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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

 

Dr. Cameron’s Memoir To Be Presented at SE Wisconsin Festival of Books 11/4/16

tot-cover-wippy-seal“Have you ever watched one man die and then another, knowing that your turn was next? Have you ever looked into ten thousand angry faces whose open mouths screamed for your blood? Have you ever felt yourself in the hands of such a mob whose sole purpose was to destroy you?

All of these things and more happened to me several years ago. This I acknowledge not boastfully but humbly, for the fact that I am alive to tell this story is due to a power greater than myself or any man.

It is an established fact that people learn a great deal quickly when caught in traumatic events. The things I believed I learned, as well as the unforgettable events themselves, are the reasons why this book has been written.”

Thus begins the extraordinary memoir, A Time of Terror: A Survivor’s Story, written by the only person ever to survive a lynching. Just as Anne Frank’s Diary reveals the intimate personal experiences of a teenager trying to make sense of Nazi terror, James Cameron’s book shares his journey growing up during the Jim Crow era, living through its worst forms of racial violence, and retaining his faith in the promise of America.

Fran Kaplan (L) and Reggie Jackson (R) accepting the Silver IPPY medals on May 10, 2016, in Chicago. They are two of four authors who contributed the additional materials included in A Time of Terror's 3rd edition.

Fran Kaplan (L) and Reggie Jackson (R) accepting the Silver IPPY medals on May 10, 2016, in Chicago. They are two of four authors who contributed the additional materials included in A Time of Terror’s 3rd edition.

This uplifting story of a life courageously and well lived has been re-released in a greatly expanded 3rd edition by LifeWrites Press, the publishing imprint of the nonprofit Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation. Proceeds from the book’s sales support the Foundation and its educational programs, including America’s Black Holocaust Museum.

Authors who contributed to the award-winning new edition – Dr. Robert S. Smith, Reggie Jackson, and Dr. Fran Kaplan – will talk about the book and the life and legacy of its late author, a civil rights pioneer and the founder of ABHM.

PLACE: Southeastern Wisconsin Festival of Books – University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, Room N125

DATE/TIME: Saturday, November 5, 2016, from 4:00-5:00pm. Book signing and sale follows the talk in the same room from 5:00-5:30pm.

The panel presentation, also featuring author and photographer, Mark Speltz, and civil rights activist and poet, Margaret Rozga, is called Up North: Images and Incidents in the African American Freedom Struggle.

Read excerpts from A Time of Terror here. Purchase the book online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as at independent booksellers like Milwaukee’s Boswell Books.

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Hundreds Dedicate Lynching Marker to Anthony Crawford in Abbeville, South Carolina

By the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) – October 24, 2016

This weekend, community members, college students, and supporters from near and far gathered in Abbeville, South Carolina, to commemorate and reflect upon the 100th anniversary of a tragic event: the lynching of Anthony P. Crawford.

On Friday, hundreds gathered in Abbeville’s Jefferson Davis Park for a Freedom School, during which students from Kenyon College and Clemson University, activists, and leaders led discussions about our country’s history of racial injustice and its contemporary legacies. Those present included more than 100 of Anthony Crawford’s descendants, who wore black armbands and buttons in his memory, as well as members of the families of Emmett Till, Ida B. Wells, and Malcolm X, who came to lend support and words of encouragement.

The plaque, dedicated October 24, 2016, commemorating lynching victim Anthony Crawford, in Abbeville, South Carolina.

The day’s events culminated with a ceremony during which family members collected soil from the site where Mr. Crawford was lynched, and a consecration service in the Abbeville town square led by the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference in anticipation of the unveiling of a historical marker commemorating the lynching. The soil collection for Mr. Crawford was part of EJI’s Community Remembrance Project, a campaign to recognize the victims of lynching by collecting soil from lynching sites and creating a memorial that acknowledges the horrors of racial injustice in America.

A century ago, a white mob beat, stabbed, shot, and hung Mr. Crawford, a 56-year-old black farmer, in the Abbeville town square, after he dared to argue with a white merchant over the price of cottonseed. The patriarch of a large, multi-generational family, and the owner of 427 acres of land, Mr. Crawford was a successful farmer and leader whose murder had long-reaching effects. [Visit the commemoration of Anthony Crawford’s life in ABHM’s Memorial to the Victims of Lynching here.]

The gruesome public murder, though committed openly, did not lead to prosecution or conviction for any members of the mob.  Days after the lynching, Abbeville’s white residents “voted” to expel the Crawford family from the area and seize their property. When South Carolina’s governor declared himself powerless to protect the family from violence, most of the surviving relatives fled to destinations as distant as New York and Illinois, fragmenting the once strong and close-knit family.

Soil collected from the site of the lynching of Anthony Crawford, as part of the commemoration project of the Equal Justice Initiative.

Soil collected from the site of the lynching of Anthony Crawford, as part of the commemoration project of the Equal Justice Initiative.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It would take ongoing efforts over generations to begin to repair and reconnect those bonds through family reunions and the persistence of family elders who ensured that the younger generations saw Grandpa Crawford’s photograph at family gatherings and knew the story of both his life and death. This weekend, descendants of Anthony Crawford from as far as California, Washington, D.C., Illinois, Texas, and New York – as well as some who remain in Abbeville today – gathered for a powerful commemoration event.

Doria D. Johnson, descendant of Anthony Crawford, is a public historian and a 2016 Nelson Mandela Fellow.

Doria D. Johnson, descendant of Anthony Crawford, is a public historian and a 2016 Nelson Mandela Fellow.

Doria Johnson was born in Chicago, 45 years after her great-great-grandfather’s lynching forced her family to flee north with Doria’s young grandmother wrapped in newspaper to shield her from the cold. Addressing the crowd in Abbeville this weekend, Ms. Johnson recalled how the beautiful photo of Grandpa Crawford and the painful story of his death shaped a curiosity and determination that stayed with her. As a young woman, she called the Abbeville church where Anthony Crawford had been a leader before his death, and found herself speaking to Phillip Crawford, a cousin she’d never known she had. From there, she helped lead more conversations, and research led to advocacy, publicity, and a push for public recognition that has now come to fruition.

[Ms. Johnson will keynote ABHM’s 2017 Founder’s Day Gathering for Racial Repair and Reconciliation, exploring the ethics and impacts of memory work and commemoration of traumatic events on victims, witnesses, perpetrators and descendants. For more information about the event, write info@abhmuseum.org)…

EJI is honored to partner with the descendants of Anthony Crawford to sponsor the historical marker and essay contest for high school students in Abbeville as part of our Lynching Marker Project. EJI continues to seek opportunities to work with communities where lynchings occurred to raise public awareness and erect historical markers.

Read the full article here.

More Breaking News here.

 

After 100 Years Of Challenges, The 1st Nat’l Black History Museum Is Here

 By Rahel Gebreyes, Huffington Post Black Voices

“Nothing has been easy. Everything has had to be earned.”

The National Museum of African American History and Culture rises in a place of honor: the last museum to be built on the National Mall in our nation's capital.

Black history is finally taking its rightful place within the Smithsonian Institution with the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s grand opening on Saturday.

While the museum is now opening to considerable fanfare ― the ceremony includes a three-day festival and a dedication led by President Barack Obama to mark the historic occasion ― getting the project off the ground was anything but easy.

A group of black Civil War veterans first advocated for the idea of a national African-American history museum in the early 1900s. Decades later, a group of congressmen led by civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) took the fight for the museum to Capitol Hill. Lewis introduced legislation to fund the museum every year for 15 years, but it was defeated every time.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said the museum faced plenty of challenges, from “overt bigotry” to “lack of prioritization.”

“In many ways, it itself is reminiscent or reflective of the African-American experience. Nothing has been easy. Everything has had to be earned,” he said.

 

Some representatives who opposed the museum said the project was too costly. Others, like Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), warned the museum would set a dangerous precedent and open the floodgates for additional museums dedicated to other racial minorities.

“Every other minority will give thought to asking the taxpayers to pony up for a special museum for them,” Helms said in 1994.

Lonnie G. Bunch III, the visionary director of the NMAAHC, has worked tirelessly for over a decade to bring this new national treasure into existence.

Lonnie G. Bunch III, the visionary director of the NMAAHC, has worked tirelessly for over a decade to bring this new national treasure into existence.

In 2001, President George Bush created a commission to explore the need for the museum and develop a plan of action. After much debate over the location for the museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture Act was finally signed into law in 2003, establishing the 19th Smithsonian museum.

But the project still faced another hurdle: funding. It would ultimately cost $540 million and the federal government was only going to cover half.

Bunch said the funding situation was “unusual.” According to The New York Times, government funds have covered all or most of the building costs for every other Smithsonian museum.

Organizations including the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation contributed millions to the project. The museum also found support from the black community. According to The Washington Post, 74 percent of individuals who donated $1 million or more to the project were African-American.

The museum’s three-tiered building, which sits on the National Mall alongside the Washington Monument, is inspired by Yoruban caryatid ― a slender wooden column with a crown at the top. The museum is filled with everything from historical artifacts of the days of slavery to pop culture relics.

“In essence what you will find in this museum is a tension. A tension between difficult moments and a tension between moments that are full of happiness hope and resiliency,” Bunch said.

And with Obama’s dedication on Saturday, the journey for the museum has truly come full circle. Booker said the presence of the first black president coupled with the museum’s opening will mark “spiritual culmination” of sorts.

“I mean these two moments in history have met up in a beautiful way, almost as if it were sort of ordained by the spirits, like the heavens are sort of rejoicing,” he said. “I just think it’s a wonderful exclamation point on the journey of this museum.

Take a virtual tour of the new museum.

Watch the full Dedication Ceremony.

At the Dedication Ceremony, the crowd listens as President Obama explains that the museum tells of both "suffering and delight." (Photos by Brad Pruitt, America's Black Holocaust Museum)

At the Dedication Ceremony, the crowd listens as President Obama explains that the museum tells of both “suffering and delight.” (Photos by Brad Pruitt, America’s Black Holocaust Museum)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Restoring Black History

By Henry Louis Gates, Jr., New York Times

logo-nmaahcWith the ringing of a bell and a speech from President Obama, the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington is to officially open its extraordinary collection to the public on Saturday. But the museum can claim another, equally important achievement: helping resolve the protracted debate about the contributions of black people to American history and, indeed, about whether they had a history worth preserving at all. Those questions were at the heart of the nation’s original debate about whether, and how, black lives matter.

For years, the issue was whether black people were fit to be more than slaves. “Never yet could I find that a black had uttered a thought above the level of plain narration; never see even an elementary trait of painting or sculpture,” Thomas Jefferson wrote. “I advance it, therefore, as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.”…

gww_negroraceinamerica_2_cropIn the 1880s, George Washington Williams, whom the historian John Hope Franklin called “the first serious historian of his race,” published the “History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1880”; he confessed that part of his motivation was “to call the attention to the absurd charge that the Negro does not belong to the human family.”

About a decade later, W.E.B. Du Bois became the first black person to earn a Ph.D. (in history) at Harvard, followed by Carter G. Woodson, a founder of Negro History Week, who wanted to make history by writing it. “If a race has no history,” he wrote, “it stands in danger of being exterminated.” Arthur A. Schomburg, the famous bibliophile, posited a solution: “The American Negro must remake his past in order to make his future.” History “must restore what slavery took away.”

Representative Leonidas C. Dyer, a Missouri Republican, introduced legislation to create a monument to black veterans. One hundred years later, the effort he and the veterans began has finally born fruit.

Representative Leonidas C. Dyer, a Missouri Republican, introduced legislation to create a monument to black veterans. One hundred years later, the effort he and the veterans began has finally born fruit.

This mandate to rewrite the status of the race by writing the history of its achievements was too broad to be contained only in books. Public history mattered, too. In 1915, Woodson and several of his friends established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, in part to popularize the study of black history. That same year, black leaders called for a memorial to honor black veterans. And a year later — exactly a century ago — Representative Leonidas C. Dyer, a Missouri Republican, introduced legislation to create a monument in their honor. After decades of resistance, that effort took a giant leap forward in 2003, when Congress passed bipartisan legislation to build the museum that was signed by President George W. Bush.

Some $540 million later, the first black president will open the museum’s doors…We can only imagine the triumph that the pioneers of black history would feel had they lived to see this occasion.

The new NMAAHC repudiates the long and dismal tradition of objectifying black people in museums, as exemplified here by the famous display of the "Venus Hottentot," Saartjie Bartman, in the European freak shows of the 19th century.

The new NMAAHC repudiates the long and dismal tradition of objectifying black people in museums, as exemplified here by the famous display of the “Venus Hottentot,” Saartjie Bartman, in the European freak shows of the 19th century.

More than a museum, the building on the National Mall is a refutation of two and a half centuries of the misuse of history to reinforce a social order in which black people were enslaved, then systematically repressed and denied their rights when freed. It also repudiates the long and dismal tradition of objectifying black people in museums….

[The NMAAHC] reinscribes race at a symbolically central place in American culture, on the National Mall, where we celebrate our collective public histories, ensuring that a mountain of evidence about black contributions to America will be on permanent display. It does this on the same mall shared by those symbols of the founding fathers’ hypocritical slaveholding past, the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial, which the new museum, brilliantly designed by David Adjaye, complements and also deconstructs.

Read the Gates’ full opinion piece here.

More Breaking News here.

 

Upcoming Film Festivals Featuring Black Filmmakers’ Movies

Below are the dates and sites of upcoming film festivals around the country and samples of the movies by and about African Americans that you can expect to see there:

BronzeLens 2016-08-25 19.04.38

Service To Man won the American Black Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize in Miami in June 2016. It will screen this weekend in both the BronzeLens Film Festival in Atlanta and the Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham AL.

COM-0308-Sidewalk-WebBanner


MFF 2016-08-25 19.13.25Milwaukee Film Festival’s Black Lens Program

 

 

Nine Rides was shot on an iPhone!


static1.squarespace.comNew York City’s UrbanWorld Film Festival celebrates its 20th Anniversary!

The fest’s line up of movies will be announced soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Museum’s Response to Milwaukee’s Recent Unrest

Because America’s Black Holocaust Museum (ABHM) is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, visitors to ABHM online have inquired about our response to the recent unrest in a predominantly black neighborhood in our city. Though not immediately apparent on the ABHM website, our museum’s principal spokesperson has been helping local, national, and international press explain these events by supplying interviews and articles. (See links to several of these below.)

Maria Cunningham (center) listens intently to a group member during "Hidden History," ABHM's 2015 film/dialogue series.

Maria Cunningham, ABHM facilitator (center), listens intently to a group member during “Hidden History,” ABHM’s 2015 film/dialogue series.

For twenty-eight years, ABHM has provided a safe place where people of all backgrounds can learn about America’s racial history and talk straightforwardly about race and racism. Online, our museum tells many of the stories seldom told in American history books and documents how that history affects our society today. Offline, we present frequent talks and facilitate interracial dialogs in this community and beyond.

The morning after angry youth burned several businesses following the police killing of a young black man, neighbor residents came out to clean up.

The morning after angry youth burned several businesses following the police killing of a young black man, neighbor residents came out to clean up.

When a group of young people took out their anger and frustrations with local policing and poverty by setting fire to a police car and three businesses, many people seemed surprised. We were not. This was a combustible situation. That car and those establishments represented the complex set of debilitating conditions that have hurt Milwaukee’s African American community for generations. During the 1960’s struggle for civil rights here, there were calls to find remedies for institutional discrimination. Fifty years later, those remedies remain largely unimplemented.

The UN General Assembly proclaimed 2015-2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent with the goal of achieving “recognition, justice and development.” Can we achieve these in the USA? We believe that ABHM can be part of the solution.

Dr. James Cameron, lynching survivor, addresses US Senators and descendants of lynching victims, Washington DC, 2005.

Dr. James Cameron, lynching survivor, addresses US Senators and descendants of lynching victims, Washington DC, 2005.

Our museum’s founder, Dr. James Cameron, worked all his life to educate Americans about the ways that ongoing racial injustice prevents America from living up to its stated ideals of liberty and justice for all. Despite being lynched as a teenager, he always dreamed that Americans would come together to form “one single and sacred nationality.”

ABHM is a Site of Conscience, member of a coalition of memorial museums and sites in active and post-conflict zones around the world. As such, we help our compatriots understand how America’s racial history affects our country today and how, together, we can create a bright and fair tomorrow for all America’s children.

If you would like to further understand the issues that sparked the fires of August 13, 2016, please follow links below – and then explore seldom-told stories in American history in ABHM’s galleries.

Residents protest the decades of disinvestment in the Sherman Park area that ignited the recent turmoil.

Residents protest the decades of disinvestment and joblessness in the Sherman Park area that ignited the recent turmoil.

“Milwaukee Shooting: Curfew Imposed in Hopes of Restoring Calm” by Madison Park, Holly Yan and Ray Sanchez, CNN

“Evidence of Things Unknown” by Reggie Jackson, Milwaukee Independent

“Complex Issues Contributed to Recent Milwaukee Unrest” – Central Time Show on Wisconsin Public – Radio Interview with ABHM Head Griot Reggie Jackson

“What It’s Like to Be Black in Milwaukee” by Ray Sanchez, CNN

“After decades of segregation, anger boils over in Milwaukee” by Brendan O’Brien, Reuters

“Why Sherman Park Media Coverage Was Out of Focus” by Reggie Jackson, Milwaukee Independent

“Community Leaders Reject WEDC’s Jobs Claims for Sherman Park Area” by Matthew Brusky, Milwaukee Independent

“Teenage girl stands as park peacemaker despite any tensions” by Shateria Wiley, YouthRise Milwaukee

 

Efforts by Counties and Towns to Purge Minority Voters From Rolls

SPARTA, Ga. — When the deputy sheriff’s patrol cruiser pulled up beside him as he walked down Broad Street at sunset last August, Martee Flournoy, a 32-year-old black man, was both confused and rattled. He had reason: In this corner of rural Georgia, African-Americans are arrested at a rate far higher than that of whites.

 Downtown Sparta, about 100 miles southeast of Atlanta. The Board of Elections and Registration that oversees Sparta systematically questioned the registrations of more than 180 of its black citizens. Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times

Downtown Sparta, about 100 miles southeast of Atlanta. The Board of Elections and Registration that oversees Sparta systematically questioned the registrations of more than 180 of its black citizens. Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times

But the deputy had not come to arrest Mr. Flournoy. Rather, he had come to challenge Mr. Flournoy’s right to vote.

The majority-white Hancock County Board of Elections and Registration was systematically questioning the registrations of more than 180 black Sparta citizens — a fifth of the city’s registered voters — by dispatching deputies with summonses commanding them to appear in person to prove their residence or lose their voting rights. “When I read that letter, I was kind of nervous,” Mr. Flournoy said in an interview. “I didn’t know what to do.”

The board’s aim, a lawsuit later claimed, was to give an edge to white candidates in Sparta’s municipal elections — and that November, a white mayoral candidate won a narrow victory.

 Marion Warren, a Sparta elections official who documented the purges and raised an alarm with voting-rights advocates. Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times


Marion Warren, a Sparta elections official who documented the purges and raised an alarm with voting-rights advocates. Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times

“A lot of those people that was challenged probably didn’t vote, even though they weren’t proven to be wrong,” said Marion Warren, a Sparta elections official who documented the purges and raised an alarm with voting-rights advocates. “People just do not understand why a sheriff is coming to their house to bring them a subpoena, especially if they haven’t committed any crime.”

The county attorney, Barry A. Fleming, a Republican state representative, said in an interview that the elections board was only trying to restore order to an electoral process tainted earlier by corruption and incompetence. The lawsuit is overblown, he suggested, because only a fraction of the targeted voters were ultimately scratched from the rolls.

“The allegations that people were denied the right to vote are the opposite of the truth,” he said. “This is probably more about politics and power than race.”

But the purge of Sparta voters is precisely the sort of electoral maneuver that once would have needed Justice Department approval before it could be put in effect. In Georgia and all or part of 14 other states, the 1965 Voting Rights Act required jurisdictions with histories of voter discrimination to receive so-called preclearance before changing the way voter registration and elections were conducted.

Three years ago, the Supreme Court declared the preclearance mandate unconstitutional, saying the blatant discrimination it was meant to prevent was largely a thing of the past.

But since the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 ruling in the voting-rights case, Shelby County v. Holder, critics argue, the blatant efforts to keep minorities from voting have been supplanted by a blizzard of more subtle changes. Most conspicuous have been state efforts like voter ID laws or cutbacks in early voting periods, which critics say disproportionately affect minorities and the poor. Less apparent, but often just as contentious, have been numerous voting changes enacted in counties and towns across the South and elsewhere around the country.

 Martee Flournoy, 32, was one of many black Sparta, Ga., residents whose voter registration was challenged last year. Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times

Martee Flournoy, 32, was one of many black Sparta, Ga., residents whose voter registration was challenged last year. Credit Kevin D. Liles for The New York Times

They appear as Republican legislatures and election officials in the South and elsewhere have imposed statewide restrictions on voting that could depress turnout by minorities and other Democrat-leaning groups in a crucial presidential election year. Georgia and North Carolina, two states whose campaigns against so-called voter fraud have been cast by critics as aimed at black voters, could both be contested states in autumn’s presidential election.

Kristen Clarke, the president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a leading voting-rights advocacy group, said that before the Supreme Court’s Shelby County ruling, discriminatory laws and procedures had been blocked by the preclearance provisions.

Now, she said, “We’re seeing widespread proliferation of these laws. And we are left only with the ability to mount slow, costly case-by-case challenges” to their legality….

The local voting changes have often gone unnoticed and unchallenged. A June survey by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund found that governments in six former preclearance states have closed registration or polling places, making it harder for minorities to vote. Local jurisdictions in six more redrew districts or changed election rules in ways that diluted minorities’ votes…..

vote-suppression12But perhaps none of the battles is more striking than the one in Hancock County, about 100 miles southeast of Atlanta, where three in four of the roughly 10,000 residents are black. The racial divide here is deep and prolonged; the white mayor of the county seat, Sparta, made headlines in 1970 after responding to black citizens’ school-desegregation protests by equipping the town’s six-member police force with submachine guns.

By the 1990s, the Justice Department had invoked its preclearance authority to block measures that it said would weaken minority representation on the Sparta City Council, but political control of the county was frequently split. By last year, black politicians ran Sparta, a white majority controlled the Hancock County commission, and a furious contest was underway between black and white slates to control the next Sparta administration.

The five-member Hancock County Board of Elections and Registration was controlled by three white members — the chairwoman, appointed by a local judge, and two members appointed by the Hancock County Republican Committee — one of whom, curiously, is a Democrat. According to documents filed in a federal lawsuit in nearby Macon, the board began taking steps last August that seemed destined to tilt the playing field to the white slate’s advantage.

This Nigger Voted

During Jim Crow, blacks who voted – or tried to vote – were likely to be intimidated, beaten, or worse.

The board first proposed to close all but one of the county’s 10 polling places, a move the N.A.A.C.P. and other minority advocates argued would disenfranchise rural blacks who could not travel long distances to vote. Board members eventually chose to eliminate just one predominantly black precinct. But around the same time, they began to winnow the county’s roll of registered voters, ordering an aide to compare the registrants’ stated addresses with those on their driver’s licenses to spot voters who had moved after registering to vote.

By October, a month before the city election, the board and a private citizen who appears to have worked with its white members had challenged the legality of 187 registered voters in Sparta. The board removed 53 of them, virtually all African-Americans — roughly one of every 20 voters. As a “courtesy,” court papers state, county sheriff’s deputies served summonses on the targeted voters, commanding them to defend themselves at election board meetings.

Some did, and were restored to the rolls. Others reacted differently to a police officer’s knock on their door.

“A lot of voters are actually calling to say they no longer wish to be on the list, so now we have people coming off the list who no longer want to vote,” Tiffany Medlock, the elections supervisor for the Hancock County elections board, told a Macon television reporter in late September. “It’ll probably affect the City of Sparta’s election in a major way….”

Full article here.

More Breaking News here.

 

Federal Court Strikes Down NC Voter ID Requirement

A federal appeals court decisively struck down North Carolina’s voter identification law on Friday, saying its provisions deliberately “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision” in an effort to depress black turnout at the polls.

Election workers checked voters’ identification in Asheville, N.C., in March. Credit George Etheredge for The New York Times

Election workers checked voters’ identification in Asheville, N.C., in March. Credit George Etheredge for The New York Times

The sweeping 83-page decision by a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upended voting procedures in a battleground state about three months before Election Day. That ruling and a second wide-ranging decision on Friday, in Wisconsin, continued a string of recent court opinions against restrictive voting laws that critics say were created solely to keep minority and other traditionally Democratic voters away from the polls.

The North Carolina ruling tossed out the state’s requirement that voters present photo identification at the polls and restored voters’ ability to register on Election Day, to register before reaching the 18-year-old voting age, and to cast early ballots, provisions the law had fully or partly eliminated….

In the Wisconsin decision, Judge James D. Peterson of Federal District Court ruled that parts of Wisconsin’s 2011 voter ID law are unconstitutional. He ordered the state to make photo IDs more easily available to voters and to broaden the range of student IDs that are accepted at the ballot box.

A rally against voter suppression at Centennial Park in Tampa Bay, Florida, on August 28, 2012. Photo by George Zornick

A rally against voter suppression at Centennial Park in Tampa Bay, Florida, on August 28, 2012. Photo by George Zornick

The decision also threw out other rules that lengthened the residency requirement for newly registered voters, banned distributing absentee ballots by fax or email and sharply restricted the locations and times at which municipal voters, many of them Milwaukee blacks, could cast absentee ballots in person.

Judge Peterson’s sharply worded 119-page ruling suggested that Wisconsin’s voter restrictions, as well as voter ID restrictions in Indiana that have been upheld in the Supreme Court, exist only to suppress votes.

“The evidence in this case casts doubt on the notion that voter ID laws foster integrity and confidence,” he wrote. “The Wisconsin experience demonstrates that a preoccupation with mostly phantom election fraud leads to real incidents of disenfranchisement which undermine rather than enhance confidence in elections.’’

Voter-ID-Nick-AndersonThe court decisions — the third and fourth federal rulings in recent weeks against Republican-enacted voting restrictions — were made as the two political parties raced from their summer conventions into the critical final months of the campaign, with Wisconsin, like North Carolina, considered a contested state.

North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature rewrote the state’s voting rules in 2013 shortly after the Supreme Court struck down a section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that had given the Justice Department the power to oversee changes in election procedures in areas with a history of racial discrimination….

Civil rights advocates and the Justice Department had sued to block the law, but a Federal District Court judge upheld it in April, writing that the state’s “significant, shameful past discrimination” had largely abated in the last 25 years.

On Friday, the three-judge panel emphatically disagreed, saying the lower court’s amply documented ruling had failed to consider “the inextricable link between race and politics in North Carolina.”

The judges noted that Republican leaders had drafted their restrictions on voting only after receiving data indicating that African-Americans would be the voters most significantly affected by them.

Read the full article here.

More Breaking News here.

 

White allies show solidarity with Black Lives Matter

By Jabril Faraj, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

As sirens blare through the warm summer air on a recent Milwaukee night, a group of about 40 demonstrators gathered on the corner of North 7th and West Ring streets near a pedestrian overpass spanning the I-43 freeway….

“Black Lives Matter” was visible in illuminated letters from I-43 northbound. (Photo by Jabril Faraj)

The demonstration was a collaboration between Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Milwaukee and the Overpass Light Brigade (OLB) in solidarity with the family of Jay Anderson, a 25-year-old black man who was killed by police in June while sitting in his car at a Wauwatosa park. Other chapters of SURJ, a national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice, held solidarity demonstrations across the country to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement, which has called for the end of police violence against black people.

The demonstrators, diverse in age and race, displayed the words “Black Lives Matter” for drivers traveling north on the expressway using OLB’s signature lighted letters. Lane Hall, a member of the Overpass Light Brigade, called the demonstration “a celebration, and a vigil, and a witness.” Attendees held the signs for about an hour, receiving supportive beeps from many passersby.

Claire Von Fossen of SURJ. (Photo by Jabril Faraj.)

Claire Van Fossen, a white co-organizer of Milwaukee’s SURJ chapter, said the goal of the demonstration was to interrupt the daily routine of white people, “who can move so easily through our lives without having to be conscious of this kind of horror and terror that black people are enduring every day.” The Anderson family was expected to be present, but did not attend after seeing the video of Jay’s death for the first time, an experience Van Fossen, who has been in contact with the family, described as “horrible.”

Last week, the family, along with supporters, demanded that the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office release full video footage of the incident, the name of the officer who shot Anderson and other evidence relating to the case.

Turning a corner

A combination of images show the dying moments of Philando Castile, a black man shot by Minnesota police after he was pulled over while driving. Mr. Castile’s girlfriend broadcast the scene on her Facebook page. Credit Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A combination of images show the dying moments of Philando Castile, a black man shot by Minnesota police after he was pulled over while driving. Mr. Castile’s girlfriend broadcast the scene on her Facebook page. Credit Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In the wake of the recent police killings of two black men, Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, public opinion, particularly among white people, has started to shift, according to Van Fossen. She said 40 new SURJ chapters have formed in the weeks since the incidents, which set off another set of protests nationwide. Van Fossen said “several hundred people” have joined the local group’s Facebook page during that time, as well.

“We’ve received dozens of emails from white folks saying, ‘I’ve stayed silent on this too long,’” she said….

Kirsten Maier, 25, said an eye-opening experience for her was being able to point the finger back at herself. “I think one important thing that happened for me was … I, at some point, gained the ability to say out loud that I do act and think in ways that are racist,” she said. “And that’s not me, as a person; that’s the institutions that raised me.”

Maier, who has been involved with SURJ Milwaukee for about a year, said it’s important for white people to educate other white people “who haven’t given much thought to the ways that our institutions are racist.” She said white people can support people of color by showing up to protests and other demonstrations, and to talk about these issues with friends, family and coworkers….

“I think we have turned a corner,” Van Fossen said. “I think we’re at a seminal moment in our history, as a people, and I’m hopeful that things will improve” as more people are ready to take action….

Read the full article here.

More Breaking News here.

 

It’s Time to Ring the Alarm About White Nationalism

By Spencer Sunshine, Colorlines.com

Michael Strickland,a right-wing journalist, brought his gun to a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Portland OR and was arrested for pulling it on peaceful demonstrators.While the media has heavily covered Islamist terrorist activity and the recent deadly ambushes on police, it has largely overlooked increasingly brazen demonstrations and violence by the Far Right. In the last year, the level of violence has ramped up dramatically and is only now hitting its stride.

On July 7, Michael Strickland, a right-wing journalist who videotapes left-leaning protests and puts participants’ photos on the Internet, was arrested after waving a gun at a Portland Black Lives Matter rally. He claimed that he feared for his life. because someone allegedly shoved him while he was taping the peaceful demonstration.

After a late June confrontation with fascists who had secured a permit to rally at the California state courthouse, nine counter-protestors were hospitalized, with five of them stabbed. The fascists, operating under the banner of the Traditionalist Worker Party (but comprised mostly of members of the neo-Nazi Golden State Skinheads), fled after the clash with protestors. A loaded gun was left at the scene, which anti-fascists claimed neo-Nazis has dropped as they ran away.

One of the people stabbed by a KKK member in Anaheim CA. Four months before, on February 28, three anti-racist activists were stabbed while confronting Ku Klux Klan members who were attempting to rally in Anaheim, California.

Patriot Movement paramilitaries took over an Oregon wildlife refuge for 41 days in January, their fourth armed encampment in two years.

And all of this has happened barely a year after 21-year-old White supremacist Dylann Roof attended a bible study session at Charleston, South Carolina’s historic Emanuel AME Church, and then fatally shot nine Black worshippers.

This violence needs to serve as a wake-up call.

Ryan Payne, an anti-government militiaman in Oregon.The media is not hiding these incidents, but they are reported in isolation from each other. Taken together, they paint a picture of a resurgent, armed radical right-wing movement, which ranges from Patriot Movement paramilitaries to neo-Nazis. In the last year, this part of the Right has become brazen in ways not seen in years. They have lost their fear of seizing federal facilities at gunpoint, stabbing anti-fascist protestors, and shooting at Black Lives Matter rallies.

Screenshot 2016-07-21 11.11.16

The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks 892 hate groups currently active in the US.

While Donald Trump has “disavowed and will continue to disavow the support of any such groups associated with a message of hate,” the Republican presidential nominee has inspired and energized White supremacist organizers. In May, The Wall Street Journal reported that prominent fascist Andrew Anglin calls Trump “the Glorious Leader.” As Trump won multiple primaries in May, Anglin wrote on his Daily Stormer website, “White men in America and across the planet are partying like it’s 1999 following Trump’s decisive victory over the evil enemies of our race.” Mother Jones reports that William Johnson, the American Freedom Party leader whom Trump named as a delegate then rescinded the offer, has funded paranoid robocalls including one that decries how “the White race is dying out in America and Europe because we are afraid to be called ‘racist.'” “Trump’s candidacy has absolutely electrified the radical right,” Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center has told The Wall Street Journal….

Read the full opinion piece here.

More Breaking News here.