Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving 2017 Part 5

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Conclusion (Thanksgiving)

One of the biggest myths in the world is that praying and marching haven't caused any progress in the world. History is the best way to refute such a pernicious myth. First, there is nothing wrong with praying and marching. Many folks, who mock those marching, disrespect our ancestors who did these things for long years. Second, the Montgomery Bus Boycott involved boycotts, marching, praying, and social activism. The actions of many in that movement caused their cause to be successful. Many people marched, prayed, and protested during the 1960's to cause the Civil Rights Act to be passed in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act to be passed in 1965. Tons of marching and boycott worldwide caused apartheid to end in South Africa. During the anti-apartheid movement, there was a very successful economic divestment campaign which withheld funds from supporters of South African apartheid. Even back during the 1930's, massive labor rights protests contributed to Social Security and other economic rights to exist in our land. That is why workers must be respected since they are the ones who create our TVs, our homes, our cars, and so many other entities worldwide. In our generation, there is a higher sense of awareness about police brutality and racial injustice by marching and protests. It is true that we should use our economic power in boycotts and economic development. Yet, finances alone isn't going to save us. What will save us is a cogent, political and economic plan for our community. It involved promoting living wages (which the haters don't discuss readily), a healthy environment, labor rights, a fight against poverty, using policies that will improve our families including our communities, and grassroots organizing in order for us to see the Promised Land for real.

Recently, about 2,800 documents related to the JFK assassination has been released to the public. Some of the documents (in about 300) was not released yet since Trump wants a 6 month review. Also, Trump received pressure from the CIA and the FBI that revealing such material would be detrimental to "national security." I believe in transparency. We have found information about this tragic situation in 1963. Many things confirm what we know for years. One of those things is that the new documents prove one again that the CIA worked with the Mafia in plans to try to assassinate Fidel Castro (who passed away recently and he was a Communist). The report said Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the President's brother, told the FBI he learned the CIA hired an intermediary "to approach Sam Giancana with a proposition of paying $150,000 to hire some gunman to go into Cuba and kill Castro." US Attorney General Robert Kennedy was reluctant to use the Mafia in the assassination attempts against Castro due to his push against organized crime. The plot to kill Castro by the CIA is known as Operation Mongoose. There are CIA photos from the document too. The documents show that Lee Harvey Oswald got ammunition from a right wing militia group. We find out that the FBI found out someone trying to kill Oswald. One document has a person asking then CIA Director Richard Helms (during the 1970's) if there was any way Oswald was in some way a CIA agent or an agent. Then, the document mysteriously cuts off (without Helms giving his answer).

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Many of the documents are completely illegible. Before the assassination, Oswald was in Mexico City and had communication with intelligence agents from the Soviet Union and Cuba. Documents revealed that the Soviets were shocked at the death of Kennedy since Kennedy was seen by the Soviet Union as much more moderate than other Cold Warrior politicians. JFK was the one who signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963. One question is why the CIA doesn't want more documents released when it has been over 50 years after 1963?  CIA Director Richard Helms, who served under both the Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations, claimed in April 1975 that Johnson used to claim that Kennedy’s killing was an act of foreign retribution, the documents show. "President Johnson used to go around saying that the reason President Kennedy was assassinated was that he had assassinated President Diem,” Helms said in a deposition. One of the biggest revelations was that the CIA had plans to try to assassinate Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba and Indonesian president Sukarno. We know that many Western imperialists hated Lumumba since he wanted Congo to be independent from Western imperial influence. This release is like a movie script, but this is real history and this is real life. A recently poll says that 61% of Americans view the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as a product of a conspiracy. One thing that people, who either believe in a conspiracy or not, do find is that the FBI and the CIA covered up many things as an means for them to cover up their bureaucratic mistakes. More questions remain and that is why we desire the whole truth.

We witness the crisis of politics in America. The GOP existed since the 19th century. Today, the leader of the Republican Party is Donald Trump as he is President currently and he's a Republican. Tons of hypocrites voted for Trump knowing full well that he has shown anti-spiritual qualities of cursing constantly, refusing to ask God for forgiveness of anything, of degrading women, of degrading immigrants, and for allying with neo-Confederates (who want statues of known white supremacist Confederate traitors to be on public lands). Trump's heinous morality has either been ignored or supported by his supporters. Therefore, anyone who supports Trump today allies with his xenophobic nationalism and his racism. Senators like Corker, McCain, and Flake have criticized Trump because of his non-civil attitude and his disgraceful actions.

Also, it is important to note that this situation didn't start in 2016. Decades ago, the GOP has used the Southern Strategy, racist campaigning, voter suppression laws, and other deplorable tactics for the sake of them gaining power and getting votes. Trump is the modern manifestation of the sick evils of white supremacist views and a reactionary agenda (which desires draconian austerity, tax cuts for the super wealthy, militarism, and hatred of our democratic freedoms. Trump wants to ban kneels in football games, restrict licenses against media organizations that disagrees with him, and he wants to loosen libel laws. These actions are blatantly against the freedom of speech). Trump has threatened war with North Korea too when North Korea has nuclear weapons. We know about EMP devices too that can ruin the electric grid. That type of a war with North Korea could kill millions of people, so only peaceful diplomacy is the solution to that crisis. This fascist nationalist movement isn't just found in America. In Germany, there is Alternative for Germany, in the UK, there is the Independence Party, and in other countries, fascists (who hate refugees, immigrants, and the idea of multiculturalism) are abundant. This is why heroic organizations to combat fascism are needed and we are aware that these bigots (like Bannon, Trump, etc.) won't quit until we are suppressed completely of our rights. Now, we must continue to fight for our rights and speak out. We love our diversity in America and we appreciate real democratic freedom. Also, we are in the right and we will win in the end.

By Timothy

Thanksgiving 2017 Part 4

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African American History Part 7: The Third Era (Continued)

Ferguson (a new era of Black America)

It has been more than three years since the passing of the Brother Michael Brown in 2014. He passed away in Ferguson, Missouri, which is a suburb of the city of St. Louis. Afterwards, the rebellion existed in Ferguson, Missouri. Recently, the NAACP sent an advisory warning to Missouri because of Missouri's policies dealing with race. Missouri is a Midwestern state once controlled by the French (centuries ago) and it has experienced the Civil War, segregation, covenant policies (which harmed the housing rights of black people), urban renewal (or corporate people using building projects as an excuse to displace poor and black residents), and other evils. St. Louis has a long history of discrimination so much that some view it as a Southern city. Likewise, dedicated activists have fought for freedom in Ferguson, in St. Louis and throughout Missouri too. By the 1940's and the 1950’s, Ferguson was a mostly white “sundown town” (according to the writer James Loewen). White flight came and Ferguson became mostly African American by the 1980's. Racial profiling existed in Ferguson too. The Ferguson rebellion signified the largest rebellion in American history since the LA rebellion back in 1992.

During the 2014 rebellion, innocent journalists and innocent protesters were arrested, civil liberties were violated, and courageous people stood up against the evils in the system. The events of Ferguson document how police brutality and economic inequality including racism are serious realities that we must confront in order to make society liberated for all. The events of Ferguson inspired a whole new generation of young people to be active in social and political affairs. The Black Lives Matter movement and other movements for social change grew. Unfortunately, police killings of unarmed black people continued from Eric Garner to other people. The DOJ documented the corrupt actions of the Ferguson police department. It is also important to address class oppression since society is heavily stratified based upon class. People not only need jobs. People deserve respect and equitable treatment under the law. Society must change (change deals with protests and developing our infrastructure including progressive programs in addressing our issues and helping our communities. At the end of the day, people not only need cameras, but living wages, universal health care, the elimination of discriminatory policies, strong educational services, and investments in community growth). What transpired in Ferguson back in 2014 outlined a new era of the black freedom movement and we are continuing to stand up for our rights as well.

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In order to get the history of Ferguson right, we have to show the events chronologically. It all started with Michael Brown. On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown and a friend walked down the street. Michael Brown encountered Officer Darren Wilson. A confrontation occurred. Later, Darren Wilson shoots and kills Michael Brown at 12:01 pm. on August 9, 2014. Michael Brown was unarmed and he was hit with 6 shots. It would be hours until a medical examiner comes to the scene. For hours, Michael Brown’s body was left in the street lifeless. Also, many protesters raised their hands up and said, “Don’t shoot us” to officers in the night of August 9. On August 10, 2014, the St. Louis County Police Joe Belmar said that Michael Brown assaulted the officer and tried to reach for the officer’s gun. This has been disputed by the supporters of Michael Brown. The Brown family got the retain attorney Benjamin Crump, who once represented the family of Trayvon Martin. By night time, a candlelight vigil to respect Brown existed. Soon, the rebellion happened with a dozen businesses being vandalized and harmed. More than 30 people were arrested and 2 cops suffered injuries according to the police. By August 11, 2014, school was canceled in Jennings, which is near Ferguson, for safety reasons. Hundreds of people gathered outside of the Ferguson Police Department to desire justice. 7 people were arrested at 10 am. The FBI announced their own investigation into the shooting of Michael Brown. The parents of Michael Brown and the attorney of the family demand justice and want an end to violence by 4 pm. Community members and leaders meet and pray at a meeting hosted by the NAACP.

By 8 pm, many people gathered on West Florissant Avenue in Ferguson and the police used tear gas against people. Militarized police existed. By August 12, 2014, more people are arrested. Protesters issued a list of demands involving the investigation of the killing of Michael Brown. Rev. Al Sharpton arrived in St. Louis to speak with the family of Michael Brown. Sharpton and the Brown family spoke on the Old Courthouse steps early Tuesday afternoon. An early autopsy is released by the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s office. President Barack Obama released a statement announcing that the Justice Department will review police tactics across the nation. Ironically, both the Republicans and the Democrats executed policies that advanced the mass incarceration state, militarized police, and other neoliberal policies. Governor Jay Nixon, the St. Louis Mayor, and other leaders talked about the Brown case. In a separate public meeting, Rev. Al Sharpton and the Brown family desired a peaceful fight for justice involving Michael Brown. Dorian Johnson came forward as an eyewitness to the Brown shooting. All eyewitnesses will give diverse accounts of what has happened and these accounts are debated to this very day. On August 13, 2014, many want a vigil to take place during the day. Many volunteers start to clean the city up. The Justice Department opened a federal civil rights investigation in dealing with the Ferguson shooting. By the night, the police continue to use tear gas to be used against protesters. The Al Jazeera America crew ran because of the tear gas. The police illegally detained 2 reporters (one from the Huffington Post and another from the Washington Post) at a Ferguson McDonald’s. Their names are Wesley Lowery and Ryan Reilly.

Governor Jay Nixon decided to go into Ferguson. St. Louis Alderman Antonio French was also arrested on that day for “unlawful assembly.” At August 12, 2014, City Alderman Antonio French was released from jail without formal charges and posting bond. Governor Nixon visited north St. Louis County and Ferguson. President Obama called for calm and local police to be open and transparent in their investigation. The Governor made the Missouri Highway Patrol to control security in Ferguson. It is overseen by Captain Ron Johnson, who was born and raised near the community of Ferguson. Nationwide, silent vigils were held to honor the memory of Michael Brown. By the evening and nighttime, hundreds of citizens have marched along with state troopers. No violent clashes existed.

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On August 15, 2014, Darren Wilson was revealed as the person who shot and killed Michael Brown. The family of Michael Brown defended their son. Rev. Jesse Jackson came into Ferguson to led prayer and nonviolent protest promotion. This was on Friday. By nighttime, more than 200 protesters came out. Tear gas was once again used. Rocks were thrown. On August 16, 2014, some stores close. Governor Nixon issued a state of emergency of Ferguson and a curfew is instituted. On August 17, 2014, more arrests came. Many activists opposed the unconstitutional “Five second rule” which allowed Ferguson cops to arrest protesters who stayed in one place for more than five seconds. People successfully ended that illegal policy by lawsuit. Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal criticized Governor Jay Nixon over his response to the events in Ferguson.  Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said Attorney General Eric Holder has ordered a separate federal autopsy for Brown at the request of his family. The St. Louis County Medical Examiner's autopsy concluded that Brown died of gunshot wounds, but other details have not been released. The rebellion continued. A private autopsy requested by Brown's family found that he was shot at least six times, including four times in the right arm and twice in the head, The New York Times reported. On August 18, 2014, Governor Nixon ordered the National Guard into Ferguson after the rebellion from last night.

Michael Brown’s family hired a pathologist to perform its autopsy on Brown’s body. The curfew is lifted. President Barack Obama sent Attorney General Eric Holder to monitor Ferguson. Getty Images photographer Scott Olson was arrested Monday while reporting in Ferguson. He was later released. "I want to be able to do my job as a member of the media and not be arrested for just doing my job," Olson told Pancho Bernasconi, vice president of news at Getty Images. Sybrina Fulton wrote a heartbreaking letter to the family of Michael Brown. It was published in TIME magazine. The letter says that she wished that thing will be fine, but the truth is that she can only pray as their lives are changed forever. At night, the police used tear gas at protesters. On August 19, 2014, rebellions happened. Lesley McSpadden (or Michael Brown’s mother) spoke on the Today Show to mention the goal of finding justice for her son.  "When justice is prevailed, then maybe they'll regain their trust in the locals." Another 23 year old man with a knife was killed by the police. On August 20, 2014, protests continued. A grand jury started to see if Darren Wilson should be charged with the death of Michael Brown. Eric Holder goes into Ferguson for ongoing investigations into civil rights violations related to the shooting. He said that:  "I am the Attorney General of the United States, but I am also a black man," he told community members.

On August 21, 2014, 150 protesters walked around Ferguson’s West Florissant Avenue. The Missouri National Guard started to leave Ferguson by this time. On August 22, 2014, tensions declined as Missouri State Patrol Captain Ron Johnson has said. Protesters go onto the roadway. By August 23, 2014, the day is quiet as many reactionaries and pro-police zealots sent money to Wilson. Fundraisers exist for the Brown family as well. The NAACP held a peaceful protest in Ferguson. Debates continue about militarized police and the events of Ferguson. On August 24, there is a private viewing of Brown’s body. Michael Brown Sr. wanted no protests on the day of his son’s funeral. He desires peace. On Sunday, he promotes the Peace Fest 2014 in Forest Park in St. Louis. This meeting was hosted by Trayvon Martin Foundation and Better Family Life. Brown’s parents along with the families of Martin and Grant were there too. African Americans in Missouri called for the resignation of Ferguson Mayor James Knowles. The funeral takes place on August 25, 2014 at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church.  In the eulogy, the pro-Democratic capitalist and ex-FBI informant Al Sharpton made the disrespectful comment that we should stop making "ghetto pity parties" when opposing injustice has nothing to do with having a pity party. People are outraged at a constant occupation of our communities of militarized cops in many cases. Darren Wilson testified before a grand jury on September 16. Later, there was the four day peaceful protest called Ferguson October. Many people investigated the death of another black teenage named Vonderrit Myers Jr. On October 13, 2014, police arrested clergy and activist academic Cornel West during Ferguson October. This is part of the Moral Monday movement too. On November 11, 2014, Governor Nixon prepared the National Guard in case another rebellion happens after the grand jury released its decision.

On November 13, 2014, Michael Brown Jr. and Lesley McSpadden traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to testify before the United Nations Committee Against Torture. They were part of a human rights group created by the New York and Atlanta based U.S. Human Rights Network. Michael Brown Sr. called for peaceful gathering regardless of the outcome of the grand jury. On November 24, 2014, the grand jury decided to not indict Officer Darren Wilson for firing six shots at Michael Brown which killed him. Protests existed. A police car and stores were set on fire. Gunfire existed. The next day, documents are released about the grand jury decision. Protests continued in the snow and Wilson resigned from the Ferguson Police Department on November 29, 2014. President Barack Obama on December 1, 2014 hosted a meeting about Ferguson. It included many civil rights, youth, community, and faith leader including police leaders in the Oval Office. The federal government wanted to spend $75 million on body cameras for law enforcement. On December 11, 2014, Oakland had protests after the grand jury refuses to indict the officers who killed Eric Garner. On December 13, 2014, a march on Washington, D.C. came about in calling for judicial reform, body cameras on cops, etc. to exist. The Justice for All march opposed police brutality and racial injustice. By December 19, 2014, St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch admitted that he believed multiple witnesses lied under oath while testifying before the grand jury that previously heard Brown’s case. One day after December 25, 2014, residents rebuilt a memorial of Michael Brown after a car destroyed the previous remembrance. By December 28, 2014, Ferguson Public Information Officer Timothy Zoll was placed on unpaid leave after reportedly making dismissive comments about a memorial for Brown.

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On March 3, 2015, the Department of Justice released its accurate, 103 page report documenting the Ferguson Police Department using racial profiling, police brutality, and economic exploitation against the residents of Ferguson. Unreasonable use of force against African American suspects has been documented in this historic report.  In 88% of cases in which Ferguson police documented the use of force, for example, that force was used against African Americans. In essence, the report told the truth that there was a practice of disproportionate stops and arrest of black people without probable cause, there was unreasonable force used, there were racially biased handling of warrants by municipal courts, and there was the police using revenue from poor and black residents for exploitative purposes. On March 4, 2015, the DOJ refused to charge Wilson of civil rights violations. On March 9, 2015, Ferguson municipal judge Ronald Brockmeyer resigned. The DOJ report exposed him as being involved in the scheme to get revenue for Ferguson by issuing unnecessary citations, especially to African Americans. The circuit court controls municipal court cases in Ferguson. By March 10, 2015, John Shaw (or city manager) resigned. He was mentioned in the DOJ report too as presiding over a corrupt court system aggressively fining black residents in order for him to get money. On March 11, Chief Jackson resigned effective March 19th. On March 12, 2 cops were shot in Ferguson. On April 7, 2015, voters in Ferguson elected two black city council members, transforming the political body's racial composition after months of protests over racial profiling and police brutality. The council has one sitting black member already. This is the first time that blacks have controlled half of the council, despite the fact that two-thirds of the city's 21,000 residents are black human beings.

On April 23, 2015, Michael Brown's parents, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Ferguson, former police chief Thomas Jackson and former officer Darren Wilson. The suit challenged the explanation of the shooting presented by Wilson, who resigned from the force four months after the August confrontation. Police Chief Tom Jackson leaves his job and a black interim police chief existed on July 22, 2015. On August 8, 2015, the Ferguson community continued to fight for community development. One year later on August 9, 2015, a protest exists. Gunfire existed and armored vehicles came about in the streets. Also, it is important to cite the leaders involved in the Ferguson movement for change.  Ashley Yates and Tef Poe (who is a hip hop artist) were there in Ferguson from day one. The Universal African Peoples Organization, Show me 15, Youth Activists STL, Darren Seals, Peacekeepers, Disciples for Justice, Don’t Shoot Coalition, Dhoruba Shakur, Jobs with Justice, and other coalitions of activists used action in the areas also.   Brittany Packnett, Antoinette Carroll, Deray McKesson and Johnetta Elzie were involved in Ferguson protests. Religious clergy like Rev. Osagyefo Sekou, and Rev. Renita Lamkin confronted injustice too in Ferguson.  The Black Lives Matter movement was there too from Patrisse Cullors, Tanya Bernard, Jamilah Lemiuex, Damon Turner, Anthony Johnson, and other people. Lawyers, labor rights activists, and scholars joined together in opposing police tyranny. The Organization for Black Struggle was on the ground with resources to help communities. Now, the truth is known and we will continue to fight for the liberation of our black people.

Yes, Black Lives Matter.

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Continued Police Killings of Black people

There is always a long history among the police and African Americans. Many of our people are police officers and many of our people continue to protest police brutality. We have mixed feelings about the police since many police officers then and now oppress black people while some of our people wear blue too. There is no question that some aspects of the state use the police as a means to contain and oppress black people. The police was used to harm innocent protesters in Selma in 1965. The police was used to arrest nonviolent civil rights protesters. Some police act as agents of the state to monitor progressive or revolutionary social movements for years and decades (even today). Therefore, we are not naïve about what is real. 9/11 was a new era. Immediately after 9/11, the police in many cases increased their surveillance of black, brown, South Asian, Arabic, and Muslim communities. The Patriot Act and other laws were controversial in that it dealt heavily with an increased circumventing of our civil liberties. Stop and frisk grew in urban communities nationwide, especially in New York City during the early years of the 21st century. One of the most tragic cases of police killing was the murder of Sean Bell by the NYPD on November 25, 2006. He was at the eve of his wedding and Sean Bell including his two friends (Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman) were shot at 50 times by plainclothes officers. Sean Bell died and the officers involved were never convicted of any wrongdoing.

During that time, the prison population skyrocketed in part because of the discriminatory sentencing practices (as documented by sociological studies). There was the aftermath of the Katrina disaster, and continued mistrust of the police by many African Americans. Kathryn Johnston was killed by the police on November 21, 2006. She was an elderly woman. In January 1, 2009, Oscar Grant was killed by a BART police officer. That officer only received a limited, token time in prison. In 2010, a seven year old girl named Aiyana Mo’Nay Stanley-Jones was shot to death during a raid done by the Department’s Special Response Team. Rekia Boyd was killed in 2012 in Chicago by an off duty Chicago police detective. She was only 22 years old and the detective was never convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Jordan Davis was killed by a vigilante in 2012. The person, who did the murder, is in prison now. Jordan Davis’ parents are friends with the family of Trayvon Martin to this very day. Renisha McBride was a 19 year old Sister who was shot and killed by Theodore Wafe (who was convicted on many charges). In 2012, Shelly Frey (who was unarmed) was killed by the police in Texas after she was suspected of shoplifting. Yet, Frey was not a direct threat to any officer. Kyam Livingston died in police custody on July 24, 2013. By 2014, many African Americans were shot or killed by police officers. They were Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Dontre Hamilton, and other people. Eric Garner sparked many protests in New York City.

2015 saw the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. Baltimore is where many of my relatives live at and I have visited Baltimore period. Baltimore has the paradox of massive political power among black people (the majority of people who live in Baltimore are African Americans), but serious problems of economic inequality, poverty, and police brutality (as documented by the DOJ) exist. So, this is caused by classism (which in turned is created by capitalism) not just racism. In other words, many black people are in the upper middle class and some (not all) in that class lacks a true concern of the interests of poor and working class black people in Baltimore. Anger was in Baltimore in 2015 and the rebellion occurred in the city. The rebellion happened when the police blocked many students from coming into their homes. Later, the rebellion transpired for days with buildings burning and hurt expressed in many manifestations. To this very day, Baltimore is trying to heal and improve. Sandra Bland in 2015 died mysteriously in a Texas jail cell. Authorities classified her death as suicide while her family disagrees. Also, the 2015 pool party incident in Texas when cops blatantly used overt excessive force against young girls and young boys (even pointing guns at non-threatening children). In 2016, Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota were shot to death again by the police. Korryn Gaines was killed by the police on August 1, 2016. Listing all of these names are not coincidences.

This represents a total epidemic of police killings of people of black African descent in America. In 2017, the names of Jordan Edwards, Edson Da Costa, Charleena Chavon Lyles, Rashan Charles, and Jaocques Clemmons represent more events where lives are lost tragically. The Say Her Name movement is about making society awareness of the epidemic of the abuse and murder of black women and girls. It also wants people to know that intersectionality is a reality. In order words, race, class, gender, etc. intersect in society. Solutions to this problem are diverse. The solution making process won’t be easy, but it must be promoted. There must be serious monitoring and training of officers. There should be the federal eradication of mandatory minimum sentencing. There should be strong enforcement against police brutality and allow more community control of law enforcement (as we should control them not them controlling us). There should be the outright demilitarization of the police. There should be a federal ban on racial profiling and broken windows in policing. There should be the end to for profit prisons. There should also be investments in community development and giving people more economic plus social opportunities to live out their own lives. I have no problem with cameras, but make sure that there is severe punishment for any cop who abuses cameras. There should be an attack on any form of bigotry and injustice done by us. We are in the right when we advocate for justice since Black Lives Matter.

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Black Lives Matter

The journey of African Americans has lasted for centuries and beyond. Today, there is a new movement that seeks social change that deals with the eradication of racial profiling, police brutality, racial inequality, and the prison industrial complex (in which the criminal justice system is completely unfair). This movement is the Black Lives Matter movement. It has been critiqued, slandered, disrespected, praised, and loved. It is a movement that has been supported by many and hated by many. It’s a movement that represents a new era of the black freedom struggle. After almost 5 years, the Black Lives Matter movement still flourishes. The post-9/11 world has been filled with police repression and discriminatory policies (including the profiling of Arabic Americans and Muslims unjustly). Hurricane Katrina taught everyone that class oppression and racial injustice still existed. Jena Six was about the fight for equal justice under the law. The Black Lives Matter movement was born in 2013. This came after the murder of Trayvon Martin by the vigilante George Zimmerman. Zimmerman stalked and killed Trayvon in Sanford, Florida on February of 2012. After Zimmerman’s acquittal, thousands of antiracist activists and ordinary citizens protested the decision. The criminal justice system once again has let the black community down in the midst of centuries of oppression.  The Birth of the Black Lives Matter movement came about on the day of July 13, 2013. Its founders were three black women whose names are Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. All 3 women knew each other from meeting in the BOLD organization or Black Organizing for leadership and Dignity. They wanted to response in opposition to the verdict of the Trayvon Martin trial.

Garza wrote a Facebook post titled "A Love Note to Black People" in which she said: "Our Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter". Cullors replied: "#BlackLivesMatter.”" Tometi then added her support, and Black Lives Matter was born as an online campaign. From an online campaign, BLM evolved into a social and political movement. Its organization is decentralized. There are at least 30 Black Lives Matter chapters in America, England, Canada, Australia, and Ghana. BLM Chapters are given great latitude in forming their own programs and policies. Yet, their goals are very much the same. They have shared principles and outlooks. Local chapters have great power. Their Black Lives Matter website have 13 guiding principles including Diversity, Globalism (as in black people living globally share unity), Empathy, Restorative Justice, and Intergenerational (which is about rejecting ageism and promoting collaborations among black people regardless of age). The Black Lives Matter movement is a hybrid movement. It combines much of the tactics of the old school civil rights movement (which includes civil disobedience, protests, sit-ins, etc.) with the progressive side of the Black Power Movement (with its emphasis on Blackness and black solidarity). It is a movement that has been influenced by hip hop, Occupy Wall Street, black feminism, Pan-Africanism, the Anti-Apartheid movement, the LGBTQIA+ social movement, and other movements. Black Lives Matter has differences from the NAACP (from decades ago) in which they reject respectability politics, some have skepticism towards the Democratic Party, and some have an aversion to bourgeois traditions.

Its organization is group centered. The tragic events of Ferguson caused the BLM movement to increase its profile in the public’s eye. By August of 2014, more than 500 BLM members have protested in the form of a Freedom Ride to Ferguson, Missouri after Michael Brown was shot and killed. They have used demonstrations throughout Ferguson. The greatest contributions of the Black Lives Matter movement to the overall black freedom struggle has been their emphasis on exposing extrajudicial killings of black people by the police (and others), promoting intersectionality, and respecting the dignity of the diversity of black people (in order words Black immigrants, black disabled people, black women, and Black LGBTQIA+ human beings shouldn’t be oppressed or murdered period. We have an epidemic of transgender black people being murdered and murder is wrong period). Marcia Chatelain, associate professor of history at Georgetown University, has praised BLM for allowing "young, queer women [to] play a central role" in the movement.” During the Ferguson protests, the Ferguson rebellion existed after years and decades of housing discrimination, economic exploitation, police brutality, and other injustices against the people of Ferguson.

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Rebellions never occur out of a vacuum. The National Guard and the police tried their best to suppress the outrage at a corrupt system in Ferguson, Baltimore, etc., but the protesters didn’t back down. Even after men, women, and children experienced tear gas and innocent journalists were falsely arrested by the Missouri police, heroic people continued in the fight for justice. Also, these events made more people recognize the massive problem of racism and economic oppression in America. Palestinians overseas even gave black activists advice on how to do with tear gas via social media. Black Lives Matter has used social media, protests, civil disobedience, and other tactics in getting their points across. The myth of post racialism has been exposed by truth tellers. Also, there are class divides in the African American community. There are poor and working class black people in America and many upper class and wealthy African Americans (some of which include the black professional political establishment) who desire the system and non-revolutionary change. Many of the black middle class and the upper class have more of a stake in American capitalism than poor black people. 

In 2014, Black Lives Matter members have demonstrated against the deaths of numerous African Americans by police actions like Dontre Hamilton, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Laquan McDonald, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Antonio Martin, and Jerame Reid, among others. In 2014, Eric Garner was choked to death in New York City. This caused a bigger opposition to police terrorism. The Black Lives Matter movement grew into another level after the unfortunate murder of Eric Garner. Ezell Ford was killed in Los Angeles, and Akai Gurley was killed in NYC on November of 2014. He was a 28 year old man. Many activists protested in NYC and Los Angeles by 2015. Tamir Rice was also killed by a police officer in Cleveland, Ohio on November 2014 too. By December of 2014, 2,000 to 3,000 people protested the killings of unarmed black people by the police. They were in Bloomington, Minnesota and they used signs and stood there in the location. In Milwaukee, BLM protested the police shooting of Dontre Hamilton who died in April. John Crawford and Renisha McBride were also killed. Darren Wilson would not be indicted by a grand jury by December of 2014. Many people were outraged.

In 2015-2016, many black protesters opposed the racism in the University of Missouri. Also, Black Lives Matter expanded to coverage many more cases of police killings of black people. This was the year of the Charleston Nine tragedy as well. In March, BLM protested at Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office, demanding reforms within the Chicago Police Department. Charley Leundeu Keunang, a 43-year-old Cameroonian national, was fatally shot by Los Angeles Police Department officers. The LAPD arrested fourteen following BLM demonstrations.  In April of 2015, Freddie Gray died as a product of lax medical assistance while being in a Baltimore police van for an extended period of time. BLM members and other groups protested and there was the Baltimore rebellion. Walter Scott was murdered by the police in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Many people wanted black women’s lives to be respected. So, in May of 2015, a protest by BLM in San Francisco was part of a nationwide protest, Say Her Name, decrying the police killing of black women and girls, which included the deaths of Meagan Hockaday, Aiyana Jones, Rekia Boyd, and others.

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In Cleveland, Ohio, after an officer was acquitted at trial in the shooting of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams, BLM protested. In Madison, Wisconsin, BLM protested after the officer was not charged in the shooting of Tony Robinson. After the Charleston Nine tragedy, the Confederate flag was gone from the South Carolina state capitol grounds. 800 people protested in McKinney, Texas after an officer kneed down a girl at a pool party in McKinney, Texas to the ground with his knees. Sandra Bland died in police custody with her body hanged in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas.  In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Janelle Monáe, Jidenna, and other BLM activists marched through North Philadelphia to bring awareness to police brutality and Black Lives Matter. Around August 9, 2015, the first anniversary of Michael Brown's death, BLM rallied, held vigil and marched in St. Louis and across the country. By 2016, the Black Lives Matter was an international movement. It has been praised and hated. It has been a powerful force in the 2010’s. This was the time of the 2016. While most Republican candidates denounced the BLM, many BLM members wanted to talk to the Democrats.

There is the issue of co-option and BLM should maintain its political independence. O’Malley was a Democratic candidate and he apologized for saying all lives matter. Also, Bernie Sanders were talked too and Hillary Clinton was very hostile to many BLM members in saying that they must set up demands and organize laws instead of changing hearts. The problem with that argument is that BLM on their website have many plans and demands. In 2016, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile was murdered. It also was the time when Micah Xavier Johnson killed 5 officers in Dallas, and wounded 7 others plus harmed 2 civilians. The BLM leadership condemned the actions of Micah Johnson. As for the 2016 Presidential election, DeRay McKesson (who falsely compared charter schools to the BPP’s Breakfast Program for Children. DeRay is known for his allegiance to the Democratic Party) voted for Hillary Clinton. The Mothers of the Movement (which includes the mothers of Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, and other mothers whose children were killed by law enforcement or gun violence) spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention on July 26, 2016. 

In 2017, Black Lives Matter continues to grow. In 2017, in Black History Month, a month-long "Black Lives Matter" art exhibition was organized by three Richmond, Virginia artists at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in the Byrd Park area of the city. The show featured more than 30 diverse multicultural artists on a theme exploring racial equality and justice. Black Lives Matter chapters are in Canada, Europe, Africa, and Australia (in trying to defend the human rights of Aboriginal people). Conservative critics of Black Lives Matter view BLM members as racists and they over exaggerate crime statistics. The truth is that BLM has denounced racism and sociology studies document the racial disparities in the criminal justice system and the racial injustices going on. Other critiques say that Black Lives Matter ignores intraracial violence in the black community, but other social activists groups are fighting against intraracial violence constantly. Many people want to ignore black social activism I(while discussing intraracial violence as a deflection) in promoting the reactionary lie that black people don’t care about the lives of other black people. Reactionaries (who refuse to believe in the reality of the agenda of white supremacy) have used the All Lives Matter movement as a means to ignore the concerns of black Americans and to advance the false view that American society is a meritocracy. Blue Lives Matter was created as a response of LBM activists fighting against police brutality. There are many critics of the Black Lives Matter movement. Some are extremists like Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. and Rudy Giuliani who slanders the BLM as an anti-police, racist group. Others like Cecil Murray, Najee Ali, and Earl Ofari Hutchinson criticize tactics of the BLM not the overall goal (which is of course black liberation).

There are also more conservative or moderate civil rights leaders like Andrew Young (who said that he feels uncomfortable condemning the Klan types when you should tell the truth in season and out of season. I’m disappointed in Andrew Young for his 2017 August comments on Meet the Press) who has criticized not only BLM, but he wants Confederate statues to remain on public lands. Dr. King always called Andrew Young a conservative and he told Young that he wasn’t a capitalist and he didn’t agree with him on many issues. Now, Black Lives Matter is a youthful movement and it should be careful of co-option, capitalist, slick plans by some and other things. There has been the accusation by some that the Ford Foundation pledged $100 million to Black Lives Matter. The truth is that the Ford Foundation pledged $100 million to the Black-Led Movement Fund, which is not the same thing as Black Lives Matter. Many groups in the Black-Led Movement Fund are endorsed by some in the BLM. Likewise, we know that many foundations and NGOs are allied with the political establishment. Another accusation is that George Soros funds the entire BLM, which is a lie. George Soros is a neoliberal capitalist and he didn’t found the BLM.

3 Black Women created the BLM.  To this very day, the Democratic Party desires to co-opt and control the Black Lives Matter movement. The Democratic Party influences tons of elected officials, the Urban League, the NAACP, labor groups, many local churches, etc. We know that the GOP is filled with extremists and bigots, but a social movement must embrace political independence. Part of that independence is to condemn not only the mass incarceration state, but imperialism, capitalism, and economic inequality. The state is an instrument of the oligarchy that uses the forces of reaction to fight back against movements for social change. In order words, independent black politics is a legitimate aim to follow. We do know that the Intercept has reported that the DHS and the FBI (including state police intelligence groups) has surveilled the Black Lives activists too. There is no secret about the FBI illegally monitoring civil rights and other progressive groups. Therefore, we should use courage and discernment to follow the interests of the people not the oligarchy. Black Liberation is not about reforms here and there. Black liberation is a global transformation of society where imperialism is abolished and economic justice is made real. Also, some Black Lives Matter people have partnered with One United Bank to promote the Black Lives Matter debit card, which is about promoting black capitalism.

Historically, black capitalism doesn’t work since it only benefits a small percentage of the rich or upper middle class African Americans. This debit card promotion readily promotes the myth that black people are poor because of black peoples’ choices instead of the capitalist system oppressing black people. It is no secret that capitalist economies require a large amount of unemployed workers to depress the wages of those currently employed. True economic development requires input from the poor and working class. Black collective economic efforts of cooperatives, labor unions, and strikes plus fights for living wages can work to develop black political, economic, and social wealth. Many members of the Black Lives Matter movement have supported the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement. The BDS movement is about opposing what its supporters believe is the occupation of Palestinian lands by Israeli forces. Many people accuse Israel of using apartheid policies in the region. No nation is perfect. No nation is God. No nation is above critique, so people have every right to expose the mistakes done by Israel.  I don't view the BDS movement as anti-Semitic since it isn't condemning every Jewish person on Earth. It condemns certain policies done by one nation.

The Black Lives Matter movement has great support among the African American community too. According to a September 2015 poll on race relations, nearly two-thirds of African Americans mostly agree with Black Lives Matter, while 42% of white Americans are unsure or do not have an opinion about Black Lives Matter. Of white people surveyed, 41% thought that Black Lives Matter advocated violence, and 59% of whites thought that Black Lives Matter distracted attention from the real issues of racial discrimination. By comparison, 82% of black people polled thought that Black Lives Matter was a nonviolent movement, and 26% of blacks thought that Black Lives Matter distracted attention from the real issues of racial discrimination. On the question of whether "Black Lives Matter" was mostly a movement or mostly a slogan, 46% of whites and 67% of blacks thought that it is mostly a movement. A similar poll in June 2016 found that 65% of black American adults supported Black Lives Matter and 40% of white American adults support it. Fifty-nine percent of black Americans thought that Black Lives Matter would "be effective, in the long run, in helping blacks achieve equality" and 34% of white Americans thought so.

A 2017 Harvard-Harris survey found that 35% of whites and 83% of blacks have a favorable view of the movement. The Black Lives Matter movement will deal with many questions. Also, the Black Lives Matter is unique in that it constantly changes and it has great resiliency. It is part of African American history and its long tradition of resistance against injustice. Also, the Black Lives Matter movement should be reminded that a revolutionary political and economic program is necessary in ending capitalist oppression. That means that it must reject co-option from foundations, capitalist politicians, and other forces of compromise. In order words, we have to develop more of our own institutions with our own power (with the purpose of uplift our black people) as the means to grow our power. The end goal is the total self-determination and liberation of all people of black African descent here and abroad and being international in scope (while maintaining anti-imperialist views). No movement is immune from critique, but we recognize the courageous people in the Black Lives Matter movement who are doing what is right and honoring truth. The Black Lives Matter is forever etched in the long journey of the African American historical experience.

Black Lives Matter.

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The Charleston Nine

One of the saddest moments of Black American history was the domestic terrorist attack against innocent black people in Charleston, South Carolina’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. It occurred on the date of June 17, 2015. People in the church had a prayer service. These glorious black human beings just wanted to worship the Lord in their church. One evil person murdered 9 people. The senior pastor and state Senator murdered was Clementa C. Pinckney. He was a social activist. The white supremacist murderer was Dylann Roof. The evil murders once again showed the world that confronting racism and hate never requires ascetism. It requires a true activism and a fight for justice. It happened during the time where the Confederate flag was on public grounds. After the murders, Nikki Haley (to her credit) allowed authorities to get rid of the Confederate flag from state’s grounds. Also, it is important to recognize the historical significance of the South Carolina Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. It was a church created during the 19th century. Members of the church fought against slavery and were for abolitionism. It was one of the oldest black churches in America. Morris Brown was an early member of the church. Denmark Vesey was one of the church’s founders and he organized an attempted slavery rebellion in order to free our people form bondage. He was arrested (after a traitorous slave revealed plans to a slave owner). Vesey was murdered by hanging on July 2, 1822. The church was burnt down and rebuilt.

It existed throughout Reconstruction and Jim Crow. Booker T. Washington also spoke at the Emanuel AME Church too. During the Jim Crow era, many black people worked in the church to advance civil rights. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Wyatt T. Walker of the SCLC (or the Southern Christian Leadership Conference) spoke at the church to encourage black people to register and vote. In Charleston, there was an epicenter of activism of civil rights activism. One example is that Septima Clark created Citizenship School in South Carolina to advance civil rights, voting rights, education, and human rights in general. Septima Clark was one of the greatest civil rights leaders in history. The Friendship Nine were black people who opposed segregation during the early 1960’s. Also, black women especially marched in Charleston in 1969 to promote economic rights of the striking hospital workers. The workers wanted fair wages and an end to racism plus sexism. Mary Ann Maultree and Coretta Scott King were activists involved in this movement for civil rights and labor rights.

The men and the women, who lost their lives by a murderer, represented outstanding character and excellence in their daily lives. Reverend Sharonada Singleton was a speech therapist at Goose Creek High School in Berkeley County, South Carolina. She helped people constantly and she was the head coach of the girls’ track team. She was a track athlete herself and she coached hurdles and sprints. She was a great person who shown love to her faculty and students. Cynthia Hurd was a regional manager of the St. Andrew’s library, which is part of the Charleston County library system. She always expressed love for God and she served her community. Tywanza Sanders recently graduated from Allen University’s business administration program. He was a barber and he always was committed to education. DePayne Middleton-Doctor was a director of the federal community development block grants. She was involved in installing septic tanks. Reverend Dr. Daniel L. Simmons was a retired pastor. Ethel Lance worked as a 70 year old sexton for over 30 years in the church. She has always worked hard.

Myra Thompson was the vicar of the Holy Trinity REC Church in Charleston. Susie Jackson was 87 years old.  All of these human beings have expressed joy, love, and service to the people. They were some of the most moral people of our generation. They are physically not here, but their spirits remain forever in Paradise. Immediately, rallies and fundraisers by the people of Charleston prove once again shown that the forces of love are always superior than the forces of hate. People held hands in prayer and people were inspired to advance solutions. Another hero who took down the Confederate flag on her own was Bree Newsome. She is a well-known progressive hero who is very intelligent. She graduated from Oakland Mills High School in Columbia, Maryland in 2003. She took down the flag to oppose racism and oppression against black people whether it’s found in America or the Dominican Republic (by her own words). She is a strong black woman and she exposed the colonialist and evil white supremacist Cecil Rhodes too. She was arrested, but her efforts were part of a long struggle that ended in that flag finally coming down from public grounds in South Carolina. The Confederate flag coming down in South Carolina was a blessed day. The events of Charleston make known how far we have to go and how compassionate people can be to stand up against racism and bigotry. As black Americans, we still rise.

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Continued Black Activism

Black Activism is part of our history and culture. We have always stood up for freedom and justice. Our activism is not monolithic either. It is very diverse. There are black pro-green groups who advocate environmental justice and true solutions against pollution. One example of this is that Destiny Watford of Baltimore has made known of the pollution in Curtis Bay, which is a Baltimore neighborhood. That location has a coal disposal facility, a landfill, and other high pollution industrial facilities in close vicinity to a residential neighborhood. She is fighting back against pollution too. Stand UP BMore is a movement of grassroots people trying to promote community organizing and political power that is independent in Baltimore. One man named Joshua Harris in Baltimore has advocated legitimate solutions like participatory budgeting at the community level, land trusts to give community control over development and housing prices, green energy initiatives, and other proposals. There are groups like Assata’s Daughters, Mothers of the Movement, Say Her Name, Black Lives Matter, Hands up Coalition, and other organizations that desire an end to police brutality, the development of black liberation, and the eradication of institutionalized racism. Many of the grassroots activists of Ferguson have inspired a younger generation of people to not only confront police brutality, but to stand up against a racist U.S.A.. national anthem (Colin Kapernick did the right thing to kneel and doing great work in helping society) to defend the human rights of all black people. Johnetta Elize is one young civil rights activist who has involved in Ferguson protests and community activism. Therefore, younger human beings and older human beings are working together in seeking the same prize of justice today.

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Trump is Elected

Black Americans survived Nixon, Reagan, Bush, and other reactionary Presidents. We will survive Trump. Also, it is important to describe the situation that we are in. Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign from the beginning appealed to racism, patriarchy, hypercaptialism, xenophobia, and economic nationalism. Many of his supporters (regardless of what class reductionists and Republicans say) are stone cold racists, sexists, and xenophobes period. Now, it is true that complex reasons existed on why Trump was elected. It is also true that class and economic issues have a large part to play. Neoliberal economic policies damaged large parts of the Rust belt and other Midwestern states. The polices of deindustrialization, multinational corporations causing outsourcing, and the growth of economic inequality damaged the jobs of many black Americans and Americans in general. This economic reality caused many people to vote for Trump. Also, the Democrats have some responsibility on why a bigot was selected as President by the Electoral College too.

Since the year of 1968, the Democratic establishment turned rightward. This is shown by the deregulation policies of Carter, the rise of the DLC in the 1980’s, Bill Clinton’s free market approach on many issues when he was President, and many Democrat’s defense of the Iraq War even (which was one of the worst foreign policy disasters in the 21st century). Therefore, many Democrats refused to honor or respect progressive movements for social change. That is why WikiLeaks exposed how some Democratic leaders refused to respect progressive people. We know how the neoliberal Democratic leaders treated Jesse Jackson with disrespect (though Jesse Jackson wasn’t a socialist, it was still taboo for a strong progressive to try to run for President back then). Hillary Clinton was a victim of massive sexism and that is true. Also, Hillary Clinton’s advocacy of militarism, refusal to advocate universal health care, and public perceptions about the email scandal caused many people to stay home, not for vote for her, or even make the bad mistake to vote for Trump.

Voter participation among the Obama coalition declined in the 2016 election as compared to the 2012 election. That was a key reason why the 2016 election came about. Trump, from the start, promoted a campaign of hate and bigotry. He slandered Mexican undocumented immigrants by calling a large portion of them rapists and drug smugglers. He patronized black people by saying what do you have to lose. He wants the death penalty to the Central Park Five (when they are innocent of any crime). Trump, on tape, bragged about promoting sexual assault against women. He promoted violence against protesters. He supports torture and advocates a border wall around Mexico which is topographically impossible and highly expensive. He promotes tax cuts for the wealthy. He claims to promote an infrastructure plan, but he believes in massive cuts to needed social programs. Donald Trump believes in a travel ban and wants NFL Owners to fire players who kneel during the national anthem (which is wrong). The election of 2016 proved that the rightwing backlash against progressive reforms has not ended. The evil rightwing backlash continues. The vast majority of people who voted for Trump were white people (including white women). The vast majority of black people, Latinos, and Asian people voted against Trump. Black women voted against Trump more so than any other demographic, which shows the brilliance of black women. We live in a new time. Hate crimes have increased against black people, against Muslims, against immigrants, etc. since the election of 2016. Also, during the campaign, courageous protesters opposed the Trump agenda in the streets, in buildings, and in other places of America. Their heroism should be acknowledged. 

Trump’s cabinet is dominated by U.S. military generals, former generals, reactionary extremists, and others. Many people in his cabinet were so extreme that some were forced out (like Gorka and Bannon) because their views are repugnant in any society. Donald Trump has been overt in what he wanted. That is why people have opposed his travel ban plans, his plan to end Obamacare (which was defeated by the Senate), and his pardoning of a convicted criminal Joe Arpaio (who violated the human and civil rights of Latino Americans). His disgraceful comments about the Charlottesville massacre caused many of his supporters to not support him anymore. Trump talking about the police should use brutality against suspects has been condemned by progressive activists and even police groups too. We know what he stands for. Anyone supporting Donald Trump unconditionally right now is a racist or a supporter of racism. There is no middle ground on this point. We believe in freedom and Trump is the antithesis of freedom plus justice. Still, as black people, we still rise. The next, final words on this African American history series will come about in early 2018.

By Timothy

Thanksgiving 2017 Part 3

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African American History Part 7: The Third Era

The Age of Obama (2008- 2017)

One thing about black people is that we are always in involved in historic events. The historic campaign and election of Barack Obama as the first African American President of the United States of America represented a new era of our history. The end of the Bush administration was marred with economic recession, failures from the Iraq War, NSA warrantless wiretapping, the Katrina disaster aftermath, and other problems. Barack Obama spoke to the frustration of black people and others who desired a new way out of a situation caused by far right wing policies. Barack Obama’s gift was his usage of extraordinary intellect, oratory, and charisma to advance story, consensus among different groups, and using structure plus detail to advance his ideas. He was elected with massive support among black people, other people of color, white progressives, the youth, women, college educated people, those who lived in urban areas, first time voters, and other human beings.

Some even promoted the myth that the election of the center-left politician Barack Obama would mean the establishment of a post racial era. Now, we see that to be a myth completely. Barack Obama would represent ironies and paradoxes. Barack Obama, on many occasions, would give middle of the road speeches on race and education (many of which are those that I don't agree with), yet reactionaries would still slander him as a racist and a person who is a socialist. Barack Obama would speak about personal responsibility and family parenting (which conservatives love to hear) involving schools, but that wasn’t good enough for those who viewed him as far left (which he wasn’t). Barack Obama would both execute legitimate policies (like the Lily-Leadbetter Act, the economic compensation to black farmers, the Iranian nuclear deal, normalizing relations among Cuba and America, many reforms in the criminal justice system, etc.) while also executing blatantly bad, neoliberal plus imperial policies (like the Wall Street bailout, the continuation of the NDAA, the massive prosecution of whistleblowers, and the massive drone strikes overseas). He in fact is the representation of the achievements of Black Americans in many areas and how far we have to go in achieving justice and human liberation. One cornerstone of the Obama legacy is his signing the Affordable Care Act, which was a national overhaul of the health care system (filled with legitimate policies and imperfections).

In a sense, how many conservatives view Reagan, many liberals view the same for Obama. Barack Obama is the man who is the paradox of having massive genius intellectually, while we (as black Americans) saw increases of economic inequality, problems of infant mortality, decreases of black Americans wealth during the peak of the Great Recession (as a product of the recession and a fallible capitalist system), and a continued epidemic of police terrorism against black people (especially against poor and working class black people). This is caused by a system which has existed long before Obama was elected, but he is responsible for some of these policies. This reality has been caused by a neoliberal capitalist system that can never solve the problems of poverty and economic exploitation period. Part of the Age of Obama was the inspirational words from First Lady Michelle Obama (she is a black woman with great intelligence and she has heroically advanced the importance of health plus exercise). She told the truth that White House was built by slaves. Michelle Obama is easily the greatest First Lady in history.  The two extreme views (which has been promoted by some) of Obama being nearly perfect (and being immune from any critique as advanced by black bourgeois political figures especially) or Obama being evil incarnate (as advanced by white supremacists especially) must be rejected. We ought to fairly evaluate the Age of Obama as both filled with crisis and filled with a renewed fight among a new generation of social activists for social change. By the end of the Age of Obama, the unemployment rate declined with millions of jobs being created. In terms of LGBT rights, he is the most pro-LGBT President in American history. The Age of Obama did saw the birth of the progressive Black Lives Matter Movement (which I will describe in more detail in the future) and the Occupy Wall Street movement. It saw both the tragedy in Ferguson including in Charleston and it saw more activism by heroes in opposing bigotry, police terrorism, and any injustice. Therefore, we have to look at the Age of Obama in comprehensive terms as a new era of Black America.

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Obama's Election

The campaign of Barack Obama grew after he announced his candidacy on February of 2007. It was a long campaign with social media being heavily involved from Myspace, Facebook, and to the rest of the Internet. He fought against Hillary Clinton and John Edwards during the Democratic primary among other candidates. By the end of June 2007, Barack Obama out-raised then Senator Hillary Clinton for funds with a $31 million haul. Barack Obama’s campaign was based on “hope and change.” He advocated a withdrawal of American troops from the Iraqi territory (by the end of 2008). He was a previous opponent of the Iraq War. Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson, and others ran for President too.  On September 18, 2007, Barack Obama advocated an $80 billion in tax cuts for the middle class while eliminating part of the Bush tax cuts on the super wealthy. Oprah Winfrey publicly supported Barack Obama on December 8, 2007. Massive crowds would hear him speak and almost 30,000 people came to see Oprah and Obama in Columbia, South Carolina. The historic Democratic Iowa caucus had its results. Obama won the Iowa caucus on January 3, 2008. This sent shock waves all over the world. People celebrated. Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire primary. Obama won the South Carolina primary later. The South Carolina primary results caused Bill Clinton to compare Obama’s victories to Jesse Jackson’s campaigns in 1984 and 1988 (and Bill Clinton said that Obama would be making him coffee back then according to the late Edward Kennedy). That comment from Bill Clinton caused rightful anger in the African American community. Barack Obama surged in popularity. First Lady Michelle Obama also spoke throughout the campaign. By February 27, 2008, Georgia Democratic Representative and civil rights hero John Lewis reversed his endorsement from Clinton to Obama. Small donations caused Obama to receive massive support. Axelrod was a great apolitical advisor to him too. There were controversies too. There was the Tony Rezko scandal.

There was the March release of news clips of the sermons of Rev. Jeremiah Wright (who was Obama’s pastor for 20 years) at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Ironically, Wright told the truth on many issues from exposing imperialism, disagreeing with social injustice, and criticizing the overt war crimes of dropping bombs in Hirsohima (plus Nagasaki). Past Jeremiah Wright rightfully abhorred the many evils against black people and Native Americans like slavery and genocide. Yet, it was taboo for anyone to say these comments in public, because courageous black preaching against imperialism has been demonized by the enemies of truth. Jeremiah Wright said “God d___ America.” Barack Obama gave his Philadelphia speech where he denounced Wright’s remarks while saying that black people’s legitimate grievance against racial injustice must be respected. His speech tried to appealed to people’s better natures and it was very conciliatory and moderate. His historic speech on race was called, “A More Perfect Union.” Barack Obama was a genius political figure during the 2008 campaign. Obama talked about some people clinging to guns, religion, and anti-immigrant sentiment. Hillary Clinton criticized this comment, but we know now that many people falsely scapegoat immigrants in explaining why neoliberal policies have caused jobs to be outsourced unfortunately. Debates about Ayers persisted, but he won the Democratic nomination for President among the Democratic Party.

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By June 3, 2008, Barack Obama became victorious to be a Democratic Presidential nominee. His Democratic National Convention speech in 2008 was in Denver. It was powerful and historic. He appealed to black people, working people, and other Americans. He called for energy independence, economic reforms, health care improvement, and other progressive positions. He wanted to end the Iraq War. The Republican candidate John McCain was his political opponent. He debated him in many debates. The Presidential campaign was fierce. Barack Obama equated McCain to the failed policy of the Bush administration. Barack Obama won the election in November of 2008. People cheered. Jesse Jackson cried. Oprah Winfrey celebrated. John McCain gave a very gracious concession speech. Barack Obama gave his victory speech in Grant Park of Chicago, Illinois with his wife and children. He was inaugurated on January 20, 2009 to a large crowd of people. Parades existed and hopes were high for the future of America.

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Political News

During his first 100 days in office, President Barack Obama passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. It promoted emergency assistance. The stimulus law gave 40 percent of the money to tax cuts and credits to individuals and businesses. It wasn’t a direct government jobs program modeled on the 1930’s era Works Progress Administration. The stimulus package stopped a massive plunge into a worse depression. The unemployment rate continued to increase for a while. He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that promoted gender equality involving pay. He promoted an expanded S-CHIP or the State’s Children’s Health Insurance Program. President Barack Obama appointed Sonia Sotomayor (who is the first Latina American on the Supreme Court) and Elan Kagan to the Supreme Court. On October 8, 2009, he signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This is a measure that expanded the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. On October 30, 2009, Obama lifted the ban on travel to the United States by those infected with HIV, which was celebrated by Immigration Equality. He repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in December 22, 2010. On March 11, 2009, Obama created the White House Council on Women and Girls, which forms part of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, having been established by Executive Order 13506 with a broad mandate to advise him on issues relating to the welfare of American women and girls. He continued to expanded military involvement in the Afghanistan war while withdrawing military forces from Iraq involving combat missions. President Barack Obama had discussions about Israel, Russia, and the Muslim world. He gave his historic speech promoting tolerance to the Muslim world in Cairo during his first term, but he executed drones strikes and other militarist policies in the Muslim world. So, political news was definitely part of his administration.

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The Great Recession

The Great Recession harmed the Black American community in such bad ways, that we have not fully recovered from it to this very day. In essence, the Great Recession was caused by many factors not just one. It involved a massive economic decline in many world markets from the late 2000's to the early 2010's. It was the worse global recession since the Great Depression according to the IMF. The causes of the Great Recession related directly to the financial crisis of 2007, and the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis of 2007-2009 too. Under the economy definition of recession (which is about 2 or more consecutive quarters of GDP decline), it lasted from December of 2007 to June or July of 2009. Yet, the African American community suffered economic hurt to this very day. Subprime loan losses in 2007 expanded the economic crisis. Loses continued and Lehman Brothers fell on September 15, 2008. Neoliberal politicians passed bailouts in their minds to save the largest banks from total financial collapse. During the Great Recession, international trade, and commodity prices declined. Unemployment grew and many human beings foreclosed on their housing since they couldn’t afford to pay their mortgage payments. Household debt increased also. The housing bubble nearly tripled the prices of homes and other real-estate from 1999 to 2007. This huge increase was due in part to the uncontrolled credit given by the American banks that engaged in such practices, and which further increased demand in the housing sector. On December 30, 2008, the Case-Shiller home price index reported the largest price drop in its history. Increased foreclosure rates in 2006–2007 among U.S. homeowners led to a crisis in August 2008 for the subprime, collateralized debt obligation, mortgage, credit, hedge fund, and foreign bank markets.

As early as October 2007, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury had called the bursting housing bubble "the most significant risk to our only economy.” Economic inequality further grew. The distribution of household incomes in the United States has become more unequal during the post-2008 economic recovery, a first for the U.S but in line with the trend over the last ten economic recoveries since 1949. Income inequality in the United States has grown from 2005 to 2012 in more than 2 out of 3 metropolitan areas. Median household wealth fell 35% in the US, from $106,591 to $68,839 between 2005 and 2011. The U.S. Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission found that some of the causes were the failures of financial regulation (like the Federal Reserve’s failure to stop the spread of toxic mortgages. Back then, many aspects of the derivatives trading lacked transparency and basic regulatory controls) and the financial firms acting too reckless and taking too much risk. Other factors that caused the Great Recession included the following: excessive borrowing and risk by households and Wall Street that permitted this risky reality, and many policy makers failing to prepare for the crisis. Many conservatives blamed the crisis on the actions of Fannie & Freddie since they were involved in government policy in dealing with much of American housing. Liberals, of course, disagree with that assumption. The capitalist system was filled with risky practices, excessive leverage, and instability that contributed to the recession. African American suffered greatly during this era.

The Economic Policy Institute mentioned that in 2010, black unemployment reached above 10 percent. There was the 2001 recession too (as a result of the dot com bubble). Many black workers suffered discrimination, loss of wealth, and massive economic troubles. Bailouts existed for big Wall Street corporations (when no major Wall Street banker have been convicted of financial malfeasance) while the leadership of both parties refused to bailout state and local governments during the Great Recession (and afterwards because many of them believe in the neoliberal, faulty  philosophies of austerity and free market fundamentalism). During the Great Recession, Black household wealth fell to one-twentieth that of median white households. After debts were subtracted from assets, the median white household was worth a little over $113,000, while Black households could lay claim to only $5,600 in assets. Half of Black households were worse off than that, and about half of those had virtually no family worth at all. Studies have documented racial discrimination against black Americans involving many financial situations. Wall Street oligarchs and their allies received the majority of the economic benefits post-Great Recession. That’s the sad part.

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There has been economic growth since 2009, but that growth has been uneven. The US gained 1.058 million jobs in 2010, 2.083 million in 2011, 2.236 million in 2012, 2.331 million in 2013, and 3.116 in 2014. GDP grew roughly 2.5% in 2010, 1.6% in 2011, 2.3% in 2012, 2.2% in 2013, and 2.4% in 2014. May of 2014 also marked the recovery of all jobs lost during the recession. Over 12.1 million jobs have been created since job losses stopped in February 2010 as of June 2015. However, these new jobs are not equal in pay to those medium-paying jobs lost: roughly 40% are high-paying jobs and 60% are low-paying jobs, further widening the income gap between poor and affluent Americans. Government attempts to reduce deficits via the sequester budget cuts will remain a drag on the economy for as long as the Budget Control Act of 2011 remains in place. I don’t agree with sequester, because of obvious reasons. Economics are complex, so every aspect of an economy can’t be blamed on any President completely. Goods and services spread in the economy while Wall Street banking interests have used hedge funds including derivatives to establish record profits. Only a revolutionary policy can be a real solution. In essence, Americans (and other people worldwide) were victims of an imperfect economic system while the financial oligarchs were heavily involved in exacerbating the Great Recession in the first place. One aspect of the Great Recession was that it has inspired many progressive activists (from Occupy Wall Street to Black Lives Matter) to advance the goal of economic justice.

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Shirley Sherrod

Shirley Sherrod is one of the most heroic black women of our generation. She fought against racial injustice and economic exploitation for decades. On the date of July 19, 2010, Shirley Sherrod was pressured to resign from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (as Georgia State Director). The reason was that she was falsely accused of being racist towards white Americans (in a March 2010 event of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). The speech was about overcoming personal prejudices. She helped out a white farmer in 1986 named Roger Spooner. She, at first, thought that he had a superior attitude towards her (and she recalled the murder of her father in the South back in 1965 in Georgia). Later, they became friends. She said that poverty affected all races of people. Sherrod explained that her father’s murder led her to a decision: “I couldn't just let his death go without doing something in answer to what happened. I made the commitment on the night of my father's death, at the age of 17, that I would not leave the South, that I would stay in the South and devote my life to working for change. And I've been true to that commitment all of these 45 years.” The right wing blogger Andrew Breitbart (who died years ago) took her words out of context and edited them in order for him to lie about Sherrod. In regard to the NAACP, Sherrod told CNN, “The NAACP has not tried to contact me one time … I would have appreciated—when you look at my history of civil rights, I would have appreciated having the NAACP at least contact me …contact me to try to get the truth about what happened…That hurts, because if you look at my history, that's what I'm saying. I've done more to advance the causes of civil rights in this area than some of them who are sitting in those positions now with the NAACP. They need to learn something about me. They need to know about my work. They need to know what I've contributed through the years.” Shirley Sherrod was so disrespected that the Obama administration (which included United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, other White House officials, and NAACP officials) apologized to her. Back in 2010, there has been massive coverage of the incident. The situation further caused more debates about racism in American society. I’m glad that Sherrod filed a defamation lawsuit against Breitbart and co-defendant Larry O’Connor. By 2015, the suit was settled in undisclosed terms. Shirley Sherrod is a heroic black woman and a great human being.

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The 2010 Fair Sentencing Act

Involving black American history, the War on Drugs has harmed so many communities that the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act was passed. For a long time, sentencing disparities have existed among those who use crack cocaine and those who have use powdered cocaine. Also, there are sentences being different among people of different races even if everyone was convicted of the same offense. By the 2010’s, many people from across the political spectrum have called for reforms involving drug policy. People reject the act of massive incarceration as that alone is no solution as families have been ruined as a product of the War on Drugs. The disparities of drug convictions are racist. Even the U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC) found out in a report in 1995 that showed that almost 90 percent of defendants sentenced under crack cocaine rule were black people.  The USSC, hardly a bastion of antiracism, advocated for the elimination of the 100-to-1 rule, issuing four reports over 20 years that concluded there was indisputable racial bias in the disparity between the mandatory minimum sentencing. Their recommendations were ignored by both Republican and Democratic administrations (who wanted to promote the “tough on crime” rhetoric). The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 dropped the disparity to 18 to 1. This new law didn’t apply retroactively. Many federal inmates (who are serving time for past crack cocaine convictions) could apply for reduced prison terms. Yet, inmates with criminal histories or those who possessed or use a gun will not be eligible for sentence reductions. So Telisha Watkins, sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2007, won't be eligible for a reduction because of a prior criminal conviction for drug possession. Her likely release date is 2024. Nor will Derrick Cain, sentenced to 10 years for selling cocaine and possession of a firearm. Derrick's gun was legally registered and wasn't used in connection with cocaine sales, but he'll be in prison until 2017. 

The War on Drugs continues even though we know that prohibition doesn’t work and discrimination exists in the criminal justice system among all levels. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 also eliminated the five-year mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack cocaine, among other provisions. Some progressives wanted the entire act to be retroactive. According to Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, "there is no scientific basis for the disparity and by promoting laws and policies that treat all Americans equally, and by working to amend or end those that do not, we can only increase public confidence in the criminal justice system and help create a safer and healthier nation for us all." The sentencing disparity should be eliminated completely. The 2010 Fair Sentencing Act does not reduce sentences for those prosecuted under state law, and state prosecutions account for a vast majority of incarcerations for drug-related offenses. The law represents the further need to end the War on Drugs once and for all (and implement creative alternatives to help society).

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The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

One of the greatest events of African American history during the 21st century was the opening of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on Washington, D.C. on the date of August 22, 2011. It is found near the National Mall. It is found in 4 acres of land. Lei Yixin was the sculptor who created the Stone of Hope for the granite statue of the Civil Rights leader Dr. King. It existed after long decades of planning, fundraising, and construction. The location is found at the northwest corner of the Tidal Basin near the Franklin Delano Memorial on a sightline linking the Lincoln Memorial to the northwest and the Jefferson Memorial to the southeast. The official address of the monument is 1964 Independence Avenue, S.W. which honors the year when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law. This memorial is the first memorial near or on the National Mall that memorializes an African American. The memorial, which is first to honor an African American in Washington, D.C., is the Mary McLeod Bethune bronze statue. It is administered by the National Park Service. The Vision statement of the King Memorial is very clear on how Dr. King wanted freedom and democracy for all. Harry E. Johnson is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the memorial foundation. The Dr. King Memorial has quotes from King’s speeches and sermons. They are found on the Inscription Wall. SCLC staff photographer Bob Fitch and others were involved in the design and construction of the memorial. The official dedication ceremony took place on October 16, 2011 after much delay because of Hurricane Irene. President Barack Obama gave his speech about how the work for justice is not done, but we are still going forward. He linked the civil rights movement from the past to the 21st century events of the Great Recession. Barack Obama talked about Dr. King’s legacy and the need for economic justice. Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III spoke at the ceremony. Many singers performed like Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, James Taylor, Jennifer Holiday, and Sweet Honey in the Rock.

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Over 10,000 people attended. First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congressman John Lewis, Congressman Elijah Cummings and former Congressman Walter E. Fauntroy were there too.  Now, it is also important to make other points as well. We have to reject the notion that Dr. King wasn’t a great radical, because many people want to sanitize his message and legacy. The truth is that Dr. King was a revolutionary who wanted a redistribution of wealth. He praised democratic socialism and he admitted that many of the civil rights reforms were limited mainly to the black middle class. So, he wanted to use the Poor Peoples Campaign in order to fight against economic injustice. While both major parties (the Democratic and Republican Parties) are in league with the interests of the military industrial complex, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. publicly denounced the Vietnam War and exposed the U.S. for its war crimes in Vietnam.  He also branded the United States government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today” during his Riverside Baptist Church speech in 1967. Dr. King was a pacifist preacher. The former President Barack Obama have been very aggressive in punishing whistleblowers, giving record bailouts to large banks (while not giving equivalent resources to homeowners, workers, and the poor), and maintaining the growth of the military industrial complex. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said the following:  “…I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today – my own government.” So, Dr. King wanted peace in the world.  He spoke out against racism, materialism, and militarism. Therefore, we are in favor of justice, which is about promoting housing, living wages, jobs, and human justice. We certainly need a revolution of values in our public life as Dr. King has eloquently stated.

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Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin’s death was one of the biggest tragedies in American history. He was a young teenager whose life was cut short by a coward named George Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin was killed in Sanford, Florida. Trayvon Martin was trying to return home. Zimmerman stalked him and the police told him not to follow Martin. Yet, he proceeded to do so. He met up with Martin and struggle occurred. Then, Zimmerman used his gun to kill Trayvon Martin. Pressure came in order for authorities to investigate the case. Zimmerman was arrested and a trial commenced. By July 2013, a mostly white jury acquitted Zimmerman. This caused protests nationwide and it inspired the creation of the Black Lives Matter Movement. The Trayvon Martin tragedy makes known of how racism, savage vigilantism, and police brutality continues to exist in our generation. We have to be made aware of the uncomfortable truth that the system of racism/white supremacist was created to harm us and the system must be replaced with a real system of justice. Trayvon Martin’s black life was valuable as any other human life.

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2012 re-election of Obama (and the 2013 inauguration)

The 2012 election or the 57th quadrennial United States Presidential election was the most difficult election of Barack Obama. He worked hard and many of his supporters continued to ally with him. His opposition included Republicans and the new Tea Party movement. The Tea Party movement were made up heavily of right wing conservatives and deficit hawks who believed in the false notion that trickled down economics was a panacea to the end economic problems in America. The 2012 election was about health care, the economy, foreign policy matters, and what would be best for the future. On January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision on Citizens United made the bad decision of allowing corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate election to be unlimited. By November 2010, the Republicans gained control of the House. Many Republican candidates existed like Jon Huntsman Jr., Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty, Thaddeus McCotter, and others. They debated each other on many social and foreign policy issues. Barack Obama was the Democratic candidate and Mitt Romney won the Republican nomination. Paul Ryan was the Republican vice Presidential candidate. The 2012 Republican National Convention was held in Tampa, Florida in August of 2012 while the Democratic National Convention was held in Charlotte, North Carolina in September 2012. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney debated each other 3 times. The first Presidential debate was at University of Denver in Denver, Colorado. The second one was in Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York and the third one was at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. Barack Obama struggled in the first debate and did a much greater job in the last 2 debates.

By late October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy pummels the East Coast. President Barack Obama’s response to the East Coast was praised by Democrats and Republicans. Barack Obama won the election and he was re-elected as President with 51% of the vote. Most African Americans voted for his re-election too. The second inauguration of Barack Obama happened in January of 2013. This was the time of the 150th Year Anniversary of the Lincoln Emancipation Proclamation and the  completion of the Capitol dome in 1863. During the public inauguration on January 21, 2013, the invocation was expressed by Myrlie Evers-Williams, who is the widow of the civil rights leader Medgar Evers. Barack Obama spoke about human rights, climate change, immigration reform, and gun control. About 1 million people came into the inauguration. Later, there was a performance of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. Vice President elect Biden took his oath from Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor. After completing his oath of office as the Vice President, Biden received in his honor the first playing of four ruffles and flourishes and the march "Hail, Columbia" by members of the armed forces. This was followed by a performance of "America the Beautiful" by James Taylor. 

After the performance of "America the Beautiful", Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office to President elect Obama. The Obama family marched in a parade and was part of a National prayer service. The Obama couple danced in many inauguration balls too. President Barack Obama’s 2nd inauguration address was historic since it was an embrace of many causes, especially on social issues. It was his expression of what he wanted to do and why he wanted to do it. He eloquently showed the linkages of many social movements and why it is important to promote equal rights for all. After the inauguration, President Barack Obama will make more decisions that affected Black Americans forever.

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The Supreme Court's gutting of the Voting Rights Act on June 25, 2013

That date of June 25, 2013 was a date of infamy. It’s a date that I will remember for the rest of my life. This is a milestone of the attack on the courage and sacrifice of activists who caused the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to exist in the first place. The people who protested in Selma for voting rights were of many races. Many were poor, many were working class, some were clergymen, some were clergywomen, and they continued to fight. This act of a wrong judicial decision is an attack of democratic rights. The margin of victory was 5-4. Yes, Clarence Thomas was in favor of the gutting of part of the Voting Rights Act too. Chief Justice John Roberts defended the decision. Even Anthony Kennedy supported the evil decision. The law gutted Section 4, which tried to prevent voting discrimination in various states of the Union. Even today in the 21st century, there are countless pieces of evidence of racially motivated discrimination involving voting from the efforts to purge of the rolls of black voters, the redrawing of electoral boundaries, and the Voter ID laws which limit the times and types of ID used to vote. Shelby County v. Holder has gone down in history as one of the most disgraceful decisions of the Supreme Court. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act required Alaska and eight southern states, plus parts of seven other states, to pre-clear (or get federal government approval from the Department of Justice and show that they don’t have a discriminatory purpose or effect) any changes in voting procedures with the federal government. To their credits, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the ACLU have expressed dissent with the decision. Voting rights continue to be under attack. Social activists in North Carolina especially have opposed the Voting ID law in that state. According to the Sentencing Project, "1 of every 13 African Americans of voting age is disenfranchised, a rate more than four times greater than non-African Americans. Nearly 7.7 percent of the adult African American population is disenfranchised compared to 1.8 percent of the non-African American population." Nineteen states passed more than 24 measures in 2011 and 2012 that make it harder to vote--"the biggest rollback in voting rights since the Jim Crow era," according to the Brennan Center's Myrna Pérez and Lucy Zhou, writing in the Christian Science Monitor. The 19 states are all over the country, including New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. This is a national problem not just a Southern problem. Black Americans continue to fight for voting rights to this very day.

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Black Cabinet members (during the Obama years)

There were many African Americans in the Cabinet of the Obama administration from 2009 to 2017. Eric Holder was the first black Attorney General in American history. The first black woman Attorney General was Loretta Lynch. Both human beings were superbly qualified and dealt with a diversity of issues from legal cases to issues of police brutality (including the criminal justice system). Jeff Johnson was the first black Secretary of Homeland Security in history. John King Jr. was the Secretary of Education. Anthony Foxx was the Secretary of Transportation. Valerie Jarrett was a key advisor in the Obama administration. She has been a long supporter of the Obama family and a businesswoman. She was Assistant to the President for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs. Susan Rice was Obama’s National Security Advisor. Her expertise dealt with the complexities of foreign policy affairs. Deesha Dyer was the Special Assistant to the President and Social Secretary.  Ashley Allison was the Deputy Director of the Office of Public Engagement. Ashley Etienne was the Special Assistant to President and Cabinet Communications Director.

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African American music and culture of the 2010's

African American music and culture during the 2010’s represented new music, diverse culture, and creative expressions of the diversity of the black experience. During this decade of the 2010’s, indie pop grew. Also, instruments like banjos, ukulele, and other instruments were common. Experimental music had a comeback and hip hop music further evolved with experimentation and the new genre of mumble rap. Electronica were used heavily during the early 2010’s. Gospel music continued to be popular and youth gospel musicians have shown their gifts to the world. By January of 2010, Teddy Pendergrass (who was a R&B soul legend) passed away at the age of 59. Many artists (on January 22, 2010) from Wyclef Jean to Mary J. Blige are involved in the Hope for Haiti Now telethon, which dealt with helping people who suffered from the Haitian earthquake.  Hope for Haiti Now becomes the first digital-only album to top Billboard 200 albums chart and the largest pre-order album on iTunes until broken in 2012 by Madonna's album MDNA. The January 31, 2010 52nd Annual Grammy Awards took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.  Beyoncé broke a record winning 6 Grammys in one night including Song of The Year for "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” It was announced that within 6 months after the death of Michael Jackson sales increased 75% sold in just 6 months 57.5 million records. Beyoncé played at a sold out crowd of 60,000 people in São Paulo, Brazil at Morumbi Stadium. A lot of Beyonce's songs were soundtracks of women empowerment. By February 12, 2010, there was the remake of the 1985 song "We Are the World" for victims of the earthquake debuts during the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics. On March 18, 2010, Rihanna’s “Rude Boy" reaches No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming her sixth no. 1. This tied her fifth among females to reach no. 1 in the US. Also, it made her the female with the most no. 1 singles since 2000. On May 2010, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony released their reunion album with all original five members entitled Uni5: The World's Enemy. 

Macy Gray (on June 2010) released The Sellout to critical acclaim. It is her first studio album in over three years. Drake continued to perform music. On November 22, 2010, Kanye West releases his fifth studio album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which becomes the best-reviewed album of the year, according to Metacritic. The 53rd Grammy Awards happen on December 1, 2010. Many artists were nominated and won. 2011 comes about and new music exists. By March of 2011, Chris Brown topped the charts for the first time ever after the release of his fourth studio album F.A.M.E. I don’t agree with Chris Brown on many issues, so I want to make that clear. On August 8, 2011, Jay Z and Kanye West released their anticipated collaborated album called, “Watch the Throne.” On January 20, 2012, Etta James died of leukemia at the age of 73. During the Super Bowl XLVI, Nicki Minaj, Cee Lo Green, and other artists perform at its halftime show. The twelve-minute performance becomes the most watched television event of all time, gathering a record 118 million viewers, six more than the game itself.

On February 11, 2012, the iconic singer Whitney Houston passed away at the age of 48 in her Los Angeles hotel room. This was hours before a pre-Grammy party hosted by Clive Davis. She suffered heart diseases and a drowning. Whitney Houston was a legend and I felt shocked when she passed.  Sales of her albums spike, and "I Will Always Love You" re-enters the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100. On the February 12 Grammys, Kanye West won 4 Grammy awards. Donna Summer passed away in May 17, 2012 at the age of 63. On June 29, 2012, Chris Brown goes to number 1 on the charts a second time after the release of his fifth studio album Fortune. This was the year when Snoop Dogg changed his name to Snoop Lion. On November 19, 2012, Rihanna released her new album Unapologetic scoring her first #1 album on the US charts. In January 2013, Jay Z tours. Alicia Keys sang the National Anthem and Beyoncé performed during the Super bowl XLVII halftime show on February 3, 2013. On June of 2013, Kanye West released his sixth studio album (filled with controversy and unique sounds) called Yeezus.

By December of 2013, one of Beyoncé’s most acclaimed albums and her surprise fifth studio album was called Beyoncé. It is a visual album and it has 14 songs and an accompanying music video for each song. The album debuts at #1 based on 3 days of digital sales, maybe Beyoncé the first female artist, and second artist overall to debut at the top spot with her first five studio efforts. The album of Beyoncé shows anthems of women empowerment, sexuality, and many diverse issues. It includes contemporary R&B with electronic and soul music. On January 26, 2014, the 56th Annual Grammy Awards existed. It was located in Staples Center in Los Angeles. By May 13, 2014, Michael Jackson released his second posthumous album of previously unreleased songs. The album is called Xscape. On August 24, 2014, there was the 31st Annual MTV Video Music Awards take place in Inglewood, California. Beyoncé won 4 awards that night and also received the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, presented to her by her husband Jay Z and her daughter Blue Ivy following her 16-minute performance to close the show. TLC releases their first single in nine years called "Gift Wrapped Kiss" (on December 15, 2014). On October 2, 2015, Janet Jackson releases Unbreakable her first album since 2008's Discipline to widespread critical acclaim. The album goes on to top the Billboard 200 chart. In 2015, Kendrick Lamar grows in popularity with his lyricism and diverse messages in his songs. On January 11, 2016, Ciara performed the National Anthem at the second College Football Playoff Championship. On January 28, 2016,  Rihanna released her eighth studio album Anti. Two days following its release, the album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) after receiving 1 million free downloads in 15 hours due to a deal with Samsung. This was the fastest certified platinum album in history. Beyoncé performs in the halftime show of the Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, California on February of 2016. Beyoncé pays homage to the Black Panthers, BLM, and pro-black movements in general with her performance. Kanye West released his seventh studio album, The Life of Pablo, as a Tidal exclusive. After a couple of months being exclusive to the streaming service it was made available for purchase in an updated format (on February 14, 2016).

The 58th Annual Grammy Awards took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 15, 2016. Lamar won the most awards of the night with five. On March 5, 2016, Rihanna's single "Work" became the first dancehall song to top the Billboard Hot 100 since Sean Paul's "Temperature" in 2006. La’Porsha Renae continues to do music from 2016 to the present. Prince passed away on April 21, 2016. It was a shock. He won the Grammy Awards seven times. He could sing, play instruments, and dance. He passed away in his recording studio in Minnesota.

On April 23, 2016, Beyoncé premiered her sixth studio album Lemonade on HBO with an hour-long film. The album was released on Tidal, where it remained exclusively available to stream for 24 hours, until it was uploaded to all formats, including iTunes. Upon the album debuting at number-one on the Billboard 200 chart, Beyoncé became the first act in Billboard history to have their first six albums debut at number one. I saw the whole Lemonade film on HBO for free. It was very creative, innovative, and showed the diverse experiences of black women in general. Lemonade is her signature album and it will be analyzed for generations. On September 30, 2016, Solange released her critical acclaim album “A Seat at the Table. “ It was unapologetic in promoting Blackness, women empowerment, mental health awareness, and self-determination. It showed her showing emotion, joy, love, and anger at injustice. “Cranes in the Sky” is one song that was honest in showing feeling. Other songs like 'F.U.B.U.,' 'Mad,' 'Don't Touch My Hair' outline the truth that a black woman’s autonomy, wisdom, and passion for change must always be honored and respected. On November 11, 2016, A Tribe Called Quest released We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service, their first studio album since 1998 and also their final studio album. In 2017, artists continued to perform and innovative involving music. On January of 2017, Bell Biv DeVoe released their first album in sixteen years, Three Stripes. On February 12, 2017, the 59th Annual Grammy Awards took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.  Chance the Rapper became the first ever unsigned artist to win a Grammy. The awards he won are Best New Artist, Best Rap Performance, and Best Rap Album. On March 5, 2017, the iHeartRadio Music Awards took place at the Forum in Inglewood, California. Chrisette Michelle, Jill Scott, Tamia, Deborah Cox, Coco, Ledisi, and other artists are amazing singers of the 21st century.

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Also, African American culture became more diverse and interesting during the decade of the 2010’s. In 2010, For Colored Girls was released about the pain, adversity, and triumphs of black American women. The movie Night Catches Us is about a drama dealing with 1970’s Philadelphia (involving the Panthers, love, and decisions to make).  The film was directed and written by Tanya Hamilton and stars Kerry Washington, Anthony Mackie, Jamie Hector, Wendell Pierce and Novella Nelson. The Walking Dead premiered in 2010 on AMC. In 2011, movies like Pariah, The Help, etc. came out. These films deal with romance, sexuality, the civil rights movement, and courage. Also, the Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 came out in 2011 too. I have watched the film and the documentary gives an eye opening look at the Black Power movement.  Gina Torres is a well-known actress of Suits which started in 2011. In 2012, Red Tails, and Men in Black 3 came out. Middle of Nowhere is a 2012 independent feature film written and directed by Ava DuVernay (who is a great director and a conscious black woman) and starring Emayatzy Corinealdi, David Oyelowo, Omari Hardwick and Lorraine Toussaint. The film was the winner of the Directing Award for U.S. Dramatic Film at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The movie is about a Registered Nurse must come to terms with her husband receiving an eight-year prison sentence. Ava Duvernary wanted to show the turmoil many women go through when their lovers are incarcerated. She also wanted to show love among black people, which is very important. Scandal came about in 2012 and its stars Kerry Washington.

2013 was a monumental years of black movies without question. This year had 12 Years a Slave, Fruitvale Station, the Butler, 42 (or the story of Jackie Robinson, which I have seen before), The New Black documentary, Black Nativity (which has an ensemble cast of black people telling the story about ta family trying to survive in a cruel world and it shows the real value of family and togetherness), etc. Orange is the New Black has African American people in it from Uzo Aduba, Lorraine Toussaint, Samira Wiley, Vicky Jeudy, Laverne Cox, Danielle Brooks, etc. It is a series on Netflix about the experiences of women in prison. In 2014, Dear White People, Selma, Annie, Black Coffee, and other films came out. In 2014, How to Get Away with Murder and Gotham premiered. By September 24, 2014, the critically acclaimed show Black-ish was released. It has an ensemble cast of black people like Anthony Anderson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Yara Shahidi, Marcus Scribner, Miles Brown, Jenifer Lewis, Laurence Fishburne, and other people. The comedy is about an upper middle class African American family who navigates the complex world of American society. The show tackles issues of race, culture, school, class, sex, police brutality, etc. One episode talked about the Black Lives Matter in emotional, important terms too. The show has received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for Tracee Ellis Ross, Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series, and a TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Comedy. Black came out in 2015 including the Black Panther documentary from Stanley Nelson. Rosewood came out in 2015. It is about doctors in Miami, Florida. Empire on FOX was released in 2015. In 2016, Fences, Moonlight, and Fifty Shades of Black (which is a comedy) were released in 2016.

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These human beings are in an Afropunk festival. 

On September 26, 2016, the HBO TV series Insecure was released. It stars actress Issa Rae. It is about the experiences of a black woman in post-modern American society. It was created by Issa Rae and Larry Wilmore. Raphael Saadiq created original music for the first season. Solange Knowles served as music consultant; she was introduced to Rae by Matsoukas, who directed the music video for Knowles's song "Losing You.” Other actors and actresses on the series include Jay Ellis, Yvonne Orji, Lisa Joyce, Natasha Rothwell, Amanda Seales, Y’lan Noel, and other people.  On September 2016, the Netflix action series Luke Cage (relating to Marvel) was released. It stars Mike Colter as Luke Cage, who fights crime in Harlem, NYC with his superpowers. Other people in Luke Cage include Alfre Woodard, Rosario Dawson, Mahershala Ali, Simone Missck, Mustafa Shakir, Gabrielle Dennis, etc. Atlanta, the TV series was released in 2016. The 2010’s saw the continuation of reality TV shows. Many of them show some of the most anti-black stereotypes around. 
In 2017, BET released new shows like Rebel (which is about a black woman private investigator, once Oakland police officer, fighting police brutality while trying to find the killer of her brother) and the Quad (about HBCUs in the modern generation of the 2010's). BET also shown the movie Madiba, which was a film about the life story of the heroic legend Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela was played by Laurence Fishburne. Actress Danielle Moné Truitt was cast as lead character, while Giancarlo Esposito, Mykelti Williamson, Method Man, and Brandon Quinn also were cast as series regulars in Rebel. In July of 2017, Snowfall premiered in FX. It is a show about the crack epidemic, drug dealers, the CIA, and Southern California. In 2017, the documentary about the role of HBCUs involved in the Civil Rights and racial equality movements was finished. It is called, “Tell Them We are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities.” Many of my relatives graduated from HBCUs, so this documentary is very personal with me. The filmmakers include an all-star cast of directors and producers like: Stanley Nelson (producer and director), Maroc Williams (co-producer and co-director), Stacey L. Holman (producer), and Cyndee Readdean (a producer).

By Timothy