John Boehner, and Tea Party Senate candidates like Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, and the new kid on the block, Alaska’s anti-Medicaid, anti-unemployment insurance Palin protégé, Joe Miller. Their program opposes a federal deficit, but has no objection to running up trillions in red ink in tax cuts to corporations and the superrich; apologizes to corporate malefactors like BP and derides money put in escrow for oil spill victims as a “slush fund”; opposes the extension of unemployment benefits; and calls for a freeze on federal regulations in an era when abuses in the oil, financial, mining, pharmaceutical and even egg industries (among others) have been outrageous. 

The Koch brothers must be laughing all the way to the bank knowing that working Americans are aiding and abetting their selfish interests. And surely Murdoch is snickering at those protesting the “ground zero mosque.” Last week on “Fox and Friends,” the Bush administration flacks Dan Senor and Dana Perino attacked a supposedly terrorism-tainted Saudi prince whose foundation might contribute to the Islamic center. But as “The Daily Show” keeps pointing out, these Fox bloviators never acknowledge that the evil prince they’re bashing, Walid bin Talal, is not only the biggest non-Murdoch shareholder in Fox News’s parent company (he owns 7 percent of News Corporation) and the recipient of Murdoch mammoth investments in Saudi Arabia but also the subject of lionization elsewhere on Fox. 

No less a Murdoch factotum than Neil Cavuto slobbered over bin Talal in a Fox Business Channel interview as recently as January, with nary a question about his supposed terrorist ties. Instead, bin Talal praised Obama’s stance on terrorism and even endorsed the Democrats’ goal of universal health insurance. Do any of the Fox-watching protestors at the “ground zero mosque” know that Fox’s profits are flowing to a Obama-sympathizing Saudi billionaire in bed with Murdoch? As Jon Stewart summed it up, the protestors who want “to cut off funding to the ‘terror mosque’ ” are aiding that funding by watching Fox and enhancing bin Talal’s News Corp. holdings.

When wolves of Murdoch’s ingenuity and the Kochs’ stealth have been at the door of our democracy in the past, Democrats have fought back fiercely. Franklin Roosevelt’s triumphant 1936 re-election campaign pummeled the Liberty League as a Republican ally eager to “squeeze the worker dry in his old age and cast him like an orange rind into the refuse pail.” When John Kennedy’s patriotism was assailed by Birchers calling for impeachment, he gave a major speech denouncing their “crusades of suspicion.” 

And Obama? So far, sadly, this question answers itself.

John Steele: Where’s Our Mississippi?

The Intergenerational Connection: Civil Rights Veteran John Steele & R2C2H2 Tha Artivist 
John Steele: Where’s Our Mississippi?
[Available as a printable PDF pamphlet]
By John Steele

In the summer of 1964, three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi. They are known to the world as Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner. But back then, in the days before they died, I knew them as Andy, JE, and Mickey.

I want to share with you my memories of the time we drove south together to join the Mississippi Freedom Summer project. I want to tell a bit of the story of that summer, and tell it for a purpose. I believe it has implications for today.

Driving South
Mickey was driving as we pulled out of Oxford, Ohio in his station wagon, windows down, through the lush green of early summer. The four of us were volunteers. We were excited. And we felt some fear. We were part of a project to fight white supremacy in Mississippi, where the most basic democratic rights were denied to African American people. We were going to throw ourselves into the front lines of a cause that called itself, simply, the Movement.

I had dropped out of college, and didn’t know what I’d do in the long run. But this battle — black people mounting an intense struggle against an entrenched and clearly evil system – was completely, utterly galvanizing for me. I got my father’s signature (necessary because I was under 21), but we didn’t inform my mother until I was already gone. She was very upset, angry and afraid, when she found out. And of course, she had reason to be upset. Six black civil rights workers had already been killed in just the first five months of 1964, in the state of Mississippi. There had been no indictments. No charges brought against the killers.

James Chaney
James Chaney
Mississippi was a place where African American people were killed with impunity. And often the victims were tortured before the murder, and their bodies often mutilated in horrible ways with gouging and castration. No white person had ever been convicted of killing a Black person in Mississippi. Never.

Once our car crossed on into the South, J.E. climbed all the way into the back of the station wagon, to sit by himself, because just having black and white seated side-by-side in our car was dangerous. Our mixed crew risked attention at highway restaurants for the same reason, and so we made the 16-hour trip on snack food. Not that any of us was very hungry.

J.E. was just twenty-one, rather quiet, a young black man who had made the decision to step forward in this battle. He was a native of Meridian, the small city in Mississippi we were going to. And he seemed at peace with his decision, although he certainly knew better than any of us exactly what we were facing. Me and the other volunteers knew what we believed in — there was a intense sense of moral justice that carried the Movement through everything it did — but we still had only the vaguest idea of the world we were entering and the forces in America we were going to be challenging.

I remember Andy in the car, talkative and inquisitive, questioning Mickey about what to expect. Mickey was a little older (twenty-four) and the leader of our team. With his goatee and energetic assertiveness, he seemed authoritative. But he’d only been in Mississippi six months. He and Chaney were members of CORE (the Congress of Racial Equality) one of the activist groups working together on the summer project.

Joining SNCC, Building MFDP
Michael Schwerner
Michael Schwerner
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (called “snick”) had been formed by participants in the 1960 Nashville sit-ins against whites-only lunch counters. And it had dared to bring the Movement into Mississippi two years later. It emerged as one of the most radical, committed and controversial projects in a very conservative America.

In those days, the South had been in the grip of Jim Crow segregation, an American apartheid, for almost a hundred years. African American people were officially denied basic rights, and forced into separate and inferior conditions – as they were bitterly exploited. Here in many small rural farming towns of the old cotton economy, many black people were still imprisoned in a dying semi-feudal system of share-cropping and debt that left them brutally poor, uneducated, and increasingly discontent.

All over the South, African American people were taking on this segregation – led and organized by radical students (as in SNCC and CORE), or returning veterans (like NAACPs Robert Williams) or respected ministers (like the network around Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference).

I’d been aware, excited, seeing this building over several years, watching people face police dogs and fire hoses. But at first only from a distance. Now I’d thrown myself into it.

This Mississippi Freedom Summer was about breaching Jim Crow where it was strongest. Hundreds of college students, both black and white, were recruited to make a breakthrough in this most backward, racist and rural of states, to break open this closed and vicious society. It was a movement built by the young.

Our team was involved in registering people to vote. Under Jim Crow, African American people were simply not allowed to vote – which meant that the elected sheriffs were brutal racists, and the juries were all white, and the whole power structure was openly defined by white supremacy. Those black people who stepped forward to register were told they had to interpret some obscure section of the Mississippi Constitution (to supposedly prove their literacy), and naturally no matter what they said the racist gatekeepers of the system would say it wasn’t right. But more, just going to the courthouse to register meant you were targeted, in ways that everyone understood and feared.
The voter registration during the summer of 1964 was more than just a way of demanding a basic legal right – it was a means of building organization among the people: We were registering people as members of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). This was a political organization formed in parallel (and really in sharp opposition to) the regular Mississippi Democratic Party. Mississippi was a one-party state, and the all-white regular Democratic Party was a stronghold of raw, violent, official white supremacy. The new MFDP was a challenge to all that – it was open to both black and white, and it was a political party opposed to segregation and rooted among African American people (who have always been the majority of people in Mississippi). The plan was that MFDP would hold its own state convention, elect delegates to the national 1964 presidential convention of the Democratic Party, and demand seating in place of the delegates of racist regular Democratic Party (who were, quite obviously, representatives and enforcers of this hated Jim Crow system).

Pulling Into Meridian
Andrew Goodman
Andrew Goodman
We drove down the one main street of Meridian into the black section of town, pulling up along some low-rise brick apartments. Local people risked their lives to open their homes to us. The couple I stayed with was young. Another volunteer and I stayed in their small second bedroom – the “kids room” in their plans. He was a carpenter’s assistant and she worked cleaning the houses of white people. I don’t remember their names.

As we pulled up to connect with our contacts, we were a true sensation. “White civil rights workers from the North!” Black teenagers crowded around us, excited, laughing, asking questions. This movement represented the only hope they had, and they knew it.

For the white volunteers, the fearlessness of the black people of the South had been our inspiration. And yet, at the same time, the fact that white people were involved was a source of great interest to those living under Jim Crow – it was a witness that people cared what they were going through. It brought a sense of potential allies in the wider world outside Mississippi, and of the possibility that “black and white together” might create a different way of life.

Even before leaving Ohio, we’d known we would be arriving in Meridian in the middle of a crisis. A black church had just been burned to the ground, and several of its elders beaten. It was in Philadelphia, a notorious redneck town thirty miles away.

Mickey and J.E. had already been talking to people there about using their church as an organizing center for Freedom Summer. This burning was the Klan’s response. And so, as soon as we arrived, Mickey and J.E. immediately decided to take the station wagon to Philadelphia the next day. They asked Andy to come with them. The three left that Sunday morning – planning to return later that afternoon.

The rest of us, both volunteers and local teenagers, gathered in the Movement’s community center — a second-floor loft, with desks, phones and a reading library. We hung out, just getting to know each other, while we waited for the three to return.

Time passed. They were late. And we began to get nervous.

SNCC had security procedures: if anyone was delayed they were supposed to call in — though finding a pay phone on those rural roads was not easy.

So now we did what we’d been trained to do. First we notified our project’s headquarters in the state capital that the three were late. Then we called every hospital and jail in the surrounding area. The reply was always the same: “No, we haven’t seen them.”
Mass Meeting
Mass community meeting to discuss voter registration and the MFDP in Benton County, MS. 1964.
We had been in Mississippi less than 24 hours and three of us were missing.

The afternoon turned into evening and still no word. We went out for a bite to eat. No one wanted to voice our fears. As the evening grew late two cars and a pickup truck, driven by white men, circled our block several times. It was a threat, and we telephoned in their descriptions and license numbers. Some of us spent that night at the center, sleeping on the floor.

On Tuesday Mickey’s burned-out station wagon was found.

Searching Every Swamp
We didn’t talk about it, but we all knew in our hearts that they had probably been killed.
Newspapers in Mississippi…. To read them was to get an understanding of the social structure they served. When our three organizers disappeared, the local papers responded almost unanimously with the speculation that these “outside troublemakers” had probably staged a hoax, and that the three were most likely “up in New York somewhere, laughing at all fuss.”

And it was not just the press, of course. Mississippi as a whole was a very closed society. The whole power structure of the state was highly interlocking (much more than we knew at the time) — from the governor’s mansion down through the businessmen and lawyers in the White Citizens Councils, through local police sheriffs, and Klansmen circling our office that night — all mobilized for the defense of white supremacy (in the name of “states rights” against “outside intervention.”)
We didn’t know it then, but the state government’s spies had gathered names and license plates on all of us that summer — forwarding them to the Ku Klux Klan. State officials visited county sheriffs, briefing them on which laws to use in arresting civil rights workers.

But suddenly with the disappearance of our three comrades, the whole world was watching. Reporters poured into the state. There was a tremendous pressure building to find the three missing civil rights workers — and to find out what had happened to them.

President Lyndon Johnson (LBJ) ordered the FBI into a highly visible role in the search and investigation Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the same FBI (directed by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy) was spying on the Civil Rights activists and leaders, and its operatives within the Klan were repeatedly involved in brutal attacks on the Movement.
Atlantic City vigil
Atlantic City boardwalk, August 1964. Vigil in support of the MFDP challenge to the Democratic Convention.

The search for Mickey, J.E. and Andy was massive. Even sailors from a local naval base were brought in to wade through swamps and drag the rivers. But their bodies were not found. What the searchers did discover were the bodies of at least two black men in those rivers and swamps.

Welcome To Mississippi.
Mississippi’s governor mobilized the state police to watch, but not to help. They shouted racist jokes as long lines of searchers waded through swampy waters.

Our Work
“We are black and white together, we shall not be moved”
While all this was going on, we pressed ahead with our work.

I was part of a small team that went into the little towns and farms of Lauderdale County. Black and white teams, knocking on doors, we talked to people about the struggle, and invited them to join us. We had big mass meetings every week, gathering everyone possible from the area, to lay plans and to sing freedom songs together.

It is hard to capture the atmosphere of hatred and threat that surrounded us – and that had defined the lives of African American people here for since the creation of the plantations. We were portrayed as despicable, dirty, unwashed “n*gger lovers” who had come to Mississippi to destroy a beloved way of life, like new invaders from the North, under the direction of “godless communists” – and often as twisted degenerates determined to expose “white Christian Southern womanhood” to the dangers of “black rapists” and race-mixing.

In one situation, I went with a group of us to order food at a restaurant in the bus station. It had been forbidden for black and white to sit together and eat. The old and strictly enforced rules forbade black people from using the same washrooms and lunch counters as white people. And so we were just going to challenge all that. A group of white teenagers pulled into the restaurant booth next to us, and the hostility escalated – first taunts, then spitting, then threats. And everyone understood, of course, that their actions would be completely backed by the local sheriffs and the Klan (who were often the same people).

In another situation, I was walking with one of my black comrades and a car started tailing us – driving very slowly behind us in an obviously threatening way. Just the two of us, walking together, was seen as a challenge to everything about this society. We tried to act like we were ignoring him. But then as we started crossing an intersection, he accelerated rapidly and tried to run us down.

Multiply these incidents a hundred times, and you get a sense of what was going on all across the state. Through it all, awareness of the missing three was always with us. It was a grief that didn’t dare declare itself, and an anxiety that became part of the uncertain threatening background. But honestly, the joy and feeling of fellowship among people in struggle, the excitement of important (and yes, dangerous) work, and the wonderment of discovery too (I for one had known nothing at all of black people and their culture first-hand) – these were the uppermost feelings.

One focal point of all this was the Democratic presidential convention later that summer of 1964 in Atlantic City. After all the risks taken by the people, a delegation of MFDP went to demand a seat at the table. We intended to trigger the public support by the central national power structure – as a way of weakening and isolating the local defenders of Jim Crow in Mississippi and the rest of the Deep South.

And then came a crucial moment of political education – for us in SNCC and CORE, for the African American people, and for everyone watching the Movement. LBJ’s forces, in control of the convention refused to countenance any breaking of ties with the Mississippi regulars. The white racist power structure of the South was a key pillar to how the whole U.S. was ruled – it was key to the functioning of the Democratic Party and had been from the beginning. And acceptance of this most naked white supremacy was normal to how politics – at all levels — worked in America.
After much negotiation by liberals in the party, the MFDP was offered a couple of honorary nonvoting seats. The MFDP refused the insulting offer.

A Very Infuriating-But-Enlightening Defeat.
It may be hard now to reconstruct the sincere hopes and illusions we had for reforms of this system. You have to imagine away many of today’s layers of automatic knowingness and cynicism. We had really thought the Democratic Party would respond in good faith to the clarity of the moral and political demands upon it. Its refusal was one of those experiences that move the thinking of whole swaths of people, and plant the seeds for new conclusions. It began the process of lifting a few veils, tearing at our illusions, and beginning to reveal the ground on which we actually stood.

The Last Hours Of Goodman, Chaney And Schwerner
Finally, in early August, six long weeks after their disappearance, someone on the inside of the Klan, tempted by reward money, told the secret. Our brothers were buried deep in an earthen dam.
We know now what happened that night when our comrades died. They had gone to talk to supporters in Philadelphia, and were arrested as they left. While they were held in the Neshoba County Jail, the Sheriff, his Deputy and Edgar Ray “Preacher” Killen – the three of them all members of the Klan – brought in Klansmen from the surrounding area to prepare an ambush.

Late that night, Mickey, J.E. and Andy were released and escorted to the Philadelphia town line. And then, a few miles later, their station wagon was stopped again — and they were taken away at gunpoint. Schwerner and Goodman were shot point-blank. Chaney broke free and ran. He was shot, dragged back. As the black man in the crew, he was singled out for special punishment. He was beaten mercilessly, shot again, and his body was mutilated. His killer reportedly said to the other Klansmen, “You didn’t leave me anything but a n*gger, but at least I killed me a n*gger.”

The three bodies were driven to a nearby dam construction and covered over by bulldozer.
The Klan wanted to break the organized core of the movement. But they failed. As the bodies of the three were lifted out of that dam, the whole watching world could see the ugliness and the murderous structure of white supremacy in America. These killings incited widespread outrage and anger, brought people forward into active struggle or support.

Mississippi CORE leader Dave Dennis addressed us and our whole generation as he delivered the eulogy for James Chaney: “Your work is just beginning. If you go back home and sit down and take what these white men in Mississippi are doing to us. …if you take it and don’t do something about it. …then God damn your souls.

And Now?
SNCC posterI have not written about the summer of ‘64 before, and I don’t do it now in order to memorialize a righteous struggle of yesterday. My purpose and thoughts are much more focused on today – and tomorrow.

What swept me into the civil rights struggle was in large part the utter moral clarity of what was involved: the clear evil of institutionalized white supremacy, and the courage and nobility represented by the movement which was going directly up against it. 

Is such clarity possible today?

Well….We have a war in Iraq of unrelenting brutality, wrong and illegal from its first inception, now in its fifth year with no real exit in sight no matter who is elected this fall.

We have a systematic global program of kidnapping, assassination, secret prisons, torture, indefinite detention without charges or trial – all proclaimed as America’s right, institutionalized over the course of the past seven years and facing no more than tweaks and modifications through the normal processes of politics and government.

And we have a vast program of roundups, detentions, and deportations within this country – the burgeoning campaign against undocumented workers, with no resolution or end in sight.
And that’s only the beginning…

Another aspect of 1964: We didn’t know how it would all turn out. This whole movement has been so enshrined and mummified in the telling of history. Retrospectively it has been given the air of inevitability.

It was not inevitable. There was no road already there. “The road was made by walking” – and fighting.

The course of things was not at all clear then. Strongly-felt debates and struggles shaped strategy and tactics and philosophy raged at each stage of the struggle. These experiences opened many of us to new revolutionary ideas — which were being raised throughout the world at that time.

Where Is Our Mississippi Today?

* * * * * * * * * *

***W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio***A Philadelphia Story: Remembering Goodman, Chaney & Schwerner...
A Conversation With Ben Chaney (The Brother Of James Chaney) & Veterans Of Freedom Summer 1964

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