Ku Klux Klan Recruits Members for Neighborhood Watch Program

Lilly Workneb, TheGrio.com


Flyer distributed in Springfield, MO.

Members of the Ku Klux Klan in Springfield, Mo. surprised some local residents with flyers in their front yard promoting a Klan-sponsored neighborhood watch program. The flyers were discovered by residents on Sunday morning, who woke up to find the piece of paper in a plastic bag and weighted down by a small rock reports KY3 News.

The flyer, which shows an image of a masked and hooded Klansman, was made in attempt to recruit members of the community to launching a neighborhood watch program. “Are there troubles in your neighborhood? Contact the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan today!” it says. “You can sleep tonight knowing the Klan is awake!”images-1

One resident, Steven Burchett said he was “furious” when he came across the flyer in his front yard. “That just tells you what a coward they are,” Burchett told KY3. “A simple knock at the door, I can say I am not interested and go on. But instead they have to come through in the middle of the night and drop a rock in the front yard. That’s coward.”

About half a dozen other flyers were discovered around homes in the area. KY3 contacted the number listed on the flyer and talked to a representative who said that the group’s goal is to recruit members to the neighborhood watch groups “to help police fight crime.” He added that race was not a part of the program – instead, that the group would alert police against anyone who was “up to no good” even if they were white.

“I ain’t got time in my life for the Klan,” Burchett said. “None whatsoever.”

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‘Fruitvale Station’ Shows Black Male Humanity

Jessie Washington, Huffington Post


Oscar Grant III. Shot and killed January 1st 2009

Oscar Grant did not deserve to die.

This is the central message of “Fruitvale Station,” a film dramatizing the real-life case of the young unarmed black man shot in the back by a white police officer in 2009. It’s a common message, often heard in film and life in general. But the way writer/director Ryan Coogler delivers this message is extraordinary. (…)

By the time the credits roll, Oscar Grant has become one of the rarest artifacts in American culture: a three-dimensional portrait of a young black male – a human being.Which raises the question: If Grant was a real person, what about all these other young black males rendered as cardboard cutouts by our merciless culture? What other humanity are we missing? (…)


Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant in Fruitvale Station the independent film.

“If there’s one thing missing in our country, it’s an acknowledgment of the broad humanity of black folks,” Ta-Nehisi Coates recently wrote on his blog at TheAtlantic.com. “Racism – and anti-black racism in particular – is the belief that there’s something wrong with black people.”

The remedy: “Close the gap between what they see and who we really are,” Coates wrote.



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Service Seeks Reconciliation Over 1916 Lynching

Senate apology inspires gathering for forgiveness, redemption

By the Associated Press, July 12, 2005

ABBEVILLE, S.C. — Eugene Crawford’s grandfather was killed by a mob after arguing with a white man over the price of cotton in 1916.

Anthony Crawford was lynched for disputing the price for his crop with a white buyer. His entire family was then run out of town.

Anthony Crawford, a prosperous farmer and educated man, was lynched for disputing the price for his cotton with WD Barksdale, a white buyer. Crawford’s entire family was then run out of town and most of his estate was given to Barksdale.

It was a crime that was barely spoken of, but pain and fear stayed with older family members. After all, more was taken from the family than Anthony Crawford, a wealthy black farmer.

Two whites were appointed executors of Crawford’s estate, which included 427 acres of prime cotton land. His children inherited the farm, but the rest of the property and his cotton went to the white man with whom he had had a disagreement.

“It makes me angry,” Eugene Crawford, 81, of Philadelphia, said at a reconciliation service held by white church leaders Tuesday as an effort to atone for the lynching. “But I’m glad we’re coming together a little bit.”

Hundreds gathered at Friendship Worship Center in this small town in western South Carolina for the service, where white church leaders confessed the sins of their ancestors and apologized to blacks for the Anthony Crawford lynching and other racial strife that took place nearly a century ago.

Engene Crawford, center, grandson of lynching victim Anthony Crawford, and his family react during a reconciliation service at Friendship Worship Center Tuesday in Abbeville, S.C. (Mary Ann Chastain  /  AP)

Engene Crawford, center, grandson of lynching victim Anthony Crawford, and his family react during a reconciliation service at Friendship Worship Center Tuesday in Abbeville, S.C. (Mary Ann Chastain/AP)

“We forgive today for all the lynching that took place in this county and in the Southern states,” the Rev. Tony Foster told white church leaders. “We forgive you for all the churches that you burned and all the mobs that raped our women.” The Rev. Wendell Rhodes, the event’s organizer, stood beside Foster and wept as he spoke.

In 2005, 80 US Senators signed a non-binding resolution apologizing for the Senate's failure to outlaw lynching. (Doria D. Johnson, descendent of Andrew Crawford, is standing behind the woman in the white dress. Dr. James Cameron, lynching survivor, is speaking at lower right.)

In 2005, 80 US Senators signed a non-binding resolution apologizing for the Senate’s failure to outlaw lynching. (Doria D. Johnson, descendent of Andrew Crawford, is standing behind the woman in the white dress. Dr. James Cameron, lynching survivor, is speaking into the microphone at lower center.)

The idea for the service came when Crawford’s lynching was highlighted during the U.S. Senate’s formal apology last month to the descendants of victims of lynchings.

Members of Crawford’s family have been waiting for something like this for decades. Accounts say Crawford hauled a wagon-load of cotton into town to the mercantile store of W.D. Barksdale on Oct. 21, 1916.

Crawford was arrested after he accused Barksdale of cheating him by giving him less for his cotton than white farmers were receiving. Between 200 and 400 local residents hung him from a pine tree and riddled his body with 200 bullets, family members said. No one was ever tried for the killing.

To read more about Anthony Crawford’s life and to pay him your respects, visit our Memorial to the Victims of Lynching, click on South Carolina in the list of states, then scroll down to Crawford’s name.

Or you can go directly to his entry here.

Why ‘National Dialogue on Race’ Is Needed

Many have disagreed with the concept. But a dialogue could go a long way toward jump-starting healing.

By Peniel E. Joseph, theRoot.com

Protesting the Zimmerman verdict in San Francisco CA

Protesting the Zimmerman verdict in San Francisco CA

Trayvon Martin’s tragic death has inspired nationwide demonstrations and calls for action that have reverberated all the way to the White House. President Obama’s spontaneous and heartfelt words about the plight of race relations in America touched upon the need for a national conversation about race but expressed skepticism that politicians might effectively lead such an endeavor.

Obama is right on this score. It’s time for all citizens to participate in a dialogue on race in America because we all have a stake in our nation’s democratic institutions.

Such a day could go a long way toward jump-starting the dialogue on race, democracy and public policy that is desperately needed around the nation, especially (but not only) in poor communities of color. In contrast to previously called for conversations on race (including one launched by the Clinton administration) that bore little tangible fruit, this dialogue should be purposeful and policy-driven in pursuit of an agenda of democratic transformation at the local, state and national levels.

The dialogue would be led by activists, civil rights organizers, policy experts and community leaders for the express purpose of crafting public-policy solutions connected to issues of racial disparities in criminal justice, employment, public schools, housing, health care and overall life chances in America.(…)

MOW-FLYER-0710The March on Washington’s approaching 50th anniversary should be a time of national reflection and democratic renewal to assess how far we have actually come.

But to continue the conversation, the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Tufts University is convening a National Dialogue on Race Day on September 12, and we invite all to participate in local communities across the country. The agenda for the inaugural National Dialogue on Race Day will be organized around three major issues:

1. Fifty years after the March on Washington, how far have we progressed as a nation in achieving Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of multicultural and multiracial democracy?

2. Trayvon Martin, mass incarceration and the public school-to-prison crisis

3. Race and democracy in the 21st century: What do racial integration, justice and equality mean in contemporary America, and how can we shape this dialogue locally, nationally and globally? (…)

Community groups, universities and colleges, civic organizations, churches, synagogues and civil rights activists have natural constituencies to organize single panels or all-day symposiums to which students and surrounding community members would be invited to join in the conversation. Citizens seeking to participate might attend a live local event or simulcast of an event at a different location, stream an event online from their own computers and/or share their thoughts on social media with the hashtag #NDRD. Event organizers would publicize their affiliation with NDRD both on and offline. Ideally, a National Dialogue on Race Day could simultaneously occur in every community across the nation, and even those unable to organize such an event locally could easily participate online. (…)

RaceLogoFaceAmerica is well on its way to becoming a majority-minority nation, but we still too often think and speak about race in binaries. A National Dialogue on Race Day should rightfully include the diverse racial and ethnic panorama that makes up 21st-century America.

As we approach the cusp of the 50th anniversary of King’s dream, a national conversation on race and democracy led by activists, scholars, community organizers and active citizens will help us reimagine American democracy while confronting the social, political and racial injustices that threaten King’s dream and our own.

Peniel E. JosephPeniel E. Joseph is founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy and a professor of history at Tufts University. He can be reached online at penielejoseph.com. Follow him on TwitterThe Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Tufts University will convene a “National Dialogue on Race Day” on Sept. 12, 2013. The center invites all to join in the conversation. Follow the center on Twitter.

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The Scourged Back: How Runaway Slave and Soldier Private Gordon Changed History

GoodyearHow mass produced and widely distributed images helped the abolitionist movement

By Frank H. Goodyear, III, assistant curator of photographs at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Photography Initiative

During the Civil War, photography heroicized the leading politicians and military officers, memorialized sites where the war was waged, and—remarkable for the time—revealed how violent and deadly the battles between Union and Confederate forces actually were. It also played an influential role in broadening the national debate about slavery.

The Scourged Back: This slave named Gordon ran for 80 miles to join the Union Forces in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in March 1863. This famous photo of the welts on his badly "scourged back" was taken while he was being fitted for a uniform.

The Scourged Back: This slave named Gordon ran for 80 miles to join the Union Forces in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in March 1863. This famous photo of the welts on his badly “scourged back” was taken while he was being fitted for a uniform.

As this famous photograph suggests, photography was capable of communicating powerful ideas about the so-called “peculiar institution”—ideas that ultimately undermined the prevailing notion that slavery was a benign tradition.

The photograph pictures the runaway slave Gordon exposing his scourged back to the camera of two itinerant photographers, William D. McPherson and his partner, Mr. Oliver. Gordon had received a severe whipping for undisclosed reasons in the fall of 1862. This beating left him with horrible welts on much of the surface of his back. While the plantation owner discharged the overseer who had carried out this vicious attack, for the next two months as Gordon recuperated in bed, he decided to escape.

In March 1863 he fled his home, heading east towards the Mississippi River. Upon learning of his flight, his master recruited several neighbors and together they chased after him with a pack of bloodhounds. Gordon had anticipated that he would be pursued and carried with him onions from the plantation, which he rubbed on his body to throw the dogs off-scent. Such resourcefulness worked, and Gordon—his clothes torn and his body covered with mud and dirt—reached the safety of Union soldiers stationed at Baton Rouge ten days later. He had traveled approximately eighty miles.

In the North, nearly all black people supported military service. The Federal government had little trouble convincing men of African descent to enlist. They viewed the war as a golden opportunity to crush the institution of slavery, to stand on the same level and in the same uniform as the white man, and to dispel the oppressive notions of prejudice that haunted the black population. (National Park Service, History E-Library)

In the North, nearly all black people supported military service. The Federal government had little trouble convincing men of African descent to enlist. They viewed the war as a golden opportunity to crush the institution of slavery, to stand on the same level and in the same uniform as the white man, and to dispel the oppressive notions of prejudice that haunted the black population. (National Park Service, History E-Library)  In the South, many blacks escaped to Union encampments, where they were considered “contraband.” Some men, liked Gordon, enlisted, while other men, women, and children worked as laborers in the camps.

While at this encampment Gordon decided to enlist in the Union Army. As President Lincoln had granted African Americans the opportunity to serve in segregated units only months earlier, Gordon was at the front of a movement that would ultimately involve nearly 200,000 African Americans. It was during his medical examination prior to being mustered into the army that military doctors discovered the extensive scars on his back. McPherson and Oliver were then in the camp, and Gordon was asked to pose for a picture that would reveal the harsh treatment he had recently received.

The photographic team mass-produced and sold copies of Gordon’s portrait in the small and popular format of the time, known as the carte-de-visite. The image provoked an immediate response as copies circulated quickly and widely. Samuel K. Towle, a surgeon with the 30th Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteers working in Baton Rouge, sent a copy of the photograph to the Surgeon-General of the State of Massachusetts. In his accompanying letter he wrote: “Few sensation writers ever depicted worse punishments than this man must have received, though nothing in his appearance indicates any unusual viciousness—but on the contrary, he seems INTELLIGENT AND WELL-BEHAVED.” Within months commercial photographers in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and London were issuing this image on their own studio mounts. This particular copy was made by the famous New York portrait photographer Mathew Brady.

Recognized as a searing indictment of slavery, Gordon’s portrait was presented as the latest evidence in the abolitionist campaign. An unidentified writer for the New York Independent wrote: “This Card Photograph should be multiplied by 100,000, and scattered over the States. It tells the story in a way that even Mrs. [Harriet Beecher] Stowe [author of the 1852 book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin] can not approach, because it tells the story to the eye.” Abolitionist leaders such as William Lloyd Garrison referred to it repeatedly in their work.

Harper's Weekly magazine's article "A Typical Negro"

Harper’s Weekly magazine’s article “A Typical Negro”

On July 4, 1863 Harper’s Weekly reproduced the image as a wood engraving with the article, “A Typical Negro.” Two other portraits of Gordon—one “as he entered our lines,” and the other “in his uniform as a U.S. soldier”—were also included. Together these three images and the accompanying article about his harrowing journey and the brutality of Southern slaveholders transformed Gordon into a symbol of the courage and patriotism of African Americans. His example also inspired many free blacks in the North to enlist.

Records of Gordon’s military service during the Civil War are incomplete. Harper’s Weekly reported that he served as a Union guide in Louisiana, and that during one expedition he was taken captive by Confederate forces, beaten, and left for dead. Yet, he supposedly survived and returned to Union lines. The Liberator reported that he served as a sergeant in an African American regiment that fought bravely at the siege of Port Hudson, an important Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River twenty miles north of Baton Rouge. This battle on May 27, 1863 marked the first time that African American soldiers played a leading role in an assault on a major Confederate position. Their heroism was widely noted and helped convince many skeptics to accept the enlistment of African Americans into the U.S. Army. There are no further records indicating what became of Gordon. Yet, this famous image of him lives on as a searing testament of slavery’s brutality and the fortitude displayed by so many African Americans during this period.

Holder Wants Texas to Clear Voting Changes With the U.S.

By Charlie Savage, the New York Times

Attorney General Eric Holder testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 7, 2012, before the House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on the Justice Department.

Attorney General Eric Holder

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced on Thursday that the Justice Department would ask a court to require Texas to get permission from the federal government before making voting changes in that state for the next decade. The move opens a new chapter in the political struggle over election rules after the Supreme Court struck down a portion of the Voting Rights Act last month.

In a speech before the National Urban League in Philadelphia, Mr. Holder also indicated that the court motion — expected to be filed later on Thursday — is most likely just an opening salvo in a new Obama administration strategy to try to reimpose “preclearance” requirements in parts of the country that have a history of discriminating against minority voters.

His statements come as states across the South, from Texas to North Carolina, have been rushing to enforce or enact new restrictions on voting eligibility after the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Shelby County v. Holder case, which removed that safeguard.

Voting Rights Act, LBJ signs '65

President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965. This act is generally considered to mark the end of the Jim Crow Era. However, since the Supreme Court gutted the Act, many states that historically discriminated against black voters are rushing to impose new versions of old rules – voter i.d., voting only during weekday working hours, fewer polling stations, etc. – that are known to keep many blacks, elderly, and students from voting.

“This is the department’s first action to protect voting rights following the Shelby County decision, but it will not be our last,” Mr. Holder said. “Even as Congress considers updates to the Voting Rights Act in light of the court’s ruling, we plan, in the meantime, to fully utilize the law’s remaining sections to subject states to preclearance as necessary. My colleagues and I are determined to use every tool at our disposal to stand against such discrimination wherever it is found.”

State officials have celebrated the ruling as lifting an obsolete relic of the civil rights era that unfairly treated their states differently than other parts of the country, while civil rights advocates have lamented it as removing a safeguard that is still necessary. Lawyers for minority groups have already asked courts to return Texas to federal oversight. (…)

Richard H. Pildes, a New York University professor who specializes in election law issues, said, (…) “If this strategy works it will become a way of partially updating the Voting Rights Act through the courts. The Justice Department is trying to get the courts to step into the role the Justice Department played before the Shelby County decision. The Voting Rights Act has always permitted this, in some circumstances, but this strategy wasn’t used much. If this approach works, it will help update the Voting Rights Act even without Congressional action.”

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Zimmerman Verdict: 86 Percent of African Americans Disapprove

By: Jon Cohen, TheRoot.com,WashingtonPost.com

African Americans have a mostly shared and sharply negative reaction to the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the not-guilty verdict in the resulting trial, while whites are far more divided, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. (…)imgres-2

Among African Americans, 87 percent say the shooting was unjustified; among whites, just 33 percent say so. A slim majority of whites (51 percent) approve of the not-guilty verdict in the Zimmerman trial, while African Americans overwhelmingly and strongly disapprove. Some 86 percent of blacks disagree with the verdict — almost all of them disapproving “strongly.”(…) About eight in 10 African Americans (81 percent) say the federal government should charge Zimmerman in federal court with civil rights violations.

imgres-3Just 27 percent of whites agree, while 59 percent say the government should not bring such charges. Some 60 percent of Hispanics say blacks and other minorities do not receive equal treatment with whites in the criminal justice system, and by a two-to-one ratio, they disapprove of the verdict in the Zimmerman trial. (…)

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‘The Snowy Day’: Children’s Book With Black Protagonist is Focus of Exhibit

By: Joann Loviglio, Associated Press, TheGrio.com

Ezra Jack Keats author of “The Snowy Day

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — During the height of the civil rights movement, a gentle book about a black boy in a red snowsuit crunch-crunch-crunching through the snow broke down racial barriers and now is the subject of an upcoming exhibit.

Ezra Jack Keats’ beloved 1962 book, “The Snowy Day,” is credited as the first mass-market children’s storybook to feature a black protagonist — a preschooler named Peter joyfully exploring the snow-covered sidewalks in his New York City neighborhood. (…)

Peter’s world was also a reflection of Keats’ own environment, Perelman said, “the city streets where he felt comfortable, where he called home and that happened to be inhabited by working-class and poor folks and by African-American folks.”

imgres-1 “That’s who he felt should be in his books. This isn’t ‘Eloise,'” he said, referring to the children’s book character who lives in Manhattan’s posh Plaza Hotel with her nanny. “It’s a very different New York City.” (…)

“If you look at children’s literature previous to ‘The Snowy Day,’ there are very few positive examples of publications for African-American children,” Perelman said, “and there’s a whole lot of very derogatory, stereotypical and outright racist material.”

Keats, who died in 1983, illustrated more than 85 books. In six more books after “The Snowy Day,” readers followed Peter growing up from a kindergarten-age boy to an adolescent. His race was never mentioned

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2 Teens Rescue 5-yr-old Girl From Kidnapping

By:  NBC News, TheGrio.com


5-year-old Joceyln Rojas

A 5-year-old girl is safe after police said she was the victim of an apparent abduction. The search is on for her alleged abductor.  Joceyln Rojas had been playing outside her home when her mother was unable to find her.

Police said two teenage boys on bicycles went searching for Rojas and spotted a maroon or burgundy sedan. The boys noticed a girl with light brown hair matching the description of the missing girl in the vehicle so they began to follow it, according to police.


Temar Boggs embraced by Joceyln’s mother.

The vehicle stopped and Rojas got out. “As soon as the guy noticed we were chasing him, he stopped at the end of the hill and let her out and she ran to me and said that she needed her mom,” said Temar Boggs, one of the teens.

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Obama: ‘Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago’

By Aaron Blake and Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post

President Obama made a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room Friday to share his thoughts on the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, saying it is important to look at the case through the lens of past discrimination.

Barack "Barry" Obama in a 1978 senior yearbook photo at the Punahou School, Honolulu, Hawaii. Punahoe Schools/AP Photo

Barack “Barry” Obama in a 1978 senior yearbook photo at the Punahou School, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Punahoe Schools/AP Photo

“Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago,” Obama said, during extensive and deeply personal remarks that lasted for 18 minutes. “And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that — that doesn’t go away.”

Obama continued: “And I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.”

Obama spoke in a quiet and sometimes halting voice, without notes, touching on both his own experience as a black man and what he sees in his daughters, Sasha and Malia, and their relationship to children of other races. “There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of being followed in a department store. That includes me,” he said.

But he also struck a hopeful note, saying, “As difficult and challenging as this episode has been, things are getting better.”

The president said that his daughters and their friends are “better than we are, they’re better than we were, on these issues. And that’s true at every community I’ve visited across this country.”

Malia, Dad, and Sasha hanging out together.

Malia, Dad, and Sasha hanging out together.

“We should also have confidence that kids these days, I think, have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did,” Obama said. “And along this long journey, we’re becoming a more perfect union, not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.”

Obama said he and his deputies were considering a few concrete policy options in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, such as trying to train state and local law enforcement officials how to better deal with issues of racial bias, and exploring whether state laws such as “Stand Your Ground” might “encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations” rather than defuse them.

More broadly, he said he wanted to pursue a “long-term project” of “thinking about, how do we bolster and reinforce African American boys? And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there that need help, that are getting a lot of negative reinforcement.”

It is important, Obama said, for individual Americans to “do some soul-searching” about their own inherent racial biases, and ask, “Am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can?”

“That would, I think, be an important exercise in the wake of this tragedy,” he said.

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