Hey, Jeff Sessions: Remember When 6,000 White Americans Went on Strike to Keep 8 Black People From Getting Promoted?

By: Jason Johnson theroot.com

A soldier stands guard with an automatic rifle at the carbarn at 49th Street and Woodland Avenue in Philadelphia on Aug. 6, 1944. Troops were stationed on all transit lines today as service was resumed on many lines. (AP Images)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the past month, the Trump administration has been rolling out “theme weeks” as if America were one big dysfunctional high school and the homecoming game will fix everything.

In July there was Made in America Week to highlight business; American Heroes Week highlighted the military; and to kick off August, the administration launched “White Pride” Week to highlight the plight of the oppressed white American male….

This overtly hostile aggression from the federal government against black education, employment and lives is the perfect run-up to today’s critical racial anniversary.

On Monday, Aug. 7, 1944, the Philadelphia transit strike—one of the most costly, violent and important battles for African-American rights in the last century—ended. The story of black struggle against brutal, self-destructive white hatred is a perfect reminder of just how far back in history the Trump administration wants to take us.

During World War II, Philadelphia was one of the most important supply cities for the Allied efforts….

All of this was made possible by the Philadelphia Transit Co.’s 11,000 employees, who managed trains, trollies and buses for almost 600,000 commuters in the City of Brotherly Love everyday….

In May 1943, however, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed executive order No. 9346, which empowered the Fair Employment and Practices Commission to force companies with federal contracts to train, hire and promote African-Americans equally.

As the law began to trickle down to various cities across the country, the PTC was told by the federal government that it would have to start hiring and promoting black workers…

The company’s solution was to promote eight black men to bus and trolley drivers….

In January 1944, over 1,700 white employees signed a petition stating, “We, the white employees of the Philadelphia Transit Corporation, refuse to work with Negroes as motormen, operators, and station trainmen.”

Pup tents house troops in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park after their arrival Aug. 5, 1944, to act in the city’s critical transportation strike. Later in the day, the strike leaders requested that all strikers return to their jobs in compliance with an Army ultimatum. (AP Images)

When, after months of negotiations and insistence by the NAACP, the black workers were slated to begin training as drivers that August, white workers went on strike Tuesday, Aug. 1, 1944.

Despite being in violation of their union contract, as well as of federal law, the four white ringleaders of the strike said that nobody was getting back to work until the eight black rail workers were demoted.

James McMenamin, the leader of the strike,…was fired and charged with violating federal labor laws but got off a year later when a jury found the evidence against him “inconclusive.”

There is a context to the pettiness of this strike that can’t be overlooked in our current political environment. The United States was in the midst of a war against Nazis, and transit employees were crucial to keeping troops equipped for that war, but keeping black men from getting promoted was more important than fighting the Nazi threat.

Millions of pounds of munitions were lost that week, and the man hours lost amounted to the loss of five naval destroyers….

It is also estimated that thousands of American lives may have been lost in the European theater of World War II because of the strike. But that didn’t matter, because stopping a few black guys was more important to a large swath of working-class white America.

It’s important to remember that while all of this occurred 73 years ago, with a stroke of a pen, a tweet and a few white nationalists at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the Trump administration wants to return America to those days of white grievance, violence and discrimination, no matter what legitimate challenges our nation faces.

Read full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Find out more here about this 100-year period of discrimination, segregation, and anti-black violence (known as the “Jim Crow Era” and “The Nadir of Race Relations”).

Don’t Go to Mo.,… NAACP Issues Travel Advisory

By: Monique Judge theroot.com

Credit:seeklogo.com

The state of Missouri has earned the dubious distinction of being the first-ever state to have a travel advisory issued against it by the NAACP, the warning issued because of a recent string of both directly and indirectly state-sanctioned racist and discriminatory incidents….

State NAACP leaders told the Star that the decision to issue the advisory was made after recent legislation passed in the state that makes it harder to win discrimination suits; the longtime and continued racial disparities in traffic enforcement; and a number of incidents that exemplify harm coming to both minority residents and minority visitors to the state….

 

“You have violations of civil rights that are happening to people. They’re being pulled over because of their skin color, they’re being beaten up or killed,” Chapel added. “We are hearing complaints at a rate we haven’t heard before.”

According to the Star, national delegates from the NAACP voted to adopt the advisory, and the national board will ratify it in October.

“The advisory is for people to be aware, and warn their families and friends and co-workers of what could happen in Missouri,” Chapel said. “People need to be ready, whether it’s bringing bail money with them or letting relatives know they are traveling through the state.”

 

Read full article here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Read entire article here.

 

NAACP -On The Road To Change Part 1 – Civil Rights Organization Evolving To Tackle Modern Challenges

By: HOUSTON aframnews.com

HOUSTON- As African-Americans face evolving issues that are reshaping our community and futures, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) contends it is still relevant, evolving and up to the task to take on the modern struggles.

But in an era when activists quickly organize and mobilize mass demonstrations using social media, the NAACP finds itself struggling to remain on the cutting edge of the social justice movement….

NAACP Interim President & CEO

The NAACP,, named vice chairman of the board of directors Derrick Johnson as interim president and CEO.

Johnson, new interim president and CEO of the NAACP, wasted no time stating his plans and desires for the organization.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done and we won’t waste any time getting to it,” he said. “We are facing unprecedented threats to our democracy and we will not be sidelined while our rights are being eroded every day. We remain steadfast and immovable, and stand ready on the front lines of the fight for justice….”

Johnson, Russell and other leaders are going on the road nationwide on a listening tour that will allow opportunities to talk to its local members and figure out what the future of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization should be, he said….

Leon Russell, NAACP National Board Chairman

The group is struggling to figure our how to better respond to the new realities confronting African-Americans without abandoning the principles that made it one of the nation’s leading forces for social change….

The base mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination….

“The modern challenge and question is how do we achieve our goals and objectives and get there collectively,” said Dr. James M. Douglas, president of NAACP Houston Branch. “With many of us spread out and living in many places, there is little cohesion or common ground among us – that is one of the main things we will have to address….”

Douglas said the residential spread has created a whole new set of issues on top of what already exists on the table….

Credit: NAACP.org

The NAACP was formed partly in response to the continuing horrific practice of lynching and the 1908 race riot in Springfield, the capital of Illinois and resting place of President Abraham Lincoln.

Appalled at the violence that was committed against blacks, a group of white liberals that included Mary White Ovington and Oswald Garrison Villard, both the descendants of abolitionists, William English Walling and Dr. Henry Moscowitz issued a call for a meeting to discuss racial justice….

The NAACP’s principal objective is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority group citizens of United States and eliminate race prejudice. The NAACP seeks to remove all barriers of racial discrimination through the democratic processes.

The NAACP established its national office in New York City in 1910 and named a board of directors as well as a president, Moorfield Storey, a white constitutional lawyer and former president of the American Bar Association. The only African American among the organization’s executives, Du Bois was made director of publications and research and in 1910 established the official journal of the NAACP, The Crisis….

Although it was criticized for working exclusively within the system by pursuing legislative and judicial solutions, the NAACP did provide legal representation and aid to members of other protest groups over a sustained period of time. The NAACP even posted bail for hundreds of Freedom Riders in the ‘60s who had traveled to Mississippi to register black voters and challenge Jim Crow policies….

Credit: Library of Congress- Jim Crow Laws

In 2011, the NAACP launched a process to develop its strategic direction and plan, creating a powerful vision for the future, and setting organizational goals that would focus its work for the 21st Century.

It appears to work to rejuventate the base around key focus issues while rallying a new generation of younger members to help engage and prepare the organization to face future challenges…

The true movement lies in the faces–the diverse multiracial army of ordinary women and men from every walk of life, race and class–united to awaken the consciousness of a people and a nation. The NAACP will remain vigilant in its mission….

“These problems are not going to be solved overnight,” Douglas said. “It will be a teaching process as we evolve, but the goal is for every person old and young to understand and know the issues before them and get in the fight and stay until justice is truly secured for all.”

 

 

 

 

 

Read full article here.

Read more Breaking News here. 

Read more about NAACP here.

Read more about Jim Crow Laws here.

 

Black hair restrictions in schools are a return to the Black Codes

By David A. Love, TheGrio.com

…As kids throughout the country get out of school for the summer, it is a perfect time to reflect on all of the Black children who, over the course of the past semester, have been punished, disciplined or otherwise called out and singled out for wearing braids, locks, natural hair or any other culturally expressive hairstyle. Studying while Black, apparently, is a thing.

The Cook sisters at Fenway Park.

Consider some of the outrageous incidents that have taken place. In the Boston area, 15-year-old twin sisters faced detention and suspension for wearing braids, which their charter school claimed was a violation of the dress code. Mya and Deanna Cook, sophomores at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden, Mass., were banned from the prom and stripped of their extracurricular activities and sports team privileges for violating the school’s prohibition on wearing extensions.

…[In] 2009, a white Milwaukee teacher cut off the braid of Lamya Cannon, 7, because the girl was playing with her hair. After cutting off Lamya’s hair in front of the class, the teacher sent the girl back to her desk. Would this ever happen to a white girl with pigtails? And could we ever envision a Black teacher doing this to said white girl?…

Tiona Norris, a self-described “unapologetically black mom” of a young schoolgirl, tweeted this note from her daughter’s teacher and commented, factually,  that coconut oil has no stinky smell.

These days, when some in white America claim they are taking their country back, all the way up to the White House, it is no accident that Black children are punished for their Blackness. We know the studies about the disproportionate discipline against Black children, and black girls in particular. This is part of the school-to-prison pipeline, a regime of punishment following kids through adulthood. Most of all, it is an effort to monitor their bodies, not unlike the Black Codes established during Jim Crow to restrict the activities and labor of Black people and maintain white supremacy….

These codes, like the so-called dress codes in place at some schools today, serve the same purpose–to normalize whiteness and criminalize Blackness. When schools tell Black children the hair God gave them is an issue of bad hygiene and grooming, what they mean is they think Black people and their hair are less desirable. Some things never change. Institutional racism, not the hair, must change.

Read David A. Love’s article for TheGrio.com in its entirety here.

Read about how Black people are disproportionately punished in other institutions here.

Read about the Five Pillars of Jim Crow here.

Read about the education of Black children in the Jim Crow South here.

Read more Breaking News here.

Attending College Doesn’t Close Wage Gap and Other Myths

From: The Root (February 6, 2017)
Written By: Kirsten West Savali

In a recent post, “Attending College Doesn’t Close Wage Gap and Other Myths Exposed in New Report,” Kirsten West Savali exposes the sad truths from a study published titled, “Asset Value of Whiteness” that unravels the relationship between race, class, and education.

Source: Asset Value of Whiteness

 

She writes:

“Demos and the Institute on Assets and Social Policy take a deep dive into the intrinsic link between racism and capitalism; specifically, how whiteness infests the so-called American dream and renders it inaccessible to anyone who doesn’t meet the pre-selected criteria.”

Savali quotes Amy Traub, who is the co-author of the report:

“For centuries, white households enjoyed wealth-building opportunities that were systematically denied to people of color. Today our policies continue to impede efforts by African-American and Latino households to obtain equal access to economic security.”

Read the full article here.

While more covert, this sort of “asset value” mirrors the Jim Crow Laws. For an historical, yet contemporary look at discrimination, visit here.

Read more Breaking News here

Obama: ‘America has not overcome legacy of slavery and Jim Crow’

By thegrio.com

Image courtesy of Comedy Central

During an interview with Trevor Noah, the host of “The Daily Show,” President Barack Obama spoke about the state of race relations in the United States.

The president noted that, in terms of race, the country “by no means overcome the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow and colonialism and racism.”

“Those who are not subject to racism can sometimes have blind spots,” he admitted when Noah, who is biracial as well and from South Africa, asked him how he approached conversations on race. However, the president noted that just because some people have a “lack of appreciation” for the lived experiences of others does not mean that they cannot learn or do not want to learn about it.

Read the entire article here

Watch the complete interview here

Read more Breaking News here

ABHM Exhibit Featured in German High School Textbook

by Dr. Fran Kaplan, Coordinator, ABHM Virtual Museum

A sample Abi-Box for English language learners in German high schools.

A sample Abi-Box for English language learners in German high schools.

A school book publisher located in Hannover, Germany, will reprint ABHM exhibit The Education of Black Children in the Jim Crow South. It will appear in their new book for high school students learning English, called “Abi-Box Englisch Niedersachsen2017 II.”

The book, to be published in November 2015, will reach 4000 students 16-18 years old and their teachers. The purpose of the Abi-Box book is to prepare students to take exams to qualify for college admission.

ABHM and scholar-griot Dr. Russell Brooker, who curated the exhibit, were pleased to grant reprint permission to the book’s publisher, Brinkmann Meyhöfer GmbH & Co. KG. This is not the only time ABHM exhibits have been used to help European students study both the English language and American history. An English teacher in France has her students study and write about essays lynching, which they research at this virtual museum.

In fact, this online museum is visited every year by hundreds of thousands of people from over 200 countries around the globe. Many–but not all–are middle-, high school, and university students researching the history of the black experience in the United States. Even beyond our borders, there is clearly a great deal of interest in issues of race and racism and how it has played out in this country.

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.

 

How Did Blacks Travel During Segregation?

From TheRoot.com

The Negro Motorist Green Book In 1936 a Harlem postal worker and activist named Victor H. Green decided to develop a guide that would help African Americans travel throughout the country in a safe and comfortable manner. The Negro Motorist Green Book (also called The Negro Travelers’ Green Book), often simply known as The Green Book,identified places that welcomed black people during an era when Jim Crow laws and de facto segregation made it difficult for them to travel domestically without fear of racial backlash.

The Green Book listed businesses and places of interest such as nightclubs, beauty salons, barbershops, gas stations and garages that catered to black road-trippers. For almost three decades, travelers could request (for just 10 cents’ postage) and receive a guide from Green. Eventually the guide expanded to encompass information about Canada and Mexico.

Like users of today’s popular recommendation sites such as TripAdvisor, travelers collected information during their journeys, which they shared with Green and his team of editors. The data were then incorporated into future editions. “Historically, The Green Book falls in line with the underreported activism of black postal workers and the heightened awareness of driving while black in certain regions of the country,” says Robert Smith, associate professor of African-American and civil rights history at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee [and Resident Historian and Board Member of ABHM]. “Although many think of this book in historical terms, the challenges facing black travelers then resonate with black travelers now, particularly as it relates to racial profiling and stop-and-frisk laws.”

Read more about Green Books here.

Freedom’s Heroes During Jim Crow: Flossie Bailey and the Deeters

Griot: Fran Kaplan, EdD

This exhibit pays tribute to people who fought hatred and injustice in the Jim Crow period. Some of these heros are well-known; others are unsung, ordinary people. Every quarter we will focus on different freedom fighters of this era.

To inaugurate the exhibit, we present three unsung people who opposed the infamous lynching in Marion, Indiana in 1930 that murdered two black teenagers, Abram Smith and Thomas Shipp, and almost killed a third, James Cameron.

Many people have seen the iconic photo of that lynching in which members of the lynch mob and spectators happily celebrate their brutal deed. Unseen are the people-black and white-who publicly opposed and tried to prevent the lynching. Among the most courageous of these was Mrs. Katherine “Flossie” Bailey. And perhaps the most surprising and admirable response to the atrocity came from the parents of Claude Deeter, the young man whose murder was the justification for it.

Mrs. Katherine Bailey1

At the time of the lynching, “Flossie,” as she was known to her friends, was thirty-five years old, the wife of a doctor with a thriving practice, and mother of a son. She was also the president of the Marion branch of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), the leading civil rights organization in the country at the time.

Under her energetic, committed and expert leadership, the Marion NAACP had grown to almost 100 members by the night of the lynching. The leading black families in town were members; the handful of white members included the town’s mayor and one of its newspaper reporters.

Everyone in town-white and black alike-knew Mrs. Dr. Bailey. Many years after her death, people would still remember her as a “hotrod,” “a born leader,” and “very cultured.” Flossie was warmhearted and kind, a good-looking, stylish woman who always appeared poised. She was an impressive orator, as well as an excellent organizer who daily juggled a myriad of details, phone calls, telegrams, letters, and meetings.

Like many in town, Flossie began to hear about a plan to lynch the jailed suspects early in the afternoon of August 7th, shortly after Claude Deeter died. She began making phone calls and sending telegrams seeking to have the alleged murders moved for their safety to another lock-up away from Grant County. At very least she wanted additional law enforcement protection for the prisoners. She called the county sheriff, who told her not to worry, that he was not aware of any such plan. She called the mayor’s office, but he was away in Indianapolis for the day. She called the governor; he was on a fishing trip in Canada. When she begged his assistant, a Marion native, to send protection, he hung up on her. The lynching would proceed.

But Mrs. Bailey did not give up. Shortly after the lynching, she heard that a white mob was threatening to torch the black section of Marion. While many black residents fled town, Flossie spent the wee hours in her home exchanging telegrams with NAACP leaders, informing them of the situation so they, too, could act. The pressure she brought to bear finally resulted in the arrival of the Indiana National Guard-three days after the atrocity.

Still Flossie did not rest. She demanded that members of the lynch mob be identified and tried. She wrote to the head of the NAACP, Walter White, an expert in lynchings, insisting that he immediately come to Marion to investigate. She provided him with background information and advised the blue-eyed White to pose as a white man, so that he could more easily speak with witnesses of the event.

White found the sheriff to be grossly negligent in his duty and urged the governor and attorney general to prosecute, since the county prosecutor was reluctant to take action, because it might anger and provoke the mob to further violence. White helpfully included with his letter a list of persons that participated in the lynching, according to eyewitnesses he interviewed.

Largely due to Mrs. Bailey’s efforts, two of the lynchers were brought to trial. The all-white, all-male jury found them not guilty. All her life Flossie would feel a sense of failure, because no one was ever punished for the murders of Abe and Tommy. She was, however, instrumental in saving James Cameron from the electric chair, by working with the NAACP to bring two excellent black attorneys from Indianapolis to defend him in court. They were able to convince another white jury that Cameron was only an accessory to Deeter’s murder, resulting in a prison sentence of two to 21 years.

Her work angered segments of the region’s white community. She and her husband received threatening calls and letters. White men drove by her house at night making their cars backfire to sound like gunshots. Nevertheless, following the Marion lynching, Mrs. Bailey organized a grassroots push for an Indiana antilynching statute that would remove from office any sheriff from whose jail a prisoner was lynched; it became law in 1931. This law was instrumental in preventing a subsequent threatened lynching in Marion almost seven years to the day of the 1930 atrocity. Flossie and the NAACP also worked for a proposed federal anti-lynching law-but no such law was ever passed.2

Mrs. Bailey also fought other forms of discrimination, including hospitals that denied treatment to black patients and training to black medical students, and well as school segregation. She and her husband unsuccessfully sued a Marion movie house after they were denied admission due to their skin color.

In addition to coping with the Great Depression and race and gender discrimination, Flossie suffered from bad health. She had a serious heart condition for which she underwent surgery in 1934. Dr. Bailey had a stroke in 1940, closed his practice and died ten years later. In the end, the couple struggled financially and had to accept help from friends. Mrs. Bailey wrote to Walter White that she regretted not being able to do more. This courageous and committed woman passed away at the age of 57 and was buried in Marion.

The Deeters3

Grace and William Deeter farmed 320 acres outside the small town of Fairmont, near Marion. Like many families of their day, they had a phone but no electricity in the house and pumped their water with a windmill. On Saturdays they stopped work early to go to Fairmont or Marion to shop and visit friends; on Sundays the devoutly religious family attended church in Marion.

Claude was the eldest of eight children. He helped his parents farm their land and later also worked for other area farmers. At age 22 he got a Marion factory job. He was good worker, strong and well-liked. In two years he was able to buy a new Chevrolet, which he proudly drove around Grant County.

In August 1930, Claude lost his job to the Great Depression, and his car was to be repossessed. Perhaps seeking solace, on the night of August 6th he drove out to the Lover’s Lane along the river with 19 year-old Mary Ball. It was there that he was shot in the apparent armed robbery attempt that led to the lynching in Marion.

Adhering to their religious beliefs, the Deeters asked their son to forgive his attackers before he died, so that he would not meet his Lord with hatred in his heart. Though initially reluctant, Claude forgave them before he expired.

As he drew his last breath, someone hung Claude’s blood-stained shirt from the window of the police station, presumably to incite the fury of the town’s citizens. Grace Deeter, on the other hand, moved immediately for reconciliation. That day, while in the deepest of grief herself, she called upon the mothers of Abram Smith and Thomas Shipp to convey Claude’s forgiveness and that of her whole family.

According to the Deeters, Grace and her sister tried to get the Marion newspaper to publish Claude’s account of the attack, which refuted Mary Ball’s initial claim of rape, but the newspaper did not print his story. Nor did the paper report Will and Grace’s opposition to the lynching; that was left to a paper in another town. Plans for the lynching were already laid. The facts of the crime were now irrelevant, and the victim’s family would have no say in the swift execution of the illegal sentence.

Mary came to the Deeters during Claude’s wake and announced that she and Claude had planned to be married. The Deeter family was a close one, but their eldest son had never mentioned the relationship, much less marriage plans, to anyone. Nevertheless, the Deeters welcomed this unknown fiancée and gave in to her request to take Claude’s bloody tie as a keepsake.

Footnotes

  1. Sources: James Madison, A Lynching in the Heartland: Race and Memory in America (New York: Pelgrave Macmillan, 2001) and Barbara Stevenson, An African-American Oral History of Grant County (Mt. Pleasant, S.C.:Arcadia Publishing, 1999).
  2. In 2005 eighty Senators finally signed a resolution apologizing for not outlawing lynching.
  3. Sources: Madison (2001); Cynthia Carr, Our Town: A Heartland Lynching, a Haunted Town, and the Hidden History of White America (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2006); Hartford City News, Hartford City IN, August 8, 1930; author’s interview with Carl Deeter, Jr., nephew of Claude Deeter, October 2006.

Dr. Kaplan is Coordinator of the America’s Black Holocaust Virtual Museum. An independent scholar, Kaplan has produced more than forty written publications and videos in two languages and an awardwinning feature film in distribution. She has also co-authored an awardwinning screenplay, Fruit of the Tree, based on the life of James Cameron, and is currently working on a scholarly edition of his memoir, A Time of Terror.