I was only a pre-school Negro boy growing up in Jim Crow-segregated St. Louis, Mo., when my sainted mother, Rosetta, gathered me close and reported, “The best school for Negroes in St. Louis is Vashon High School.” So it didn’t mean much to me.
I would not learn of the greatness of the Vashon name in ensuing decades until nearly 10 years after my arrival in Pittsburgh in 1999 — by way of St. Louis, New York City and Syracuse.
All the same, 2017 marks the 225th anniversary of the 1792 birth of seaman, veteran, war hero, prisoner of war, abolitionist, businessman and, very significantly, Pittsburgher John Bathan Vashon. Active in Pittsburgh from 1829 until the early 1850s, Mr. Vashon was one of the most accomplished Western Pennsylvanians of his day or, for that matter, any day. That he carried the status of African-American renders his achievements all the more astonishing.
Moreover, Mr. Vashon was a hero long before his arrival in Pittsburgh from Carlisle, Pa., and even before his arrival in Carlisle from the War of 1812 and from his native Norfolk, Va.
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JOHN EDWARD BRUCE 1856 – 1924
Was a Historian, Journalist, Pan-African Nationalist and the Co-Founder of the Negro Society Of Historical Research.
John Edward Bruce was born into slavery in Piscataway, Maryland in 1856. When Bruce was three years old his father was sold away to Georgia prompting young Bruce and his mother to escape to Washington, D.C. in fear of losing each other. Bruce and his mother Martha resided with Martha’s cousin Busie Patterson who was a body servant to Missouri senator Thomas Hart Benton. This relationship with a powerful white congressman provided the Bruce family with opportunities and access to jobs in white upper-class communities. Martha Bruce, for example, obtained a job in Connecticut working closely with a white family. While in Connecticut, John Edward Bruce enrolled in an integrated school and received his first formal education. Traveling back to Washington, he received a private education and attended Howard University.
Busie Patterson’s connection with the senator was helpful in launching John Bruce’s career in journalism. At age 18 Bruce was an assistant in the office of the New York Times. Starting in 1879 he founded a number of newspapers in the Washington, D.C. area including The Argus Weekly (1879), The Sunday Item (1880), and The Republican (1882) While creating his own papers Bruce was the editor and business manager for the Commonwealth, a major newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1884 when Bruce was 28 years old he started using the name “Bruce Grit” for his columns. His reputation as an uncompromising opponent of racial discrimination and proponent of African American advancement would grow over the next two decades. In 1910 Bruce was the American correspondent for the African Times and the Orient Review in London. Continuing to use the name “Bruce Grit” he became a regular columnist for several newspapers in the United States, the Caribbean Islands, Europe, and Africa.
Bruce also became prominent on the lecture circuit, giving speeches that addressed lynching, the condition of southern blacks, and the weak American political system that failed to protect the rights of its black citizens. In 1890 he joined activist T. Thomas Fortune’s Afro-American League, the first organized black civil rights group in the nation. He became the organization’s new president in 1898 when it reformed as the Afro-American Council.
In 1911, while living in Yonkers, New York, John Edward Bruce started the Negro Society for Historical Research. His passion for African history led him eventually in 1919 to Marcus Garvey and his Pan-Africa nationalist ideas. Bruce became a father figure to Marcus Garvey when he joined the Universal Negro Improvement Association at the age of 64. He was a featured writer for the organization’s newspapers the Negro World and the Daily Negro Times. Although his health was fading, Bruce continued to work. He worked for the Port Authority of New York until 1922 when he retired. Two years later John Edward Bruce died in New York City.
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NEWARK—After the historic 2016 presidential election, the State of the Black World Conference will convene in historic Newark, N.J., as the Black community faces major questions of absolute survival given the racial and political climate, police killings of Blacks across the country as well as the myriad of social and economic challenges that beset African people in America.
The conference will run Nov. 16-20.
Dr. Ron Daniels, president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, is convening the State of the Black World Conference IV. “This gathering has the potential to be one of the great gatherings of this century, perhaps this generation’s Black Power Conference,” he said.
With a closing message delivered by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, convener of the Million Man March, the largest assembly of people of African descent in the history of America, and an address by Dr. Maulana Karenga, founder of the U.S. Organization and one of the most brilliant, visionary and systematic scholar/activists of the last half century, the State of the Black World will offer bold analysis, visionary leadership and strategies for action.
Dr. Karenga, creator of Kwanzaa, the African holiday celebrated by millions around the world, will speak on the theme, “It’s Nation Time … Again, Racial Healing and Collaboration for Black Empowerment.”
Minister Farrakhan, who has been present at or supported every State of the Race or State of the Black World Conference since 1994, will deliver the closing charge.
Dr. Karenga and Minister Farrakhan will address the conference after facilitators for Seven Issue Area Tracts present summations and recommended action-items for post conference follow-up.
The Black Family Summit, an umbrella formation of 27 African-centered Black Professional Organizations that was inspired by Minister Farrakhan’s call to action during the 10th Anniversary of the Million Man March, will receive special recognition during the closing session.
Fredrica Bey, the visionary founder of Women in Support of the Million Man March, will serve as a moderator during the conference.
The closing Ndaba/Plenary Session is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 20, 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon.
“Recent police killings of Black people in Tulsa, Charlotte and Columbus, Ohio continue to contribute to the collective trauma of people of African descent, Black people in this country,” said Dr. Daniels. “Nearly a half century after Newark erupted in rebellion against police repression, economic inequality and political oppression, it is fortuitous that State of the Black World Conference IV will convene in this city November 16-20. We will be welcomed by Mayor Ras J. Baraka, the son of renowned poet, playwright and political activist Amiri Baraka, who was viciously assaulted during the Newark rebellion.
“Nearly a half century after the Kerner Commission issued its report noting that virtually every insurrection in America’s ‘dark ghettos’ had been precipitated by a police killing or act of misconduct, the world witnessed Charlotte explode non-violently and violently against the continuous, generations of senseless assaults on Black lives. When is enough, enough?” asked Dr. Daniels.
The SOBWC IV is a major forum for deliberation and collective action. A plenary and working sessions will be devoted to ending the War on Drugs, advancing strategies for police reform and accountability, dismantling the prison-jail industrial complex and creating pathways for the successful reentry of hundreds of thousands of formerly incarcerated persons.
The Institute for the Black World has assembled a powerful line-up of dedicated activists, scholars and analysts to address the issues at hand, share knowledge and experiences and recommend strategies for action.
The Plenary Session, Friday, November 18, 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m., will feature presentations by Dr. Divine Pryor, executive director, Center for Nu Leadership on Urban Solutions, NYC; Ron Hampton, former executive director, National Black Police Association and chairman of IBW’s Police Reform and Accountability Task Force, Washington, D.C.; Brandi Fisher, executive director, Alliance for Police Accountability, Pittsburgh; Tamika Mallory, co-chair, Justice League, NYC; Atty. Andrea James, executive director, Families for Justice and Healing, Boston; Deborah Peterson Small, executive director, Break the Chains, Berkeley, Calif.; Aswad Thomas, national organizer, Californians for Safety and Justice, Sacramento, Calif.; Charles Thornton, former executive director, Office of Returning Citizens, Washington, D.C.; Tyrone Parker, executive director, Alliance of Concerned Men, Washington, D.C., and Zelli Imani, educator and social justice activist, Newark. Atty. Nkechi Taifa, senior policy analyst, Open Society Foundations, will serve as moderator.
“As Black people absorb the pain of yet another series of police killings, leaders from Charlotte joined a growing national crescendo calling for the use of economic sanctions/boycotts to, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, ‘redistribute the pain’ to achieve racial, social and economic justice,” said Dr. Daniels.
The growing demand for economic sanctions/boycotts will be one of the critical issues explored during the Economic Empowerment Working Sessions facilitated by Dr. George Fraser, president of Fraser Net; Rev. Dennis Dillon, leader of the Rise Up Black America Campaign and Nataki Kambon, spokesperson for Let’s Buy Black 365 Initiative.
For concerned and committed Black people who believe that enough is enough—All Roads Should Lead to Newark, New Jersey, Nov. 16-20, said conference organizers. It’s Nation Time and Time for Racial Healing and Collaboration for Black Empowerment, they added. For more conference information, www.sobwc.ibw21.org or call 1-888-774-2921Post Views: 919
The Associated Press
Sam DuBose was pulled over near the University of Cincinnati campus for a missing front license plate. Walter Scott got stopped for a broken taillight in South Carolina.
Neither black man got out of the traffic stops alive.
Former university police Officer Ray Tensing, 26, is on trial for murder in Cincinnati in the July 2015 fatal shooting of DuBose, 43. Former North Charleston, South Carolina, officer Michael Slager, 34, is on trial for murder in Charleston in the April 2015 fatal shooting of Scott, 50. Both officers, who are white, have pleaded not guilty.
The cases are among a series across the country since mid-2014 — from the fatal shooting of a 12-year-old boy in a Cleveland recreation area to that of a 66-year-old woman in her Bronx, New York, apartment — that have raised a national debate over race and policing.
A summary of other deaths of black people after police encounters:
The 43-year-old man died in July 2014 in New York City after a white officer placed him in a chokehold during an arrest for selling loose cigarettes. A grand jury declined to indict the officer who put Garner in the hold or any of the other officers involved in the arrest. The city agreed to pay a $6 million civil settlement.
The 18-year-old was shot and killed in August 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. A grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson, the white officer who shot him. The Department of Justice also opted against bringing civil rights charges against Wilson. The death of Brown, who was unarmed, led to months of sometimes-violent Ferguson protests and became a catalyst for the Black Lives Matter movement, which rebukes police treatment of minorities.
JOHN CRAWFORD III
Police in the Dayton, Ohio, suburb of Beavercreek responded to a Wal-Mart store in August 2014 on a call of a man waving an apparent rifle. A white officer fatally shot Crawford III, 22, who was carrying what turned out to be an air rifle from a store shelf. Police said they believed it was a real gun and that he didn’t respond to their commands to put it down. A grand jury declined to indict the officers. The U.S. Justice Department has been reviewing the case.
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder in the Oct. 20, 2014, shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke, who is white, was charged in November 2015 on the same day that the city, under judge’s orders, released dashcam video showing the 17-year-old McDonald being shot 16 times. Van Dyke has pleaded not guilty and is free on bond. The video has prompted local and federal investigations of both the shooting and the Police Department.
Peter Liang, a rookie New York City police officer, was convicted Feb. 11 of manslaughter in the November 2014 death of the 28-year-old Gurley. Liang was patrolling a public housing high-rise with his gun drawn in 2014 when he fired and a bullet ricocheted off a wall, hitting Gurley. Liang, an American of Chinese descent, said he had been holding his weapon safely when a sound jarred him and he accidentally fired. In April, a judge reduced the conviction to negligent homicide and sentenced Liang to five years’ probation and 800 hours of community service. An attorney for Gurley’s family said in August that New York City reached a settlement of more than $4 million with the family.
Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice was fatally shot by a white Cleveland police officer near a gazebo in a recreational area in November 2014. Officers were responding to a report of a man waving a gun. The boy, who had a pellet gun tucked in his waistband, was shot right after their cruiser skidded to a stop a few feet away. A grand jury in December 2015 declined to indict patrolman Timothy Loehmann, who fired the fatal shot, and training officer Frank Garmback. The city in 2016 agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed by Tamir Rice’s family for $6 million.
The 25-year-old man entered a Baltimore police van in April 2015 shackled but alive. He died of severe neck injuries suffered during the ride that followed. His death led to rioting. Prosecutors in July 2016 said they were dropping charges against the remaining police officers awaiting trial, leaving no convictions against six officers who were charged initially in the case. Gray’s family agreed to a $6.4 million settlement with the city in September 2015.
Former Tulsa County volunteer sheriff’s deputy Robert Bates, age 74, was sentenced in June to four years in prison on a second-degree manslaughter conviction in the April 2015 death of Harris, 44, an unarmed and restrained black man, during a sting operation. Bates, who is white, has said he confused his stun gun with his handgun. That shooting led to the temporary suspension of the reserve deputy program after a report found poor training of the volunteer officers, a lack of oversight and cronyism. Bates is appealing his conviction.
WILLIAM CHAPMAN II
Former Portsmouth, Virginia, Police Officer Stephen Rankin was sentenced Oct. 12 to 2½ years in prison for fatally shooting William Chapman II, 18. Rankin shot the unarmed Chapman on April 22, 2015, after responding to a shoplifting call outside a Wal-Mart store. Prosecutors allege Rankin killed Chapman “willfully, deliberately and with premeditation.” Chapman’s body was delivered to the medical examiner with handcuffs still bound behind his back, according to news reports at the time. Some witnesses said Chapman was combative, and one said he knocked away Rankin’s stun gun, according to the reports. Rankin, who is white, was fired after the shooting.
Michael Slager faces 30 years to life in prison if convicted of murder in the shooting death of Scott in April 2015 in South Carolina. The shooting was captured on cellphone video by a passer-by. Slager told investigators Scott had grabbed his Taser and pointed the stun gun at him as they fought on the ground. Slager was fired by the North Charleston Police Department. There has been a $6.5 million settlement between North Charleston and the Scott family. Slager also faces federal charges including for allegedly violating Scott’s civil rights.
Ray Tensing faces 15 years to life if convicted of murder of Sam DuBose, killed in July 2015 near the University of Cincinnati campus. Tensing’s body camera captured much of the traffic stop, although the two sides dispute what conclusions can be reached. Tensing’s attorney says DuBose was using his car as a weapon that could have killed him. The university fired Tensing, hired outside consultants, and restructured its public safety department. The school also reached a $5.3 million settlement that includes free undergraduate tuition for DuBose’s 13 children.
A federal prosecutor announced in September there was insufficient evidence to file civil rights charges in the July 2015 fatal shooting of Stewart, 19, by Officer Connor Schilling. Schilling, a white Memphis, Tennessee, police officer, shot Stewart during a struggle following a traffic stop that escalated after an attempted arrest for outstanding warrants. Schilling has said he shot Stewart because he feared for his life. He retired due to a disability, police said, in a move that allows him to receive disability pay. A grand jury in November 2015 declined to charge the officer.
Jeremy McDole, 28, was sitting in his wheelchair when he was shot and killed in September 2015 in Wilmington, Delaware, after police received a 911 call about a man with a gun. A bystander’s cellphone footage showed officers repeatedly telling McDole to drop his weapon and raise his hands, with McDole reaching for his waist area before shots erupted. The Delaware attorney general’s office decided against criminal charges against four Wilmington police officers involved, although investigators concluded one officer showed “extraordinarily poor” police work.
Former Columbus, Mississippi, police officer Canyon Boykin, who is white, was indicted in September for manslaughter in the shooting death of Ricky Ball, 26. Boykin, facing trial Nov. 28, has said he shot Ball because the man appeared to point a gun at him during a foot chase in October 2015. The city fired Boykin as he was trying to resign, saying he had broken department policy by not turning on his body camera, by inviting his fiancee to ride along without permission, and by making derogatory social media posts about African-Americans, women and disabled people. Boykin has sued the city, claiming violations of his constitutional rights.
A Florida grand jury cleared two police officers in September who fatally shot Semer, an unarmed black motorist, in April 2016 as he fled. Prosecutors said the man’s actions gave the officers a reasonable belief that their lives were in danger. The St. Lucie County Grand Jury cleared Fort Pierce police Sgt. Brian MacNaught and officer Keith Holmes for the shooting of Semer, 21, during a traffic stop. Prosecutors say their investigation showed he refused to get out of his car and then tried to drive away, clipping Holmes and dragging MacNaught. Both officers are white.
Sterling, 37, was shot to death July 5, 2016, as two white officers pinned him to the pavement outside a convenience store where he had been selling CDs. The killing was captured on cellphone video and circulated widely online, sparking widespread demonstrations across Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II were placed on administrative leave. Neither officer has been charged in the case, which was turned over to federal investigators.
Castile was shot and killed July 6 by officer Jeronimo Yanez, who is Hispanic, after being pulled over as he drove through a St. Paul, Minnesota, suburb with his girlfriend and her young daughter in the car. His girlfriend began livestreaming on Facebook shortly after the shooting and said Castile, 32, was shot while reaching for his ID after telling the officer he had a gun permit and was armed. Yanez and his partner, Joseph Kauser, who was present for the shooting, were placed on administrative leave. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has turned its findings over to a county prosecutor, who will review the case.
The 13-year-old Ohio youth was fatally shot by a Columbus police officer Sept. 14 after running from police investigating a reported armed robbery. Police said he a pulled a BB gun that looked like a real firearm. Officer Bryan Mason, who is white, was put on administrative desk duty while the investigation into Tyre King’s death continues. The attorney for his family has asked for a Justice Department review.
KEITH LAMONT SCOTT
The North Carolina State bureau of Investigation is reviewing the fatal Sept. 20 shooting of Scott by a black Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer. Scott, 43, was sitting in his vehicle in the parking lot of his Charlotte apartment complex when he was shot by police trying to find a different man. Police video showed officers shouting for Scott to drop a gun numerous times as he slowly backed out of an SUV. Scott’s family said he did not have a gun and was reading a book. The shooting, part of which was recorded by his wife and shared widely on social media, caused days of violent protests and a state of emergency to be declared in Charlotte.
Tulsa, Oklahoma, police Officer Betty Jo Shelby was charged with first-degree manslaughter on Sept. 22 in the shooting of Crutcher, an unarmed man. Shelby, who is white, shot the 40-year-old Crutcher on Sept. 16 shortly after she arrived on a street to find his SUV stopped in the middle of the road. Crutcher was seen without a weapon and with his hands up on videos from a patrol car dashboard and a police helicopter before Shelby shot him. Police Chief Chuck Jordan has said that Crutcher did not have a gun on his body or in his SUV when he was shot. Shelby has pleaded not guilty and is on unpaid leave.
In the San Diego suburb of El Cajon, a police officer opened fire on Ugandan refugee Alfred Olango within a minute of arriving at the scene on Sept. 27. Olango’s sister had described her brother as mentally unbalanced in multiple 911 calls. Video released by police shows the officer approached the 38-year-old man with gun drawn, as Olango paced in a strip mall parking lot. Olango pulls something from his pocket, takes what police call a “shooting stance,” and aims something at the officer, who then fires his gun. A second officer fired his Taser simultaneously. The object in Olango’s hands turned out to be a 4-inch electronic cigarette device. The two officers were placed on leave as the district attorney investigates.
New York police were responding Oct. 18 to a 911 call about an emotionally disturbed person when Sgt. Hugh Barry encountered Danner, 66, in her Bronx apartment. The mentally ill woman picked up a baseball bat in her bedroom and tried to hit Barry, who fired shots that killed her. New York’s mayor rebuked him publicly the next day, and he has been stripped of his badge and gun and placed on desk duty while the state attorney general’s office determines whether the case falls under its authority to investigate police shootings of unarmed civilians. Police are also investigating the officer’s actions.Post Views: 722