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When the past is present…

“…The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.” James Baldwin


Audio Interview Confirms Dejuan Guillory Was Unarmed, Lying on Ground When Cop Shot Him in the Back

By: Michael Harriot

Updated Saturday, July 8, 2017, 11:49 p.m. EDT: A new interview sheds light on the Mamou, La., death of Dejuan Guillory. The interview is with Joe Long, the attorney for Dequince Brown, who witnessed an Evangeline Parish sheriff’s deputy shoot Guillory in the back on July 6, killing him.

Dejuan Guillory (via Pride Doran)

Pen Point News investigative reporter Daniel Banguell’s interview with Long confirms many of the details reported earlier. Brown has been unable to tell her side of the story because she has been in jail with charges of attempted first-degree murder of a police officer since the incident.

In the recording, Long affirms that Guillory was on the ground with his hands behind his back, begging for his life, pleading, “Please don’t shoot me; I have three kids,” when Paul Lafleur first shot Guillory….

They were both on the ground. Guillory was on the ground, on his belly, his hands behind his back, and the officer had a gun trained at Guillory’s back, maybe a foot or two from Guillory’s body….

According to Long, Brown then jumped on the officer’s back to prevent him from killing her boyfriend and bit LaFleur (hence the reported injuries to the officer). LaFleur then fired three more shots at Guillory.

Long also states that two ambulances came to the scene, but “one ambulance loaded the deputy in and took him to the hospital. The other one left empty. When she left in a police car, Guillory’s body was still on the gravel road….”

So when a sheriff’s deputy stood over Guillory in an isolated road in the backwoods of Louisiana, fired multiple shots into his back and left him there to die,…

As soon as he was served death through the barrel of an infallible police officer’s gun, Guillory was changed. First he became a “suspect.” Then they made him into a thug. Soon he will be a villain. Then a martyr. Then a hashtag….

Brown says through the Guillory family’s attorney, Pride Doran, in an exclusive interview with The Root, that the couple were on the ATV on Chad Lane when they happened upon a parked vehicle. The car flashed its lights, stopping the couple, and out stepped Paul Holden LaFleur, a deputy with the Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Department.

Deputy Paul LeFleur (courtesy of Evangeline, La., Parrish)

There are several questions as to why LaFleur was parked in the middle of nowhere at 4 a.m. The Police Department says that he was answering a burglary call. It is unclear whether LaFleur was on duty, in police uniform or even in a marked car, but both Guillory and his girlfriend recognized LaFleur as an officer….

According to Doran, who represents Guillory’s family, both Brown and Guillory complied, but when Guillory was prostrate on the ground, LaFleur reportedly fired his weapon multiple times at Guillory, shooting Guillory three or four times.

In His Back….

Doran told The Root that the deputy went back to his car and stayed there for an extended period of time. However, during their altercation, LaFleur happened to drop his police radio, and it was Brown who called for help, using LaFleur’s radio….

Brown and Guillory have now been mysteriously transformed before our eyes. This is the prestidigitation that magically metamorphosizes black boys into thugs, black women into miscreants and black bodies into cadavers.

That is what Dejuan Guillory has become: a lifeless afterthought in a small-town newspaper. A mythical, scoundrel supercriminal who can overpower armed cops while lying on the ground.

Or, as Paul LaFleur intended—just a dead, black thing.


Read full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.



The Meaning of Independence Day for Milwaukee’s People of Color

By: Reggie Jackson,

Two hundred and forty-one years ago, a select group of leaders in the British North American colonies decided to break ranks and form their own independent nation….

On July 4th the nation will celebrate this monumental occasion as the birthday of the United States of America.

One hundred fifty-two years ago on a hot summer day, word of the Emancipation Proclamation made it to Galveston, Texas. June 19th of 1865 was two and a half years after Lincoln’s broad proclamation freeing the enslaved population in America….

Milwaukee celebrates what’s become known as Juneteenth Day in a big way. These two celebrations, a mere fifteen days apart, are in many ways a clear sign of the disconnect that continues to exist along racial lines. Some African-Americans look at Juneteenth as their Independence Day in the same way as the nation overall celebrates its independence on the 4th of July….

Obviously, many in the African-American community celebrate the 4th of July as a huge patriotic nod to the role they or their ancestors played in fighting for their country. Juneteenth Day is a lesser holiday within the African-American community than the 4th of July.

Over the years, many have questioned the patriotism of African-Americans. This despite the fact that we have fought on behalf of this nation in all of its wars going back to before the Revolutionary War….

However, July 4th of 1776 did not represent Independence Day for my relatives and many other people of African ancestry. In fact, it would take another eighty-seven years before Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing enslaved blacks. An additional two years would elapse before a Constitutional amendment ended legal slavery in December 1865.

So for nearly ninety years, we watched as whites celebrated their independence from the tyrannical King George and the British, while refusing to offer independence to millions of Africans who stood on these same shores. In 1852, Frederick Douglass gave a famous speech questioning what, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?

He saw the irony and hypocrisy of his white friends who celebrated the lifting of themselves from tyrannical rule, while continuing to not offer these same benefits to the blacks who lived within their midst….

These unalienable rights were denied to nearly 600,000 Africans at the time. When Lincoln issued his wartime proclamation, close to four million were in bondage. For them and their families, these words that we continue to celebrate were empty, hollow, and even disrespectful.

The audacity required to break with English rule was only outdone by that which declared liberty to some without even mentioning those it was denied to. For too long, we as Americans have refused to acknowledge this hypocrisy. We fly our flags and launch massive amounts of fireworks on the nation’s birthday each year without once mentioning the fact that it did not apply to Africans in America in 1776….

It is as if we are afraid to tarnish the holiday….

Independence from tyranny came slowly for the enslaved masses of men, women, and children of African descent….

Most of us have read about the Emancipation Proclamation, but few have read the document itself….

Twelve years after the 13th Amendment ended slavery, the last of the Federal troops protecting the rights of the freedmen were removed from the South. They were the only force standing in the way of a return to legal bondage….

Racial tеrrоr became the order of the day for the freedmen. Across the country they were openly beaten, rаpеd, tоrturеd and murdеred for decades with no protection from authorities. Later, they were forced to occupy segregated spaces, in homes, public places, and while traveling until the 1960s. This time left no reason to celebrate independence from tyranny.

Since this is an ignored part of our history,… It is time we begin to talk publicly in Milwaukee about why we do not all have to be happy, flag waving “patriots” on the 4th of July.


Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

See more about Fredrick Douglass here.



Fighting for Black Lives in Colombia: At War’s End, the Search for a Seat at the Table

By Lori S. Robinson,


U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) had an authentic Afro-Colombian experience. “I was stopped in the airport and profiled, a case of racial profiling by police,” he says. Two officers requested to see his ID and asked him about some luggage found at another airport. The activists accompanying Johnson, who doesn’t speak Spanish, had to explain to the officers that they stopped the wrong black guy.

While this scene could easily have taken place in the United States, the history of racism in Colombia is quite different. The myth of racial democracy—a Latin American ideology that posits that inequality and discrimination exist because of class differences, not racism—persists. Still, the results of racism affect black people in similar ways….“In the United States, it was very clear you weren’t wanted: ‘No Blacks Allowed.’ Here, you’re left thinking, ‘Why didn’t they call me for a job interview?’ The racism in Colombia isn’t in-your-face,” Vidal explains. “They don’t tell you anything.” That’s true for everyday interactions as well as high-stakes politics….

Despite the disproportionate victimization of Afro-Colombians during the 52-year civil war, which ended last year, it wasn’t until the last day of four years of peace negotiations that Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos permitted input from black organizations.

This exclusion communicated a strong message. Says PCN leader Charo Mina-Rojas, “This just is absolutely clear evidence of the racism of this country and the lack of political will of this government to really recognize and respect and promote, as is its obligation, the rights and lives and well-being of indigenous and Afro-descendant people.”…

No matter what the government does, Afro-Colombian activists know what they will do. Despite being subjected to racism and violence, they will keep strategizing, building alliances and demanding their human rights.

Says William Mina, an activist in Buenaventura: “What motivates us to keep fighting is our culture, our tradition, the legacy that our ancestors have left us. We want to live for our children so they can live in tranquility.”

Read the full story here.

Read more Breaking News here.


From 15 Million Acres to 1 Million: How Black People Lost Their Land

By David Love,

At its height, Black land ownership was impressive. At the turn of the 20th century, formerly enslaved Black people and their heirs owned 15 million acres of land, primarily in the South, mostly used for farming. In 1920, the 925,000 African-American farms represented 14 percent of the farms in America.

Sadly, things turned for the worse, as 600,000 Black farmers were forced off their land with only 45,000 Black farms remaining in 1975. Now, Black folks are only 1 percent of rural landowners in the U. S., and under 2 percent of farmers. Of the 1 billion acres of arable land in America, Black people today own a little more than 1 million acres, according to AP….

In the Great Migration, thousands of African American families left the South and migrated to the North, East, and West of the country.

Over the years, Black people have lost their land through a number of circumstances, including government action, deception and a reign of domestic terror in the South that forced Black people from their homes through threats of violence and lynching. That terror and economic exploitation precipitated the Great Migration….

How we lost the land is an untold story. An investigation by AP documented the process by which people were tricked or intimated out of their property. In this study of 107 land takings in 13 Southern and border states, 406 landowners lost over 24,000 acres of farm and timber land and 85 properties such as city lots and stores. The property, which today is owned by white people and corporations, is valued in the tens of millions of dollars. In recent years groups such as the Federation of Southern Cooperatives in Atlanta and the Land Loss Prevention Project in Durham, N. C. receive new reports of land takings on a regular basis while the Penn Center in St. Helena Island, S. C. has gathered 2,000 such cases. One story from the AP provides the context by which families lost their land to thievery and violence:

After midnight on Oct. 4, 1908, 50 hooded white men surrounded the home of a black farmer in Hickman, KY, and ordered him to come out for a whipping. When David Walker refused and shot at them instead, the mob poured coal oil on his house and set it afire.… Walker ran out the front door, followed by four screaming children and his wife, carrying a baby in her arms. The mob shot them all, wounding three children and killing the others. Walker’s oldest son never escaped the burning house. No one was ever charged with the killings, and the surviving children were deprived of the farm their father died defending. Land records show that Walker’s 2 1/2 -acre farm was simply folded into the property of a white neighbor. The neighbor soon sold it to another man, whose daughter owns the undeveloped land today….

“It’s more about land as a home, it’s about economics and culture, all rolled up into one,” Jennie L. Stephens, executive director of the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation said. Based in Charleston, S. C. the organization serves 15 counties in the Palmetto State. Including the Lowcountry, where Gullah-Geechee have struggled to hold onto their ancestral homelands on the Sea Islands in the face of development, gentrification and corporate intrusion. For generations, families have had the land procured through the blood sweat and tears of their ancestors, until many are forced to sell it.

The Center promotes sustainable land use to help historically underserved families realize the wealth-building asset of their land and prevents heirs’ property owners from losing their land·. Under the concept of heirs’ property, a form of communal land ownership found among rural communities of the South, both Black and white, numerous heirs of the original landowner are co-owners of the land, each owning a percentage share….

The problem arises when corporations and developers entice family members to sell their share, becoming family members themselves and forcing a partition sale, a court-mandated auction sale of the land, all without notice to the other family members….

Jennie Stephens noted that while the issue of land loss is not new, it is receiving more attention these days. Indigenous Black landowners now find themselves grappling with the same land loss issues facing Native Americans. Once thought to be the most unproductive land, now everyone wants to live in the Sea Islands….

Hilton Head Island is a most salient example of once-predominantly Black-owned land that is now in majority white hands, due in no small measure to partition sales. Beaufort County, S. C., which includes Hilton Head, was 57 percent Black in 1950 but is now 77 percent white, as The Nation reported, with Black farmers falling from half of all farmers throughout the state to only 7 percent today….

The land loss these Black populations are experiencing is a gentrification issue transposed onto rural communities, as Lynn noted. While it is an economic issue, it is also an environmental one, as Stephens emphasized: “Once the land is lost, it is not left green anymore. Now, you see these condos with asphalt…

Rural Landowners Symposium 2016. Photo by Jerry Halmon.

There is some relief in sight for heirs’ property owners in South Carolina, in what could signal a trend for the rest of the South. In 2016, then-Gov. Nikki Haley signed the Clementa C. Pinckney Uniform Partition of Heirs’ Property Act, named in honor of the state lawmaker among the eight murdered in an act of racial terror at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church in 2015. The law allows co-tenants to buy out the shares of land speculators — making it difficult for land to be sold through the courts and allows judges to consider factors such as the sentimental, ancestral and fair market value of the property….

“If you can get people to maximize their potential through land, they don’t need a handout,” Jennie Stephens said, underscoring the importance of owning the land and building family wealth. “It is time for your child to go off to college. Maybe you have had trees growing for a while. One person who has clear title, they had the trees cut off their land and could send their children to college without student loans. That money was not a loss to their family, literally that wealth was passed to their family,” she added. “That’s a very simple example of wealth building, the fact these children can come out of college without a student loan.

Read more Breaking News here.

Read the full article here.



Black Attorney to Fight Confederate-Themed Flag in US Supreme Court

By the Associated Press,

JACKSON, Miss (AP) — A Black Mississippi citizen is taking his case  against the state’s Confederate-themed flag  to the U. S. Supreme Court….

A Mississippi state flag is unfurled by Sons of Confederate Veterans and other groups on the grounds of the state Capitol in Jackson , Mississippi. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

Attorneys for Carlos Moore said lower courts were wrong to reject  his argument that the flag is a symbol of white supremacy that harms him and his young  daughter by violating the Constitution’s guarantee  of equal protection to all citizens….

That under the 5th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling against Moore, “a city  could adopt ‘White Supremacy Forever’ as its official motto; or a county could incorporate an image of white hooded figures and a noose hanging from a tree into its county seal; or a state could incorporate  a Nazi swastika, as an endorsement of Aryan/white supremacy, in its state flag .”

Mississippi’s is the last state flag to feature the Confederate battle emblem. Critics say the symbol is racist. Supporters say it represents history .

Mississippi has used the flag  since 1894….

However, several cities and towns and all eight of the state’s public universities have stopped flying the flag amid concerns that it is offensive  in a state where 38 percent of the population is Black. Many took action  after the June 2015 massacre of nine Black worshippers at a church in Charleston, S.C., by an avowed white supremacist who posed with the Confederate battle  flag  in photos posted online…

The lawsuit Moore filed in February 2016 says the Mississippi flag  is “state-sanctioned hate speech,” and seeks to have  it declared an unconstitutional relic of slavery.

U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves dismissed it in September without ruling on the merits, saying Moore lacked legal standing to sue because he failed to show the emblem caused an identifiable legal  injury.

But despite ruling against Moore, Reeves devoted nine pages of his decision  to historical context, noting the racial terror intended to maintain  segregation and white supremacy in the Deep South in the years leading up to Mississippi’s adoption of the flag  with the Confederate emblem….

Moore, himself an attorney, is now asking the Supreme Court to send the case back to Reeves’ federal courtroom for a full trial on the merits of his arguments. Ultimately, Moore wants the Confederate symbol removed from the flag.

“While acknowledging that the Establishment Clause prohibits a state  from expressing the view  that one religion  is superior to, or preferred over, others, the court  of appeals reached the remarkable  and unwarranted  conclusion  that the Equal Protection Clause does not similarly prohibit a state from expressing the view  that one race is superior to, or preferred over, another, ” wrote Michael Scott and Kristen Ashe, who represents Moore..

It will be  October, at the earliest, before the Supreme Court will say  whether it will take the case….

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has said if the flag design is to be reconsidered, it should be done in another statewide election. Legislators filed several bills in 2016 and this year, to either change  the flag or financially punish  universities that refuse to fly it. All failed because leaders said they couldn’t reach  consensus.

Read more Breaking News here.

Read the full article here.


Teens Plaster Vandalized Emmett Till Marker With Words Of Hope

By Elyse Wanshel, HuffPost Black Voices

The vandalized sign.

A civil rights landmark in Mississippi that commemorates the death of Emmett Till has been vandalized, The Associated Press reported Monday.

The sign, which has been defaced before, was scraped so badly that information and photos about Till’s brutal death have been obliterated.

Students from Cultural Leadership, a St. Louis-based nonprofit that teaches young adults how to become civil rights leaders, were present at the site after the sign was vandalized and were disheartened by the destruction.

Dani Gottlieb, a 16-year-old from Cultural Leadership, told HuffPost that she was expecting to see “flowers growing in Emmett Till’s honor” at the landmark, “not a torn-down marker.”

Contributions from the teens at Cultural Leadership.

She and her peers decided as a group to take action. They covered the scraped-off information with hand-drawn pictures of Till, messages of hope and information about his killing.

Read the article in its entirety here.

Read in depth about the struggle for justice and equal rights here.

Read more Breaking News here.


John McEnroe, Serena Williams and the Erasure of Black Female Excellence

By Maiysha Kai,

Scott Barbour/Getty Images

“If [Serena] played the men’s circuit, she’d be, like, 700 in the world.” —John McEnroe

“If I were a man, then it wouldn’t be any sort of question.” —Serena Williams

John McEnroe cannot be serious.

He couldn’t seriously think that he could question or attempt to qualify the greatness of the goddess known as Serena Williams—patron saint of tennis and all things badass and Amazonian (seriously, she’s our real-life Wonder Woman)—and not also anticipate that we, the people, would collectively side-eye him and his cheap attempt to promote his new(er) memoir, But Seriously. (His first was appropriately titled You Cannot Be Serious.)…

Is it because her 23 grand-slam singles titles make her the most consistent winner in the sport? She more than triples McEnroe’s seven (not to mention her four Olympic gold medals, to his zero); Roger Federer has 18….

And while I personally think that asking him to qualify “female” was both a ridiculous question and a bit of a setup by NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro, he stupidly took the bait. Or, rather, he stepped in it, when he not only decided to compare Williams with a man (how original), but also claimed that she would rank 700th if she were one….

(Photo: Getty)

McEnroe is likely too arrogant and oblivious to consider how his stance upholds a long tradition of white, male-centric supremacy. In fact, he claims to be called a “feminist” by his daughter and continues to rightly insist that Williams is the best woman ever to play the sport. (Thanks, Captain Obvious.) But he isn’t blind to the nuances of how race and gender affect perception, even acknowledging inequities in the criticism of Williams’ sportsmanship versus his own in a 2013 interview with CNN:

Serena’s way better than I am (in terms of keeping her temper). There’s no comparison. I think she’s held herself and she’s needed to—obviously being a woman and, second, being looked at closer because she’s black; so I think she’s got a couple strikes against her before she even starts….

As an acquaintance on one social media thread remarked, Williams’ very presence there reminds us: “Black skin matters. Black babies matter. Black mothers matter.”

Yes, it is the audacity that makes them uncomfortable.

Read the full story here.

Read more Breaking News here.


Karyn Parsons Is Telling The Stories Of Little-Known Black Icons

By Zahara Hill,

Karen Parsons. Photo by Santiago Felipe via Getty Images

“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” actress Karyn Parsons has come quite a ways since she was pardoning herself for being so attractive as a self-obsessed Hilary Banks.

But these days, she has a thing or two to teach us about black history.

In 2005, Parsons founded Sweet Blackberry, an organization that creates short animated films that present the stories of lesser-known black history figures. The films are played in libraries and schools nationwide, and can be streamed on Netflix….

She said the idea for Sweet Blackberry stemmed from learning about Henry “Box” Brown from her mother. Brown was a former slave who mailed his way to freedom by hiding in a box to be shipped from Virginia to Philadelphia.

“I couldn’t get over the fact that I never heard that story,” she said.

Parsons said in addition to not being able to get Brown’s legacy off her mind, she was pregnant with her first child and began to think about the knowledge she’d pass on to her daughter….

Of course, Sweet Blackberry’s first animated short would be “The Journey of Henry ‘Box’ Brown,” narrated by Alfre Woodard. The film was met with rave reviews and even earned a Parent’s Choice award….

″[Black history] gives you a sense of strength ― knowing what people were able to do before you. I think of people like Bessie Coleman and it makes me feel stronger. I think of [Bessie’s] perseverance and what she was able to do,” Parsons said.

“A lot of us don’t have too many generations that we know about to go back to and call upon for the strength that we might be able to benefit from. And these people can be that,” she said.

Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.


Sacrificing Black Lives for the American Lie


Why are police officers rarely charged for taking black lives, and when they are, why do juries rarely convict?

Many Americans asked this question when a Minnesota jury decided that Philando Castile was responsible for his own death and that the officer who shot him, did nothing wrong.

Philando Castile

Many Americans asked it again a few days later, when the police released the seemingly damning video from the dashboard camera of Officer Yanez’s patrol car….

We may never know why justice is still segregated from black death. Prosecutors, like juries deliberate behind closed doors. But that has not stopped people trying to find answers. On one side, people say: America is racist, and jurors are like cops — they hate black people….

Many Americans — possibly most — think the criminal justice system is fair. Nearly 63 million Americans elected a president who rejects the idea that there is a systemic war against black people and accepts the idea that there is a systemic war against cops. A survey by the Pew Research Center last year found that 50 percent of whites feel the races are treated equally by the police, compared with 16 percent of blacks. Even more whites feel the races are treated equally in the courts. The survey found that 38 percent of whites think their country has no more racial work to do.

A memorial in Ferguson, Mo., where Michael Brown was killed by the police in 2014.

These Americans refuse to see their country as a place where racist politicians and judges maintain laws that form a racist criminal justice system that produces and defends racist cops who disproportionately kill innocent black people. When they are told that black males aged 15 to 34 were nine times more likely than other Americans to be killed by police officers last year, they assume something must be wrong with those young men, since discrimination is over….

“Post-racial” is a new term with an old pedigree. Ever since Thomas Jefferson wrote “all men are created equal,” Americans have seen their nation as post-racial, as egalitarian.

As a result, Americans defended slavery by characterizing it as a necessary evil or a positive good….

This blaming of the black victim stands in the way of change that might prevent more victims of violent policing in the future. Could it be that some Americans would rather black people die than their perceptions of America? Is black death more palatable than accepting the racist reality of slaveholding America, of segregating America, of mass-incarcerating America? Is black death the cost of maintaining the myth of a just and meritorious America?

And in exonerating the police officer and America of racism, people end up exonerating themselves. Americans who deeply fear black bodies, who think their fears are sensible, can empathize when cops like Officer Yanez testify that they feared for their lives.

Jeronimo Yanez stands outside the Ramsey County Courthouse while waiting for a ride in St. Paul, Minn. (David Joles/Star Tribune via AP, File)

To diagnose police officers’ lethal fears as racist, juries and prosecutors would also have to diagnose their own fears of black bodies as racist. That is a tall task. It may even be easier to get a racist cop convicted of murdering a black person than it is to get a racist American to acknowledge his or her own racism. Racist Americans keep justice as far away from black death as possible to keep the racist label as far away from themselves as possible….

Black people and the post-racial myth cannot both live in the United States of America.


Read the full article here.

Read more Breaking news here.


Black Off-Duty St. Louis Tries to Assist Colleagues Following Stolen Car Chase, Is Shot by Fellow Cop

By Breanna Edwards,

An off-duty police officer who was just trying to help his colleagues after a car chase ended in a shootout near his home, ended up being shot by a fellow cop who did not recognize that they were on the same team.

According to the report, two officers initially encountered the armed, off-duty officer and ordered him to the ground. The off-duty officer complied, but the other officers soon recognized him as one of their own and told him that he could stand up. Just then, however, another officer arrived on the scene, and saw the off-duty officer getting up and, not recognizing the man as an officer, fired his weapon, striking the off-duty officer in the arm.

The New York Daily News identifies the off-duty officer as black and the shooting officer as white.

The injured off-duty officer was treated at a hospital and released Thursday.

The 38-year-old officer who was injured has been with the St. Louis department for 11 years. The officer who shot him is 36, and had been with the department for just eight years. In total, seven officers who were involved with the incident were placed on administrative leave and the department’s Force Investigative Unit is looking into the incident.

Read more on the incident here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Read about the history of race in America here.