Day-to-day life for the Southern Negro in the
winter of 1960 was little different than it had been the year
before, or five years before.
The pace of public-school desegregation was
still proceeding at 1 percent per year, which meant that full
compliance with brown v. Board of education would be achieved,
"with all deliberate speed," by 2054. there were still
more than forty counties in the South where not a single Negro was
registered to vote, and more than twenty counties where white
registration exceeded 100 percent. Negroes were still denied the
right to use the same lunch counters, motels, theaters, and public
toilets as whites.
The White Citizens' Councils, founded in
Mississippi in1954, were growing rapidly. the lynchings of Emmett
Till and Mack Charles Parker were still unsolved. Negro
cotton-choppers were still paid three dollars a day in the
Mississippi delta. Negro youth unemployment in cities like
Birmingham and Atlanta was as high as 30 percent.
The 381-day Montgomery bus boycott; the
federally enforced integration of Little Rock's Central High; the
eviction of Negro tenant farmers in Fayette County, Tennessee, for
trying to vote were simply a prologue to the epic drama about to
What happened in Greensboro, North Carolina, on
February 1st, went unreported in The New York Times the
next day, but it had the effect of the Boston Tea Party. It was
the single spark that was to ignite the conscience of white
America and the hope of black America.
The four freshmen from a Jim crow college who
sat-in that day in Greensboro's downtown F.W. Woolworth
could hardly sense the historic significance of their deed. No
one, not John Kennedy, then starting his bid for the Presidency,
not Martin Luther King, then a Moses without a movement, not
George Wallace, then running for governor of Alabama, could know
that a simple plea for a cup of coffee would set into motion a
chain of events whose final meaning, six years later, is still
shrouded beyond the rim of history.
On Sunday night, January 31st, four freshmen at
all-Negro North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College, in
Greensboro, relaxed in a dorm in Scott Hall, discussing the
problem. Ezell Blair, Jr., chairman of the Student Committee for
Justice, was one of them. the other three were David Richmond,
seventeen, of Greensboro; Franklin McCain, eighteen, of
Washington, D.C.; and Joseph McNeill, seventeen, of Wilmington,
The quartet, according to Blair, "spent a
lot of time discussing the segregated situations we were exposed
to. . . . It just didn't seem right that we would have to walk two
miles to town, buy notebook paper and toothpaste in a national
chain store, and then not be able to get a bite to eat and a cup
of coffee at the counter."
On Sunday night the same dehumanizing
experiences were being recited again when Joe McNeill exclaimed,
"well, we've talked about it long enough. let's do
The four decided to "do something"
the next day. They told no one of their decision.
At about 4;45 p.m. on February 1st, the four
freshmen entered the F.W. Woolworth Company store on North Elm
street in the heart of the city. each of them purchased a tube of
toothpaste and then sat down at the lunch counter.
A Negro woman working in the kitchen rushed
over tot hem and said, "You know you're not supposed to be in
here." Later the woman called the four "ignorant"
and a "disgrace to their race."
The students requested four cups of coffee from
the white waitress.
"I'm sorry but we don't serve colored
here," she informed them politely.
Franklin McCain responded, "I beg your
pardon, but you just served me at the counter two feet away. Why
is it that you serve me at that counter, and deny me at another?
Why not stop serving me at all the counters?"
A few minutes later the manager of the store
told the youths, "I'm sorry but we can't serve you because it
is not the local custom."
The four young Negroes remained at the counter,
coffeeless, until 5;30 p.m., when the store closed.
The next day, Tuesday, February 2nd, sixteen
other North Carolina A and T undergraduates joined the four
pioneers at the lunch counter. they were all denied service, and
returned on Wednesday, fifty strong, including Negro high-school
students from Dudley High and a few white co-eds from Women's
College in Greensboro.
By Friday, February 5th, the integrated group
had grown so large that some of them sat-in at an S.H. Kress
store, one block away. they, too, were refused service. On Friday,
a large group of white high-school toughs in black leather
jackets, carrying Confederate flags, began to heckle the students.
The confrontation was repeated on Saturday
afternoon, when several hundred students, many carrying Bibles and
all well dressed, sat-in and were surrounded by taunting white
At about 3 p.m. the management of Woolworth
received a bomb threat, and the tense police used that as the
pretext for emptying the store of both demonstrators and hecklers.
The students then marched to the Kress store.
The manager met them in the doorway and shouted, "this store
is closed, as of now."
The students cheered, feeling they had won a
victory. "It's all over," they shouted. But it had
really just began. An idea's time had come.
The next week there were spontaneous sit-in
demonstrations in many parts of North Carolina--Durham, Raleigh,
Charlotte, Winston-Salem, High Point, Salisbury, and Concord. By
Wednesday, February 10th, the movement had spilled over the border
into Rock Hill and Orangeburg, in South Carolina. In Rock Hill a
Negro boy was knocked off a stool by a white teenager, and ammonia
was hurled through the door of a drugstore, bringing tears to the
eyes of the students.
The sit-ins next swept into Hampton, Richmond,
and Portsmouth, in Virginia. the first arrests came on February
12th in Raleigh, North Carolina, where forty-three students,
including several whites, were jailed on charges of trespassing.
Twelve days after Greensboro, forty students,
including John Lewis, future chairman of SNCC, sat-in at
Woolworth's in Nashville, during a snowstorm. On February 27th,
seventy-six people sat-in in Nashville. Lighted cigarettes were
jabbed at the necks of several girls by segregationist hecklers. A
white student from Vanderbilt University was dragged off his stool
and pummeled. Paul LePrad, a Negro student at Fisk University, was
pulled from his stool by a white adult and punched in the mouth.
he got up and climbed back on his stool. By the end of the day all
seventy-six had been jailed.
In Orangeburg, South Carolina, students at
Claffin College and nearby South Carolina State held a series of
workshops and seminars in nonviolence. On March 14th in
Orangeburg, lunch counters were reopened after a month's closing,
and seven hundred students marched nonviolently downtown. Police
met them with tear-gas bombs and fire hoses. Dozens were knocked
off their feet and slammed against walls by high-pressure hoses
that tore the bark off tree stumps.
More than 500 were arrested, and 350 of them
were locked into an eight-feet-high chicken coop because the jails
were full. The next day The New York Times carried a
front-page picture of the 350 huddling in the chicken-coop
stockade, in subfreezing temperatures--singing "God Bless
By the first anniversary of the Greensboro
sit-in, the NAACP reported it had paid for the legal defense of
seventeen hundred demonstrators during the intervening year.
According to Howard Zinn, in
The New Abolitionists , more
than 50,000 people participated in some kind of civil rights
protest in the twelve months after Greensboro, and "over 3600
demonstrators spent time in jail."
It is impossible to overestimate the impact of
those first, hardly noticed sit-ins. Harold Flemming, who was
director of the Southern Regional Council in 1960, said recently,
"Just as the Supreme Court decision was the legal turning
point, the sit-ins were the psychological turning point in race
relations in the South."
Ralph McGill, the beacon of Atlanta liberalism,
did not at first support the sit-in movement. But a few years
later, in his book,
The South and the Southerner, he
The sit-ins were, without question,
productive of the most change. . . . No argument in a
court of law could have dramatized the immorality and
irrationality of such a custom as did the sit-in. . . .
The sit-ins reached far out into the back country. They
inspired adult men and women, fathers, mothers,
grandmothers, aunts and uncles, to support the young
students in the cities. Not even the Supreme Court
decision on schools in 1954 had done this. . . .
The sit-in technique was not invented in
Greensboro. the Gandhi-influenced Congress of Racial Equality
(CORE) had used it successfully in Chicago, in 1942, and again in
St. Louis, in 1949.
Greensboro was not a particularly backward city
in terms of race relations. its public schools desegregated
voluntarily in 1955, and both daily newspapers were to come out
against lunch-counter segregationist after the sit-ins began.
It all seemed to be the caprice of history that
the spontaneous sit-in on February 1st in Greensboro should give
off sparks that showered the South, igniting local protests in
sixty-five communities in twelve states within six weeks. Perhaps
the Greensboro sit-in was merely the catalyst that needed to be
added to the existing chemicals of the 1954 school desegregation
decision, the Montgomery bus boycott, and the emerging nations of
Africa, in order to liberate the damned-up rivers of idealism,
energy, and courage that cascaded through the South those first
weeks of 1960.
Source: Jack Newfield.
A Prophetic Minority.
New York: The New American Library, 1966.
* * *
Power, A Critique of the System
Power / What We Want
Kish Mir Tuchas
Tribute to Kwame Toure/Stokely Carmichael
* * *
Arson and Cold Grace,
or How I Yearn to Burn Baby, Burn
By Worth Long
We have found you out, four face
Americas, we have found you out.
We have found you out, false faced
farmers, we have found you out.
The sparks of suspicion are melting
And waters can’t drown them, the
fires are burning
And firemen can’t calm them with
And preachers can’t pray with
hopes for deceiving
Nor leaders deliver a lecture on
Nor teachers inform them the chosen
For now is the fire and fires
To logical reason and hopefully
Hot flames must devour the kneeling
And torture the masters whose idiot
Get lost in the echoes of dancing
We have found you out, four faced
farmers, we have found you out.
We have found you out, four faced America, we have found you
To Free a Generation: The
Dialectics of Liberation, edited by David Cooper. London: Collier
* * * *
Stokely Speaks; Black Power Back to
By Stokely Carmichael
Standiford Churchill Carmichael—(June 29, 1941 -
November 15, 1998), also known as Kwame Ture, was a
Trinidadian-American black activist active in the
1960s American Civil Rights Movement. He rose to
prominence first as a leader of the Student
Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, pronounced
"Snick") and later as the "Honorary Prime Minister"
of the Black Panther Party. Initially an
integrationist, Carmichael later became affiliated
with black nationalist and Pan-Africanist movements.
He popularized the term "Black Power."
In 1965, working as an SNCC activist in Lowndes
County, Alabama, Carmichael helped to increase the
number of registered black voters from 70 to 2,60 —
300 more than the number of registered white voters.
Black residents and voters
organized and widely supported the Lowndes County Freedom
Organization, a party that had the black panther as its mascot,
over the white dominated local Democratic Party, whose mascot
was a white rooster. Although black residents and voters
outnumber whites in Lowndes, they lost the county wide election
Carmichael became chairman of SNCC later in 1966, taking over
from John Lewis. A few weeks after Carmichael took office, James
Meredith was attacked with a shotgun during his solitary "March
Against Fear". Carmichael joined Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Floyd McKissick, Cleveland Sellers, and others to continue
Meredith's march. He was arrested once again during the march
and, upon his release, he gave his first "Black Power" speech,
using the phrase to urge black pride and socio-economic
"It is a call for black
people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to
build a sense of community. It is a call for black people to
define their own goals, to lead their own organizations."
While Black Power was not a new concept, Carmichael's speech
brought it into the spotlight and it became a rallying cry for
young African Americans across the country. According to Stokely
Carmichael : "Black Power meant black people coming together to
form a political force and either electing representatives or
forcing their representatives to speak their needs [rather than
relying on established parties]. Heavily influenced by the work
of Frantz Fanon and his landmark book Wretched of the Earth,
along with others such as Malcolm X, under Carmichael's
leadership SNCC gradually became more radical and focused on
Black Power as its core goal and ideology. This became most
evident during the controversial Atlanta Project in 1966.
SNCC, under the local
leadership of Bill Ware, engaged in a voter drive to promote the
candidacy of Julian Bond for the Georgia State Legislature in an
Atlanta district. However, unlike previous SNCC activities—like
the 1961 Freedom Rides or the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer —
Ware excluded Northern white SNCC members from the drive.
Initially, Carmichael opposed this move and voted it down, but
he eventually changed his mind. When, at the urging of the
Atlanta Project, the issue of whites in SNCC came up for a vote,
Carmichael ultimately sided with those calling for the expulsion
of whites, reportedly to encourage whites to begin organizing
poor white southern communities while SNCC would continue to
focus on promoting African American self reliance through Black
Carmichael saw nonviolence as a tactic as opposed to a
principle, which separated him from moderate civil rights
leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr.. Carmichael became critical
of civil rights leaders who simply called for the integration of
African Americans into existing institutions of the middle class
Carmichael—Black Power Speech
* * *
* * * * *
Keeping It Trim &
Burning (poem for Fannie Lou Hamer)
Fannie Lou Doc 1 /
Fannie Lou Hamer Doc 2 /
Fannie Lou Hamer Doc 3 /
Fannie Lou Hamer Doc 4 /
Fannie Lou Hamer Doc 5
Hamer's speech at the 1964 DNC
Fannie Lou Hamer (born
Fannie Lou Townsend on October 6, 1917 – March 14, 1977) was an
American voting rights activist and
civil rights leader. She was instrumental in organizing
Freedom Summer for the
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and later
became the Vice-Chair of the
Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, attending the
1964 Democratic National Convention in
Atlantic City, New Jersey, in that capacity. Her
plain-spoken manner and fervent belief in the
Biblical righteousness of her cause gained her a reputation
as an electrifying speaker and constant activist of civil
rights. . . .
On August 23, 1962, Rev.
James Bevel, an organizer for the Student Nonviolent
Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and an associate of Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr., gave a sermon in Ruleville,
Mississippi and followed it with an appeal to those assembled to
register to vote. . . . Hamer was the first volunteer. She
later said, "I guess if I'd had any sense, I'd have been a
little scared—but what was the point of being scared? The only
thing they could do was kill me, and it seemed they'd been
trying to do that a little bit at a time since I could
On August 31, she traveled
on a rented bus with other attendees of Bevel's sermon to
Indianola, Mississippi to register. In what would become a
signature trait of Hamer's activist career, she began singing
Christian hymns, such as "Go
Tell It on the Mountain" and "This
Little Light of Mine," to the group in order to bolster
their resolve. . . . Bob Moses . .. dispatched Charles McLaurin
. . . to find "the lady who sings the hymns". McLaurin found and
recruited Hamer. . . . On June 9, 1963, Hamer was on her way
Charleston, South Carolina with other activists from a
literacy workshop. Stopping in
Winona, Mississippi, the group was arrested on a false
charge and jailed. Once in jail, Hamer and her colleagues were
beaten savagely by the police, almost to the point of death.
Released on June 12, she
needed more than a month to recover. . . Hamer was invited,
along with the rest of the MFDP [Mississippi Freedom Democratic
Party] officers, to address the Convention's Credentials
Committee. She recounted the problems she had encountered in
registration, and the ordeal of the jail in Winona, and, near
tears, concluded: "All of this is on account we want to register
to become first-class citizens, and if the Freedom Democratic
Party is not seated now, I question America. Is this America,
the land of the free and the home of the brave where we have
to sleep with our telephones off the hooks because our lives be
threatened daily because we want to live as decent human
Hubert Humphrey (who was campaigning for the
Vice-Presidential nomination), [along with]
Walter Mondale, and
Walter Reuther, as well as
J. Edgar Hoover . . . suggested a compromise which would
give the MFDP two non-voting seats in exchange for other
concessions, and secured the endorsement of
Martin Luther King, Jr. and the
Southern Christian Leadership Conference for the plan. But
when Humphrey outlined the compromise, saying that his position
on the ticket was at stake, Hamer, invoking her Christian
beliefs, sharply rebuked him:
"Do you mean to tell me
that your position is more important than four hundred thousand
black people's lives? Senator Humphrey, I know lots of people in
Mississippi who have lost their jobs trying to register to vote.
I had to leave the plantation where I worked in
Sunflower County, Mississippi. Now if you lose this job of
Vice-President because you do what is right, because you help
the MFDP, everything will be all right.
God will take care of you. But if you take [the nomination]
this way, why, you will never be able to do any good for civil
rights, for poor people, for peace, or any of those things you
talk about. Senator Humphrey, I'm going to pray to Jesus for
Future negotiations were
conducted without Hamer, and the compromise was modified such
that the Convention would select the two delegates to be seated,
for fear the MFDP would appoint Hamer. In the end, the MFDP
rejected the compromise, but had changed the debate to the point
that the Democratic Party adopted a clause which demanded
equality of representation from their states' delegations in
* * *
Mukoma wa Ngugi
Her womb pressed against the desert to
bear the parasite
that eats her insides like termites
drill into dry wood.
He is born into an empty bowl, fist
choking umbilical cord.
She dies sighing, child son at last. He
couldn't have known,
instinct told him - always raise your
arm in defense of your
own -Strike! Strike until they are all
dead! Egg shells
in your hands milk bottle held between
you have been anointed twice, you strong
enough to kill
at birth and survive. You will want to
name the world
after yourself but you will have no
name- a collage of dead
roots, tongues and other things. You
will point your sword
to the center of the earth, duel the
world to split into perfect
mirrors after your imperfect mutations
but you will be
too weak having latched your self onto
too many streams
straddling too many continents, pulling
patches of a self
as one does fruits from an from an
orchard, building a home
of planks with many faces. How does one
look into a mirror
with a face that washes clean every
He has an identity for every occasion -
here he is Lenin
there Jesus and yesterday Marx -
inflexible truths inherited
without roots. To be nothing to remain
nothing, to kill
at birth - such love can only drink from
our wrists. We
storming from our past to Jo'Burg eating
wisdom of others
building homes made of our grandparent's
gathering momentum that eats out of our
earth, We standing
pens and bullets hurled at you, your
enemies. Comrade, there
are many ways to die. A dog dies never
why it lived but a free death belongs to
a life lived in roots,
roots not afraid of growing where they
stand, roots tapped all over
the earth. Comrade,
for a tree to grow, it must first own
* * * * *
The Slave Ship
By Marcus Redike
* * *
Wild Women Don’t Have the
By Ida Cox
I hear these women raving 'bout their
About their fighting husbands and their
no good friends
These poor women sit around all day and
Wondering why their wandering papas
don't come home
But wild women don't worry, wild women
don't have the blues.
Now when you've got a man, don't ever be
on the square
'Cause if you do he'll have a woman
I never was known to treat no one man
I keep 'em working hard both day and
because wild women don't worry, wild
women don't have no blues.
I've got a disposition and a way of my
When my man starts kicking I let him
find another home
I get full of good liquor, walk the
streets all night
Go home and put my man out if he don't
Wild women don't worry, wild women don't
have no blues
You never get nothing by being an angel
You better change your ways and get real
I wanna tell you something, I wouldn't
tell you no lie
Wild women are the only kind that ever
Wild women don't worry, wild women don't
have no blues.
Prather,25 February 1896 in Toccoa,
Habersham County, Georgia, United
States. Died 10 November 1967 (aged 71)
Genres Jazz, Blues Instruments Vocalist.
* * *
Guarding the Flame of Life
Strange Fruit Lynching Report
* * *
The State of African Education
(April 2000) /
Attack On Africans Writing Their Own
History Part 1 of 7
Dr Asa Hilliard III speaks on the assault of academia on
Africans writing and accounting for their own history.
Dr Hilliard is A
teacher, psychologist, and historian.
Part 2 of 7
3 of 7 /
Part 4 of 7
Part 5 of 7 /
Part 6 of 7 /
Part 7 of 7
John Henrik Clarke—A Great and Mighty Walk
* * *
* * *
Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change
By John Lewis
The Civil Rights Movement gave rise to the protest culture we know today, and the experiences of leaders like Congressman Lewis have never been more relevant. Now, more than ever, this nation needs a strong and moral voice to guide an engaged population through visionary change. Congressman John Lewis was a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement. He was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and played a key role in the struggle to end segregation. Despite more than forty arrests, physical attacks, and serious injuries, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence. He is the author of his autobiography, Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of a Movement, and is the recipient of numerous awards from national and international institutions, including the Lincoln Medal; the John F. Kennedy “Profile in Courage” Lifetime Achievement Award (the only one of its kind ever awarded); the NAACP Spingarn Medal; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, among many others.
* * *
Here lies Jim Crow: Civil rights in Maryland
By C. Fraser Smith
Though he lived throughout much of the South—and even worked his way into parts of the North for a time—Jim Crow was conceived and buried in Maryland. From Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney's infamous decision in the Dred Scott case to Thurgood Marshall's eloquent and effective work on Brown v. Board of Education, the battle for black equality is very much the story of Free State women and men. Here, Baltimore Sun columnist C. Fraser Smith recounts that tale through the stories, words, and deeds of famous, infamous, and little-known Marylanders. He traces the roots of Jim Crow laws from Dred Scott to Plessy v. Ferguson and describes the parallel and opposite early efforts of those who struggled to establish freedom and basic rights for African Americans.
Following the historical trail of evidence, Smith relates latter-day examples of Maryland residents who trod those same steps, from the thrice-failed attempt to deny black people the vote in the early twentieth century to nascent demonstrations for open access to lunch counters, movie theaters, stores, golf courses, and other public and private institutions—struggles that occurred decades before the now-celebrated historical figures strode onto the national civil rights scene.
Smith's lively account includes the grand themes
and the state's major players in the
movement—Frederick Douglass, Harriett Tubman, Thurgood Marshall, and Lillie May Jackson, among others.—and also tells the story of the struggle via several of Maryland's important but relatively unknown men and women—such as Gloria Richardson, John Prentiss Poe, William L. "Little Willie" Adams, and Walter Sondheim—who prepared Jim Crow's grave and waited for the nation to deliver the body.—Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008
* * * *
Michelle Alexander: US Prisons, The New Jim Crow
Judge Mathis Weighs in on the execution of Troy Davis
The New Jim Crow
Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
mass incarceration of people of color through the War on
Drugs is a big part of the reason that a black child
born today is less likely to be raised by both parents
than a black child born during slavery. The absence of
black fathers from families across America is not simply
a function of laziness, immaturity, or too much time
watching Sports Center. Hundreds of thousands of black
men have disappeared into prisons and jails, locked away
for drug crimes that are largely ignored when committed
by whites. Most people seem to
imagine that the drug war—which has swept millions of
poor people of color behind bars—has been aimed at
rooting out drug kingpins or violent drug offenders.
Nothing could be further from the truth. This war has
been focused overwhelmingly on low-level drug offenses,
like marijuana possession—the very crimes that happen
with equal frequency in middle class white communities.
* * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
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Negro Digest /
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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
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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