Bill O’Reilly Compares #BlackLivesMatter Movement To Gestapo

By Hilary Hanson, the Huffington Post

Bill O’Reilly compared the Black Lives Matter movement to the gestapo Wednesday night, shortly before proclaiming he is the reporter who has done the most to “shed light” on violence against young black men.

During a segment on “The O’Reilly Factor,” O’Reilly and Fox News commentator Andrea Tantaros discussed a Black Lives Matter conference in Ohio where attendees prevented a reporter from filming.

“Their message means nothing if they do these gestapo tactics,” O’Reilly said. “They lose all credibility. The group is never going to be taken seriously.”

It’s unclear how the gestapo — the Nazi secret police group dedicated to oppressing and terrorizing Jews, gay people, and basically anyone the Nazis deemed undesirable — is at all similar to a group that fights the oppression and brutalization of black people by law enforcement in the U.S.

Less than a minute later, O’Reilly asked Fox News correspondent Jehmu Greene, “The reporter in this country who has shed the most light on young black men being killed is who?” When Greene said she didn’t know, O’Reilly informed her, “That would be me.”…

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Thanks to the Supreme Court, Traffic Stops Can Become a Gamble Between Life and Death

By Charles D. Ellison,

Recent rulings and past decisions have given police officers the legal elbow room to stop, frisk and arrest whomever they want.

Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia stops Sandra Bland's vehicle.

Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia stops Sandra Bland’s vehicle.

As we delve deeper into every minute of the infamous Sandra Bland stop seen around the world, experts (as expected) are clawing into every legal nook and cranny to ask one of the most pressing questions of 2015: Exactly how many rights do you have should you see red and blue lights flashing in the rear view?

It’s not crystal clear. While we’d like to think we have enough constitutional armor to take on a trigger-snapping squad of Boss Hog’s finest, the unfortunate reality is that we don’t. Thanks to a permanently ideological Supreme Court dominated by conservative stalwarts, the cops have even more rights than you do…even with increased smartphone surveillance and hourly scrutiny of police, law enforcement seems strangely emboldened … and even dismissive.

Quite a few folks, including the Center for American Progress, have cited the Rodriguez v. United States (pdf) decision in April as good-enough reason that Bland should never have seen the inside of a jail. As Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg put it, “The tolerable duration of police inquiries in the traffic-stop context is determined by the seizure’s ‘mission’—to address the traffic violation that warranted the stop, and attend to related safety concerns.”…

Although Rodriguez may have resolved traffic-stop length of time, it didn’t address the much more consequential traffic-stop reasoning the same way a less-hyped Heien v. North Carolina ruling did when it dropped last December.

Heien is like the legal Godzilla of bad cop excuses: An officer’s “mistake of law,” opined conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, can be constitutional so long as it’s all “reasonable.” In essence, it gives aggressive police officers the kind of legal elbow room they need for misconduct; or, as criminal-justice expert Lauren Kirchner explains, “[I]t essentially gives cops even more latitude than they already had, to stop whomever they want, for whatever pretext they claim.”

Heien also pretty much played backup to another little-known 1997 ruling, called Maryland v. Wilson, in which the court agreed that officers can order passengers out of cars during any traffic stop, crime or no crime. Then-Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote at the time that “the same weighty interest in officer safety is present regardless of whether the occupant of the stopped car is a driver or passenger.”

This all makes Rodriguez relatively empty. Not only did Heien and Maryland make cops legally invincible and always right during traffic stops, but both cases also offer them convenient justifications, despite mountains of empirical evidence proving persistent frisk and ticket racial gaps on the side of the road.

In the final analysis, it should prompt us to think twice if stopped by the fuzz. The reasons are a mix of the political, the practical and the jurisprudence outlined above.

Politically, in both courts of law and public opinion, it’s still a world in which a cop’s word is perceived as more trustworthy than the victim’s…

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

War on Drugs – or War on Blacks?

Griot: Reggie Jackson

President Ronald Reagan talks about his drug policies in a March 1987 press conference.

President Ronald Reagan talks about his drug policies in a March 1987 press conference.

“The mood toward drugs is changing in this country, and the momentum is with us. We’re making no excuses for drugs — hard, soft, or otherwise. Drugs are bad, and we’re going after them. As I’ve said before, we’ve taken down the surrender flag and run up the battle flag. And we’re going to win the war on drugs.”  – President Ronald Reagan, October 2, 1982

With these words America’s modern War on Drugs was launched. This war would have many casualties. The war would lead the United States down the path to incarcerate over two million people. State budgets would expand to pay the costs of hundreds of new prisons. The black and Latino communities would lose countless young men to incarceration. By 2015, the Federal government will spend over $25 billion annually to combat drugs.

Tulia, Texas: Watch this film about one small town’s experience with the War on Drugs.

The "War on Drugs" begun by President Reagan in the 1980s resulted in a sudden steep rise in the number of Americans being jailed. The US now has the highest rate of incarceration in the world.

The “War on Drugs” begun by President Reagan in the 1980s resulted in a sudden steep rise in the number of Americans being jailed. The US now has the highest rate of incarceration in the world.


The irony of the War on Drugs being launched in the 1980s is that illicit drug use had been dropping for about a decade. We were essentially beginning to fight a war with an enemy that no one believed existed. In fact, less than 2 percent of the public viewed drugs as the most important issue facing the nation. Prior to this time the federal government played only a small role in crime control. Reagan’s Attorney General, William French Smith recommended a policy shift to deploy a “strong federal law enforcement capacity” in what he called a “highly popular” manner.

This shift led Reagan to fulfill one of his campaign promises, to get tough on crime. He used coded racial language to convince whites to believe that a “human predator” existed. This predator would primarily be young black males. In 1970 Sidney Wilhelm wrote a book titled, Who Needs the Negro? He argued that black labor was no longer necessary to the American economy due to automation and de-industrialization. Blacks would become the enemy in the War on Drugs.

LA prisoners NewOrleansTimesPicayune

Prisoners in a Louisiana jail

The Reagan Administration and Congress authorized $125 million to establish regional drug task forces employing over 1,000 FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency) agents along with new federal prosecutors. The FBI drug enforcement budget skyrocketed from $8 million in 1980 to over $95 million four years later. From 1981 until 1991 the DEA antidrug budget increased from $86 million to over a billion dollars. Alongside these increases federal allocations for education and treatment of drug abuse was decimated. The National Institute on Drug Abuse saw its funding slashed from $274 million in 1981 to only $57 million by 1984.

Time cocaine coverThis new emphasis on criminal prosecution of the Drug War led to a huge increase in state and local law enforcement and prosecution. The enforcement of new, more harsh drug laws would be concentrated in poor black communities. These communities were already suffering tremendously due to the major recession of the early 1980’s. Family supporting wages from manufacturing jobs, which drove many blacks into northern communities beginning in the 1950’s, were being shifted overseas. Jobs were difficult to find and in some cases impossible to find. The jobs that were created during this time were mostly in the suburbs, and inaccessible to inner city residents.

An illicit drug market became the replacement labor force. Crack cocaine, became the tool by which this market expanded. In 1984 the Los Angeles Times first reported on the use of cocaine “rocks” in black and Latino neighborhoods. Crack was simply a mixture of powdered cocaine, water and baking soda that was “cooked” to produce smokable “rocks.” By 1986 this new form of cocaine was only found in Los Angeles, New York, Miami and a handful of other big cities.

Len Bias funeralTwo professional athletes, Len Bias of the Boston Celtics and Don Rogers of the Cleveland Browns died in June 1986 of what was referred to by the media as “crack related” incidents that were in reality powdered cocaine overdoses. News coverage increased overnight of police raiding “crack houses” and escorting black and Latino males away in handcuffs. In July 1986 the three major networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) showed seventy-four evening news segments on drugs, including over thirty stories on crack. Newspapers around the country produced about one thousand stories about crack leading up to the mid-term congressional elections in November 1986.

By mid 1986 Newsweek called crack the biggest story since Vietnam and Watergate. Time magazine called it the issue of the year. The “crack epidemic” or “crack plague” became the most common terms to describe the drug. The intense media coverage of crack led the DEA to issue a press release to correct the misperception of crack. They stated, “crack is currently the subject of considerable media attention…The result has been a distortion of the public perception of the extent of crack use as compared to the use of other drugs…it appears to be a secondary rather than primary problem in most areas.”

Time cover crack kidsOne of the most incendiary stories related to crack was the so-called “crack babies.” These were babies born to drug using mothers. The hysteria surrounding this phenomenon led to laws being passed to prosecute mothers who tested positive for cocaine. Crack and powdered cocaine are indistinguishable. Therefore there is no way to tell if the mother had used crack or powdered cocaine. Despite the fact that no data was available on supposedly “crack-addicted babies”, the media ran hundreds of stories warning that these children would become menaces to society. Only later did studies prove this to be untrue. The media barely covered this new information.

The intense media scrutiny led Congress to pass the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act. The bill introduced mandatory minimum sentences including a 5-year term for possession of five grams of crack cocaine, while mandating the same sentence for 500 grams of powdered cocaine, a 100:1 ratio. The crack scare died down after the election.

By 1988, crack became an issue again during the election cycle. ABC News reported that crack was a “plague…eating away at the fabric of America.” The rhetoric about crack continued, and led Congress to pass the 1988 Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which enhanced drug penalties and led to the Comprehensive Community Substance Abuse Prevention Act of 1989. These Congressional acts led to huge increases in law enforcement budgets. As a result the prison population began to soar. In 1980 there were only 14,100 people in prison or jail for drug offenses. Today there are over a half-million, in increase of 1,100 percent.

Incarceration_rates_worldwideThe impact of the drug scare would continue during the Clinton administration with the passage of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the largest crime bill in U.S. history. It placed an additional 100,000 new police officers on the street and provided nearly $10 billion funding for prisons. It also eliminated Pell grants for incarcerated prisoners to receive post secondary education, which had been available since 1965.

The increased funding, extra police officers and prosecutors led to the largest growth in prisoners in world history. The incarcerated population in the United States grew from a little over 500,000 in 1980 (319,598 in prison, 182,288 in jail) to over 2.3 million by 2013. The War on Drugs led to the imposition of crime policies which would put America in the position of having only 5% of the world’s population and over 25% of the people incarcerated.


The New Jim Crow

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

Reggie Jackson is Head Griot of America’s Black Holocaust Museum and President of the Board of the Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation, ABHM’s parent organization. Reggie is a frequent public speaker on topics relating to African American history and the black holocaust. He works as a teacher with the Milwaukee Public Schools.

This exhibit was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council. Any views, finding, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the national Endowment for the Humanities. The Wisconsin Humanities Council supports and creates programs that use history, culture, and discussion to strengthen community life for everyone in Wisconsin.

Black South Carolina Trooper Explains Why He Helped a White Supremacist

By Dan Barry, the New York Times

What the black state trooper saw was a civilian in distress. Yes, this was a white man, attending a white supremacist rally in front of the South Carolina State House. And yes, he was wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with a swastika.trooper_and_supremacist

But the trooper concentrated only on this: an older civilian, spent on the granite steps. Overcome, it appeared, by an unforgiving July sun and the recent, permanent removal of a Confederate flag from state capitol display…

The meaning of this image — of a black officer helping a white supremacist, both in uniform — depends on the beholder. You might see a refreshing coda to the Confederate flag controversy; a typical day for a law-enforcement professional; a simplification of racial tensions that continue. But what does the trooper see?

His name is Leroy Smith, and he happens to be the director of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. He was at the rally, working crowd control, because he likes to signal to his 1,300 subordinates that he has their backs.

Mr. Smith said he was taken aback by the worldwide attention but hoped the image would help society move past the recent spasms of hate and violence, including last month’s massacre of nine black people in a church in Charleston. Asked why he thinks the photo has had such resonance, he gave a simple answer: Love.

“I think that’s the greatest thing in the world — love,” said the burly, soft-spoken trooper, who is just shy of 50. “And that’s why so many people were moved by it.”…

At the State House on the day the photo was taken, Smith learned the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan would be demonstrating. It promised to be a busy day…

Then a demonstrator directed his attention to an older man all but melting on a bottom step. “He looked fatigued, lethargic — weak,” Mr. Smith said. “I knew there was something very wrong with him.”

He called up the steps to the Columbia fire chief, Aubrey Jenkins, for assistance. Then, with his left arm around the man’s back and his right hand on the man’s right arm, he walked the swastika-adorned demonstrator up the steps, as many as 40. Slowly, steadily, all the while giving encouragement:

We’re going to make it. Just keep on going…

Up the steps the two men went. They didn’t talk much, although the older demonstrator allowed that he wasn’t from around here. A spokesman for the National Socialist Movement declined to identify him, other than to say he is a senior citizen who doesn’t need people knocking at his door…

As they approached the top step, someone nudged Rob Godfrey, 34, a deputy chief of staff to Governor Haley, who is known for his diligent chronicling of everyday history. He snapped a shot with his iPhone, sensing a distillation of the grace with which South Carolina has responded to these days of tragedy and strife.

“In that moment, Leroy Smith was the embodiment of all that,” Mr. Godfrey said. He quickly shared the moment with the world…

Mr. Smith did not know about the photograph. He knew only what was before him. He walked the man into the air-conditioned State House, led him to a green-upholstered couch, and left him there to cool down.

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

“Race” – The History of a Persistent Myth

Griot/Image Editor: Fran Kaplan, EdD

For more than 400 years, the economic, social, and political behavior of Americans has been shaped by ideas about “races” and racial differences.

RaceLogoFaceConsciously or unconsciously, almost all Americans believe that people can be grouped into races – Caucasian/white/European, Negroid/black/African, Mongoloid/yellow/Asian – based on their skin color, hair form, and shape of their noses or eyelids. Our society also operates on the notion that these genetic differences in appearance are linked to genetic differences in character traits like intelligence, athleticism, and work ethic.

Where did these powerful ideas come from – and are they true?

Before we answer these questions, we challenge you to take two quizzes. These short exercises will help you see how much of the American notions about race and racial differences you have absorbed.

Quiz 1: Racial Literacy – Download and answer the 9 questions. When you finish, you can review the correct answers.

Quiz 2: Implicit Bias – Take Harvard University’s <10 minute study of black-white bias. The link takes you to Project Implicit. Once there, read about the test, then click on “I wish to proceed.” On the next screen, scroll down to the “Race IAT” button to start your test.

The videos below will help you better understand how and why “race” came to have such a powerful hold on American society. The trailer for Race: The Power of an Illusion gives a 5-minute overview. But we encourage you to watch the three full episodes below as well. (Each video is 16-22 minutes long.)

Here are some of the central ideas:

Race: The Power of an Illusion

Episode 1- The Difference Between Us examines the contemporary science – including genetics – that challenges our common sense assumptions that human beings can be bundled into three or four fundamentally different groups according to their physical traits.

Episode 2- The Story We Tell uncovers the roots of the race concept in North America, the 19th century science that legitimated it, and how it came to be held so fiercely in the western imagination. The episode is an eye-opening tale of how race served to rationalize, even justify, American social inequalities as “natural.”

Episode 3- The House We Live In asks, If race is not biology, what is it? This episode uncovers how race resides not in nature but in politics, economics and culture. It reveals how our social institutions “make” race by disproportionately channeling resources, power, status and wealth to white people.

For a fun way to learn about the complexities of the social reality of racial categories, check out the Guess My Race game for mobile devices.

Sundown Towns: Racial Segregation Past and Present

Griots: James W. Loewen, PhD; Fran Kaplan, EdD; and Robert Smith, PhD

Photo Editor: Fran Kaplan

Sundown Towns book cover“Is it true that ‘Anna’ stands for ‘Ain’t No Niggers Allowed’?” I asked at the convenience store in Anna, Illinois, where I had stopped to buy coffee. “Yes,” the clerk replied. “That’s sad, isn’t it,” she added, distancing herself from the policy. And she went on to assure me, “That all happened a long time ago.” “I understand [racial exclusion] is still going on?” I asked. “Yes,” she replied. “That’s sad.” —conversation with clerk, Anna, Illinois, October 2001.

– James W. Loewen, Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism (Touchstone, 2006), 3.

Anna and Jonesboro are twin towns, population 7,000, in southern Illinois. In 1909, after a “spectacle lynching,” Anna and Jonesboro expelled their African Americans. Both cities have been all-white ever since. It is common knowledge that black people are not allowed to live there. Such places are often called “sundown towns,” owing to the signs formerly posted at their city limits—signs that usually said “Nigger, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on You in __.” Anna-Jonesboro still had such signs in the 1970s.

Sundown Towns Are Almost Everywhere 

Sundown towns highlighted on this map represent a partial listing of those found in Wisconsin. Research is ongoing. Image courtesy James Loewen.

Sundown towns highlighted on this map represent a partial listing of those found in Wisconsin. Research is ongoing. Image courtesy James Loewen.

A sundown town is a community that for decades kept non-whites from living in it and was thus “all-white” on purpose. Some allowed a non-white household or two as an exception. Anna and Jonesboro are not unique or even unusual. Beginning in about 1890 and continuing until 1968, white Americans established thousands of towns across the United States for whites only. Many towns drove out their black populations, then posted sundown signs. Others passed laws barring African Americans after dark or prohibiting them from owning or renting property. Still others just harassed and even killed those who violated the custom. Some sundown towns also kept out Jews, Chinese, Mexicans, Native Americans, or other groups.

Sundown towns range in size from tiny villages to cities. There are also many “sundown suburbs” and neighborhoods–and even entire counties. Sundown communities also range from rich to poor. Outside the traditional South—where sundown towns are rare—probably a majority of all incorporated places kept out African Americans. For example, in 1970, 71% Illinois towns with over 1000 people, for example, had been all-white in census after census.

A sign in Detroit, Michigan, where a race riot took place in 1943.

A sign in Detroit, Michigan, where a race riot took place in 1943.

This History Has Been Hidden in Plain Sight 

Even though sundown towns were everywhere, there was almost no information on the topic until sociology professor Jim Loewen researched and wrote about it. Most white Americans have no idea such communities exist, or they think such places exist mainly in the Deep South. Ironically, the Deep South has almost no sundown towns. Mississippi, for instance, has no more than 6, while Illinois has at least 456. Historians in sundown communities do not discuss this, because it would reflect badly on their communities.

Why Sundown Towns Arose

The Negro Motorist Green Book was an annual guidebook for African Americans, published in the United States from 1936 to 1966. • Black travelers faced a variety of dangers and inconveniences, such as white-owned businesses refusing to serve them or repair their vehicles, being refused accommodation or food by white-owned hotels, and threats of physical violence and forcible expulsion from whites-only "sundown towns". • New York mailman and travel agent Victor H. Green published The Green Book "to give the Negro traveler information that will keep him from running into difficulties, embarrassments and to make his trip more enjoyable."

The Negro Motorist Green Book was an annual guidebook for African Americans, published in the United States from 1936 to 1966.

Black travelers faced a variety of dangers and inconveniences, such as white-owned businesses refusing to serve them or repair their vehicles, being refused accommodation or food by white-owned hotels, and threats of physical violence and forcible expulsion from whites-only “sundown towns”.

New York mailman and travel agent Victor H. Green published The Green Book “to give the Negro traveler information that will keep him from running into difficulties, embarrassments and to make his trip more enjoyable.”

After slavery and the Civil War ended in 1865, blacks began moving everywhere – for about twenty-five years. Most, however, were still unable to leave the South. Once Reconstruction ended, southern states immediately set up a system that looked a lot like slavery. This system became known as “Jim Crow.” Under Jim Crow, blacks could not vote. They would not be accommodated at restaurants, parks, hotels, or schools used by whites. Even streetcars and railroad waiting rooms now isolated blacks in separate sections. Lynchings and other forms of violence against blacks rose to their highest point.

Most Americans have no idea how much race relations worsened between 1890 and the 1930s – and not just in the South. In fact, black Americans were the targets of racial violence and discrimination in the North, East, and West as well. Still, there was a greater opportunity for family-supporting jobs and a better life outside the South, so millions of blacks left in one of the largest immigrations in history. This is known as the Great Migration – and it transformed America.

For example, African Americans reached every county of Montana. More than 400 lived in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. City neighborhoods across the country were fairly integrated, too, even if black inhabitants were often servants or gardeners for their white neighbors. Between 1890 and the 1930s, however, all this changed.

By 1930, although its white population had increased by 75%, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was home to only 331 African Americans, and 180 of them were inmates of the Marquette State Prison. Eleven Montana counties had no blacks at all. Across the country, city neighborhoods grew more and more segregated.

How Sundown Communities Were–and Are–Maintained

Sadly, the Great Migration sparked racism across the country. Whites feared black immigrants, and they established sundown towns around the country.  Most sundown towns expelled their black residents, or agreed not to admit any, between 1890 and 1940. Sundown suburbs developed a little later – from 1900 and 1968.

Racial covenants, written agreements with white property owners, helped keep Seattle's black community confined to a ghetto. To see a sample of such an agreement, click the link on "covenant" to the left.

Racial covenants, written agreements with white property owners, helped keep Seattle’s black community confined to a ghetto. To see a sample of such an agreement, click the link on “covenant” to the left.

There were also race riots in which white mobs attacked black neighborhoods, burning, looting, and killing. Across America, at least 50 towns, and probably many more than that, drove out their African American populations violently. At least 16 did so in Illinois alone. In the West, another 50 or more towns drove out their Chinese American populations. Many other sundown towns and suburbs used violence to keep out blacks or, sometimes, other minorities.

Instead of the “Promised Land,” black migrants found that Jim Crow had made the journey North too. They were unable to settle in the kinds of small communities they had inhabited in the South. Instead, they were allowed to settle in only the oldest, most rundown neighborhoods in industrial cities. Whites fled to suburbs or parts of the cities with better housing.

In the 1930s-40s the Federal government set up the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) program. This made home ownership affordable for millions of average Americans. However, property values and eligibility for loans were tied to race, so blacks got almost none of the loans. There were also written covenants and informal “gentlemen’s agreements” between realtors and sellers to exclude blacks from white neighborhoods. Owning a home in a valued neighborhood is how most average Americans save money and pass it on to their children. This critically important method of building family security and wealth was denied to most African Americans.
Video: The Genesis of Discriminatory Housing Policies

Why Sundown Communities Matter Today

Sundown communities exist today. Most white people in this country live in all-white communities, attend all-white churches, and do not know a single black person well.

Help Wanted Whites Only

Such obvious signs may be out-of-fashion now, but the location of good family-supporting jobs far from where most African Americans are able to live has the same effect.

Residential segregation still makes it hard for even middle-class black people to escape the ghetto. When the white working and middle classes fled to the suburbs and exurbs, most industries and businesses moved there too. The bus systems used by the inner city residents do not go to these communities. This has left many African Americans unable to get family-supporting jobs.

This pattern of racial segregation in America has serious consequences for the well-being of millions of children. Most schools are still racially segregated, and those serving primarily black children are often underfunded. These schools struggle to educate many children stressed by the racism and poverty their families have suffered over generations. These super-stressed children often receive harsh punishments for petty misbehaviors, like throwing a lollipop (“battery”), tapping a pencil on a desk (“destruction of property”), and talking back (“disturbing the peace”). Students of color are punished more frequently and more harshly. For every white student suspended from school, four black students are pushed out.

Black Brute cartoon Jim Crow museum

An editorial cartoon archived at the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia in Big Rapids, Michigan.

In the 1800-1900s, the pseudo-science of eugenics “proved” that blacks were brutes in order to justify slavery. For hundreds of years, white parents and society taught white children that blacks had, by nature, an inferior intelligence and character. Sadly, this white supremacist view persists today. With racial segregation, most white Americans get their only exposure to black American life through the distorted lens of many television news programs. These programs focus largely on sensationalized reports of black criminality.

Fortunately, with the rise of camera phone videos and social media, some white people are questioning the bias built into our criminal justice system. However, there is much work to be done to dismantle the attitudes and the serious economic, legal, and political problems caused by generations of forced racial segregation.

Click here to learn how to discover whether your town is a sundown town.

James W. Loewen, PhD is author of a gripping retelling of American history as it should be taught, Lies My Teacher Told Me, that has sold more than 1.3 million copies and inspires K-16 teachers to help students challenge, rather than memorize, their textbooks.

Jim taught at the University of Vermont and Tougaloo College in Mississippi. He now lives in Washington, D.C., continuing his research on how Americans remember their past. Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong came out in 1999. Sundown Towns was named Distinguished Book of 2005. In Teaching What Really Happened (2009), he gives teachers solutions to the problems described in his earlier works.

In his presentations, Loewen asked thousands of Americans about the causes of the Civil War. Concerned by their replies, in 2010 he published The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader, setting the record straight in the Confederates’ own words.

Dr. Loewen’s awards include the American Sociological Association’s Spivack and Cox-Johnson-Frazier Awards for scholarship in service to social justice; the American Book Award; the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship; and, the National Council for the Social Studies “Spirit of America” Award. He is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, Visiting Professor of Sociology at Catholic University in Washington, DC, and Visiting Professor of African-American Studies at the University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign.

Robert S. Smith, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of History, Associate Vice Chancellor for Global Inclusion and Engagement, and Director of the Cultures and Communities Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Smith is the author of the book Race, Labor and Civil Rights: Griggs v. Duke Power and the Struggle for Equal Employment Opportunity, his study of efforts by grassroots civil rights activists to garner better jobs and long overdue promotions. His research is particularly useful in its assessment of the outcomes of the Civil Rights Movement and the sustained efforts of longtime activists at promoting equality by mobilizing the civil rights laws of the mid-sixties.

Rob is the Resident Historian at America’s Black Holocaust Museum and co-curator of Lynching: An American Folkway, a recently published digital transmedia anthology.

Dr. Smith taught in the Africana Studies Department of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and served as a consultant at the Levine Museum of the New South, where he helped revamp a permanent exhibit. He was also an invited scholar/expert for the North Carolina Humanities Council.

Fran Kaplan, EdD has been an educator, social worker, writer, and racial justice activist for nearly fifty years. She has developed and run both nonprofit and for profit organizations, including a women’s comprehensive health center, a farmworker self-help organization, and a trilingual training program for early childhood educators. Fran served as the international trainer-consultant for a global parenting education program and authored their Spanish-language instructional books, games, and videos.

Dr. Kaplan has also written and produced award-winning short and feature films, one of which is distributed by Warner Brothers Home Video. Her co-authored screenplay about the life of James Cameron won awards in eight national and regional competitions. She co-curated Lynching: An American Folkway, a comprehensive digital transmedia anthology published by Biblioboard for libraries and tablet users.

Over the years Fran has been recognized by various local and state organizations for promoting racial justice and providing leadership in children’s and human rights. Her current position as the coordinator of America’s Black Holocaust virtual Museum draws on her experiences as a researcher, writer, teacher, filmmaker, and organizational developer and community organizer.


[ABHM] Lecture series asks ‘Do Black Lives Matter?’


Reggie Jackson, Head Griot of America's Black Holocaust Museum, was interviewed and photographed by Jabril Faraj at Coffee Makes You Black in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in July 2015.

Reggie Jackson, Head Griot of America’s Black Holocaust Museum, was interviewed and photographed by Jabril Faraj at Coffee Makes You Black in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in July 2015.

[Editor’s Note: ABHM’s Head Griot, Reggie Jackson, will present his #Do Black Lives Matter? lecture series at Milwaukee’s Villard Square Library on August 3, 5, 10, and 12, 2015 – 5:30-7:30pm. To arrange for a presentation on this or similar topics by Mr. Jackson or another ABHM griot, please contact us here.]

…[This] series addresses the 400-year-long history of black people in America, starting in 1619 when the first Africans were brought to the British colonies….

“There’s been a … consistency in the way blacks have been devalued,” Jackson said in an interview. “We don’t study our history in-depth enough to realize it. We don’t talk about these things because they’re ugly things to talk about.”

The famous "Scourged Back" photo of fugitive slave Gordon. (Antique colored slide of Gordon during his 1863 medical examination by Union doctors.) This photo was widely disseminated by abolitionists to show the inhumanity of slavery.

The famous “Scourged Back” photo of fugitive slave Gordon. (Antique colored slide of Gordon during his 1863 medical examination by Union doctors.) This photo was widely disseminated by abolitionists to show the inhumanity of slavery.

…Slavery “set the foundation” for the devaluation of black lives that Jackson said continues today in America….“You’re in this situation where, from day to day, generation after generation, you are debased as a human being,” he said, adding that an 1811 manual on “how to control your slaves” mentally and physically recommended that “you debase them in such a way that they begin to accept their condition.”

Jackson said, as slaves, black men weren’t able to protect their families and it was against the law in every state to teach blacks to read and write. “You begin to have a … lack of self-worth — you don’t value yourself, you don’t value people who look like you,” said Jackson. “And, this is part of the mindset that continues even after slavery ends.”…

“In order for you to enslave millions and millions of people over several centuries, you have to develop a mindset where you don’t value their lives. You can’t have a situation where you look at them as your equals and treat them the way that these people are treated,” Jackson said….

medical apartheid“If you go in thinking that blacks are inferior to whites … you’re going to prove that that’s true,” Jackson said, adding that… flawed [scientific] research was accepted and “became the lasting justification for devaluing black lives in America.”

These pseudo-scientific justifications for black inferiority allowed for scientific and medical experiments to be perpetrated on black people by pharmaceutical companies, prisons and the United States government. The continued devaluation also resulted in the perpetuation of caricatures that promoted blacks as lazy, unintelligent and inarticulate.

Chain-Gang-GA 1941

Black prisoners in Georgia in 1941. They work in a chain gang under the watchful eye of a white overseer, much like slaves on the plantations. Mass incarceration of black men, women, and children continues today.

“That’s part of the psychology that allowed this mass incarceration to occur,” said Jackson, referring to the fact that about 40 percent of America’s 2.3 million prisoners are black, despite being 13 percent of the population. “We criminalize blacks in the minds of America and, so, we have no problem throwing a million of them in prison, and throwing away the key and not really caring.”

“It has to have this debilitating impact on you, mentally,” Jackson said. “You have to begin to believe that you deserve this.”

Under such conditions, “it becomes very difficult to have a positive view of who you are as a person,” Jackson said. The emergence of the black power movement, Black Panther Party and the civil rights movement changed some of that perception but much of the momentum that had been built dissipated with the advent of the Vietnam War, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and COINTELPRO, an FBI program that aimed to discredit King and infiltrate domestic political organizations such as those fighting for black civil rights….

Though Jackson isn’t sure whether America is ready to have an honest conversation about the value of black lives, he hopes that providing information and context will inspire people to “challenge the system we live in.”

Thousands march through Manhattan to protest police violence[Jessica  MacPhail, Director of the Racine Public Library, who hosted this series in July 2015] said the power of his presentation is that people get a perspective they might not have thought about before. “Once you’ve heard the truth, once you’ve seen something that changes how you think about something or how you feel about something, you can’t go back and un-see it, you can’t go back to being the person you were before,” she said….

Jackson agreed. “We can’t just say ‘black lives matter’ and just leave it at that. We have to question whether or not it’s really true,” he said. “Because if you just assume that they do then there’s no problem, there’s nothing to fix.”

For the full story, click here.

For more Breaking News, click here.

Why Racial Injustice Persists Today: A Very Brief Video History

The myth of racial difference that was created to sustain American slavery persists today. Slavery did not end in 1865, it evolved.

Slavery to Mass Incarceration is part of the Race and Poverty project of the Equal Justice Initiative.

The EJI Race and Poverty Project explores racial history and uses innovative teaching tools to deepen our understanding of the legacy of racial injustice. By telling the truth about our past, EJI believes we can create a different, healthier discourse about race in America.


Ex-cop and blackface performer’s fundraiser for officers in Freddie Gray case canceled

By Kevin Rector, the Baltimore Sun

A local venue on Wednesday abruptly canceled a planned fundraiser for the six Baltimore police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray after the scheduled entertainment — a former Baltimore officer singing in blackface — drew sharp criticism.

Former Baltimore police officer Bobby Berger, performing in blackface.

Former Baltimore police officer Bobby Berger, performing in blackface.

Bobby Berger, 67, who was fired from the city police force in the 1980s after his off-duty performances in blackface drew the ire of the NAACP, had said he wanted to revive the act to help the families of the officers.

He said he had sold 600 tickets at $45 each to the bull roast scheduled for Nov. 1 at Michael’s Eighth Avenue, where he and several singers planned to perform as guests dined.

In his performances, Berger impersonates Al Jolson, a white entertainer from the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s best remembered for his blackface performance of “Mammy” in the film “The Jazz Singer.”

But after news of the event began spreading Wednesday, Michael’s posted a statement on its website saying the event would not be held there…

Berger’s plans drew criticism earlier in the day from the NAACP, the city police union and an attorney representing one of the officers charged in the Gray case…

Michael Davey, an attorney who works with the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police, said the union was unaware of the event.

“We don’t endorse it. We do not support it, and we will accept no funds from anything involving this event,” Davey said…

Earlier, Berger said there is not “one iota of racial overtones” in his blackface performance and that thousands of African-Americans have seen his performances and enjoyed them. He said he organized the fundraiser because he knows how it feels to be suddenly without a paycheck from the department…

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Racial Satire ‘White Squad’ Is Painfully Hilarious But All Too Real

This satirical ad nails everyday racial inequality.


Meet the “White Squad” a group of well-meaning white people looking to help out people of color. The squad is introduced in a new, brilliant satire by MTV’s “Look Different” anti-bias campaign that tackles racial inequality that privileges white people and disadvantages people of color in everyday situations.

In the video, members of the company provide a white stand-in for minorities who may encounter discrimination.

55a962181700002300bafab7“Is your skin color holding you back? Are you tired of systemic prejudice ruining your day?” the narrator asks before before offering “professional white advantage services,” which include hailing a cab, finding a better apartment and seeking legal services.

From their paste-colored office to their all-white employees, the company insures that their whiteness will work in your favor.  With a few convincing testimonials, it’s hard to believe that this isn’t an actual service.

While entertaining, the video raises some disturbing flags of actual oppression that can’t be fixed with a call to a 1-800 number.