Monday, June 19, 2006

"What To The Slave Is The 4th Of July?"
July 5, 1852Independence Day Speech at Rochester, NY(excerpt)
Frederick Douglass (A former slave himself, Frederick Douglass became a leader in the 19th Century Abolitionist Movement)
Fellow citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold that a nation's sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation's jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that the dumb might eloquently speak and the "lame man leap as an hart."

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence bequeathed by your fathers is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me by asking me to speak today? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn that it is dangerous to copy the example of nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can today take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people.

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! We wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth."

Fellow citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! Whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, today, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorry this day, "may my right hand cleave to the roof of my mouth"! To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave's point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine. I do not hesitate to declare with all my soul that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this Fourth of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the Constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery-the great sin and shame of America! "I will not equivocate, I will not excuse"; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, shall not confess to be right and just....

For the present, it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not as astonishing that, while we are plowing, planting, and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, and secretaries, having among us lawyers doctors, ministers, poets, authors, editors, orators, and teachers; and that, while we are engaged in all manner of enterprises common to other men, digging gold in California, capturing the whale in the Pacific, feeding sheep and cattle on the hillside, living, moving, acting, thinking, planning, living in families as husbands, wives, and children, and above all, confessing and worshiping the Christian's God, and looking hopefully for life and immortality beyond the grave, we are called upon to prove that we are men!...

What, am I to argue that it is wrong to make men brutes, to rob them of their liberty, to work them without wages, to keep them ignorant of their relations to their fellow men, to beat them with sticks, to flay their flesh with the lash, to load their limbs with irons, to hunt them with dogs, to sell them at auction, to sunder their families, to knock out their teeth, to burn their flesh, to starve them into obedience and submission to their masters? Must I argue that a system thus marked with blood, and stained with pollution, is wrong? No! I will not. I have better employment for my time and strength than such arguments would imply....

What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July? I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms- of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.
For Many, Today Is Independence Day
By Avis Thomas-LesterWashington Post Staff WriterSaturday, June 18, 2005; Page B01

As an African American, Richard Bingham has always felt some ambivalence about the Fourth of July.

So when he learned six years ago about Juneteenth, which commemorates the day in 1865 when the last U.S. slaves were notified of their independence, he hosted a party to share food, fellowship and history with his neighbors in Prince George's County. He's repeated it each year since.

They grilled meat, a tradition started in Texas, where Juneteenth originated. They prayed over shackles and chains provided by a historian friend for ancestors who had been enslaved. Bingham dramatized "The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro," Frederick Douglass's impassioned commentary on the hypocrisy of the holiday.
That small gathering has grown into Prince George's first countywide celebration this year of Juneteenth Independence Day, a once-obscure commemoration that has spread to more than two dozen states and a national program today that is expected to draw thousands to the Lincoln Memorial.

"The Fourth of July was America's independence day, not ours," said Bingham, 50, of Landover, a trainer with the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commission. "It wasn't until almost a century later that the nation finally realized that 'We need to let these folks be free, too.'

"Juneteenth Day," he added, " is our independence day."

A combination of the words "June" and "nineteenth," Juneteenth was born out of a spontaneous celebration that erupted June 19, 1865, when Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, declared U.S. sovereignty over Texas and officially notified the state's 250,000 slaves that they were free. That was 30 months after President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation.

The anniversary, traditionally celebrated on the third Saturday of the month, is now observed formally in 17 states, and several others have recognized it through gubernatorial proclamations or legislation, officials said. Texas made it a paid state holiday in 1980. New York Gov. George E. Pataki (R) last year signed a law establishing Juneteenth Freedom Day. The District passed legislation in 2003 recognizing Juneteenth. Maryland and Virginia do not formally recognize it, though celebrations are planned in Alexandria, Montgomery County and Southern Maryland.
In 1997, Congress recognized the day with a resolution, sponsored by Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) in the Senate and Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) in the House.

Two years later, a group of black leaders brought the observance to the Mall, celebrating with prayer, public speakers, poetry, song and dance.

"Juneteenth is about American history," said the Rev. Ronald V. Myers Sr., chairman of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation. "The nation declared its independence on July 4, 1776, and the last slaves were freed on June 19, 1865. We need to acknowledge both days when we celebrate our freedom."

This year's commemoration comes as advocates are pressing national leaders to acknowledge and atone for the country's past wrongs against African Americans. On Monday, the U.S. Senate apologized for failing to ever approve anti-lynching legislation, the first time the body has apologized to African Americans. Each year, the National Juneteenth Independence Day program features a reading of the names of lynching victims.

Juneteenth advocates want the day to be established as a national observance. Myers, a physician and ordained minister from Mississippi, began a petition drive urging President Bush to participate in this year's events and to establish a presidential commission on the observance. The group is not seeking a paid holiday, but rather a national observance similar to Flag Day, Myers said.

A presidential greeting from Bush about Juneteenth was posted on the White House Web site this week extolling the contributions of African Americans, but the president said he has a scheduling conflict for today's events, Myers said.

"There is no personal acknowledgment from the president of the significance of Juneteenth or the need for healing from the legacy of slavery in America . . . even though the White House and the U.S. Capitol were built from slave labor," he said.

Myers said Bush's lack of response was particularly disappointing because of his acknowledgment of Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday.

In Congress, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) have sponsored resolutions asking for a national Juneteenth observance.

"Just like the day when the greatest civil rights leader of our time was born or the day we finally gave African Americans a ballot and a voice, Juneteenth is a day when we look back on a time when everyday Americans faced the most daunting challenges and the slimmest odds and still persevered," Obama said at a luncheon Thursday.

Beyond the national efforts, many black families celebrate the day with friends and a barbecue. In Prince George's, Bingham said the countywide event will be family-centered because of the importance of passing the history down to children.

"Somewhere in the Scripture it says that people who continue to celebrate their culture thrive," he said. "That's why it is important to continue to teach our children about their history -- so they won't lose it."
by Dan Perkins
Source: The National Juneteenth Observance Foundation
Most Americans are uncomfortable recalling the reality of slavery in America, but Rev. Ronald V. Myers, Sr., M.D., Chairman of the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF), and others believe slavery is as defining of America as the constitution and the Bill of Rights.

"The U.S. Capitol and the White House were built through the uncompensated labor of the ancestors of Americans of African descent during the tyranny of slavery,"
states Myers who has repeatedly urged President Bush to recognize and honor the sacrifice and contributions of enslaved Americans. Thus far, President Bush has declined Myers' invitations.

Myers believes America must be healed from the legacy of slavery and the annual observance of Juneteenth in America provides the nation with an opportune time to acknowledge that need.

Juneteenth is the name given to the observance of the "19th of June, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger announced freedom for all slaves who were still held in bondage in the Southwest. Center in Galveston, Texas, the Southwest was the last region to practice slavery in the United States following the end of the Civil War. The fact that Americans were still held as slaves more than two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln is shocking for most Americans.

After General Granger read General Order No. 3, the order that abolished slavery in the region, the former slaves celebrated jubilantly. Annual celebrations have continued throughout the African American community, and for many, Juneteenth is America's second Independence Day Celebration.

A congressional resolution recognizing the significance of Juneteenth Independence Day, (H. Con. Res. 160), was recently introduced by Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-IL) with a host of co-sponsors. The resolution also requests that President Bush issue a Presidential Proclamation acknowledging the same.

"The official recognition of Juneteenth Independence Day and the end of slavery by state governments and congress are very significant steps in bringing healing to America from the legacy of slavery," said Myers. "As the descendents of Americans of African descent, our ancestors were brought to America in chains. This should never be forgotten."

Myers hopes that the reintroduction of the Native American Apology Resolution in the Senate will result in the acknowledgement that America needs healing from the legacy of atrocities against Native Americans as well as African-Americans.

According to the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation, 17 states, including the District of Columbia, officially recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday or state holiday observance.
The states are:
District of Columbia
New Jersey
New York

For more information about Juneteenth and Juneteenth celebrations, visit:
The Middle Passage

Nowhere in the annals of history has a people experienced such a long and traumatic ordeal as Africans during the Atlantic slave trade. Over the nearly four centuries of the slave - which continued until the end of the Civil War - millions of African men, women, and children were savagely torn from their homeland, herded onto ships, and dispersed all over the so-called New World. Although there is no way to compute exactly how many people perished, it has been estimated that between thirty and sixty million Africans were subjected to this horrendous triangular trade system and that only one third-if that-of those people survived...'

"...the average voyage took from five to twelve weeks."

The triangular trade system was so named because the ships embarked from European ports, stopped in Africa to gather the captives, after which they set out for the New World to deliver their human cargo, and then returned to the port of origin. The Middle Passage was that leg of the slave triangle that brought the human cargo from West Africa to North America, South America, and the Caribbean.

"Every morning, perhaps, more instances than one are found of the living and the dead fastened together."
John Newton - Slave Ship Captain
After several voyages, Newton quit the slave trade, became a minister, and wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace," with its autobiographical line "...that saved a wretch like me."

'It was not atypical to see a massive school of sharks darting in and out of the wake of the ships filled with human cargo plying the Atlantic. For miles they followed the battered and moldy vessels, waiting to attack the disease-ravaged black bodies that were periodically tossed into the ocean...
If the Atlantic were to dry up, it would reveal a scattered pathway of human bones, African bones marking the various routes of the Middle Passage.'
'There were successful uprisings in which the Africans gained control of the ships and were able to steer them back to their homeland. A memorable mutiny was led by Joseph Cinque in 1839. Cinque and the other rebels killed the captain and took over the slaver Amistad. They were eventually captured and tried for murder and piracy on the high seas. However, in the end they were acquitted of all charges.

'Despite the miserable conditions, inadequate space and food, deadly diseases, and the violence from crew members, millions of African captives survived, demonstrating their strength and implacable will..'
'In humankind's shameful history of forced migrations, the journey of the Africans from their bountiful homeland to the slave markets of the New World is one of the most tragic.

"But, if this part of our history could be told in such a way that those chains of the past, those shackles that physically bound us together against our wills could, in the telling, become spiritual links that willingly bind us together now and into the future - then that painful Middle Passage could become, ironically, a positive connecting line to all of us whether living inside or outside the continent of Africa..."
Tom Feelings

"One night while speaking with a Ghanaian friend, he asked quite unexpectedly,
...what happened to all of you when you were taken away from here?
I knew instantly that he meant " what happened to all our people who were forcefully taken from Africa, enslaved, and scattered throughout the 'New World'?"
He was referring to this crossing called The Middle Passage.

"As he continued to speak, muted images flashed across my mind. Pale white ships plunging forward into mountainous rising white foaming waves of cold water, surrounding and engulfing everything."

Our ancestors, hundreds of them locked in the belly of each of these ships, chained together like animals throughout the long voyage from Africa toward unknown destinations, millions dying from the awful conditions in the bowels of the filthy slave galleys.

"Who could tell this story with any kind of balance?"
Enthusiastically, I started reading everything I could find on slavery and especially the Middle Passage. I searched out and wrote down all of the factual incidents in sequential order, reading some personal accounts by former slave-ship captains, slave traders, and various European historians.
I expected the descriptions of horror of the slave forts and inhumane treatment on the journey aboard the slave ships. But some of the writers' overbearing opinions, even religious rationalizations and arguments for the continuance of the slave trade made me feel, the more words I read, that I should try to tell this story with as few words as possible, if any.
Callous indifference or outright brutal characterizations of Africans are embedded in the language of the Western World. It is a language so infused with direct and indirect racism that it would be difficult, if not impossible, using this language in my book, to project anything black as positive.
This gave me a final reason for attempting to tell the story through art alone. I believe strongly that with a picture book any African in this world could pick up and see and feel what happened to us on those ships."
Tom Feelings

And as time went on, as painful as it was to force myself each time back into the agonizing past, it was equally as painful to come back through history, hoping for relief, only to see some of the same things in the present, in America, the richest country in the world...

"It is almost twenty years later. I have finished this long 'psychological and spiritual journey back in order to move forward' with the completion of the last painting of the Middle Passage - story that has changed me forever. My struggle to tell this African story, to create this artwork as well as live creatively under any conditions and survive, as my ancestors did, embodies my particular heritage in this world. As the blues, jazz, and the spirituals teach, one must embrace all life, both its pain and joy, creatively. Knowing this is why I, we, may be disappointed, but never destroyed.


History of Juneteenth

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another, is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another, is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All or none of them could be true. For whatever the reason, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.

General Order Number 3
One of General Granger’s first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3 which began most significantly with:

"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer."

The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation. While many lingered to learn of this new employer to employee relationship, many left before these offers were completely off the lips of their former 'masters' - attesting to the varying conditions on the plantations and the realization of freedom. Even with nowhere to go, many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom. North was a logical destination and for many it represented true freedom, while the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove the some into Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Settling into these new areas as free men and women brought on new realities and the challenges of establishing a heretofore non-existent status for black people in America. Recounting the memories of that great day in June of 1865 and its festivities would serve as motivation as well as a release from the growing pressures encountered in their new territory. The celebration of June 19th was coined "Juneteenth" and grew with more participation from descendants. The Juneteenth celebration was a time for reassuring each other, for praying and for gathering remaining family members. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date.

Juneteenth Festivities and Food
A range of activities were provided to entertain the masses, many of which continue in tradition today. Rodeos, fishing, barbecuing and baseball are just a few of the typical Juneteenth activities you may witness today. Juneteenth almost always focused on education and self improvement. Thus often guest speakers are brought in and the elders are called upon to recount the events of the past. Prayer services were also a major part of these celebrations.

Certain foods became popular and subsequently synonymous with Juneteenth celebrations such as strawberry soda-pop. More traditional and just as popular was the barbecuing, through which Juneteenth participants could share in the spirit and aromas that their ancestors - the newly emancipated African Americans, would have experienced during their ceremonies. Hence, the barbecue pit is often established as the center of attention at Juneteenth celebrations.

Food was abundant because everyone prepared a special dish. Meats such as lamb, pork and beef which not available everyday were brought on this special occasion. A true Juneteenth celebrations left visitors well satisfied and with enough conversation to last until the next.
Dress was also an important element in early Juneteenth customs and is often still taken seriously, particularly by the direct descendants who can make the connection to this tradition's roots. During slavery there were laws on the books in many areas that prohibited or limited the dressing of the enslaved. During the initial days of the emancipation celebrations, there are accounts of former slaves tossing their ragged garments into the creeks and rivers to adorn clothing taken from the plantations belonging to their former 'masters'.

Juneteenth and Society
In the early years, little interest existed outside the African American community in participation in the celebrations. In some cases, there was outwardly exhibited resistance by barring the use of public property for the festivities. Most of the festivities found themselves out in rural areas around rivers and creeks that could provide for additional activities such as fishing, horseback riding and barbecues. Often the church grounds was the site for such activities. Eventually, as African Americans became land owners, land was donated and dedicated for these festivities. One of the earliest documented land purchases in the name of Juneteenth was organized by Rev. Jack Yates. This fund-raising effort yielded $1000 and the purchase of Emancipation Park in Houston, Texas. In Mexia, the local Juneteenth organization purchased Booker T. Washington Park, which had become the Juneteenth celebration site in 1898. There are accounts of Juneteenth activities being interrupted and halted by white landowners demanding that their laborers return to work. However, it seems most allowed their workers the day off and some even made donations of food and money. For decades these annual celebrations flourished, growing continuously with each passing year. In Booker T. Washington Park, as many as 20,000 African Americans once flowed through during the course of a week, making the celebration one of the state’s largest.

Juneteenth Celebrations Decline
Economic and cultural forces provided for a decline in Juneteenth activities and participants beginning in the early 1900’s. Classroom and textbook education in lieu of traditional home and family-taught practices stifled the interest of the youth due to less emphasis and detail on the activities of former slaves. Classroom text books proclaimed Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863 as the date signaling the ending of slavery - and little or nothing on the impact of General Granger’s arrival on June 19th.

The Depression forced many people off the farms and into the cities to find work. In these urban environments, employers were less eager to grant leaves to celebrate this date. Thus, unless June 19th fell on a weekend or holiday, there were very few participants available. July 4th was the already established Independence holiday and a rise in patriotism steered more toward this celebration.

The Civil Rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s yielded both positive and negative results for the Juneteenth celebrations. While it pulled many of the African American youth away and into the struggle for racial equality, many linked these struggles to the historical struggles of their ancestors. This was evidenced by student demonstrators involved in the Atlanta civil rights campaign in the early 1960’s, whom wore Juneteenth freedom buttons. Again in 1968, Juneteenth received another strong resurgence through Poor Peoples March to Washington D.C.. Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s call for people of all races, creeds, economic levels and professions to come to Washington to show support for the poor. Many of these attendees returned home and initiated Juneteenth celebrations in areas previously absent of such activity. In fact, two of the largest Juneteenth celebrations founded after this March are now held in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

Texas Blazes the Trail
On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official state holiday through the efforts of Al Edwards, an African American state legislator. The successful passage of this bill marked Juneteenth as the first emancipation celebration granted official state recognition. Representative Edwards has since actively sought to spread the observance of Juneteenth all across America.

Juneteenth In Modern Times
Throughout the 80’s and 90’s Juneteenth has continued to enjoy a growing and healthy interest from communities and organizations throughout the country. Institutions such as the Smithsonian, the Henry Ford Museum and others have begun sponsoring Juneteenth-centered activities. In recent years, a number of National Juneteenth Organizations have arisen to take their place along side older organizations - all with the mission to promote and cultivate knowledge and appreciation of African American history and culture.

Juneteenth today, celebrates African American freedom while encouraging self-development and respect for all cultures. As it takes on a more national and even global perspective, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, for all of the roots tie back to this fertile soil from which a national day of pride is growing. The future of Juneteenth looks bright as the number of cities and states come on board and form local committees and organizations to coordinate the activities. Communication and networking is vital. A sharing of lessons learned throughout all organizations will help expedite this growth while minimizing waste and risks. The website can play a vital role in these efforts. Thus, it is important to communicate its existence to one and all. Contact your local Juneteenth organizer if you do not see them listed within and let them know about this site. There is no cost for organizations to post their Juneteenth festivities at the website.

History of Juneteenth © 1996-2005

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day Papa!!!!!!

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Posted by Picasa HAPPY FATHER'S DAY PAPA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

James Cameron; Survived Lynching, Founded Museum
By Yvonne Shinhoster LambWashington Post Staff WriterTuesday, June 13, 2006; B07

James Cameron, 92, who at 16 survived being lynched from a maple tree in Marion, Ind., and decades later was present when the U.S. Senate apologized for its failure to enact federal anti-lynching laws, died June 11 of congestive heart failure at a hospital in Milwaukee.

Mr. Cameron, who kept a piece of the rope that had scarred his neck moments before he was spared, was the only known survivor of a lynching attempt. An astute student of history, he lectured widely and in 1988 founded the Black Holocaust Museum in Milwaukee.

The museum, one of the first of its kind in the country, explores the story of African Americans from slavery to the present. Mr. Cameron started the museum in his basement, and it gained widespread support as a venue of reconciliation.

Marty Stein, one of the early benefactors, told the Milwaukee Journal in 2005 that the museum was a place "you go and ask questions and not be embarrassed that you might insult someone."
"It's a place where the two communities -- African Americans and Europeans -- can come together . . . to build bridges."

Mr. Cameron was born in La Crosse, Wis., and lived in Birmingham and Kokomo, Ind., before moving to Marion, Ind., at 14.

On Aug. 7, 1930, two years into Mr. Cameron's stay in Marion, the 16-year-old and two acquaintances were arrested and accused of murder, robbery and rape. A white couple was parked in a lovers lane when the trio came upon them and one of the group suggested robbing the couple.

Mr. Cameron later said he changed his mind and ran away before the man, Claude Deeter, 23, was fatally shot. The woman later denied being raped.

Within hours, the three young black men were in jail. A mob broke into the jail, beat them and dragged them into the street. Thomas Shipp, 18, and Abram Smith, 19, were hanged from trees in front of the courthouse. Then came Mr. Cameron's turn.

In his autobiography, Mr. Cameron recalled the raw, inhuman sound of the mob, which included members of the local Ku Klux Klan. He once said he still could remember the faces of the 2,000 white people who gathered there, some with their children. Some eating. He prayed for his life.
Then, as the noose grew tighter around his neck, a voice called out: "Take this boy back. He had nothing to do with any raping or shooting of anybody."

His neck scarred, he was returned to jail and sentenced for robbery.

After serving about five years in prison in Marion, he left to live with an aunt in Detroit. He married there before moving in 1939 to Anderson, Ind. There he owned the only black business in town -- a combination shoeshine parlor, record shop and knickknack store.

In Anderson for about 10 years, he started chapters of the NAACP throughout Indiana. The civil rights work was difficult in the Klan-heavy state, and he felt support from local blacks was sometimes lacking because of fear, said his son, Virgil Cameron. He decided to leave Indiana and go to Canada, but when he stopped off in Milwaukee, several job opportunities caught his attention.

Mr. Cameron worked in a brewery for a few years and at Milprint packaging company awhile. He also went to a trade school to become a boiler engineer. He worked at one of the biggest malls in Milwaukee, Mayfair Shopping Center, until age 65. He also owned a rug-cleaning business, which afforded him the chance to travel.

In 1979, he and his wife went to Israel, where he visited Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the memorial to the 6 million people killed in the Holocaust. He returned to Milwaukee determined to build a museum telling the history and struggles of African Americans. He began by telling the story of the 4,700 people, mostly black, who were lynched in the United States between 1882 and 1968.

Last June, Mr. Cameron, frail and in a wheelchair, came to Washington to bear witness to the U.S. Senate apology condemning its past failures to outlaw lynching.

"It's 100-something years late," he said later. "But I'm glad they are doing it."

Besides his son of Milwaukee, survivors include his wife 68 years, Virginia Cameron of Milwaukee; two children, Walter Cameron of West Palm Beach, Fla., and Dolores Cameron of Chicago; five grandchildren; six great grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren.© 2006 The Washington Post


Founder - Dr. James Cameron
James Cameron is founder of America's Black Holocaust Museum and America's only living survivor of a lynching. In August, 1930 when Cameron was 16 years old, he was falsely accused of participating in the murder of a young white man in Marion, Indiana.

As a result, Cameron witnessed a mob of 15,000 people beat and lynch his two friends.Miraculously, Cameron survived his severe beating and attempted lynching; however, he was immediately sentenced to four years in the state prison for accessory before the fact to manslaughter. Ironically, no one was ever accused, arrested or charged with the murder of Cameron's teenage friends, nor for the beating Cameron suffered.

Because of this personal experience, Cameron dedicated his life to promoting civil rights, racial peace, unity and equality. His commitment is evident by his founding of three NAACP chapters in Indiana during the 1940s, and becoming the first president of the NAACP Madison County Branch in Anderson, Indiana.

Cameron also served as the Indiana State Director of Civil Liberties from 1942-1950. In this capacity Cameron reported to then Governor of Indiana , Henry Shricker on violations of the "equal accommodations" laws to end previously mandated segregation.

During his eight-year tenure, Cameron investigated over 25 incidents of civil rights infractions and faced many acts of violence and death threats for his work.

Repeated threats of violence against his family forced Cameron to relocate to his birth state of Wisconsin in the early 1950s. Cameron continued his work in civil rights by assisting in protests to end segregated housing in the City of Milwaukee.

During the 1960's, Cameron participated in both marches on Washington; the first with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the second with Dr. King's widow Coretta and the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

During the seventies Cameron published literally hundreds of articles and booklets detailing civil rights and occurrences of racial injustices.

In 1988, Cameron founded America's Black Holocaust Museum to document racial injustices suffered by people of African heritage.

Fifteen years later, the Museum continues to grow in prominence and scope, however, of all his prized possessions, Cameron most cherishes a single letter received on February 3,1993, 62 years after his conviction. The letter grants a pardon and public apology from the State of Indiana.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Well, my posts are getting closer together. Not close enough to be called frequent, but something similiar to it anyway.
So what's been going on? Well, life has been interesting for the most part. I am applying for a promotion at work. I am applying for the same position but at 7 stores. It is a long shot for me to get the position because I am attempting to jump over holding a formal sales position. I assumed because of that I would have no chance. However, my name is out there is in the district according to both my manager and district manager so it may happen for me after all. The interviews are wearing me out though. The always go pretty well, but I am nervous and say the wrong thing or am not sure what to say. Sigh, I used to be so good at interviewing. Well, in all honesty I used to be good at bullshitting. I was never a huge bullshitter, but I could tell a lie that could fool a polygraph tester. However, I do not really lie much anymore (not counting white lies) and I am increasingly uncomfortable with lying at all. Which is why I want to skip sales. Most sales people lie more by omission than anything else, but I do not want to even do that. I like that the offers I give my customers are truly what I believe is best for them. I may be incorrect, but it was given to the best of my immediate knowledge as the best offer. I have to blur the truth a bit in management, but nothing like what will be required in sales. I am uncomfortable with bullshitting period, so that makes my interviews difficult. I am too honest. Usually it works to my advantage because people know it is the truth if I say it is. On the other hand it works against me in the instance of interviews. I have never understood why people lie about thier skills to get a position. Once you are hired the cat is out of the bag and imagine how unhappy they will be. It is better to be honest and set real expectations. S, my manager, says that I lack confidence in my self and that is why I do not boast. I do not agree but perhaps there is something to it. I think she sees me in a way I do not see myself. I need to project more confidence in my interactions with others, clearly.
On the dating front....yikes!!!!! Well, I had two dates with S and have no plans to see him again. The first date was dinner and was nice. He was sweet and respectful. I was not at all attracted to him physically but he seemed nice so I thought I would date him and see if he grew on me. He talked mostly about himself and did not ask much about me but I figured maybe he was just really shy. Then we were supposed to go to the movies the following week but there was not really anything that we both wanted to see and he had Hostel on DVD and asked if he could come over and watch it. I was kind of uncomfortable with the idea of having him at my house so soon, but figured I should be less suspicious. It was ok, he was more pushy than I would have liked for intimacy but backed off when I said to. A was gone for the weekend and he wanted us to get together again saturday night. Well, I had a feeling he thought he would come to my house and get laid. I like to be as honest as possible in all of my dealings so I let him know that he was welcome to come over and watch a movie but that there would be no sex of any kind at all. He had the nerve to have a f*cking attitude about it. He text messages me saying he is horny. My first instinct was to text him back and say, "So fucking what." I HATE when men do that. What am I supposed to do about that? If we just met and are just dating, your horniness level has nothing to do with me. I am not a prositute nor a 1-900 phone sex number and most certainly am not obligated to ease your horniness. It is kind of insulting to be honest. However, I have male friends and I know that men do not mean it to be insulting. They must think it is sexy or cute or a round about way of asking for sex with out having to face direct rejection. Whatever it is intended to do, all it does in fact is piss me off. So, I text him back saying, "I'm bored, nice to meet you." He must not have gotten it because he texts me back saying, "I'm serious. I'm horny and I like you, blah, blah, blah...." I do not remember what he said beyond that, but thats the gist of it anyway. I was pissed so I called the date off, told him I was not interested in a casual sexual relationship and would speak with him later. He sends me back text apologizing and saying it is probably best to talk the next day. I knew then that I would never see him again. I am not against casual sex morally. I have never had casual sex but would do so if I met someone who turned me on enough that I wanted to allow them into my body and did not really know them. It is not a moral issue for me, just a comfort level issue. It takes me time to be comfortable with most men. Until I reach that comfort level I have strict boundaries and no one goes past that. I do not do things I do not want to do and that includes having sex when I do not want to just because my date is horny. It pissed me off not because he was so crass. I barely know him so nothing lost there. It pissed me off because every time I try to see what develops with a guy I am not initially attracted to it goes wrong somehow. First there was L who wanted me to spank him while he crawled across the floor. I was not even sure he was serious, but either way I was disgusted. Then there was that guy a few months ago who had decided I was "The One" for him, which could not be true since I did not like him at all, not even a little bit. Now S....every time I try to what and see what develops I end up more angry than anything else. N says I am too picky. Perhaps. Now, S is texting me so I sent him a "you are a nice person but we are both looking for different things" message. He did not get that either and asked if we could talk, I agreed and he called me the last two nights after I was asleep and so I called him after work today and he did not answer. Hopefully he can let it go and move on. I am not angry anymore but I am not going to see him either. I am not going to take this any further either. I am not attracted to him, no spark at all. Really the only thing he had going for him was his personality and he blew that. I wish him well truly because he is not a bad person but his expectations are not going to fly with me. Sigh.
We have a pervert in our apartment complex, a flasher. I laughed when I first hear about it. I have always found the idea of lashing your genitals at someone laughable. I have never been flashed so maybe it is scary, but I honestly think I would probably laugh. Well, this flasher has progressed to breaking into homes through the sliding glass doors or open windows (with screens) and woman wake up and he is standing over them naked from the waist down masturbating. Well, that is not funny at all. I think I would a fricking heart attack if I was to wake up to a strange man masturbating near me while I slept. So, I am leaving the air on-even though it has cooled way down-and leaving all doors and windows locked tightly and A is staying at my mom's unless I am home. I am just hoping they catch this guy-probably a resident-before he rapes and kills someone. He is clearly escalating his behavior, heck, he may even have raped someone already and the police are just not releasing the information, great!
~~~~Where you go, there you are!