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I came under the influence of a librarian at Edmondson Village library. She placed me on a regiment of black titles. At Central High I had not heard of Langston Hughes or James Baldwin's Go Tell It on the Mountain, or Richard Wright's Native Son, or Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man.

 

 

The Death of a Prophet, of Creative Militancy

By Rudolph Lewis

 1968 King Assassination Report (CBS News)

 

I was nineteen then, on this day April 4 in 1968. I was then registered as a junior at Morgan State College in Baltimore, Maryland. I had graduated in 1965 from Central High School in Sussex County, Virginia, one of the small (populated) rural counties in southeastern Virginia, part of the Western Tidewater region. It was what city folks called derisively, "the country," as if nothing good could come for such a place. My cousin Nature Boy would later tell me, after he had moved back home, "Never be ashamed to tell people where you from.

When I left the country on the Trailways Bus that summer for Baltimore, we at Jerusalem had neither running water nor any kind of indoor plumbing. We were still using the outhouse and toting water from the well and bathing in foot tubs. None had telephones in my community of Jerusalem. We got our first black and white TV, which had only a few local channels (from Richmond and Norfolk), in August 1958. In short, we were a fairly isolated rural, traditional community centered around Jerusalem Baptist Church founded by former slaves in 1870.

So I was pleased to be living in the big city in 1968in the Edmondson Village community of Colborne Avenue off of Wildwood Parkway. It was a long bus ride to Morgan, especially for Freshmen English which was at 8 am. I caught No. 23 downtown and then the No. 3 to Loch Raven and Coldspring and walked east to Hillen.

My mother had not long moved into this community from Cherry Hill, which was a "project" built for black veterans south of the harbor, which then had not developed from old warehouses into what is now called the Inner Harbor of expensive hotels and restaurants. My mother thought she was moving on up and becoming a homeowner.

She later discovered it was a scam. In small print it seems there was a provision that if a payment was missed the home-owning contract would revert to a rental. She was not alone in this matter. Many other black residents of Edmondson Village fell victim to the real estate scam as my mother, whose hopes and dreams were thus undermined. Parren Mitchel and Walter P. Carter would lead protest demonstrations down St. Paul Street to Morris Goldseker's office. Though I had moved out of my mother's house by 1968, I would join at least one of the Mitchell-Carter led demonstrations. Carter would die suddenly in 1971 (July 31), "giving a report to the Black United Front, at the Union Baptist Church in Baltimore. The previous day, Carter had won a court battle against, then slumlord, Morris Goldeseker."

As a member of U.S. House of Representatives from Maryland's 7th district, Congressman Parren Mitchellthe brother of the late Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr., who was head of the NAACP's Washington office and was one of Lyndon Johnson's chief advisors in the civil rights movementadded (August 5, 1971) this remark to the Congressional Record:

Mr. Speaker, the State of Maryland last week, lost one of the most able civil rights leaders in the person of Walter P. Carter. Expressions of sympathy have come from across the nation and around the world. I think this should be a very special lesson to this House to learn that there are whites who recognize the contributions of a man who articulates black identity and black awareness. Wikipedia

My mother worked off of Gay Street near the corner of Baltimore Street, not far from The Block of strip clubs, as a piece worker in a garment factory. She did this kind of work for thirty years in raising her four daughters and my brother Ronald. She would indeed years later acquire and pay for a house in the Yale Heights community on Cedargarten Road.  My father, who never married, worked at Bethlehem Steel mill as a common laborer. (Because of health problems he was forced to take an early retirement and returned to live with his mother in Jarratt, Virginia, the place of his birth.) My aims were much higher than hers or those of my father. I was the first in my immediate family to graduate from high school and go to college.

In the summer of 1967, after I had finished my sophomore year, I came under the influence of a librarian at Edmondson Village library. She placed me on a regiment of black titles. At Central High I had not heard of Langston Hughes  or James Baldwin's Go Tell It on the Mountain, or Richard Wright's Native Son, or Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. In high school I do not even remember reading Shakespeare and his "Othello" or his "Hamlet" or his "Lear." I was not very much interested then in literature.  My interest fell on girls and basketball.

I graduated when I was 16 from high school, having skipped a grade during my elementary years. That teacher still lives. I saw her again at my grandmother's funeral last December (2009). She was Miss Trisvan when I started at Creath, No.5 in 1954. In 1959 she went to Central, which had then just opened its doors, and then for me she became Mrs. Richards. Oh, she was a beautiful young teacher, with a beautiful hand, which I tried to approximate, but never succeeded. I would later have her for classes at Central High. It was a brand new school. It opened as a response to the Brown decision.

Of course, I did not know its history and its cause, then. My mother and my aunts had gone to Waverly Training School for the Colored, which was forty miles from my Village of Jerusalem, which was in the southwestern end of Sussex County. They—my grandparents, my mother and her sisters—also had attended Creath, which taught grades 1-7.  Miss Trisvan (Mrs. Richards) taught all seven grades. There were only about fifty of us all together. The students cleaned the Creath floors with an oiled mop to keep down the dust. Most of the roads then were dirt. In the winter, we older students were responsible for starting fires in the coal heater which sat in a sand box. So I was twelve when I entered the eighth grade. That summer I also took my first trip to Baltimore.

Mrs. Richards taught me French and Government at Central High, which educated grades 8-12. Many of the teachers at Central had taught at Waverly Training School. Some of them had taught my mother and my aunts, who dropped out of Waverly by the eleventh grade. I became the exception and the hope of my grandparents, none of whom had got past the third grade. Remember we were a rural agricultural community and they and their five girls had grown up during the so-called Great Depression.)

Back then at Morgan State College, ROTC was required of all male freshman and sophomore students. By the summer of 67 I had completed my requirements for ROTC and the wearing of the green uniforms and lining of for parade drills. During the summer I had worked with my mother’s boyfriend Grover Reid as a laborer with construction companies. With those monies I was able to pay my tuition while I lived with my mother and her boyfriend and my three sisters. (Back then a woman needed a man to do almost anything: the old patriarchy was enforced by law and tradition.) Her youngest sister (and husband and two kids) lived in the basement. Back then Waverly Training School only cost $99.50 a semester for tuition and so with my laborer’s summer salary, which was not much more than minimum pay, probably about a buck sixty an hour I could manage my tuition and the cost of books.

With the aid of my librarian friend I developed some awareness of the world and the Vietnam War. I had planned to escape the work of a laborer by receiving a stipend from the Junior ROTC program. I had passed the physical at Fort Holabird and was ready to be a ROTC cadet officer and eventually become a second lieutenant in the Army. My librarian friend dissuaded me from that career goal, emphasizing the short longevity of second lieutenants on the battlefield. She was anti-war and had a firm belief and trust in the civil rights goal of racial integration. That year 1967 both Martin Luther King and Muhammad Ali spoke out against the War. Ali refused to step forward and was arrested and threatened with five years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. Dr. King went against the advice of all his handlers and the  public denunciation by his civil rights peers.

To my surprise my library mentor had white friends and associates. That was never the case with my growing up in segregated Creath.  The white kids rode by in their yellow bus and often threw missiles out the window while we walked our two miles in the morning and two miles in the afternoon. It was a dirt road lined with woods and farm land that traversed Sansi Swamp.

There were also no white students at Central High, which was twenty miles from our village. The whites had their own school four miles away up in Jarratt. White friends and associates were a very novel notion to me.

I did have a few white professors at Morgan State but I never developed any relationship with them. For instance, I had Thomas Cripps, who was then working on his book Slow Fade to Black: Negro in American Film, 1900-42 (1977), for Negro history. Cripps led a field trip to the University of Maryland, where I saw for the first and last time the film The Birth of a Nation. I was shocked and disturbed and as a result developed a lifelong hatred of Cripps. His emphasis was on the technical virtuosity of D. W. Griffiths, rather than the racism that was so evident. Cripps had replaced Benjamin Quarles, author of Frederick Douglass (1948), who was on sabbatical. He had been at Morgan since 1953, after leaving Dillard University where he had been since 1939. So I missed my chance to study under the great progressive Negro historian.

My Baltimore family was not well-connected. So my librarian friend, a graduate of Hampton University, introduced me to a whole new world. In that I did not stay on campus I had not gotten a real sense of campus life or black life in Baltimore. I finished my classes and I returned to Edmondson Village. Fall 1967 that all changed. My eyes had been opened; my consciousness had expanded with the summer readings. I had made love to a grown woman (a married one) with children instead of sneaking around with high school girls from the prying eyes of their mothers. I was growing into a man, though I had just turned nineteen.

With new eyes, I took note of the antiwar activity on campus and the group Dissent, whose faculty advisor was Dr. Cliff Durand, now Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Morgan State University. This was the era of burning draft cards and protest at draft boards in both North, South, East, and West.

This was almost three years before Kent State in which the Ohio National Guard fired into a crowd of Kent State University demonstrators, killing four and wounding nine Kent State students.

That Fall semester I did not enroll in the Junior ROTC program. Stokely Carmichael, sensational and controversial, was invited to speak to Morgan students at Murphy Auditorium. I had not heard of him and I had never heard blacks speak in public the criticisms that Stokely spoke. There was great laughter at the contradictions he pointed out in the white man’s lies we had adopted as truth and the great hurt that came from living in the white man’s world. This was a time of consciousness raising. Stokely was retiring as the chairman of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which was in the midst of a great organizational change after the cry of Black Power had been raised. Its white staff had departed .And Stokely warned that the new chairman, H. Rap Brown, was a “bad” man and was going to bring down the “word” more forceful than he had.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        photo of Stokely and Rap  

Stokely’s speech brought about a sea change in my life. Naturally, there were those unspoken black-nationalist sentiments in my heart (passed down from the generations) that had never been given by me verbal expression. I never really had the words. I had known there was a cohesiveness in black life from what had been spoken in private among ourselves. But to give it a public voice that was all new and marvelous. So the laughter had a fringe of fear and a wonder at once.

That same Fall semester of 67 before the November elections Walter Lively came to campus and spoke at the Student Union. That was also the season that Baltimore County’s Spiro Agnew also came to campus seeking the Negro vote. But it was Walter that made a more impressionable change on my life. Walter was running for one of the three council seats in the Second District of East Baltimore. He was the head of Union for Jobs and Income Now (U-JOIN), a local civil rights organization involved in a tenants’ rights movement. The Second District, anchored by Johns Hopkins Hospital, had become black. The old white immigrant community was still controlled by a white Democratic machine that was still backward and conservative and anti-progressive from a Negro perspective.

The only way that Walter could get in to the race was to run as a Republican. The local Republican Party found it a marvelous idea but they really did not put that much money in Walter’s campaign. So Walter depended on white liberal and student support. He came to Morgan for that purpose and I joined his ranks. We became friends and associates. He was like the older brother I never had. We would later work together in developing a black movement press, Liberation House Press, near North Avenue and Greenmount Avenue. But the election campaign had given me an inroads into East Baltimore and I would later get a job as a tutor for black children at the local Catholic church.

That Fall semester I would also meet Robert B. Moore (Bob Moore), a native of Baltimore. He had been living in Atlanta and had been involved in a protest at a draft board and had been arrested and he was out on bond while the case was being appealed.                painting by Kaki of Walter Lively

In the 1970s, after an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court failed, Bob would spend two years at Allenwood, a low-security prison in Pennsylvania. His plan the fall of1967 was to return to Baltimore and open a SNCC office. That office was opened by January 1968 and I unofficially dropped out of Morgan State to join him in maintaining the office and its campaign for spreading the word of Black Power. We were operating on donations. Moore had been a member of the local NAACP and had also worked with Walter Lively in U-JOIN. He also knew members of Baltimore’s black elite including the Murphys (William Sr. and Madeline) of Cherry Hill, related to the Murphys  of the Baltimore Afro- American newspaper.

With these connections I got to know a greater number of Morgan students, including Sheila Lewis (who became Sheila Moore), Lydia Stanton (who became Lydia Lively), Fred Mason, Clarence "Tiger" Davis, Keith Shortridge, John Clark, and others. We developed the Society of Afro-American Students and began organizing meetings for Black Power and a campaign against the Vietnam War on campus, including a dismantling of ROTC as a curriculum requirement. Through the SNCC office we even developed a newsletter and leaflet distribution. Another issue for us was the importance of developing a black curriculum that would act as the collegiate foundation for consciousness development and a struggle against white values and white politics. Tiger Davis was our leading spokesperson. His talents as an orator and rabble rouser were excellent. He later became a state representative in Annapolis.

During this period the Society of United Liberators (Soul School, a black cultural nationalist organization) became an important force in West Baltimore near Freemont and Edmondson Avenue. They (Babatunji, Olugbala, Ali, Shaguna, and Allen) would later bring Amiri Baraka  to Baltimore for one of LeRoi Jones' plays at a local church. Stokely also came to that program.. The Nation of Islam had received new life with Malcolm X, but there were suspicions of them after the assassination of Malcolm. Most of my political peers were suspicious of religion and especially suspicious of Muslims and their leader Elijah Muhammad but we were all readers of Muhammad Speaks. SCLC was also establishing an office in the Pennsylvania Avenue area in West Baltimore.

CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) had an office in the Gay Street area, the business district of black East Baltimore, west of Johns Hopkins Hospital, at Monument and Broadway. Danny Gant was its leading spokesman. I accompanied Danny once to the office of then Mayor Thomas D'Alesandro III, the brother of House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi. I was amazed by Danny’s antics: he placed his feet on the desk of the Mayor. His wife Andrea was also an important leader in East Baltimore. CORE, which remained integrated unlike SNNC, adopted tenets of Black Power.

We were aware of SCLC’s plans for the Poor People’s Campaign, which was a counterweight to the development of SNCC’s Black Power Movement and other black nationalist resurgences. King was not only moving North and West, he was moving nationally and against the Vietnam War, and re-emphasizing the economic aspects of the 1963 March on Washington. Though a member of SNCC, which was somewhat antagonistic to King’s philosophy of non-violence, I was impressed by King and his speeches me. He moved me by his rhetoric, by his passion. Maybe my church rearing and deep-seated religions sentiments kicked in with his sermonizing. I was often mocked by my black nationalist peers for my admiration of King.

From the black elite there was a different kind of criticism, especially after King came out against the War: they passed around mocking suggestive rumors of the secret activities of Baptist preachers and the women in their congregations.

We had eyes and ears on the developments in Memphis and the strike of the garbage workers, and their I Am a Man signs. There was some mockery of King running away when he tried to lead the garbage workers in a peaceful, non-violent march when violence broke out with the breaking of windows of local businesses. The Black Power rhetoric was having its impact in Memphis. While northern and mid-Western and Western black communities (like Watts and Detroit) had had its riots, cities like Washington, DC and Baltimore and other southern cities had remained quiet and sullen in face of increasing white backlash against the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Bill and 1965 Voting Rights Bill.

In a sense President Lyndon B. Johnson’s legislative victories (the 1964 Civil Rights and 1965 Voting Rights acts) had undermined the relevance of the Civil Rights Movement and King’s national leadership. So the planned Poor People’s Campaign was intended to heighten the contradictions of racial oppression in America. King saw the Memphis strike as key to what he intended to do in Washington, DC. He wanted to show that all poor peoples whatever their color (red, brown, white, and black) had more in common than the wealthy elite who benefited from the poverty and powerlessness of a significant portion of Americans.

We were indeed shocked by the news of King’s assassination. We expected there would be a violent response against the so-called black militants. But the murder of the prophet of love took us by surprise. We began to agitate around his death. We passed out leaflets to close down community businesses in honor and respect for King’s accomplishments and undeserved death. Leaflets were passed out in the main shopping centers of Black Baltimore: Greenmount Avenue, Gay Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, Mondawmin. The Baltimore riot (which many of us called a rebellion) began in the Gay Street area. Baltimore’s white business elite within black communities found themselves in a dilemma, and they feared black response. Easter shopping was ongoing and the businesses began to respond to the leafleting. For many of the black shoppers the closing of the stores was another racial affront.

The riots spread with angry young blacks roaming the streets breaking store windows. Then the fire-bombing began in the Gay Street area, then Pennsylvania Avenue, and then Greenmount Avenue. Agnew declared, “a state of public crisis, emergency, and civil disturbance exists within the City of Baltimore” and called in the National Guard:  5,783 military personnel were activated in Baltimore A curfew was instituted.

Arrests were widespread, so much so that the Civic Center was used to house those arrested. Thousands were arrested including those just sitting on their stoops. Some of us were involved in helping General George Gelston, then the head of the Maryland National Guard, to quiet the city. But the Baltimore riot soon ran its course and would have done so without the repression of the National Guard, the state troopers, and Baltimore finest. But there was a real fear that a Black Revolution was under way. It was much like the exaggerated response to Nathaniel Turner and the 1831 Southampton revolt.

After the Baltimore revolt, Governor Agnew called in the Black Elite and scolded them as if they were his children. Some walked out of the meeting. Agnew gained a national reputation as knowing how to deal with the Blacks. Agnew was then chosen as Nixon’s vice-president running mate. Among those singled out was Robert Moore, chairman of Baltimore SNCC. To defend and support the so-called black militants, a Black United Front was created that included moderate and conservative black leaders.

In some sense this new organization sublimated and squashed the new black militancy. Many of the so-called militants entered and made use of the anti-poverty programs (or Model Cities) that were being extended across the city—e.g., the Greenmount area with the Model Urban Neighborhood Demonstration (MUND), funded by Westinghouse operating in the areas from North Avenue (on the south) to 25th Street (on the north) and from 's now I 83 (on the west) to Harford Road (on the east).

MUND would by late 1968 develop into the Model Urban Neighborhood Development (MUND) Corporation, federally funded, with its offices on Maryland Avenue near 22nd Street. I worked for a while with the federally-funded MUND. I worked first with the demonstration program as a neighborhood representative and then later with the MUND Corporation as an employee. I resigned after about six months. Later, much of the black militancy and black groups  were used to elect black representatives; e.g., judges, councilmen, state legislators, state’s attorney and finally the election of Parren Mitchell, as the first U.S. Representative from Maryland (1971-1986). There were moves also made and planned to elect a black mayor of Baltimore. Many thought Walter Lively would be that man.

Then there was Ronald Reagan and the resurgence of the Republican Party in the 1980s, and the War on Drugs and derisive remarks about Welfare Queens. Black politics was on the defensive and began to move farther and farther to the Right toward the status quo with the election of blacks to local and national offices. Kenneth Allen Gibson became mayor of Newark in 1970 and served until 1986. Much of this Newark electoral movement occurred under the leadership of Amiri Baraka. Kurt Schmoke in 1987 became Baltimore’s first elected mayor after a term as State’s Attorney.

Probably the most important events of post-1968 Baltimore riots were the organizing of black workers, which included garbage workers and other government workers. Black drivers of public buses became commonplace. In 1969, over 5000 hospital and nursing home workers were organized in a period of six months, including a thousand or more at Johns Hopkins Hospital in East Baltimore. Coretta Scott King to Baltimore and encouraged Hopkins black workers to join 1199. The new black militancy found more of a home among blacks on the lower economic tiers of Black Baltimore. The average wage of health care workers then was about $1.65 an hour, without job security, health care benefits, or pensions. 1199 of New York sent out organizers to cities like Baltimore (Fred Punch) and Philadelphia (Henry Nicholas) and developed very high spirited and militant locals that challenged the white elites of those cities.  For awhile (a few months in 1990) I worked for Nicholas.

In some sense all of that began to unravel with the union busting spirit of Ronald Reagan. Union militancy was knocked back on its heels and never recovered. Union democracy for which 1199 was known became more institutional, centralized, and conservative. But that became true for all black leaders holding some institutional office.

With government and middle class emphasis on crime and drug trafficking and fiscal accountability, the criminal justice system became more and more punitive and the black communities became more and more criminalized and impoverished.  Michele Alexander’s recent book The New Jim Crow and Ronald Walters’s 2003 book White Nationalism and Black Interests sketch out fairly well what happened during the 1980s and the 1990s, especially during the Clinton administration. Martin Luther King’s Dream and his Poor People’s Campaign were thrown to the ground like a pregnant, tasered, handcuffed woman carried off to prison. In Baltimore, several years ago a 7-year-old black child, sitting on an outlawed dirt back was arrested, handcuffed, carried off to jail. The black mayor Sheila Dixon, without any inkling of indignation, could only say she would look into the matter. No city apology was made to the parents of the child and the matter was dropped. Black creative militancy was dead and unfuneralized in Baltimore. Long Live Martin Luther King! Long Live Creative Militancy!

4 April 2010

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42nd anniversary of the assassination of Civil Rights Leader, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

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Martin Luther King, Jr.: 

Last speech / Prophetic Last speech  / Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam / On War / I'm Sorry Sir You Don't Know Me 

A Time to Break Silence  /  Proud to be maladjusted!  /  Afghanistan (HerStory)  

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

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#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

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#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Behind the Dream

The Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation

By Clarence B. Jones and Stuart Connelly

 “I Have a Dream.” When those words were spoken on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, the crowd stood, electrified, as Martin Luther King, Jr. brought the plight of African Americans to the public consciousness and firmly established himself as one of the greatest orators of all time. Behind the Dream is a thrilling, behind-the-scenes account of the weeks leading up to the great event, as told by Clarence Jones, co-writer of the speech and close confidant to King. Jones was there, on the road, collaborating with the great minds of the time, and hammering out the ideas and the speech that would shape the civil rights movement and inspire Americans for years to come.— Palgrave Macmillan

Behind the Dream: The Making of the Speech that Transformed a Nation is a smart, insightful, enjoyable read about a momentous event in history. It is the "story behind the story" straight from Clarence Jones, the attorney, speechwriter, and close friend of Martin Luther King, Jr. As I read the words on the page, I felt as if I were having an intimate conversation with the author. The book helped me to understand the humanity of Dr. King and the other organizers of the March on Washington. They were people who saw injustice and called for change. Despite FBI wiretaps and other adversity, together they undertook an enormous logistical effort in hopes that the March would be a success. Jones himself handwrote the first draft of the renowned “I Have a Dream” speech on a yellow legal pad, but it wasn't until King was inspired to veer from the text that he struck a chord with the audience, delivering the right words at the right time. The “I Have a Dream” speech helped to elevate King from a man to a hero; this book is a reminder to all to make sure that his Dream lives on.—amazon customer

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Malcolm X

A Life of Reinvention

By Manning Marable

Years in the making-the definitive biography of the legendary black activist.

Of the great figure in twentieth-century American history perhaps none is more complex and controversial than Malcolm X. Constantly rewriting his own story, he became a criminal, a minister, a leader, and an icon, all before being felled by assassins' bullets at age thirty-nine. Through his tireless work and countless speeches he empowered hundreds of thousands of black Americans to create better lives and stronger communities while establishing the template for the self-actualized, independent African American man. In death he became a broad symbol of both resistance and reconciliation for millions around the world.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 5 April 2010

 

 

 

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