Time for an Awakening with Bro. Elliott, 09/16/18 guest Activist Amani Sawari

“Time For An Awakening” for Sunday 9/16/2018 at 7:00 PM (EST) our guest was Activist, Amani Sawari. We’ll talked with our guest Ms. Sawari, about the Prison Strike which is set to ended on Sept 9th, and get her assessments and perspectives from the people held in captivity.

Next year marks 400 years since first African slaves arrived in Virginia


Slavery museum exhibit



Exhibition at the Hampton History Museum.

The first documented Africans to arrive in the English-speaking colony of what would become Virginia, arrived in August 1619 on the “White Lion,” a Dutch man-of-war ship carrying enslaved cargo from the West Coast of Africa.

The arrival of the ship was reported by colonist John Rolfe who wrote: “About the latter end of August, a Dutch man of Warr of the burden of a 160 tunnes arrived at Point-Comfort, the Commandors name Capt. Jope. He brought not any thing but 20 And odd Negroes, w(hich) the Governo(r) and Cape Merchant bought for victuals.”

The “20 and odd Negroes” had been captured in 1619 from “the Kingdom of Ndongo” in Angola. They were packed with more than 350 enslaved Africans aboard the Sao Joao Baustista, a Portuguese slave ship that set sail from the coast of Africa, bound for Vera Cruz, on the coast of Mexico.

“The ship was overcrowded,” said James Horn, the historian who serves as the president of the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation. “It suffered horrible mortality on the voyage to Vera Cruz.”

And in the middle of the voyage on the high seas, the ship was attacked by two English pirate ships — the Treasurer and the White Lion — hoping to steal gold. Instead, they found human cargo.

The English boarded the ship and split the human cargo between the White Lion and the Treasurer. Weeks later, the White Lion arrived at Point Comfort in Virginia, where its captain traded the enslaved people for food.

Among those traded were a man and woman who were later named Antoney and Isabella and whose baby would become the first documented African baby baptized in English North America.

“Antoney Negro and Isabell Negro and William theire[sic] child baptised [sic]” are listed in the 1624 census in Virginia, becoming the first African family recorded in the colony.

That baby was named William Tucker, though not many more details about his life are known.

Telling the history

On Friday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and other state officials visited the cemetery where it is believed the descendants of William Tucker are buried.

Next year, Virginia will commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans in English North America, who arrived on the slave ship that docked near the seawall of Old Point Comfort —now Fort Monroe — in Hampton Roads Harbor.

What followed was more than two centuries of brutal enslavement. By the time the Civil War began in 1860, census figures showed the slave population in the United States at nearly 4 million.

State planners commemorating 1619 with “American Evolution: Virginia to America 1619-2019,” have made a deliberate effort to be more inclusive in telling the history of the early colonists and Native Americans in Virginia.

“In 2019, we have the opportunity to move forward in appreciating the merging of African, English and Native American history in the Jamestown region,” said Kym Hall, superintendent of the Colonial National Historical Park. “We want people of all backgrounds to see themselves having a history here.

“This is ground zero of what we know became a codified history of slavery and the slave trade,” Hall said.

The Tucker family cemetery, a two-acre site, sits in the historic African-American neighborhood of Aberdeen Gardens in Hampton. The cemetery has more than 104 markers, with burials dating to the 1800s.

“It’s a historic moment for us,” said Verrandall Tucker, 59, a descendant of William Tucker.

His cousin, Walter Jones, 62, said the family believes William Tucker lived at Captain William Tucker’s plantation. “This is the closest cemetery to that plantation,” Jones said. “We did research and found we’re direct descendants of William Tucker. Based on the 19 servants who first came. All of that has been documented.”

English ships first landed in what is now Virginia in April 1607. The English, according to the Hampton History Museum, feared a Spanish attack at sea and sailed farther up the James River, where they established what would be known as Jamestown.

Kristopher Peters, museum educator at the Hampton History Museum, said the story of the first Africans is still being pieced together. Much of what historians know about the first Africans in the English colonies was discovered about 20 years ago, when Spain opened its archives to researchers.

The English-built galleons that attacked the slave merchant ship Sao Joao Bautista were the fastest ships in the world at the time, with superior fire power.

“In a matter of hours,” Peters said, “they subdue the Spanish ship, come aboard and find no gold and silver. Instead they find African slaves down inside.

“Now they have a problem. They have paid a lot of money to outfit this ship and come over here. They cannot return empty handed. They don’t have the provisions to do that. They take 50 or 60 of these Africans, put them on these two ships, divide them in half and they will come to the nearest English port, which happens to be Virginia, specifically Port Comfort.”

Antoney and Isabell

Antoney and Isabell appear in the Virginia census of Feb. 16, 1624, when Captain William Tucker, a slave owner in Elizabeth City County, lists them as part of his household. A year later, Isabell and Antoney are listed in “the muster of 1625” as: “Antoney Negro, Isabell Negro.” Then he added the name of “William, theire child, baptised.”

The first documented African child in the English colony of North America may have been born on Tucker’s plantation near the Hampton River. It is possible that he was baptized in a church in what was then an area where the Kecoughtan tribe settled.

Weeks after the White Lion arrived, the Treasurer docked in Virginia with more Africans. One of the earliest black women documented in the English colony arrived on the Treasurer. She would be called Angela.

“She is the only woman listed,” said Cassandra Newby-Alexander, professor of history at Norfolk State University and author of the book, “An African American History of the Civil War in Hampton Roads.”

Angela most likely came from the Kingdom of Ndongo, where the Portuguese created a fort that later became the Colony of Angola.

“Once the Trans-Atlantic slave trade was established, they would pay mercenaries to go out and seize prisoners of war,” Newby-Alexander said. “They would then enslave them and sell the prisoners through the slave trade.”

In Jamestown, Angela became a servant in the household of Capt. William Pierce, who would serve as lieutenant governor of Virginia.

An archeological dig is underway in Jamestown to find out more about the first Africans. And researchers are trying to find more about Angela.

“How old was she when she died. Did she have a child? What did she die of?” Newby-Alexander said. “We will know more about this person if they find any remains. And we can reclaim her humanity and so many Africans who were brought to the colony and were among that first generation of Africans who helped create America.”


“Time for an Awakening” with Bro. Elliott 8-19-18 guest Reginald Moore and Sam Collins III

“Time For An Awakening” for Sunday 8/19/2018 at 7:00 PM (EST) 6:00 PM (CST) our guests was Texas Activists, Historians, Reginald Moore and Sam Collins II. The discussion centered around three decades of work by Mr. Moore lead to one of the discoveries of 95 bodies of our ancestors buried in a mass grave in Sugarland Texas.  We talked with the founder of the Texas Slave Descendants Society, Mr. Moore, about his efforts to uncover the brutality of the State sanctioned convict leasing and forced labor system (SLAVERY)! Also Mr. Sam Collins joined the conversation to talk about their collaborative efforts to preserve and protect some of our ancestors of legend,and locations in the state of Texas.

Black Iran: The Forgotten Legacy of Enslaved Africans in Persia Is Being Resurrected

Slaves who were not eunuchs were sometimes assigned to the armies of the Qajar elites. The 14 pictured here belonged to Qajar prince Zell-e-Soltan, Ghameshlou, Isfahan, 1904. Photograph: Zell-e-Soltan/Modern Conflict Archive, London, UK
Slaves who were not eunuchs were sometimes assigned to the armies of the Qajar elites. The 14 pictured here belonged to Qajar prince Zell-e-Soltan, Ghameshlou, Isfahan, 1904. Photograph: Zell-e-Soltan/Modern Conflict Archive, London, UK
Although Iran receives attention these days for a number of things, including the nuclear deal it reached with the U.S. and other nations, there are other aspects to the nation and its history that have remained elusive. Take, for instance, the history of Africans in Iran.  Slavery had existed in the country for hundreds of years, and yet Iranians have not come to terms with their past, if they understand it at all.

One scholar has amassed a collection of photographs and texts that  provide a narrative of the story of Black people in Persia, as the Guardian reports.  Anthropologist Pedram Khosronejad, who is the Farzaneh Family Scholar for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies at  Oklahoma State University, has devoted his attention to the issue of slavery in Iran since the late 1990s, after studying the traditional clothing of Afro-Iranians.

 In this staged photo taken by Zell-e Soltan at his summer hunting palace near Isfahan, one of his African slaves holds his son. According to the caption, the infant (Iqbal) is the real son of the adult African slave, Haji Yaqut Khan, suggesting he wasn’t a eunuch and could father his own children. The caption says that Yaqut Khan is in his ethnic clothes (languteh), which was mainly worn by Africans outside of Iran. Photograph: Zell-e-Soltan/Modern Conflict Archive, London, UK
In this staged photo taken by Zell-e Soltan at his summer hunting palace near Isfahan, one of his enslaved Africans holds his son. According to the caption, the infant (Iqbal) is the real son of the adult enslaved person, Haji Yaqut Khan, suggesting he wasn’t a eunuch and could father his own children. The caption says that Yaqut Khan is in his ethnic clothes (languteh), which was mainly worn by Africans outside of Iran. Photograph: Zell-e-Soltan/Modern Conflict Archive, London, UK

The history of Black people in Persia reaches back to the ninth century, and the Persian Gulf slave trade has ancient origins. Most Afro-Iranians emerged in Iran through the Indian Ocean slave trade, which included a trade route between East Africa and the Middle East.  Enslaved Africans worked as soldiers, bodyguards, eunuchs and servants to households of the wealthy.  The enslavement of African people continued until 1928, when Iran abolished the practice.  According to the Ajam Media Collective, although Afro-Iranians were scattered throughout the country, many settled in the Southern region bordering the Persian Gulf following emancipation.

Haji Firuz—the Santa Claus-type figure that is an icon of the Persian New Year—is a jovial, red robed, minstrel-type figure who provides people with holiday wishes.  And he is depicted in blackface and was intended to be a slave.  But the topic of slavery in Iran is an invisible and sensitive one, the Guardian reports, given the lack of research on the subject.

“There are some Qajar families who have issues with the term ‘slave’,” Khosronejad noted, referring to the ruling dynasty in Iran from 1794 until 1925. “They say what their families had were domestic servants and they were not treated as slaves. This might be correct, but slavery is slavery and we should be able to talk about it openly.”

Khosronejad has collected 400 photos depicting Afro-Iranian slaves and servants, which he plans to compile into a book and a series of exhibitions.

From the Afro-Iran series by Mahdi Ehsaei (Copyright: Mahdi Ehsaei)
From the Afro-Iran series by Mahdi Ehsaei (Copyright: Mahdi Ehsaei)

Meanwhile, Iranian-German photographer Mahdi Ehsaei has chronicled the lives of Afro-Iranians in the present day through beautiful photographs of a community that is little known, as Muftah reports.  Ehsaei has published a photo-book called Afro-Iran – a historical and cultural exploration of the African presence in Iran.  The photographer reflected on his project:

The Hormozgan province in the Persian Gulf is a traditional and historical region with a diverse and unexplored population. It is framed with unique landscapes and people with profound personalities. Iranians, who still have African blood in them and continue their African heritage with their clothing style, their music, their dance and their oral traditions and rituals.

From the Afro-Iran series by Mahdi Ehsaei (Copyright: Mahdi Ehsaei)
From the Afro-Iran series by Mahdi Ehsaei (Copyright: Mahdi Ehsael

The resulting portraits reveal new facets and unfamiliar faces, which are not typical for the common picture of Iran. They show details documenting the centuries-long history of this ethnic minority. A confrontation between the Persian culture and the, for Iran unusual, African consciousness.

Efforts to unlock the history and present realities of Black people in Iran will hopefully lead to a greater understanding of this often-neglected and forgotten minority

There Are More Black Catholics in the U.S. Than Members of the A.M.E. Church


Emma Green

How black Americans defy religious stereotypes—and navigate race relations in historically white, European spaces.


In the wake of this summer’s white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops decided to create a new, ad hoc committee against racism. According to Anthea Butler, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, it is the U.S. Church’s first major effort to deal with race since 1979.

This is an appropriate moment for the Church to confront this issue. In August, The Washington Post reported that an Arlington, Virginia, priest named William Aitcheson had been arrested in the ’70s for burning crosses and threatening African American and Jewish families as a member of the Ku Klux Klan—and he never paid restitution or apologized to the victims. More broadly, the Church is increasingly experiencing divisions over politics along racial lines: In the 2016 election, 56 percent of white Catholics voted for Trump, compared to only 19 percent of Hispanic Catholics, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

But racial struggles in the Catholic Church are not just about white versus black or white versus Hispanic. Many black Catholics have struggled over their identity in the Church, writes Matthew Cressler, an assistant professor of religious studies at the College of Charleston, in his new book, Authentically Black and Truly Catholic. In the mid-20th century, the big question was how to reconcile the universal message of a Church that claims to transcend race with evidence that it is a “white racist institution,” as activists put it.

This struggle to be “authentically black and truly Catholic” took many forms, Cressler writes. Some African Americans were attracted to the quiet formality of a traditional mass. Others found ways to incorporate African iconography into church spaces: At one “Black Unity Mass” in 1969, Chicago priests stood before an altar draped in a tiger skin and decorated with an African shield.

Cressler’s goal, he said, is to show the diversity of black religious experience in America—including upending stereotypes about what it means to be Catholic, and what it means to be black. Our conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Emma Green: You write that Americans tend to see Catholicism as a historically white religion. How did that come to be?Matthew Cressler: When I tell people that I study black Catholics, most kind of blink their eyes and go, “What?” We assume Catholicism is European in its essence, and that black people are Protestants. But the majority of black Christians in the Western hemisphere are actually Catholic, and the majority of Catholics in the Western hemisphere and the Americas are not white.

The first black Catholics came to the Americas when the first Catholics came, in the 16th century. But you also have this explosion of black Catholic conversions as African Americans encounter white European Catholics during the Great Migration.

Green: I’m interested in the power dynamics of this encounter. What were race relations among Catholics like during and after the Great Migration?

Cressler: “Tension” is a good word. “Conflict” is a good word. African Americans come to Chicago and other dominantly Catholic cities in large numbers. Neighborhoods that were once white and Catholic become largely black and non-Catholic fairly quickly. White Catholic priests, sisters, and laypeople could leave these big churches behind. They can try to keep black migrants out of their churches—and there’s a movement to do that, where white priests are at the forefront of resistance to black migration.

But the people I focus on are these white missionaries who say, “We have to convert these non-Catholics to Catholicism and save our parishes by filling the pews with black converts.”

“What you’ve been doing is training us to be Irish Catholics and German Catholics.”

Green: After this first wave of conversions, there’s a backlash—a movement to recognize the Catholic Church as a “white, racist institution” and create authentically black communities. You almost describe it as a bid to take ownership of traditionally white spaces.

What’s behind this?

Cressler: When white missionaries are introducing Catholicism to migrants, they don’t think they’re introducing them to white Catholicism or Irish Catholicism. They think they’re introducing the one, true, universal Church that transcends race. And the majority of black converts to Catholicism—that’s how they understand it as well.

Over the course of the 1960s, with the rise of the Black Power movement, a small but growing group of black Catholic activists start to look critically at this history and say, “Well, actually, you’ve been telling us that the Catholic Church is universal. But what you’ve been doing is training us to be Irish Catholics and German Catholics.”

Green: This sets up a key identity struggle between a universalistic notion of the Catholic Church and a yearning for a distinctive black identity. How did that play out?

Cressler: This split the black Catholic community down the middle. You have a generation of African Americans who converted to Catholicism because they’re drawn to that claim to universality. And then you have a movement saying, “As black people in America, we can’t be truly Catholic unless we can be our true selves.” There’s a whole range of what that means: integrating African practices and symbols and iconography into Catholic life, or including Afro-Protestant practices like gospel music and liturgical dance.

It’s a tension that is going on in the Catholic community across racial groups in the ’60s as a result of the Second Vatican Council.

“The notion of the Black Church … has largely become equivalent to what it means to be black and religious.”

Green: I was surprised by this connection you draw between the Second Vatican Council and the rise of the Black Power movement. Explain that to me?

Cressler: During the first half of the 20th century, you get a rise in the black Catholic population by over 200 percent, and you also have a shift in the center of black Catholic populations from the coastal South to the urban North, where the seeds of the Black Power movement are planted.

Catholics, at the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, are beginning to get more leeway in terms of experimentation in ritual practice. That’s happening at the same time that ideas about what it means to be black are coming to fruition in the Black Power movemen, with people saying, “We are connected to African-descended people from across the world. What it means to be black is to be rooted in this Afro-Protestant, black-church tradition. What it means to be black is to have this distinctively black spirituality.” In the context of the Second Vatican Council, what it means to be Catholic is to integrate those things into Catholic life.

Green: You write that there are 3 million African American Catholics in the U.S., which means there are more black Catholics than members of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which would probably surprise a lot of people.

I think this underscores your point that a lot of people make incorrect assumptions about what it means to be religious and black in America. Why do people tend to associate black, American Christianity with a certain type of charismatic Protestant worship?

Cressler: The majority of black people in the U.S. who are religious are, in fact, Protestant Christians. And at least in the 20th century, a majority of Catholics in the U.S. were the descendants of European immigrants, although that’s increasingly not the case in the 21st century. So the assumption has some demographic backing behind it.

But in the American popular imagination, the notion of the Black Church—capital B, capital C—has largely become equivalent to what it means to be black and religious. I’m trying to show the dynamism and diversity of black religious life, beyond the boundaries of the traditional black church.

The conflict in this is that, come the 1960s and ’70s, when black Catholics become inspired by the Black Power movement, some black Catholics actually say, “Well, to be authentically black means to be part of the black church.” Black Catholics, over the 20th century, both challenge this notion of the black church as the only way that black people are religious and also ironically reinforce the notion.

“‘Why am I going to leave? This is my Church, not yours.’”

Green: Given all of these identity struggles, why would black people stay in the Catholic Church?

Cressler: That’s the question, isn’t it? One of the people I talk about a lot in the book is Father George Clements, who was one of many black Catholic activists who was constantly asked this question. There are black sisters, black priests, and black laypeople in the ’60s and ’70s who are these rabble-rousers, trying to transform what it means to be Catholic. And they’re constantly having this thrown at them by people who object to their expression of Catholicism: “If you don’t like it, why don’t you leave?”

Clements says, “Why am I going to leave? This is my Church, not yours.”

The book is entitled Authentically Black and Truly Catholic, but the notion of authenticity is really operating on both sides of that equation—black and Catholic. What black Catholics like Father Clements would argue is that they are expressing a true and authentic mode of Catholicism. Since Augustine of Hippo, black and Catholic people have always been members of the Church, and the notion that Catholicism is a white religion is a perversion.

Their work is really a work of redemption and salvation, where they’re trying to save an institution that they see as theirs. And they see themselves as having no greater or lesser a claim on it than any other member of the Catholic community.


Angry parents disrupt classes over ‘black principal in coloured area’

RACE ROW: Pupils from Klipspruit-Wes Secondary School were prevented from returning to school after the holidays because parents say they want a coloured principal, not a black one. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha

Klipspruit-Wes Secondary School pupils were forced to miss the first day of the third term yesterday when angry parents barred them from class in a protest against the appointment of a black principal.The race row over the new appointment led to parents, mostly from the coloured area, locking the school gates and vowing to disrupt learning unless the Gauteng Department of Education rescinded its decision.

School governing body member Henry Charles said the racial tension was triggered by the community demanding the appointment of a coloured principal. The community claims there is a lack of representation from coloured people in school leadership positions.

Charles, who was part of a panel which interviewed applicants for the position, said: “During the process, we were asked what criteria are we going to use with race. I stood up and said I would score five for coloureds and I’ll score four for black people.

“They said coloureds and blacks are the same and I said but this is a coloured area and they said I am being racist. We want a coloured principal cause this is a coloured area.”

The department’s spokesperson, Oupa Bodibe, said: “The department has learnt the disturbing news that the community in Klipspruit West has rejected the principal because of skin colour. This action is strongly condemned, as it runs against the non-racial principles of our society. Educators are appointed on the basis of qualification and experience.”

The school is set to reopen today following a heated meeting between the governing body, Education Department officials, the SA Teachers Democratic Union and parents.

It was decided that the department needs to re-look the new appointment and that a caretaker principal be appointed.

Speaking on behalf of four community organisations, Sharice Pretorious, said the appointment was questioned based on irregularities that occurred during the selection process.

Last year, a similar incident occurred at Roodepoort Primary School after a dispute started in 2015 when parents claimed the principal was unfairly appointed ahead of a better qualified teacher.

Read more:

Time for an Awakening with Genealogist Antoinette Harrell



Activist, Researcher and Genealogist, Antoinette Harrell joined us in conversation. Ms. Harrell discussed teaching others how to research their African American Genealogy; along with her other important work of over 20 years that has unearthed thousands of state and federal documents relating to peonage that resulted in the Antoinette Harrell Collection.



Black Pastors Rally For Jeff Sessions

This is another example of the failure of Black Religious Leadership to properly guide and represent Black people, and their interest, instead of looking out for themselves. Maybe they need to spend time reading and understanding these two verses in their Bibles, Jere 23:1-2, Matt 7:15. I think the religious need to always forgive people that don’t ask for forgiveness, or show repentance, is sick and misguided.

Read the article below and leave your comments.


WASHINGTON — A group of black pastors Monday criticized African-American opponents of attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions for demonizing the Alabama Republican, instead characterizing him as someone who shows “respect and care for people of all races.”

The ministers are holdout Sessions supporters in a much larger crowd of opponents among Southern black clergy and African-American and civil rights groups, including the North Carolina Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Alabama NAACP and the activist group PICO, which uses congregations and churches to help in community organizing.

“There is an attempt by some to demonize people and call them racist when there is actually no proof for it,” Evangelical Bishop Harry Jackson said at a Capitol Hill news conference. “Let me say clearly, Sen. Sessions is not a racist.”

Jackson, the pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., said Sessions “worked to bankrupt the KKK in Alabama with a $7 million judgment,” and helped to desegregate the state’s public school system.

But clergy who are leaders of the African-American organizing group PICO, sent a different message Monday to the Senate Judiciary Committee that will consider whether to recommend confirmation of Sessions by the full Senate. The committee will hear from Sessions on Tuesday.

Desmond Meade, president of the civil rights group Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, said Sessions has not shown a strong commitment to racial equality or social justice.

“When you talk about the position of attorney general of the United States, that is an extremely powerful position, and I think it is prudent to scrutinize any individual being considered,” Meade said. “I don’t think that is a form of racism, and I’m weary of anyone that doesn’t have a sustained history of campaigning for civil rights. [Sessions] has not demonstrated a strong commitment to the restoration of civil rights.”

In 1986, Sessions was denied a federal judgeship after allegations of racism in his decisions as a U.S. attorney in Alabama. At least one former colleague testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Sessions supported the Ku Klux Klan until he realized its members used marijuana. “One of the most important factors [in confirming a nominee] in my opinion, is to have an open and honest process,” says Dr. William Merritt, North Carolina Southern Christian Leadership Conference state field director. “That gives any individual the right to present themselves in the manner that qualifies them for their job.”



Breaking Down the Stats: Report Reveals Blacks Make Up More than Half the Prison Population in 12 States

June 17, 2016 | Posted by

Black people are incarcerated in the nation’s state prisons five times as often as whites, a new study indicates.

The Sentencing Project’s latest report on racial and ethnic inequalities in the American prison system examined the prevailing issue on a state-by-state basis.

“Since the majority of people in prison are sentenced at the state level rather than the federal level, it is critical to understand the variation in racial and ethnic composition across states,” Ashley Nellis, author and senior research analyst wrote in the report, “and the policies and the day-to-day practices that contribute to this variance.”

The criminal justice advocates used federal data to compare rates of imprisonment for Black, white and Hispanic populations. And the findings show that African-Americans continue to face seemingly insurmountable odds in the fight for blind justice in this country.

The High(low)lights:

  • Overall, Blacks are locked up in state prisons at a rate of of 1,408 per 100,000 people; Hispanics, 378 per 100,000; and whites, 275 per 100,000.
  • African-Americans in Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont and Wisconsin are imprisoned at a rate more than 10 times that of whites.
  • In 12 states, African-Americans make up more than half of the prisoners: Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
  • 72 percent of Maryland’s prison population is Black — the highest proportion in the U.S.
  • 11 states report at least 1 in 20 adult Black males in prison.

Oklahoma, which has the country’s highest population of Black prisoners, holds 1 in 15 Black males aged 18 and older in prison.

The problem of Black mass incarceration is present in every state in the union. In Hawaii, the state with the lowest racial disparity, Blacks still serve time at a rate two times that of whites. It is a systemic matter states can not continue to ignore.

According to the report, at least three factors come up over and over again in the multiple studies done on the subject: “policies and practices that drive disparity; the role of implicit bias and stereotypes in decision making; and, structural disadvantages in communities of color which are associated with high rates of offending and arrest.”

Nellis suggests states look to New Jersey’s reforms, which included the revisions to drug laws that have contributed to the mass incarceration of African-Americans since the 1990s, specifically drug-free school zone laws.

The Sentencing Project study concludes with five recommendations for state policymakers:

  • Scale back on prison sentences for low-level drug offenders, and put more resources into drug prevention and rehabilitative programs.
  • Re-evaluate and amend statutory mandates on minimum sentences that prevent judges from considering cases on an individualized basis.
  • Reduce the use of “Three Strikes”-inspired penalties that result in excessively long sentences for repeat offenders.
  • Train criminal justice officials at every level on the dangers of implicit bias, or the stereotypes and attitudes that affect our judgments and behavior on a subconscious level.
  • Introduce Racial Impact legislation, which encourages lawmakers to consider how proposed laws might disproportionately affect minority communities.

Top Civil Rights Attorney Offers Compelling Argument on Why the Justice System Is an Expensive Continuation of Slavery and Jim Crow

May 22, 2016 | Posted by


On Friday’s episode of PBS NewsHour, in the latest installment of their “Broken Justice” series, attorney and activist Bryan Stevenson talks about mass incarceration and his Equal Justice Initiative that advocates for prison reform in the U.S.

Stevenson tells NewsHour that many states have fallen short in their effort to make amends for damage to Black communities caused by mass incarceration. The increase in probation and parole supervision are not the proper fixes needed, he said.

In Stevenson’s interview, he goes on to say:

“Well, I think it’s a continuation of using crime narrative to control social and political dynamics that can’t be controlled in more legitimate ways.

And we created this so-called war on drugs, and we targeted people of color, and we got everybody to buy into the fact that if we don’t put these dangerous people into jails and prisons, we are non-safe. And that’s how we went nationwide from a prison population of about 300,000 in the 1970s to 2.3 million today. And now we have the highest rate of incarceration in the world …

I think people realize that we’re spending way too much money on jails and prisons. And I think that’s true in Alabama. It’s true nationwide. We went from $6 billion spent on jails and prisons in the United States in 1980 to $80 billion last year.”



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