Saturday, August 29, 2009

Thoughts While Watching Hairspray....Again....

The mainstream definitely coopted our popular institutions....those things that once were sacred to us...the colored, the queer, the others....were not deemed as important or worthy of honor by the powers that be during and before the revolutions of the 1960s and 70s....The Apollo...drag balls...vogue....R&B....our pageants...our clubs, societies, cultural events and institutions.....these were dismissed by the mainstream...only to now be bought and sold with magnificent advertising campaigns.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The lion is dead....Azlan...where is Azlan?....Our hope has broken and shattered into a million pieces....will it reappear after this long night of the moon?

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Lynching of Cynthia McKinney

Read this enlightening article about the extent to which the effort to malign and defame Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney was extremely organized and coordinated.Everyone with two brain cells knew that Cynthia McKinney was set up and purposefully ousted from congress because of her outspokenness against the war and her demand that George Bush be held accountable for his crimes. We must help her to expose these bastards as well as bring light and justice to this scheme that sought to maintain the vile and evil that the Bush administration brought forth into the world.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Labor Legacy, Parts 1&2

This article is about the legacy that has been handed to me in terms of traditions and history from my family. It serves as an example and a compass for me. Firstly, I should start, I suppose, by stating that both of my grandmothers were school teachers. My paternal grandmother graduated from Spelman College and taught in Chicago. My maternal grandmother graduated from Alabama State University and began her career in Autauga County Alabama, her home county, teaching under the auspices of her uncle, Macaulay, or "Fess" as he was known, "Goodson, my great-grandmother's brother. He was the principal at the school where she taught at as well as the JEANES agent for Autauga County for a time. In Autauga County, there were two men known as Fess. There was Fess Goodson, my great-grandmother's older brother, and there was Sterling James MacDavid, my aunt Bertie's husband, who was also called Fess. Aunt Bertie was my grandmother's sister. My grandmother's oldest sister, Earnestine, and her first cousin, Madeira, also served as principals in Autauga county. My grandmother also briefly served as a principal.

"Fess" MacDavid served as principal of the Autauga County Training School( the school for Blacks) for fifty years, in which time Autaugaville, as it is now known, was the best school in the county, white or Black. Fess MacDavid was a revered man and still is. He was highly respected, well-renowned, as well as hated by some. Fess had new textbooks when he wanted them, new typewriters and other equipment, and would bring professors from Tuskegee and other places to Autauga County to not only teach his students, but the entire community about new methods in farming and other essential skills. The number of Ph.D's, medical doctors, theologians, school teachers, and other professionals who grew under his tutelage is astounding. My grandmother and all of her sisters and brothers went to school under his tutelage as well. They all went to school, received degrees, and taught and did other things.

It is said that Fess also had dealings with the NAACP during the time that the NAACP was illegal in the state of Alabama. It was because of this, along with some other contentious issues that certain whites had with my uncle that after his death in 1961, his relatives were either fired or demoted in the Autauga County school system. My grandmother says that on the day of Fess' funeral, the white superintendent came to the house that my Aunt Bertie lived in with Fess, which was the principal's home on the campus of Autaugaville, and told my aunt that she could "stay in the principal's home if she liked, if she could get her sister, meaning my grandmother, to stay with her. Now, it was known that this superintendent, Mr. Hodges, liked Black women and that many Black school teachers slept with him in order to keep their jobs, get jobs, or get their husbands jobs. My grandmother said that my Aunt Bertie started packing that night and moved back in with her parents. The next week, she was fired from her teaching position. My grandmother was fired shortly thereafter. My aunt Earnestine, who had been a principal for twenty years, was placed back in the classroom.

I should preface this by talking about my grandmother's grandfather, Morgan Goodson. A farmer, a soothsayer, and a man that was touted to "know more about the law than anyone else," it was said of Morgan Goodson that when he took his cotton to the cotton gin to sell it, the ownder of the cotton gin told his employees, "You hurry up and get Morgan Goodson out of here and make sure his accounts are right, because he is a crazy N and you just don't know what he might do....

After the episode in Autauga County, my grandmother first moved to Mobile, where she lived with a cousin and subbed. My mother stayed with her grandparents during this time. My grandmother later moved to New York where she recieved a permanent teaching certificate. Deciding that she did not want to live in New York, she joined my Aunt Johnnie, my Aunt Bertie, and My Uncle Archie, her sisters and brother, who had since moved to Chicago and began teaching there. She would teach there for the remainder of her career.

In Chicago, my grandmother was one of the first three Black teachers sent to integrate the Northside. My grandmother said that when they told her she was going to the Northside, she just said her prayers and went on. When they sent my Aunt Earnestine to the white school in Alabama, she says that she cried like a baby for a week. That first winter that my grandmother taught on the Northside, some high school boys decided that they were going to get the Black teachers who had come to their schools. My grandmother says that she and the other two Black teachers would arrive and leave the school together. One evening as they were leaving the school, some boys were standing on the sidewalk in the direction they had to walk and had made a pile of snowballs that they intended to throw at them. My grandmother said she had had enough. She walked up to those boys and told them, "I did not get up at four o'clock this morning to come over here and have you throw snowballs at me! Not one snowball better hit me or either of these teachers or I swear before god I will tear up the Northside of Chicago and this school with it!" She said those boys dropped those snowballs an ran. She and her colleagues went on their way. Later in her career, when she was about to retire, her principal did something that irritated her. She said she had never taken a sick day and had enough leave that she simply moved back to Alabama and made him pay both her salary and a substitute and did not file for retirement until the following year.

In 1955, my Uncle Lawrence, my grandmother's brother and the oldest of my great-grandparents boys, began his teaching career in Enterprise, Alabama. From the beginning, he was proactive in the school, holding competitive fundraising to have hardwood floors placed in the gym, starting after school programs for the children, and beginning a credit union for the teachers. The superintendent and principal did not like his activities, particularly the last two. When my uncle set about bringing the Head Start program into the Blackbelt region, he said his principal began trying to intimidate him. He said one day, the superintendent came into his classroom while he was teaching and went over to his desk where he was sitting and stood over him, trying to cower over him. My uncle said the man asked him, " Who do you work for?" My uncle replied, "Who do you think I work for?" After a few minutes of this, my uncle said he slid his hand back as if he were going for his drawer where it was known that he kept a knife. He said that man got scared and backed down. My uncle told him, "Don't you ever come into my classroom and speak to me like that again before my children because I will stick my foot so far up your butt you'll wear it home." He said that man got out of his classroom right quick and he never heard from him again.

Later, when my uncle was working for OCAP and the federal government, he was responsible for alleviating poverty in the Blackbelt region as well as fostering integration. He said he went to Atlanta University for training and then conducted sensitivity trainings throughout the region with students and communities. He said that they were some of the most productive experiences of his career. He was given a budget of sixteen thousand dollars for programs to alleviate poverty in the Blackbelt. He took that $16,000 and turned it into millions of dollars that flowed into the Blackbelt. He also founded a teacher's credit union that operates on a budget of over twelve million dollars.

He said that when he was working for OCAP, he had a white secretary. The head of the local Ku Klux Klan did not like this. One night he said he got a call from the grandmaster. The man asked him, "You have a white secretary?" My uncle told him yes. The man asked him, "Don't you travel down -whatever highway-going home at night?" My uncle told him yes. The man asked him, "Well, aren't you scared?" My uncle told him no, because if he wanted to do something he had better come on and bring Jesus with him because if he had to go, he intended to take him with him. He said he always traveled with a gun at his side. When my uncle died, the governor of Alabama sent a letter of condolence to be read at his funeral. In his lifetime, he not only started a credit union, implemented the headstart program in the Blackbelt region along with other social welfare programs, he had also helped to organize the first NAACP chapter in the Blackbelt region. He was recognized by the NAACP for this with an award in 2001.