WE MUST NEVER FORGET!!!
PRAISE OUR TRIUMPHS…..LEARN FROM OUR ERRORS!
The Afro-American Council (AAC) was established in Rochester, New York, in September 1898 by newspaper editor T. Thomas Fortune and Bishop Alexander Walters of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. They envisioned the organization as a revival of the earlier National Afro-American League (NAAL), which in 1890 became the first national black organization specifically created to challenge racial segregation and discrimination. By the mid-1890s the NAAL dissolved as conditions facing Southern African Americans continued to worsen. The AAC proposed to take up the goals of the defunct NAAL. Like its predecessor, the AAC opposed lynching, disfranchisement of black voters, and racial discrimination against all African Americans.
The immediate impetus for the AAC was the brutal murder of African American postmaster Frazier B. Baker in Lake City, South Carolina by a white mob. In response to the incident, Fortune and Walters called for a number of black leaders to meet at Rochester to dedicate a statue of Frederick Douglass, the city’s most prominent African American resident, and to remain there to create the Afro-American Council.
With the inclusion of a broader spectrum of black leaders including journalists, attorneys, educators, politicians and community activists, the AAC was both more representative of the larger black middle class and better positioned to generate funds to support its activities. Bishop Walters of Washington, D.C., was its first president. Other officers included Ida B. Wells of Chicago as secretary and John C. Dancy of North Carolina as Vice President. Representative George Henry White of North Carolina, the only black member of Congress at the time, was later a vice president of the organization. Other prominent members included Mary Church Terrell, W.E.B. DuBois, former Louisiana governor Pinckney B.S. Pinchback, Professor William S. Scarborough, Henry O. Flipper, the first black West Point graduate, and Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee Institute.
The AAC was notable in that it was one of the first black organizations to welcome women as equal members. The organization also was the first black group to meet regularly with a U.S. President. It met with President William McKinley each year between 1898 and 1901. The AAC lobbied for the passage of a federal anti-lynching law and raised funds to challenge the Louisiana constitution’s “grandfather clause” which effectively eliminated black voting in the state.
Despite its goal of having African America speak with one voice on politics (black Republicans and Democrats joined the AAC), the organization eventually divided into pro- and anti- Booker T. Washington factions. By 1902 Washington supporters dominated the Council and three years later most of the anti-Washington Council members including DuBois, Wells, Terrell, and Bishop Walters left to form the Niagara Movement. The AAC held its final meeting in Baltimore in 1907.
Although the AAC was torn by factionalism and achieved few successes, it laid the groundwork for independent black political action in an era of racial segregation and helped train some of the nation’s most prominent black activists who would go on to create the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909.
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Not many people know that after the O.J. Simpson case, Johnnie Cochran spent much of his time preparing for a case, collecting historical data, information, and studying cases to sue the U.S. government for Reparations for Africans in America.
A powerful group of civil rights and class-action lawyers who have won billions of dollars in court is preparing a lawsuit seeking reparations for American blacks descended from slaves.
The project, called the Reparations Assessment Group, was confirmed by Harvard law professor Charles J. Ogletree and appears to be the most serious effort yet to get American blacks compensated for more than 240 years of legalized slavery. Lawsuits and legislation dating back to the mid-1800s have gone nowhere.
“We will be seeking more than just monetary compensation,” Ogletree said. “We want a change in America. We want full recognition and a remedy of how slavery stigmatized, raped, murdered and exploited millions of Africans through no fault of their own.”
Ogletree said the group, which includes famed attorney Johnnie Cochran, first met in July and will hold its fourth meeting in Washington D.C. later this month.
“This country has never dealt with slavery. It is America’s nightmare. A political solution would be the most sensible but I don’t have a lot of faith that’s going to happen. So we need to look aggressively at the legal alternative,” Ogletree said.
For now, there are more questions than answers in the planned litigation. Left to be determined are when the suit will be filed, exactly who will be named as defendants and what damages will be sought.
Ogletree declined to discuss specifics but said the federal government, state governments and private entities such as corporations and institutions that benefited from slave labor could be targets of the legal action.
“Both public and private parties will be the subject of our efforts,” he said.
Ogletree said the Reparation Assessment Group includes attorneys Cochran and Alexander J. Pires Jr., who won a $1 billion settlement for black farmers who claimed discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Richard Scruggs, who won the $368.5 billion settlement for states against tobacco companies; Dennis C. Sweet III, who won a $400 million settlement in the “phen-fen” diet drug case; and Willie E. Gary, who won a $500 million judgment against the Loewen Group Inc., the world’s largest funeral home operators.
Also in the group is Randall Robinson, president of the TransAfrica Forum, a think tank specializing in African, Caribbean and African-American issues. Robinson recently wrote the book “The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks,” which argues for reparations.
“This will be the most important case in the history of our country,” Pires said Friday. “We all agree the suit has to tell the story of what slavery has done to blacks in America …
“We are still suffering from slavery’s impacts today,” Pires said.
Ogletree said the assessment group will call on experts in education, politics, family development, health and economics to help trace how slavery’s outgrowths such as segregated schooling and neighborhoods have affected society today.
Enslavement of Africans in America began in the 1600s. A slave sale was recorded in 1619 in Jamestown, Va. The “peculiar institution” helped to fuel the prosperity of the young nation, while also dividing it. Slavery was not officially abolished in the United States until the 13th amendment was ratified, in 1865.
Reparation supporters point to recent cases where groups have been compensated in cash for historic indignities and harm.
A letter of formal apology and $20,000 were given by the U.S. government to each Japanese-American held in internment camps during World War II.
Austria last week established a $380 million fund to compensate tens of thousands of Nazi-era slave laborers who were born in six eastern European countries.
Reparation opponents argue that victims in the Nazi and Japanese-American cases were directly harmed while many generations separate enslaved blacks and their modern-day descendants.
In addition, those opposed to reparations say it isn’t fair for taxpayers and corporations who never owned slaves to be burdened with possible multibillion dollar settlements.
Neither Ogletree nor Pires mentioned any industry or company that could be a target of the suit.
But Pires said there were overlaps between the slavery of past centuries and today’s corporations. He noted that Aetna Inc., the nation’s largest health insurer, apologized earlier this year for selling policies in the 1850s that reimbursed slave owners for financial losses when their slaves died.
In July, The Hartford (Conn.) Courant newspaper published a front-page apology for running ads for slave sales and the recapture of runaways in the 1700s and 1800s. Such advertisements were commonplace in many newspapers until the Civil War.
Pires was one of the lawyers in the assessment group who discussed reparations in the November issue of Harper’s magazine.
Pires said he believes that any monetary settlement or damage figure should be among the last items discussed as the suit takes shape. He said it is more important to tell the story to all Americans of what slavery did to the country “and let people decide what should be done to repay.”
“Most people,” he said, “don’t like having dirt on their hands.”
By Paul Shepard
AP National Writer
Saturday, Nov. 4, 2000Post Views: 752
JOSEPH BLACKBURN BASS 1863 – 1934
Joseph Bass was born in 1863. He was an African American teacher, businessman and newspaper editor.
From Jefferson City, Missouri, Joseph Blackburn Bass taught school for seven years but in 1894, William Pope, editor of the Topeka Call offered him the job of newspaperman. In 1896, Pope died, and Joseph Bass became owner, publisher, and editor. In 1898, Nick Chiles purchased the newspaper and changed the name to The Topeka Plaindealer. J.B. Bass worked as Chile’s associate until 1905 when he moved to Helena, Montana to establish The Montana Plaindealer. Bass wrote, edited, and published the Plaindealer at 17 South Main Street in Helena, aided by an assistant, Joseph Tucker, from March 1906 to September 1911. An activist and promoter of civic organizations, Bass embraced progressive political goals and urged Helena’s sizable African American population—more than 450 in 1910—to be entrepreneurial and engage in cultural uplift. In 1906, Bass helped organize the St. James Literary Society, based in the St. James AME Zion Church. Three years later, Bass spearheaded the Afro-American Protective League, an ambitious statewide organization that meant to defend African Americans in Montana from racism. The group lasted only a few months, but Bass had established himself as a community leader. Two years earlier, in 1907, he helped organize a Helena chapter of Booker T. Washington’s National Negro Business League, which included more than a dozen businesses in town, and in 1908 Bass created the Afro-American Building Association, a self-help group of African American real estate owners in Helena.
In 1911, he went to San Francisco for one year, then on to Los Angeles for a brief visit around October 1912. J.B. Bass decided to stay and in late 1912 he paid a visit to the California Eagle, which was on 1328 Central in L.A. In 1913, Charlotta Spear hired J.B. Bass to do a limited amount of newspaper work, including running the newspaper for two weeks while she traveled north. At the end of 1913, she offered Bass the position of editor of the Eagle, they married in August 1914.. Joseph Bass held that position until his death in 1934.
An excerpt from Charlotta Bass’s column, “On the Sidewalk,” dated April 2, 1937, reads: “My last visit Sunday was to the grave of the late editor of this paper, J.B. Bass. I did not lay a large bouquet upon the grave of him who sleeps beneath, but gardenias three in number, with their fragrance mild but sweet, conveying a message I cannot here repeat.”
“Together we started,
“Together we parted,
“He sleeps, and I go on with the task, he would have me complete.
“Fellow traveler, I do not ask for a lift–
“I can carry my load.
“I only ask that you do not block my path.”
Black Past,Joseph Bass
CHARLOTTA A. BASS 1874 – 1969
Was an African American educator, newspaper publisher-editor, and civil rights activist. Bass was probably the first African-American woman to own and operate a newspaper in the United States; she published the California Eagle from 1912 until 1951. She used her influence as the publisher of a newspaper to uncover injustice and fight for civil rights.
Bass was born Charlotta Amanda Spears in October of 1880 in Sumter, South Carolina. She was the sixth of 11 children between Hiram and Kate Spears, but very little is known about her parents or her early life. Bass moved to Rhode Island soon after graduating from high school, and found work selling ads and doing odd jobs at a newspaper. She grasped the nuances of the business over 10 years of employment at the Providence Watchman. After moving to Los Angeles, California, in 1910, she found work selling subscriptions to the African American newspaper the Eagle.
Two years later, the Eagle’s publisher, J.J. Neimore, took ill and asked Bass to take over the operation of the paper upon his death. The surprise bequest made Bass the first African American woman to run a newspaper in the United States. However, the Eagle was in dire financial straits when she finally assumed the role of editor and publisher. Determined to correct the paper’s course, Bass changed the name to the California Eagle, and began hiring staff that were less interested in society reporting and more dedicated to reporting on the issues of the day. In 1912, she hired Joseph Blackburn Bass to be the paper’s editor. Bass had been one of the founders of the Topeka Plaindealer. He shared his concern with Spears about the injustice and racial discrimination in society. He eventually became Bass’ husband and they ran the newspaper together.
By 1915, the paper was staking out firm political stances. Bass ran editorials denouncing D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation, a film that many found offensive for its glorification of the Ku Klux Klan and ideas of white supremacy. Bass’ protest motivated African American newspapers around the country to join her in condemning the film. When she realized the true scope of influence the media possessed, Bass redoubled her efforts to use the Eagle as a tool to fight for the rights of African Americans. The paper tackled issues such as fair access to housing, segregated schools, and illegal hiring practices by corporations. The Basses powerfully championed the black soldiers of the Twenty-Fourth Infantry who were unjustly sentenced in the 1917 Houston race riot. They also covered the case and supported the “Scottsboro boy,” nine young men who were framed and convicted of rape in Scottsboro, Alabama in 1931.
During the 1920s, Bass became co-president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, founded by Marcus Garvey. Bass formed the Home Protective Association to defeat housing covenants in all-white neighborhoods. She helped found the Industrial Business Council, which fought discrimination in employment practices and encouraged black people to go into business. As editor and publisher of the California Eagle, the oldest black newspaper on the West Coast, Charlotta Bass fought against restrictive covenants in housing and segregated schools in Los Angeles. She campaigned to end job discrimination at the Los Angeles General Hospital, the Los Angeles Rapid Transit Company, the Southern Telephone Company, and the Boulder Dam Project.
By the mid-1930s, the Eagle was in solid financial shape, and with a circulation of 60,000, was the largest African American newspaper on the west coast. Her husband’s death in 1934 was an emotional blow to Bass, and a key transitional point in her life. When she recovered from grieving, she began to dedicate herself to political activism beyond the newspaper. Bass worked diligently on the “Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work” campaign that urged African Americans to take a personal stand against discriminatory hiring practices, and only spend their money at businesses that hired, or were run by, African Americans. Soon, she began to consider the possibility of running for public office.
After rallying a group of black leaders in a battle against Los Angeles mayor Fletcher Bowron, Bass became convinced that politicians were not representing the issues that were important to the people. Although her group was successful in pressuring Bowron’s office to expand its Committee on American Unity, none of its other demands related to racism and discrimination were addressed. In 1945, Bass ran for Los Angeles City Council, and in 1950, became the Progressive Party’s candidate for state senate. She didn’t win either race, but gained a taste for politics and a platform for voicing ideas provided by political debate among candidates.
Because Bass’ political rhetoric was decidedly leftist as the United States entered the McCarthy era, and as suspicions toward communists, intellectuals, and activists reached a fever pitch, she found herself under surveillance by the FBI. In 1950, she was called before the California Legislature’s Joint Fact-Finding Committee on un-American Activities. Though neither Bass nor her paper were found guilty of any wrongdoing, she was subjected to surveillance for the remainder of her life. This did little to slow her political ambitions, however, and in 1951, after nearly 40 years as the managing editor and publisher of the Eagle, Bass sold the paper and began preparations for what would be her greatest challenge. Bass served in 1952 as the National Chairman of the Sojourners for Truth and Justice, an organization of black women set up to protest racial violence in the South. Also In 1952, she ran for vice president of the United States on the Progressive Party ticket with Vincent Hallinan. She did not aspire to win, but rather to broadcast her views into a more public and national forum with a motto of “Win or lose, we win by raising the issues.” The bid for the vice presidency made Bass the first African American woman to run for a national office.
Despite her splashy appearance on the national stage, Bass continued to be dedicated to political work in and around Los Angeles throughout the remainder of her life. She never saw the city become the place of racial harmony that she envisioned, but during Bass’ life, Los Angeles was one of the most progressive cities in the United States, due in great part to her own efforts. When Bass moved just outside of Los Angeles in 1960, to Lake Elsinore, she opened her own garage as a community center and reading room. She hosted voter registration drives and became a regular participant at local protests against South African apartheid policies and on behalf of prisoners’ rights.
Throughout her journalistic and political careers Bass fought for the rights of African Americans across a range of practical issues. In the course of her work, she befriended the famous activists Paul Robeson and W.E.B. Du Bois. Although Bass never was elected to public office, she was successful in her attempts to galvanize national energy around discrimination and civil rights.
In 1966, Bass suffered a stroke that confined her to a convalescent home. On April 12, 1969, she suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died in Los Angeles. She is buried alongside her husband in Evergreen Cemetery, East Los Angeles, California.
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In a country where our ancestors were brought here as kidnapped captives, it’s important to know the stories that show the strength, courage, spirituality, of our forefathers. We live in a multimedia driven world, and images are important. That’s why from its early inception to now, images of Black people has always been negative, and very limited in the amount of stories or non-fictional accounts that show that show Black people taking control of their situations, or rebellions. A recent example is “The Birth of a Nation”, the story centering around the life of Nat Turner, and the story of the Haitian Revolution and the lives of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Dutty Boukman, Toussaint Louverture, the project that Danny Glover has been working on and finding difficult. These and other stories need to be told and discussed, by our adults, then with our children. Stories of Black men and women fighting for FREEDOM, not equality, there’s a difference. Read and share the story below, and leave your comments.
WE MUST NEVER FORGET!!!
MILLIKEN’S BEND JUNE 7th 1863
LINCOLN’S PROCLAMATION NEVER FREED ANYONE, OUR ANCESTOR’S ACTED AGAINST WHITE SOUTHERNERS TO SECURE THEIR OWN FREEDOM!
One of the fiercest battles of the Civil War was fought in Milliken’s Bend, Louisiana between Confederate troops and black regiments of the Union Army. Most of the black infantry had minimal training, were outnumbered and ill-equipped. Nevertheless, in close hand-to-hand combat, they defeating Confederate soldiers at Milliken’s Bend, in the critical battle for Vicksburg.
In most cases, these Black troops were allowed only two to three weeks of military training before being thrown into battle against the war-tested Confederate veterans and their vicious and spiteful commanders. Black men faced a peril unknown to their white soldier’s on the Union side. Slaves one day, soldiers fighting against their former masters the next, these black men excited the wrath and contempt of the vicious Confederate generals like Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest and Pierre Beauregard, the man who started the war at Fort Sumter, South Carolina on April 15, 1861. Black men falling into the hands of such generals were either put to death immediately or returned to slavery, rather than being accorded the status of prisoners of war.
The men who fought at Milliken’s Bend were literally fresh off the plantation, and none had been in the service for more than a month when the battle occurred. Some had just entered the service days before, and had not even been issued weapons. A significant factor in the battle was the lack of training of Union troops. Even the white officers were learning their new duties. Even without the pressure of a Confederate attack, the Union forces were undermanned and in disarray.
The fact that these men managed to fight at all is something of a small miracle. That they fought well, with minimal training and poor weaponry – and in fact, earned praise from the Confederate commander – makes their attempt to stand at Milliken’s Bend significant.
Confederate Lt. Gen. John C. Pemberton and his army were besieged in Vicksburg, Mississippi, by Union commander Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Tennessee.
In an effort to cut Grant’s supply line and relieve the city, the Confederates attacked the Union supply area at Milliken’s Bend up the Mississippi. The Milliken’s Bend area, 15 miles to the northwest of Vicksburg, had until recently served as a staging area for Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign. It was a site of supply depots and hospitals, many of which were manned and guarded by black soldiers, some of whom were recently recruited men who were freed slaves. At Milliken’s Bend were 1410 soldiers, only 160 of them white (i.e., the 23rd Iowa regiment). The rest were three newly recruited Black Regiments—The First Mississippi (African Descent) and the Ninth and Eleventh Louisiana (Corps d Afrique, or African Corps). They were attacked here on June 7, about 8 o’clock in the morning, outnumbered by a brigade of Confederate troops, about 2,500 in number. In one of the bloodiest battles of the war, African American troops engaged attacking Confederates in fierce hand-to-hand combat, fighting with bayonets, fists, and rifle butts, or firing their weapons at extremely close range.
Brigadier General Henry McCullough, who commanded the Confederate forces, later noted that his
“charge was resisted by the negro portion of the enemy’s force with considerable obstinacy, while the white or true Yankee position ran like whipped curs almost as soon as the charge was ordered.”
The African American troops paid dearly for their bravery. Heaviest hit was the 9th Louisiana Infantry. Almost 45 percent of the unit’s men were killed or mortally wounded — the highest percentage of a regiment killed in a single battle in the entire war. Finally, with their backs to the Mississippi, they received the support of a Navy gunboat, and their line held.
Absent from the schoolbooks and television miniseries about the Civil War, however, are those truly great battles fought and won by the Black volunteers in Mississippi and Louisiana and elsewhere in the South. In most cases, these Black troops were allowed only two to three weeks of military training before being thrown into battle against the war-tested Confederate veterans and their vicious and spiteful commanders. Today Milliken’s Bend lies largely forgotten, Neither Ulysses Grant nor William Sherman gave Milliken’s Bend much attention in their autobiographies. Grant gave perfunctory acknowledgement to the black troops in saying that this was the first real test of black troops in combat. And that they had passed the test quite admirably. Yet, only six-months before Grant’s crossing of the River south of Vicksburg, near Port Gibson, Milliken’s Bend had served as his main base of operations. As late as January 20,1863, he had tried to launch an assault against Vicksburg from Milliken’s Bend and Young’s Point, 11 miles to the south, but his forces were repulsed savagely at Chickasaw Bayou north of Vicksburg.
A letter from Captain M. M. Miller at MILLIKEN’S BEND to his aunt stated:
I never felt more grieved and sick at heart than when I saw how my brave soldiers had been slaughtered, one with six wounds, all the rest with two or three, none less than two wounds. Two of my colored sergeants were killed, both brave, noble men; always prompt, vigilant, and ready for the fray. I never more wish to hear the expression, “The niggers wont fight.” Come with me 100 yards from where I sit and I can show you the wounds that cover the bodies of brave, loyal, and patriotic soldiers as ever drew bead on a rebel.
‘The enemy charged us so close that we fought with our bayonets hand to hand. I have six broken bayonets to show how bravely my men fought. The Twenty-third Iowa joined my company on the right, and I declare truthfully that they had all fled before our regiment fell back, as we were all compelled to do.
‘Under command of Colonel Page I led the Ninth and Eleventh Louisiana when the rifle-pits were retaken and held by our troops, our two regiments doing the work.
‘I narrowly escaped death once. A rebel took deliberate [aim] at me with both barrels of his gun, and the bullets passed so close to me that the powder that remained on them burned my cheek. Three of my men who saw him aim and fire thought that he wounded me each fire. One of them was killed by my side, and he fell on me, covering my clothes with his blood, and before the rebel could fire again I blew his brains out with my gun.
‘It was a horrible fight, the worst I was ever engaged in, not even excepting Shiloh. The enemy cried, “No quarters,” but some of them were very glad to take it when made prisoners.
‘Colonel Allen, of the seventeenth Texas, was killed in front of our regiment, and Brigadier General Walker was wounded. We killed about 180 of the enemy. The gun-boat Choctaw did good service shelling them. I stood on the breast-works after we took them, and gave the elevations and direction for the gun-boat by pointing my sword, and they sent a shell right into their midst, which sent them in all directions. Three shells fell there and 62 rebels lay there when the fight was over.
‘My wound is not serious, but troublesome. What few men I have left seem to think much of me because I stood up with them in the fight. I can say for them that I never saw a braver company of men in my life.
‘Not one of them offered to leave his place until ordered to fall back; in fact, very few ever did fall back. I went down to the hospital three miles today to see the wounded. Nine of them were there, two having died of their wounds. A boy I had cooking for me came and begged a gun when the rebels were advancing, and took his place with the company, and when we retook the breast-works I found him badly wounded with one gunshot and two bayonet wounds. A new recruit I had issued a gun to the day before the fight was found dead, with a firm grasp on his gun, the bayonet of which was broken in three pieces So they fought and died defending the cause that we revere. They met death coolly, bravely; not rashly did they expose themselves, but all were steady and obedient to orders.
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