"So when they say, 'Go back to Africa' ... I say, 'When you send the Polish back to Poland, the Italians back to Italy, the Irish back to Ireland, and you get on that Mayflower from whence you came and give the Indians their land back.' It's our right to stay here and we stay and fight for what belongs to us."
Rev. George Lee
May 7, 1955
Reverend George Lee was one of the first black people registered to vote in Humphreys County, used his pulpit and his printing press to urge others to vote. White officials offered Lee protection on the condition he end his voter registration efforts, but Lee refused and was murdered.
August 13, 1955
After having organized Black voters in a recent election, Lamar Smith was shot dead on the courthouse lawn by a white man in broad daylight while dozens of people watched. The killer was never indicted because no one would admit they saw a white man shoot a black man.
September 25, 1961
Herbert Lee, who worked with civil rights leader Bob Moses to help register black voters, was killed by a state legislator who claimed self-defense and was never arrested. Louis Allen, a black man who witnessed the murder, was later also killed.
Jimmie Lee Jackson
February 26, 1965
Jimmie Lee Jackson was beaten and shot by state troopers as he tried to protect his grandfather and mother from a trooper attack on civil rights marchers. His death led to the Selma-Montgomery march and the eventual passage of the Voting Rights Act.
Jonathan Myrick Daniels
August 20, 1965
Jonathan Myrick Daniels, an Episcopal Seminary student in Boston, had come to Alabama to help with black voter registration in Lowndes County. He was arrested at a demonstration, jailed in Hayneville and then suddenly released. Moments after his release, he was shot to death by a deputy sheriff. civil rights movement 1950s
Clockwise from top left: Rev. George Lee, Lamar Smith, Herbert Lee, Vernon Ferdinand Dahmer, Jonathan Myrick Daniels, Jimmie Lee Jackson.
From the American Revolution to the Civil War, Black service members have fought in every single American conflict. Black Americans represented a quarter of the US Navy during the Civil War (1861-1865) and consistently filled 20-30% of the Navy’s manpower in the latter half of the 19th century until African American’s opportunities in the Navy were abruptly curtailed in the early 1900s. Black Sailors only represented 1.2% of the Navy during WWI (1939-1945) and were only allowed in the galley or the coal room. During WWII (1939-1945), Nazi POWs were treated infinitely better than Black soldiers and were allowed in the same dining facilities, theaters, train cars, etc. where Black soldiers were not. Upon returning to the US after their service Black veterans were advised not to wear their uniforms due to the lynchings of Black soldiers and veterans. This brings into question the sincerity of what the US was fighting for or if Nazi racial policies and US racial policies were two sides of the same coin.
Some notable events.:
-During the American Revolution, 1775-1783, the superior performance of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment drove George Washington to agree to allow Black Soldiers who were slaves, to earn freedom through service.
-At the Battle of New Orleans, 1815, Andrew Jackson promised free Black men who joined him equivalent pay to their white counterparts, while enslaved men were promised freedom. Around 900 freemen and slaves fought at the Battle of New Orleans. Unfortunately, their sacrifice went unrewarded, when after the battle, Andrew Jackson reneged on his promise and sent enslaved men back to their masters.
-In July of 1862, Congress passed a law freeing any person with a master in the Confederate Army and slavery was abolished in the Union. In 1866, Congress authorized the creation of four permanent all-Black regiments which collectively became known as the Buffalo Soldiers.
-In 1896 the Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson racial segregation was legal. The policy would come to be known as “separate but equal.”
-The period surrounding the Spanish American War, 1898, corresponded with the rise of Jim Crow laws in the South.
-Houston Riot of 1917 – The US Army mistreated Black servicemen by sidelining them in favor of newly-enlisted white draftees while white Houston police officers habitually brutalized Black soldiers. Things came to a head on Dec. 11, 1917, when 13 African American soldiers from Camp Logan were hanged just outside of San Antonio for alleged participation in The Houston Riot after a case of police brutality. According to the Paris, Texas NAACP:
At noon [on August 23, 1917] police dragged an African American woman from her home and arrested her for public drunkenness. A soldier from the camp asked what was going on and was beaten and arrested as well. When Cpl. Charles Baltimore, an MP, learned of the arrest he went to the police station to investigate. He was beaten, then shot at as he was chased away. Rumors soon reached the camp that Baltimore had been killed, and that a white mob was approaching. Soldiers armed themselves and began their march toward the city. A riot ensued, leaving 16 white people dead, including five policemen. Four Black soldiers also died.
No white civilians were brought to trial following the Houston Riot, but the army held three courts-martial and found 110 African Americans guilty. Nineteen African American soldiers were executed and 63 received life sentences in federal prison. Two white officers faced court-martial, but they were released.
The 13 soldiers hanged on December 11 were:
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 1948, at age 19, Martin Luther King Jr graduated from Morehouse College – an all-male Historically black college (which King’s father and maternal grandfather had attended) with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology. King attended classes at Harvard University as an audit student in 1952 and 1953. At the age of 25 in 1954, King became a pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. He received his Ph.D. degree in 1955 from Boston University.
It is a little-known fact that in the fall of 1961, Martin Luther King taught a college course. His students recalled “an immense amount of reading”. His own handwriting lists the readings King assigned.:
Aristotle’s The Politics
By 1961 Martin Luther King had emerged as the most important voice in the civil rights movement. His choice of “dead white men” for the syllabus of his students, these young budding activists, gives us insight on how King viewed the civil rights movement and the struggles for justice and equality.
Hand written on postcard: "This is where they lynched a negro the other day. They didn’t know who done it. I guess they don’t care much. I don’t, do you?"
Vigilante murders were widely used to intimidate recently emancipated slaves, discourage newly enfranchised Black voters and civil rights workers of all ethnicities. Photos of the lynchings commonly showed desensitized men, women and children gleefully smiling in front of brutally tortured bodies. Lynching postcards were often inscribed with handwritten anti-Black texts or poems intended to be distributed, collected, or kept as souvenirs which helped propagate cultural and systematic racism.
In 1921 a mob of white vigilantes attacked by ground and by airplane, the African-American community of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma known as "Black Wall Street". A 2001 Oklahoma state commission confirmed that the city had conspired with the mob of white citizens against black citizens, fire bombing 35 block of residences and businesses in the wealthiest black community in the United States.
Tulsa, as a booming oil city, had been supporting a large number of affluent, educated and professional African Americans. Blacks had created their own businesses and services in this enclave, including several grocers, two newspapers, two movie theaters, nightclubs, and numerous churches. Black professionals, including doctors, dentists, lawyers, and clergy, had been serving their peers.
Considered one of the worst incidents of racial violence in the history of the United States, more than 800 people were admitted to hospitals and around 6,000 black residents were admitted to makeshift hospitals for several days. (At the time, hospitals were racially integrated, so black residents were sent to field hospitals.) The homes of about 10,000 black citizens were destroyed. Property damage amounted to more than $1.5 million in real estate and $750,000 in personal property ($31 million in 2018's money).
The riot began over a Memorial Day weekend, after 19-year-old Dick Rowland, a shoe shiner with a dark complexion, was accused of assaulting Sarah Page, the 17-year-old elevator operator with a fair complexion. According to Rowland, he tripped on the elevator threshold and reflexively grabbed her arm to steady himself. Initially he was arrested for assault. Later, Sarah Page decided not to press charges against Rowland.
Rowland was nonetheless taken to the county jail. The Tulsa Tribune stoked the flames with the breaking headline: "Nab Negro for Attacking Girl In an Elevator", and an editorial titled, "To Lynch Negro Tonight". [All original copies of that issue of the paper have apparently been destroyed, and the relevant page is missing from the microfilm copy.] Rumors of his lynching began to spread through both the Black and white communities. The sheriff positioned six of his men, armed with rifles and shotguns, on the roof of the courthouse. He disabled the building's elevator, and had his remaining men barricade themselves at the top of the stairs with orders to shoot any intruders on sight. The sheriff went outside and tried in vain to talk the gathering crowd into going home.
Sheriff McCullough personally informed the black community that their presence was required to support the sheriff and his deputies in defending Rowland from the mob. A group of approximately 50–60 black men, armed with rifles and shotguns, arrived at the jail.
Numerous eyewitnesses described at least a dozen privately owned airplanes carrying white assailants, including law enforcement personnel, who fired rifles and dropped firebombs on buildings, homes, and fleeing families. Planes circled the neighborhood and dropped "burning turpentine balls" on an office building, a hotel, a filing station and multiple other buildings. White men also fired rifles and machine guns at young and old black residents, gunning them down in the street.
White families who employed black people in their homes as live-in cooks and servants were accosted by white rioters demanding the families turn over their employees. Those who refused were subjected to attacks.
Many survivors left Tulsa, while black and white residents who stayed in the city were silent for decades about the terror, violence, and losses of this event. The massacre was largely omitted from local, state, and national histories.
In 2001, eighty years after the massacre and bombing, an Oklahoma state commission confirmed that the city had conspired with the mob of white citizens against black citizens, and recommended a program of reparations for survivors and their descendants. The state passed legislation to establish scholarships, and to develop of a memorial park. In 2010 the park was dedicated. In 2020, one hundred years after the massacre, it finally became part of the Oklahoma school curriculum.
Black Americans plea: I AM A MAN! I AM A MAN! I AM A MAN!
June 11, 2020 - "My earliest recollection of how my world was different to those with white skin was startling. Mother goes into this place where you could wash your clothes and I notice that all the people had pale skin. Fifty years later, my older sister said those days terrorized her in real time and in her dreams. At that time, I guess I could not read the “Whites Only” sign. She understood and knew she was right to be scared.
How I remember the dogs attacking Black people in the streets on television. What I learned later was that it was tear gas they were spraying directly in these people’s eyes and the water hoses aimed at their bodies as if to drown a prey. All the people with the weapons were White, those attacked, Black. I often wondered why they were being persecuted and what they might have done to deserve this treatment. Even at an early age, I knew this could not be right, or fair. Never did I recall a noose with a White neck in it, but there were scores of Black people dangling from trees. I didn’t know why, but I remembered.
I distinctly remember a “No Coloreds Allowed” sign at a restaurant in town. Many years later, they expanded and moved to a rural area. Although they sold the seafood that I love, I absolutely refused to spend my money there. A few years later it closed, and I felt like it was a minor victory on my part. If they couldn’t serve my parents, they couldn’t serve me. Some new owners might have had that restaurant, but to me, the imagine that burned in my brain would not allow me to patronize that establishment.
We always had insurance and paid taxes, but we were not allowed in certain places. Our tax money paid for schools, libraries, and parks, but we were not welcomed in the establishments we helped pay for. So our library at the time, was approximately the size of my bedroom and closet. The public library was only intended for the White patrons. They of course had better, newer, and more books. We made do with secondhand books that were not always in good condition. Despite all of this, we managed.
When integration came, we were made to leave our small Black Catholic school and move to an all-White school which was not coed. My time there was hard. I felt as though I didn’t belong, and I knew the color of my skin proved problematic for not only the other students, but some teachers as well. One nun at Christmas time asked some of the girls if they would trade names with her for the Kris Kringle exchange because “I really wouldn’t know what to get someone like that”. I found out later it was my name she had pulled from the box. I guess I never really noticed that teenagers, regardless of color, differed so much in what we liked. Many years later, I saw this same nun when I was a college student and she was eager to catch up. I was not, because, I remembered.
I guess my family was something of an enigma. Over 60% of my DNA says that I’m European. Even though we’re olive complexioned at best, we were always Black. Not mixed, not Creole, just Black. I have always been proud of my heritage and never cared what other people said, Ancestry.com included. So today I’m disgusted to see that not much has changed about the way my people are treated. We’ve become educated despite the attempts to stop us from bettering ourselves. We are business owners, CEOs, attorneys, doctors, astronauts, and an entire host of professions. Yet, we are to some, not enough."
- Anonymous, 2020
October, 2020 - it’s not so much about the time being unbalanced. It WAS within seconds of each other, per the timekeeper—but once again a woman had to FIGHT to get back what based on the agreed upon rules was rightfully hers, of which women have been doing for 100’s of years—unfortunately—as she was going up a representative of the ONLY GROUP IN WORLD HISTORY THATS NEVER HAD TO ASK ANY OTHER GROUP FOR PERMISSION TO DO ANYTHING. The ONE GROUP THATS NEVER SANG OR HAD A THOUGHT OF “WE SHALL OVER COME”.
And that group? The white male human being.
And that’s a fact.
In my lifetime of pointing that out, NO ONE HAS REFUTED THAT FACT.
I’m not mad or angry about it. That for ME would be wasted energy—like trying to “Unring the bell”. Together we ALL must work to take the dent out of the bell
The group—The white male human beings dominance.
It’s simply the one major fact of this country and world that needs to be pointed out and discussed—which I think when pointed out through formal education there’s a better chance of empathy from that group. Is that long ago past of dominance their fault today? No. But the recent past decades across many categories like—banking, housing, business, economic, outreach, private clubs (where many deals are made), education from kindergarten through college, board rooms, C-suites and more—of which “they’ve” still benefited from of that span of decades almost tenfold!
It’s head start that simply can’t be denied, period.
That beginning, that’s centuries ago means much of nothing today, EXCEPT as a true educational foundation FOR ALL OF US TODAY, ESPECIALLY OUR CHILDREN as we do what we WILL DO today and tomorrow—as a nation to right the wrongs suffered when THIS COUNTRY, OUR COUNTRY DIDN’T live up to its creed of “All Men Are Created Equal”, for WHATEVER REASON.
One major usefulness of truly learning about ALL of that past is to understand today’s origins and its real “why’s” to show the fact, the truth of the unequal playing field.
Think of it this way. How long have black people and people of color had 100% “legal-backed freedom” in the United States of America?
• 56 years. Fact.
The Civil Rights Act was signed on July 2, 1964.
How long has the white male person had 100% “legal-backed freedom” in the United States of America?
• 244 years. Fact.
The United States of America was founded on July 4, 1776.
That’s a 188 YEAR HEAD START even BEFORE freedom was STARTED and LEGALLY “born” for us—black people and people of color and more.
And just think of it from another point of view that is debated today still—it’s THE worst case of “aborting” a human life “of a group of people” in the history of this country...and even so—after 56 years—we are still fighting against racism. Fact.
Teach ALL of the “FACTS”.
The good. The bad. And the ugly.
Until we as a nation do THAT, we will NEVER get beyond it, and live in as much peace and harmony as humanly possible.
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."
Letter from Birmingham, Alabama jail, April 16, 1963.
July, 2016, Artist Dread Scott's flag is an update of the NAACP's flag
Between 1920 and 1938, after a lynching, this flag flew at the NYC office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) until the landlord threatened the office with eviction.