african-american-studies

The building where Langston Hughes lived in Harlem is undoubtedly an important part of literary and African American history. Yet the house sits empty, the paint chipping off, only a small plaque suggesting its history.

To make matters worse, the owner of the “Hughes House” recently listed it for sale. While it is now back off the market, the listing got writers worried about losing this piece of history to gentrification.

I can’t speak for all students, but Hughes was one of the few African American poets we studied at my high school. While this is a problem in and of itself, it also speaks to the massive impact that Hughes has had on literature and as a voice for an underrepresented population. His home being sold to commercial developers would be a tragic loss.

Thankfully, there’s still hope that this site can be saved. A writer named Renee Watson sent out a call to raise the funds to buy the house and preserve it as a safe space for art. Along with the campaign, she started a nonprofit called the I, Too, Arts Collective.

http://bookriot.com/2016/08/24/literary-activism-writers-raise-money-to-preserve-hughes-house/

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On This Day in History June 6, 1966: Activist James Meredith was shot and wounded as he walked along a Mississippi highway to encourage black voter registration.

The article 1966: Black civil rights activist shot from the BBC On This Date 1950-2005 website describes the what happened to Meredith:

The 32-year-old civil rights activist began his solo 220-mile March against Fear yesterday in Memphis and was heading for Jackson to show his fellow black citizens how to stand up to white authority and also to encourage them to register to vote.

At Hernando, Mississippi - 30 miles from his starting point - he saw an armed man aim at him and dived to the ground, but he was shot three times. Bleeding from the head, shoulder and leg he shouted: “Oh my God.”

FBI agents and reporters who were following the march witnessed the ambush.

An ambulance took him to hospital where doctors later said his wounds were not serious.

Though shot, Meredith’s wounds were not serious enough to stop his march. His being shot brought awareness to the goals of his march which was the encouragement of black people to register to vote. Aubrey James Norvell confessed to the shooting and was sentenced to five years in prison.

Time seems to have somewhat embittered Meredith to his role in the civil rights movement. In the article James Meredith, Central Figure In Ole Miss Integration, Reflects On 50th Anniversary, Resents ‘Civil Rights’ Moniker (PHOTOS) by EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS from the Huffington Post dated October 01, 2012 Meredith is quoted:

James Meredith is a civil-rights icon who hates the term “civil rights.”

It’s as if civil rights were somehow set apart from – well, rights.

“When it comes to my rights as an American citizen, and yours, I am a triumphalist and an absolutist. Anything less is an insult,” said the black man who 50 years ago inflamed the anger of white Mississippi by quietly demanding admission to the state’s segregated flagship university.

The article goes further into Meredith’s point of view:

Yet he says he doesn’t plan to participate in the university’s commemoration of his history-making enrollment, which prompted a state-federal standoff, sparked deadly mob violence and ultimately ended the university’s official policy of racial segregation.

The university says Meredith has been invited to take part in events to mark the anniversary, including a walk that student leaders will take Monday to retrace his first day on campus.

Meredith says he doesn’t see the point.

“I ain’t never heard of the French celebrating Waterloo,” he told The Associated Press. “I ain’t never heard of the Germans celebrating the invasion of Normandy, or … the bombing and destruction of Berlin. I ain’t never heard of the Spanish celebrating the destruction of the Armada.”

Asked to clarify, Meredith said: “Did you find anything 50 years ago that I should be celebrating?”

The article also states:

Meredith writes that although people consider him a “civil rights hero,” that’s not how he sees himself: “I’ve always found the rhetoric of mainstream civil rights leaders and organizations to be far too timid, accommodationist and gradualist. It always seemed to me that they behaved like meek and gentle supplicants begging the oppressor for a few crumbs of justice, for a few molecules of citizenship rights.”

And:

Meredith is now memorialized by a bronze statue near the University of Mississippi’s main administrative building. Yet he calls it “hideous,” and wants it destroyed.

Meredith says the monument glosses over the magnitude of Mississippi’s resistance to his exercise of what should have been recognized as his obvious, inherent rights as an American citizen.

It was, he said, a war.

“Mississippi has so humiliated me – they ain’t never acknowledged that there was a war,” Meredith said.

Chancellor Dan Jones says the university won’t destroy the statue, which was dedicated in 2006.

In 1987, more than 400 protesters marched at University of California, Berkeley, to call for the creation of a graduate program in African American Studies. November 6, 1987.

African American students at University of California, Berkeley, demand a graduate-level program in the Afro-American/Ethnic Studies department. Despite a concurrent weakening of institutional support for affirmative action in higher education, UC Berkeley students pressed forward on a multicultural agenda. In 1986, a student-led movement successfully convinced the Regents of the University of California to fight apartheid by divesting three billion dollars in their endowment and retirement stock portfolio of companies doing business with South Africa. A Ph.D. program in African Diaspora Studies was approved for African American Studies until 1996.

The Lost Cities of Africa
by Basil Davidson

“Combining archeological evidence and scholarly research, Davidson traces the exciting development of the rich kingdoms of the lost cities of Africa, fifteen hundred years before European ships first came to African shores.”

( I have issues with the title but this is a very good book)

In 1967 Ali was convicted in federal court of violation of the Selective Service Act and sentenced to five years in prison. He was immediately stripped of his boxing title, and every state athletic commission stripped him of his boxing license. For the next three and a half years, Ali, free on bond while appealing his case (which he eventually won on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on a technicality), was prohibited from boxing. He spoke on college campuses, became a darling of the antiwar movement, and inspired black athletes and activists such as the sports sociologist Harry Edwards, who tried to organize a black boycott of the 1968 Olympics. The medal-winning track stars Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave clenched-fist salutes during the playing of the National Anthem at those Games and were promptly sent home.

Muhammad Ali was so much more than a star athlete.

Image credit: Bust photographic portrait of Muhammad Ali in 1967. World Journal Tribune photo by Ira Rosenberg. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

bu.edu
Black Classics Scholars, an Untold Story | BU Today | Boston University
Portraits of pioneering intellectuals on exhibit at Howard Thurman Center

“You show me a Negro who can parse Greek and Latin, and I will consider the possibility that he’s a human being.”
         - John C. Calhoun, Southern defender of slavery, served as a senator, vice president, and secretary of state

An extremely important exhibition at Boston University, opening on MLK day.

I’m very proud of these 5. These are 5 young Black adults who have pursued their academic careers in African American Studies. For the record, they are receiving their Masters in this field. They are using the work that they have done to contribute and help liberate Black people all around the world. Some of them want to focus on helping Black children, some want to focus on Black people in East Asia, some want to focus on Black people in the Cayman Islands… But these wonderful people are willing to do the academic, community as spiritual work to help liberate and educate Black people. People ask people in Black Studies, “what can you do with that degree?” whether it’s a BA, an MA, or a Ph. D. You have your answer now- CHANGE THE WORLD, LIBERATE BLACK PEOPLE and HELP THE WORLD BECOME HUMANE. I’m proud to call these people friends and I love them. Me being a member of your TU Af Am family is very proud of you. Love you. YOU ARE WHAT BLACK EXCELLENCE LOOKS LIKE.

The Assassination of the Black Male Image


by Earl Ofari Hutchinson


“A compelling expose of the truth behind society’s racial and sexual stereotypes of black men, this book offers a wide historical perspective and insights into such recent racially charged events as the Clarence Thomas hearings, the O.J. Simpson trial, and the Million Man March. Hutchinson brilliantly counters the image of black men as a population entrenched in crime, drugs, and violence.”

On This Day in History October 3, 1904: With a $1.50 to her name, Mary McLeod Bethune (July 10, 1875 – May 18, 1955) opens the doors to the Daytona Literacy and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls in Daytona Beach, Florida. Faced with a lack of funds, substandard facilities and the threat of the Ku Klux Klan, Bethune was able to transform the school that started out in a dilapidated cottage to the institiute of higher learning known as Bethune-Cookman University.

For Further Reading:

Nobody Knows My Name
by James Baldwin

“Told with Baldwin’s characteristically unflinching honesty, this collection of illuminating, deeply felt essays examines topics ranging from race relations in the United States to the role of the writer in society, and offers personal accounts of Richard Wright, Norman Mailer and other writers. ”

Let Nobody Turn Us Around: An African American Anthology

External image
 edited by Manning Marable and Leith Mullings

This anthology of black writers traces the evolution of African-American perspectives throughout American history, from the early years of slavery to the end of the 20th century. The essays, manifestos, interviews, and documents assembled here, contextualized with critical commentaries from Marable and Mullings, introduce the reader to the character and important controversies of each period of black history. The selections represent a broad spectrum of ideology. Conservative, radical, nationalistic, and integrationist approaches can be found in almost every period, yet there have been striking shifts in the evolution of social thought and activism. The editors judiciously illustrate how both continuity and change affected the African-American community in terms of its internal divisions, class structure, migration, social problems, leadership, and protest movements. They also show how gender, spirituality, literature, music, and connections to Africa and the Caribbean played a prominent role in black life and history.

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On This Day in History October 2, 1967: In a continuation of my post of August 30th, was sworn in as an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. Marshall became the 96th Supreme Court Justice and the first African-American to serve on the high court. Marshall would serve on the Supreme Court until he stepped down in October 1991.

For Further Reading: