Speaking & Teaching

Sep. 15, 2019

Eulogy For The Young Victims 
of The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Bombing

by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
September 18, 1963, Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama

Three days after the bombing that murdered four little girls on that fateful Sunday, September 15, 1963, at the 16th Street Baptist Church. Dr. Martin Luther King stood at the pulpit speaking these passionate words not only to those at the church and the literally thousands who stood outside the church. Dr. King spoke directly to the nation about how these murders were not acceptable to in any way, shape, or form. Dr. King indicted the silence that seemingly accepted the violence perpetrated against innocent blacks simply seeking what was rightfully theirs to have, equality.

Today, 56 years later the memories of those 4 martyred little girls still resonate in this nation. A nation still split along the racial faultline of hatred and inequality. Please listen to The Blackman Read Aloud Hour Project read Dr. Martin Luther King's memorable eulogy given on that Wednesday following this most heinous of racial crimes against humanity. We should never allow the life sacrifices of Addie, Denise, Cynthia, and Carole to ever be forgotten. It was their murders that motivating this nation to look deeply into the eyes of bigotry and hatred with the hopes of blinding those eyes eternally.​


[Delivered at funeral service for three of the children -
Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, and Cynthia Diane Wesley - killed in the bombing.
 A separate service was held for the fourth victim, Carole Robertson.]

Sep. 14, 2019

Tomorrow is the 56th anniversary of one of the most tragic events in this nation's history. It is a day that should always be remembered and never forgotten. It is a day when racist haters thought that they could strike terror and fear into the minds of black people across this nation. These white racist felt that dynamiting a church was a solution to maintaining white supremacist power. These men felt that killing Addie, Carol, Cynthia, and Denise would halt the progress of the move towards civil rights not only in the City of Birmingham, Alabama but across the entire region of southern states where black legal and civil rights were being dishonored on a daily basis. The only thing that these vile men didn't understand was the love of humanity is so much stronger than the hate that flows in the blood of those who seek to undermine racial progress and racial understanding. So when that bomb exploded at 11:00 am at the Sixteenth Baptist Church rather than killing the movement it energized our black communities not to allow these four little girls murders to be in vain. So our communities aligned with justice and decided enough was indeed enough. They marshaled the forces of justice and forced this nation to look directly at itself. By forcing this self-analysis America had to recognize the path of hatred was destructive, not constructive. Within a year the 1964 Civil Rights Bill was pass and signed into law and within two years the 1965 Voting Rights Bill was passed into law. Rights and votes were the voice of change that was the direct result of the murderous action that occurred September 15, 1963. The lives of Addie, Denise, Cynthia, and Carol were certainly tragic in every sense of the word. However, the sacrifice of these four innocent girls mushroomed a power more impactful than an atomic bomb. It changed the societal direction of America from a blinded nation without a cause to a more humane nation leading the cause of freedom for the downtrodden, freedom for disadvantaged, freedom for the neglected, and freedom for every one of our peoples who strived for something better in this nation. So, tomorrow say a prayer in memory of Addie, Cynthia, Carol, and Denise knowing that each one of their lives helped fulfill a dream for 45 million of us today. That is why we cannot neglect the ballot boxes in 2020. Because we owe our votes to the full sacrifice that these four little girls in a church in a city stricken with the virus of hatred help overcome. May God Bless In Eternity And In Everlasting Peace the restful spirits of Addie, Carol, Cynthia, and Denise as we look back and look ahead. Our votes in 2020 can turn the direction of this nation away from hatred and separation to a nation of unification and love. We owe it to those four little girls.


#joesmokeblackthoughts

Sep. 14, 2019

Provoked Saturday Thought
There Once Was A Time, Really

There was a time when building elevators operators were indispensable and most of these operators were black. There was a time when this nation's steel mills were churning out steel and those urban cities near those steel mills were flourishing. There was a time when our black middle class was driven by US Steel, Bethlehem Steel, Tennessee Coal & Iron Company all these companies required laborers specializing in hard grueling work. There was a time when the United States Postal Service was thriving a government agency making profits. You see there was a time when there weren't emails, text messages, video conferencing and not a hint of social media networks. Our black communities postal workers were thriving with secure jobs and outstanding benefits. There was a time in our black communities when laborers, federal workers, professionals, educators all resided in our communities and dollars earned were dollars that stayed in our communities. Yes, there was a time when earners spent their dollars in the only businesses that would respect them and their dollars. There was a time when companies actually had guaranteed pensions for it's retired workers along with a secured social security check. There was a time when reading and writing were skills to be perfected not neglected.

There was a time when our communities were restricted. There was a time when we couldn't shop in downtown department stores. Yes, there was a time when there were actually department stores downtown even those department stores that restricted our dollars. There was a time when black folks had tremendous obstacles just spending a dollar. There was a time when all the taxis in the cities were yellow and all the hackers in the cities were black. There was a time when the uber generation was defined by a black man unable to hale a taxi opening the door to initial ubers drivers blacks with cars. There was a time before the internet, cell phones, and messaging that people in our communities actually could carry on a decent conversation face to face, race to race, in any place. There was a time if you were black, 21 and you could vote you would vote because we understood the sacrifice shared by that right to vote.

There was a time when going to school in our community was a responsibility necessary to grow our cities. There was a time when getting an education wasn't considered a chore. There was a time when our educators of color were high in the highest regard. There was a time when learning was a source of power and knowledge of one's ancestry was defined by knowledge, not by one's DNA. There was a time only the black communities most difficult issues was dealing with getting down the number of folks drinking wine and gooch. There was a time when our black communities body counts were minimal even on the weekends. There was a time that even in our urban center's children could run and play all day and into the night without a care and returning home unharmed was not a dare. There was a time when urban cities were sprouting homeowners not growing disgusting vagrant houses.

There was a time when we knew our neighbors and actually when over their homes to borrow sugar. The was a time when we had neighbors and not an empty home. There was a time when love was here, there, and everywhere and even in the tunes, we sang. When Detroit, Philly, and Memphis were cities not of gloom they were vibing cities moving to special beats. There was a time that Harlem was our special place. Yes, my people there was a time when we actually thought that America could be our home. That is the time I long to return to. When our black communities were unified in a belief that they actually could find relieve and a belief in each other.

Sep. 10, 2019

One year ago today my cousin a future attorney and a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University placed this post on his Facebook Page:

"Pick up a book, cut back 30 minutes a day from social media or television and read something. There is a wealth of knowledge available to us. Discover something new."

Bryce Johnson

I think Brother Johnson's message should be sent to every person who resides in our communities across this nation. Now more than ever it is vitally important for the younger people in our communities to recognize the importance of acquiring knowledge beyond the classrooms that they occupy daily. The fact of the matter is that our educational institutions cannot be the only avenue of learning that our children experience. Our children also cannot be overly dependent on the entertainment industry to awaken their consciousness. It is most imperative that our children accept a degree of personal responsibility to acquire the knowledge essential to being competitive in today's technology-enriched society.

Learning beyond the STEM classrooms requires a deep understanding of the rich history of their elders, ancestors and experiences that have paved the way for them today, and tomorrow. Yesterday my two posts celebrated the founding of Carter Goodwin Woodson organization the Association for the Study of Afro American Life and History which was founded in Chicago, Illinois on September 9, 1915. Today, I would like to reflect on this thought, are we too dependent on our educational institutions to do the work necessary to enhance our children's knowledge of community and self? Are we providing the needed motivation to our children to see that they take every opportunity to learn about their own historical stories? No one can truly tell the stories of our ancestors better than we can? Do we actually think that the knowledge learned in the classrooms is the final word to our children's learning experiences?

That is the reason why the issue of promoting literacy every day is a vital outreach to the transference of knowledge in our homes, churches, community centers, and learning centers beyond the traditional classrooms. What Brother Johnson was referring to in his post was simply a beautiful thought. Take 30 minutes, just 30 minutes per day, or 3 and 1/2 hours per week, or 15 hours per month, or 180 hours per year to completely change the fabric of learning in our communities across this nation. If you did that as a parent in a read-aloud setting you could essentially pave the way for your children's success for a lifetime. If you taught your children this literacy methodology beyond the traditional classroom. It would be transferred to generations of our children in our communities many tomorrows.

The question many in our community's religious institutions ask on Sundays is what you Jesus think? The question I ask today in my continued celebration of the great life works of one Carter Goodwin Woodson ask is what would the spirit of Dr. Woodson think? Could we truly erase the miseducation of the Negro or the Afro American? Just another thought from The Blackman Read Aloud Project for September 10, 2019.

Sep. 9, 2019

Part Two: Celebrating The 104th Anniversary of Carter Goodwin Woodson's Dream
THE FIRST BIENNIAL MEETING OF THE ASSOCIATION​ FOR THE STUDY OF NEGRO LIFE AND HISTORY, WASHINGTON DC
The Blackman Read Aloud Hour Project
September 9, 1917
Looking Back As We Look Ahead

Carter G. Woodson didn't want any parts of the miseducation​ of the ​black Americans living in this nation. He surely didn't want to see this nation's history whitewashed by white prejudice. Carter G. Woodson also understood the importance of literacy in 1915, 1917, and 1933 when he published the epic book The Miseducation of the Negro. Today, we celebrate the historic dream that was established on September 9, 1915,​ by reading the minutes of the very first national meeting of the Association For The Study Of Negro Life And History held in 1917, two years after the founding. It is vitally important that we address the concerns that Carter Goodwin Woodson uncovered in his life's work. We must ensure that every child of African American descent in this nation is capable of uncovering the story, his/her story of their black ancestors'​ accomplishments in this nation and throughout the world. They can only do this by being a literate comprehending strategic reader. That is the objective of my mission. If you agree with me make a donation to my cause.