Saturday, March 25, 2006

From bell hooks:Rock My Soul: Black People and Self Esteem

Publication of slave narratives, the development of the Black press, indicated to anyone witnessing the transition from slavery to freedom that Black folks needed to be independent thinkers, that they could not rely on the world that had subjugated, exploited,and oppressed them to interpret their reality.

What I Am Thinking: A Revelation

Black People need to learn to value and make use of critical thinking. I am now figuring out why I have long been so drawn to Jewish culture and the Jewish tradition of torah and Kabbala--They have long practiced resistance--and maintained--for a very long time, I am not sure what is happening now--their integrity in the face of adversity through the use of critical thinking. Lesson to Black people. To All people of color. And to everyone: QUESTION EVERYTHING!

Friday, March 24, 2006

What I'm Thinking

I had such a great environment growing up. Even on television there were great things that promoted great values, like Sesame Street and Mr. Roger's neighborhood. These shows are still shown,and are still greatly progressive, but the noise that capitalism is making is overpowering their effect.

Partial Lyrics From a Song I Would Like to Find

"is it well with your soul, are you free and made whole?"

In Profile: Archie B. DeRamus

Archie Bracy Deramus was the eigth and youngest child of John Archie and Sadie Mae Goodson Deramus. He was my mother's favorite uncle,they were more like Big brother and little sister. Born in 1931, Archie was the baby of the DeRamus clan. He was always a sickly child and suffered from polio, which left him severely weakened as he grew up into adulthood. I remember my uncle as a very slim, sort of tall(but he wasn't really, he just seemed tall to me), dark-skinned black man with s;eek gray hair. My mother told me that he went completely grey in his twenties. Archie Deramus was apparently a whiz-kid, he knew how to ace any multiple choice test you could give him, especially with a.b.c choices, and he also--like Aunt Bertie and Uncle Lawrence, skipped a few grades. Uncle Archie spent twenty years in school and recieved seven different degrees in fields varying from Biology to Social Work. He started off as a teacher and by the time I came along, was a social worker. He pulled my mother into the profession.

My mother loved Archie harder than I think she loved anything else in the whole world. When he got sick, she took care of him and worked hard to help him live. He died in 1987. I remember Uncle Archie as firstly smelling like cigarettes and then later, in his sickness, of smelling of sickness. Now that I think of my uncle during that time period, I can remember and think of the things that went on then. My Uncle had apparently had a falling out with some of his sisters and when he got very ill, they didn't do anything at all to help him. My mother would go over to his house every day and cook for him, bathe him, help him get dressed--and if he were going--to go to work. My Uncle's wife, Aunt Carolyn, apparently wasn't much of a help either. I know that there were two people in this world that loved Archie Deramus very very hard, and that was my mother and Uncle Lawrence. When he died, my mother spent years grieving over him. His name could not be mentioned without her breaking down into tears. I think his death caused a great rift between my mother and her aunts. He and Uncle Lawrence grew up very close, were running partners, intellectual sparring partners, and respected and loved each other immensely. Uncle Lawrence also grieved for Uncle Archie a long time. I wasn't there to witness that however.

I remember my uncle as a man with a beautiful spirit. He always doted on my sister, my mother says that when she was born he wanted to adopt her(he had step-children, but none of his own). I always enjoyed going over to his house, but really and truly hated going their for holidays. It never failed that my sister and my cousins would turn on Thriller and I would have to leave the room, even though I was too frightened to do so. He and Aunt Carolyn lived very well, but I dont know how much they got along. They stayed married though. I remember very well the night Aunt Carolyn called my mother frantically telling her to come over to their house--quick--that Uncle Archie had gone crazy, that he had shot the dog. My mother says she got over there to see was was wrong and she found Archie sitting in the basement by himself. My mother went down in the basement to talk to him, followed by Aunt Carolyn. My mother says she asked him "Archie, whats the matter, why did you shoot the dog?" My mother said he told her, "The bitch wouldn't keep her damned mouth shut." My mother said she looked at Uncle Archie and she looked at Aunt Carolyn, put her coat back on and went home. Archie DeRamus was nothing to play with.
Although I knew my uncle, I didn't him as well as my mother or my sister did. I did feel his presence though, and I knew him well enough to remember many things about him--I was seven when he died. I hope his spirit is resting well.

Calling for Rumsfeld's Resignation

Please join forces with other progressive voices in calling for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation as Secretary of Defense. Call your congressional representatives at their local and D.C. offices and urge them to force this issue in the Capital.You can find the contact information for your representatives here.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Praise for One Tenacious Baby Mama

DarkDaughta definitely has one of the best, spiciest blogs that I have seen out there. Kudos to her and I encourage everyone to visit her site.

Stop the Canadian Military and Police Forces from Encroaching on Mohawk Land.

I am forwarding the below call to support the Mohawk Nation. The authors ask that people forward it by email or post it to their websites.


March 2006

The Coalition in Support of Indigenous Sovereignty - Native Caucus is asking that you take some time to phone, email or fax the authorities below to register your objection to a potential incursion onto Mohawk Territories this spring and at any other time.

This request comes as a result of warnings by community leaders in Akwesasne, Kahnawake, Kanehsatake and Tyendinega who are preparing for a joint Canadian Forces/RCMP raid on April 1, the latest in a series of actions designed to destroy the Mohawk tobacco trade.

Our position on this issue is as follows:

In 1876 the Indian Act imposed the band council system of government on the indigenous people of Turtle Island (North America). Among other things, this law:

1) Deposed already existing leadership to establish band councils and the areas over which they had jurisdiction. The Indian Act was passed without consultation with any indigenous leader, usurped the treaty process (nation to nation agreements) and made First Nations governments null and void, despite the fact that these governments had served our ancestors for millennia before Europeans arrived on Turtle Island. This is akin to the US government passing a law that disbanded the current Canadian government, determined what type of government Canada must have and designated the limitations of its power.

2) Made First Nations Communities economically dependent on Ottawa. The federal government controls the only sources of revenue for social programs, economic development projects or job creation in FN communities. Ottawa determines through a variety of legal and financing mechanisms what band councils can and cannot do for their communities. Even the process of pursuing a land claim is legislated by Ottawa, funded (or not) by Ottawa and decided ultimately in Canadian courts. Land usage on FN territories is determined by Ottawa. There are many examples in history when the federal government leased or sold First Nations lands or resources and consequently reaped huge profits that did not accrue to the community. Clearly, the poverty that exists in First Nations communities is, and always has been, by Ottawa's design.

3) Blatantly discriminated against women by recognizing Native descent through the male line so that First Nations citizenship rights for women were recognized only through their father's lineage and husband's status, and by prohibiting them from voting or running for office in band elections. This was a complete contradiction to traditional First Nations practices, in which descent for many communities was reckoned along the female line, and where women had significant authorities in political, economic and social life. While there were many nations and many practices, it is safe to generalize and say that women held positions of leadership directly and/or appointed male leaders and held them accountable. This was completely overturned by the Indian Act.

Although women now have the right to vote and run for band office, almost a century of being excluded from political, economic and social decision-making has left First Nations women on and off reserve in very vulnerable situations. Women are among the poorest in First Nations communities. They have been targeted through various amendments to the Indian Act and thousands were stripped of their status along with their homes, benefits and any treaty rights they may have had. The hundreds of women who are missing from our communities, dead and murdered, is a direct result of a deliberate and calculated attack on the rights and authorities of First Nations women by the Canadian government.

4) Determined who could call themselves an "Indian" and live in First Nations communities. The Indian Act established an Indian registry and with subsequent amendments there has emerged a complex set of legal categories (status & non-status Indians, Treaty Indians, Bill C-31 Indians, etc.) designed to divide and disempower First Nations families and communities. Non-status Indians are those who are not recognized by Ottawa as First Nations. They cannot live in their communities, do not enjoy benefits or treaty rights and are not permitted to participate in band council elections. Again, this is akin to the US determining who could be a Canadian and who could not, as well as who could live here and vote in Canadian elections.

Initially through the use of Indian agents with sweeping powers and more recently through purse strings, Ottawa has controlled band councils, band chiefs and the Assembly of First Nations. Whether this current control is perceived of as friendly or hostile is irrelevant and sidesteps the basic assumption that First Nations people are children who cannot manage their own affairs. To recognize that some band councils, their chiefs and police are sincerely interested in serving their communities while others are corrupt may be true but fails to recognize that the band council system is itself inherently corrupt, paternalistic and racist.

The Indian Act was and is an instrument of genocide. Likewise, the system of reserves, band councils and taxes are all tools of genocide. At best, the levying of taxes by Canada or the provinces on commercial activities within and among First Nations communities is an infringement of sovereignty as well as a violation of the treaties that exist, not to mention the inherent rights of First Nations people.

This is particularly objectionable when the levying of taxes applies to transactions involving tobacco. It was First Nations people who developed, cultivated and cared for tobacco plants. Our ancestors were the first to understand and benefit from the use of tobacco in ceremony (even in times when our ceremonies were illegal). Canada now assumes it has a right to control the tobacco trade, which is consistent with its assumption that it has a right to control the lives of First Nations people. Now that tobacco is being used to generate income and sustain First Nations-owned businesses (an anti-genocidal activity), Ottawa wants to step in and crush the initiative.

We reject the portrayal of Mohawk communities as divided between the minions of organized crime and law-abiding citizens. Mainstream media and Canadian authorities would have us believe that thugs are defying legally elected First Nations governments and Canadian laws. Such an analysis does not acknowledge the impact of a band council system, imposed, funded and controlled by Ottawa. It does nothing to educate us on the long history of genocide that remains official policy in this country. It does not examine Ottawa's historic role in sabotaging activities that contribute to the economic independence of First Nations people.

On these grounds we are asking that you and your organization fax or email the officials below and voice your concerns regarding a potential violation of Mohawk sovereignty, which would follow a systemic pattern of violations over the years. Below is a sample letter that you can edit, cut and paste into your own email if you choose.

Nia:wen / meegwich / thank you for your support. For more information contact: or

Scroll down for the sample letter. To voice your concerns send an email, phone or fax:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper:
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa K1A 0A2
Fax: 613-941-6900

Jim Prentice,
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal
Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians
Parliament Hill: House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
Telephone: (613) 992-4275
Fax: (613) 947-9475


To: Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Jim Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and
Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians

I am writing to register my concern regarding ongoing violations of Mohawk sovereignty and continued actions that threaten the health and safety of the residents of Akwesasne, Kahnawake, Kanehsatake and Tyendinega.

I strongly urge you to put a stop to government-sponsored activities that portray these communities as being bastions of "organized crime" engaged in an illegal tobacco trade. Furthermore, I suggest your government cease operating under the assumption that Band Councils and the Assembly of First Nations, which are funded and controlled by the federal government, are the only legitimate representatives of First Nations communities.

Many studies, some commissioned by the federal government (such as the Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People), have determined that the issues confronting First Nations communities include sub-standard health care, inadequate and sub-standard housing, inadequate employment opportunities, poverty, violence, racism, etc. These studies clearly attribute this set of deplorable conditions to the actions and inactions of consecutive Canadian governments.

Raiding Mohawk communities and seizing tobacco products does nothing to address the day-to-day issues confronting First Nations people. In fact, such activities actually contribute to worsening the oppressive conditions under which First Nations people live by depriving families of their livelihood as well as assaulting their dignity and violating their inherent rights.

Military and police incursions onto First Nations territories are not a solution to the long standing issues confronting these communities. Moreover such actions shame non-First Nations people, many of whom reject complicity in a centuries-old genocide project.

Your government has the option of creating a disaster that would rival the Oka Crisis, Gustafson Lake and the murder of Dudley George put together. Or you can decide to deal with First Nations communities in a way that is proactive, peaceful and respectful, for the first time in Canadian history. I strongly urge you opt for the latter of the two choices.


They Will Have Abortion in South Dakota!

Hooray for Cecilia Firethunder, President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe for establishing a Planned Parenthood on her people's land! Thank God that Native Americans are sovereign people...we may have to depend on them more and more for our sanctuary.

In Profile: Uncle Lawrence

Lawrence Depriest Deramus, my great-grandparents' seventh child and the oldest boy, was born in 1929 in Autauga County, Alabama. I have written a lot about my uncle. He was a beautiful man and I enjoyed his spirit and his grace immensely. Uncle Lawrence was always a very insightful, intuitive, and inquisitive man. He often paid attention to and figured things out that the rest of his siblings didn't. He was a very intellectual man and he enjoyed decades long intellectual engagement with his brother, Archie, and his second cousin, Wade. Uncle Lawrence, like Aunt Bertie, skipped a few grades in grade school, and so was eventually on equal footing with Aunt Betty. After high school, he was enlisted into the army and fought in the Korean War, which was a profound experience for him, one which he reflected on for the rest of his life. After serving in the military, he returned home and recieved his Bachelor's degree from Alabama State University, using the GI Bill.

Finishing college, Uncle Lawrence began teaching in Covington, Alabama at a job that our Cousin Madeira got for him(she and Aunt Earnestine were bosom allies--first cousins and also going to school together, as well as marrying each other's respective boyfriends. They also both served as principals in Autauga County). Uncle Lawrence went from there to teaching in Coffee County, where he would reside, in Enterprise, for the rest of his life.

While teaching in Coffee County, Uncle Lawrence was responsible for starting a credit union for teachers there--which has grown into a major enterprise, and establishing the Head Start Program there in the region.He also founded the NAACP chapter there in the area. My Uncle wrote his autobiigraphy, in which he tells about when he was getting the Head Start program up off of the ground--which the superintendent didn't like. One day, he said the superintendent came into his classroom, hands on hips, and asked him--trying to intimidate him--"Who do you work for?" My Uncle responded, "Who do you think I work for?" He said the man had interrupted his class and was trying to big talk him. He said he was sitting there at his desk--and he usually kept a bow knife in it--and he went for the drawer as if he were opening it. He said he got up and met the man. He said he told him "Don't you ever come in my classroom again and talk to me like that in front of my children." He said he scared the man so bad he took off from that room. He never had any trouble with him again.

My uncle stopped teaching a few years later and began working for the federal government, overseeing a program called OCAP--which was responsible for overseeing integration and economic development in the Blackbelt region in Alabama. For this work, he recieved training at Atlanta University. He said that he worked with an integrated staff, having a white secretary as well as whites working along side him. He told me that the head of the Ku Klux Klan there in the area called him up one night and asked him "Don't you have a white secretary?" He responded "Yes I do." "Dont you travel along I-65 at night a lot of times?" "Yes I do." He said the man was trying to intimidate him. The man asked him "aren't you scared driving out there at night, something might happen to you?" My Uncle said he told him, "No, Im not scared, because if you and your boys want to do something then you just come on and you better bring Jesus with you because if I have to go I intend to take some of you with me." He told me that he always traveled with a gun at hand. My Uncle was a Goodson to the core. A compassionate, intellectually astute, passionate man, my Uncle was beautiful in many ways.

Uncle Lawrence, as I said, was a Goodson to the core. He could argue and fuss til the sun went down the next day. He was rough around the edges, sometimes mean(never to me, but he could be mean), and was difficult to get along with. As my cousin said at his funeral "Many of you knew him, most of you have been told off by him a time or to." He believed in right, he cared about his community, and he was a neighbor, a friend, and a brother to all. I loved him dearly.

When he died, the Governor sent a letter of condolence to the family and there were a multitude of honors that came his way. May his soul rest in peace.


Aretha Franklin

(Day dreamin' and I'm thinkin' of you)
(Day dreamin' and I'm thinkin' of you)
(Day dreamin' and I'm thinkin' of you)
(Day dreamin' and I'm thinkin' of you)
(Look at my heart floating away)

He's the kind of guy that would say
'Hey baby let's get away let's go some place, huh''
Well I don't care
He's the kind of guy that you give your everything
And trust your heart, share all of your love, till death do you part

I want to be what he wants when he wants it, and whenever he needs it
And when he's lonesome and feelin' love starved
I'll be there to feed it
I'm givin' him a little bit for each day
He turns me right on when I hear him say

(Hey baby let's get away, let's go somewhere far
(Baby can we')
Well I don't care
(Hey baby let's get away, let's go somewhere far
(Baby can we')
Well I don't care

I wanna be what he wants when he wants it
And whenever he needs it
When it comes to bein' feelin' loved starved I'll be there to feed it
Lovin him a little bit more each day
It turns me right on when I hear him say

(Hey baby let's get away, let's go somewhere far)
(Baby can we') Well, I don't care
(Hey baby let's get away, let's go somewhere far)
(Baby can we') Well, I don't care

(Day dreamin' and I'm thinkin' of you)
(Day dreamin' and I'm thinkin' of you) hoooo
(Day dreamin' and I'm thinkin' of you)
(Day dreamin' and I'm thinkin' of you)
(Look at my heart, floating away)]

(Day dreaming) day dreaming of you
(Day dreaming)
Thinking of you

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

In Profile: Aunt Betty

Aunt Betty, born Gladys Betty, is the youngest girl of John Archie and Sadie Mae. A teacher like the rest of her sisters and brothers, Aunt Betty attended Alabama State(she and Uncle Lawrence finally caught up with each other in school and attended the rest of grade school together. Aunt Betty is an interesting character--the biggest gossip the world has ever known, and currently lives by herself in her house that she keeps immaculately clean at all times--in the middle of the woods. She definitely could use a change. She attended Alabama State University. She and Aunt Johnnie attended college together and recieved both of their Master's Degrees at the same time, in the same programs. Aunt Betty taught school for thirty years, retiring due to cancer. She taught first in Alabama and then in Chicago, retiring from there. I remember going to school with her a few times. She taught music and there was a big doberman pinscher outside of the school where she workedand I always would never want to get out fo the car. After retiring, Aunt Betty moved back to Alabama and has been there ever since.

For all of the fluff that she is, Aunt Betty is definitely a sharp cookie-- and learrned some things quite well. One of the funniest things I remember is her talking about pledging at college. She said the only sorority she ever considered was Self-I-Self. I totally agree. Aunt Betty told me something else which is quite hilarious and very much a great statement for her. She said one time her husband(whom she divorced when their son was very young) got drunk and decided he wanted to hit her. She said that did not fly at all. She said when he hit her, she grabbed him in between his legs and made him say his prayers. She is definitely a Goodson.

My Aunt not only taught school for many years, but she also played the piano(fairly well) and spoke and taught sign language. That was one of the things she taught me.

When she was teaching in Chicago, she stayed with Aunt Bertie, Freda, and Aunt Johnnie. She was there when I was a little boy. She retired in the early 80s and has been in Alabama ever since.

Read About this Horrendous Rape Case

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

In Profile: Aunt Sadie

Sadie Bell Deramus Motley was my great-grandmother's fifth child(not counting the two that died in infancy).I never knew her as she died in 1982, before I was old enough to remember her. She is Brook and Barrington's grandmother. A woman of many talents, she designed clothing and accessories and ran two nurseries there in Birmingham. She attended Alabama State University and quickly married and had three children. She also had an affair with A.G. Gaston, who was an old friend of my great-grandfather. My mother talks about Aunt Sadie putting on fashion shows and arranging cotillions, something she apparently was very good at. She and her husband, Charlie Motley, settled in Birmingham where they had Voncile, Pat, and Kim. When my mother was a little girl, she used to stay with them quite often, a few times for extended periods. When Condoleeza Rice was a little girl, she used to attend my aunt's nursery. My mother said that she was a very heavy little girl. Angela Davis also grew up in that community.

More About Aunt Johnnie

Aunt Johnnie was married once, to Uncle Arthur Lee. Uncle Arthur Lee was an interesting man. He was a photographer and used to take photographs for JET and Ebony. He also used to take photographs of lynchings for the NAACP.

In Profile: Aunt Johnnie

My Aunt, Johnnie Lou Deramus Freeman, was my first school teacher and the fourth oldest child of John Archie and Sadie Mae Goodson Deramus, two years younger than my grandmother. My great-grandmother somehow worked it out that all of her children were two years apart. Aunt Johnnie was one of the lightest of the siblings. She and Aunt Sadie were the lightest children. All of the DeRamus sisters had long hair that went down their backs. When my aunt died, she had hair down past her hips and looked like a white woman. She resembled Lena Horne quite a bit.Aunt Johnnie had a trademark mouth and could teach you curse words you didn't even know. She had a temper and there was no doubt that Goodson blood ran through her veins. As a matter of fact, she looked very much like Mattie Roper.

Aunt Johnnie got her bachelor's degree at Alabama State and recieved two masters degrees--one in Library Science, the other in Elementary Education. She and Aunt Betty went to school together and finished both of their master's degrees together. They were each other's help. Aunt Johnnie started out teaching in Alabama, but when I came to know her, she was teaching at Price Elementary School on the Southside of Chicago. She drove a peppermint green cadillac and she and Freda and Aunt Bertie lived in the house right across the street from ours. I started my formal education under her tutelage and she was also my godmother. I remember mornings when I would get over to her house and we would get ready to go--sometimes we would drop off Aunt Bertie, Nikki,and Mama at the places where they had to go--school and work--and we would make our way on to Price. I remember a few times the car broke down and we would catch the bus and make our way on. I felt very special, although I was still jealous of Nikki because Aunt Bertie was her godmother and I wanted her to be mine. She could have Aunt Johnnie.

I remember Aunt Johnnie used to let me do everything. On days when she would be showing a film, she would let me help her set up the film projector and pop the popcorn, sometimes I would get to do other things. Aunt Johnnie was a creative and beautiful soul and was very good with children. She always had some kind of special activities or something fun for us--on Halloween she would make her witches' brew and bring it to class, she would be dressed like a witch, and we would have so much fun. One thing I will always have in my mind where Aunt Johnnie is concerned is her collection of Ella Jenkins records, which I would listen to at home and in class and they were so much fun--everybody in the family enjoyed them. "Jambo, Jambo, Jambo sana jambo." It was a beautiful time.

One thing I remember about Aunt Johnnie and Aunt Bertie's house is the basement. The basement was where Aunt Johnnie kept all of her school things--the film projector, the popcorn popper, her record player. I was afraid of that basement somewhat, but I loved looking to see what was among all of that stuff and I was elated when we got to drag it out and carry it to school. The basement was also where Nikki, Freda, and Kim, used to play and dance and stuff.

Aunt Johnnie was an industrious and creative woman. She was a very good clothing designer, she should have been a professional. She made hats and dresses and suits for her sisters and nieces and Freda and she had a gift for making dolls as well. I remember three of them very well. Patches was Brook's doll, and she had another one too. Nikki also had a doll that I remember. I remember very well when Nikki and Brook decided to give their dolls blood transplants. I thought that was interesting.

Aunt Johnnie was a very stylish woman and she loved to get dressed up. Every year she dressed up in her fur and fine drag to go to the Classics. It was something to see. Reunions and other occasions were also ocassions to get dressed. I think all of the Deramus women can dress.

Aunt Johnnie retired from teaching in the late eighties and moved back to Alabama. She suffered from Alzheimers for a very long time. She had her faults and her problems as well, but she was a great lady.

My political awareness began with Aunt Johnnie. She was very active in the Chicago Teacher's Union and one of my earliest memories is of standing with her on the pickett line during a strike. That experience instilled something in me as well. She was definitely an influence on me. I am greatful for all of my aunts and uncles and other hosts of relatives.
This revelation concerning some of the King children totally pisses me off. There is a serious problem in the Black community and it desperately needs to be addressed.

Why the King Children Will Be Going to Hell, at Least Some of Them

The Following is from Pacifica Radio with Amy Goodman.

AMY GOODMAN: Harry, I have a quick question, talking about the children and talking about Dr. King in Birmingham. Coretta Scott King recently died, and it was quite a remarkable funeral. Over 10,000, 15,000 people came out, four presidents, many senators. Reverend Joseph Lowery, while President Bush was sitting right on the dais, talked about weapons of misdirection right here, and President Carter talked about Dr. Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King being spied on, and Maya Angelou stood up and said, "I speak here for Harry Belafonte and others." Did you try to go to Coretta Scott King's funeral?

HARRY BELAFONTE: What had happened was that when Dr. King came on one of his very first trips to New York, he was in Harlem, and a deranged black woman stabbed him, and he was -- the blade was just millimeters away from his heart, and to remove the instrument, his life was in jeopardy, and it was a very delicate operation. And it was then that I understood that -- after seeing Dr. King and talking to him, his first concern was what would happen to his family. And I said to myself, our leader cannot be concerned about that. That burden should not be on his shoulders. There are other aspects of the burden that would be his in relation to it, but not that. So that it was demanded and responded to that forever the welfare of his family would never be in jeopardy with him being at the helm of the movement, and we brought resources, and it was my task to direct all that, watching the kids grow, put money aside for their studies, to take care of Coretta, to make sure she had every convenience at her disposal to go, come while her husband was incarcerated.

So the intimacy of that experience was something that I had become accustomed to, and when Dr. King was murdered, I was in Atlanta in their home, and we separated ourselves from others who were there in the living room, and she said, "Would you come with me." We went into the bedroom, and she said, "Help me select the clothes that I must -- we must dress him in." And it was a very private and a very remarkable thing to - the intimacy of it with her. And as we were selecting the suits and the shirt and the tie and laying it out, she sat on the bed, and she kind of - a place where she had slept so often with her husband, and all those memories. And I said, "What is it?" She says, "You know, I'm worried about where this is all going. I'm worried about the nation, the rage, the anger, and I need to know what to do." And we talked for a second. Then I said to her, "You know, at this very moment in Memphis, thousands of sanitation workers are on hold, because Dr. King was supposed to have been there tomorrow to lead that movement and to speak to the people, and before your husband, our leader, is put in his grave, if you have the will and the capacity to go down there tomorrow and stand up before those workers and let the world know that the movement has not been interrupted, that the process continues, and that all of us, as strong or as weak as we may be, will step into the breach and do what must be done." And she did, and she went down, and she spoke, and we came right back.

Now, all through the years since then, the building of the King Center, many choices of things that she made to do, because she was in her own right very involved for Dr. King. She was one of the - she was very, very committed to the peace movement, and as a matter of fact, in Europe, during the assassin-- the missile crisis and whatnot, we gave -- we put on a peace concert for 250,000 Germans in Cologne, mostly students, and the moment when Coretta King -- I called and asked her to come to speak. It would mean a lot to the young people there. She came, and I have never, ever heard a declaration of approval like those young German youth did when she came, and she had a sense of her own power. She had a sense of her own capacity to bring influence and to be revered for the work she did.

When she died, none of us knew that she was in Mexico, that she had -- I knew that she was ill. I knew about the heart attack, the defibrillation and the stroke. But - and I knew she had cancer, but I thought the cancer was contained, and when she went to Mexico, she was there with her children, and I got the news completely without knowing any of the details, so for a few days we didn't know what was happening. Where is she? Who's bringing her home? When is the funeral? When is the this, when is the that?

And finally, I left a call -- I left a message on the phones of the children, saying, "Please give me a call. I know this is a difficult moment, but there are things that must be done, and I would like to help if I can." I was then called a day later and told that, yes, that it was on that Tues-- this was on a Friday, Friday evening, that the funeral was going to take place that Tuesday, and that it would start at noon, and that with all the people that were being invited, that it was -- I was to be one of these people delivering the eulogy, and that my time would be at somewhere around 12:30 or 1:00, and I said, "Fine." And knowing this, I began to put my thoughts together.

That Saturday, Bush declared he was coming. He would be there. That Sunday, I began to change my speech, not to be rude or to be attacking, but to integrate this moment into what needed to be said. And then, that Monday morning, I got a call, and I was told that the invitation that had been extended to me had been pulled. I was uninvited. A woman by the name of Skinner and a Reverend by the name of Lawrence was the one who called me to tell me that I was uninvited, and when that call came, I called and spoke to one of the children. They said, these are the events, and I need to be counseled as to how this has come about, and I was told that I would get a call shortly, and it would all be clarified. And then, when the final call came, it was -- they were sorry, but the invitation - the withdrawing of the invitation would stand and that if I came down, they would find a place for me in the church, but I would not speak. And I did not go at all. I did not know how to deal with that.

What struck me was on the day of the ceremony, I saw how the altar was adorned. I saw who sat there, and as the camera moved about, I saw who was sitting in the audience, and I saw all of the power of the oppressor represented on the stage, and all those who fought for the victories that this nation was experiencing and enjoying sat in the outhouse, sat out in the field, sat removed, and if it not been for Lowery, for President Carter and for Maya Angelou, we would have had no voice and no representation at all.

Some ministers who were quite angry at all of this said, "Come on down here. Let's -- let's -- We have to talk to the press," and I said, "Talk to the press about what?" "About this. We cannot let it stand." I said, "I don't think that's appropriate. These are the children of my friend. These are the children of the movement. Where did we let them get caught? Why was Bernice giving this kind of sermon? How did you let Reverend Long become the minister of choice? Why wasn't it at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. King preached? And before we go public and begin to vent our anger, let us understand what role we played in this capitulation that has led to this moment, and let us try first to repair it rather than to go into public discourse.

When do we sit in a circle of healing? When we begin to talk about getting back to where we lost stride. How do we fix this? Not how do we play the vanity game, and get off on going public and talking about how I was crucified. You know, it's what it is, and there is a way in which we have to do this that not only prevents - I don't know that there'll be another moment quite like that, because Dr. King and Malcolm X and Fannie Lou Hamer, folks like that were so rare that to be a part of the final ceremony of their departure is a rare moment in history, but I think that it goes along with what I have been saying here. What role have we played in letting all this happen? Where were we? What were we doing that had us so distracted? How can it be this way? How did you priests and ministers let the evangelical rightwing Christian forces co-opt the greater truth about Christianity and the philosophy of liberation? And how did you all let that happen, and where are your voices in opposition publicly?

Everybody has a part in this. Everybody has something to look at, and I think it is a collective experience, and that's why I think rather than sitting here drifting, we've got to talk about this, not just where we failed and where you failed, and we've got to come out of this discourse and this discussion, not just talking about it but saying, "Here's where we go," and take courage in the fact that we can turn this around, because the truth of the matter is we are the only ones that can turn this around. Nothing and no one else can do it. Nothing.
AMY GOODMAN: Harry Belafonte, describing his dis-invitation from giving a eulogy at the funeral of Coretta Scott King.
The King Children are going to hell and thats the end of that.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Radical Progressive Carnival

Welcome to the first Radical Progressive Carnival, a place for people who self-define as feminist,anti-racist,queer,or who dedicate themselves to progressive politics in any manner and who hold a sincere and firm respect for humanity in all its forms.

This first carnival is a bit skimpy, but with some great stuff to read. Scatterbox at Steven Silver's provides an excellent post entitled,Changing business: More Media Coverning Fewer Stories,commenting on the shortcomings in the mainstream news media in covering important news stories and covering them accurately.It also discusses the diminishing number of owners of major news outlets and how this plays apart in the trend of more news outlets,less real coverage. Excellent assessment of the coverage of the Sago Mine Disaster.

My own submission here,On Listening to Cornel West and Toni Morrison is my analysis of a conversation had between Toni Morrison and Cornel West at an event sponsored by the Nation Institute and held at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. In this piece, I comment upon Morrison's assessment of violence as a tool for liberation in which I place her assessment up against the legacies of the South African freedom struggle, that of the Sandinistas in Latin America, and the rhetoric of June Jordan's revolutionary poem "Poem About My Rights."

I hope this first Radical Progressive Carnival is a success. I hope the reading material provided is enjoyable and I hope we all step away from the table having gained something that will help us be better human beings.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

7,000 On the Magnificent Mile On Saturday

From the Chicago Sun-Times
March 19, 2006

7,000 march against war on Mag Mile

Staff Reporters

Three years after clashing with police and stopping traffic on Lake Shore Drive, war protesters legally took over downtown streets in what appeared to be the largest U.S. anti-war demonstration Saturday to mark the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion in Iraq.

Despite a legal battle with City Hall that lasted nearly as long as the war, a crowd Chicago Police estimated at 7,000 was allowed to march down some of the city's most prominent streets, including the Magnificent Mile of Michigan Avenue.

More than 200 officers, including Chicago Police, Cook County sheriff's officers and State Police, lined the march route -- most in riot gear.

"They look like Darth Vader with clubs," Diane Handelsman, 63, of Lake View. "That is very scary, and intimidating."

Some pro-war protesters also stood along the path, holding signs that read: "Not in Vain."

But the demonstration remained calm, and police said no arrests were made.

As the march began at Oak and State, 7-year-old Syanne Garcia carried a sign that read: "Don't Send My Uncle Back to Iraq."

Beside her walked her aunt Yolisma Hernandez, 31, of Elgin.

"They say it won't make a difference," Hernandez said, "but I have to do something for the safety of my brother."

Others held signs that read: "Return troops. Send Congress."

The march was just one of many anti-war demonstrations around the world. In New York's Times Square, about 1,000 anti-war protesters rallied outside a recruiting station, demanding troops be withdrawn from Iraq. In London, 15,000 people poured into Trafalgar Square.

Protesters gathered throughout the day at rallies spread across Chicago's neighborhoods and suburbs.

'We're on the wrong track'

At Union Park on the West Side Saturday afternoon, protesters held signs that ranged from the comical -- "Stop Mad Cowboy Disease" and "Paranoia is not a foreign policy" -- to the blunt -- "Stop the slaughter."

There were the familiar calls to end the Bush administration's "world domination" and "evil colonialism," and a more immediate sense of concern that Iran might be the president's next target.

At noon, a couple hundred protesters gathered at Federal Plaza.

Ginger Williams, of Edgewater, quit her job as a nurse to protest the war full-time even though her 23-year-old son is an Army lieutenant serving in Iraq. "He still believes in his mission. I wish he is right. I hope he is right."

Amid the crowd was another mother of a soldier, Marge Haracz, of Barrington, who is a Quaker. Her 21-year-old son was sent to Afghanistan earlier this month. "Any time we must start shooting guns around to make a point, we're on the wrong track,'' she said.

"He joined the military to bring about positive change in the world. He didn't join the military to go to war," Haracz said, noting he knew there was a chance he'd have to fight.

Also at the plaza were members of the Chicago chapter of "Billionaires for Bush," who carried a myriad of signs: "It's a class war and we're winning," "Cheney is innocent," "Bush lied: We made billions."

The "Billionaires" chanted, "Four more wars," "This is what plutocracy looks like," "Money for war and privatization, put the poor on reservations."

"We decided to use humor instead of anger," said Sandy Bykowski, who wore a faux leopard fur hat, fake jewels, a fancy dress and a feather boa.

A tuxedo-clad Brent Mesick, from Lake View, said the group mocks President Bush's appeal to average people. "He is really for the upper East Coast," Mesick said. "The people he represents are the billionaires."

Contributing: Stefano Esposito, Maudlyne Ihejirika, AP