Columbus Day Was A Gift From Sleepy Hollow Author Washington Irving

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By William Francis Keegan for Red Green and Blue – In 1496, Columbus was the governor of a colony based at Santo Domingo, in what is now the modern Dominican Republic – a job he hated. He could not convince the other “colonists,” especially those with noble titles, to follow his leadership. They were not colonists in the traditional sense of the word. They had gone to the Indies to get rich quick. Because Columbus was unable to temper their lust, the Crown viewed him as an incompetent administrator. The colony was largely a social and economic failure. The wealth that Columbus promised the Spanish monarchs failed to materialize, and he made continuous requests for additional financial support, which the monarchs reluctantly provided. By 1500, conditions in Hispaniola were so dire that the Crown sent Francisco de Bobadilla to investigate. Bobadilla’s first sight, at the mouth of the Ozama River, was four Spanish “mutineers” hanging from gallows. Under authority from the king, Bobadilla arrested Columbus and his brothers for malfeasance and sent them to Spain in chains. Columbus waited seven months for an audience at the court. He refused to have his chains removed until the meeting, and even asked in his will to be buried with the chains.

Baltimore To Keep, Clean Defaced Francis Scott Key Statue

Paint covers part of a memorial to Francis Scott Key after it was defaced overnight in downtown Baltimore. (Colin Campbell/The Baltimore Sun via Associated Press)

By Colin Campbell and Sean Welsh for The Baltimore Sun – Mayor Catherine Pugh says she has no plans to remove the Francis Scott Key monument in Bolton Hill that was vandalized before dawn Wednesday and has directed art preservation experts to determine the cost of cleaning it. Exactly 203 years after the Maryland attorney wrote the poem that would later become the national anthem, the city awoke to find the words “Racist Anthem” spray-painted on the Eutaw Place monument and red paint splashed on it. The third stanza of Key’s poem includes a reference accusing the British of encouraging American slaves to join the fight against their masters. City officials said they know of no way to prevent future vandalism, short of catching the person or people responsible. Police don’t have any suspects or surveillance footage of the incident. “Ultimately, it’s going to come down to them being caught and charged,” police spokesman T.J. Smith said. Officers make periodic checks on city property during their patrols, but the department does not plan to place the Key monument under constant police protection, Smith said. “We can’t ensure it’s not going to happen again,” Pugh spokesman Anthony McCarthy said. He said, however, the mayor does not plan to take it down and wants to see it restored.

No To War Call To Action

We say No to War sign seen at a 2007 anti-war protest. (Photo by Thiago Santos on flickr)

By Staff of No To War – The Afghan war, which has been a thoroughly bipartisan effort, was originally railed against by Donald Trump when he was running for president. He claimed to be against U.S. troop involvement in Afghanistan. Now he is moving forward with a “secret” plan of escalation that will also include Pakistan. He says the secrecy is to keep the “enemy” from knowing his plans, but it also keeps the U.S. people from knowing what he is doing in our name and from judging the human costs for the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States. What we do know is that military escalation has repeatedly failed to bring peace in Afghanistan. It has caused more destruction and more deaths of civilians and soldiers alike and has cost trillions of dollars that could be spent on meeting basic needs here at home while repairing the destruction we have carried out abroad. Trump also emboldens the war machine here in the US against Black and Brown people and immigrants by fanning white supremacy and xenophobia and continuing the militarization of the police and ICE to incite racially-motivated violence and justify repression, including mass incarceration and mass deportations.

The Road To Charlottesville: Reflections On 21st Century U.S. Capitalist Racism

Photo by Dorret | CC BY 2.0

By Paul Street for Counter Punch – The United States, where median Black household wealth is less than 7 cents on the white household dollar and where the mild slogan “Black lives matter” is considered controversial, is still very much a racist nation. Grasping the nature of this national racism in 21stcentury means looking at the different levels on which race operates here. One level is at the nation’s discursive and symbolic surface. It is about language, imagery, signs, the color of elite personnel, representation, and, well, symbols. A different and deeper level is institutional and structural. It’s about how labor markets, the financial sector, the real estate industry, the educational system, the criminal justice complex, the military state, the corporate system, the dominant media, and capitalism more broadly all work to deepen, maintain, and/or reduce racial oppression and inequality. At the surface and symbolic level, racism has experienced significant defeats in the United States since the rise of the Civil Rights Movement in the middle and late 1950s. Open public bigotry has been largely defeated in the nation’s corporate-crafted public culture.

The Non-Violent Berkeley Movement In The 1960s

Flickr/ PROBlacren

By Julia Stein for Counter Punch – After graduating UC Berkeley in 1968, I returned to Berkeley to visit friends May 1969 when People’s Park was being built. I had gotten arrested for Free Speech in 1964, and had seen for months how the “mainstream” press had attacked our non-violent Free Speech Movement (FSM). For months my boss told me that she believed the Oakland Tribune newspapers that the leaders of the FSM were Communists. For months I said the leaders of FSM were civil rights activists except for one Communist—Bettina Aptheker who was a moderating influence. My months of denials never affected my boss at all. After I got out of jail, I called my parents the next night, telling them I had been arrested in the sit-in. FSM had run orderly sit-in, giving us instructions to stay out of administration’s offices, which we scrupulously followed. My mother asked, “The LA Times said the people in the sit-in went in and broke into somebody’s office.” “No, we didn’t,” I said. Later we heard that a high administration bureaucrat at Berkeley had told that fallacious bit of news to the press who reprinted it until a second high official said, “No, my office was not broken into. I just keep a messy office.”

More Than 4,000 Black People Were Lynched In The South—Where Are Their Monuments?

A postcard showing the burned body of Jesse Washington, Waco, Texas, May 15, 1916. This image is from a postcard, which said on the back, "This is the barbecue we had last night. My picture is to the left with a cross over it. Your son, Joe." Flickr/ Image Editor

By Jessica Wang for Alternet – Recent events in Charlottesville have renewed the debate around whether to take down Confederate memorials and statues, but the latest short film from the Equal Justice Institute’s Lynching in America project shows that much more is needed to truly confront the bitter legacy of slavery and racial injustice. Abbeville chronicles the unveiling of a historical marker dedicated to the brutal death of Anthony Crawford a century ago. Lynched in the town square of Abbeville, South Carolina, Crawford was a successful African-American farmer who argued with a white merchant for a fair price for cottonseed. For his “crime,” he was publicly stabbed, shot and hanged by a white mob, and his family was subsequently run out of town. Crawford’s murder counts as just one of the 4,084 racial terror lynchings identified by EJI in 12 Southern states between the end of Reconstruction in 1877 and 1950, and yet is one of only a handful of deaths recognized today by public markers. In fact, the Abbeville memorial is one of six lynching markers erected by EJI as part of an effort to force Americans to face our history of racial terror and reshape the national narrative about race. The other five can be found in LaGrange, Georgia, and four cities in Alabama.

When Will The United States Transcend White Supremacy?

By Tyler LaRiviere/Chicagoist

By Robert Jensen for Dissident Voice – Now that the violence in Charlottesville has forced “white supremacy” into our political vocabulary, let’s ask an uncomfortable question: “When will the United States transcend white supremacy?” My question isn’t, “What should we do about the overt white supremacists who, emboldened by Trumpism’s success, have pushed their way back into mainstream politics?” I want to go beyond easy targets to ask, “When will U.S. society—not just neo-Nazis and the Klan, but the whole country—reject all aspects of white supremacist ideology and take serious steps toward rectifying the material inequality justified by that ideology?” The answer is obvious: Never. There’s no evidence the dominant culture is interested. The wealth—in fact, the very existence—of the United States is so entwined in the two foundational racialized holocausts in our history that transcending white supremacy requires not only treating people of color differently, but understanding ourselves in new and painful ways. To transcend white supremacy, white America would have to come to terms with the barbarism of our history and our ongoing moral failures. If that seems harsh, heartless, or hopeless, let’s start with history.

These Are The Dozens Of Movements Underway To Remove Confederate Monuments

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By Will Drabold for Mic – Less than a week after the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, at least 13 Confederate monuments have been removed from public spaces across the country. From California to Ohio and Maryland to Florida, monuments that critics say celebrate slavery have been pulled down by protesters and quietly removed in the dark of night by local governments. There are at least 700 Confederate symbols on public property in the U.S. Across the southern states, monuments to Confederate soldiers and generals hold prominent positions in town squares and outside county courthouses. On Aug. 12, one of them — a statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia — became the site of a violent clash between white supremacists and anti-racist counterprotesters. So far, Mic has identified 49 movements in 2017 that have successfully removed or are pushing to remove specific Confederate monuments. These include online petitions, in-person protests, moves by city officials and other efforts to remove memorials. Dozens of these movements began in the last several days. At least 20 Confederate monuments have been removed from public land in 2017 alone (a 21st was relocated from public land in one Kentucky city to another).

Roger Taney Statue Removed From Maryland State House Grounds Overnight

The statue of former U.S. Chief Justice Roger Taney, located outside of the Maryland State House in Annapolis, was removed early Friday.

By Pamela Wood and Erin Cox for The Baltimore Sun – Under the cover of night, a work crew removed the statue of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, taking down the author of the infamous Dred Scott decision from his 145-year prominent perch in Annapolis. Cheers erupted from a few dozen onlookers as the hulking bronze statute of Taney was lifted from its pedestal on the State House front lawn just before 2 a.m., clipping tree branches on its path to a waiting truck bed. It’s the latest monument linked to the Confederate era to be removed from a public square since white nationalists rallied in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend. State officials have been under mounting pressure to take down the Taney statue. Republican Gov. Larry Hogan reversed his stance on the matter this week. His shift provided enough votes for the four-member State House Trust on Wednesday to approve removing the monument. Hogan’s spokesman, Doug Mayer, said the state decided to quietly and swiftly remove Taney’s statue overnight “as a matter of public safety.” The granite pedestal that supported the Taney statue since 1872 temporarily remains in place, surrounded by green plywood and guarded around the clock by two officers.

Trump And America’s Fascist Forefathers

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By Glen Ford for Black Agenda Report – Donald Trump was even more agitated and combative than usual at Tuesday’s press conference. How could he draw a line to separate the “neo-Nazis” and assorted “white supremacists” that had descended on Charlottesville, Virginia — one of whom used his car to crush the life out of a young woman — and the “very fine people” that favored keeping Robert E. Lee’s statue on its pedestal in (recently renamed) Emancipation Park? And, where would the racist-removal project end? The answer, as somebody once said, was blowing in the wind. “So this week, it is Robert E. Lee,” warned Trump . “I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” There is nothing wrong with Trump’s logic. If the legacy of slavery is to be excised root and branch, then nothing less than the most profound social transformation is in order. Why stop with statues of long dead men? If you rightly condemn Washington and Jefferson as loathsome oppressors of humanity, you are then obligated to purge the nation and world of the poisoned fruit of their racist perversion. What these forefathers “brought forth on this continent” was “a new nation, conceived” NOT in liberty, nor was it dedicated to the proposition that all men were created equal.

Protesters Pull Down Confederate Statue At Old Durham County Courthouse

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By Derrick Lewis and Amy Cutler for CBS North Carolina – Around 7:10 p.m. a woman using a ladder climbed the statue of a Confederate soldier and attached a rope around the statue. Moments later, the crowd pulled on the rope and the statue fell. One man quickly ran up and spat on the statue and several others began kicking it. Durham police later said they monitored the protests to make sure they were “safe,” but did not interfere with the statue toppling because it happened on county property. “Because this incident occurred on county property, where county law enforcement officials were staffed, no arrests were made by DPD officers,” Durham Police spokesman Wil Glenn wrote in an email statement. Durham County Sheriff’s deputies videotaped the statue being brought down — but didn’t stop it from happening. After toppling the statue, the protesters started marching. They blocked traffic with authorities trying to stay ahead of them. The protesters made their way down E. Main Street to the site of the new Durham Police Department. In 1924, the Confederate statue was dedicated to Durham.

Teachers At A Crossroads: Time To Heed Dr. King’s Call

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By Craig Gordon for Living In Dialogue – Promoters of so-called school reform frequently exhort educators to “teach with urgency.” This slogan trumpets their supposed determination to immediately achieve educational equity without funding equitable teaching and learning conditions. Two presidential mandates—Bush’s No Child Left Behind and Obama’s Race to the Top—proclaimed this righteous resolve while severely damaging public education. Now President Trump and Education Secretary DeVos plan to accelerate the destruction with more charters and vouchers or tax credits to pay for private schools. The real urgency we face today is to finally address the systemic causes of inequality—in and beyond schools–and other interconnected threats to human survival, as Martin Luther King Jr. implored fifty years ago. With the scientific consensus on climate change and a renewed and growing threat of nuclear war, the urgency is far more evident today. Here is a key question for those of us focused on finally achieving educational justice: What would it take to provide all students with high quality education?

100 Years Ago African-Americans Marched Down 5th Ave To Declare: Black Lives Matter

Silent protest parade in New York against the East St. Louis riots, 1917. Library of Congress

By Chad Williams for The Conversation – The only sounds were those of muffled drums, the shuffling of feet and the gentle sobs of some of the estimated 20,000 onlookers. The women and children wore all white. The men dressed in black. On the afternoon of Saturday, July 28, 1917, nearly 10,000 African-Americans marched down Fifth Avenue, in silence, to protest racial violence and white supremacy in the United States. New York City, and the nation, had never before witnessed such a remarkable scene. The “Silent Protest Parade,” as it came to be known, was the first mass African-American demonstration of its kind and marked a watershed moment in the history of the civil rights movement. As I have written in my book “Torchbearers of Democracy,” African-Americans during the World War I era challenged racism both abroad and at home. In taking to the streets to dramatize the brutal treatment of black people, the participants of the “Silent Protest Parade” indicted the United States as an unjust nation. This charge remains true today.

Judge Intervenes After FBI Stonewalls Documentary Film Maker

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By Britain Eakin for Mint Press News – WASHINGTON – A federal judge hastened completion of a documentary decades in the making about the FBI’s role in the Vietnam anti-war movement Thursday by ordering the agency to churn out nearly 3,000 pages of documents a month. According to an internal policy, the FBI was only releasing requested records in chunks of 500 at a time to Nina Gilden Seavey, a filmmaker and professor at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. At that rate, it would have taken nearly 17 years for the agency to hand over all 102,385 documents it says it found in response to numerous Freedom of Information Act requests she started filing in 2013. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler’s ruling issued Thursday called the FBI’s policy “untenable.” For Seavey, the prospect of waiting nearly two decades for the information needed to complete her film was daunting. “I’m 60 years old,” Seavey said in a phone interview. “I mean, let’s be real,” she added, trailing off with laughter. Seavey had asked the FBI for information on “individuals, organizations, events, publications, and file numbers” relating to the agency’s involvement in the anti-war movement, looking particularly at St. Louis in the 1960s and 1970s.

Eugene Debs And The Kingdom Of Evil

Mr. Fish / Truthdig

By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig – Debs burst onto the national stage when he organized a railroad strike in 1894 after the Pullman Co. cut wages by up to one-third but did not lower rents in company housing or reduce dividend payments to its stockholders. Over a hundred thousand workers staged what became the biggest strike in U.S. history on trains carrying Pullman cars. The response was swift and brutal. “Mobilizing all the powers of capital, the owners, representing twenty-four railroads with combined capital of $818,000,00, fought back with the courts and the armed forces of the Federal government behind them,” Barbara W. Tuchman writes in “The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914.” “Three thousand police in the Chicago area were mobilized against the strikers, five thousand professional strikebreakers were sworn in as Federal deputy marshals and given firearms; ultimately six thousand Federal and State troops were brought in, less for the protection of property and the public than to break the strike and crush the union.” Attorney General Richard Olney, who as Tuchman writes “had been a lawyer for railroads before entering the Cabinet and was still a director of several lines involved in the strike,” issued an injunction rendering the strike illegal.