By Lujira Cooper
Medgar Evers 1963 June CIVIL RIGHTS
John F. Kennedy 1963 November EXTERNAL CONFLICT
James Chaney 1964 June FREEDOM RIDER
Michael Goodman 1964 June FREEDOM RIDER Led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Andrew Schwerner 1964 June FREEDOM RIDER
Malcom X 1965 February INTERNAL CONFLICT
Martin Luther King Jr. 1968 April EXTERNAL CONFLICT
Robert F. Kennedy 1968 June EXTERNAL CONFLICT
Fred Hampton 1969 December EXTERNAL CONFLICT (FBI)
The 1960’s was a tumultuous and exciting time. People observed Flower Power, anti-Vietnam protests, the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and the Black Arts Movement against a backdrop of a slew of assassinations. The greatness of the decade was obliterated by the untimely, unnecessary and the unfortunate deaths those living in that time experienced.
In the decade of clamoring for civil rights death reared its racist head. In the decade of the Black Arts Movement to instill Black Pride with “Say it loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” voices were silenced. In the decade of fighting for voting rights, assassinations were the soup du jour.
Civil rights took a brutal hit in the 1960’s. Assassinations ruled this time some from internal conflict and others from external forces. Nine individuals died and seven of them (maybe all) due to civil rights activism. A charged time when Black people began to flex their power, however, Freedom Summer (1964) was not freedom to Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner. It led to their deaths or more appropriately murders.
In a time when Black people began to fight back because they as Fannie Lou Hamer said, “were sick and tired of being sick and tired.” Note: Lottie L. Joiner spoke of Hamer’s impassioned speech as a catalyst for the all-White male Southern Democrats to switch to Republican. A tsunami of blood flowed through this decade. It began with the death of Medgar Evers born in Decatur MS, a was murdered in Mound Bayou, MS., in front of his home. The murderers didn’t care he had small children who might have seen him killed. According to the NAACP, Evers fought in the Battle of Normandy but as we know that did nothing for him when he returned home. Later the University of Mississippi’s Law school rejected his application.
Before his assassination there had been several attempts on his life. A Molotov cocktail thrown and being nearly run over. His murderer, Byron De La Beckwith, three decades later was convicted. The killing spurred by investigation of the death of Emmitt Till (1955) and his vocal support of Clyde Kennard whose integration actions led to him being framed for robbery. Mickey Levine, past chairman of the American Veterans Committee, said of Evers, “No soldier in this field has fought more courageously, more heroically than Medgar Evers (NAACP).
Our next ghastly crime is the assassination of JFK. Basically, it’s a story no one knows the truth about. We do know Lee Harvey Oswald supposedly shot and killed JFK and then through some magic was killed by Jack Ruby while being transported from one jail to another. Questions still abound about this. Oswald’s death leaves many unanswered questions. Like why he wasn’t guarded better? How did a civilian get into the area and a host more? That’s two in 1963.
In 1964 the country faces the deaths of Freedom Riders Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney. The three stopped by Neshoba County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price (aka KKK) for on a fabricated charge of a church are thrown into a jail cell. Price released them after seven hours then dropped off another deputy and raced to catch them before they got out of Philadelphia, MS. With the help of other KKK members shot to death and burned their bodies. With the help of an informant, the FBI arrested nineteen men for violating their civil rights. In 1967 nine were acquitted and seven found guilty including Price and KKK Imperial Wizard Bowers. Although hailed as milestone, since no one had ever been convicted of killing a civil rights worker, the judge, William Cox, an ardent segregationist sentence would be laughable if not tragic. He meted out time of three to ten years saying, “They killed one n*****, one Jew, and a white man. I gave them what I thought they deserved.” Question how serious did he take it if that was his comment? (seven guilty, nine acquitted and three deadlocked). The longest sentence came in 2005 when Edgar Ray Killen received a sentence of sixty years for three counts of manslaughter, (History.com). another note to this tragic story was it took three years of wrangling until the Supreme Court upheld the indictments.
The next chapter in this tragic saga is the death of Malcom X. who was killed in the Audubon ballroom in Harlem, NY. According to Josiah Bates of Time magazine, three people in 1966 were convicted for his death “Talmadge Hayer or Thomas Hagan (a.k.a Mujahid Abdul Halim), Norman Butler (a.k.a Muhammad Abdul Aziz) and Thomas Johnson (a.k.a Khalil Islam).” Why was Malcolm killed? Bates reports a few things led to his death, however his comment “chickens coming home to roost” regarding to JFK’s assassination led to a final break with the Nation of Islam (NOI). The question remains were the three following orders of Elijah Muhmmad, a mandate of the NYPD’s Bureau of Special Services (BOSS) or J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI since spies were very prevalent in Malcolm X’s breakaway organizations Muslim Mosque, Inc (MMI) and the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU). Law enforcement perceived him as a threat to the social order. Hoover, according to Bates, said, “Do something about Malcolm X.”
Two intriguing factors may have contributed to his death. The first telling his security not to search for weapons. The reasoning was to get away from NOI’s image and the other more striking no police presence there. This is surprising since they always showed up. Bates further notes an intriguing comment about Malcolm’s death from Elijah Muhammad who claimed no involvement, “He got just what he deserved.” Wonder what he meant.
The next victim was Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. who was assassinated on April 4, 1968, another day that goes down infamy. King had arrived in Tennessee in preparation to march with Memphis striking sanitation workers. An escaped prisoner, James Earl Ray, was the alleged assassin who eventually was sentenced to 99 years in prison since he confessed to the crime. King was shot with a 30.06 Remington rifle. King a man of peace had his life cut short because he spoke out against the injustices he saw.
Robert F. Kennedy as Attorney General pressured the FBI to investigate the deaths of Goodman, Cheney and Schwerner. Which culminated a trial where the segregationist, U.S. District Judge William Cox took the case seriously from fear of impeachment.
RFK along with his brother and later Lyndon Johnson got the Civil Rights Act passed. Ted Kennedy said of Robert’s funeral, he was, “a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it,” (History.com). Also of note was his travels to “Appalachia, the Mississippi Delta, migrant workers’ camps and urban ghettos to study the effects of poverty and made trips abroad to such places as apartheid-ruled South Africa to advocate for the advancement of human rights” (History.com). RFK was an outspoken opponent to Johnson’s escalation of the VietNam war. RFK sent troops to enforce a ruling that allowed James Meredith to enroll in the University of Mississippi. Sirhan Bishara Sirhan assassinated RFK allegedly because of he resented Senator’s Kennedy’s” support of the Six-Day War intervention in Israel the previous year,” (History.com).
Our final fatality of the decade is Fred Hampton. He was a charismatic leader allegedly betrayed by one of his own. Hampton led the Chicago arm of the Black Panthers. According to the Chicago-Sun Times, Hampton was “A young, gifted leader with a talent for organizing.” In high school he led a boycott of homecoming. In doing this it permitted black girls to compete for the coveted title. He also led the Inter-Racial Council to diffuse racial conflict at Proviso East High School (Chicago-Sun Times). Racism, capitalism, and police brutality were an anathema the Black Panthers who formed community alliances to defeat these isms. Now onto why he was hunted and killed. Bring in the same culprit who worked hard to discredit King, FBI Director Herbert Hoover who called them, the Black Panthers, “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country,” according to Curt Gentry’s “J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and His Secrets.” Hampton was betrayed by one of his own according to information allegedly by William O’Neal head of Security for the Black Panther party. Hoover’s fear of Hampton’s charisma and Chicago’s untamed and corrupt police force fought the idea of Black folks rising and with help of a “friend” silenced the voice of Hampton.
Each change creates a new normal.
“The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute” Stanford University
“Slain civil rights workers found.” August 1964. A&E Television Networks
Bates, Josiah 2020. “The Enduring Mystery of Malcolm X’s Assassination” Time
Cooper, Lujira. (2019). LGBTQ AGING IN A HETEROSEXUAL WORLD
Joiner, Lottie L. (2014). Remembering Civil Rights Heroine Fannie Lou Hamer: ‘I’m Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired’ Daily Beast
© 2021 Lujira J. Cooper
Who was this man? History, more often than not, is a narrative agreed upon. By whom, you ask? By those who are read, who chronicle the events, set the tone and determine the mission of those acts which being read in the now will perhaps impact the future. Those acts or events in the “then” period rely on general contemporary commentary — what was being said at the time. That is often the press — newspapers, magazines and published reports. Rising to the level to be viewed in those spaces is artful and require the wherewithal or permission — ownership, editors and the like. However, some events do not ask or need permission.
When extolling the lives of the men and women who laid the foundation of what we consider to be a democratic America — however fledging it might be — we most often count the winners. We rarely look at those whose expressions and acts that antecede other acts of unquestionable importance and impact.
Today, we have a brief look at John Brown, a man of spirit and conviction who did not win anything. In fact, we will see that his life in many ways is a collection of failures. If you measure “wins” materially, John Brown is not your man. I would venture that one shouldn’t use a single yardstick to measure any one thing. That is too simplistic and unsophisticated as a measurement in this complex world; one has to use multiple weights. In determining the worth — in the re-phrasing Jefferson’s use of the word, “worthiness” of the man — John Brown is indeed worthy of joining the pantheon of American movers and shakers who have made it on to the pages we read when we are trying to figure out how did we get here from there.
We attribute to these types of men — basically, as far as the regular texts go — being of unswerving determination and conviction. John Brown was certainly a man chasing not only the devils of the American economic system, he envisioned a new America where barbarity did not determine the economic foundations by which the many toiled while others wined and danced seemingly in oblivion. And, don’t we all!
Failures are not the final mark of a man or woman, for we learn more from failures than we do from successes as we try to sort out our lives. The winning is not in repeating the same steps that contributed to the failure, if one has a chance to assess and recalibrate before another advance. Historically, we have an opportunity to determine the value of the quest, the ardor of the mission and courage in the face adversity — even against insurmountable odds — even death. This is the blood of the patriots that Jefferson so sanguinely mentioned as the necessary blood nourishment for the tree of liberty. This, of course, should be guided by principles, values of the dreamed of whole-state.
The wholeness vision of the of the country shifts in every generation. History will speak for itself, but progressives are hopeful that in this generation, it is shifting towards the better angels of the Constitution and the oratorical splendor of the Declaration of Independence. The hope that these documents are not just the rhetorical learnings of school children; that at some point, this country exhibits a national state ruled by learned intelligence with humanistic thinking and a generosity of spirit.
Truly the hand that rocks the cradle rocks the world. John Brown was born into a religious family that hated slavery unequivocally. A Calvinist, and one of four children when his parents moved from Torrington, Connecticut to the wilds of the Western Reserve in Ohio; he was 5 years old. Later there would be four other siblings born. In Ohio, his father’s house was part of the Underground Railroad and as a family they participated in abolitionist activities where they lived.
The Western Reserve was a huge territory (6,000 square miles) in Northern Ohio, new to Europeans who were spilling over from the East Coast as a result of the aftermath of the American Revolution. This was new land and it potentially presented new possibilities for a livelihood, a new beginning. John Brown’s ease of fraternization with the indigenous populations as a child is duly noted. His father worked in leather as a tanner. In the 19th century, it was a stinking, bloody trade and one that John Brown was not taken to for his own livelihood. Married at 19, he sired about 20 children from two successive wives. It sounds like a large number, but in those days people tended to have large families. Of the 20, only 11 lived to adulthood. He appeared devoted to his religious views and to his family.
Early, John Brown wanted to enter the ministry but that was not to be. Earnestly, he tried to find viable means to support his family: tannery, surveyorship, and as wool merchant, all of which basically came to nought although the latter was not as much of a fiasco as some writers had thought. John Brown was not alone in the shifting economic instability of the period as bank runs, foreclosures and drops in the value of commodities in international trade made economic circumstances fragile. Many directly bore witness to the lending and banking structures wreaking havoc on the economies of small farmers as merchants, in their quest to gain and hold profits, put all marginal businesses at even higher risk.
I found it interesting that in his high times and low, Brown constantly thought about other people and their needs. He prayed for and with them and shared what he could. He was a man of generous spirit, if bitterly limited means. As a boy, he had seen the viciousness of slavery. At 12 he witnessed a child being beaten in the streets while he travelled through Michigan. He had no illusions about the system. He quietly lived among Black people as he had among native peoples as a youngster. He used his skills to help them whenever and however he could. He shared meals and always put a handle on addressing them as Mister or Mrs. He denounced segregated seating in churches. But he wasn’t on fire yet.
Let’s look at mid-19th century America. Life was hard and for those who were not owners of any kind, it was especially so. John Brown thought that poor whites would see the common threads of their lives with the enslaved and join in the fight for a new day. That was not to be. Racism as a psycho-delusional drug was planted too deeply in the psyche of most whites — even poor whites who had little or nothing in common with the wealthy. But nothing of significance would come of that thread.
Free labor in the South was directly tied to the machinery of slavery. Free labor in the North had a broader application, but most people who were not farming were tied to the emerging industrial systems which included burgeoning factories and mill towns. North or South, trade was the grist for the economic mill. Those who were nearer the controlling mechanisms in either region were those whose wealth clearly separated them from the vast number of the toiling population.
Over the 246 years to the brink of the Civil War, the economics of the post-revolutionary United States expanded and contracted based on matters of international trade, primarily with that of England and France. And, in that regard, the system of slavery was directly affected as landowners in the South with established plantations drove agriculture as their primary means of trade. Cotton, sugar, tobacco were the cash crops. And, in this agricultural period, the focus was on the importation of textiles, and finished products, wines and liquors. The management of money including capital investments to facilitate the engines of trade was in the North and with London investment and banking houses. Clearly, early European inhabitants had a decided advantage over the waves of incoming immigrants for jobs and for land.
Again, the economics of the mid-19th century were precarious at best for most people. Even wealthy men could suddenly be left penniless and subject to auction to satisfy creditors. This was not an infrequent occurrence. However, small farmers and merchants were more likely to fail because they did not get the news of changes immediately — it was some six weeks in transit from Europe to these shores. But, at least those with material wealth could get the news first hand, while the smaller owners and those in more remote areas would be among the last to know — almost always too late to re-structure or sell short to establish a new cash flow.
Many people preferred to work for someone rather than take the risks they could see all around them. Not John Brown, he was an independent thinking man. He would not subject himself too long or too hard under another man. Over and over, he attempted to strike out on his own to establish his own grubstake, or farm or import house. However, nothing worked for long. Banks foreclosing, crop failures, loans called in by British and other investment houses, drops in trade — all of these economic cyclones were part of the mid-19th century economy.
That the country was agricultural meant that most people were tied to the lifestyles required or provided by the kind of farming they did. There were very few cities and all of them were mostly the outgrowth of river communities near the ocean from which there was heavy international trading. Mercantilism where raw materials were supplied and finished goods were returned was a persistent issue, but slowly it was being altered — primarily in the North as small scale mills and manufacturing emerged as a new economic means of production. Northern life, outside of few large commercial centers in Rhode Island, New York and Pennsylvania, was the land of small-scale independent farmers.
On the other hand, life in the planter South did not shift with the exception of the wide-spread use of the cotton gin which upped the profits of growers, if they could guarantee significant harvests. Large-scale farming I am speaking of — plantations — were developed along the Southeastern coast for a variety of reasons: chief among them being the fertility of the soil for a variety of lucrative export crops, access to direct traders and to the importation of slaves. Jamestown, Charleston, Mobile and Savannah to which New Orleans was added — after that annexation by Thomas Jefferson for a cash strapped Napoleon waging his wars — are examples of rich centers of trade of all kinds, humans and produce.
As formerly indentured whites and newcomers scratched for a living in the South and North, there were trickles of migration over the hills and mountains of the East into the valleys beyond. That spillage was intermittent, until it was sparked in 1848 (1848-1855) by the finding of gold “in them thar hills,” and the ’49’ers, as they were called, flooded from the East to the West Coast, bringing all manner of mayhem and doom of native peoples across the plains and the coast. About $2 billion dollars worth of gold was extracted before it was all said and done. To this day, California is still paying for some of the environmental devastations caused by the gold rush and the contamination of its water systems in the runoffs.
The wild and woolly manner of westward migration largely of marauding men gave the western expansion the legacy of lawlessness. But that is not our story today. What is useful to us, however is acknowledging that of hordes of unattached men with blazing guns, with alcohol and bad temperaments moved into areas previously unknown to Europeans by the tens of thousands and were a law unto themselves. This exacerbated the arguments in and on territories joining the Union.
New and old immigrants poured into lands still held by Native Peoples. There was armed conflict to be sure, but the Europeans’ greater numbers, fire-power, but most importantly their ability to withstand epidemics of communicable diseases made those incursions into the new lands inevitable and over time permanent. Wherever the Europeans went, slavery was perpetuated and firmly held.
European settlers westward wanted representation in the East in Congress. This pushed the issue of slavery on the heels of this expansionism. The national discussion as put forth by potential states — were they to come into the Union as slave or free states? This national conversation was becoming frenzied, with the territories Kansas and Nebraska making the case.
Before going on to John Brown’s curtain call in Kansas and Virginia, let us consider the other factors in and around John Brown: In 1833, Elijah Lovejoy was murdered. He had been an abolitionist of note and a journalist; he was a Presbyterian minister as well. He was killed by a pro-slavery mob in Alton, Illinois. When thirty-three year old John Brown received word of his death, he said” Here before God and in the presence of these witnesses, from this time, I consecrate my life to the destruction of slavery.” And, he did.
Then there was also these:
- The financial depression from 1839 – 1843
- Panic of 1857 (recovery began in 1859) and
- The loss of SS Central America with $1.5 million in gold (to provide backing for banks with financial runs) — it was lost at sea
- The Kansas – Nebraska Act of 1850 – another tenuous compromise trying to resolve the free state/slave state issue. Opened all new territories to slavery based on popular sovereignty. Judge Taney of the U.S. Supreme Court in the same order also ruled that the Missouri
Compromise was unconstitutional. It was now open season on slavery and the public outrage in the North was palpable. In Kansas and Nebraska, it would be battled out.
- Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 – The omnibus Fugitive Slave Law which covers all states and territories; all runaways are to be captured and returned to their owners. Anyone convicted of helping can be find $500 ($14,572.49 in 2015 dollars) for each slave for which aid of any kind was rendered. These are increasingly desperate times. Slave catchers visibly moved North snatching any and all Blacks they suspected as runaways whether they were or not. This nationalized slavery since slaves could be carried to any part of the country whether free or slave state, if it was the will of the owner.
- 1857 Dred Scott decision: again, Judge Taney wrote the final majority opinion in Dred Scott v. Sanford, which said that all people of African descent, free or slave, were not United States citizens and therefore had no right to sue in federal court. In addition, he wrote that the Fifth Amendment protected slave owner rights because slaves were their legal property.
There may be other issues, but I will stop with these. So now we have come to Kansas and its immediate precursors. While John Brown was trying his hand at an early form of a producers’ collective with small growers, working as a cooperative in the wool business and seeking basically fair market trade with British manufacturers — a business that, too failed — he was introduced to well established abolitionists and various likeminded groups around in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts. This first time was 1846 or there about. However, John Brown would return to the town a number of times. It was, after all, a place for the sharing of thoughts and the promise of compatriot workings. Some years later, at a meeting on January 15, 1851, John Brown gathered with members of Springfield’s Black community and organized the Springfield Branch of the U.S. League of Gileadites. The Gileadites took their name from the Biblical Mount Gilead, where Gideon led the Israelites to freedom. We would hear this name evoked at trial. Clearly, John Brown was actively recruiting for some future work.
Before some of the even more defining events in his life, John Brown moved his family to North Elba, New York, on land bought by Gerrit Smith, an abolitionist, for the expressed use by Blacks to stabilize themselves and acquire skills in order to be independent “and self-actualized.” John Brown established his own farm and worked as a leader in that small community. From North Elba, he moved runaways into Canada as frequently as resources would allow.
John Brown met Frederick Douglass in Springfield, Massachusetts. Douglass would later lament that he hadn’t the courage do what needed to be done like John Brown. Where Douglass fell on the spectrum of abolitionist thought is speculative. His orations are clear, but his strategies were not.
There is strong speculation that Frederick Douglass was supposed to join in the Harper’s Ferry assault somehow, but at the last stood back away from its execution. Perhaps he felt its was doomed and wanted no active or central part in it. Nonetheless, his association with Brown was well known. He continued to revere Brown as a person of great repute both during his life and after his death. Nonetheless, Douglass was outside of and more radical than Garrison, a pacifist, regarding radical physical action, but ultimately to the right of John Brown who obviously did not eschew the potential of physical responses to the anathema of slavery. Douglass believed that the Constitution was good document, but badly administered; it needed to be righted and updated to be inclusionary. Garrison believed that America’s institutions were calcified and could not be transformed therefore, old ones would have to go and new ones would have to be created. John Brown wrote his own constitution.
We will leave that conversation and those arguments there. However, you should know that Douglass at some point had been made aware of the plan that Brown was incubating regarding Harper’s Ferry and he probably knew about it for about 10 years. And, there were others. . . . Brown earnestly wanted others to join in a general conflagration to overthrow the slavocracy, to start the country afresh. After Harper’s Ferry, Garrison is quoted as saying, “Success to every slave insurrection [in] the South, and in every slave country.”
Let’s take a step back to 1849, when Kansas was beginning its political bleeding, “Bleeding Kansas.” I believe that I have spoken on why that came about, but you might want to know how it did so. Under the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, whites were basically “at war” with Blacks nationally. From anywhere, for any reason, free or enslaved, Blacks were attacked and if they survived, they were turned over to slave catchers who pervaded the North and points west. Given the punitive means in the law for anyone who helped slaves, this was another turning point for John Brown and others of like mind.
Then there was the crafty idea of popular sovereignty as a response to the slave or free state argument. It grew out of the annexation of Texas in 1846. In Kansas and Nebraska the idea of it was to determine their status as a territory, slave or free. From Missouri, especially, what were called border ruffians emerged. In John Browns’s own words these were, “the meanest and most desperate of men, armed to the teeth with revolvers, Bowie knives, rifle and cannon, while they are not thoroughly organized, . . . [they are] under pay from slaveholders.” They flooded into Kansas. Abolitionists headed west to Kansas. Brown and his five sons packed up their gear, left their homes and headed to Kansas, too, “To help defeat Satan and his legions.’’ The fight was on! It was the spring of 1855.
So now we are in Kansas. Loaded with guns and ammunition, Brown settled his group in the territory moving finally to Osawatomie, a small town on or near two streams, the Osage and the Potawatomie, near his half sister and her husband, Samuel and Florella Adair. With his natural flair and affinity for people, along his unfailing commitment to do what he could to free the slaves, speaking and organizing, John Brown soon became a local abolitionist leader. This area was known to support “Free Staters.” Along with way, he picked up the “street name,” Osawatomie Brown.
His reputation going before him, upon his entry into Kansas, he was welcomed with the burning of Lawrence, Kansas in May (21) by pro-slavery ruffians. With his moxie and their issue, it wouldn’t be long before the two forces would find each other on other fronts.
Retaliation by Brown came on August 13, 1856. A reverend White’s house was attacked and property taken after which the reverend called on and received militia support from the governor.
On August 30, 1856, some 250 – 400 pro-slavery Border Ruffians led by John W. Reid, attacked Osawatomie, Kansas. A defense was mounted by John Brown with just 50-odd men, but they had to pull back. The town of Osawatomie was looted and then burned to the ground. In subsequent the back and forth of events, John Brown’s son, Frederick was killed and more Free-Staters died. The ruffians then headed towards Topeka, burning and looting their way.
John Brown emerged from the Kansas fighting with an enhanced reputation as a fighter. This may have fueled his fervor to attempt fighting at Harper’s Ferry. There would be more skirmishes to fight in the years leading up to Brown’s main event. There would be intermittent violence in Kansas up through the Civil War.
Now we have come to Virginia. In the early morning hours of October 16, 1859, John Brown led 3 of his sons and 19 other men onto the United States Armory and Arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia). He wasn’t mad or crazy. He was calm under fire and cool headed as the leader. He thought that once people saw that they could assail the military machinery, there would be a rallying cry to throw off slavery of all kinds. He had hoped that poor whites would see the light, too. To get rid of slavery would require a mass insurrection — about that there was no question. This attack he ventured could and would shake he slavocracy. And, it did, but he would not live to see it.
Poorly provisioned and vastly outnumbered, John Brown and his men held the U.S. military response (rumored between 500 and 800 men) at bay for 2 days. All kinds of miscalculations occurred. No whites would rally to the cause nor did any local Blacks. Frightened slaves who had little or no idea what was underfoot withdrew further away, on and on. Brown would ironically surrender to Colonel Robert E. Lee and Lieutenant J.E.B. Stuart on the 19th of October. Ten of his 19 men were killed which included 2 of his sons.
There is a long story told by Owen Brown, a son who was near but not at Harper’s Ferry. He was one of several of the men who were able to escape Harper’s Ferry’s finalities heading North to Quaker abolitionists. The Blacks had their deaths — barbaric — and the whites were hung. The end, even for those who escaped, was a bleak and hard scrabble 19th century life. With, perhaps, one exception, not one of John Brown’s men ever wavered in their conviction and service to the end. Stout-hearted men with the backing and support of their women. Dangerous times. Dangerous acts.
Now for the legacy of men who laid down their lives so that the slaves could stand up. This is no way diminishes the work and struggles of the slaves themselves but here it is.
With the name of John Brown obscured, demonized, few would be encouraged to push and shove for relief of slaves. He was the only one we know of who took to the active fight, one in over 240 years of slavery to that date. The narrative implied that this was radical work, that this was not to be encouraged or condoned. People then would side-step or avoid what William Loren Katz called “A White Role Model.” Brown’s impact and value would be muted or obliterated.
Today, I am proud to call this man, John Brown, my brother. Martyr. Hero. Soldier in the army of true Christian ideals. A humanist. For those who have never fought in any struggle, they will never know the toll of a small effort. For those who think that all Americans rested easily during the long period of slavery, they can NEVER appreciate the exertion, the sacrifices made for however meager the outcomes. For in life, in the Struggle, there is no dollar for dollar match, no punch for punch equality. There is no guarantee of winning, there is only the guarantee that the Struggle continues in every generation, in every manner. John Brown saw and John Brown acted. Catalytically, his efforts shocked the country, North and South. The reverberations continued and as you are keenly aware, and as John Brown stated to his executioner, (December 2, 1859) “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land can never be purged away but with blood.”
Last words: The study of Black Life in the United States is relatively new. Handling the narrative is crucial as the racism of those who print would demean, ignore or denigrate the lives of slaves, free men, their progeny and allies. They would separate what is common by class and subvert it to racial proclivities and stereotypes. I see it everyday. Without the control of the narrative, never would there an identification of European men of means and statue who spoke openly and forthrightly for the freeing of slaves early on. Never would we know of the Marquis de Lafayette. This French aristocrat, who enabled the decisive victory of the combined American and French troops at Yorktown, VA, ending the Revolutionary War, who argued vigorously with George Washington, Jefferson and others for the freeing of the slaves. Why was the battle for freedom fought, if not to free all who were not free?
Nor would we know in that in that same American Revolution timeframe that Andrew Thaddeus Bonaventure Kosciuszko, the Polish Lithuanian military engineer, and national hero in Poland — celebrated in two other countries as well as this one, a principal developer of West Point during and after that war — that he, too, argued for the release of the slaves. Importantly, we would never know that he set aside his American funds for the freeing and education of Thomas Jefferson’s own slaves. It was never done and more than once Thomas came up short on this question, but that’s another story.
My point here is that had Black children and white children heard that there were strong voices of dissent to this horrible system, it would have given not only hope, it would have, perhaps, been inspirational. It would have given more people hope in challenging the system, to come from underground however and whenever they could. While I have no doubt that it would have remained so total in its exploitation or so horrendous in its application, it might not have lasted so long.
You have some details in your hands about slavery. You have no lack of information today because I have provided you with particulars which helped to shape John Brown’s thinking. His last words before the court were as follows: (October 16,1859) I believe that to have interfered as I have done as I have always freely admitted I have done [o]n behalf of His despised poor, was not wrong, but right. Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of my children and with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I submit; so let it be done! After Brown’s execution, the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass said of him, “If John Brown did not end the war that ended slavery, he did at least begin the war that ended slavery. . . . Until this blow was struck, the prospect for freedom was dim, shadowy and uncertain. The irrepressible conflict was one of words, votes and compromises. When John Brown stretched forth his arm, the sky was cleared. The time for compromises was gone—the armed hosts of freedom stood face to face over the chasm of a broken Union—and the clash of arms was at hand. The South staked all upon getting possession of the Federal Government, and failing to do that, drew the sword of rebellion and thus made her own, and not Brown’s, the lost cause of the century.”
We thank you, John Brown.
(Download this document here)
I was in my third year at Howard University when I had an unusual opportunity to travel to Southeast Asia. One of my stops was in the Philippines — an archipelagic country, a big word for a nation of islands, in this case about 7600 islands or so. Two things among other insights have stayed with me. One was Corregidor. It was the gateway island that controlled entry into Manila Bay, the entry to the island of Luzon which houses the capital city, Manila. With a small group, I descended “The Rock,” as it was called, some 20-odd years after the Japanese surrender. It established for me what the expression “dug in” actually means in war-talk. Observing this place in its dormancy, I could imagine its functionality as an unground city in war. Chroniclers of WWII have said that the Battle for Corregidor rivaled and surpassed the horrors of the infamous war camp Bataan, and we all know the hell that was.
At a later point, I went to the US Military Cemetery in Manila. I had been to cemeteries before, but except for my visits to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington, this seemed different. There was a stillness — not just a solemnity — which silenced my head as I looked over the thousands of white crosses placed just so indicating a body was buried there. In many cases, the body had no name, some mother’s son given to the earth, nameless, gone. It was profoundly sobering.
Changing the focus a bit, on another occasion I went to a piano concert. Now I am not given to concerts in particular, but this one was for a girl who was a prodigy, a genius who was Black. Philippa Schuyler was in concert. Her chosen instrument was the piano which was the original instrument for this magnificent music of which you just now heard a part. Her selected work was all 10 movements of “Pictures in an Exhibition” by Modest Mussorgsky. The last movement is “The Great Gate of Kiev” which you heard as you were assembling for this talk. Philippa Schuyler died in South Vietnam in the war, one of many. Philippa, a well prepared, multi-lingual, multi-talented woman of genius, was slammed and buffeted by racism. She would never be acknowledged. Even though we never met, I never forgot her.
Envision with me our coming to a large building, the one just up ahead. This imagery may not hold of all this speech, but hang in there with me for now. We won’t go in yet and push open those huge doors. Let’s stop. I want our conversation to be edifying Know now that I don’t have answers; I have only perplexities.
I have been wrestling with how to present this topic of “war” to you in a way that has meaning and leaves you with something on your mind. I have pondered on how to hold this topic steady, to control the narrative, and to be clear in this limited period of time. Let’s see. . . .
Let’s do the numbers as they say on NPR: the first of the World Wars brought us 20 million dead with 21 million more wounded; 110,000 more of them never returned or were MIA. A half-million children became fatherless in England alone. Then came along the Spanish Lady or the Influenza of 1918. It was so impactful that it is considered the reason the world war stopped — more soldiers were dying of it than of bullets. Killing between 675,000 to 750,000 Americans alone, that pandemic made its documented presence in 1918, but it was suspected some time before that date. It killed between 50 to 100 million people world-wide by the time it abated. Then came WWII in less than 20 years with the human count by its conclusion some 6 years later of 50 – 56 million military and civilian fatalities with approximately 19 – 28 million war-related deaths due to disease and famine for a total of about 85 million people. Out of the 50 – 56 million deaths, 50 – 55 million were civilians. Sixteen million Germans died with 415,000 MIAs.
Purportedly, there are universal reasons for the initiation of war — the offensive strategies — but they are too numerous to enumerate here with much specificity except to say that they tend to be either culture-bound, primed with stoked anger and/or tied to economic reasons often for private benefit which is cloaked or more concealed.
Military art or science is extensive, but I would submit that it is largely focused on current circumstances: the study of tactics and strategies in the current experience(s), next to nil on history, the manufacturing and use of weaponry, and the disciplining and deployment of the military fighters on all three spaces — land, sea, and air — to secure objectives operating within whatever standards exist or are enforceable by their commanders.
Reading about some of the world’s implacable problems, I wrestled with various phrasing, “to win the hearts and minds of people.” I wondered how this made any kind of sense? And, if so, to whom? The military was obliterating the people and their land — blowing up the ground and grinding the people to dust. What minds were they going to win? How was that supposed to happen? You can still hear that kind of thinking right up to today’s American presence in Afghanistan and Syria. And, another expression, “a war to end all wars.” Nonsensical and superficial, if hopeful.
That a people had the right to choose their own government, I had been taught that this was an axiom of American foreign policy. It certainly was hammered home in my public school education. Then I read about the “Banana Republics” and American foreign policies in South America with the training of their military at the U.S. Army School of the Americas in Atlanta, Georgia. That taught me foursquare that the right to chose one’s own style and kind of government independent of any major power is not operative nor has it ever been likely the case since the founding of this republic. That certainly came home in the Vietnam War where America dropped more bombs in little Vietnam and its neighboring countries than in all of WWII. Even with all of that, how can you kill an idea as fundamental as independence?
That said, it should be clear that what is publicly spoken, is far from the whole picture. Is this duplicity at its height? Probably. Most certainly, it is the fact that policy is complicated by the winding of private — generally corporate interests — into national policy and the public is certainly the last to know the real deal. They are not taught or encouraged to look beneath the surface.
How quickly the enemy of yesterday can become the friend of today. Reading about the stranglehold the Third Reicht had on almost all of Western Europe, I was floored by the courage that the Russians exhibited in finally turning back Germany’s eastern advance. Then I wondered how this country and her sister, England, could turn against not only their ally but their essential partner and enter into the so-called “Cold War?” Further, why would the U.S. embrace former Nazis, high and low, and bring them to this country and/or facilitate them going into South America? These were former enemies, dangerous men! Is America not a good friend?
But there’s a little more about which I couldn’t reconcile so just work with me a bit more. The Great Powers ignored the Spanish Civil War that was the precursor to the great conflagration of World War II. Some suggest that if it had been won by the legitimately elected democratic forces, it could have nipped Hitler’s moves in the bud. Weren’t the European communists and socialists the first to signal that Hitler and his cohorts were evil and deadly? Why didn’t the general population heed? Why are we still dancing around some of this same thinking in this country in the year 2020?
Hatred — for real or imagined “reasons” — bursts forth when opportunity allows. The psychotics and sociopaths are seemingly always with us, but they need fertile ground on which to grow politicly. Did the United States encourage the importation of significant numbers of these types from Europe in the great westward expansion of this country increasing the already present sense of white domination and nationalism? What accounts for this in real terms? Can information actually sweep away gross, intentioned ignorance?
Why is mankind so unwilling to grow, admit past errors, improve judgment, and make amends where possible and allowed? Surely, we by now, especially in the so-called west, we should realize that all of us are on the same small planet in the solar system and that no one group owns the earth! Why is that a continued fantasy?
I remember talking with the small shopkeepers who occupied every corner in my neighborhood for blocks. I was an inquisitive kid and so I asked them, how did they end up in my part of the city. Who were they with their thick accents, where did they come from? They showed me the tattoos on their forearms, gotten at some place called a concentration camp. I was 5 or 6 years old, maybe a little older. They told me that they were “DPs” displaced persons, people found by the Allies and released after the defeat of Germany. They were everywhere. At the time, in my unsophisticated mind, it was just something I stuck in my memory bank. Later, when reading about the displacement of Native Peoples here in this country, I saw great similarities. Who’s the copy cat? When I read about the Serbs and Croats efforts to vanquish the Moslems in Central Europe, doesn’t it sounded like a replay of the same kind of machinery and treachery we have seen and heard before?
Somewhere along the line, I came to the recognition that government and private interests work by symbiosis particularly in the area of foreign policy; you might say they are intertwined. The mission and policy outcomes of war have many layers most of which cannot be easily resolved, certainly not publicly. Often the reason for the current war is because of some things/issues/bad blood which occurred in past ones. There’s no finality to the action however intense and singular. Sense and reason are often sacrificed on the altar of bloodlust. The essence or kernels fundamental to both the mission and outcome are more soundly found out through diligent research rather than through the blather of politicians. We are still figuring out pieces of the American Revolution much less the hundreds of war situations during and since then.
Now maybe if you understand that, this comment may now resonate: “the first casualty of war is truth.” You are only told what you “need to know” and that is very little. And, all you really need to know is to how to conform and support the troops whether in or out of uniform.
Elaborate embellishments cover all of the following : (1) coveted land and resources — almost never stolen people, (2) retribution for some past actions of a prior war as in the debacle of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the rub could go back centuries, but it only went to the previous world war — 20 years earlier — for Hitler’s enmity to find harvest; and, (3) finally on my list, displacing current residents — the wrong people in the wrong place at the wrong time, I will let you apply that to situations with which you are familiar.
War’s violence brings about new trauma, new causes for hate because there are new violations. And, war is going to make things right, yes? No, that is what the propaganda machine spews. The state’s or the empire’s military might has to spin for itself a “believable myth” that not only soldiers will buy, but that the general population will support as well. The more vile or villainous the “causal act or actions,” the stronger the anticipated popular response. But here’s the hitch: wars almost never go the way the initiators anticipate for a variety of reasons. In protracted wars, privation usually visits the home country in some ways. But most interestingly, the people calling for the war never seem to fight in them. They send somebody else’s sons and now daughters to do their deeds. Indeed, war is an odd affair. Full of moronic behaviors and thoughts to say the least. In the meanwhile, people are dying and all of the attendant destruction is occurring.
Let’s bring this conversation home. Between the jabs from our current political leadership and the internet-trolls combined with what had been underground arch-right menaces, I hear the word “war” frequently. It is bandied about in the media lightly, to my thinking, without real concern or warning.
Wars begin in the hearts and minds of men. It has been a man’s game. For at least the last 2, 000 years, for the want of control of particular resources or people, men have marched, ridden, and since WWII flown hundreds if not thousands of miles to acquire and satisfy the avarice of their leadership. Beneficence is not a common factor in war, so those in the way — women and children, non-combatants all — pay with their lives and means, blatantly a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I have also wondered, have you, has there ever been a day without war anywhere at any time? I would be grateful to know of one.
Here are some thoughts on the world stage: the constant wars in Asia with the growth and contraction of China’s sense of empire; the national expansion in Japan towards a single country and its ravishing and plunder of Manchuria, Korea, and China proper; much earlier the movement of the Mongol khans into Europe who shook the earth with the thundering hoofs of between 130 to 150 thousand men on horseback; the constant wars in Europe as the peevish greed of church and state churned the countrysides from Rome to Scandinavia into battlefields for who would dominate whom in Europe and later, the New World; the subjugation and vanquishing of Native Peoples in the New World; the kidnapping and enslaving of Africans to turn the forested regions of that New World into agricultural gain; the wars about whose god is God and what books and writings about Him were acceptable or not and on and on. . . . These are my wars that I have wrestled with for this talk.
War’s restlessness is part and parcel of the American tradition, that this country — according to reliable sources has had less than 25 years of so-called “peace” since it began in 1617. And, what is “the peace?” Well, that’s another conversation for another day. The opposite of war is no war, peace is a much greater concept yet to be fully understood or explored.
Established as a colony, and moved on to being a settler state, and later a nation, this country has maintained an on-going war with Native Peoples from the beginning. The level of destruction to them should be obvious when we call out Native American words that mark our rivers, mountains, counties, streets and states in language given by those people but they not around or are no longer here. I mention that the bounty coaxed from the land and its profits have never been shared with the formerly enslaved population or the mill and factory workers who eked out a living in the industrial transference of raw materials into consumer goods.
Organized labor fought many a bloody battle for what we have come to recognize as the ordinary work week and basic demands for workers’ rights and dignity in the work place. Those unionists faced constant military and para-military might fixed to waylay or obliterate their demands. As a complete absurdity to me is that the police have a union! Do we make a mockery of everything? Is every idea up for sale?
So “war” can and does become internal. We call them by many words, but civil unrest, civil war just about covers it. Organized labor made many missteps regarding race and now it faces a backlash from people who never struggled, and therefore have a loose meaning as to the efforts made. However, for a brief period, at least, they have enjoyed the hard-won benefits of other’s sacrifice.
You can see today what the progeny of the anti-democratic forces are willing to devalue in our fragile democracy as you observe the current struggles at the federal level. Whether you actively admire or are merely passive in your participation in our political process, you have some understanding of those who would throw it all away and what that will mean going forward. They are those who are deranged and ignorant of the basic tenets of right and wrong, justice and injustice, and think they will not have to finally pay the paymaster. Everyone pays the piper one way or another!
As war has maintained itself in many societies across time and space, there seems to always be a level of “professionalism” which persists despite the futility of the war itself. With a seemingly permanent social status, the persons and actions have found their way into the social structure; it signals permanency in the political agenda going forward.
There are cracks and arrangements in the machinery of war where recognition for sheer survival requires cooperation over conflict. Sometimes that has reached the national and international stage, that is what treaties are all about.
“On 12 June 1941, the representatives of Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa as well as representatives of the exiled governments from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Yugoslavia, and the Free French, met in London to sign the Declaration of St. James Palace to pledge their solidarity in fighting aggression until victory against the Axis powers was won.” The Declaration proclaimed that “the only true basis of enduring peace is the willing cooperation of free peoples in a world in which, relieved of the menace of aggression, all may enjoy economic and social security.”
WWII finally halted on September 2, 1945. Approximately 6 weeks later on October 24, 1945, 51 countries came together to create the United Nations or the UN. Its purpose was to promote peace and cooperation around the world. The event was to be observed by all member countries. …. We have seen the effort and the evisceration. Yet the U.N. endures — there is nothing else to take its place — and, so does war. Seventy-five years for a very difficult job, happy birthday United Nations, take a bow!
Why does the Republican Party hate the UN? This is what I think. Cutting through the verbiage, this is the bottom line. They conjure up many things, but I think that the corporate partners of the Republican/Federal government structure do not want or ever intend to be held accountable for their operations, overt or covert. And, they certainly have no intention of being held accountable before any world body, particularly one dominated in any form or manner by people of color. Period, the end of discussion! Where are the Democrats on the U.N.? From my observation, the Dems have been milquetoast. There has been no champion for the United Nations in this country for decades. And the failure pay up and bring forward its billion-dollar dues is mind-boggling. I guess they would rather kill using the military, than spending the funds to diplomatically let the UN do what it needs to do.
The military of the United States is deployed in more than 150 countries around the world, with approximately 165,000 of its active-duty personnel permanently assigned outside the United States and its territories excluding Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
When we come to the 20th century, we come to the marriage of technology and military might that is, in fact, capable of eradicating huge populations in current and future time. This echos the warning of Dwight Eisenhower some 50 years ago, “Beware of the military-industrial complex.” The use of depleted uranium in Fallujah (Iraq) and apparently throughout Iraq and the Gulf Wars, not to mention the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki has rendered normal childbearing and normal children out of the question for women in those areas.
And, while in the past, somehow human life has endured, that question remains open to shaky speculation as atomic power and its acquisition has unsecured the dominance in international warfare of the super powers and put its access in the hands of interests which function differently who have other bridges to burn. What will the future bring? I do not know. This is our hope.
In closing I give you this most famous quotation from the the Hindu text, the Bhagavad-Gita, which has been quoted by many across time. Most recently, however, it is attributed to J. Robert Oppenheimer, Father of the atomic bomb, winner of that bitter race to create and control atomic energy that the Third Reich was also trying to establish, but here it is: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”.
1 During the conflict, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire (the Central Powers) fought against Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Romania, Japan and the United States (the Allied Powers).
2 World War I casualties – Centre européen Robert Schuman. www.centre-robert-schuman.org › userfiles › files › REPE…PDF World War I casualties – Centre européen Robert Schuman
3 The Lost Doughboys — The Hunt Continues for American … militaryhistorynow.com › 2016/03/09 › the-lost-doughboys.
4 A lot of children had a tough time during the war as their fathers, brothers and uncles were away serving. Over 500,000 children lost their father in World War One. It was the biggest loss of fathers in modern British history.
Childhood in WW1 – Black Country Living Museum.
5 Its origin was from a tiny, hardscrabble, rural town in Kansas, in Haskill County to be exact 1918 Flu History Documentary, Youtube. And,The site of origin of the 1918 influenza pandemic and its … www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov › pmc › articles › PMC340389. Jan 20, 2004 — In actuality, by then the county was free of influenza. Haskell County, Kansas, is the first recorded instance anywhere in the world of an outbreak …
by JM Barry · 2004 · Cited by 122 · Related articles
6 “Is the World Due for an Influenza Pandemic?” | Mount Sinai …
8 The main combatants were the Axis powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan) and the Allies (France, Great Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union, and, to a lesser extent, China).Sep 10, 2020.
9 World War II casualties – Wikipedia
en.wikipedia.org › wiki › World_War_II_casualties
10 World War II was the deadliest military conflict in history. An estimated total of 70–85 million people perished, or about 3% of the 1940 world population (est. 2.3 billion).
World War II casualties – Wikipedia
en.wikipedia.org › wiki › World_War_II_casualties
11 Fourteen million were killed internally: 6 million Jews, the then Jehovah Witnesses, handicapped, homosexuals, mentally challenged, political enemies and people that get on the Nazi’s nerves. The rest maybe attributable to those Germans killed in their displacement from occupied territories at the end of the war.
12 Military art is a field of theoretical research and training methodology in military science used in the conduct of military operations on land, in the maritime or air … Military art (military science) – Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Military_ar
13 How does a conquering army overcome resistance from the local population? For the United States, the answer has often taken the form of the somewhat nebulous concept of “winning hearts and minds.”
. . .Essentially, the United States tried to convince the native population that they have been liberated and that their quality of life has been improved by a benevolent American invasion.” “Winning Hearts and Minds” – The Long History of a Failed …www.warhistoryonline.com › instant-articles › winning-… Oct 3, 2018
14 Woodrow Wilson’s World War of 1914–1918. Originally idealistic, it is now mainly used sardonically. The war to end war – Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org › wiki › The_war_to_end_war
15 A visual record of the largest aerial bombardment in history
Between 1965 and 1975, the United States and its allies dropped more than 7.5 million tons of bombs on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia—double the amount dropped on Europe and Asia during World War II. Bombing Missions of the Vietnam War – Esri storymaps.esri.com › stories › vietnam-bombing
16 Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC. War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is … Military Force: United States Marine Corps. Smedley Butler on Interventionism. fas.org › man › smedley.
17 The Spanish Civil War: A Trial Run for World War II | nationalinterest.org › feature › the-spanish-civil-war-trial- And,
Spanish Civil War: Jul 17, 1936 – Apr 1, 1939 Spanish Civil War – Wikipedia
en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Spanish_Civil_War
WWII dates: September 1, 1939 – September 2, 1945. World War II: Summary, Combatants & Facts – HISTORY www.history.com › topics › world-war-ii-history
18 The military of the United States is deployed in more than 150 countries around the world, with approximately 165,000 of its active-duty personnel permanently assigned outside the United States and its territories excluding Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria
19 Under international law, a treaty is any legally binding agreement between states (countries). A treaty can be called a Convention, a Protocol, a Pact, an Accord, etc.; it is the content of the agreement, not its name, which makes it a treaty.
20 History of the United Nations | United Nations.www.un.org › model-united-nations › history-united-n…
21 Saturday, October 24
United Nations Day 2020 Saturday, October 24; www.un.org › events › unday
During World War II, the Allies—known formally as the United Nations—adopted as their basic war aims the Four Freedoms freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from fear, and freedom from want. Towards the end of the war, the United Nations Charter was debated, drafted, and ratified to reaffirm “faith in fundamental human rights, and dignity and worth of the human person” and commit all member states to promote “universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion”. When the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany became fully apparent after the war, the consensus within the world community was that the UN Charter did not sufficiently define the rights to which it referred. It was deemed necessary to create a universal declaration that specified the rights of individuals so as to give effect to the Charter’s provisions on human rights. www.scribd.com › document › Universal-Declaration-o…
22 Of the U.S. arrears to the UN totaling over $1.3 billion, $612 million was payable under Helms-Biden. The remaining $700 million resulted from various legislative and policy withholdings.
United States and the United Nations – Wikipedia
A Day Which Commemorates Black and African American Freedom and Achievements
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed into law legislation (S.8598/A.10628) designating Juneteenth as an official public holiday in New York State. The new law celebrates Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the end to slavery and celebrates Black and African American freedom and achievements while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures. Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday for New York State employees.
“I am incredibly proud to sign into law this legislation declaring Juneteenth an official holiday in New York State, a day which commemorates the end to slavery in the United States,” Governor Cuomo said. “This new public holiday will serve as a day to recognize the achievements of the Black community, while also providing an important opportunity for self-reflection on the systemic injustices that our society still faces today.”
Senator Kevin Parker said, “Finally, we are beginning to acknowledge the historic oppression and injustices that African-Americans have endured. This holiday is a first step in reconciliation and healing that our great state needs in order to ensure equity for all people. Thank you Governor for your support and advocacy.”
Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman said, “Juneteenth serves as a piece of history towards Black liberation in this country. I am glad to serve along with my colleagues in government and Governor Cuomo, as a part of ensuring these important parts of Black American history will continue to be told in our great state of New York.”
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when the news of liberation came to Texas more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863. African Americans across the state were made aware of their right to freedom on this day when Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston with federal troops to read General Order No. 3 announcing the end of the Civil War and that all enslaved were now free, as well as to maintain a presence in Texas for the purpose of enforcement of emancipation among slave-owners throughout the state.
Muriel Tillinghast, Co-Chair
(Named for the Australopithecus “Lucy” discovered in 1974 by the Johanson Team in Ethiopia, East Africa)
We are mourning the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg who for 27 years sat on the United States Supreme Court. Her impact in writing, affirming and advocating primarily the rights of women in a fractious and increasingly conservative judicial arena gave her various monikers, the Notorious B.E.G. is one that I have found to be the most illuminating and endearing, an unlikely “street” moniker for a scholar, a jurist and a lady in every respect.
I will leave you to read about her illustrious career and struggle with cancer in other places. This is a note of commemoration for a public hero of which we have far too few in this decade of our America.
The holder of not only ideas, Justice Ginsburg fashioned the trajectory of theory against which to make judgments at the High Court level to hold people accountable as well as to retread laws and review actions which bound women’s interests against their own fundamental rights. She consistently applied the measuring rod: what does this mean for and in the lives of women?
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a sentry at the judicial gate. Sometimes it was a lonely vigil, but she stood at attention in her solitary role, ever vigilant, on duty until the last light left her eyes.
Co-Chair Lucy’s Children*
(Named for the Australopithecus “Lucy” discovered in 1974 by the Johanson Team in Ethiopia, East Africa)