by Ricky Riley:
On Sunday, Aug. 7, Raleigh, North Carolina homeowner, Chad Copley, shot a Black partygoer— after a 911 call— from his garage claiming to be part of a non-existent neighborhood watch.
Now, the mother of 20-year-old victim, Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas, speaks about her son’s death on the Aug. 12 edition of the “CBS This Morning.”
The victim’s mother Simone Butler-Thomas says that her son was not a hoodlum, he went to the best schools, never lived in the projects and was a good person.
“My heart was just ripped out. Somebody just stomped on it. I felt empty,” Butler-Thomas says. “My children never, ever lived in the projects. They always went to the best schools, and had the best of everything.”
Since her son’s death, Butler-Thomas has had to speak to media on various occasions to salvage his good name.
In an Aug. 11 press conference, the grieving mother tells reporters that her son did not look like a hoodlum, did not sag his pants and was a respectable young man.
“He wasn’t dress when he left with sagging pants, or a do-rag or anything that people would call ‘hoodlums’ would wear,” she says through a stream of tears. “He asked me before he left to take a picture of him … There was nothing hood about him.”
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By Elliot Booker — 1 year ago
Kweli.tv aims to be the go-to streaming media platform for black filmmakers all over the world to share their content and make money from its distribution. KweliTV handpicks all of its content, with 98 percent of the content having been official selections at film festivals worldwide.
“There are a lot of really great filmmakers out there globally,” KweliTV founder DeShuna Spencer told me. “For us, we’re offering an avenue for filmmakers of color to make money off of their work and be celebrated for the work they do.”
Perhaps, more importantly, KweliTV wants to be a source of authentic storytelling of the black community from the black perspective. A recent study showed the mainstream media (news and opinion media) offers a consistently warped view of black people and black families. For example, black families represent 59 percent of the poor in mainstream media even though they make up just 27 percent of low-income people, according to Color of Change. Meanwhile, white families make up just 17 percent of low-income people while they officially represent 66 percent of the country’s low-income population.
Kweli, which means “truth” in Swahili, aims to tell all sides of the black experience. In order for content to be featured on KweliTV, the the main character needs to be of African descent and “not the sidekick, the friend of the fairy godmother,” KweliTV founder DeShuna Spencer told me. “The black person has to be the main character.”
An example of some KweliTV content is a film called Something Necessary. Created by Kenyan filmmaker Judy Kibinge, Something Necessary explores life after the civil unrest in Kenya following the 2007 elections through the eyes of a woman named Anne. In 2013, the film was nominated for audience choice award at the Chicago International Film Festival and screened at the Toronto International Film Festival.
There are currently 200 titles on the platform, with KweliTV adding about three titles a week in the categories of documentary, shorts and full-length features. Subscribers can watch KweliTV on the web or via Roku, Apple TV or Google Play. Unlike Netflix, the goal is not to have an endless library of content. Instead. KweliTV wants to keep it intimate with no more than 500 titles at a time.
KweliTV, which launched out of beta just a few months ago, currently has 2,000 paying subscribers. By the end of the year, the goal is to hit 30,000 paid subscribers. An annual membership costs $49.99/year and a monthly one costs $5.99.
As a value-add to the streaming content, KweliTV partners with other black-owned businesses to offer discounts and other perks to its subscribers. Subscribers can access discounts at companies like Heritage Box, Black Card Revoked, African Ancestry and others.
On the creator side, filmmakers get paid based on how many minutes people spend viewing their content. More specifically, 60 percent of Kweli.TV’s revenue goes to filmmakers, who get paid quarterly.
In alignment with Spencer’s desire to keep it intimate, KweliTV is going to start hosting in-person events for its members to connect with each other. The first event will be next month.
“We really see Kweli as being a community more than a streaming service,” Spencer said. “Our customers are asking us to be more community-oriented.”
KweliTV is a bootstrapped company in the traditional sense, meaning it hasn’t raised funding from any angel investors or VCs. The company has, however, won $65,000 from a couple of startup competitions.
“It’s a full-time job to raise money,” Spencer said. “That’s not to say we’ll never raise but today, my focus is on revenue.”
One of KweliTV’s competitors, Afrostream, shut down last August, despite raising $4 million in capital. Spencer pointed to Afrostream as a bit of a cautionary tale of trying to grow too quickly.
Instead of becoming a unicorn, Spencer sees her company as a zebra. Unlike unicorns, zebras a profitable and work to improve society, and KweliTV is achieving both of those requirements.Post Views: 85
By Elliot Booker — 1 year ago
In my Freedom’s Journal columns on February 24 and March 3 here in The Philadelphia Tribune, I exposed the lies about President George Washington’s supposed wooden teeth and Thomas Jefferson’s supposed innocently romantic love affair with Sally Hemings.
Washington’s teeth were actually yanked from the mouths of our enslaved ancestors and Jefferson actually raped Sally repeatedly while she was just a child.
In response to both columns, white racists went certifiably crazy (I mean crazier) and denied and yelled and screamed and hollered and insulted. They also trolled on social media. Unfortunately for them, they’re gonna need a straight-jacket after reading this.
This week’s topic is about the twelve United States presidents who enslaved Black men, women, boys, and girls. And before you crazy racists start talking nonsense about those so-called “great” patriots simply being “men of their times,” you need to know that the anti-slavery movement amongst good white folks began in the 1730s and spread throughout the Thirteen Colonies as a result of the abolitionist activities during the First Great Awakening, which was early America’s Christian revival movement. Furthermore, the anti-slavery gospel of the Second Great Awakening was all over the nation from around 1790 through the 1850s.
America is and always has been a Christian country, right? Therefore, if the Christian revivalists weren’t men (and women) of that slaveholding time, why weren’t those twelve presidents who led this Christian country?
Beyond the religious abolitionist movement, the secular abolitionist movement was in full effect in the 1830s, thanks to the likes of the great newspaper publisher William Lloyd Garrison. Presidents knew how to read, right?
By the way, John Adams, the second president (from 1797-1801) and his son John Quincy Adams, the sixth president (from 1825-1829), never enslaved anybody. And they certainly were men of their times. Maybe they knew slavery was, is, and forever will be evil and inhumane.
Here are the evil and inhumane 12 slaveholding presidents listed from bad to worse to worst:
12. Martin Van Buren, the eighth president, enslaved 1 but not during his presidency. By the way, that 1 escaped.
11. Ulysses S. Grant, the eighteenth president, enslaved 5 but not during his presidency. In office from 1869-1877, he was the last slaveholding president.
10. Andrew Johnson, the seventeenth president, enslaved 8 but not during his presidency. However, when he was Military Governor of Tennessee, he persuaded President Abraham Lincoln to remove that state from those subject to “Honest Abe’s” Emancipation Proclamation.
9. William Henry Harrison, the ninth president, enslaved 11 but not during his presidency. However, as Governor of the Indiana Territory, he petitioned Congress to make slavery legal there. Fortunately, he was unsuccessful.
8. James K. Polk, the eleventh president, enslaved 25 and held many of them during his presidency. He also stole much of Mexico from the Mexicans during the 1846-1848 war in which those Brown people were robbed of California and almost all of today’s Southwest.
7. John Tyler, the tenth president, enslaved 70 and held many of them during his presidency. He was a states’ rights bigot and a jingoist flag-waver who robbed Mexico of Texas in 1845.
6. James Monroe, the fifth president, enslaved 75 and held many of them during his presidency. He hated Blacks so much that he wanted them sent back to Africa. That’s why he supported the racist American Colonization Society, robbed West Africans of a large piece of coastal land in 1821, and created a colony that later became Liberia. The Liberian state of Monrovia is named after that racist thug.
5. James Madison, the fourth president, enslaved approximately 100-125 and did so during his presidency. He’s the very same guy who proposed the Constitution’s Three-Fifths Clause.
4. Zachary Taylor, the twelfth president, enslaved approximately 150 and held many of them during his presidency. During his run for president in 1849, he campaigned on and bragged about his wholesale slaughter of Brown people when he was a Major General in the Mexican-American War. And white folks in America elected him.
3. Andrew Jackson, the seventh president, enslaved 150-200 and held many of them during his presidency. By the way, Jackson, nicknamed “Indian Killer”- whom fake President Donald Trump describes as his all-time favorite- wasn’t just a brutal slaveholder. He was also a genocidal monster who was responsible for the slaughter of approximately 30,000-50,000 Red men, women, and children. Moreover, he signed the horrific Indian Removal Act of 1830 that robbed the indigenous people of 25 million acres of fertile land and doomed them and their descendants to reservation ghettos.
2. Thomas Jefferson, the third president, enslaved 267 and held many of them during his presidency. For more info about this child rapist, read my March 3 column
1. George Washington, the first president, enslaved 316 and held many of them during his presidency. For more info about the man whose teeth were “yanked from the heads of his slaves,” read my February 24 column.Post Views: 98
By Elliot Booker — 3 months ago
By Sybil C. Mitchell, The New Tri-State Defender Published January 24, 2019
On the eve of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s actual birthday (Jan. 15), allegations of counterintelligence versus arguments of unwilling victim of the FBI were passionately voiced during a discussion of Preston Lauterbach’s new book, “Bluff City: The Secret Life of Ernest Withers.”
A capacity crowd filled the book-signing space at Novel Memphis for the event that yielded riveting exchanges regarding the life and actions of Withers. The late and renowned civil rights-era photographer had pretty much unfettered access to Dr. King and movement figures national and local.
Lauterbach’s book attempts a balanced and unbiased perspective on what Withers’ legacy will be: a traitorous informant who spied for the FBI or a blackmail victim forced to do as he was told.
There is no doubt whether Withers funneled information to the FBI and was paid. But, says Lauterbach, the reasons why evolved just as the man did. It was a combination of several factors, he contends.
“Ernest Withers was a man with an extreme hustle bone,” said the author. “You have to remember that he had a wife and eight children to feed. He was paid, but Mr. Withers was doing what he needed to do to feed his family.”
Documents released after his death chronicled his secret relationship with the FBI. Those documents formed the basis for “A Spy in Canaan: How the FBI Used a Famous Photographer to Infiltrate the Civil Rights Movement,” a book by ex-newspaper investigative reporter Marc Perrusquia.
On Monday night, Lauterbach talked at length about the now iconic “I Am A Man” sign and slogan that came to embody the 1968 sanitation workers strike in Memphis and a struggle for racial equality. The famous photo that galvanized the striking workers and turned myriad eyes on Memphis showed Withers’ gift for not only framing the moment, but staging a scene.
“His motto was, ‘Pictures tell the story.’ The sticks that held the signs were used as weapons of violence in that first march. When the rioting broke out, it served the FBI’s purpose of discrediting Dr. King as a nonviolent leader and to embarrass him,” said Lauterbach.
“The Black Invaders took the blame for the violence, but they were actually there to protect Dr. King. J. Edgar Hoover needed that violence to be pinned on the Invaders. He wanted to create as much conflict between the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference]) and the black power group.
“Withers admitted buying the lumber for the sticks and the saw for the lumber,” said Lauterbach. “As the rioting began, the police swooped down on marchers with excessive force.”
A spirited exchange began between those who saw Withers’ actions as betrayal and others who leaned more sympathetically to characterize his actions.
“We marched with Dr. King. We were there,” said the Rev. Dr. L. LaSimba M. Gray Jr., pastor emeritus of New Sardis Baptist Church. “That is, perhaps, the most damnable revelation – that those sticks were made as weapons of violence.
“He could have gotten us killed. The rioting started, and the police came down in force. I’m wondering now if I might have been a target of the FBI. My family might have been put in danger.”
The Rev. Bill Adkins, pastor of Greater Imani Cathedral of Faith, recalled the day of the march.
“We were lining up for the march,” said Adkins. “And just before the march started, a pickup truck pulled up, loaded with signs. Anyone who wanted a sign could get one. After the march got started, the next thing we knew, windows were being broken, and the police moved in.
“I agree that we could have all been killed or seriously hurt. It never occurred to anyone, I’m sure, that the sticks attached to the signs were weapons of violence. These revelations are very disturbing.”
While some believe that Withers was guilty of counter-spying and working against leaders of the civil rights movement, others felt the term “informant” simply did not apply.
While the photojournalist was providing Hoover and the FBI information on everything he could, there is no proof that anyone was actually hurt by his reports, one member of the audience suggested.
“It could very well be that Withers didn’t tell the FBI anything they didn’t already know,” said Lauterbach.
“But however one sees him – as either a good man or a shadowy figure – Mr. Withers endured many trials and hardships as he recorded the movement with images that really did tell the story,” Lauterbach said.
“He was down there in Little Rock (Arkansas) when his mentor, former Tri-State Defender editor Alex Wilson, was beaten so badly that he sustained neurological damage to the head. This was a man he was very close to. Informant or not, the FBI was 100 percent the real power structure. It was Hoover who manipulated the civil rights movement. Let’s not forget, Hoover tried to make Dr. King commit suicide.
“Withers was a victim of ‘economic segregation.’ With a wife and eight children, he must have felt the pressure of financial hardship.”
Lauterbach explained that Withers “might not have seen himself as an informant.”
Adkins wasn’t buying that.
“Mr. Withers took photos of everything, including strategy meetings and closed sessions where we planned every move,” said Adkins. “Nobody put Mr. Withers out of those meetings. He was constantly moving around taking photos of everyone.
“We had no idea he was cooperating with the FBI. There is no way he didn’t know that he was acting as an informant and betraying the movement.”
Lauterbach countered with the argument that Withers was a conservative and concerned about the communist leanings and anti-war sentiment that was ever-growing.
“He may not have felt he could do anything other than what he was doing – reporting the actions of civil rights leaders to the FBI,” said Lauterbach.
“There are facts to support both sides – that Mr. Withers became an FBI informant for money, or he felt it was something he had to do to care for his family,” said Lauterbach. “Readers are left to make their own conclusions.”
Asked whether Withers had any regrets in his latter years, Lauterbach said he believes so, pointing to this reflection attributed to Withers:
“I was the cause of those signs being used as clubs. I bought the lumber and the saw to cut that lumber. I started the violence. People were hurt by the police and attacked with tear gas and billy clubs.”Post Views: 179