Friday, September 23, 2005

I have been a bit spacey the past few days.
Today I brought some old photographs that I retrieved from my aunts house into my classroom and had my students write about them and try and determine what they thought they could tell about the people and the situations in them. I also took the photographs of my great-great grandmother and her family for them to look at as well. It was an interesting class period and I think we had a great class discussion and experiment.
Lafayette is so heteronormative.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

I used to be entirely jealous of my sister because Aunt Bertie( my favorite aunt) was her godmother and also because when she was a little girl my grandmother took her everywhere--The Bahamas, Martinique other places--and she got to sit on the boat and eat omeletes all day. When I came along, I got to go to Alpine Bay where my grandmother had a condo--I used to be quite irked by it.;-) I guess I got my due when I got to go to England. Ah well, I just wanted to write that. Reflections about my childhood self.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

This from Hungry Blues

This article from Hungry Blues is a reminder of the grim and gruesome legacy that was left over from the Civil Rights movement. People were killed and came up missing all for securing the right to vote. This is an important issue and there needs to be justice for the hundreds and thousands who died, were killed, maimed, or harrassed by whites in the south in the heat of the Civil Rights Movement.

Author Applauds New Possibilities for Solving Civil Rights "Cold Cases"
Regarding this news, Susan Klopfer has put out this press release:

September 17, 2005 -- Sixties voting rights advocate Birdia Keglar was murdered by Ku Klux Klansmen on her way home to Charleston, Mississippi after meeting with Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in Jackson.

Keglar's January 11, 1966 death and the murders of her best friend and then her youngest son have never been resolved or even investigated by law enforcement agencies - local, state or federal.

Susan Orr-Klopfer, author of a new book on civil rights in the Mississippi Delta, believes these three "cold case" murders should get the immediate attention of a new Unsolved Crimes Section of the Justice Department.

Under a measure approved Thursday by the U.S. Senate, the new office would target such pre-1970 racially motivated homicides that remain unsolved because of lax state and federal prosecution at the time they occurred.

The bill was inspired by recent efforts to reopen the case of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American youngster who was murdered in 1955 while visiting relatives in the Delta.

"Young Till’s crime was whistling at a white woman while inside a small grocery store. For this, he was lynched and the men who admitted committing the crime went free.

"Birdia Keglar’s crime, 11 years later, was to advocate for voting rights. She and her friend Adlena Hamlett were driving home from Jackson after meeting with Senator Robert F. Kennedy to talk over civil rights issues. But their car was stopped in a small Delta town where they were kidnapped, tortured and murdered by Klansmen.

"Very likely, the Klansmen who killed Keglar and Hamlett were also highway patrolmen. Both women’s bodies were mutilated – both were decapitated and Hamlett’s arms were cleanly severed from her body," Klopfer said.

"Their deaths were attributed to a car wreck by officials. But the car disappeared along with Keglar’s briefcase and witnesses were threatened with murder if they did not remain quiet."

Three months later, after Keglar’s youngest son went to Washington D.C. trying to learn what happened to his mother, he was murdered.

"James Keglar was knocked unconscious and burned alive in his house. This happened hours after he was released from a Clarksdale, Mississippi jail on a bogus charge. He was expecting help from the FBI but it never came, according to his brother."

Klopfer’s book, "Where Rebels Roost, Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited," details these Mississippi Delta murders and dozens of others, including the lynching of young Till.

The book contains newly discovered information on several other Mississippi civil rights murders including "strong evidence that civil rights leader Medgar Evers was not murdered by Byron de la Beckwith who was finally convicted for the crime, but by a friend of Beckwith’s, another member of the Klan who was Beckwith’s superior," Klopfer said.

Klopfer lived in the Mississippi Delta in employee housing on the prison grounds of Parchman Penitentiary for two years while she researched and wrote her 680-page book that contains over 1,400 footnotes as well as names and information regarding nearly 1,000 black people who were lynched in the state – "a small representation of the racial murders and lynching that have taken place in Mississippi," Klopfer said.

Senator Jim Talent, R-Mo., sponsored Thursday’s legislation with Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn. The Senate voted by unanimous consent to add the measure to an appropriations bill that is expected to pass the Senate this week, according to Associated Press reports. The bill was introduced by Talent and Dodd in July after a Mississippi court sentenced former Klansman Edgar Ray Killen to 60 years in jail for the murders of three civil rights workers in 1964.

"There are 13 Klansmen mentioned in the book who are known to the FBI and still living in Mississippi who helped murder Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Robert Goodman. Yet no one has been prosecuted except for Preacher Killen who was not at the murder scene. Maybe some progress will finally come about because of this Senate bill," Klopfer said.

Klopfer said she feels closest to the Keglar and Hamlett murders, however. "These were two older, established Mississippi black women – Adlena Hamlett was 77-years-old and was a well-respected teacher for many years.

"Birdia Keglar was a business woman who was trying to start a local chapter of the NAACP. She was the first black person in her county to vote since Reconstruction following the Civil War. She was earlier represented in federal court by John Doar of the U.S. Department of Justice and was Doar’s first voting rights test case when he came into Mississippi after the election of President John F. Kennedy."

One of Adlena Hamlett’s granddaughters in August told Klopfer about going with Hamlett to the courthouse square as a child to request a ballot.

"Nina Zachery said the clerk tore up the ballot and ordered their departure. But Zachery’s grandmother said not to worry because she – Nina – would be able to vote one day, and that was all that mattered. Hamlett and Keglar were later hanged in effigy at the Tallahatchie Courthuse and were strongly warned by Klansmen to stop their voting rights activities."

Klopfer is the first journalist to write about Keglar and Hamlett. "I learned about this story from a nurse at Parchman whose wife was a relative of Mrs. Keglar. Very little was known about them and it took the entire two years to piece this story together – it was very complicated with numerous entanglements that reached from the Delta to Washington, D.C."

Klopfer also asserts it was significant that Sen. Edward Kennedy led off the questioning of Chief Justice nominee John Roberts on his Senate confirmation hearing this past week.

"Sen. Kennedy reminded Roberts that people died for the right to vote. Sen. Kennedy is concerned about reauthorization of the 1965 Voting Rights Act – and opposition to equal voting rights and other civil rights supplied the motives for all of the murders listed in this book."

Klopfer left Mississippi at the end of August and said she added newly discovered information to the book even as she was packing to leave.
Something has been messing up with my blog the past few days so I haven't been posting. However, I wanted to post about something that I thought about today. I had a discussion with someone concerning the nature of patriarchy---and especially as concerns race--with the effort to keep the "legitimate" children from the "illegitimate" ones. Well, I thought about my family and came to the realization that my family--as indeed I think many Black families are-- is wholly unpatriarchal. Our family has always encouraged and taught, especially my great grandmother and father, that it didnt matter illegitimate or legitimate, half or whole, blood was blood and relations were relations, and all people--even without blood, were welcomed into the family and treated as kin. I think this says something about the nature of the game as far as patriarchy and those that exist outside of that paradigm and operate in a more humane and community-oriented way. I think there should be more critical study and scrutiny of patriarchy and the ways that it plays to and informs society. I think especially warranting is taking a look at Betty Reardon's Anti-Patriarchy project.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

All of the enthusiasm that I have heard surrounding the upcoming protest in DC has made me hyped as well. I am looking forward to it. I hope there is a great crowd and I hope the energy is good!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

I soo have to agree with Cindy Lauper. Brittany Spears is the figment of a forty year old male imagination.
I believe there should be a new movement afoot to bring charges against the United States before the World Court for crimes against humanity.

This from Hungry Blues

A Note On Genocide
Got this in my inbox from Bill Mandel (links added):

Over half a century ago, in 1951, I traveled the country publicizing and selling "WE CHARGE GENOCIDE," a book-length petition to the United Nations compiled under the direction of William L. Patterson of the Civil Rights Congress.

I write in my autobiography that he "occupies the chronological space between W.E.B. DuBois," who I also had the honor to know, "and Martin Luther King as leader of the struggle for civil rights. Patterson is forgotten because he was a Communist to the end of his days. He was impressed by the way I conducted myself in the South during the Martinsville Case, and asked me to promote the book to Black leadership, where his name was then an open sesame" because he had organized the successful decades-long battle to save the Scottsboro Nine from death, "and to such whites as could be reached, primarily people in those Left-led labor unions that had not yet been smashed.

"Americans had been brainwashed into believing that genocide means only mass murder. In fact, the UN Genocide Convention reads: 'In the present Convention, genocide means ANY of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole OR IN PART, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) killing MEMBERS of the group, (b) causing serious bodily or MENTAL harm to MEMBERS of the group; (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole OR IN PART; (d) imposing measures intended to prevent BIRTHS within the group; (e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group", as in Australia. [emphasis added by Bill Mandel].

"Every time a cop kills a Black when he would not kill a white, that is genocide: killing MEMBERS of a group. For that reason, the U.S. Senate, led by Southern die-hards, refused to ratify the Genocide Convention for nearly forty years. The American Bar Association was a major ally, saying frankly that indictments could be brought within the United States if it were ratified. Now ratified, it is part of the law of this country."