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When the past is present…


1 Year Later: Student’s Vigil Over Ole Miss Noose Goes On

By Tyler Carter,

In 2014, three white students put a noose around the neck of a statue commemorating the first African-American student to attend the University of Mississippi. For almost a year, student Correl Hoyle has maintained a protest in front of the statue.

Correl Hoyle holds his vigil before the James Meredith statue at the University of Mississippi.

Correl Hoyle holds his vigil before the James Meredith statue at the University of Mississippi.

If you walk across the middle of the University of Mississippi’s campus on any given day, you’ll probably see sophomore Correl Hoyle sitting in front of the statue of James Meredith, the first African American to integrate the University of Mississippi, in 1962.

During Valentine’s Day weekend in 2014, three young white men hung a noose around the neck of the statue of Meredith and wrapped a Confederate flag around it. Shortly after, Hoyle, an English major at the university, began holding a vigil in front of the statue.

“A lot of people assumed I was angry after the incident, but I was more so shocked,” Hoyle said. “Never have I experienced something like this at my doorstep, and I was more shocked, but also disappointed because things like this are still happening here. People are still living with the ideology that one race is … superior to the other, or one class of people is better than the other.”

The South, especially Mississippi, has a complex racial narrative, and the University of Mississippi has seen its fair share. In 2012 a white student wrote “N–ger” across a black student’s dorm door. Later that same year a mini-riot erupted on campus after President Obama was re-elected. Just last year, the renaming of Confederate Drive to Chapel Lane spurred a lawsuit against the university by the Mississippi Division Sons of Confederate Veterans, who want to preserve their “history.”

“Simple things like this go unnoticed,” Hoyle said. “If it is not talked about, it will happen again.”

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Graphic Design Company Receives Backlash After Naming New Product ‘The Hanging Tree’ and Using Noose Imagery

By Yesha Callahan,

A new company has decided that naming its new graphic design set “The Hanging Tree” and using a noose in advertisements for its set of thematic photographic images isn’t offensive to anyone at all.

Advertisement for "The Hanging Tree" graphic design set.

Advertisement for “The Hanging Tree” graphic design set.

Jewelry designer and graphic artist Rachel Stewart confronted Seasalt & Co. on Facebook and Twitter. At first the company offered an explanation via Facebook, stating that it, too, had ancestors who were hanged and tortured and that the images represented any person who has been wronged.

As Stewart posted more information on Twitter about the company, it threatened her with a lawsuit.

As others have joined in on putting the company on notice that its imagery is offensive, Seasalt & Co. still doesn’t understand why people have an issue with it and has said that those questioning the company are being slanderous:

It’s amazing how oblivious people can be when they think it benefits them. Sure, Seasalt & Co. can use whatever type of imagery it wants, but as Stewart stated on Twitter, it probably wouldn’t use a swastika image for anything.

Read the full article here.

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Tonight: Premiering on BET, “The Book of Negroes” mini-series

What Critics Are Saying About ‘The Book of Negroes’ Miniseries, Which Premieres Tonight on BET

By Tambey A. Obenson, Shadow and Act at

Earlier this month, I wrote and published a piece on BET’s first-ever chances at Emmy nominations this year with 2 scripted series in “Being Mary Jane” and “The Book of Negroes.”

book-of-negroes posterThe jury is still out on the former, but, based on reviews I’ve read thus far about the latter, Emmy recognition might be within grasp. Even if not a win, at least a nomination, whether for the miniseries as a whole, or for its star, Aunjanue Ellis, who is receiving much praise for her performance, essentially carrying the show.

It’s finally here, almost 2 years after the project’s initial announcement – BET launches its first-ever event miniseries “The Book of Negroes,” a six-part historical drama in the tradition of “Roots,” based on Lawrence Hill’s award-winning, Oprah Winfrey-listed novel (known in the United States as “Someone Knows My Name”). The highly anticipated television event will run over the course of three consecutive nights in two-hour installments, starting tonight, Monday, February 16, 2015 at 8 PM ET/PT.

Director Clement Virgo’s adaptation stars Aunjanue Ellis as Aminata Diallo, abducted as an 11-year-old child from her village in Sierra Leone (West Africa), is sent to live as a slave in South Carolina, and years later, forges her way to freedom, serving the British in the Revolutionary War and registering her name in the historic “Book of Negroes” – an actual document that provides a short but immensely revealing record of freed Loyalist slaves who requested permission to leave the US for resettlement in Nova Scotia, only to find that the haven they sought was steeped in an oppression all of its own.

That this is a story told solely from the perspective of a woman, separates it from most slave narratives.

“It’s a universal story of a legendary woman. There’s loss, a long journey and triumph,” said Debra L. Lee, CEO of BET Networks. “It’s very exciting for us for ‘Book of Negroes’ to be our first miniseries… My vision for BET is to be a well-rounded network. There are so many stories in our culture to tell, and I’m so proud of this. I’m hoping that it’s ‘Roots’ for a younger generation.”

Read the full article here.

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For South Africa’s Post-Apartheid Generation, Discontent Grows

By Linn Washington Jr.,

Thakeng Moreki lives in Orange Farm, a sprawling, impoverished shantytown 40 miles south of Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa—his community a place bypassed by the economic gains that the end of apartheid was supposed to bring to the nation’s poor.


Thakeng Moreki is one of the “born free” generation (children born after the end of apartheid) who are disappointed in the failure of the African National Party government to improve the lot of the poor after 20 years of rule. South African photographer Sipho Gongxeka

Unemployment exceeds 40 percent in Orange Farm, South Africa’s most populous shantytown, with 350,000 residents. And the lack of opportunity evident across the country falls heavily on the “born frees”—those who grew up after apartheid ended in the early 1990s.

“We have democracy in South Africa but [government] leaders are like: They eat first and then they leave what is left for the people,” Moreki said during an interview last year when South Africa celebrated the 20th anniversary of its democracy, which dawned with the election of Nelson Mandela, the first non-white president of a nation long ruled by white racists.

Moreki, who was 3 years old when Mandela became president, said, “The people fought for democracy, but these leaders forget what they fought for.”

shanty town near Jo'burg

A shanty town near Johannesburg

And the dissatisfaction that Moreki feels about the direction of South African democracy is shared by many other born frees: They appreciate the freedoms ushered in by apartheid’s elimination but feel that they haven’t benefited enough from political change.

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Workers Awarded $15,000,000 After Bosses Called Them ‘N–gers’ and Separated Them by Race

By Stephen A. Crockett Jr.,

Seven Denver warehouse workers were awarded some $15 million after a federal judge found that bosses separated the blacks from other workers because of their race and called them n–gers and “lazy, stupid Africans.”

Several plaintiffs gather after the court decision.

Several plaintiffs gather after the court decision.

The judge also found that managers at Matheson Trucking and Matheson Flight Extenders Inc. discriminated against the workers “in all phases of employment, including hiring, termination, conditions of employment, promotion, vacation pay, furlough, discipline, work shifts, benefits and wages.”

The Denver Post reports that managers at Matheson, a Sacramento, Calif., company that moves large quantities of mail for the U.S. Postal Service and FedEx, forced blacks to work on one side of the warehouse, while whites worked on the other. The lawsuit filed by the workers also claimed that supervisors not only called the black employees racist names but allowed white employees to do the same, and that prime days on which workers could make double pay were given to white workers regardless of seniority.

The verdict, which was handed down Wednesday, “includes $13 million in punitive damages, $318,000 in back pay for workers who were fired for being black and another $650,000 for emotional distress,” according to the Denver Post.

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History of Lynchings in the South Documents Nearly 4,000 Names

By Campbell Robertson, the New York Times

The sites of nearly every lynching in the United States are not marked. Bryan Stevenson believes this should change.

A white crowd gathered around a 1925 lynching in Excelsior Springs, MO

A white crowd gathered around a 1925 lynching in Excelsior Springs, MO

On Tuesday, the organization he founded and runs, the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., released a report on the history of lynchings in the United States, the result of five years of research and 160 visits to sites around the South. The authors of the report compiled an inventory of 3,959 victims of “racial terror lynchings” in 12 Southern states from 1877 to 1950.

Next comes the process of selecting lynching sites where the organization plans to erect markers and memorials, which will involve significant fund-raising, negotiations with distrustful landowners and, almost undoubtedly, intense controversy.

The process is intended, Stevenson said, to force people to reckon with the narrative through-line of the country’s vicious racial history, rather than thinking of that history in a short-range, piecemeal way.

“Lynching and the terror era shaped the geography, politics, economics and social characteristics of being black in America during the 20th century,” Stevenson said, arguing that many participants in the great migration from the South should be thought of as refugees fleeing terrorism rather than people simply seeking work.

“Many of these lynchings were not executing people for crimes but executing people for violating the racial hierarchy,” noted Professor E.M. Beck of the University of Georgia, meaning offenses such as bumping up against a white woman or wearing an Army uniform.

Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson at the site of a 1910 lynching in Dallas.

Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson at the site of a 1910 lynching in Dallas.

The report released Tuesday has 700 names that are not on any previous lists, many of which Mr. Stevenson said were discovered during the compilation of the report.

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3 White Mississippi Men Sentenced For Hate Crimes, Including Running Over Black Man

By Therese Apel, the Huffington Post

Three white men who pleaded guilty in Mississippi to hate crimes that included a black man’s death after he was beaten and run over were sentenced in federal court on Tuesday to between seven and 50 years in prison.

The three defendants included Deryl Dedmon, 22, who was driving the truck that ran over and killed James Craig Anderson in a hotel parking lot in 2011.

Deryl Dedmon, driver of the truck that ran over and killed James Craig Anderson.

Deryl Dedmon, driver of the truck that ran over and killed James Craig Anderson.

“The defendants targeted African-American people they perceived as vulnerable for heinous and violent assaults,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. “These sentences bring a fitting end to the case against these three men.”

Dedmon received a 50-year federal prison sentence. He had previously been sentenced in state court to two life sentences.

Co-defendant John Rice, 21, was sentenced to 18-1/2 years in prison, while Dylan Butler, 23, received a seven-year sentence for his role in the attacks.

Seven other defendants are awaiting sentencing.

The three men sentenced on Tuesday, all from suburban Brandon, Mississippi, were among a group that began venturing into Jackson in spring 2011 to harass and attack black people, using weapons that included beer bottles and sling shots, authorities said.

They targeted people believed to be homeless or drunk because they thought such victims would be less likely to report the attacks to the authorities, prosecutors said.

The three were among a mob that ambushed and beat Anderson, 47, in June 2011. Dedmon then got in his truck and deliberately ran Anderson over, fatally wounding him, prosecutors said.

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‘Black Lives Matter’ Course To Be Offered At Dartmouth University

By Jessica Dickerson, the Huffington Post

Hanover, NH – “If colleges cannot address current events in an intellectually rigorous manner then what are they good for?” Mary K. Coffey, Dartmouth University’s Art History department chair, asks.

Dartmouth is set to offer a course titled “10 Weeks, 10 Professors: #BlackLivesMatter,” centered around racial inequality and violence in America. Professors across more than 10 academic disciplines, from the humanities to geography to mathematics, will come together for an interdisciplinary approach to modern and historic perspectives of America’s racial climate.

A student "die-in" protest held at Dartmouth University's Baker-Berry Library on Jan. 16

A student “die-in” protest held Jan. 16 at Dartmouth University’s Baker-Berry Library.

“The course has the potential to be revolutionary insofar as the students who take it will come away with a wide ranging critical framework for thinking through not only what happened in Ferguson (and elsewhere), but also why we continue to see so much violence perpetrated against poor people of color,” Coffey told The Huffington Post.

The course is scheduled to begin during the university’s upcoming spring term

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SC High School Students Redecorate Rock Vandalized With Racist Message

By Breanna Edwards,

A large rock in front of South Pointe High School was spray-painted “Happy N–ger Month” over the weekend, but students decided to turn that message into a teachable moment.

Students at South Pointe High School in South Carolina wasted no time in turning around the ugly message that had been spray-painted across a spirit rock outside the school over the weekend, turning it into a message of equality.


The first, racist message, which read “Happy N–ger Month” and was signed “KKK,” was discovered by a school custodian Sunday morning. The message was covered by 9 a.m. that day.

But as South Pointe students were grappling with what for many was their first real encounter with racism, they decided to decorate over the stone, sending a more positive message. Guided by art teacher Ashley Beard, three Advanced Placement art students painted, “We are all =.”

“This is an opportunity for a ‘teachable moment,’” Principal Al Leonard wrote in an email to faculty and staff on Monday. “We’re not going to let those [vandals] dictate how we react.”

The original act of vandalism is still under investigation. Leonard noted that the school has security cameras that may have caught the person or persons responsible on film.

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‘Happy N***** Month’: ‘KKK’ defaces South Carolina high school to mock first day of Black History Month

By David Edwards,

A South Carolina high school was vandalized with racist graffiti on the first day of Black History Month.

Officials at South Pointe High School in Rock Hill confirmed to Raw Story on Monday that vandals had struck the school on Sunday, Feb. 1.


Photos were posted to social media showing graffiti on a large rock that sits outside the front of the high school. The words “Happy N*gger Month” were scrawled on the rock in spray paint, and it was signed, “KKK.”

“It was discovered yesterday morning, and since then, it’s been eradicated,” a school staffer told Raw Story. “People are still calling because it was posted. Whoever did it took a picture.”

It was not immediately clear if the incident had been reported to police or if authorities were aware of a suspect.

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