Their eyes were indeed watching God.

Remembering the victims of the Storm of ’28 – now honored Ancestors

I have such a deep personal history around this disaster. Not forgetting the stories told to me by my Mother who was a witness; and I never forgot. After many years away, In 1991,  using my radio voice on OUR COMMON GROUND I co-founded The Sankofa Society with Janice Jennings, a local Sister Attorney and Patrice Daniels, OCG Producer to  organize the community to remember, by organizing an African-centered consecration of the burial site and raising the names of our Ancestors buried there.

ABOUT THE 1991 CONSECRATION 

My thanks to Former WPB City Commissioner Robbie Littles, Robert Hazard, Patrice Daniels and many others who are now keeping this important history alive working to finalize the Remembrance Park. On September 16th, the community will come together for this year’s memorial.

sentinel-article

 

The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 62

Oct 21, 1991 –  Graham said she also plans to put together a housing committee that would …. Victims of 1928 hurricane in mass grave consecrated .-. … Janice Peak-Graham, Janice Jennings and Patrice Daniels were introduced as “the …

ABOUT the 2016 Memorial

storm2.png

storm1

“To them, the Storm of ’28 will forever be remembered as Black Sunday, the night when death blew down Palm Beach County’s back door.

Landfall Even before the unnamed storm, packing 150 mph winds, slammed ashore in West Palm Beach, it had killed 1,500 in the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.

Within moments of making landfall on a Palm Beach County shoreline, its fierce winds left a trail of destruction from Pompano Beach to Jupiter. Sailboats were thrown from their moors, buildings in downtown West Palm Beach splintered and popped, choking Clematis Street with debris. The Episcopal Church on Swinton Avenue in Delray Beach was flattened, and in Boca Raton, railcars were blown off their tracks and a third of the buildings were demolished.”

woodlawn

Funeral service for the Black victims of hurricane victims at Woodlawn Cemetery in West Palm Beach (1928).

 

coffin

Makeshift coffins stacked alongside the road between Belle Glade and Pahokee after the Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928. Black victims were loaded onto trucks and buried in a mass grave at the corner of 25th Street and Tamarind Ave. in West Palm Beach.  The site later became the site of the WPB city sewer system.  Spewing odor across the Black community and desecrating more than 674 Black ancestors.

SEPTEMBER 16th, 1928

Okeechobee Hurricane Kills Thousands of Black Farm Workers in Florida

On September 16, 1928, a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 140 miles per hour made landfall in Palm Beach County, Florida. The hurricane destroyed a levee that protected a number of small farming communities from the waters of Lake Okeechobee. Most of the residents of these low-lying communities were black migrant farm workers. When the levee was destroyed, water from Lake Okeechobee rushed into these communities, killing thousands.

After the hurricane, black survivors were forced to recover the bodies of those killed. The officials in charge of the recovery effort ordered that food would be provided only to those who worked and some who refused to work were shot. The bodies of white storm victims were buried in coffins in local cemeteries, but local officials refused to provide coffins or proper burials for black victims.

Instead, the bodies of many black victims were stacked in piles by the side of the roads doused in fuel oil, and burned. Authorities bulldozed the bodies of 674 black victims into a mass grave in West Palm Beach. The mass grave was not marked and the site was later sold for private industrial use; it later was used as a garbage dump, a slaughterhouse, and a sewage treatment plant. The city of West Palm Beach did not purchase the land until 2000. In 2008, on the 80th anniversary of the storm, a plaque and historical marker was erected at the mass grave site.

Downtown West Palm Beach Clematis Street following the storm.

HURRICANE OF 1928 MASS BURIAL SITE

Location:Corner of 25th St. and N. Tamarind Ave.
County: Palm Beach
City: West Palm Beach, FL
Description: Early residents of Glades had to survive many harsh elements. Their goal to create a thriving farming community was often tested by storms, insects, and the lack of many comforts. In 1928 the Glades area was devastated by a powerful hurricane that threatened to destroy the entire area. Several thousand residents were killed and hundreds of homes were destroyed. Despite the death and damage, those residents that survived continued to develop the area. The Glades eventually became a major agricultural community because of their desire and vision. This memorial honors those residents who lost their lives in the 1928 hurricane.
Sponsors: CITY OF PAHOKEE AND THE FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF STATE

 

Hurricane of 1928 African American Mass Grave:

West Palm Beach, Florida

[photo]
Hurricane of 1928 African American Mass Grave Site
Photo by Sherry Piland, courtesy of Florida Division of Historical Resources

The Hurricane of 1928 African American Mass Burial site is important as the burial site of approximately 674 victims, primarily African American agricultural workers, who were killed in the hurricane of 1928 that devastated South Florida–one of the worst natural disasters in American history. A major event for the African American community, it was the source for literary inspiration by noted author Zora Neale Hurston in Their Eyes Were Watching God; well known educator Mary McLeod Bethune, along with 3,000 other mourners attended the memorial service at the mass grave.

The bodies brought to West Palm Beach, Florida, were delivered to two cemeteries: 69 bodies were buried in a mass grave intended for white victims at Woodlawn Cemetery, and an additional 674 victims were buried in a mass grave intended for black victims in the City’s pauper cemetery at 25th Street and Tamarind Avenue. The mass grave was never marked. In December 2000, responding to public interest, the City of West Palm Beach reacquired the property of the burial ground from the last owner, and plans to memorialize this site in the history of the community are underway.

 

IMPORTANT LINKS for more Information

When the Dam Breaks…

Florida Frontiers “The Hurricane of 1928”

 

OCG This Week:  “The Elusive Freedom – What is Freedom?”

What is Freedom ?
Guest: Brother Dr. Irami Osei-Frimpong
The Funky Academic
Saturday, July 16, 2016 <> LIVE <> 10 pm ET
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What is this elusive Freedom ? Do you know ?

Our people have been on the road, rampage and struggle for FREEDOM for over 400 years. We have rebelled, resisted, sung, marched and demanded. More Black people in prison; killed and brutalized by police; living under oppressive captialism and abandoned by corrupted politics. We watch Black men and women bodies fall in the street and in jails murdered under law. Most of us declare freedom, and some continue to fight for it. But what exactly is FREEDOM? A discussion with the Funky Academic about this convolution called FREEDOM.

We will discuss freedom in the context of police killings, mass incarceration, impotent political agency and elected officials.

Guest: Brother Dr. Irami Osei-Frimpong, Brandeis and U-Berkeley, Uof GA philosopher, The Funky Academic.

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Source:  The Elusive Freedom – What is Freedom?

OUR COMMON GROUND This Week :: “Global White Supremacy: Baltimore to Palestine” :: LIVE

“Global White Supremacy: Baltimore to Palestine”

09-26-15 Wintess Sales

RESISTANCE and REBELLION Series

OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham

Saturday, September 26, 2015            LIVE                    10 pm EDT

Our Guest Tonight:  Shardi Vardi

Dr. Ruby N. Sales, Co-Moderating
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RESISTANCE and REBELLION Series

We continue our series of discussions of REBELLION AND RESISTANCE required to fight American racism and white supremacy.

Tonight on OUR COMMON GROUND, we discuss white supremacy as a system of power which is a fundamental undergird and foundation of economic, political and cultural imperialism. Part of our discussion will focus on examining the parallels of the struggle to dismantle that system with the struggles of other victims of white supremacy across the globe. Joining us will be representatives of a visiting Palestinian activist group here in the US to make its case before the UN Commission on Human Rights. We are grateful to have Dr. Ruby Sales, a featured commentator on OCG to join us and to lead this discussion, taking your calls and comments.

 

Sahar VardiABOUT OUR GUEST, Shardi Yardi

“The bloody cycle in which I live…is a vicious circle that is sustained by the choice of both sides to engage in violence. I refuse to take part in this choice.”

Sahar Vardi is a Jerusalem based activist. She publicly refused her military service and was imprisoned in 2008. Since then she has been active with Israeli anti-militarist groups such as New Profile and today works as the Israel Program Coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee based in Jerusalem. The focus of her work is on countering militarism in Israeli society, including challenging the Israeli military-industry complex. Sahar is also part of Boycott from Within (a group of Israelis supporting the Palestinian call for boycott) and has been active with direct action groups such as Taayush and Anarchists Against the Wall. Today much of her activism is in Jerusalem in Palestinian lead struggles against house demolitions, child arrests and discrimination of East Jerusalem.

‪#‎BlackLivesMatter: From Baltimore to Jerusalem
http://www.afsc.org/fr…/blacklivesmatter-baltimore-jerusalem

THE GLOBAL NATURE of WHITE SUPREMACY

White supremacy is a historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations and peoples of color by white peoples and nations of the European continent; for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power and privilege.

White supremacy operates through racial oppression against people of color: slavery, genocide, anti-immigration, driving while Black, etc. White supremacy maintains real power for the ruling class who control the major institutions of society.  Racism is white supremacy; white supremacy is racism. There is no other form of “functional” racism in the known universe. Therefore it is illogical purporting victims of white supremacy (racism) worldwide are capable of practicing white supremacy simultaneously. It doesn’t compute.

“Racism | White Supremacy – One or more white persons using deceit, direct violence, and/or the threat of violence to promote falsehood, non-justice, and/or incorrectness against non-white people on the basis of “color” in order to “satisfy” white people, in one or more areas of activity including economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex and/or war.”

“Everything that a Racist (White Supremacist) says, and everything that he or she does is intended to help establish, maintain, expand, and/or refine the practice of Racism (White Supremacy).”   – Neely Fuller Jr. The United Independent Compensatory Code/System/Concept a textbook/workbook for thought, speech and/or action for victims of racism (white supremacy)

The local and global power system structured and maintained by persons who classify themselves as white, whether consciously or subconsciously determined; this system consists of patterns of perception, logic, symbol formation, thought, speech, action and emotional response, as conducted simultaneously in all areas of people activity (economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex and war). The ultimate purpose of the system is to prevent white genetic annihilation on Earth – a planet in which the overwhelming majority of people are classified as non-white (black, brown, red and yellow) by white-skinned people. All of the non-white people are genetically dominant (in terms of skin coloration) compared to the genetically recessive white-skinned people.”    – Dr. Frances Cress Welsing, “The Isis Papers”

“To think of White supremacy in terms of American dynamics alone eschews the fact that much of the racism, the legacy of slavery in sheer size actually occurred outside of the United States (i.e. Brazil). Much of the colonialism globally impacts America (in terms of capitalism and trade) yet didn’t occur here. The idea that White supremacy evaporates when White people are not present or when some Whites are oppressed for other facets of identity beyond their race is simply untrue.”
“Racism Isn’t Only American. White Supremacy Isn’t Only Western.” Gradient Lair, http://www.gradientlair.com/post/63803685383/racism-and-white-supremacy-are-global

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Saturday, September 26, 2015 10 pm ET
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This Week on OUR COMMON GROUND ll “Getting the Whole Village to the Movement: #BlackLivesMatter, Please Call Home”

“Getting the Whole Village to the Movement: #BlackLivesMatter, Please Call Home”
09-19-15 BLM FBSaturday, September 19, 2015 10 pm EDT

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The cry of #Black Lives Matter rings throughout the nation. It stands in the wake of a new movement and awakens our national consciousness to the persistent system of white supremacy and structural racism that penetrates each of our institutions. By placing violence against black bodies at the center of the movement, BLM has demanded dignity and respect for those who are often disregarded as disposal.

The Black Lives Matter movement was born out of the pain and injustice of Trayvon Martin’s death in 2012 and gathered momentum in the wake of the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice and far too many others. The significance of this emergence was not so much the movement as it was the cry of our people declaring that “Black Lives Matter”. A cry for a need for a new liberation uprising for Black people in America. #BlackLivesMatter as a slogan met the need of Black people to declare its pain, loudly and precisely. Moving that slogan as the undergird of a movement is the hard part. Figuring how we ignite political and social transformation — not just marches, Twitter feeds and shouting matches on- and offline is the real challenge.

More teaching, training and strategic action is needed. More poor people, experienced organizers and on-the ground development is required to create a movement. Too often, meetings and community conversations are held in order to delay progress and to give the illusion of progress, all while the community remains broken. The Black Lives Matter Movement has the potential to turn this very moment into a movement, but must expand in depth and breadth to accomplish the task of justice and reconciliation. #BlackLivesMatter has to be the talk on the “block” across America.

There is no doubt that the “#BlackLivesMatter” movement is a critical opportunity to engage community interest groups in conversations about race and privilege. The movement issued a call to action for people everywhere to recognize the reality of institutionalized racism. But to whom is it engaged?

We must get as excited about policy shaping as we do about protesting. Systemic terrorism needs also requires Black redemption; and that work is little, slow and fueled political bickering on the left, long meetings and little relationship building. Who is teaching the history that brings us to the street proclaiming #BlackLivesMatter ? A slogan is cry for a need for a new liberation for Black people in America, but within the village, is there a depth of understanding beyond the pain – understanding of the Empire which presses us? “#BlackLivesMatter” as a slogan meets only a small need. Moving that slogan as the undergird of a movement igniting political and social transformation — not just marches, Twitter feeds and shouting matches on- and offline.

But here is the rub. No movement can be sustained or make significant change if it falls to co-opting by the same systems which rule the Empire that designs, control and maintains the structures of institutionalized racism and system of white supremacy. It cannot be vulnerable to take-down and huge vacuums of community disengagement. If #BlackLivesMatters is to be a true moment, the whole community is required to build the walls and fortify a strategy that moves forward on objectives targeting goals for all Black people.

The whole village must understand where and when they enter. If not, it is merely another group attempting to advance a narrow agenda, important, but narrow just the same. How do we infuse the slogan with a movement?


You are invited to bring your thoughts about the pressing issues facing our community. Come listen and learn. SHARE please.

OUR COMMON GROUND where friends come to confer with allies.

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