Category Archives: Black History Month

Does the Fraternal Order of Police Have A Black People Problem?

Recently, John McNesby, the president of Philadelphia chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), drew criticism for calling Black Lives Matter “a pack of rabid animals.” He made the remarks at a pro-police “Back the Blue” rally in support of a white officer who fatally shot David Jones, a Black man, in the back in June. McNesby, whose chapter joined the national FOP in endorsing Trump for president, once defended a white officer who wore a Nazi tattoo.

Founded more than a century ago, the FOP is the largest police union in the United States. Although the organization’s constitution stated that “race, Creed or Color shall be no bar,” recent positions by the FOP call into question its attitudes on civil rights, social justice and issues related to Black people.

From its inception, the FOP was not a part of the greater labor union movement, which despite its racial blind spots and history of racism, has taken stands in favor of racial justice. Historically, police have been used to control and employ violence against the “problem” segments of society, such as Black people — whether enslaved or emancipated — striking workers, radical protesters or others. The modern police union movement was formed as a response to the demands of the civil rights movement, complaints of police brutality and calls for police-community relations initiatives from the Black community, and cries of “law and order” from reactionary whites.

At the same time, Black police formed their own associations in the 1960s as a part of the civil rights movement, at a time when they faced racial discrimination from their colleagues in blue and there was an intersection between law enforcement and the Klan. It is because of this legacy of racism and segregation that some cities such as Dallas have separate police unions.

In Chicago, the FOP celebrates its history of brutality, including its legacy of violence against protesters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. In an attempt to rewrite history, the local FOP proclaimed that “the time has come that the Chicago Police be honored and recognized for their contributions to maintaining law and order — and for taking a stand against Anarchy…The Democratic National Convention was about to start and the only thing that stood between Marxist street thugs and public order was a thin blue line of dedicated, tough Chicago police officers.” The Chicago FOP also fought against affirmative action and the efforts by the Afro American Patrolmen’s League to bring inclusion to the police force, and opposed a resolution making December 4 “Fred Hampton Day” after the slain Black Panther and police assassination victim.

In Detroit, the local Police Officers Association organized a police demonstration to oppose affirmative action in the 1970s. Similarly, in New York in 1992, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) organized a demonstration of 10,000 officers, many drunken and racist, against the city’s Black mayor, David Dinkins. Some of the rally participants called Dinkins a “washroom attendant,” while others carried signs depicting him with swollen lips and a bushy Afro.

A fundamentally conservative organization, the FOP lobbies for the shielding of bad police officers, and opposes police reforms to hold law enforcement accountable. As police unions resist prosecution of brutal and criminal police officers who engage in excessive force and racial discrimination, they promote a debunked “war on police,” and seek hate crimes protections when officers are injured or killed, even equating the wearing of a blue police uniform with experiencing racism.

Fourteen states have a police bill of rights protecting police from criminal investigations and allowing 10 days after an incident before an officer must speak to authorities. Further, police unions have smeared the character of civilians who accuse the police of misconduct or are killed by police. Local unions have boycotted Beyonce and movie director Quentin Tarantino for their so-called “anti-police” positions, and have refused to provide security at football games where players sit down for the national anthem to protest police violence against Black victims.

When the 330,000 member FOP endorsed Trump for president, the organization said in a press release that “Mr. Trump has seriously looked at the issues facing law enforcement today. … He understands and supports our priorities and our members believe he will make America safe again.” The FOP also wrote a wish list for Trump’s first 100 days in office, which included such items as reversal of the Obama-era restrictions on military equipment for local and state law enforcement; repealing the ban on private prisons and racial profiling by the federal government; scrapping Obama’s policing reform recommendations; restricting aid to sanctuary cities; ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA); reversing changes in U.S.-Cuba relations and extraditing Assata Shakur, and repealing Obamacare.

The national FOP support for Trump put the group at odds with many Black police officers and associations who have criticized Trump for his racism, sexism and homophobia, only further highlighting the divide between the majority-white law enforcement organization and the Black community.

“Is this endorsement a result of the surveying of the membership of individual unions that represent police officers or is this endorsement the result of a few individuals who may stand to benefit from a so-called law and order candidate who knows nothing about the criminal justice system and is opposed to basic reforms of the system?” read a statement from Blacks in Law Enforcement of America, encouraging Black cops and others to oppose Trump. “He has no record of anything positive concerning criminal justice issues and concerns of our community,” it added.

By David Love/AtlantaBlackStar

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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Katherine Johnson: The Girl Who Loved to Count

Katherine Johnson
Image: NASA.gov

“I counted everything. I counted the steps to the road, the steps up to church, the number of dishes and silverware I washed … anything that could be counted, I did.”

Born in 1918 in the little town of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, Johnson was a research mathematician, who by her own admission, was simply fascinated by numbers. Fascinated by numbers and smart to boot, for by the time she was 10 years old, she was a high school freshman–a truly amazing feat in an era when school for African-Americans normally stopped at eighth grade for those could indulge in that luxury.

More at NASA. gov

Posted by Libergirl

Celebrating Black History Month: Architect, Horace King

Images: Wikipedia…Horace King

Horace King (sometimes Horace Godwin) (September 8, 1807 – May 28, 1885) was an American architect, engineer, and bridge builder. King is considered the most respected bridge builder of the 19th century Deep South, constructing dozens of bridges in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. Born into slavery in South Carolina in 1807, King became a prominent bridge architect and construction manager in the Chattahoochee River Valley region of Alabama and Georgia before purchasing his freedom in 1846. He went on to construct lattice truss bridges in the style of Ithiel Town at every major crossing of the Chattahoochee River and over every major river in the Deep South between the Oconee and Tombigbee.

Bridge completed in 1839 by King over the Chattahoochee River at Eufaula, Alabama.

More from Wikipedia.com

Posted by Libergirl

 

 

 

Celebrating Black History Month: Romare Bearden

Image: NCpedia

Romare Bearden was born in Charlotte in 1911. Although his family moved north when he was only four years old, he said of his home state, “Most artists take some place, and like a flower, they sink roots, looking for universal implications. . . . My roots are in North Carolina.” Indeed, many of his paintings and collages were drawn from memories of his time in North Carolina.

The Beardens eventually settled in Harlem, an epicenter of African American culture in the 1920’s. Harlem society was important to Bearden’s development—the young man met many prominent musicians, artists, and writers at social and intellectual gatherings. In 1935 Bearden graduated from New York University and gained employment as a caseworker for the New York City Department of Social Services, a job he would hold until 1969.

Romare Bearden, The Visitation, 1941…Source: National Gallery of Art

 

More from NCpedia

Posted by Libergirl

Celebrating Black History Month: How Mary Church Terrell Took on Jim Crow in Washington—And Won

Image: Time Magazine

She launched her case almost six years before Rosa Parks helped start the Montgomery bus boycott and a decade before sit-ins rocked lunch counters across the South

In a city known for iconic buildings, Thompson’s Restaurant was unremarkable. Located a few blocks from the White House, it sat on a commercial corridor: banks, storefronts, streetcar tracks. Inside, it was the kind of place where customers stood in line with their trays, grabbed a slice of cake, and sat down at a table. If they were white, that is.

Mary Church Terrell, an 86-year-old charter member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was not white. Born in 1863, the year of the Emancipation Proclamation, she was the daughter of former slaves. She was also an 1884 graduate of Oberlin College, a suffragist, and a veteran activist for civil rights. On January 27, 1950, she had lived in Washington, D.C. for sixty years.

At roughly 2:45 p.m., Terrell walked through Thompson’s double glass doors. With her were three hand-picked compatriots: Geneva Brown and the Rev. William H. Jernagin, who were African American activists, and David H. Scull, a white Quaker. Collectively, none of them made it to the dining area. The manager, Levin Ange, stepped in front of Jernagin and refused to serve him because he was “colored.”

Elsewhere in Washington, President Harry S. Truman was leading a worldwide crusade for democracy. The manager of Thompson’s, however, was invoking the decades-old logic of Jim Crow, with its architecture of racial inferiority. That outlook, Terrell knew, was a liability in foreign affairs, especially when Washington restaurants refused to serve dark-skinned diplomatic envoys, treating them as if they were American blacks. She had no intention of backing down.

“Do you mean to tell me that you are not going to serve me?”

More from Time.com

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Celebrating Black History Month: North Carolina’s Mechanics and Farmers Bank

Image: NCpedia

The Mechanics and Farmers Bank, North Carolina’s oldest African American-owned bank, was established in 1908 in Durham under the auspices of the North Carolina Mutual and Provident Association (renamed the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company in 1919). The original charter members included Richard Fitzgerald, John Merrick, Aaron M. Moore, William G. Pearson, J. C. Scarborough, Charles C. Spaulding, J. A. Dodson, and Stanford L. Warren. The bank first operated from space in the building of the North Carolina Mutual and Provident Association, later moving to a building on West Parrish Street.

Mechanics and Farmers became an important source of financing in the 1920s, saving more than 500 African American farms and residences, when its loan department provided $200,000 in individual loans.

Read more at NCpedia

Posted by Libergirl

Decades After Sit-In, South Carolina Seeks to Make Things Right

Image: Credit Afro American Newspapers, via Getty Images

Clarence H. Graham has been known by many titles in his hometown: Honor student. Vietnam veteran. Social worker. Father. And criminal, for an act that is now considered heroic.

But in a courtroom last month the State of South Carolina officially vacated the life-changing misdemeanor conviction that it secured more than a half-century ago against Mr. Graham, 72, and other black civil rights protesters who were dragged by the police from a segregated lunch counter, convicted of trespassing and sentenced to 30 days’ labor in a county prison camp.

The men came to be known as the Friendship 9, because most of them were attending a now-defunct local school called Friendship Junior College. Their refusal to pay fines and instead serve jail terms was recognized as an act of courage by fellow activists at the time who copied their tactics and were inspired to escalate efforts to end the segregation of restaurants and other public facilities in the South.

More from the NYT

Posted by Libergirl who says what took so long…