The organization will also announce plans to open a museum called “From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration” in its 11,000-square-foot headquarters in April 2017. Located in a former slave warehouse, the museum will chronicle the nation’s racial history from the days of slavery to mass incarceration, and like the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, to grapple with our legacy of racism and understand the connection to the present.
“Our goal isn’t to be divisive,” Bryan Stevenson, the director of the Equal Justice Initiative, told the Times. “Our goal is just to get people to confront the truth of our past with some more courage.”
In 2013, Stevenson’s group placed markers throughout Montgomery detailing the city’s history as a slave market. As The New Yorker reported, while the city had dozens of cast-iron markers referencing its Confederate history, there were none to indicate the presence of the slave trade. And last year, the group released a report called “Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror.” The report documents 4,075 lynchings of Black people that took place in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia between 1877 and 1950.
The report discovered several hundred more lynchings than were previously known, and that many of the victims had not been accused of a crime. Rather, “racial terror lynching” was designed to maintain the racial control of Jim Crow segregation by victimizing the entire Black community. Moreover, they were celebratory affairs and horrific “public spectacles” in which the entire white community attended, and no one was held accountable. Lynching was a major impetus leading to the forced migration of millions of African-Americans to the North, and yet there is little effort to address what took place.
According to the report, these lynchings were acts of terrorism “because the murders were carried out with impunity, sometimes in broad daylight, often ‘on the courthouse lawn.’ ” As opposed to so-called “frontier justice,” these killings took place in communities with a viable criminal justice system regarded as “too good for African Americans,” according to the report:
“Large crowds of white people, often numbering in the thousands and including elected officials and prominent citizens, gathered to witness pre-planned, heinous killings that featured prolonged torture, mutilation, dismemberment, and/or burning of the victim. White press justified and promoted these carnival like events, with vendors selling food, printers producing postcards featuring photographs of the lynching and corpse, and the victim’s body parts collected as souvenirs. These killings were bold, public acts that implicated the entire community and sent a message that African Americans were sub-human, their subjugation was to be achieved through any means necessary, and whites who carried out lynchings would face no legal repercussions.”
“In America, we’re not free. We are burdened by a history of racial inequality and injustice. It compromises us. It constrains us,” Stevenson told Co.Exist. “We have to create a new relationship with this history.”
“It’s a place that will be beautiful. It’s a place,” Stevenson added, “that will tell a hard but a necessary story.”
The memorial will have a large, four-sided gallery of 801 suspended six-foot columns, according to The New York Times, each representing a county where a person or people were lynched, with an etching of their names.
This past February at a TED conference in Vancouver, memorial designer Michael Murphy gave a preview of the project.
“Countries like Germany and South Africa and Rwanda have found it necessary to build memorials to reflect on the atrocities of their past in order to heal their national psyche,” Murphy said, as reported by Citylab. “We have yet to do this in the United States.”
In Rwanda there is a healing process known as ubudehe, which means “community works for the community,” according to Murphy. The plan for the memorial is to collect soil from each lynching site and place the soil in each column of the memorial, as if to finally put the victims to rest — an act of “spiritual healing” and “restorative justice,” as he told Citylab.
At a time when the public is gaining awareness of the present-day killing of Black people through racial violence, it is time to also remember the names of those countless victims of lynching throughout America’s past. We must do this if we want true justice.
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Joe Brown, of the syndicated television program, “Judge Joe Brown,” discusses presiding over the final trial of convicted King assassin James Earl Ray.By Elliot Booker — 4 years ago
Judge Joe Brown discusses his findings after seeing the evidence, that James Earl Ray couldn’t have killed Dr. King. Tell us your comments.Post Views: 671
By Elliot Booker — 4 years ago
WE MUST NEVER FORGET!!!
ROBERT F. WILLIAMS 1925-1996
Robert Franklin Williams was a civil rights leader,activist,author and the president of the Monroe, North Carolina NAACP chapter in the 1950s and early 1960s. At a time when racial tension was high and official abuses were rampant, Williams was a key figure in promoting armed black self-defense in the United States. He and his wife left the United States in 1961. A self-professed Black Nationalist and supporter of liberation, he lived in both Cuba and communist China in exile.
Williams’ book Negroes with Guns (1962), published while he was in exile in Cuba, details his experience with violent racism and his disagreement with the pacifist Civil Rights Movement philosophies. Among others the book influenced Huey Newton, who founded the Black Panthers.
Williams was born in Monroe, North Carolina in 1925 to Emma C. and John L. Williams, a railroad boiler washer. His grandmother, a former slave, gave Williams the rifle with which his grandfather, a Republican campaigner and publisher of the newspaper The People’s Voice, had defended himself in the hard years after Reconstruction. At the age of 11, Williams witnessed the beating and dragging of a black woman by the police officer Jesse Helms, Sr. (He was the father of future US Senator Jesse Helms.)
As a young man, Williams joined the Great Migration, traveling north for work during World War II. He witnessed race riots in Detroit in 1943, prompted by labor competition between European Americans and blacks. Drafted in 1944, he served for a year and a half in the segregated Army before returning home to Monroe. In 1947, Williams married Mabel Robinson, a fellow civil rights activist. They had two children together. Williams first entered the national civil rights struggle working with the NAACP as a community organizer in Monroe. When he defended two young black boys who were jailed after being accused of kissing a white girl there in 1958, he became famous around the world. His publicity campaign, inviting a barrage of embarrassing headlines in the global press, was instrumental in shaming the officials involved into eventually releasing them. The controversy was known as the “Kissing Case”.
The local NAACP was working to integrate the public swimming pools. They organized peaceful demonstrations, but some drew gunfire. No one was arrested or punished, although law enforcement officers were present.
Williams had already started the Black Armed Guard to defend the local black community from racist activity. KKK membership numbered some 15,000 locally. Black residents fortified their homes with sandbags and trained to use rifles in the event of night raids by the Klan. Followers attested to Williams’ advocating the use of advanced powerful weaponry rather than more traditional firearms. Williams insisted his position was defensive, as opposed to a declaration of war. He called it “armed self-reliance” in the face of white terrorism. Threats against Williams’ life and his family became more frequent. In 1959, Williams debated the merits of nonviolence with Martin Luther King Jr at the NAACP convention. The national NAACP office suspended his local chapter presidency for six months because of his outspoken disagreements with the national leadership. He said his wife would take over his position and he would continue his leadership through her.
When CORE dispatched “freedom riders” from the North to Monroe to campaign in 1961, the local NAACP chapter served as their base. Around this time, a European-American couple in a town nearby drove through the black section of Monroe after some escalated disputes at the courthouse, but were stopped in the street by an angry crowd. For their safety, they were taken to Williams’ home. Williams initially told them that they were free to go, but he soon realized that the crowd would not grant safe passage. He kept the European-American couple in a house nearby until they were able to safely leave the neighborhood.
The FBI’s wanted poster alerted people to an armed kidnapper.
North Carolina law enforcement admonished Williams and accused him of having kidnapped the couple. He and his family fled the state with local law enforcement in pursuit. His eventual interstate flight triggered prosecution by the FBI.
On August 28, 1961, an FBI Most Wanted warrant was issued in Charlotte, North Carolina, charging Williams with unlawful interstate flight to avoid prosecution for kidnapping. The FBI document lists Williams as a “free lance writer and janitor” and states that (Williams)”…has previously been diagnosed as a schizophrenic and has advocated and threatened violence… considered armed and extremely dangerous.” After the appearance of this Wanted poster, signed by the director J. Edgar Hoover, Williams decided to leave the country. Williams went to Cuba by way of Canada and then Mexico. He regularly broadcast addresses to Southern blacks on “Radio Free Dixie”, a station he established with assistance from Cuban President Fidel Castro and operated from 1962-1965. During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, Williams used Radio Free Dixie to urge black soldiers in the U.S. armed forces, who were then preparing for a possible invasion of Cuba, to engage in insurrection against the United States. “While you are armed, remember this is your only chance to be free. . . . This is your only chance to stop your people from being treated worse than dogs. We’ll take care of the front, Joe, but from the back, he’ll never know what hit him. You dig?”
During this stay, Mabel and Robert Williams published the newspaper, The Crusader. Williams wrote his book, Negroes With Guns, while in Cuba. It had a significant influence on Huey P. Newton, founder of the Black Panthers. Despite his absence from the United States, in 1964 Williams was elected president of the US-based Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM). In 1965 Williams traveled to Hanoi, then the capital of North Vietnam. He advocated armed violence against the United States during the Vietnam War, congratulated China on obtaining its own nuclear weapons (which Williams referred to as “The Freedom Bomb”), and sided with the North Vietnamese against the United States.
In 1965, Williams and his wife left Cuba to settle in China, where he was well received. They lived comfortably there and he associated with higher functionaries of the Chinese government. In January 1968, Lynn wrote to encourage Williams to return to the US. Williams responded.
Williams was suspected by the Justice Department of wanting to fill the vacuum of influence left after the assassinations of his friends Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Hoover received reports that blacks looked to Williams as a figure similar to John Brown. Attempts to contact the U.S. government in order to return were rebuffed consistently. He returned via London, England to Detroit, Michigan in 1969 and was immediately arrested for extradition to North Carolina for trial on the kidnapping charge. Shortly after he returned, the approaching period of détente augured a warming of relations with the People’s Republic of China.
Williams was tried in Monroe, North Carolina in December 1975. The historian Gwendolyn Midlo Hall chaired his defense committee and a broad range of leftists arrived in town. Attorney William Kunstler represented Williams in court. The state of North Carolina dropped all charges against him almost immediately.
He died from Hodgkin’s disease in 1996. At his funeral, Rosa Parks, who started the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, recounted the high regard for Robert F. Williams by those who marched peacefully with King in Alabama.Post Views: 516
By Elliot Booker — 3 years ago
“Time for an Awakening” for Friday 12/08/2017 at 8:00 PM (EST) 7:00 PM (CST), Open Forum Friday with the listeners, but first special guest will be Activist, Ife Fatiu to talk about the upcoming 4th Annual Women’s Conference in Baltimore. In 2017, from the need to develop a new mindset in our communities, to our political and economic empowerment, the solution to these problems must come from us. Let’s also talk about some solutions. You can join us and be part of the conversation on this and other related topics. Information, insights and dialogue from a Black Perspective.
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