Voter Repression Is a Serious Problem: It Is Time for a New Freedom Summer | Portside

Voter Repression Is a Serious Problem: It Is Time for a New Freedom Summer

Republicans have created immense obstacles to registration – reduced the number of days for early voting, eliminated same-day registration – all with the clear and unadulterated aim of sinking, if not eliminating the Democratic electorate. What is striking is that, not very far behind their bogus arguments regarding alleged voter fraud, Republicans are close to admitting, or will outright admit, that their aim is to get potential Democratic voters to remain home.
Bill Fletcher
June 5, 2016

I found myself reading about the impact of voter suppression, i.e., the efforts to inhibit voter registration and voter participation that have been orchestrated by Republican-dominated state legislatures since 2009.  Voter suppression actually has a long and ignominious history in the USA, but the 1965 Voting Rights Act cramped such efforts.  The US Supreme Court’s neutering of the Voting Rights Act, Shelby County v Holder , opened up myriad possibilities for Republican shenanigans in the electoral arena.  Republicans have created immense obstacles to registration –  reduced the number of days for early voting,  eliminated same-day registration – all with the clear and unadulterated aim of sinking, if not eliminating the Democratic electorate.  What is striking is that, not very far behind their bogus arguments regarding alleged voter fraud, Republicans are close to admitting, or will outright admit, that their aim is to get potential Democratic voters to remain home.

    Voter registration, instead of being encouraged and made more accessible, has become exceedingly difficult.  In the Commonwealth of Virginia, for instance, registration forms have to be submitted within a certain number of days after they have been filled out, otherwise those who have conducted the registrations are penalized.  Registration forms can only be submitted to the clerk in the county of residence of the registrant rather than being submitted elsewhere and channeled appropriately.  And, in this age of identity theft, registrants are required to provide their full social security number.  In each state where voter suppression efforts are underway there are similar stories.

    Contemporary voter suppression parallels the practices carried out when Reconstruction was overthrown in 1877 and the ‘counterrevolution of property,’ to use W.E.B. Dubois’s term, succeeded.  In many states, possession of property was established as an eligibility requirement to cast a ballot. This counterrevolution resulted in the disenfranchisement of African American voters and, with them, many poor whites.  This was precisely the objective of “property” when faced with a populist rising against the gross inequalities of the Gilded Era and the post-Reconstruction period.

    Today’s voter suppression gained traction in the aftermath of the election of Barack Obama as President.  For the right-wing it was an “OMG” moment that they sought to undermine by any means necessary.  As we are now aware, Senator Mitch McConnell united the Republicans around a strategy of obstruction in Congress, aiming to derail any Obama initiative.  In the field, however, the objective was deeper and more demonic.  The aim was to shrink the electorate.  Some Republican ideologues went so far as to argue that the electorate should be reduced and that there were certain people who should not be able to vote because of ignorance or poverty.  But the mass of Republican legislators crafted a strategy that based itself on the argument that there was voter fraud that had to be blocked through new and challenging initiatives in voter registration and voting.  The arguments were as absurd as they were racist.  There was no evidence of anything approaching significant voter fraud, yet the Republicans played upon racist myths and fears among many whites to create an atmosphere where such measures were taken seriously.

    There have been repeated and significant efforts to block voter suppression efforts.  Litigation has been the main tactic and, in some cases, there have been victories.  But with every victory, the pox still spreads as the Republicans prove, once again, to be relentless in their pursuit of total power in the electoral arena.  The question that progressives face is one of what to do?

II

    Progressives and leftists have often not taken matters of voter registration particularly seriously, at least in the post-1965 Voting Rights Act era.  Voter registration and voting rights more generally were relegated to the liberals and non-partisan do-gooders.  While there were leftists, such as Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, who saw the importance of voting rights and registration, they tended to be more the exception than the rule.  Added to this problem, the Democratic Party establishment regularly downplayed voter registration, ignoring the importance of expanding the electorate.  Only in certain campaigns, e.g., during the Black-led electoral upsurge of the 1980s and the Obama campaign in 2008, was voter registration recognized to be of strategic importance in shifting the balance of forces.

    In election years 2010, 2012 and 2014 various organizations, including but not limited to labor unions, mobilized against selective voter suppression efforts, particularly those conducted on Election Day.  Yet the waves of assaults by the Republicans have not ceased and, with the crippling of the Voting Rights Act, the blood lust of the Republicans has become enhanced.  For these reasons, the approach of progressives towards voter suppression needs to be reconsidered.

    The battle for voting rights in the 20th century was not one mainly handled in the courts; it was handled in the ‘court’ of public opinion, specifically the streets.  The dramatization of such efforts in the commercial media whether in the film Selma or in the recent HBO film All the Way reminds us of how repressive election laws once were in many parts of the USA (including but not limited to the South and the Southwest).  It was the work of activists, most especially those associated with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) that made a tremendous difference.  Their work included the development of Citizenship Schools (done in conjunction with the Highlander Folk School), registration efforts and outright protests.  This was exceedingly dangerous work making the courage of the activists that much more exceptional.

    After 1965, there was an assumption in much of the liberal and progressive world that the Voting Rights Act was largely untouchable and that this would be a fortification to restrain the advances of the barbarians of the political Right.  Unfortunately, the barbarians circumvented the fortifications and are now in an all-out assault on democratic rights.  A reliance on court action will be insufficient.

    Which brings us to an approach in the 2016 election year.  Perhaps what is needed is a “Freedom Summer + Fall,” i.e., a major, multi-pronged mobilization that openly challenges voter suppression.  Such an effort would necessitate large numbers of volunteers and the collaboration of organizations.  Yet it is eminently do-able.  Consider:

  1. This effort would need to run from this very moment through Election Day (actually though the certification of the elections).

  2. Voter suppression statutes would need to become the subject of litigation on a very broad scale.  The undemocratic nature of them would need to be demonstrated and court action would be one particular platform.

  3. Voter registration efforts would need to be enhanced with shuttles to get communities to registration sites.  Student volunteers would need to be enlisted as part of a massive registration initiative.

  4. Where local officials obstruct or block registration, there would need to be protests.  Such protests might take the form of well-publicized sit-ins, or they might be massive stand-ins.

  5. Coordinated days of actions would be needed in states raising the issue of voter suppression, particularly documenting the lack of evidence to justify any such efforts.

  6. Absentee voting would need to be encouraged.  This is very important particularly in those states where early voting has been eliminated or cut altogether.

  7. There would need to be a focus on obtaining appropriate documentation.  This might be among the most difficult challenges since there are many people who do not have birth certificates; lost their birth certificates; or for whatever reason are lacking the requisite information.  Create media events that highlight the plight of those who do not have and are unable to obtain the appropriate documentation.

  8. In states that permit gun identification in order register to vote, organized efforts would be needed to secure such identification.

  9. Weekly demonstrations at the Republican National Committee would need to be mounted to raise awareness of this assault on democracy.

  10. Pressure would need to be brought on governors to issue executive orders restoring voting rights to the formerly incarcerated in those states that permanently eliminate them, e.g., the April 2016 executive order by Virginia Governor McAuliffe.

A tremendous danger facing us is that of passively accepting the results of voter suppression efforts.  Longer-term the counterattack on voter suppression will need to be at the level of state legislators.  Progressive candidacies will need to run on the platform of overturning such efforts.  Yet this will only happen when there is the sense of a mass movement.  To the extent to which voter suppression is treated more like a nuisance that is addressed exclusively by litigation, we will lose the battle for democracy and the forces of authoritarianism will have their day in the sun.

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a talk show host, writer and activist.  He is the author of ‘They’re Bankrupting Us!’ And Twenty Other Myths about Unions. Follow him atwww.billfletcherjr.com.

Source: Voter Repression Is a Serious Problem: It Is Time for a New Freedom Summer | Portside

2014, The Meaning of July Fourth for the African American l Dr. Wilmer Leon

2014, The Meaning of July Fourth for the African American

 July 3, 2014

Dr. Wilmer J. Leon, III

LTCWashington-hi-fireworks_1“I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common.-The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” Frederick Douglas – The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro – 1852

As America celebrates July Fourth, as the grills smoke, the salads are tossed, pools filled, and fireworks displayed take a moment to reflect.  Reflect upon how far we have come as a nation and yet how far we have to go.

I implore African Americans to read the entire text of Frederick Douglas’ famous speech, The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro.  Are we as a people able to enjoy the blessings, the justice, and the liberty that are celebrated on this day?

We have become all too familiar with the data.  According to Bread for the World, one in four African-Americans lives below the federal poverty line and more than a third (35.7 percent) of all African-American children live in poverty.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that for 2013, the underemployment rate for African-American workers was 13.4 percent compared 6.7 percent for white workers. That does not account for those who have lost faith in the process and dropped out of the system.  The Pew Research Center reports that the Median Net Worth of Households for Whites is $113,149 and for African Americans is $5,677.  The NAACP reports that African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million of the incarcerated population. African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of Whites.

These are just a few examples of the frightening realities with which we are faced.

Douglas asked, “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.”  Yes, slavery ended in 1865 but that two hundred- fifty years of slavery was followed by ninety years of Jim Crow; sixty years of separate but equal and thirty-five years of racist housing policy.

Yes, legislative and judicial progress have been made.   The Civil Rights Act of 1866 provided for the equality of citizens of the United States in the enjoyment of “civil rights and immunities.”  That Act was undermined by the Tilden/Hayes compromise of 1877. We have recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision and the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and will soon celebrate the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.   One problem is that too many have confused the legislative successes with the ultimate victory, changing the racist core and premise upon which this country was founded as memorialized in the U.S. Constitution.

I take this moment to focus on the past because as Douglas said, “We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and to the future.”

Douglas continued, “At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.”

As we enjoy the Fourth, eating ribs and hot dogs, we must ask ourselves, are we as a people able to enjoy the blessings, the justice, and the liberty that are celebrated on this day?  If not, what must we do to bring about substantive and permanent change?

Our plight, our success, and our future have always been in our hands.  Dr. King once said, “…nobody else can do this for us; ?no document can do this for us?; no lincolnian emancipation proclamation can do this for us;?no kennesonian or johnsonian civil rights bill can do this for us; ?if the negro is to be free, he must move down into the inner resources of his own soul and sign with a pen and ink of self-asserted manhood his own emancipation proclamation.”

Here is one, just one very simple yet challenging thing to consider.

The former President and CEO of the NAACP, Ben Jealous has just released a report entitled, “True South: Unleashing Democracy in the Black Belt 50 Years After Freedom Summer.” According to the report, “The first and most important lesson is that massive voter registration can overcome massive voter suppression. Our analysis shows that registering just 30 percent of eligible unregistered black voters or other voters of color could shift the political calculus in a number of Black Belt states, helping blacks elect candidates who share their concerns or alternatively, forcing all candidates to pay attention to the community’s concerns. Registering 60 percent or 90 percent would change the political calculus in an even greater number of states.”

I opened with Douglas and I will close with Douglas, “…Allow me to say, in conclusion, notwithstanding the dark picture I have this day presented, of the state of the nation, I do not despair of this country. There are forces in operation which must inevitably work the downfall of slavery. “The arm of the Lord is not shortened,” and the doom of slavery is certain. I, therefore, leave off where I began, with hope.”

Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the Sirius/XM Satellite radio channel 110 program “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon He is an OUR COMMON GROUND Voice.

 Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email:wjl3us@yahoo.comwww.twitter.com/drwleon and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at Facebook.com  © 2014 InfoWave Communications, LLC

– See more at: http://blackpoliticsontheweb.com/2014/07/03/2014-the-meaning-of-july-fourth-for-the-african-american/#sthash.b9W4uagX.dpuf

 

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The Important Role of Armed Resistance in the Black Civil Rights Movement

CIVIL LIBERTIES  

The Important Role of Armed Resistance in the Black Civil Rights Movement

Even Martin Luther King Jr.’s Atlanta home was a discreet arsenal of weapons.

Photo Credit: Atomazul / Shutterstock.com

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of  “Freedom Summer” and the murder by Mississippi Kluxers of three young civil rights volunteers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and “Mickey” Schwerner.  The triple killing was world news mainly because Goodman and Schwerner were white Jewish New Yorkers.   If it had been only the African American Chaney, nobody outside the “beloved community” of the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee would have cared.  The deep south’s culture of violence against blacks was a given.
What’s not so given, even today, is the black community’s long tradition of armed resistance.  I’m riffing off Charles Cobb’s new book “This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible.”  Cobb, a Brown University professor, is a former SNCC field worker, a bland way of saying he was under constant fire.   I’m also dipping into my own experience in the Freedom Summer south…but also north.
Ever since slaves were imported to Jamestown in 1619, armed self defense was an authentic part of the African American experience.  I don’t just mean well-known rebellions like Nat Turner’s, but ordinary day to day.  Almost every household I ever visited in the south had a hidden shotgun or pistol under the bed.  This contradicted MLK’s dominant peace-and-love message, his honestly-held outreach to whites, many of whom (like me) flocked to his Gandhian banner.  Less publicly known is that wherever “Martin” traveled he was bodyguarded by men with guns.  Indeed, his own Atlanta home was a  discreet arsenal of weapons.
Even less public was the role of armed black women who for decades had to endure sexual and physical assaults by white southern cops and other thugs who, given immunity from prosecution, felt they could rape at will.   Attending church services in Tuscaloosa, Selma or Montgomery, I was no longer surprised sitting next to a respectable black woman who opened her purse to fan herself revealing a modest little .22.  Cobb cites the well-known story of Mama Dolly Raines in southwest Georgia (where I stayed with SNCC) sitting by her window with her shotgun to protect the Rev. Charles Sherrod, a passionate believer in nonviolence, who was staying with her.
In Albany, Georgia, where I was longest, love and commitment were the hallmarks of community organizing.  The locals we were embedded in took us in like their own children.   We were family.   They would do anything to protect us from the constant threat of beatings and death.  Or as Mama Dolly, a midwife, told Sherrod, “Baby, I brought a lot of these white folks into this world, and I’ll take ‘em out of this world if I have to.”
It’s sometimes hard for civilized nawthenuhs to remember how American-cherrypie violence was in the south.  In Chattanooga, where I first went to school, streetcar conductors wore holstered pistols; city bus drivers all over the segregated south “packed”.   You shot a “nigger” who gave you lip without second thoughts or fear of arrest.  If you’re the local sheriff in rural Georgia and fancied a black man’s woman you erased him from the picture by beating him up and jailing him for assault.
Passive resistance began to change when WW2 veterans, trained in weapons, came home.  Suddenly bad whites were confronted by armed ex-soldiers in the Deacons for Defense or ex-Marine Robert Williams’ Black Armed Guard (with an NRA charter yet!) in Monroe, North Carolina, to defend against racist attacks.  Historically, there had always been the odd, defiant black man with a shotgun standing on his porch confronting KKK cross burners.   Now, here and there, wherever Rev. King went, or was afraid to go, was collective resistance.  In Birmingham when one of King’s bodyguards was asked how he protected his man, he replied, “With a nonviolent .38 police special.”
Up nawth the black mind set wasn’t all that different but with an entirely different circumstance.   When I held a seminar on Black Nationalism at Monteith College for half a dozen young street blacks each one of them proudly showed me his shiv or cheap pistol.  My sweet tempered Detroit host, Jim Boggs, the African American auto worker and Marxist activist, walked me to the corner bus stop on my last day but not before reaching behind his prized bust of Lenin on the mantelpiece and withdrawing his own .38 to escort me a city block.  In my old Chicago neighborhood my host, a postal worker, waved me up to his apartment by pointing a shotgun out of the window to signal to the gang kids downstairs, including his own son, he meant business.
The 10th District cops I rode with, both African American, were  armed: each hid a .45 under his clipboard, wore a hip holstered .38 and an ankle .25 caliber as backup to the backup plus two Mosberg 500 riot shotguns in the rack.  “And you know what,” said my police driver, “we’re still outgunned.”   His theory was that much of Chicago’s black-on-black violence was a form of culture shock.  “These southern boys come up north with their mamas looking for work.  Down in Alabama and Mississippi they had to toe the line or get lynched.  Yassuh noesuh shonuff suh.  All that peckerwood crap.  Take that train up to Chicago and the chains drop off.   They ain’t no more oppressed.  Run wild.  Cuss, shoot dope, murder each other or white folks.  They wouldn’t dare do that in Yazoo County.”
So in honoring Chaney, Schwerner and Goodman, martyrs to a beloved community of non violent resistance, I can’t help thinking how it might have turned out differently if on that lonely Mississippi road in 1964, they’d been tailed not by murderous morons but by the Deacons for Defense.

As We Celebrate The 50th Anniversary of ‘Freedom Summer,’ States Try to Roll Back Voting Rights

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As We Celebrate The 50th Anniversary of ‘Freedom Summer,’ States Try to Roll Back Voting Rights

 

civilrightsAs the nation looks back on the “Freedom Summer” that transpired 50 years ago in Mississippi when volunteers risked their lives to help Blacks fight for voting rights, many observers are struck by the irony of the commemoration occurring just as several states are attempting to turn back the clock and once again deprive residents of the right to vote.

With new laws requiring citizens to show IDs before they can vote and limiting weekend and early voting, states like Mississippi, North Carolina and Texas have caused many of the volunteers who fought for voting rights during Freedom Summer to question whether the nation is trying to turn back the advances gained as a result of their efforts.

The brutality unveiled by the Freedom Summer and the murders of three civil rights workers—James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner—exactly 50 years ago to this day, undoubtedly moved to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act,.

But in addition to 14 states passing voter ID laws over the past three years—following Barack Obama’s election as president, which was fueled by a surge of Black voters—a conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court last year voted to gut a key provision of the Voting Rights Act.

Stanley Nelson, director of the highly anticipated documentary “Freedom Summer” that premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. on PBS, told CNN that the brave volunteers who risked their lives during that long ago summer are deeply disturbed by these latest developments.

“Everyone feels horrible about it,” Nelson says. “Everyone is so upset.”

According to CNN, his film “captures the idealism that inspired an interracial group of college students to journey to Mississippi for 10 weeks in the summer of 1964 to register African-American voters. But it also reveals what happened when that idealism collided with the casual brutality of white Mississippians who saw Freedom Summer as a ‘n****r communist invasion.’”

While authorities searched for her still-missing husband, Rita Schwerner, wife of murdered civil rights worker Michael Schwerner, told reporters at the time, “It’s tragic, as far as I’m concerned that white Northerners have to be caught up in the machinery of injustice and indifference in the South before the American people register concern. I personally suspect that if Mr. Chaney, who is a native Mississippian Negro, had been alone at the time of the disappearance, that this case, like so many others that have come before, would have gone completely unnoticed.”

About Nick Chiles
Nick Chiles is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author. He has written or co-written 12 books and won over a dozen major journalism awards during a journalism career that brought him to the Dallas Morning News, the Star-Ledger of New Jersey and New York Newsday, in addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief of Odyssey Couleur travel magazine.

David Goodman: Time for a new ‘Freedom Summer’

David Goodman Photo: The Andrew Goodman Foundation

Fifty years ago, on June 21, 1964, my older brother, Andrew Goodman, was murdered near Philadelphia, Miss. He and his colleagues Michael Schwerner and James Chaney were ambushed by more than a dozen members of the Ku Klux Klan, including the county’s deputy sheriff. They were taken to an unmarked dirt road and shot, one by one.

Their bodies weren’t discovered for 44 days, a mystery and a tragedy that continues to elicit raw emotions even a half-century later.It happened on the first day of Freedom Summer, an effort by the black leadership to flood Mississippi with northern college students who would help register African-American voters.At the time, barely 7 percent of Mississippi’s black residents were registered to vote. In eight of the 13 mostly black counties in the state, not a single African American had ever voted.

A century after the Civil War, they remained disenfranchised — citizens without a voice. It was more than segregation; it was subjugation. Something had to be done.The 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Project was a bold initiative. Given the widespread hatred of “outside agitators,” it was an act of remarkable bravery by all who participated.As the late Maya Angelou wrote in the foreword to My Mantelpiece, the recently published posthumous memoir of my mother, Carolyn Goodman, “Those three young men represent 300,000 young men and women who dared, who had the courage to go to the lion’s den and try to scrub the lion’s teeth.

“When 20-year-old Andy asked my parents for permission to volunteer in Mississippi, their urge to protect their son was trumped by the understanding that he was a spiritual reflection of themselves and their willingness to take action. His death devastated my family, but the brazenness of the act also shocked the nation.

Sadly, it was largely because two of the three victims were white.In fact, as officials searched through the forests and swamps of Mississippi, they discovered many black lynching victims who simply had been ignored because their tragic fate had become commonplace. So the case, which inspired the movie Mississippi Burning, lit a fire for the cause. It is no coincidence that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed the following year.Yet here we go again. Last year, the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of that landmark piece of legislation, and immediately a number of states moved to implement laws that would essentially reduce voter turnout among minority groups. Dubious claims of voter fraud are being used to once again disenfranchise a portion of the population.In 1964, black would-be voters were turned away by intimidation and poll tests. Now, voter ID requirements and limited voting hours will disproportionately turn away, or inconvenience, low-income and minority voters. It is a more sophisticated and insidious form of voter suppression.Something has to be done.

After Andy’s death, my mother devoted the rest of her life to ensuring that he did not die in vain. She formed The Andrew Goodman Foundation, celebrated youth activists, and worked tirelessly for voting rights and human rights she was even arrested during a protest at age 83.As the estimable Rep. John Lewis put it, “She got in trouble. … It was necessary trouble. And she inspired many of us to continue to get in trouble.”But 50 years after Freedom Summer, we once again need to cause some trouble. The tragedy of the “Mississippi Burning” murders became a travesty of justice when only a handful of the perpetrators were convicted on federal charges, none spending more than a half-dozen years in prison because the state wouldn’t pursue a murder prosecution.It wasn’t until 41 years later that the ringleader of the group was convicted of three counts of manslaughter. My 89-year-old mother testified at the trial, a trial that happened because a few determined folks, inside and outside of Mississippi, wouldn’t let it go.

So we cannot let this new movement — these cynical and sinister attempts to disenfranchise Americans — go. If it takes an act of “outside agitation,” so be it. If it requires courage, we can summon it. If it means replacing cynicism with optimism and apathy with action, we can accomplish it. After all, there is a tiny hamlet right next to Philadelphia, Miss.

It is a town called Hope.David Goodman is The Andrew Goodman Foundation president.

via David Goodman: Time for a new ‘Freedom Summer’.

Freedom Summer Mississippi 1964

Freedom Summer Mississippi 1964

“Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney had only just begun working on the Freedom Summer campaign to register black Mississippians to vote when they suddenly disappeared.

Schwerner and Goodman were two Jewish men from New York—they had been there less than a week—and Chaney was a local black activist. They had just finished investigating the bombing of a nearby church when they were taken into custody under false pretenses, and never again seen by their fellow volunteers.

The disappearance of these three men sparked national outrage, and the FBI converged on Mississippi to investigate. They discovered that on June 21, 1964, immediately upon being released from custody, the young activists had been brutally beaten and murdered by a Ku Klux Klan lynch mob.” — NAACP

21 June 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the day of this continuation of the brutal and racist declaration of war against Afrikan civil and human rights.

 

9 years prior to this, the murder of Emmett Louis Till in Money, Mississippi on 24 August 1955 had galvanized the civil and human rights movements in the U.S.http://www.biography.com/people/emmett-till-507515#awesm=~oHSMNVfa8eY3WR

 

Watch for the play by the Oakland based Tavia Percia Theatre Company – Emmett Till: American Hero http://sfbayview.com/2014/our-people-our-evolution-emmett-till-an-american-hero/ written, produced and directed by Tavia Percia, 21 year old veteran of the African-American Shakespeare Company.

 

The play, which has been endorsed by the Emmett Till Foundation in Chicago, is beginning a national tour.

 

The brutality and rampant racism against African people in the U.S. continues to this day.