'Cairo Solidarity Rally', featuring Rev. Charles Koen, Church of the Advocate, Philadelphia, 1971. Charles Koen was a leader of Black Liberators in Cairo, Illinois. This speaking event was co-sponsored the Black Workers Congress (a Marxist-Leninist organization that arose from Detroit’s League of Revolutionary Black Workers), Black Economic Devolpment Conference (associated with BWC leader and SNCC veteran James Forman), West Philadelphia NAACP and the Council of Black Clergy. The Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia is still at the center of activism in the Black community today. 

"Do Not Buy Where You Will Not Be Hired"

Floyd McKissick Papers (4930), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, UNC Chapel Hill.

This photograph was found in the black attorney’s papers, Floyd McKissick. The actual date of the photograph is unknown, but it was found in a folder with other photographs from McKissick’s work with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and its Youth Chapter in Durham, North Carolina in the early 1960s. The individuals pictured in the photograph are also unknown.

Pictured are two African American males holding signs in front of a self service A&P Super Market. The signs say: “DO NOT BUY WHERE YOU WILL NOT BE HIRED” with a small “NAACP” in the bottom right corner. African Americans in Durham who participated in such civil rights groups often used sit-ins and boycotts to protest segregation and other unfair practices towards racial minorities. These two men in the photograph were boycotting this A&P Super Market because they were not allowed to be hired for employment due to their skin color. In order to discourage other African Americans from giving their money and business to a place that would not hire these black men, they stood out in front of the store with signs to let other blacks know of their injustices.

Texas rushes ahead with voter ID law after supreme court decision

Officials in Texas said they would rush ahead with a controversial voter ID law that critics say will make it more difficult for ethnic minority citizens to vote, hours after the US supreme court released them from anti-discrimination constraints that have been in place for almost half a century.

The Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott, declared that in the light of the supreme court’s judgment striking down a key element of the 1965 Voting Rights Act he was implementing instantly the voter ID law that had previously blocked by the Obama administration. “With today’s decision, the state’s voter ID law will take effect immediately. Photo identification will now be required when voting in elections in Texas.”

The provocative speed with which Texas has raced to embrace its new freedoms underlines the high-stakes nature of the supreme court ruling. Civil rights leaders declared the judgment to be a major setback to the fight against race discrimination in the south that has been a running sore in the US since the civil war. “This is devastating,” the reverend Al Sharpton told MSNBC.

Benjamin Todd Jealous, president of the NAACP, called the outcome “outrageous. The court’s majority put politics over decades of precedent and the rights of voters. We are more vulnerable to the flood of attacks we have seen in recent years.”

Experts in voting rights laws warned that the supreme court’s 5-to-4 majority ruling would encourage local jurisdictions such as Texas to implement measures that could disenfranchise minority voters. Under the now moribund section four of the Voting Rights Act, Texas and eight other mainly southern states as well as counties in other parts of the country, were listed as being subject to “pre-clearance” – in other words, they were barred from tampering with electoral procedures without prior federal approval.

Research by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University has shown that pre-clearance has consistently protected minority voters from discrimination. In the past 15 years, Brennan found, the Justice Department has blocked election changes from the listed jurisdictions 86 times, 43 of those in the past decade.

Myrna Pérez, author of the Brennan report, said that the most dangerous changes that could happen now were the invisible ones. “The biggest threats could come from small town officials making changes without any public notice or scrutiny – canceling an election, say, or moving the location of a polling station a week before election day.”

She added: “We will be asking people to keep vigilant.”

The Texas voter ID law was blocked by a federal court under the Voting Rights Act last August. The court found that the requirement to show photo identification before casting a ballot would have imposed “strict, unforgiving burdens” on poor minority voters and the cost of the scheme would have fallen disproportionately on blacks and Hispanics.

The Department of Justice pointed out that hundreds of thousands of registered voters in Texas were without the necessary identification and were thus at risk of disenfranchisement. A disproportionate number were Latino.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissenting from the ruling, highlighted a paradox at the heart of the majority opinion: “In the court’s view, the very success of section five of the Voting Rights Act demands its dormancy”.

Pamela Karlan, a professor at Stanford law school who advised the leadership of the bipartisan House judiciary committee in this case, likened the 5-4 ruling to a doctor telling a patient that their treatment had been so successful it could now be ended. “The court is saying: ‘You can stop taking your medicine now.’”

The new question, Karlan added, is what will happen to the patient once the treatment is terminated.

The answer to that question continues to divide America, both within the supreme court itself and in the wider response to its ruling. The majority judgment, written by chief justice John Roberts, focuses on how far the country has come over the past half century since Lyndon Johnson wrestled the act through a resistant Congress.

"Nearly 50 years later, things have changed dramatically. Blatantly discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare. And minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels," Roberts writes.

The chief justice draws on census information to underline his point. In Alabama, the proportion of black people registered to vote has increased from 19% in 1965 to 73% in 2004; and from 6.7% to 76% in Mississippi.

That rosy view of progress is shared, unsurprisingly, by Shelby County, the predominantly white area of central Alabama that brought the challenge all the way to the supreme court. Frank “Butch” Ellis, who has been Shelby County’s attorney since 1964 when the Voting Rights Act was still being debated, insisted that Alabama at that time “was a different time, a different place, it didn’t resemble what it is now.

"I know there was discrimination in 1964, but I also know that what we were doing then is not a relevant barometer of what we are doing now in 2013. It’s not fair to override our sovereign jurisdiction based on a formula that is almost 50 years old."

Shelby County voters, who are about 90% white, have in recent years elected black mayors and a black president of the board of education, Ellis said. Pre-clearance he said was expensive and an administrative burden: “We had to go to Washington for pre-clearance just to move a polling station from one church to another church across the street.”

But for Ginsburg, backed by justices Sephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, it is the very success of pre-clearance that underlines why it must be preserved. “The Voting Rights Act has worked to combat voting discrimination where other remedies have been tried and failed,” she writes.

In her dissent, Ginsburg lists some of the insidious changes to voting laws that could now creep back into the American electoral landscape. Under pre-clearance, states including Texas have been blocked from racial gerrymandering by redrawing electoral boundaries in an attempt to create segregated legislative districts.

Other states have been barred from moving to “at-large voting” where the electoral power of minorities is diluted by the overall majority population. A similar dilution effect has been attempted by the discriminatory annexation into city limits of majority white suburbs.

Following the supreme court ruling, section two of the Voting Rights Act has been left in place. This allows for the US government to prosecute local officials anywhere in the country for implementing racially-discriminatory electoral laws.

Opponents of pre-clearance say that section two will be sufficient on its own as a safeguard against future discrimination. But the burden of challenging new electoral laws now shifts from the federal government to the individual voter.

Karlan said that by striking down pre-clearance the supreme court had “shifted the burden away from the perpetrators of discrimination and onto the shoulders of the victims of discrimination. Local minority voters will now have to find a lawyer and go to court – and for many that will be very difficult.”

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Submitted by dashielsheen!

NAACP Should Already Know That The Politics Of Respectability Cannot Save Black People's Lives

NAACP sent these two tweets below in reference to the extrajudicial execution of Michael Brown recycling the same two common false narratives meant to control and silence Black people in response to extrajudicial execution and State violence because of anti-Blackness: 1) the oversimplified narrative that Black people “do not care” about intraracial crime—the same type of crime that every race experiences yet no one suggests any other race of people do not care when their own harms their own, and 2) the false narrative that the politics of respectability can protect Black people from violence. I replied to both of their tweets; they have now deleted the first one; as of the time of this essay, the second one is still there.

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This organization is out of touch with the experiences of Black people (especially young Black people, and some can attest to this in their own justice work) if they are willing to push the exact same narrative that racist/anti-Black White people/non-Black people push and if they are willing to harm by pushing respectability for Black people versus accountability for the State and how anti-Blackness impacts our lives. (And the NAACP has a very long history of promoting respectability politics.) 

This is reality. Extrajudicial execution of another Black person on this 28 hour clock. Leaving his body in the street for hours just as was done during lynchings of the past for White consumption/entertainment and psychological warfare on Black people. Denying the witness to the crime the ability to give an official statement to where he had to do it on camera and off the record. Forcing Black people away from gathering in prayer circles. Denying Michael Brown’s mother and the public truthful answers. Denying the people the right to congregate to pray and/or grieve and forcing the press out of the area (which both of the latter are first amendment violations). Centering stories on looting (they released looter photos to media versus the murdering cop’s name and photo and/or any truth about what happened during that execution; anti-Blackness means centering property over Black lives is standard) over stories of the police violence and murder since anti-Blackness means not examining the context by which looting (businesses that profiled and harmed people there were the ones targeted, and “your own community” doesn’t apply to people who are under constant racist profiling and terrorism) and rioting (a long history of fighting extrajudicial and State violence contributes to this and anger is a phase of grief) occur. Pretending that every expression of grief is wrong since Black people are denied the right to humanity to live or grieve in a way we see fit. Treating that area as a war zone with military grade equipment and threats. Restricting airspace over the area (as the press could capture footage), and a series of other gross violations has happened or is currently happening. 

This is not the same as every race’s intraracial crime (yes, every fucking race has intraracial crime; every race does not face anti-Blackness [or settler colonialism, which connects to this history] and this particular historic structure of violence, however) nor would be prevented by the politics of respectability. Black people in America do not have the power of the police or the State. We cannot “earn humanity" through behavior, dress, or even beliefs. We are dehumanized as Black people based on who we are, the fact that we are Black, not based on what we do. A lack of “respect” for the city (one already under investigation for profiling and racist policing long before Michael was executed) didn’t kill Michael Brown. A long legacy of anti-Blackness and violence in that city, in this country, in our history is why he is dead. 

When Whites are gleefully thanking the NAACP for these tweets and some Black people are once again harmed and triggered by fellow Black people, there is a problem. I should not see racists’ timelines and see the same type of tweets as NAACP sent. Declaring Black people as collectively non-compassionate and irresponsible are racist narratives that speak to the mythology of “arbitrary” Black “pathology” versus a response to the violence Black people endure just for existing. 

And not once is the epistemic violence involved in the phrase/misnomer "Black on Black crime" ever about intraracial abuse in terms of people who aren’t cishet Black men when those abuses are street harassment, domestic violence, rape, homophobia, transphobia, transmisogyny, colourism, fat shaming, ableism, classism etc. Because see, these are areas that other races of people will ignore or downplay in their own races when they happen to people who are not cishet men. These are abuses where even the same Black people who have internalized racism and need to derail this moment to be about intraracial crime (which they feel we can control, though they ignore how structural factors impact this crime as well; it is not arbitrary) instead of what is actually at hand at the moment, the extrajudicial execution of Michael Brown. So while there is room to discuss why when a victim of crime is not a cishet Black man, the concern evaporates rapidly, both intraracially and among White/non-Black people, that has to do with how cisheteropatriarchy functions, not that Black people “only care” when it is violence that is either the function of the State or supported by the State because of anti-Blackness. 

Extrajudicial execution because of anti-Blackness is structurally not the same as intraracial crime among Black people or intraracial crime that any race experiences. The politics of respectability cannot protect Black people. Recognize these truths. Reject using them as a way to feel “distant” or “safe” from this issue. We are not safe. We never were. Nothing in Ferguson matters more than the fact that a mother and a family had their child executed in a fashion that is a part of American history and is an American pastime. And no easily disproven narrative or excuses from our own or excuses from Whites/non-Black people will change this fact.

Related Posts: The Extrajudicial Execution of Michael Brown and Its Relationship to Lynching. Past Is Present, National Moment of Silence, Thursday, August 14, 2014 at 7pm EST / 4pm PSTI Do Not Give A Fuck About Your Anti-Black Opinions…At All.

Let’s be clear here: Martin Luther King did not live and die so that the grandsons and granddaughters of the Civil Rights revolution might seek justice violently; We don’t have to do that.
— 

Cornell William Brooks, NAACP National President, in light of the Michael Brown murder

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I just heard this on CNN, and I think this is important to remember, especially for some people on tumblr. When we say “hate breeds hate” and “don’t fight fire with fire” we aren’t “silencing the grievances of the oppressed”, we’re saying that it’s foolish to act as if inciting the same vitriol and aggressiveness as the people you claim to be against will solve anything, because it solves nothing. 

Be constructive in your arguments and actions, be logical, be level-headed, and people will take you seriously. 

Being unapologetically bitter and conceited will only make the people you’re advocating against feel justified in their actions, and when others see that you’re acting just like your opponents they won’t see the point of siding with you.

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On this MLK Day of Service, we recognize the work of Virginia Harper (pictured in top image, front row right), a civil rights activist from Fort Madison, Iowa. 

Harper’s involvement in civil rights issues began during childhood and continued throughout her life. At age eleven, Harper and her two sisters refused to sit in the rows reserved for minorities at the local Fort Madison movie theater. In 1946 she was one of five black students to reside in the newly-integrated University of Iowa dorms. After graduating she returned to Fort Madison, where she served for many years as president of the local NAACP branch, promoting civil rights events and organizing boycotts of discriminatory businesses. In 1992, Harper was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame.

Iowa Digital Library: Virginia Harper news clippings, NAACP newsletters, etc.

Iowa Women’s Archives: Guide to the Virginia Harper papers, 1940-2005

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Teachers and supporters of education flood Moral Monday in protest of oppressive, fascist, anti-education Republican party
July 30, 2013

Thousands of North Carolina teachers and other protesters on Monday staged one of the largest of the almost-weekly demonstrations opposing Republican policy decisions.

The North Carolina Association of Educators brought busloads of teachers to Raleigh on Monday as the so-called “Moral Monday” protests reached the three-month mark. Thousands of red-shirt-wearing educators listened to speakers on a lawn inside the state government complex, then marched several blocks for another rally outside the antebellum state Capitol building.

"Educators are sick and tired of being demoralized," NCAE President Rodney Ellis said at a news conference preceding the rally. "We’re sick and tired of being unappreciated. We’re sick and tired of being disrespected. Public educators and public schools are not failing our students, politicians are."

Crowds grew so large that police shut down a portion of Lane Street.

Many said they were outraged and angry that the state budget signed by Gov. Pat McCrory last week doesn’t include raises for North Carolina’s teachers – among the lowest paid in the country – and sets aside $20 million for “opportunity scholarships,” which opponents have compared to a school voucher system.

Julie Grice, who has been teaching in Hickory for 20 years, said future teachers will have to deal with the challenges of the legislature not supporting them.

"They are going to have to pay out of their pocket. They are going to have to work many hours for little pay," she said.

Earlier in the day, a smaller group of protesters gathered at the State Capitol to demand a meeting with Gov. Pat McCrory. Police kept the demonstration outside the building but said they would deliver the protesters’ letter to the governor.

With lawmakers gone, the protest featured none of the civil disobedience that led to about 925 demonstrators being arrested outside the legislative chambers in previous weeks.

North Carolina NAACP President Rev. William Barber said the weekly protests will continue, but move to different locations around the state. The next will be in Asheville next Monday and there are plans to hold demonstrations in all 13 of North Carolina’s congressional districts, Barber said.

"We are not ending Moral Monday," he said. "We are suspending it here and taking it on the road."

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