Archives for : CIVIAL RIGHTS

Emmett Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955)

 

 

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In memory, Emmett Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955). Lynched this day in history. Till was crucified by the mainstream press. Headlines from newspapers such as the Washington Post referred to him as the “Wolf-Whistler.”

(A 9/19/1955 article in the Post begins: “Two white men, accused of killing a wolf-whistling Negro boy, went on trial in a steamy Mississippi Delta courtroom today, their two-year-old boys in their laps.”

Till’s mother’s courageous decision, to have an open casket funeral and share photos of his mutilated body with the world, helped inspire the modern civil rights movement. Here are classroom resources about Emmett Till: http://bit.ly/1mWtVm4 A key primary document is the Look Magazine interview with the murderers: http://to.pbs.org/1AXAqx9

Freedom Summer:50th Anniversary

 

 

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Freedom Summer June 21, 1964 James Chaney, Michael Schwerner, and Andrew Goodman  were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan because they volunteered to help African-Americans in Mississippi register to vote. Fifty years later, we honor the sacrifice of these three men, their fellow Freedom Summer volunteers, and all those who have fought, and are still fighting for, civil rights and voting rights.

June 21, 1964, three civil rights volunteers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner disappeared in Neshoba County, Mississippi. They were trying to register African-Americans to vote during what was known as Freedom Summer. That day they had investigated the firebombing of a black church where they had spoken as part of the voter campaign.

Chaney, 21, was from Mississippi. The two others — Goodman, 20, an undergraduate at Queens College, and Schwerner, 24, a graduate student at Columbia — had come that summer to work for social justice in the South. Their station wagon reportedly had a flat tire on Highway 19 toward Meridian. A deputy sheriff arrested Chaney for speeding. The three were taken to the county jail.

They were released later that night and immediately followed by a lynch mob whose members were arguing over who would kill them. Their bodies were found 44 days later in an earthen mound near Philadelphia, Mississippi. The state refused to prosecute, and the Federal government was only able to secure minor sentences for a few of what was believed to be a mob of as many as 22 men.

The national outrage over their deaths helped propel the Civil Rights Act of 1964, outlawing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin and affirming the right to vote. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the bill 11 days after the young men disappeared, as the country awaited word as to what had happened to them.

In Mississippi, death threats drove the family of James Chaney to flee North as part of the Great Migration. The Chaneys settled in New York with the help of the Goodmans and the Schwerners.

Decades later, a multi-racial group in Philadelphia, Mississippi, along with the state’s Governor Haley Barbour, joined together in a call to reopen the case. And, on this day, June 21, 2005, a Neshoba County jury convicted 80-year-old Edgar Ray Killen, a sawmill operator and Baptist minister, for his role in the murders. He was sentenced to three consecutive terms of 20 years in prison. The case inspired the 1988 film, “Mississippi Burning.”

 

 

Medgar Evers (July 2, 1925 – June 12, 1963)

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In the early morning of June 12, 1963, just hours after President John F. Kennedy’s speech on national television in support of civil rights, Medgar Evers pulled into his driveway after returning from a meeting with NAACP lawyers. Emerging from his car and carrying NAACP T-shirts that read “Jim Crow Must Go,” Evers was struck in the back with a bullet fired from an Enfield 1917 rifle; the bullet ripped through his heart. He staggered 9 meters (30 feet) before collapsing. He was taken to the local hospital in Jackson where he was initially refused entry because of his color, until it was explained who he was; he died in the hospital 50 minutes later.

On June 21, 1963, Byron De La Beckwith, a fertilizer salesman and member of the White Citizens’ Council (and later of the Ku Klux Klan), was arrested for Evers’ murder.

District Attorney and future governor Bill Waller prosecuted De La Beckwith. Juries composed solely of white men twice that year deadlocked on De La Beckwith’s guilt.

In 1994, 30 years after the two previous trials had failed to reach a verdict, De La Beckwith was brought to trial based on new evidence. Bobby DeLaughter was the prosecutor. During the trial, the body of Evers was exhumed from his grave for an autopsy. De La Beckwith was convicted of murder on February 5, 1994, after having lived as a free man for much of the three decades following the killing (he was imprisoned from 1977 to 1980 for conspiring to murder A. I. Botnick). De La Beckwith appealed unsuccessfully, and died at age 80 in prison in January 2001.

 

Charlayne Hunter Gault:Pioneer Of Education

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Charlayne Hunter was born in South Carolina in 1942. Due to her father’s career in the military, her family moved around a lot. However, she and her younger brothers eventually settled in Atlanta, where they were primarily raised by her mother and maternal grandmother. She credits her grandmother for inspiring her early interest in reading and the newspaper.

In 1959, she applied to the University of Georgia, but was denied admittance, so she attended Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. However, every semester she would submit her application the University of Georgia with the help of the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund.

In early 1961, Judge William Bootle ruled that Hunter “qualified for… immediate enrollment at the University of Georgia”. Along with Hamilton Holmes, Hunter was one of the two first African-American students to enroll at the University of Georgia. Hunter was often the object of much hostility and aggression. However in 1963, she graduated and married fellow student Walter Stovall, a white man. They had a daughter, Susan, but divorced nine years later.

She would later go on to become an award-winning broadcast journalist, working in both broadcast and print journalism. Hunter worked for such esteemed journalism outlets as the New Yorker, New York Times, NPR, and CNN. Her work garnered her two Emmy awards as well as two Peabody awards. She currently lives in South Africa with her husband, Robert Gault. She has two children: Susan from her first marriage and Chuma from her second.

(Sources: Wikipedia and New Georgia Encyclopedia)


Angela Y. Davis:Women, Race, & Class

 

 

Women, Race, & Class By Angela A. Davis

Women, Race, & Class By Angela A. Davis

Longtime activist, author and political figure Angela Davis brings us this expose of the women’s movement in the context of the fight for civil rights and working class issues. She uncovers a side of the fight for suffrage many of us have not heard: the intimate tie between the anti-slavery campaign and the struggle for women’s suffrage. She shows how the racist and classist bias of some in the women’s movement have divided its own membership. Davis’ message is clear: If we ever want equality, we’re gonna have to fight for it together.

Travion Blount: LIFE TIMES SIX

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Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, as one of his last acts in office recently, reduced the sentence of a 23-year-old African-American inmate named Travion Blount to 40 years in prison, making him eligible for release at age 55. Blount was serving six life sentences plus 118 years in prison without parole. His crime was participating in an armed robbery in Norfolk, Va., at the age of 15 along with two older friends, both aged 18. The three young men forced partygoers to surrender their cellphones, money and marijuana at gunpoint and were caught almost immediately by police. No one was killed or injured.

The two 18-year-olds, Morris Downing and David Nichols, accepted plea deals and received sentences of only 10 and 13 years each. But Blount decided not to plead guilty and instead requested a trial. The Virginia judge in his case issued one of the harshest sentences ever handed down to a juvenile in the United States for a non-homicide-related offense, equivalent to four felonies for every person who was present at the party.

Marc Schindler, executive director of the Justice Policy Institute, told me in an interview, “We are seeing in this country over the past 30 or 40 years a significant ratcheting up in the severity of penalties within our justice system, and [Blount’s case] is an example of that.” Schindler explained the draconian sentence as “a combination of mandatory minimum sentences and extremely harsh sentencing, including the ability to have young people prosecuted in the adult criminal justice system … even if no one was hurt.”

Since Blount’s conviction and sentencing, the Supreme Court has realized the injustice of handing extreme sentences to juveniles and ruled against life-without-parole and death sentences for youth. Schindler noted that “young people generally don’t have the ability to comprehend, to make the types of decisions, and to assist in their defense as adults would have.” Sadly, the rulings were made after Blount was already serving his time.

Today there are tens of thousands of young people in American prisons. About 70,000 minors are locked up in juvenile facilities, some of which, according to Schindler, “are decent places that are trying to provide rehabilitation and treatment and which are getting good outcomes.” But, he cautioned, “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in the juvenile justice system to improve that program … [even though] there is the attempt and the goal of rehabilitation.”

The situation is far worse in adult prisons. About 200,000 Americans under the age of 18 are prosecuted as adults every year. Schindler plainly called it “bad public policy,” because “young people are subject to physical and sexual assault, and more likely to attempt or commit suicide when they’re in an adult jail or prison, and they come out worse than they went in, and that’s really in some ways no surprise because of the surroundings and what happens in those facilities.” He cited the sad reality that “young people who are prosecuted as adults are more likely to commit offenses when they come out, more likely to do so quickly and more seriously than similarly situated young people who are handled in the juvenile justice system.”

Public opinion over teens in adult prisons has shifted since the “tough-on-crime” approach of the 1990s. Schindler noted that “we’ve actually seen the pendulum swing back. Twenty-three states in the last 10 years have changed their laws to make it more difficult to prosecute young people in the adult justice system and to hold them in prisons and jails.”

Virginia is one of a handful of states that still allows minors to be sentenced to life in prison without parole. The state justifies this in spite of the Supreme Court rulings, because it has a policy called “geriatric release,” which means that an inmate who has served at least 10 years of his or her sentence and is 60 years of age can apply for early release. A member of Virginia’s parole board told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that the policy “was really focused on people who were going to get very long sentences at a young age so they would have some opportunity to be released.”

Until his sentence was reduced to 40 years over the weekend, Blount’s only hope was for a possible release at the age of 60 under the geriatric release program. But even that would have been highly unlikely given that only 15 people have ever succeeded in being approved for release.

On the other hand, if Blount had accepted the original plea deal offered to him, it is likely he would have been halfway through serving his sentence by now. But, because he chose to go to trial, against the advice of his own attorneys and the prosecutor and judge, he found himself with a sentence so extreme as to defy all logic and common sense.

But Blount, like all Americans charged with crimes, has a fundamental right to a fair trial. “Unfortunately,” lamented Schindler, “the system is set up in such a way that it pushes most people to accept plea bargains. Over 90 percent of the cases in criminal courts throughout the country are resolved through a plea bargain unless they’re dismissed. If cases went to trial in significant numbers, the system would literally shut down.”

Instead of being a poor black kid, what if Blount had been white and wealthy? What if, instead of committing armed robbery, he had killed four people? A recent case involving a white, wealthy 16-year-old in Texas who killed four people while driving drunk attracted a brief bout of media coverage for the defense’s successful use of a dubious mental affliction called “affluenza.” This essentially means that the young man’s wealth clouded his understanding of the consequences of his actions to such an extent that he was not responsible for his crime. The juvenile court that tried him thereby privileged him for being privileged, and sentenced him to 10 years’ probation and private therapy costing his parents nearly half a million dollars.

Schindler considered it quite appropriate to bring up the double standards of race and class, saying, “In our justice system generally, those who are subject to these really draconian penalties, such as life sentences or very long sentences for drug offenses, disproportionately are poor people of color, African-American primarily, and Latino.” He went further, noting, “I think that there’s a serious question about whether any of these sentences and penalties would be in place if they disproportionately impacted white people.”

But he was reluctant to conclude that the rich white Texas teen got off too lightly, saying, “I think that what should happen is that in all cases we should take an individual look at what is in the best interest of a young person and their capacity to change.”

Schindler is hopeful that Terry McAuliffe, Virginia’s new Democratic governor, could still win a pardon for Blount or a further reduction of his sentence, pointing out that he’d like to see the decision made “based on the ability of Travion to change.” He added, “I think that’s already seen to be happening. He is—from what I understand—a more mature, more thoughtful person now, and he understands what he did. He takes responsibility for his actions, but understandably feels like this [sentence] is just way too disproportionate.”

Originally published by Truthdig

by Sonali Kolhatkar

 

 

ELLA FITZGERALD – THE RACISM SHE FACED IN THE 50’S

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Apparently in the 1950s, a popular nightclub, Mocambo would not book Ella Fitzgerald because she was black. Fortunately for Ella, she had a powerful and unlikely benefactor, Marilyn Monroe.

“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt…it was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the ’50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she promised she would take a front table every night. She told him – and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status – that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman – and ahead of her time and she didn’t know it.” – Ella Fitzgerald

The Move Organization: 29th Anniversary

 

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May 13th marks the 29th Anniversary of the MOVE bombing, in which Philadelphia police dropped an explosive from a helicopter in an attempt to end an armed standoff.

The Move Organization is a Black Liberation group from Philadelphia started by John Africa in 1972. In 1985 the group made national news when police dropped a bomb on their house on 6221 Osage Avenue from a helicopter in an attempt to end an armed impasse. The explosion and ensuing fire killed 11 people, including five children and the group’s leader, John Africa. Only two occupants survived—Ramona Africa and Birdie, a child. 60 homes were destroyed as the entire block burned.

Mayor W. Wilson Goode appointed an investigative commission called the MOVE commission. It issued its report on March 6, 1986. The report denounced the actions of the city government, stating that “Dropping a bomb on an occupied row house was unconscionable.” No one from the city government was charged criminally.

In a 1996 civil suit in US federal court, a jury ordered the City of Philadelphia to pay $1.5 million to a survivor and relatives of two people killed in the bombing. The jury found that the city used excessive force and violated the members’ constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Philadelphia was given the sobriquet “The City that Bombed Itself.”

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr:The $100,000 Hit?

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Little Known Black History Fact: Loyd Jowers

The shot that killed Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on this day in 1968 was presumably fired from Jim’s Grill, a café on ground floor of a rooming house. James Earl Ray, King’s assassin, was staying there. But Loyd Jowers, who ran Jim’s Grill, stated he received $100,000 to arrange for Dr. King’s assassination and said that Ray was not King’s killer.

Read more about Jowers here on BlackAmericaWeb.com http://bit.ly/1fRmMPW.

IDLEWILD: THE BLACK EDEN OF MICHIGAN

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Some of the venues on the Chitlin’ Circuit were the Cotton Club  and Apollo Theaters in New York City, Regal Theatre in Chicago, Howard  Theatre in Washington, D.C., Fox Theater in Detroit and the Uptown  Theatre in Philadelphia, and a bunch of 1 night stand places in the  middle. A lot of these acts played Idlewild to incorporate some  relaxation along with work. Many of these fabulously talented artists started on the  chitlin’ circuit, including Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Ella  Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Etta James, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Dorothy  Dandridge, Sammy Davis Jr., Ray Charles, .

The Supremes, Moms Mabley, Ike and Tina Turner ,George Benson, B.B. King, Richard Pryor, Muddy Waters, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, Redd Foxx, Patti LaBelle, Jimi Hendrix, Gladys Knight & the Pips, The  Temptations, John Lee Hooker, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, The Isley  Brothers, and The Four Tops.

( The dancers were love with Otis) And a Motortown Revue Dancer named Donna Dixon….I met Donna on the phone as she called into me for tech support a few years ago. It was just before the holidays and we struck up a long conversation as I fixed her computer problems. Donna was a backup dancer for the Funk Brother’s band.

They were the massively talented studio musicians that created the “Motown Sound” See a bit of their movie:Standing in the Shadows of Motown The touring company of acts from Motown were called the Motor Town Revue.

Idlewild became known as the “Black Eden of Michigan”. As this new black intelligentsia began to settle in the community, some relocated as activists and members of Marcus Mosiah Garvey‘s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), some as followers of Du Bois’ National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), others as believers of the late Booker T. Washington‘s political machine, and others as potential investors. For the majority of these professionals who brought their families, the idea of land ownership conveyed black social status and membership in this community.

Idlewild gained national stature among African Americans during the period between the World Wars. For example, the Idlewild Land Owners Association had members from over thirty-four states in the country. In addition, the Purple Palace, Paradise Clubhouse, Idlewild Clubhouse, Rosanna Tavern, and Pearl’s Bar provided summer entertainment for tourists and employment opportunities for seasonal and year-round residents in the community. The Pere Marquette Railroad built a branch line to the area by 1923. A post office opened that same year. The Idlewild Fire Department was established, and a host of new entrepreneurs began entering the community. Paradise Palace became McKnight’s Convalescent Home.

Following World War II, Idlewild attracted what some sociologists have labeled the new African American “working” middle class. With the construction of a few paved roads in Idlewild, a reinvestment in the township’s only post office, and greater availability of electricity, a new generation of entrepreneurs began to invest in Idlewild. Phil Giles, Arthur “Big Daddy” Braggs, and a host of other African American businessmen and women took advantage of the market by purchasing property on Williams Island and Paradise Gardens, and began developing these areas into an elaborate nightspot and business center. The cottage started by Albert Cleage in the 1940s was expanded by his sons Louis, Hugh, and Henry.

Many African American entertainers of the period performed in Idlewild. Della Reese, Al Hibbler, Bill Doggett, Jackie Wilson, T-Bone Walker, George Kirby, The Four Tops, Roy Hamilton, Brook Benton, Choker Campbell, Lottie “the Body” Graves, the Rhythm Kings, Sarah Vaughan, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Dinah Washington, B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, Fats Waller, and Billy Eckstein, and many other performers, entertained both Idlewilders and white citizens in neighboring Lake County townships throughout the 1950s and early 1960s.

Arthur Braggs produced singers, dancers, showgirls, and entertainers, which helped Idlewild to become the “Summer Apollo of Michigan”. Braggs produced the famous “Arthur Braggs Idlewild Revue” which not only performed in Idlewild but was also taken on the road to Montreal, Boston, Kansas City, Chicago, New York, and other cities. Braggs’ show helped Idlewild become a major entertainment center and contributed to the financial prosperity of the area

Donna told me all the gossip “on the road”with the famous groups.She also sadly told me then how Levi Stubbs had just had a large stroke and was wheel chair bound. He would never perform again. Donna suggested I read a book that mentioned her and Donna’s picture is in it twice! The book was written by Dr. Ronald J Stephens an acclaimed expert on African American History at several large universities. It was a fascinating hour long conversation with a woman thathas lived a fascinating life in Detroit. She is still as as sparkling as her costumes were back then

BLACK WALL STREET: 16hrs of Terror

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During the oil boom of the 1910s, the Greenwood section of Tulsa, Oklahoma was the wealthiest Black Community in the United States. This area of Tulsa became known as Black Wall Street.
On May 31 – June 1, 1921, Black Wall Street was bombed from the air and burned to the ground by mobs of envious whites.
The 16 hours of the assault, left some 300 African Americans dead and over 600 successful businesses lost. The police arrested and detained more than 6,000 Black residents…. An estimated 10,000 Blacks were left homeless, and 35 city blocks were destroyed by fire.
The official count of the dead by the Oklahoma Department of Vital Statistics was 39, but other estimates of Black fatalities have been up to about 300. A once thriving Black business district is left smoldering – a model community destroyed and a major African-American economic movement resoundingly defused.
The impetus behind it all was the infamous Ku Klux Klan, working in consort with ranking city officials and many other sympathizers.
It was suspected by many blacks that the entire thing was planned because many white men, women and children stood on the borders of the city and watched as blacks were shot, burned and lynched. In addition, some of the black-owned airplanes were stolen by the white mob and used to throw cocktail bombs & dynamite sticks from the sky.
The events of the riot were long omitted from local and state histories. “The Tulsa race riot of 1921 was rarely mentioned in history books, classrooms or even in private. Blacks and whites alike grew into middle age unaware of what had taken place.
With the number of survivors declining, in 1996, the state legislature commissioned a report to establish the historical record of the events, and acknowledge the victims and damages to the black community. Released in 2001, the report included the commission’s recommendations for some compensatory actions, most of which were not implemented by the state and city governments.
The state has passed legislation to establish some scholarships for descendants of survivors, economic development of Greenwood, and a memorial park to the victims in Tulsa. The latter was dedicated in 2010.

Dinah Washington: Birthday Girl!

 

 

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Dinah Washington and her father Ollie Jones hold a birthday cake in 1956

Zora Neal Hurston:Happy Birthday!

ZORABorn in Alabama on January 7, 1891, Zora Neale Hurston spent her early adulthood studying at various universities and collecting folklore from the South, the Caribbean and Latin America. She published her findings in Mules and Men. Hurston was a fixture of the Harlem Renaissance, rubbing shoulders with many of its famous writers. In 1937, she published her masterwork of fiction, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Hurston died in Florida in 1960.

Born on January 7, 1891, in Notasulga, Alabama, writer Zora Neale Hurston created several acclaimed works of fiction, including the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. She was also an outstanding folklorist and anthropologist who  worked to record the stories and tales of many cultures, including her own African-American heritage.

Hurston was the daughter of two former slaves. Her father, John Hurston, was a pastor, and he moved the family to Florida when Hurston was very young. Following the death of her mother, Lucy Ann (Potts) Hurston, in 1904, and her father’s subsequent remarriage, Hurston lived with an assortment of family members for the next few years.

To support herself and finance her efforts to get an education, Hurston worked a variety of jobs, including as a maid for an actress in a touring Gilbert and Sullivan group. In 1920, Hurston earned an associate degree from Howard University. She published one of her earliest works in the university’s newspaper. A few years later, she moved to New York City’s Harlem neighborhood, where she became a fixture in the area’s thriving art scene.

Living in Harlem in the 1920s, Hurston befriended the likes of Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen, among several others. Her apartment, according to some accounts, was a popular spot for social gatherings. Around this time, Hurston experienced a few early literary successes, including placing in short-story and playwriting contests in Opportunity magazine.

Hurston also had serious academic interests. She landed a scholarship to Barnard College, where she pursued the subject of anthropology and studied with Franz Boas. In 1927, Hurston returned to Florida to collect African-American folk tales. She would later publish a collection of these stories, entitled Mules and Men (1935). Hurston also contributed articles to magazines, including the Journal of American Folklore.

Also in the mid-1930s, Hurston explored the fine arts through a number of different projects. She worked with Langston Hughes on a play called Mule-Bone: A Comedy of Negro Life—disputes over the work would eventually lead to a falling out between the two writers—and wrote several other plays, including The Great Day and From Sun to Sun.

Hurston released her first novel, Jonah’s Gourd Vine, in 1934. Two years later, she received a Guggenheim fellowship, which allowed her to work on what would become her most famous work: Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937). She wrote the novel while traveling in Haiti, where she also studied local voodoo practices.

That same year, Hurston spent time in Jamaica conducting anthropological research.

In 1942, Hurston published her autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road. This personal work was well-received by critics, but her life and career soon began to falter. Hurston was charged with molesting a 10-year-old boy in 1948; despite being able to prove that she was out of the country at the time of the incident, she suffered greatly from this false accusation.

Despite all of her accomplishments, Hurston struggled financially and personally during her final decade. She kept writing, but she had difficulty getting her work published. Additionally, she experienced some backlash for her criticism of the 1955 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which called for the end of school segregation.

A few years later, Hurston had suffered several strokes and was living in the St. Lucie County Welfare Home. The once-famous writer and folklorist died poor and alone on January 28, 1960, and was buried in an unmarked grave in Fort Pierce, Florida.

More than a decade later, another great talent helped to revive interest in Hurston and her work: Alice Walker wrote about Hurston in the essay “In Search of Zora Neale Hurston,” published in Ms. magazine in 1975. Walker’s essay helped introduce Hurston to a new generation of readers, and encouraged publishers to print new editions of Hurston’s long-out-of-print novels and other writings. In addition to Walker, Hurston heavily influenced Toni Morrison and Ralph Ellison, among other writers.

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Juanita Moore:October 19, 1914-January 1, 2014

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Juanita Moore (October 19, 1914 – January 1, 2014) was an American film, television, and stage actress. She was the fifth African American to be nominated for an Academy Award in any category, and the third in the Supporting Actress category at a time when only a single African American had won an Oscar. Her most famous role was as Annie Johnson in the movie Imitation of Life (1959).

 

Born in Los Angeles in 1914, Moore was a chorus girl at the Cotton Club before becoming a film extra while working in theater. After making her film debut in Pinky (1949),[1] she had a number of bit parts and supporting roles in motion pictures through the 1950s and 1960s. However, her role in Imitation of Life (1959), a remake, as housekeeper Annie Johnson, whose daughter Sarah Jane (Susan Kohner) passes for white, won her a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for the role.[2] When the two versions of Imitation of Life were released together on DVD, the earlier film was released in 1934, one of the bonus features was a new interview with Juanita Moore.

Moore continued to perform in front of the camera, with a role in the movie Disney’s The Kid (2000) and guest-starring roles on television shows Dragnet, Marcus Welby, M.D., ER and Judging Amy.

On April 23, 2010, a new print of Imitation of Life (1959) was screened at the TCM Film Festival in Los Angeles, to which Moore and co-star Kohner were invited. After the screening, the two women appeared on stage for a question-and-answer session hosted by TCM’s Robert Osborne. Moore and Kohner received standing ovations.

Moore was married for 50 years to Charles Burris; he died in 2001. He was a Los Angeles bus driver and, although she was a frequent passenger, she had stepped out in front of his approaching bus to cross the street to a local bar, hoping to find someone to study for the Inès Serrano role in the play No Exit—Serrano was a lesbian, and Moore was unfamiliar with the lifestyle. She and Burris married a few weeks later.

Her grandson is actor/producer Kirk Kelley-Kahn, who is CEO/President of “Cambridge Players – Next Generation”, a theatre troupe whose founding members included Moore, Esther Rolle, Helen Martin, Lynn Hamilton and Royce Wallace.[

Moore died at her home in Los Angeles on January 1, 2014, from natural causes. She was 99 years old.

Sarah Rector: Black, Rich & Proud

1474490_239655292877474_1635179371_nLittle Sarah Rector, a descendant of slaves, became one of the richest little girls in America in 1914.
Rector had been born among the Creek Indians, as a descendant of slaves.  She would belong to a group of children that the government r…eferred to as the Creek Freedman minors – not legally considered African American.
Rector became an orphan after her mother died of tuberculosis, and her father died in prison.  Like most children of Indian Territory, she was kept in the care of a white guardian who was responsible for her money and education.  But her life changed in 1914, as a result of an earlier land treaty from the government.
  Back in 1887, the government awarded the Creek minors children 160 acres of land, which passed to Rector after her parents’ deaths.  Though her land was thought to be useless, oil was discovered in its depths in 1914, when she was just 10 years old.
The headlines would read: “Oil Made Pickaninny Rich – Oklahoma Girl With $15,000 A Month Gets Many Proposals – Four White Men in Germany Want to Marry the Negro Child That They Might Share Her Fortune.” Then an issue of the Salt
Lake Telegram reported how she and her siblings still lived in poverty.  Still, young Rector kept her fortune to herself and used it to fund her education to Tuskegee University.  Little is known about her life thereafter, except that she purchased a mansion on Twelfth Street in Kansas City, Missouri and entertained the likes of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Joe Louis and Jack Johnson at lavish parties.

Broadway:Talent Has No Color!

Gershwin discussed Etta Moten Barnett singing the part of “Bess” in his new work Porgy and Bess, which he had written with her in mind. She was concerned about trying a role above her natural range of contralto. In the 1942 revival, she did accept the role of “Bess”, but she would not sing the word “nigger”, which Ira Gershwin subsequently wrote out of the libretto. Through her performances on Broadway and with the national touring company until 1945, she captured Bess as her signature role.999442_613544122041117_473139520_n

Coretta Scott: Young Songstress!

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Coretta Scott King was preparing for a career as a singer when she met the young preacher, Martin Luther King, Jr. Who knew?
Young Coretta Scott King!

 

 

 

Doris Payne:Professional Jewel Thief Part I

 

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How does a poor, single, African-American mother from segregated 1950s America wind up as one of the worlds most notorious jewel thieves? A glamorous 81-year-old, Doris Payne is as unapologetic today about the nearly $2 million in jewels she’s stolen over a 60-year career as she was the day she stole her first carat.

With Payne now on trial for the theft of a department store diamond ring, filmmakers Kirk Marcolina and Matthew Pond probe beneath her consummate smile to uncover the secrets of her trade and what drove her to a life of crime. Stylish recreations, an extensive archive and candid interviews reveal how Payne managed to jet-set her way into any Cartier or Tiffany’s from Monte Carlo to Japan and walk out with small fortunes.

 

This sensational portrait exposes a rebel who defies society’s prejudices and pinches her own version of the American Dream while she steals your heart.

Doris Payne (born 1930 in Slab Fork, West Virginia) is one of the world’s most notorious jewel thieves.

 

Her modus operandi was to enter jewelry stores posing as a well-to-do woman, typically looking for a diamond ring. Using her natural grace and charm, she would engage the clerk, asking to see an assortment of items. Eventually, she would “cause the clerk to forget” just how many items were outside the case, and at some point she would leave with one or two pieces.

Her career spanned five decades, states, and even countries. She was arrested many times, but was generally more successful than not.

A feature length motion picture is currently being planned about her life, starring Halle Berry as Payne. The motion picture to be written and produced by veteran TV writer, Eunetta T. Boone in association with Jason Felts (Virgin Produced/Relativity Media). A documentary about her life – The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne – is also being produced by Matthew Pond & Kirk Marcolina of Treehouse Moving Images LLC.

On Friday, January 22, 2010 Payne was arrested in Costa Mesa, California for removing the tags from a $1,300 Burberry trench coat from a Saks Fifth Avenue store and subsequently leaving the store with the coat. In January 2011, at the age of 80, Doris was sentenced in a San Diego court to five years for stealing a 1 carat diamond ring

 

Barneys Vs. Black People

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Kayla Phillips has come forward to say she was discriminated against at Barneys, much like Trayon Christian.
Another young black Barneys customer came forward Wednesday to say she had been racially profiled by snooty store clerks after making a pricey purchase.
Brooklyn resident Kayla Phillips, 21, had a déjà vu moment when she saw news coverage of a black, 19-year-old Queens student who was cuffed by cops after buying a $350 designer belt at Barneys….
Phillips told The Post she had a chillingly similar encounter with police after leaving the Madison Avenue shopping mecca in February with a $2,500 Céline handbag she’d just splurged on.
“As I was walking into the train station, four undercover police officers attacked me,” Phillips said.
“They asked me why I used a debit card and why it didn’t have my name on it,” she said of her temporary Bank of America card.
A frightened Phillips called her mom, who told The Post cops had asked, “What are you doing here in Manhattan? Where’d you get the money to buy that expensive bag?”
Her mother, Wendy Straker, said the police were clearly on the phone with a Barneys rep who was feeding them information about her daughter’s transaction.
When she showed police her ID and her new debit card, which had arrived in the mail that morning, they let her go.
On Tuesday, black, 19-year-old Queens student Trayon Christian sued Barneys for allegedly calling the cops on him after he purchased a $350 designer belt in April.
The undercover detectives asked him, “how a young black man such as himself could afford to purchase such an expensive belt,” according to the suit.
“Jay Z is getting ready to do a campaign with Barneys, but they’re looking at these African-American kids like they’re thieves,” Straker said.
Phillips is suing the NYPD for $5million. A spokeswoman for the city’s Law Department said she would review the claim.
A store spokeswoman said of the belt incident, “No employee of Barneys New York was involved in the pursuit of any action with the individual other than the sale.
By Kevin Fasick and Julia Marsh of The New York Post.

Trayon Christian:Young, Black, And Dangerous?

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By Andrew Siff, NBCNewYork.com

A 19-year-old college student from Queens says he was handcuffed and locked in a jail cell after buying a $350 designer belt at Barneys on New York’s Madison Avenue because he is “a young black man.”

Trayon Christian told NBC 4 New York on Wednesday that he saved up from a part-time job for weeks to buy a Salvatore Ferragamo belt at Barneys.

When he went to the store to buy it in April, he says the checkout clerk asked to see his identification. After the sale went through and he left the store, he was approached by police about a block away, and asked “how a young black man such as himself could afford to purchase such an expensive belt,” according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court.

Officers hauled Christian to the local precinct, where he showed police his identification, as well as his debit card and the receipt for the belt, the lawsuit says.

Police still believed Christian’s identification was fake, and eventually called his bank, which verified it was his, according to the complaint. Christian, who has no prior arrests, was released.

He told NBC 4 New York that questions were racing through his mind while he went through the painful experience of being handcuffed and taken to a cell.

“Why me? I guess because I’m a young black man, and you know, people do a credit card scam so they probably thought that I was one of them,” Christian said. “They probably think that black people don’t have money like that.”

He later returned the belt to Barneys because he says he “didn’t want to have nothing to do with it.”

He is suing the city and the luxury department store for unspecified damages as a result of “great physical and mental distress and humiliation.”

Christian’s attorney, Michael Palillo, told the Post, “His only crime was being a young black man.”

Barneys said in a statement Wednesday that none of its employees was involved in any action with Christian other than the sale, and added that the store “has zero tolerance for any form of discrimination.”

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