Never before in modern history have we had a president-elect so ill-informed, ill-tempered, irrational and ill-equipped to deal with the major issues that face this country. The counterintuitive election of Donald Trump has left a lot of political pundits from both parties throwing up their hands, saying, “All we can do is hope for the best.” But as Mark Wahlberg’s character in Deepwater Horizon warns the British Petroleum executives ignoring the oil platform’s numerous problems right before it bursts into flames: “Hope is not a strategy.” And based on the political appointments and nominations Trump has recently made, people of color have little reason to be hopeful. That’s why it’s especially important over the next four years that black celebrities step up and take stances to give voice to those in the black community who will not be heard by the incoming administration. Given that the country is in the throes of a civil rights backlash that threatens to undo the progress we’ve fought so hard to attain, we have to be fearless and relentless in speaking up at every opportunity.
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By Elliot Booker — 5 years ago
THE HOUSTON RIOTS/CAMP LOGAN MUTINY OF 1917 AND 19 BLACK SOLDIERS OF THE 24TH U.S. INFANTRY REGIMENT
The Houston Riot of 1917, also known as the Camp Logan Mutiny, involved 156 soldiers of the all-black 3rd Battalion, 24th
Infantry – a unit of the famed Buffalo Soldiers. The incident occurred on August 23, 1917, lasting roughly two hours on a hot, rainy night, and resulted in the deaths of four soldiers and 15 white civilians. The episode has the distinction of being the only
race riot in U.S. history where more whites then blacks were killed, and it also resulted in both the largest murder trial and the largest court martial in U.S. history.
Just months after America’s entry into World War I, the soldiers of this historic all-black unit had been dispatched to build military facilities in Harris County, where they met animosity from whites beyond the everyday insults of Jim Crow law. Here, the service of “arrogant, strutting representatives of black soldiery” was hated and feared. An Army report confirmed the Houstonians view of black soldiers, concluding that both police and white citizens felt that “a nigger is a nigger and that his status is not effected by the uniform he wears.”
On July 24, 1917, construction began for Camp Logan. Houston had gotten its military installation, and on July 28, it got 654 men of the all-black 24th Infantry – with its all-white commanding officer group. The unit had been dispatched from Columbus, N.M. for seven weeks duty guarding Camp Logan’s construction. Their arrival in Houston came three weeks after the most violent race war, a massacre really, had occurred in East St. Louis, when gangs of whites roamed through black neighborhoods
indiscriminately beating and murdering black men, women, and children on July 1-3. (Some of the 24th soldiers had donated money to a fund to help the black victims in East St. Louis.)
In striking their deal with the federal government, Houston officials had promised “in the spirit of patriotism” there would be no racial trouble, that black soldiers would be welcomed, but the city’s whites had no such intention of opening their arms to the 24th, regardless the length of their stay.
Chief of Police Clarence Brock, whose 159-man force already had a miserable reputation of brutality and other forms of ill-treatment towards the city’s black populace, had even instructed his men to avoid using the term “nigger” when
addressing the soliders, but that edict was widely ignored as patrolmen harassed and arrested soldiers for minor infractions and
perceived slights that further increased racial tensions in a city where blacks were openly and routinely referred to as “niggers” by
police and white citizens alike. Gradually, the soldiers began to routinely disobey the Jim Crow laws, especially when it came to public transport and the requirement that they sit in the back of trolleys – which many of the soldiers refused to do. Their disobience and “insolence” led to predictably harsh enforcement from police and white Houstonians hurled insults at the soldiers at every turn, as did white soldiers and workers constructing Camp Logan. But none were more brazen in their verbal and physical attacks than Houston policemen. Yet, for the evening of August 23, the Houston Chamber of Commerce had planned a festive “watermelon party” to officially welcome the black soldiers. Instead, Houston got a chaotic evening of frenzied terror it would never forget, and rarely mention.
That morning, patrolman Lee Sparks, whose penchant for brutality
against blacks was well known, and his partner, Rufus Daniels, had pursued a man accused of participating in a dice game. Their
chase led them to a house where they arrested a thinly clad woman and accused her of hiding the man. Outside, near the police call box, a 24th soldier approached and asked Starks what was going on and if he could get clothes for the woman.
Sparks immediately began pistol-whipping the soldier and supposedly said, “That’s the way we do things in the South. We’re
running things not the damned niggers.”
Later, that afternoon, a military policeman from the 24th, Corporal Charles Baltimore, became involved when he inquired of
the soldier’s arrest. Baltimore was also beaten by Sparks, and then shot at as he fled. He was caught, beaten again and taken to the police station. Once he was set free and sent back to camp all beaten up, the infantry became angry, and decided to strike on the evening of August 23. 156 angry soldiers, stole weapons from the camp depot and marched on the city of Houston. They were met outside the city by the police and a crowd of armed citizens, frightened by the reports of a mutiny. A virtual race riot began, which left 20 people dead – four soldiers, four policemen, and 12 civilians.
Order was restored the next day, and the War Department disarmed the soldiers. The Third Battalion was sent by rail back to New Mexico. Martial law was declared in Houston, and the Third Battalion was returned to Columbus, New Mexico. Seven of its soldiers agreed to testify in exchange for clemency. Once there, 118 of them were arrested and charged with murder and mutiny and were sent to the stockade at nearby Fort Bliss in El Paso to begin their wait for court martial.
Between November 1, 1917 and March 26, 1918, the army held three separate courts-martial with the first, United States v.
William C. Nesbit, convening in San Antonio at Fort Sam Houston’s Gift Memorial Chapel, which had the only space on post large
enough to hold a trial for the first 63 men – all represented by a single attorney working on a mere two weeks preparation. (Maj.
Harry S. Grier was inspector general of the 36th Divison and had taught law at West Point, but had no trial experience and was not
a lawyer.) Their charges were: disobeying orders, mutiny, murder, and aggravated assault. All of the men entered not guilty pleas and throughout the ordeal, even to the gallows, maintained their innocence.
Some witnesses may have been coerced into testifying against their fellow soldiers, others promised leniency or immunity,
others merely unreliable, but none of the testimony was conclusive that any of the men on trail had participated in the event. In all, testimony was heard from 169 prosecution witnesses, but only 29 for the defense. On November 28, 13 of the men were sentenced to be hung, however, they were not notified of their sentence until Dec. 9, two days before their execution.
Sgt. William C. Nesbitt
Corp. Larsen J. Brown
Corp. James Wheatley
Corp. Jesse Moore
Corp. Charles W. Baltimore*
Pvt. William Brackenridge
Pvt. Thomas C. Hawkins
Pvt. Carlos Snodgrass
Pvt. Ira B. Davis
Pvt. James Divine
Pvt. Frank Johnson
Pvt. Rosley W. Young
Pvt. Pat MacWharter
In a final letter to his family, Pvt. 1st Class Thomas C. Hawkins wrote:”Dear Mother and Father, When this letter reaches you
I will be beyond the veil of sorrow. I will be in heaven with the angels…I am sentenced to be hanged for the trouble that
happened in Houston, Texas. Altho (sic) I am not guilty of the crime that I am accused of, but mother, it is God’s will that I go
now and in this way….”
Pre-dawn, on December 11, near Salado Creek, the 13 soldiers were taken to hastily constructed gallows and summarily
hung. There had been no notice given to the media or public and their sentences and hangings would not be formally announced until later that morning. As they were escorted to the gallows, the soldiers were reportedly calm and sang hymns.
A white soldier from Company C., 19th Infantry, which had been charged with guarding the prisoners – “the hanging detail,” it
was called – recounted the scene: “The doomed men were taken off the trucks, not one making the slightest attempt to resist. They
were shivering a little, but I think this was due more to the cold rather than fear. The unlucky thirteen were line up. The conductors took their places and the men for the last time heard the command, “March!” Thirteen ropes dangled from the crossbeam of the scaffold, a chair in front of every rope, six on one side, seven on the other. As the ropes were being fastened about the men’s necks, big (Pvt. Frank) Johnson’s voice suddenly broke into a hymn – “Lord, I’m comin’ home” – and the others joined him. The eyes of even the hardest of us were wet.”
Because the U.S. was at war, the swiftness of the executions was backed by the Articles of War. However, that did not temper
the outrage from the black community, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, but also some
military officials. Acting Judge Advocate Gen., Brig. Gen. Samuel T. Ansell, was particularly angered and said: “The men were
executed immediately upon the termination of the trial and before their records could be forwarded to Washington or examined by
anybody, and without, so far as I can see, any one of them having time or opportunity to seek clemency from the source of
clemency, if he had been so advised.” The sentence was carried out without appeal. Two more mass courts-martial would follow, resulting in six more hangings the following year. While the NAACP began a campaign to obtain the release of the imprisoned soldiers, General Order No. 7 (which Ansell proposed) was issued on January 17, 1918 providing that no enlisted personnel could be executed without first examination of the trial records by the judge advocate general and confirmation of the sentence by the president of the United States. That commuted 10 death sentences in the two other trials, but had no benefit for the 13 black soldiers of questionable guilt buried in the far reaches of Fort Sam Houston in makeshift graves.
The military tribunals indicted 118 enlisted men total for participating in the mutiny and finding 110 guilty. A total of 19 soldiers were hanged and 63 received life sentences in federal prison. One soldier was judged incompetent to stand trial. Two white officers faced courts-martial, but were released. No white civilians were brought to trial. Some soldiers served as many as 20 years before their release.
For years afterward, the incident clouded and complicated race relations, especially in the War Department.
Some blacks openly applauded the mutiny as a justified resistance against racist provocation. This inflammatory opinion piece, quoted in Mark Ellis’ Race, War and Surveillance, landed the editor who agreed to run it in federal prison:
“We would rather see you shot by the highest tribunal of the United States Army because you dared to protect a Negro woman from the insult of a southern brute in the form of a policeman, than to have you forced to go to Europe to fight for a liberty you cannot enjoy. Negro women regret that you mutinied, and we are sorry that you spilt innocent blood, but we are not sorry that five southern policemen’s bones now bleech in the graves of Houston, Tex.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Army noted “the tendency of the Negro soldier, with fire arms in his possession … to become arrogant, overbearing, abusive and a menace to the community in which he happens to be stationed.” It held down its black enlistment throughout the interwar period.
This policy would continue — until the raw manpower of Black men was required in World War II trumped the discussion .
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By Elliot Booker — 4 years ago
More African-Americans appear to be taking an active interest in their right to bear arms since the election of President Donald Trump, gun club leaders and firearm sellers say.A national African-American gun club has doubled its membership since Election Day, and gun sellers say they’ve noticed more black customers buying firearms.At Stoddard’s Range and Guns in Atlanta, one thunderous clap after another reverberates through the room, mixing with laughter and the smell of gunpowder. A group of men are bonding over a hobby they love. Moments later, their weapons empty and a stream of hot shell casings on the floor around them, each man holds up his target showing clusters of bullet holes.They are members of the National African American Gun Association, a group that has added 9,000 members since Election Day, said Philip Smith, the group’s national president. The group launched on Feb. 28, 2015, and added 4,285 members over the same time period the year before, between Nov. 2015 and Feb. 2016.“I’d be lying to you if I said Donald Trump hasn’t affected our numbers,” Smith said. “They have jumped off the roof.”
‘You know what, let me get a gun just in case’In 2008, overall gun sales surged after President Obama’s election. Weapons dealers attributed the increased sales to fears that Obama and a Democratic-controlled Congress would move to restrict gun ownership. In contrast, overall sales of guns and ammo dipped immediately following Trump’s election.NAAGA leaders say that the recent increase in their membership is driven by different concerns. One of the group’s newest chapters formed in response to the election result, launching just weeks after Nov. 9, and now counting 66 members.Dickson Amoah, the chapter’s president, said several members were alarmed byattacks on African-Americans at Trump’s campaign rallies and hateful rhetoric from Trump supporters on social media. That motivated them to organize the new chapter, he said.Smith cited the recent rise in the number of hate groups in the United States as one factor in NAAGA’s growth. “I think the main thing that has really changed is that two years ago, fringe groups were just that: fringe groups,” he said. “But now those fringe groups are kind of like, ‘It’s cool to be racist,’ and they’ve taken that and we — our community sees that, and it scares us. You know what, let me get a gun just in case something happens, just to make sure.”
A more diverse clienteleSeveral gun store owners also said they have noticed a shift in their clientele.Junior Joseph, the owner of a gun shop near a black community in Orlando, Florida, said for years most of his customers were white men. But since the election, he said he has been making more sales to black and Latino shoppers. Kevin Jones, a gun dealer in Ohio, said he had also seen more black customers coming in, particularly older women.Not every gun store has seen this kind of trend. At one shop in Virginia, a clerk said they’ve seen more women shopping for guns, but hadn’t noticed an increase in African-American buyers.Justin Clyde, the manager of Stoddard’s in Atlanta, said the perception of typical gun buyers continues to change. “Your normal response was probably gonna be, you know, 40-year-old plus white guy,” Clyde said. “It’s not the case at all. Here in Atlanta we have a large demographic of different people, and it’s a wonderful thing. Our store, we see huge groups of people that, you know, don’t fit that mold, don’t fit the normal, I guess, stereotype, and it’s a lot of fun. It makes it more fun, more dynamic, and it’s pretty cool.”
A fraught historyRates of African-American gun ownership have typically been lower than those among whites. In 2013, 21% of black households said they had a gun, compared to 46% of non-Hispanic white households, according to the Pew Research Center. In 2014, 19% of black households reported owning a gun, compared to 41% of non-Hispanic white households.While Smith’s group of NAAGA members was hanging out at Stoddard’s, about a dozen other African-Americans not affiliated with the group passed in and out, both men and women. A group of older patrons started talking about how buying and owning a gun wasn’t always an option for African-Americans.When Martin Luther King Jr.’s home was firebombed in 1956, he applied for a concealed carry permit in the state of Alabama. Local police at that time had the right to determine who could and couldn’t get a license. King’s application was denied, despite the fact that his life was frequently threatened.Being a legal gun owner while black can also be a dangerous proposition today, black gun owners say, pointing to the death of Philando Castile, a licensed gun owner who was shot by a Minnesota Police officer during a traffic stop last July. Castile’s girlfriend said he clearly told the officer he was legally carrying a gun before he was shot. The officer involved was charged with second-degree manslaughter and two felony counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm.But that doesn’t deter NAAGA’s growing membership. They say the Second Amendment should be for all Americans and it’s a freedom they plan to exercise and encourage.NAAGA says nationwide, black women make up the largest share of the group’s new members. For new gun owners like Antoniette Singh, a retired disabled woman who has bought two firearms in the last five months, it’s about safety and security. She says that as a victim of assault she believes her guns give her a fighting chance against anyone who tries to attack her. The group has helped her learn how to handle her weapons properly.Group meetings across the country focus on teaching new gun owners each state’s gun laws, and helping first-time gun owners feel comfortable with their weapons.Michael Cargill, the owner of a gun shop in central Texas, said a group of 100 black women had recently called asking him to set up a class on gun safety and the proper way to shoot.He attributed the recent wave of interest in owning a firearm to a few factors. “Because of the climate in the White House … people in the African-American community and other communities are concerned about their safety,” he said. “I’m seeing people who want to learn how to shoot and then have us help shop for the right gun.”“It’s something that I haven’t seen in years past,” he said.To read more Click or Copy link:http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/27/us/african-american-gun-club-trump/index.html#a-f83e75d4-7d64-4606-b226-e6353f439b10Post Views: 1,019
By Elliot Booker — 4 years ago
BECAUSE OF FEAR AND COMPLACENCY, DON’T EXPECT ANYMORE FROM THE BLACK MIS-LEADERSHIP CLASS THAN WHAT WE HAVE. IT WILL TAKE CONSCIOUS BLACK PEOPLE BOTH IN THE DIASPORA AND ON THE CONTINENT, TO FORGE BETTER RELATIONSHIP’S FOR THE SALVATION OF OUR PEOPLE! IT WILL HAPPEN, AND IS HAPPENING NOW. BECOME PART OF A CONSCIOUS BLACK ORGANIZATION TRYING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE, BE PART OF A SOLUTION, NOT THE PROBLEM. HERE ARE JUST A FEW.
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Trump’s disregard for Africa and its affairs is worrying but presents a unique opportunity for progressive black leaders to shape US foreign policy
Trump has exhibited an unabashed lack of interest in Africa. This is a continent where numerous countries play a key role in the US war on terrorism. Africa’s geopolitical importance also extends from its numerous natural resources, which are essential to global manufacturing industries. Other areas of import include its growing population, China’s broadening involvement, and rapid democratisation in many countries.
Trump’s lack of substantive interest in African affairs is worrying. But his disregard presents a unique opportunity for progressive leadership to shape US foreign policy.
The political left should leverage Trump’s foreign policy weaknesses to strengthen rather than weaken international partnerships. This is much the same as Democrats did during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. The left should also expand rather than retract US support for Africa’s democracies, democratic movements and its economic development.
African American elected officials, in particular, have an opportunity – if not an obligation – to reassert themselves on African affairs.
Visionary leadership in dark times
I was fortunate to come of age during the 1980s. It was a decade in which the Congressional Black Caucus exercised considerable influence on African affairs. In fact, it had greater influence than any African American organisation in history.
Reagan viewed issues of the global south through a Cold War lens. He was fixated on anticommunism. Such a narrow framework blurred the details of local and regional politics. But it provided opportunities for the Black Caucus to shape political narratives that advocated a radical departure from traditional US-Africa relations.
During the 1980s and 1990s, the Black Caucus’s initiatives toward African countries were shaped by progressive, activist politicians. Their roots lay in the civil rights struggle, the Black Power Movement and organised labour.
This high water mark of African American influence was a unique moment in US history. It holds many lessons for today’s politics. To effectively mobilise African American congressional leadership, it is useful to understand the Black Caucus’s strategic vision, nimbleness and political acumen during the 1980s. This was the decade of strength, despite the obstacles of the Reagan administration’s fixation on communism.
Congressman Charles Diggs, a radical Democrat from Detroit, Michigan, was the founding chairman of the Black Caucus in 1971. He and his colleagues thrust African issues into congressional foreign policy debates. These included apartheid in South Africa, ongoing Portuguese colonialism, white-minority rule in Rhodesia and democracy and oil in Nigeria.
Diggs was a model activist legislator. He led official delegations to Nigeria, South Africa and Angola. He also created an NGO to raise awareness and funds in response to the growing famine in the Sahel.
Under his leadership, the Black Caucus submitted legislation and resolutions to steer US policy toward a country-specific approach and away from anticommunism as the determinant for where the US engaged in Africa.
During the 1980s activist Black Caucus members demonstrated solidarity with leftist regimes in Africa, the Caribbean and Central America. They led the push for historic anti-apartheid legislation in 1986 and record-level famine relief in 1985. They pushed the US government to give greater market access to African goods and political and humanitarian support for southern Africa’s Front Line States, the organisation of southern African countries opposed to apartheid.
The number of African Americans in Congress increased during this period. They asserted themselves as the most strident critics of Reagan’s Africa policies. The Black Caucus countered his deleterious programmes with the triple threat of legislation, mass organising and protests. They also coordinated with organisations such as the Free South Africa Movement and, beginning in the late 1970s, TransAfrica. Black Caucus members helped launch both organisations.
These are mere snapshots of the array of issues that kept the Black Caucus at the centre of US political discourse through the 1990s.
The decline of the Black Caucus
The Black Caucus continued with some relevance into the new century. But its collective voice has diminished to near silence. Many factors contributed to its current weak and largely symbolic political position.
In 1995, Congress eliminated funding for all legislative service organisations, including the Caucus. This forced its members to raise money for their initiatives.
Another constraint was George W. Bush’s War on Terror. This radical foreign policy crowded out possibilities for a progressive, humane foreign policy toward global south nations in the early 2000s.
During the Obama presidency, African American elected officials generally avoided presenting alternatives to the president’s policies. They feared weakening his capacity to withstand attacks from the right. Without this tacit support, it would have been impossible to push his policies past an obstructionist Republican-controlled House and Senate.
The Trump mandate
The consequences for African economies will be dire if Trump privileges a terrorism lens and pulls away from trade agreements, as he has threatened.
His trade policies will imperil the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which President Bill Clinton signed in 2000. The result will be increased tariffs on US imports from Africa. The Black Caucus must make the importance of AGOA evident to the public and the new US president. It must work to protect this legislation.
The Black Caucus must chart the US economic path in Africa. Trump’s protectionist policies will cause the economies of the leading US trading partners in Africa – South Africa, Nigeria and Angola – to tailspin. The Black Caucus should use press conferences, press releases, conferences and legislation to make clear the ways the US benefits from these African economic giants.
Ethiopia is also a country to watch. Although US-Ethiopian relations have recently strained around human rights and governance issues, Ethiopia has enjoyed a special status under Obama. This is largely through its cooperation in fighting terrorist groups in East Africa and its contracts with the Boeing Company. The Black Caucus must raise awareness of the US-Ethiopian partnership. But it must also demonstrate support for the ongoing movement for true democracy and political freedoms in Ethiopia.
In addition, the Black Caucus should outline specific ways the new administration might bolster the vibrant democracies of Ghana, Namibia, and Botswana. They must be promoted as examples for the entire continent.
Recently, its members have spoken out forcefully in support of the kidnapped Nigerian school girls. Their actions are laudable. But symbolic stances must be accompanied by policy and security recommendations for the US as it confronts Boko Haram in Nigeria and al-Shabaab in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
During the Trump presidency, African American elected officials would do well to look at their own history of acting within Congress on behalf of African governments, movements and issues for strategies toward a progressive agenda on African affairs. It is imperative that the Black Caucus define the popular narrative for the US approach to African countries. They should weaken Trump’s hand before he whittles Africa into a caricature of terrorism, poverty and migration across the Mediterranean. History is the Caucus’s greatest weapon.Post Views: 1,221