Speaking & Teaching

Mar. 24, 2019
This afternoon I don't want to revisit this topic but the murkiness of the situation in Baltimore City simply cannot be avoided or ignored. Healthy Holly books and Mayor Catherine Pugh demands an acknowledgment by this blogger today. Now it seems that nearly 71,300 books that were supposedly printed and distributed to children in Baltimore City have mysteriously disappeared. The Baltimore City Public School Warehouse in East Baltimore is currently housing 8,700 copies of the books but the remaining Healthy Holly books have somehow managed to be hidden away in some cubby hole in possibly the book's author imagination.
 
The Mayor already acknowledged that she returned $100,000.00 to the University of Maryland Medical Center's Board of Directors for 20,000 or the 100,000 books that were to be printed and distributed to Baltimore City's elementary school children to promote healthy habits. So that takes the number of books that were to be printed and published down to 80,000 books, 20,000 of each of the 4 titles. If those 71,300 books were buried in a Baltimore City landfill then every resident in Baltimore City deserves to know that fact. If those 71,300 books were never actually printed and published and were part and parcel of some illicit backroom dealing for services rendered the Baltimore City residents deserve to know that fact as well.
 
I remember growing up in Baltimore City when backdoor dealing amongst city elected politicians with private and public agencies was the norm. Then the monies that exchanged hands came in the form of direct bribes. Nowadays, politically motivated shiftiness that leads to financial inducements for services rendered or soon to be rendered. It's just getting a handle on how those funds exchange hands become harder to decipher. The 2016 election for Mayor was a tight race between a former Mayor whose administration was marred by illicit activities which forced her from office. The other candidate swore to the Baltimore City residents that she would never be caught up or entangled in any backdoor dealings.
 
Well, not only is Mayor Catherine Pugh's financial entanglement far worse than that of former Mayor Sheila Dixon it also was far more lucrative it seems. The indignity of Pugh's actions is that she used the children that could have benefited from funds and actual resources to build healthier lifestyles. Baltimore City's school kids suffer from many maladies related directly at unhealthy choices in lifestyles because so many of their parents and guardians encourage or promote those unhealthy choices. It seems that many black officials elected to put our "black children first" don't seem to have the capacity to understand the harm they do when the path they choose to "get paid" means that putting "black children first after you line your pockets. If those Healthy Holly books minus the 8,700 stored in that Baltimore City Public School Warehouse cannot be located. It would seem that in reality only 10,000 books were printed 2,500 of each titled book in the series. This would mean the following: based on Mayor Pugh's public accounting of that it cost $4.00 to print each one; only $40,000 was most likely spent on the Healthy Holly scam; and that someone pocketed $360,000. Now if that is the case, Mayor Catherine Pugh should consider immediately resign from her position as Mayor of Baltimore City.
 
It's either find the missing books or find the missing monies but whatever the case. The stain that continues to blot on my hometown seems to be everlasting.
Mar. 23, 2019

I'm done, why aren't you America?

Another black man's body is decomposing

What that's you say justice is simply posing

Or is it that so much of America is off somewhere dozing

Three shots in the back

What that you say? White society's jury is back

Is that black man's body still decomposing

The jury's verdict confirms that justice for blacks is definitely posing

Did you just say that black man was sound asleep?

He was shot six times now that is simply too deep

He was caught sleeping while black

I'm done, why aren't you America?

I'm sick and tired of being tired of justice for the black man posing

While it seems so much of America is off somewhere dozing

Hey! What's that you say Captain Marvel saved the day

Except for that black man's body which is still lying in the streets

decomposing

Stop it America!

Lady Liberty is still in the New York harbor posing

While justice for blacks is off somewhere dozing.

#joesmokeblackthoughts
Mar. 22, 2019

Our black houses of unity are on fire we need to bring the waters of hope, compassion, eternal love, and inner strength to overcome the blaze that confronts us today.  Justice is an illusion but fixing it together as black men and women doesn't have to be a delusion feed by constant confusion.

Why is injustice such a valuable commodity in the United States? Why does the system we demand to be equal in scope to all peoples no matter the race or creed seem to swing the pendulum of blind justice towards injustice to Americans of African Descent? Is that illusion of a perfect union meant only to include those who biological makeup is absent of melanin? Questions that I tend to ask myself more and more as I get a little older and hopefully just a tad bit wiser.

On this March morning in 2019, I had thought similar to a provoked thought I had 4 years ago. On that day while I  viewing that day's Huffington Post. I was looking for something that would engage my social media thought for a day postings. This was before I had developed my now blossoming internet blog. On that particular morning, a winter’s cold chill had finally arrived in my Maryland neighborhood. Today, March's blustery winds have come to announce the coming of spring in that same neighborhood. 

While reading the Huffington Post I came across an article written by Marian Wright Edelman. It was a thought-provoking essay that posed this question, “Why are guns more valuable than children in America?”. Marian Wright Edelman wrote of America’s love for the rights of gun-owners other the sacrificed lives of children aged five and under killed by those weapons of immediate destruction. Marian even indicated that 30 more preschoolers were killed by guns in the United States then law enforcement officers were killed in 2014. The evidence was clear that in 2015 more pre-schoolers will be killed by guns than law enforcement officers that year as well. The article was fair in Marian Wright Edelman's final assessment that something needs to be done in the United States by legislators in Congress to put an end to the senseless, needless violence done by these weapons of immediate destruction. You can imagine nothing has changed in the United States related to curtailing gun violence.

However, Marian Wright Edelman's article provoked another mental thought for me that morning,  it aroused in my mind this question? Since it seems many, many Americans cannot be moved to lessen the damage inflicted by guns, are those same Americans also the people who also promote the damage of racism in the United States?

Why is injustice towards Black Americans a distinctly more valuable commodity then the act of promoting and providing justice, real justice to Americans of African Descent?

Oh, it’s easy to for the initial answer to evolve around “racism” that is the most simple response to this question. That white people simply hate and castigate blacks in the United States. They always have and they always will. Hell, those white bastard's ancestors' stole us off our homelands in Africa. Hell, there is even talk that many of our blacks ancestors were already here in America when the white Europeans encroached on our homeland in what is now the United States of America.  So, not only did these evil white people's ancestors steal us from our African homeland they also stole this land from beneath our feet.   They white ancestors killed our ancestor's brothers and sisters enslaving both African and American black people. My thought today as it didn't five years ago isn’t going to redress or address either of these scenarios.

Today's thought is simply going to ask the question and wonder why since the emancipation of our ancestors in 1865,  has the United States done so much to impede justice from being applied to every black citizen in this nation? Oh, some will say the assassination of Old Abe sat back the plans to provide the impetus to secure those rights promised by the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments of the Constitution. In someways, this could be explained as a truism since his predecessor in the White House, Andrew Johnson was not a true friend of the abolitionists or the recently freed black man and woman. Those fought for blacks securing freedom prior to as well as after the Civil War was also no friend of Andrew Johnson.  Johnson did come within one United States Senate vote from being impeached because of his lackadaisical efforts to equalize justice for the recently freed peoples held in bondage.

Reconstruction was initially implemented during Andrew Johnson's Presidency and there indeed sp truly magnanimous plans put in place in those former Confederate southern states to bring a degree of true freedom to newly freed slaves. During the brief years of Reconstruction white overt racism in those southern states could indeed answer the question posed by my thought this morning. Yet, why wouldn’t it have been easier through just to allow let freedom ring after the most heinous battle this nation had ever encountered?

Why was it necessary once Blacks were unlocked from the bonds of slavery to continue to impede the full implementation of equal rights and true justice to each and every one of our ancestors. I mean why even have national judicial considerations that created an unjust decision in the Plessey vs. Ferguson case ? Why have a segregated united armed force until 1947 in true equality was ever the goal for Americans of African Descent? Why did Woodrow Wilson separate the races in federal workplaces?  Prior to Wilson's edict, it had been shown that neither race had shown no problem with that workplace condition prior to Wilson’s change in direction? Why did the United States Government allow the destruction of Black Wall Street in Greenwood, Oklahoma to go unpunished? It was not prosecuted at the time of the horrific incident and even up to this very day there have been no economic reparations for damages done? 

 

Why were dead black bodies to hang on trees like strange fruits as Billie Holliday in a song so eloquently, so sadly? Why was no anti-lynching law ever passed by our United States Congress, or supported by our United States President when those black bodies were being lynched and mauled daily? Why was no white man in the south ever convicted of killing a black person even when the heinous acts were done in public view for all to view and admire their acts of hate? Why were ghettoes allowed to flourish in the so-called greatest economic nation the world had ever known? Why did 4 little black girls get blown to smithereens simply because they attended a church that stood for justice in a southern city fill with oppressive white racist hate? Why did the federal government not step to institute a policy that reimbursed the monies that were stolen from newly freed blacks who had placed their funds and faith in the Freedman Bank? When in the early 1970’s when the Central Intelligence Agency need funds to create havoc worldwide why didn’t anyone in the room say hell no when they decided to flood guns and drugs into America’s cities to get the cash necessary to engage in mischief worldwide? Why did no one say to Ollie North, Reagan’s chief architect of a misguided policy “you have lost your freaking mind” if you think you can flood the streets of Black America with drugs to pay to arm your little rebellion in Central America? 

Why is it to this day that even some blacks in our black communities feel that it’s best to ignore the rancid conditions rather than confront them? Why when unjust law enforcement bullets riddled black bodies our communities strikes straight to the streets crying injustice? Yet, when our own brothers and sisters riddle similar black bodies our community sits in silent acceptance of those acts? How can Americans black or white view entertainment monitors on a daily basis and see the destruction caused by weapons of immediate destruction and act as if those destructive actions won’t have some subconscious effect on the young minds that are captivated violent entertainment? Why do we rush to movie theaters for fantasies across the nation yet allow our black communities implode around us?  Is stellar fantasy destruction worth the price of admission but real-time community destruction not worth paying those same dollars to rebuild?

The question of why injustice is so easily attained is that justice takes the union of two forces aligning for a common magnificent objective. It seems that never in the history of the United States has that merging of objectives between the races ever been aligned. From either side when blacks needed the full force of the might of the US Government to attain a full measure of justice, real justice it was not there to answer the call. Can we simply answer our dilemma with “it’s whitey fault” you know that normal racist response?. You see in many instances blacks have been called to support there own and in many of those instances, those calls have gone unanswered. Brothers and sisters for real justice, I mean absolute justice the call for action must be answered as it was in Montgomery, Alabama, or Greenwood, Mississippi, or Selma, Alabama, or the Mall in Washington DC as it was in 1863, 1995, 2015, and 2019. Those calls must be answered ten-fold and the response must elicit actions from both sides not just one side. If you have the attitude that it is always “whitey’s fault” then do something about it build up, link up and make a significant difference in the lives of those around you. If you feel that this world is more than about the color of someone’s skin but the content of his or her’s character then do something about it. Build up, link up and make a significant difference in the lives of those around you. See something familiar? Yes, same action but different feelings internally but the same actions aligned for the common good of all the people living around you brings real justice.

Mar. 21, 2019

The lynching of Wyatt Outlaw occurred in the courthouse square in Graham, North Carolina in 1870. That horrendous act of terror continues to reverberate across the generations of black families related to ancestor Wyatt Outlaw. The consequences for the State of North Carolina were profound. The public lynching of Wyatt Outlaw leads to the impeachment of that state's governor the first impeachment of a governor in United States history. Wyatt Outlaw’s death, like that of State Sen. J. W. (“Chicken”) Stephens in the basement of the courthouse in Caswell County, North Carolina combined together in precipitating the “Kirk-Holden War" in North Carolina

Carole Troxler, Elon University professor, has examined the historical record concerning Outlaw. Biographical details gleaned from Congressional investigations into the 1870-71 Ku Klux Klan “outrages” and transcript of the impeachment trial of Gov. W. W. Holden are spare. Wyatt Outlaw, likely the offspring of white merchant Chesley Faucett and Jemimah Phillips, a free black. Wyatt Outlaw served in the Union army, in the 2nd Regiment U.S. Colored Cavalry, first in Virginia and then a later posting in Texas along the Rio Grande. On his return home, Outlaw opened a woodworking shop on North Main Street in Graham, North Carolina, repairing wagons, making coffins as well as specialty wood trimwork. (Dr. Troxler believes it likely that Wyatt Outlaw trained with Thomas Day of Caswell County.) 

In 1866 Wyatt Outlaw attended the second freedmen’s convention in the state capitol, Raleigh, North Carolina and soon after that convention Wyatt Outlaw organized the Union League in Alamance, North Carolina, as well as a building and organizing a school and a church. Governor Holden in 1868 appointed Outlaw Town Commissioner in Graham. He ran for that position and was elected to the post the following year. That Graham City Board in 1869 organized an armed night patrol to defend the town against the racist activities of the Ku Klux Klan.

On Feb. 26, 1870, Wyatt Outlaw became the primary target for a Klan mob of 70-100 who chose Outlaw because he was an effective leader and had the ability to work with both blacks and whites. Wyatt Outlaw was seized in his house (over the cries of his young son), Outlaw was hanged from the limb of an elm tree which pointed to the courthouse. His mouth was slashed and a note pinned to his body: “Beware you guilty both white and black.” 

Another target of intimidation left town that night. Governor Holden, acting on the authority of the Shoffner Act, declared Alamance and Caswell to be in a state of insurrection. That declaration set in motion a sequence of events leading to Holden's impeachment and removal in 1871. In 1873 eighteen men were charged with the murder of Wyatt Outlaw but ex-Governor Holden, among others, pleaded for their release and charges were dropped. Albion Tourgee used details from Outlaw’s life in composite characters in his Reconstruction novels.

I'll say a prayer of remembrance today for Brother Wyatt Outlaw for his ultimate sacrifice in the fight for freedom for Americans of African Descent. We must remember that the enslavement of our ancestors didn't end with the 13th Amendment in many ways it just began again in a more complex form.

Mar. 20, 2019

Yesterday while reading the epilogue of the book, written by Douglas Blackmon, Slavery By Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of African Americans From The Civil War to World War II, I read this fascinating bit of corporate history from one of the corporate giants of America, Coke Cola Inc. It tied that Coke Cola directly to the re-enslavement of African Americans into forced involuntary servitude in the early twentieth century. It put an entirely new meaning to that phrase " Have A Coke And A Smile" as it relates to Americans of African Descent. In addition to Coke Cola Inc., Americans of African Descent also seem to have a definite case of economic reparations against Southern Company, one of the largest power companies in the United States along with the major banking company Suntrust Bank. All of these cases tie directly to an icon of the business community of Atlanta, Georgia in the late 19th and 20th Century Joel Hurt. I will get back to Mr. Hurt's role in the deprivation of Americans of African Descent later.

 
What fascinating me this afternoon was reading today's USA Today article about the legal pursuit that Tamara Lanier has undertaken against Harvard University for profiting off the slave photos ( daguerreotypes)of an African man named Renty and his daughter Delia taken in 1850 in a South Carolina studio by Professor Louis Agassiz, a Swiss-born Harvard biologist. Tamara Lanier is not only demanding that Harvard return these daguerreotypes but is also pursuing economic reparations from Harvard University for the damage done by the representation historically to her enslaved ancestors. 
 
If Tamara Lanier can pursuit a legitimate case of damage done to her ancestors by Harvard University. Why can't Americans of African Descent pursuit a similar action of reparations against the giant conglomerate Coke Cola, whose 2018 profits exceeded 35.41 billion dollars?  In the beginning history of Coke Cola resides one Joel Hurt who owned coal mines in Georgia that inflicted pain, horrendous working conditions and even death to African American forced labor to work in the coal mines and work camps. Let's read what was written in the epilogue about Joel Hurt and his tie to Coke Cola:
 
“Joel Hurt, who believed the slaves in his coal mines could never be whipped too much, was also chairman of Atlanta's Trust Company Bank. In 1893, Hurt installed as head of his streetcar company his younger brother-in-law Ernest Woodruff. Leveraging his interests in real estate and slave mines, Hurt and his enterprises became Atlanta's most energetic deal makers and buyout artists. Beginning with a sale in 1902, the streetcar company evolved over time into Georgia Power Company—a flagship of Southern Company, one of the largest electric utilities in the United States today. In 1919, after succeeding Hurt as chairman of Trust Company, Woodruff engineered the purchase of Coca-Cola for $25 million and the current incarnation of that company. Suntrust Bank, the modern version of Trust Company, remains one of the largest holders of stock in Coca-Cola. Woodruff's son, Robert Woodruff, was named the president of Coke in 1923, and ran the company until 1954, becoming the era's most influential business figure in the South. He died in 1985.”
 
The United States and its corporate entities have deliberately oppressed Americans of African Descent for centuries. This oppression we now know didn't end with the supposed end of slavery in 1865. It continued into more than 60 plus years of the 20th century. So the case for congressional hearings detailing the degree of harm handed out along with the amount due to make our black communities somewhat whole must be a significant factor in the upcoming presidential election. It also must be a factor in each and every congressional election that our community has the ability to sway the course of the eventual primary and general election victory. This is why each and every black community must reach of sufficient level of universal enriched literacy. For the strategic comprehending reader has the ability to flesh out the truths that are at our fingertips resource wise. Otherwise, the ignorance of our black history and the oppression we faced will continue to be covered up due to our inability to access that history collectively.