Not long after moving to Topeka, Kansas, in the early 1980s, community organizer Curtis Pitts learned about a hidden slice of that city’s history that would come to shape his life’s work over the next four decades. He was introduced to the Kansas Technical Institute, or KTI, a Black vocational college that had prospered throughout the early twentieth century, only to close in the mid-1950s. Founded in 1895, KTI enjoyed the distinction of being the second Black college established west of the Mississippi. Built in part by its own students, the school became a self-sustaining campus, training them in agriculture, nursing, printing, tailoring, and theology, among other subjects.
On August 26, a lone white gunman, 21-year-old Ryan Christopher Palmeter, fired 11 rounds from his semi-automatic weapon into the windshield of a car parked outside a Jacksonville Dollar General, killing the African American driver. Then he walked into the discount store, and fatally shot two other African Americans before turning the gun on himself. Palmeter left behind a manifesto indicating his displeasure with African Americans, reminiscent of another 21-year-old white gunman, Dylan Roof, who eight years earlier sat outside the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina. Finishing off a bottle of Smirnoff’s Ice, he pulled a Glock handgun from his waistband, walked into the church and opened fire, killing a pastor and eight of his parishioners, all of them Black.
Everyone knows what it means to mislead. The simplicity of the word gives it a lot of power. Black elected officials are beholden to the Democratic Party and their corporate, neo-liberal and imperialist interests. Working in concert with them is by definition working against the interests of Black people. Of course the misleaders can’t be obvious about their subterfuge. They have to at least go through the motions of opposing the Republican Party, the white people’s party, and anyone who is seen as a prominent representative of that group. Performance is the order of the day, while any concrete actions made on behalf of Black people are few and far between.
A 2022 report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, dubbed the nation’s report card, reported that 33% of Maryland’s eighth graders could not read at a basic level. For Black students, this number was an alarming 46%. Furthermore, 82% of Black students could not read at a proficient level, according to the report. As reading levels fall, Black Baltimoreans are slipping further away from their ability to liberate themselves. Particularly during a time where socioeconomic barriers, further pronounced by the COVID-19 pandemic, and draconian legislation actively bar Black children from accessing wholesome education.
In late June, the Right won a decades-long fight to overturn affirmative action when the Supreme Court ruled, in Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, that considering race in college admissions violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The case that ultimately landed before the court’s 6-3 right-wing majority was brought by Students for Fair Admissions, a conservative group that for years has challenged the admissions policies of schools like Harvard and the University of North Carolina. Across the country, conservatives cheered.
Black Americans have endured the unendurable for too long. Sixty years after the famed March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his landmark “I Have a Dream” speech, African Americans are on a path where it will take 500 more years to reach economic equality. A new report, Still A Dream, coauthored by Institute for Policy Studies and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, examines the economic indicators since 1963. Our country has taken significant steps towards racial equity since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ‘60s.
Who was Fani Willis protecting when she used Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) statute to put twelve Black educators on trial in 2015? Atlanta, like other major cities, was not caught up in the corrupt influence of racketeers, but of school test score mania. The No Child Left Behind Act punished school districts with low scores, putting them at risk of state takeovers, or of schools being closed. Educators in Georgia, 38 other states and the District of Columbia , succumbed to these pressures and changed test scores to give the appearance that children had reached educational attainment levels when they hadn’t.
From local police outfitted with military-grade equipment, to nonviolent protesters jailed on terrorism charges, the spectacle of state repression has become an increasingly visible part of the Black liberation struggle in U.S. cities. Police and prisons have long served as a conduit for stamping out Black-led protest movements, especially when those movements openly challenge capitalism and state power. Between the 1960s and 1980s, for example, local, state and federal law enforcement coordinated massive campaigns to dismantle radical groups like the Black Panthers, Republic of New Afrika and Black Liberation Army, using long prison sentences to take their members off the map.
Black August is a month of commemoration uplifting Black political prisoners and Black revolutionary struggle. Generally during this month we honor our revolutionary political prisoners such as George Jackson, Assata Shakur, Mutulu Shakur, Mumbai Abu Jamal, and various other political prisoners associated with the Black Panther/Black Liberation army and the overall revolutionary era of the late 60s and 70s. It is important to uplift the individuals and organizations associated with this era because this was a crucial period where the State made a persistent effort to eliminate leaders, disassemble our organizations and thereby sever us from our revolutionary history.
Jessica Bellamy wants to stop paying almost a thousand dollars a year to help displace the community that shaped her as a child: Louisville’s historically-Black Smoketown neighborhood. That’s the current property tax bill for the camelback shotgun house her grandmother gifted her a few years ago. It’s the house where Bellamy spent part of her childhood, just steps from her grandmother’s soul food restaurant, Shirley Mae’s Cafe. The restaurant, where Bellamy often took orders and served drinks over the years, is still hanging on as a neighborhood landmark. But like so many other homes in the redlined neighborhood, the house had gradually fallen into an unlivable state of disrepair.
There was no more defining moment in modernity than the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Within that revolution domestically to the United States, the most significant incident was the Titusville, Pennsylvania oil drilling find , which began our internal deluge of oil. This was the beginning of the troika of oil, coal and gas being the foundation of our modern economy. As the saying goes “there are no free lunches”. With this abundance of cheap energy, the release of carbon in our environment has caused a constant rise in our temperatures globally over the past approximately 180 years .
I know that opinions about COVID-19 and the vaccines related to it are still as varied as they are passionate, at least in the US where this government did absolutely nothing under two presidents to protect people and save lives in the midst of a global pandemic. But let me just be the one to say it if you were afraid to. Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s recent comments about the virus are wackadoodle, but should not be dismissed outright because of his dismissal of US racialized capitalism that fueled the deadly outcome of the pandemic in the US among certain groups of people.
A growing problem in American classrooms is that teachers don’t resemble the students they teach. Eighty percent of the nation’s 3.8 million public school teachers are white, but over half of their students are Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American and mixed races. The small slice of Black teachers has actually shrunk slightly over the past decade from 7 percent in 2011–12 to 6 percent in 2020–21, while Black students make up a much larger 15 percent share of the public school student population. A Black teacher can make a positive difference for Black children. Research has shown that Black students are less likely to be suspended and more likely to be placed in gifted classes when they are taught by Black teachers.
On the first week of spring in 1931, at the nadir of the Great Depression, nine Black teenagers stowed away on a Memphis-bound train scuffled with a gaggle of white youths who took exception to their presence. The Black youths made quick work of their counterparts, heaving all but one, Orville Gilley, from the slow-moving railcars to the grassy knoll below. Gilley would have met the same fate as his friends but by the time the Black youths got to him, the train had picked up considerable speed, and he was hanging perilously from the gondola. Fearing Gilley might fall underneath one of the railcars, two Black teenagers pulled him back to safety and stood down.