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Weekend Soliloquy: Civil Rights and Triumph Over Mistake August 28, 2010

Emmett Til

All over mainstream media, the story today is focused on the Glenn Beck “Restoring  Honor” rally; the strongest reactions coming from the political left.

“Tea Partiers are having a rally on Martin Luther King’s Washington March Anniversary!!!”

But today August 28th is also another anniversary which marks a historic moment in the quest for equality–the death of Emmett Till.

Emmet was a young boy of 14 years, from Chicago, Illinois.  One summer in 1955,  Emmett’s mother Mamie Carthan Till,  allowed him to visit his uncle Moses Wright, in Money, Mississippi a small southern town.   This was a customary tradition among African Americans in many northern cities.  We migrated from the delta,  Alabama,Memphis, whatever southern state you were from  but during the summers you send the kids back “down south”.

Emmett arrived in Mississippi on August 21, 1955.  For several days the young black boy visited with his southern relatives without incident.  Known for being “sassy”,  his mother had warned him of the consequences of his behavior in the south which was nothing like Chicago.  The black code of acceptable behavior in the Black Metropolis was restricted in southern regions where lynchings took place.  For this very reason, a black man could not say the same things to whites and get away with it as he might would in the north.

Emmett Till and his mother Mamie Cartham Till

But Emmett was just a child and did not heed his mother’s warnings.  Fifty-five years ago today, Emmett Till was brutally murdered because of an innocent mistake.  What ensued was a media and civil rights sensation.

Sensation is one sure way to bring attention to a cause, especially on the anniversary of a historic event such as one commemorating the Civil Rights Movement and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.  But today is also Emmett’s day.

And it is a day to think of mistakes and what we can transform them into.  What do you have left once a mistake is made?

“We should have told my father,” said the man about Emmett Till. But they were just boys being boys.  After a day of picking cotton, they went to Bryant’s Store to buy candy with their hard earned pennies.  What if they had not gone to the store? What if Emmett had not whistled at the white woman?

When Emmett’s body arrived in Chicago on September 2, 1955, Mamie Till saw the horror of what “they” did to her son.  She insisted on an open casket public funeral.

“I wanted the world to see what they did to my baby,”  she would say.

“Emmett never should have whistled at that white woman,”  my mother would tell me. “Never make the mistake of speaking out of turn to whites…we all knew that. Heck you almost did not get away with it in Chicago but you know black boys have to see the white girls and get something they don’t have…Just like your brother over in Germany dating every white woman he can get his hands on. “

I wondered why did the adults let Emmet be taken away.

“Couldn’t someone stop them?” I asked. Why do black people always seem so helpless?  Here I was  eleven years old and all I ever heard was stories about black men being killed.  Malcom X, Martin Luther King Jr. , now this Emmett Till boy.

Mother laughed at the ignorance of my question.  Dumb girl growing up in the 1980’s who benefits from the struggles of her forefathers. What does Afrocity know?

“Afrocity that is down south…Black folks down there let whites do whatever the hell they want to them and that woman never should have let her son go down there.  Why go back down south when you worked so hard to get here?”

African American Quilt- "Sold Down South"

“Momma did people get hanged here like in Roots ?”

“Not like that,” mother answered. “That thing only happens in the south where rednecks live. They tried to kill your grandfather for dating a white girl in Mississippi…Backwards is the south- no place for a black boy to be.”

By now you probably think my mother was a racist.  You may be correct on some level but please understand that for my mother, the story of Emmet Till was too close to home.  Like us,  Emmett was a Chicagoan. He was two years younger than my mother. The tragedy occurred only several months after she had given birth to her first child, a son.

She was sixteen years old and a mother who had a made a mistake and gotten pregnant.

No one congratulates mothers who are sixteen.  She lay there in the hospital under the stares of nurses and her siblings- the ostracism of her preacher father.

She was humiliated and alone.

My mother did not know Mamie Till though I am sure they crossed paths on the bus or some point during the course of a busy day in the Black Metropolis.  Mamie like, my mother would raise her new son as a single woman. But mother would see her son become a man and Mamie would not.  After the birth of her mistake, mother would pick up Jet magazine and read the story of the boy who was murdered on August 28th, 1955.

In my brother’s newborn face she saw the face of Emmett Till; a young African American male who faced the obstacles of racism.  She did not want her son to end up in someone’s river.

I whined,  “What about me? Why can’t I go down south for the summer like Teresa and everyone else?   I am always left here and my friends-“

Mother gave me that turned up- pursed lip look.  “Do you want to go pick cotton and live like a slave?”


I did not believe that would happen because my friends always came back from down south with freshly cornrowed hair, tanned skin  and new clothes.  Jealousy over their having someplace to go other than Chicago made me want to travel down south too. “…but Teresa says she has lots of fun-“

“Fun doing what?” mother mocked. ” Fun being afraid of what to do and say in front of white people? You know about those kids being murdered like water in Atlanta! Teresa is gonna end up tied to a tree with panties stuffed in her mouth like that girl Angel.  She was 11 years old just like you. Ronald Reagan is trying ti hush those folks up with money- knowing damn well that some crazy white redneck is killing those kids.”

Mother was referring to the Atlanta Child Murders which were taking place at the time.

“You better be appreciative of what you have in Chicago,” she lectured on ” You are in a place that is free from slavery and stupid backwards white people. They all voted for Ronald Reagan… He said he wants to make America what it once was. You know what that means don’t cha?”

I shook my head.

“He wants America to be for whites again. A place where blacks have no power like we did in the 40’s and 50’s.  That’s what Ronald Reagan means when he talks about America being what it used to be.”

Afrocity never went down south.

We would not make make the same mistakes.

Reportedly Martin Luther King was told that he was making a mistake by marching on Washington… but he did it anyway.

This makes me wonder about mistakes and where they position us in life after they take place.

What happens if all of the bad, senseless, stupid  things in life never happened?

What if man never made mistakes?

Was it a mistake for Martin Luther King Jr. to walk out on that Memphis motel  balcony in 1968?  Did Jesse Jackson ever think afterwards “why did we let Martin do that?”

Let’s suppose that Jackson, had said to MLK “You know what Martin, I do not think that is a good idea…tensions are high…you had better be careful?”

So King did not walk onto the balcony and was never assassinated.

Where would we be today had King not been murdered? Would African Americans have been even better with his continued counsel?  Would liberals still argue with Glenn Beck over his right to restore honor?

Would there still be a President Obama had Dr. King lived?

What if someone had intervened on 9/11 before those planes crashed into the World Trade Center?

Had someone at Boston’s Logan Airport  said “You know what , something is not right about that guy and I am going to report it.”     And very near the plane’s departure a flight attendant tapped a would be hijacker’s shoulder and said “Sir come with me…”

Would there not be a fight over a mosque being built in NYC today?

Like lots of people, I always ask myself where would I be if I had not made mistakes in life.  What if I acted sooner?  Some mistakes have a greater impact than others.   I should have studied harder in high school so I could have attended a better college thus allowing myself more opportunities.  That was a somewhat minor mistake.  I did go to college albeit not an Ivy League but I did get my bachelors, and subsequently a Masters Degree.  My career is fulfilling and I live a fairly comfortable life.  Does this gloss over the mistake?

Do you fall off track and somehow get back on at other stages in your life?

Sometimes, you can’t recover. Some mistakes have greater consequences and involve life and death.

What if I had went to visit my mother sooner? Would she be alive today?

What if  a mother never let her son visit his uncle in Mississippi in August of 1955?

Would there still be an Emmett Till today?

Would Bob Dylan have written a wonderful tribute to the little black boy killed by racism and ignorance in Mississippi?

The Death Of Emmett Till

Lyrics by Bob Dylan

Twas down in Mississippi not so long ago,
When a young boy from Chicago walked through a
Southern door.
This boy’s fateful tragedy you should all remember well,
The color of his skin was black and his name was Emmett Till.

Some men they dragged him to a barn and there they beat him up.
They said they had a reason, but I disremember what.
They tortured him and did some things too evil to
There was screaming sounds inside the barn, there was
laughing sounds out on the street.

Then they rolled his body down a gulf amidst a blood-red rain
And they threw him in the waters wide to cease his
screaming pain.
The reason that they killed him there, and I’m sure it
was no lie,
He was a Black skin boy so he was born to die
And then to stop the United States of yelling for a trial,
Two brothers they confessed that they had killed poor
Emmett Till.
But on the jury there were men who helped the brothers
commit this awful crime,
And so this trial was a mockery, but nobody seemed to mind.

I saw the morning papers but I could not bear to see
The smiling brothers walkin’ down the courthouse stairs.
For the jury found them innocent and the brothers they went free,
While Emmett’s body floats the foam of a Jim Crow southern sea.

If you can’t speak out against this kind of thing, a crime
that’s so unjust,
Your eyes are filled with dead men’s dirt, your mind is
filled with dust.
Your arms and legs they must be in shackles and chains, and
your blood it must refuse to flow,
For you let this human race fall down so God-awful low!

This song is just a reminder to remind your fellow man
That this kind of thing still lives today in that
ghost-robed Ku Klux Klan.
But if all us folks that thinks alike, if we gave all we
could give,
We could make this great land of ours a greater place to live.

Would we still have been able to learn the lessons we have from Emmett’s death?

Autographed Letter Signed,


Emmett Louis Till

(July 25, 1941-August 28, 1955)

(Here is nice interpretation of the Till story by Bob Dylan)


Mr. Beck’s Blackboard Jungle Goes To Washington…With MLK August 27, 2010

Welcome to the return of ALS Diversity Fatigue Friday!

This being ALS Diversity Fatigue Friday, is the perfect day to post about an upcoming event tomorrow which has become a rather heated matter of debate for those of divergent political backgrounds.

On Saturday, August 28th at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial,  there will be a “Million Tea Bag March” to commemorate the gathering of Dr. Martin Luther King JR.’s historic  march on Washington on the very same day in 1963.

Yes, on “I Have A Dream Day”  millions of Tea Partiers will march on Washington in order to promote civil and First Amendment rights and recognize the service of our veterans.  The sponsor of this event- Glenn Beck.

Yes I said Glenn Beck.

And by now you have just spit your Vitamin Water and realized why this rally has become a spectacle for debate.

As a matter of full disclosure,  I  am only jesting in my use of the title “Million Tea bag March “.

Actually the rally is entitled  “Restoring Honor” . Glenn Beck’s sponsorship of the event remains in the not jesting category.  This is very real and making liberals of the Rev. Al Sharpton ilk very angry.

And I do not understand why the left is angry.

I do not understand why self-professed tolerant liberals who argue for things such as a mosque near Ground Zero would be upset that Glenn Beck is marching on Washington on the MLK’s anniversary. ..

Oh what did you say? Okay, now I get it…Because Glenn Beck works for Fox News, he must be a conservative, therefore not worthy of commemorating a historic event in our nation’s history which marks an accolade during the Civil Rights era.

Which is why liberals have mocked Glenn’s original poster with this im-poster (pun intended):

By the way, in the first clip of Glenn Beck , he is talking about Barack Obama – not Martin Luther King Jr.!  I love the way that was juxtaposed and taken out of context.

Hmm, MLK and Glenn Beck….

Listen up liberals, there is no doubt that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  occupies a position of importance in American History, especially for African Americans and Democrats.  Dr. King is the Moses of the Civil Rights era, he led his people to the promised land.

But you are not MLK’s only people.

Do you think that MLK only represented people who hold your views?

Is his memory shared among those with whom he dissented?

Do you believe that only African American’s were included in his vision?

Dr. King wanted people to be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin…I will carry it further and add… or the lever they pull in the voting booth.   Civil Rights affected everyone, even racists such as segregationists.  It was up to them whether or not they benefited from King’s sacrifices in a positive manner.

My above statement is by no means an implication that Glenn Beck is a racist.

He is not.  Whacky in a very Howard Beale ala Peter Finch /Network way he is.

My support of Glenn Beck is tepid.

He started off with a great message but I became lost in the minutia of the blackboard, scented chalk, venn diagrams and finger puppets.  Beck is the Romper Room of Fox News and I find myself wanting to run for graham crackers and a juice box whenever I see him.

“What is this dude talking about?”  I ask.

But there are Beck fans that “get” him and I respect that.   I just don’t do blackboards.

Afrocity is more of a Sean Hannity girl.  I like my pundits straight and without a lot of visual stimulation.   Seldom is Beck on my tele-radar.  Having said that, the show has been seen enough by me to know that he is not a racist.  I also admire his courage to cry on camera and discuss his mother’s  suicide and his battle with alcoholism.

Whatever Glenn Beck is …Martin Luther King,  he is not.

He never said he was.

Did anyone ever hear Glenn Beck say he was Martin Luther King?  Has anyone seen Glenn Beck’s face next to MLK’s on some Hypercolor tee-shirts or thongs like someone we all know?

But obviously you were okay with Barack Obama appropriating the memory of MLK for his own political gain because…Obama is black and one of Dr. King’s people.

Whatever Barack Obama is…Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. , he is not.

The man above needs a doctor.

But according to liberals, it is okay to climb up to the Tower of Liberal Fable–  otherwise known as “Kool Aid Mountain” and create the DNC golden calf-ish lobster eating, Martha’s Vineyard vacationing Obama in Martin Luther King’s image.  A wrongful death of logic it is,  to believe that liberals and only liberals have claim to the memory of MLK.

It does not matter to the Beck rally critics that some of the Tea Partiers who attend may be African Americans or folks who were involved in the Civil Rights movement directly and positively.

What happens when you worship a golden calf? Time wears the gold off the feet of all idols and Styrofoam Greek temples, if their feet be made of clay.

The King legacy is yours to pimp.

Do you really believe that the Tea Party has nothing to do with the dream of equal rights?

Unlike Obama, King was a unifying force.

He was not divisive or arrogant. He was humble.

King was a fierce proponent of peaceful protest and non violence .  He worked across the political and cultural aisle with Democrats and Republicans , blacks and whites in order to advance the Civil Rights Movement.  On October 10, 1963 after his great march, the FBI wiretapped King’s home -under the orders of US Attorney General Robert  Kennedy.  Suspicious of King, Kennedy believed that this preacher man from Alabama had ties to the communist party.

So much for civil rights from the Democrats.

So much for looking beyond fear and paranoia and into the content of  Dr. King’s character.  And this is a benign version of the incident.  Dr. King’s relationships with the Kennedy’s and many Democrats were laced with tension and mistrust.   Democrats voted against Civil Rights legislation in large numbers- Republican votes helped pass the bill.  Even JFK voted against civil rights measures as a senator.

Martin Luther King Sr. was actually a Republican and there is a significant amount of proof that MLK was as well…that is until they switched parties.

There is much speculation as to why the father and son switched from Republican to Democrat.   There are some historians who believe that Kennedy’s assistance when King was imprisoned, served as an impetus for gaining the Kings’ support. Others believe the Democrats offered King hope for the future of African Americans by outlining programs to promote self-reliance and success– also known as  “the Great Society” under the Johnson administration.  Left to itself without true structure or aims,  the Great Society led to nothing but dependence upon the Federal Government and the break up of the black family.   I will never allow myself to believe that MLK knew this would happen.

After King’s assassination in 1968,  with African Americans delivered on a platter to the Democrats,  President Lyndon B. Johnson’s got his wish;  “I’ll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years, ” he said.

Perhaps. It is possible that African Americans will always be 95% Democrat as a race. However, you cannot have your MLK cake and eat it too.

During the 1980’s liberals rallied President Reagan for a national holiday commemorating King’s birthday. and they got it.

NATIONAL HOLIDAY. No mail. Stay at home.

That is everyone’s holiday and King’s memory belongs to ALL.

Your King day is my King Day is Glenn Beck’s King Day.

Upon leaving Washington DC two weeks ago, I felt secure in knowing that a museum dedicated to African American history would finally reside on the Washington Mall in the year 2015. Being a curator and an avid museum goer, I have wanted this for some time in my life.  Seeing the beginnings of African American themed  exhibits at the Smithsonian bring me closer to the reality of a museum which shares MY heritage with my fellow Americans.

Me looking at an exhibit on The Apollo Theatre at the Smithsonian

For years, I have been secretly jealous of a particular museum which has nothing to do with my heritage directly but rather captures my heart and the attention of so many others who pass through its doors.  Of course I am speaking of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

One museum is a reality, the other is just a design.

Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup is the architectural team who will design the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall near the Washington Monument.

As a study in memory and trauma, the Holocaust extends to every American whether they wish to admit it or not. The evidence and ugliness of genocide went beyond traditional boundaries of race or creed.  There were crimes –genocide- the extermination of thousands of Jews which yielded victims.

There was punishment for war crimes which yielded villains.  There were those who served as intervention, as rescuers , – Great Britain, Russia, and the United States.  There were massive relief efforts to refugees by American organizations such as the Joint Distribution Committee. Food, money clothing sent to Poland, Germany, France.

This was everyone’s story and everyone can remember that story either personally through photographs and spoken word or publicly remembered at spaces such as the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC.  You may ask, why is there a museum placed within our US capital solely dedicated to an event which did not take place on American soil.  The answer is simple.

Because the Holocaust did not end in the concentration camps; it did not end with the suicide of Adolph Hitler.  What was left behind was the scars of trauma and the triumph of survival –all crystallized as memory.  If one were to survive the Holocaust and come to the United States, those memories and the need to remember or forget came with them. As Americans we are all included in the process of holocaust remembrance because Jewish immigrants are Americans.  The museum is in America because we all either directly or through collective memory have a claim on the event. It is ours.

Every visitor, even African American non-Jewish Afrocity brings some sense of self and understanding to the commemorative space. What does the Holocaust mean to me as a black woman?   Looking at the seemingly millions of Jewish faces – portraits of life and legacy which were extinguished,  I only have one comparison to make- the trauma of slavery and the triumph of the Civil Rights Act.

Permanent Exhibit at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Wall of faces

I take inspiration from the Jewish community in knowing that despite a horrific event, they overcame.

I want that for African Americans and I want everyone to commemorate the loss, pain and struggles of slavery publicly in a safe space for everyone without judgment.

African American history is American history.

Our museum will be your museum.

The march that Dr. King took on August 28, 1968 is everyone’s march.

There are no special claims.

Go march on Washington Mr. Beck

Autographed Letter Signed,



Moonbat Monday: Radio Days- FM…No Logic At All September 7, 2009

Cat moonbats

Within the dense liberal moonbat crowd, from the  radio waves, arises the smell of donkey feces and oft repeated talking points labeling any and every one against any and everything that is liberal or about President Obama as “crazy Republicans”.

Backed up against the corner of a tissue thin wall, stands the spineless moonbats of the radio and internet waves. All liberal arguments for bringing back the Fairness Doctrine should  squashed once they listen to the demagogues of so called “Progressive Radio” .

Take this clip from Ring of Fire Radio for example. “Progressive”  Mike Papantonio of Air America’s Ring of Fire talks about advertisers shunning Glenn Beck and Fox News with  Dani McClain, who serves on the executive board at the political outreach group Color of Change.

Note how the liberals are now saying that the conservatives are “race baiting”. Are you kidding me?  What was “The Cambridge Police Department Acted Stupidly”? Or “Grandmother is a typical white woman” ?

Listen to Mike Papantonio in part two of this interview where he belittles and marginalizes the Tea Party Express participation of African American conservative entertainer Lloyd Marcus…Calling him a black guy at these rallies surrounded by Republican kooks.

Moonbat burning flag

This is what happens when an African American leaves the pen of jackasses, the liberals and progressives paint us as wimps who are powerless and controlled by the Republicans. You may recall the Saturday Night Live skit which portrayed GOP chairman Michael Steele as a remote controlled robot. This is an interesting use of reverse psychology considering that the African Americans farming on liberal camp are really the ones who are castrated and rendered impotent by the social programs and obvious exploitation of the Democratic Party.

Thanks to a tip from my conservative blogger friend  Avid Editor, I learned that even I, Afrocity was mentioned on the NO AGENDA radio show with John C. Dvorak and Adam Curry. What did I do to deserve such an honor?

If you listen to the broadcast (#127) from September 3, 2009 the gentlemen mention my blog around 17 minutes into the show and again at 56 or 57 minutes. They can’t remember the name of my blog until the staff brings it to their attention, then they say it is Afrocity. Obviously can not tell that I am a woman and not a man as they refer to me as black, but “He”.

Of course content written here at ALS was misquoted and taken out of context as most of these shows customarily do. The spin was that Afrocity is like a crazed right winger full of negativity for Barack Obama and my blog images are disgusting.

Fran and I on a walk 2

Francois and I on an evening walk. We are girls.........notice her pink collar...

What irked me the most was that they assumed I was a Republican because Hillary Clinton lost the primary race to Barack Obama. It has been well documented in this blog and my video, Afrocity’s reasons for becoming a Republican. Not once did I ever say I switched parties because Hillary Clinton was not the DNC 2008 presidential nominee.

Yes I voted for Hillary in 2008, but I have also said that when John McCain was announced as the GOP nominee, I had to ask myself what would I do if a situation in which both were running against each other in the general election. I liked both candidates.

In addition, I did not vote in 2004 because even then, BEFORE OBAMA, I was reconsidering my loyalty to the Democrats.  Bash me as a crazy Republican all you want, that is your right but get your facts and my gender straight.

On that note I want to wish everyone a happy Labor Day…Be safe and for my friends in radio land here is a picture of Francois and I walking yesterday. Fran and I are both of the female persuasion by the way.

Autographed Letter Signed