From Charleston, South Carolina: Thank you President Obama and First Lady Mrs. Michelle Obama for Truly Loving the People of this Great Country


Expressing Appreciation for the Presidency of Barack Obama

By Terri Mae Owens

As an African American Woman, I could not be prouder of the way President Obama and First Lady Mrs.Michelle Obama lead this country from 2008- 2016, and during their final days in 2017.

Watching the President and First Lady love, and express kindness and concern for the general health and well being of the citizens of this country, as well as for people around the world, in spite of harsh criticisms and personal attacks on their humanity, has inspired me to live my life by their example of taking the high road.

They have inspired me to not be complacent in my position as a citizen of this country, but to find ways to reach out to others, especially those who do not look like me, by using my gifts and talents as a human being, a historian and as an artist, to inspire unity, and effect positive change that helps to strengthens race relations in our country.

America belongs to all of her citizens, and in spite of the racist rhetoric expressed during the campaigning of President Elect Donald Trump, I am encouraged by knowing that regardless of race or religious affiliation, as citizens of this great country, that there are more of us that are unified in fighting to protect for all citizens, the freedoms and rights we value and hold dear as citizens of this great country, than those who are divided.

I am Looking forward to seeing how the Obama family continue using their experience and influence to help build an even more perfect union.

         Sharing Memories of the Obama Family and their Administration

Thank you President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for Coming to Charleston During Our Time of Enormous Grief

President Obama Eulogy: Clementa  Pinckney’s Furneral

Thanks Jenna and Barbara

for sharing your letter and these pictures:

People Magazine

“Love and Happiness:An Obama Celebration”

“Yes We Can: People Share Their Most Memorable Moments

From the Obama’s Presidency

President Obama Farewell Speech in Chicago

Mrs. Obama, Thank for the Example you Set of Character

When Women Attacked your Humanity

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Gentrification Displaces Black Residents in the City of Charleston, South Carolina


Gentrification Displaces Black Residents In the City of Charleston, South Carolina

I Was born in Charleston, South Carolina, and upon returning to Charleston in 2011,  I realized that the East side of town, which was predominantly black, is now occupied by a large percentage of white residents.

http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/charleston/gentrification-breaks-a-neighborhood-down-from-the-inside-out/Content?oid=4615103.

http://www.thedigitel.com/arts-culture/gentrification-and-charlestons-shrinking-black-pop-35468-1118, http://paa2008.princeton.edu/papers/81623

I wondered what had happened to all of the black folks who owned or rented homes downtown.  Where do those displaced by whites now live?  Do they still live near the city?  Are they prospering and benefiting financially from the influx of tourism into the city, in ways other than working as housekeepers, bellmen, and servers in downtown hotels?

The look of downtown Charleston is totally different now since many of the homes have either been gutted and rebuilt, replaced by new construction, or renovated.  With structural upgrades, the fair market value of homes in areas once considered “poor and bad areas to live in,” or the ghetto, has increased with the presence of white residents, making it difficult for many blacks to continue to rent in the city, or to pay the higher taxes.

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20110329/PC06/303299919

The City of Charleston has progressively grown in population and in the amount of businesses represented in the city.  Lower King Street has awakened from the dead with its streets lined with bars, restaurants, and the construction of the new hotels.  With the construction of new hotels on King street, businesses located on King Street will draw tourists who want the convenience of lodging in the heart of the city where the nightlife kicks off.

My question is, what is the percentage of blacks that have benefited from this economic growth? While the bold and vibrant colors painted on the renovated and newly constructed homes stand out as a proud representation of our community.  Do visitors to our city have the choice of patronizing a racially diverse group of business owners who represent the community?

http://www.psmag.com/navigation/business-economics/burgh-disapora/gentrification-not-about-race-and-class-64632/

http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/charleston/will-the-midtown-redevelopment-be-a-nail-in-the-coffin-for-the-eastside/Content?oid=4126491

People native to Charleston who drive down streets like Huger Street, where I once lived, near Stuart Street, or Reid, Lee, and America Streets are no doubt as amazed as I am to see that once dilapidated houses in those areas have gotten a face lift.  While driving on the cross-town, visitors to the city see the beautiful colors of the houses off Carolina Street which draws attention to that neighborhood in an inviting manner, and people are relocating to Charleston in large numbers.

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140206/PC16/140209607

Because of the influx of people moving here, blacks who once lived on the East side of town, in homes that are within walking distance to schools, the aquarium, and government organizations, appear less in number while the population of whites walking downtown to work and entertainment and riding their bikes along bike paths, has increased.

Whites are now the predominant occupants of neighborhoods that were once stereotyped as “bad areas” to live in and ones labeled unsafe for them to walk in alone, especially at night.  But now you see whites walking in those once stereotyped “bad areas” all the time…and at night!  Those neighborhoods are now apparently safer since black residents have been replaced by a majority white presence.

http://www.crda.org/business/county_city_profiles/charleston_county.html

It is apparent that blacks are not prospering to a degree that they can afford to remain living in their neighborhoods once white people began to move in, and it appears that they are being pushed further North.  And blacks who have moved to the north area in locations that are considered run down and unsafe to travel by whites will be able to live in those areas until those neighborhoods are needed for the continued influx of new residents to Charleston.  It is already the case that white folks not able to live in the tightly meshed downtown area have begun to migrate North of the city.

I had hoped to see more integration in neighborhoods where blacks lived in the downtown area instead of gentrification.  There are black folks who had worked and lived downtown for the majority of their lives, and they still did not earn incomes comparable to whites on a large scale that afforded them the right to remain in those residences.

Because of income disparities, it places them in a position in which they can’t afford to remain in their neighborhoods with an influx of rents and taxes.  Unfortunately the growth that is taking place in Charleston is a story much like that of Harlem and the forced plight of blacks once Bill Clinton moved there. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/27/nyregion/thecity/27harl.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://www.nysun.com/new-york/harlem-residents-clinton-is-symbol/36435/.

The City of Charleston has grown into a City where more and more tourists are visiting from around the world, and that is an honor.  For the past three years the city has been the Conde Nast Traveler’s top tourist destination.  Not only is it an honor for the city, but for its mayor as well.   Mayor Riley is a fine person, but other than affordable housing for people relocating to this area, because many people who are from Charleston do not make enough to afford the affordable housing, the question remains.

Are black people being given an opportunity to earn a fair share of the economic pie?  Are black business owners given a fair opportunity to compete with white business owners?  Are they able to secure loans in which they can open businesses in key areas downtown where tourists frequent? http://www.cntraveler.com/daily-traveler/2013/10/charleston-south-carolina-number-one-city-in-the-united-states

Other than Taxi Cab Drivers, what is the percentage of black owned businesses in the downtown area in view of tourist traffic?  How many bars are black owned?  How many hotels?  How many black owned restaurants are on East Bay Street?  How many black owned businesses are on Market Street?

http://www.charlestonchronicle.net/64663/2152/new-app-finds-blackowned-businesses

It is unfortunate that blacks by large are not in a position to benefit financially through business ventures and the ownership of businesses in key geographical locations in the City of Charleston where an influx of tourism into the city produces wealth.  While there are a minority of blacks doing well financially in the City, blacks as a majority work minimum wage, or slightly above minimum wage type jobs.

Being the great historic city that Charleston is, it is unfortunate that little has changed over time when considering the distribution of wealth for blacks as compared to whites.  Is it the case that there a few blacks hand picked to represent the City, or is there a fair opportunity for inclusion?

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20110329/PC06/303299919

I once drove a taxi in the City of Charleston and I would hear all the time how tourists love the people of Charleston.  As a woman native to Charleston, I was proud to hear that.  The people of Charleston are indeed accommodating, polite, hospitable, and most are genuine in their expressions of love towards people.  http://www.cntraveler.com/daily-traveler/2013/07/travel-us-cities-charleston-newark-branson-friendly-unfriendly_slideshow_item9_10

How do those compliments stack up in dollars and cents?  How do they stack up in earned income for blacks who clean, prep, cook, and sing songs for tourists in sweet shops to help keep the tourist industry booming?  I am referring to the service workers.  I would argue that it is their pictures that should be on the Carta Buses.  After all, they represent in greater numbers the cheap labor that keeps the streets clean, the horse manure scrapped up, and hotel lobbies sparkling.

It is the cheap labor provided by blacks educated in a school system in the South that provides just enough education to keep that labor pool of workers stocked and available for hire.  Good food, crisp linen, white towels and clean dishes and silverware.  That’s what tourists remember most about traveling.  And those services come from the back of the house.

http://www.cntraveler.com/readers-choice-awards/united-states/best-hotels-charleston-photos

This Blog was written with black folk in mind who are native to the City.  Those persons who have lived in Charleston their entire lives and have worked jobs that do not afford them the opportunity to eat in restaurants where they work let alone live downtown close to their jobs.

PRIMARY SOURCES:HUEY P. NEWTON FOUNDATION PAPERS


CATALOG SOURCE

HUEY P. NEWTON FOUNDATION PAPERS

DEPARTMENT OF SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

STANFORD UNIVERSITY

STANFORD, CALIFORNIA  94305 – 6004

Contact Administrator: Available Documents For Reference Use Only

1966

1.

LETTER FROM:

“JOHN F. DAVIS

OFFICE OF THE CLERK

BY MICHAEL RODAK JR.

DEPUTY CLERK

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

WASHINGTON, D. C.  20543

MARCH 8, 1966”

TO:

“MR. HUEY P. NEWTON

881- 47 TH STREET

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA

RE:   NEWTON v. CALIFORNIA”

“ORDER EXTENDING TIME TO FILE PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI”

“APRIL 10, 1966″

M864 BOX 27 FOLDER 7 HUEY P. NEWTON FOUNDATION PAPERS

2.

LETTER FROM:

” JOHN F. DAVIS

OFFICE OF THE CLERK

E. C. SCHADE ASSISTANT

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

WASHINGTON, D. C.  20543

APRIL 12, 1966″

RE:  NEWTON v. CALIFORNIA

TO:

HUEY P. NEWTON

881 47TH STREET

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA ”

M864 BOX 27 FOLDER 7 HUEY P. NEWTON FOUNDATION PAPERS

1968

1.

“PAGE 4 SECTION A ** JULY 28, 1968 S. F. SUNDAY EXAMINER & CHRONICLE”

“BLACK – WHITE SOCIETY”

“FRUSTRATIONS OF OAKLAND MAYOR”

“BY FRANK PIAZZI, EAST BAY BUREAU”

HUEY P. NEWTON FOUNDATION PAPERS BOX 49 FOLDER 5

2.

“3/4/1968

“PERSONAL ATTENTION”

“SECRET FBI MEMORANDUM ON THE BLACK LIBERATION MOVEMENT”  (4 PAGES)

“FROM DIRECTOR, FBI

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE  PROGRAM (COINTELPRO)

GOALS”

HUEY P. NEWTON FOUNDATION PAPERS M864 BOX 5 FOLDER 1

3.

LETTER:

OCTOBER 4, 1968

“TO CHARLES GARY FROM EILEEN GRAMPP, IN APPRECIATION FOR EFFORTS ON BEHALF OF HUEY NEWTON”WORK .”

M864 BOX 28 FOLDER 6  HUEY P. NEWTON FOUNDATION PAPERS

4.

“RECEIVED AUG 16 1968”

LETTER TO CHARLES GARY

“DEAR NIGGER LOVER”

“KKK”

HUEY P. NEWTON FOUNDATION PAPERS M864 BOX 11 FOLDER 10

5.

LETTER ..

MARCH

“DEAR HUEY FROM GABRIELA FERNANDEZ”

M864 BOX 11 FOLDER 8  HUEY P. NEWTON FOUNDATION PAPERS

6.

LETTER “SEPTEMBER 20, 1968”

FROM:

“LAW OFFICES”

SCHEINMAN & SCHEINMAN

NORMAN L. SCHEINMAN OF COUNSEL”

TO:

“MR. CHARLES R. GARY

341 MARKET STREET

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA”

“RE: CONGRATULATIONS ON THE NEWTON CASE”

M864 BOX 27 FOLDER 7 HUEY P. NEWTON FOUNDATION PAPERS

1969

1.

“OFFICE MEMORANDUM ***UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT”

“TO SAC, LOS ANGELES (157-1618) DATE 7/11/69”

“SUBJECT BLACK PANTHER PARTY RACIAL MATTERS”

M864HUEY P. NEWTON FOUNDATION PAPERS BOX 5 FOLDER 1

2.

“7/2/69 MEMORANDUM  TO: SAC, SAN FRANCISCO”

“FROM: SAC, CHICAGO (100 – 40903-SUB J)”

“SUBJECT STUDENTS FOR A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY (SDS) IS – SDS OD:CG”

M864 HUEY P. NEWTON FOUNDATION BOX 5 FOLDER 1

1970

1.

“5/11/70  SAC, SAN FRANCISCO, COUNTERINTELLIGENCE AND SPECIAL OPERATIONS (RESEARCH SECTION)”

“THE BUREAU WOULD LIKE TO OFFER FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION A PROPOSAL FOR A DISRUPTIVE-DISINFORMATION OPERATION TARGETED AGAINST THE NATIONAL OFFICE OF THE BLACK PANTHER PARTY (BBP).” pp 102, 104.

M864 HUEY P. NEWTON FOUNDATION RECORDS BOX 36 FOLDER 1

2.

“NOVEMBER 8, 1970, LETTER TO HUEY P. NEWTON’S LAWYER CHARLES GARY”

“…..UNITED STATES CITIZENS WILL NOT TOLERATE ANY OF YOUR TACTICS WE ARE SICK AND TIRED OF IT- SO JUST TAKE IT EASY – AND IF YOU DON’T WATCH OUT.”

M864 HUEY P. NEWTON FOUNDATION PAPERS BOX 28 FOLDER 4

1972

1.

LETTER

“CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES”

“HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES”

“WASHINGTON, D. C. 20515”

“MAY 5, 1972”

TO: “HUEY P. NEWTON”

FROM: “CHARLES B. RANGEL”

“MEMBER OF CONGRESS”

M864 BOX 1 FOLDER 2 HUEY P. NEWTON FOUNDATION PAPERS

2.

LETTER “APRIL 17, 1972”

TO:

“HUEY P. NEWTON

SERVANT OF THE PEOPLE

CENTRAL COMMITTEE

BLACK PANTHER PARTY

1048 PERALTA STREET

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA  94607”

FROM:

“HONORABLE ROBERT  N. C. NIX

U.S. CONGRESSMAN

SECOND DISTRICT, PENNSYLVANIA

CUSTOMS HOUSE

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA  19106”

M864 BOX 1 FOLDER 2 HUEY P. NEWTON FOUNDATION PAPERS

3.

LETTER “MAY 31, 1972″

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

WASHINGTON D. C.  20515

LOUIS STOKES

MEMBER OF CONGRESS”

TO:

“HUEY P. NEWTON

SERVANT OF THE PEOPLE”

“RE: THE BLACK PANTHER INTER-COMMUNAL NEWS SERVICE: A SURVIVAL PROGRAM IN CONGRESS”

M864 BOX 1 FOLDER 2 HUEY P. NEWTON FOUNDATION PAPERS


First Lady Mrs. Michelle Obama and Eleanor Roosevelt: Bullying


ELEANOR ROOSEVELT

“Mrs. Roosevelt used her lectures, her radio talk shows, her column and articles, her  press conferences, and her endless travels throughout America to publicize her views on social justice, and to help bring the White House closer to the American people.”

“The most outspoken of First Ladies, she became a powerful advocate for the weak and disadvantaged in American society for blacks and other minorities, for tenant farmers, the unemployed, the hungry, and the homeless, for all those who had no platform or spokesperson of their own.”  (104)

“Anyone who has gone through great suffering is bound to have greater sympathy and understanding of the problems of mankind.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

One of the most ruthless forms of bullying was the lynching of children, women and men.  1800’s to 1950’s.

“One can, even without any particular gifts, overcome obstacles that seem insurmountable if one is willing to face the fact that they must overcome; That, in spite of timidity and fear, in spite of a lack of special talents, one can find a way to live widely and fully.” 

Eleanor Roosevelt

Art in Memory of Women Lynched in America

  “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face…you must do the thing you think you can not do.” Eleanor Roosevelt

http://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/factors/

“Looking back it strikes me that my childhood and my early youth were one long battle against fear.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

http://www.kidspeace.org/healing.aspx?id=2510

 “If anyone were to ask me what I want out of life I would say—-The opportunity for doing something useful, for in no other way, I am convinced, can true happiness be attained.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

 “Life has got to be lived.. that’s all there is to it.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/you-can-live-with-a-bully

Art in memory of women lynched in America

“Because Eleanor Roosevelt never hesitated to take a stand, she made enemies as well as friends.  Eleanor was often branded a “Socialite” or a “Communist.”   But the most savage attack came from those who were enraged that the First Lady of the land would speak out against segregation.  They spread nasty rumors about her personal habits and social life, and they warned that her views on civil rights would ignite violent confrontations between blacks and whites.” (111, 112).

http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/31/living/bullying-fight-back/

“Women, whether subtlety, or vociferously, have always been a tremendous power in the destiny of the world.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

http://www.thefriendshipblog.com/why-are-women-so-mean-each-other/

“Eleanor’s admirers saw her as an inspirational figure, a woman of compassion who listened with sympathy and understanding to the concerns of ordinary people.  They marveled at her honesty, her energy, and her independent stance as a woman making a mark on the world.” (112, 113).

First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama, the mother and father of two daughters, make their mark on the world.

White House Bullying Convention

BLOGS FROM

Historiann

Lessons for Girls

http://academiccog.blogspot.com/2009/07/lessons-for-girls-dont-just-ask-insist.html

SOURCES:
RUSSELL FREEDMAN, ELEANOR ROOSEVELT: A LIFE OF DISCOVERY
ROBIN GERBER:  LEADERSHIP THE ELANOR ROOSEVELT WAY

Unita Blackwell, First Black Woman Mayor of Mississippi: In Memory of Women Lynched in America


“People Who Practice Racism are Bereft.  There is Something Distorted About the Psyche”

Toni Morrison

A picture of Laura Nelson lynched along with her fourteen year old son in Okemah, Oklahoma

I first became interested in the subject of Lynching as a research topic in 2011, when I took a terrorism seminar under Professor William Jelani Cobb, at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

I have since dedicated my time to writing about the lives of women and girls who were lynched on America’s soil, and to creating one piece of art to honor the memory of each of the women.

I have embarked upon this endeavor first and foremost because I love to conduct research on topics of women in History and second because black woman continue to be disrespected in the media and her womanhood questioned.  (First Lady, Mrs. Michelle Obama: Maya Angelou Memorial Service.)

http://new.livestream.com/wfu/angelou

In this Blog, I write about two women who were lynched in Mississippi, Mahala Jackson and Louisa Carter.  When I think of all of the lives that were lost as a result of mob violence and lynching; I can’t help but wonder what contributions the young girls and the women would have contributed to our society.  Each life had tremendous value.

“Each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory- we must find our own voice and decide our own value and then announce it to the world with all the pride and joy that is our birthright.” Dr. Maya Angelou-(First Lady Mrs. Michelle Obama).

http://new.livestream.com/wfu/angelou

Unita Blackwell was one of God’s gifts to Mississippi.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90248557

Although Mrs. Blackwell bore emotional and physical scars; she survived them all.  Her legacy is long.  Among her social and political accomplishments, is the fact that in 1976, she became the First Black Woman Mayor of one of the most racist state in this country.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2428103/Majority-Americas-racists-live-areas-slavery-common-says-new-study.ht

Mahala Jackson, Louisa Carter, Unita Blackwell, and all of the women listed in this Blog had a lot in common.  In their lifetimes, each had experienced grave injustices, and while the lives of some of the women ended tragically, the good news is that one woman lived to do something about the laws and the conditions under which black people lived in Mississippi.

Mahala Jackson and Louisa Carter were both lynched in Quincy, Mississippi.  Their alleged crime was well poisoning.  Ida B. Wells, crusader against lynching, was also threatened with lynching.

“When she herself was threatened with lynching, she brought into focus what the “black rapist” myth had masked: southern white men’s violence against women.” Crystal N. Femister, 159.

http://www.olemiss.edu/mwp/dir/wells-barnett_ida/

Black women had not been accused of the crime of raping white women as black men had been accused, so why were they being lynched, raped, mutilated, and their bodies set on fire, in the same manner in which white men murdered and lynched black men? No consideration and no pity was given for the fact that she was a woman.

“Wells insisted in her 1895 pamphlet, ‘A Red Record’ that the lynching of black women was proof that southern mob violence had little if anything to do with protecting women against rape.” Femister, 159.

Mobs of white men often took legal matters into their own hands and lynched blacks based more upon their egos and racist emotions than on the facts.  Even in the presence of an official of the law, and in this case, in spite of being acquitted by a jury, innocent people were lynched.

According to Wells, “The two women were accused of poisoning a well and hanged by a white mob after a coroner’s jury had found them innocent.  Even a legal acquittal did little to protect the women from the demands of the Christian white people.”  She further protested “In any other land and with any other people, the fact that these two accused persons were women, would have pleaded in their favor for protection and fair play, but that had no weight with the Mississippi Christians.” Femister, 159.

In addition to Ms. Jackson and Ms. Carter’s murder, the women listed below were lynched in Mississippi between 1886 and 1957.

November 4, 1878                    Maria Smith                                Hernando MS

Alleged crime murder

May 9, 1891                               Mrs. Lee                                      Lowndes MS

Son Accused of Murder

September 28, 1891                 Louise Stevenson                       Hollandale MS     Alleged crime murder

September 16, 1891                  Louisa Carter                             Jackson MS         Alleged crime well poisoning

September 16, 1891                  Mahala Jackson                          Jackson MS

Alleged crime well poisoning

July 24, 1891                              Negro Woman                          Simpson Cty. MS  Alleged crime race prejudice

November 18, 1896                  Mimm Collier                             Steenston, MS      Alleged crime unknown

February 9, 1897                      Negro Woman                            Carrolton, MS       alleged crime theft/arson

March 23, 1899                        Willa Boyd                                  Silver City MS

Unknown Date                          Ida McCray                                Carrolton, MS       Alleged crime knowledge of theft

May/June 28, 1914                  Jennie Collins                             Shaw MS               alleged crime aiding in escape

December 21                             Alma House                               Shubuta, MS

Alleged crime murder

May 5, 1919                              Unknown Negro Woman         Holmes MS            Alleged crime race prejudice

April 9, 1921                             Rachel Moor                             Rankin, MS

Alleged crime race prejudice

September 31, 1923                                                                   Holmes MS

Alleged crime race prejudice

July 6, 1930                             Mrs. Jane                                  Markeeta MS

Alleged crime race prejudice

September 10, 1930              Pigg Lockett                             Scooba MS

http://henriettavintondavis.wordpress.com/2009/07/22/recorded/

The fact that women were lynched was tragic and it was not only a tragic loss for those within the black community, or for their children, or the relatives and friends that they left behind; It was a tragic loss for the human race and for our society as a whole.  The women who were lynched did not get to live out their life’s potential, and it will never be known the gifts or talents that went unsung.

I emphasis the injustice and tragic loss of the lives of the women who were lynched,  by acclaiming the life of one woman who has been instrumental in effecting social and political changes in lives of the people in Mississippi, and in communities worldwide.  Because Unita Blackwell was a native of Mississippi, I thought it would be fitting and  enlightening to discuss her life as a part of the discussion of the lynching of black women in Mississippi.  Before her birth in 1933, seventeen women had been lynched in Mississippi.

In many cases black women were lynched because they spoke against unfair treatment by whites, and in defense of their rights.  Unita Blackwell was a very outspoken woman who questioned why the lives of black people was so hard and why they barely had food and provisions when the same was not true of the condition of  white people.

Her life’s legacy helps to reveal a relevant case and point of what a tragic loss to society it would have been had Mrs. Blackwell been murdered by Klan members because of her community activism in Mississippi.

Mrs. Blackwell came from a family of people who loved her and were strong influences in her life.  She spoke of the fact that she knew that her father loved her and she felt the love of her mother.  They apparently were her mentors as a child and she respected and looked up to them.

“I had witnessed my father talk back to a white man.  My uncle Tome did the same thing and he got a way to Memphis Tennessee.”  Her father had gone to Memphis also.  “You couldn’t look white folks in the eyes and you couldn’t talk back to them.  If they told you to do something you had to do it.”

Blacks knew that the consequence of standing up for themselves or others against whites involved the risk of being silenced permanently.  The lynching of black people in southern states across the country was evidence of that, and talk of affording civil rights to blacks was seen as a threat to the supremacy of whites.

http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/47qng2nh9780252065071.html

When black men left town after an altercation with a white man, it was not because they were afraid of white men, they left because they knew that the protection of the law did not extend to them.

“My grandfather on my father’s side worked in the sugar cane fields in Louisiana, and one day he run into a problem because he was one to speak up.  He came up missing and we knew that the white people had taken him.” My grandmother was left with three children to raise.” She said.

Unita Blackwell spoke of her grandmother as being someone that she could talk about civil rights issues with when other family members “didn’t even want you to come to their houses.” she said.   They were afraid that even an association with her would bring problems to them. Mrs. Blackwell was fearless like her grandmother when it came to gaining equal rights..  “My grandmother had registered to vote in Arkansas when no one was registering.”  When Mrs. Blackwell decided to work as an organizer in her community, getting people registered to vote, her grandmother told her mother that she was right for wanting to do so.

“No one in my family liked the way that blacks were treated” she said.  “When the Freedom Riders came to Mississippi teaching us about our history and our right to register to vote, I felt that now was the time to do something to make things better for my son.

Fighting for civil rights in the 1960’s took courage and those who signed registered people to vote took their lives into their own hands.  there were consequences involved in fighting for civil rights in Mississippi.  As a result of her activism she experienced emotional violence.  Her own experiences with whites included having had crosses burned in her front yard, having bombs thrown at her home, and being arrested more than seventy times.  In spite of all that she experienced, she did not stop fighting to gain civil rights of blacks.

Not everyone who experienced extreme racism was drawn to fight as vigorously as Mrs. Blackwell.  She risked her life to get people in her community registered to vote while aware of the murders of James Cheney, who was from Mississippi, and Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman who were from New York. ” In 1964 they had come to Mississippi to register people to vote and disappeared during Freedom Summer.  They were found murdered.”

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/bhmjustice4.html

Knowledge of the fact that they had been lynched did not stop the struggle, in fact knowing that people were dying for her rights motivated her to continue her activism.  “White students, some of them younger than me, 18, 19, and 20 years old, traveled from all over to come to Mississippi to teach us about our history and our rights, and they were fighting for our rights right alongside us.”

http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/47qng2nh9780252065071.html

Terence Finnegan wrote “In September 1889, the Yazoo Delta (which is in Mississippi), experienced an orgy of violence when whites massacred about twenty-five blacks in Leflore County. Despite the violence, blacks were not cowed into submission and refused to accept obsequiously the will of whites. ” A Deed So Accursed, 64,65.

Mrs. Blackwell was Born on a plantation not far from the Yazoo Delta  in  Lula, Mississippi, in Coahoma County.  Lula is about 81 miles, a 1 1/2 hours drive from Leflore County, where the massacre took place in 1889, only 44 years before her birth.

To categorize the work Unita Blackwell did in her community is difficult to do because in her lifetime she wore so many hats.  Therefore to say that she was a Civil Rights Leader does not begin to scratch the surface of the social and political influence she had in this country.

She became a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, (SNCC) and she worked alongside activists who risked their lives to change laws that would grant blacks inclusion into a segregated society and improve the quality of life for blacks in this country.

“Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi.” John Dittmer. University of Illinois Press. 1994.

http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/47qng2nh9780252065071.html

As a member of SNCC she worked with Stokely Carmichael who took her over to meet Fanny Lou Hammer.  “Although we knew it, Fannie told us they beat her until she was hard.”  Still, she did not hate whites the way they hated black people.

Mrs. Blackwell worked with Fannie Lou hammer and she became one of the key organizers of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which challenged the seating of the all-white delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in 1964.

http://mscivilrightsproject.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6:unita-blackwell&catid=164:person&Itemid=22

In addition to being a member of SNCC, Unita Blackwell  became the “First Black Woman Mayor of Mayersville, Mississippi, she was Chair of the Black Women Mayors’ Caucus, and she was the Second Vice-President of the National Conference of Black Mayors.  Throughout the 1970’s she served as a Community Development Coordinator for the National Council of Negro Women.” Lanker, 50.

“I visit countries.  I worked on the normalization process between the United States and China as the people – to – people person.  I’ve been to China fifteen times Hong Kong thirty-six times, I’ve been to Switzerland, Romania, India, Central America, and a lot of places.  I still come home.  I never left Mississippi.”  Lanker 50.

http://www.eduplace.com/ss/socsci/ms/books/bkd_ms/biographies/bio_template.jsp?book=bkd_ms&bio=blackwellu&name=Unita+Blackwell

http://mscivilrightsproject.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6:unita-blackwell&catid=164:person&Itemid=22

Mrs. Blackwell used due process of the law to her advantage. “I was one of the people who filed lawsuits against every agency and operation by white people in Mississippi.”

“Blackwell v. Issaquena County Board of Education was one of the very first desegregation cases in Mississippi.  Students were suspended for wearing SNCC pins to school so SNCC provided Freedom Schools for the students to attend, which attracted highly qualified teachers from across the nation to undeserved areas  from 1965 through the 1970’s.”

I Dream A World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America, Brian Lanker, 50.

Her fight for civil rights was taxing on her mentally and physically.  “I was arrested every day during one time, everyday straight for thirty days.  It may be seventy-five times I’ve been in jail. They wouldn’t tell black folks when we were in jail because the Klan could get to us in jail.  That ‘s how a lot of people were beaten up and killed.”  Lanker, 50.

In 1964, Klan members burned crosses in her yard.  Once she called the F.B.I. in Jackson and she said:

“You come taking about you’re going to call the police?  You couldn’t trust no body because the police was the Klans.  The police was burning the cross in my yard.”  She said “Have you ever been in a condition where there was no place that you could call for help?” Lanker, 50.

The racial problems they experience as a community made them “close like family she said, and I don’t mean the estranged kind either.”  Historians agree that solving problems like having to find homes for people who were put off white folks property in retaliation to registering to vote did create bonds.

“We have also begun to understand that despite the brutality and inhumanity, or perhaps because of it, a distinct African-American culture based on close-knit kinship relationships grew and thrived, and it was that kindred experience that created a bond among black people that rallied them to each other’s defense through many trials they endured before and after emancipation.” Deborah Gray White, Ar’n’t I a Woman? 25.

I once thought of blacks as victims of racism because police officers, who were suppose to protect people who protested peacefully and nonviolently, had no regard for black people and they allowed their German Sheppard attack dogs to bite them and they attached hoses to fire hydrants and let the hoses loose even on black women and children knocking them down in the streets. and when SNCC students sat in at lunch counters to protest segregation, whites spat on them.

With all that black people have endured while fighting for basic human rights in this country by the hands of white people, their strength of character, and their ability to act in a controlled manner while they were treated so inhumanely speaks volumes to the power of a a race of people.

http://www.c-span.org/video/?318915-1/reconstruction-civil-rights-eras

Because of this, I no longer view black people as victims because to say that they were victims gives too much power to their abusers which means that it takes power away from the person being treated unjustly.  Those who sat in at lunch counters, and those who marched and fought to gain human and civil rights were not powerless.  In fact they used their power in a unified manner.  They were not victims, they were victors.

On the topic of racism, when Toni Morrison was interviewed by acclaimed Interviewer and Broadcast Journalist Charlie Rose, she said:

“The people who do this thing, who practice racism are bereft.  There is something distorted about the psyche.  It’s a huge waste, and it’s a corruption and a distortion.  It’s like it’s a profound neurosis that nobody examines for what it is.  It feels crazy, it is crazy, and it has just as much a deleterious effect on white people, and possibly equal as it does blacks.”

“Toni Morrison Take White Supremacy to Task.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6S7zGgL6Suw.

During a different talk, hosted by the New York Public Library, Toni Morrison and Angela Davis discussed Literacy, Libraries and Liberation.  During that talk, Toni Morrison spoke on the purpose of racism.  “Racism has a real function which is power and control, and money which is pretty much the same thing.”  In reference to having experienced racism she said “I never felt racism the way it was intended because I always felt those people were deficient in some way.”

“Maybe you can call it arrogance, she said, but the acts of racism showed towards her in spite of whether the acts came from children when she was a child, or adults, were so stupid that she could not feel the degradation of it.”

Toni Morrison and Angela Davis, New York Public Library, October 27, 2010. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOAYp8yoVA4

Her views on racism shed new light upon my understanding of the mental state of white men and women who packed picnic lunches and took their children with them  to eat food while they watched a human body burn as though the corpse was pheasant.

While I always thought that people who could committed such acts were crazy, you know, as people often refer to others as being “crazy,” I failed to realize that they likely suffered from mental disorders.  In other words to just say they were crazy did begin to articulate the possibility of the depth of their mental problems.

Sources:  Toni Morrison and Angela Davis, New York Public Library, October 27, 2010. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOAYp8yoVA4   Toni and Angela discussed Frederick Douglass, Libraries, literacy, and Liberation.

Crystal N. Feimster, Southern Horrors: Women and the Politics of Lynching

FREEDMAN’S COTTAGES IN CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: JENKINS FAMILY HISTORY


FREEDMAN’S COTTAGES IN CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: JENKINS FAMILY HISTORY.

FREEDMAN’S COTTAGES IN CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: JENKINS FAMILY HISTORY


FREEDMAN’S COTTAGES IN CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: JENKINS FAMILY HISTORY.