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Black Women who were Lynched in America


File:Lynching of Laura Nelson.jpg

The lynching of Laura Nelson

(partial list)

Printed as a community service by Dr. Daniel Meaders, Professor of History at William Patterson University, and author of several books and articles, including Dead or Alive, Fugitive Slaves and White Indentured Servants Before 1800 (Garland Press, 1993)


Jennie Steers
On July 25, 1903 a mob lynched Jennie Steers on the Beard Plantation in Louisiana for supposedly giving a white teenager, 16 year-old Elizabeth Dolan, a glass of poisoned lemonade. Before they killed her, the mob tried to force her to confess but she refused and was hanged. (100 Years at Lynching. Ralph Ginzburg)

Laura Nelson
Laura Nelson was lynched on May 23, 1911 In Okemah, Okluskee, Oklahoma. Her fifteen year old son was also lynched at the same time but I could not find a photo of her son. The photograph of Nelson was drawn from a postcard. Authorities accused her of killing a deputy sheriff who supposedly stumbled on some stolen goods in her house. Why they lynched her child is a mystery. The mob raped and dragged Nelson six miles to the Canadian River and hanged her from a bridge.(NAACP: One Hundred Years of Lynching in the US 1889-1918 )

Ann Barksdale or Ann Bostwick
The lynchers maintained that Ann Barksdale or Ann Bostwlck killed her female employer in Pinehurst, Georgia on June 24, 1912. Nobody knows if or why Barksdale or Bostick killed her employer because there was no trial and no one thought to take a statement from this Black woman who authorities claimed had ”violent fits of insanity” and should have been placed in a hospital. Nobody was arrested and the crowd was In a festive mood. Placed in a car with a rope around her neck, and the other end tied to a tree limb, the lynchers drove at high speed and she was strangled to death. For good measure the mob shot her eyes out and shot enough bullets Into her body that she was “cut in two.”

Marie Scott
March 31, 1914, a white mob of at least a dozen males, yanked seventeen year-old Marie Scott from jail, threw a rope over her head as she screamed and hanged her from a telephone pole in Wagoner County, Oklahoma. What happened? Two drunken white men barged Into her house as she was dressing. They locked themselves in her room and criminally “assaulted” her. Her brother apparently heard her screams for help, kicked down the door, killed one assailant and fled. Some accounts state that the assailant was stabbed. Frustrated by their inability to lynch Marie Scott’s brother the mob lynched Marie Scott. (Crisis 1914 and 100 Years of Lynching)

Mary Turner 1918 Eight Months Pregnant
Mobs lynched Mary Turner on May 17, 1918 in Lowndes County. Georgia because she vowed to have those responsible for killing her husband arrested. Her husband was arrested in connection with the shooting and killing Hampton Smith, a white farmer for whom the couple had worked, and wounding his wife. Sidney Johnson. a Black, apparently killed Smith because he was tired of the farmer’s abuse. Unable to find Johnson. the killers lynched eight other Blacks Including Hayes Turner and his wife Mary. The mob hanged Mary by her feet, poured gasoline and oil on her and set fire to her body. One white man sliced her open and Mrs. Turner’s baby tumbled to the ground with a “little cry” and the mob stomped the baby to death and sprayed bullets into Mary Turner. (NAACP: Thirty Years of Lynching in the U.S. 1889-1918  )

Maggie Howze and Alma Howze -Both Pregnant
Accused of the murder of Dr. E.L. Johnston in December 1918. Whites lynched Andrew Clark, age 15, Major Clark, age 20, Maggie Howze, age 20, and Alma Howze, age 16 from a bridge near Shutaba, a town in Mississippi. The local press described Johnston as being a wealthy dentist, but he did not have an established business in the true sense of the word. He sought patients by riding his buggy throughout the community offering his services to the public at large in Alabama. Unable to make money “peddling” dentistry, the dentist returned to Mississippi to work on his father’s land near Shabuta. During his travels he had developed an intimate relationship with Maggie Howze. a Black woman who he had asked to move and lived with him. He also asked that she bring her sister Alma Howze along. While using the Black young women as sexual objects Johnson impregnated both of them though he was married and had a child. Three Black laborers worked on Johnston’s plantation, two of whom were brothers, Major and Andrew Clark. Major tried to court Maggie, but Johnson was violently opposed to her trying to create a world of her own that did not include him. To block a threat to his sexual fiefdom, Johnston threaten Clark’s life. Shortly after Johnston turned up dead and the finger was pointed at Major Clark and the Howze sisters. The whites picked up Major, his brother, Maggie and her sister and threw them in jail. To extract a confession from Major Clark, the authorities placed his testicles between the “jaws of a vise” and slowly closed it until Clark admitted that he killed Johnston. White community members took the four Blacks out of jail, placed them in an automobile, turned the head lights out and headed to the lynching site. Eighteen other cars, carrying members of the mob, followed close behind. Someone shut the power plant down and the town fell into darkness. Ropes were placed around the necks of the four Blacks and the other ends tied to the girder of the bridge. Maggie Howze cried, “I ain’t guilty of killing the doctor and you oughtn’t to kill me.” Someone took a monkey wrench and “struck her In the mouth with It, knocking her teeth out. She was also hit across the head with the same instrument, cutting a long gash In which the side of a person’s hand could be placed.” While the three other Blacks were killed instantly, Maggie Howze, four months pregnant, managed to grab the side of the bridge to break her fall. She did this twice before she died and the mob joked about how difficult it was to kill that “big Jersey woman.” No one stepped forward to claim the bodies. No one held funeral services for the victims. The Black community demanded that the whites cut them down and bury them because they ‘lynched them.” The whites placed them in unmarked graves.

Alma Howze was on the verge of giving birth when the whites killed her. One witness claimed that at her “burial on the second day following, the movements of her unborn child could be detected.” Keep in mind, Johnston’s parents felt that the Blacks had nothing to do with their son’s death and that some irate white man killed him, knowing that the blame would fall on the Black’s shoulders. The indefatigable Walter White, NAACP secretary, visited the scene of the execution and crafted the report. He pressed Governor Bilbo of Mississippi to look into the lynching and Bilbo told the NAACP to go to hell. (NAACP: Thirty Years of Lynching in the U.S.. 1889-1918 ) (Papers of the NAACP)

Holbert Burnt at the Stake
Luther Holbert, a Black, supposedly killed James Eastland, a wealthy planter and John Carr, a negro, who lived near Doddsville Mississippi. After a hundred mile chase over four days, the mob of more than 1,000 persons caught Luther and his wife and tied them both to trees. They were forced to hold out their hands while one finger at a time was chopped off and their ears were cut off. Pieces of raw quivering flesh was pulled out of their arms, legs and body with a bore screw and kept for souvenirs. Holbert was beaten and his skull fractured. An eye was knocked out with a stick and hung from the socket. (100 Years of Lynching by Ralph Ginzburg)

       
 

Mae Murray Dorsey and Dorothy Malcolm
On July 25, 1946, four young African Americans—George & Mae Murray Dorsey and Roger & Dorothy Malcom—were shot hundreds of times by 12 to 15 unmasked white men in broad daylight at the Moore’s Ford bridge spanning the Apalachee River, 60 miles east of Atlanta, Georgia. These killings, for which no one was ever prosecuted, enraged President Harry Truman and led to historic changes, but were quickly forgotten in Oconee and Walton Counties where they occurred. No one was ever brought to justice for the crime.

Ballie Crutchfield
Around midnight on March 15, 1901 Ballie Crutchfield was taken from her home in Rome to a bridge over Round Lick Creek by a mob. There her hands were tied behind her, and she was shot through the head and then thrown in the creek. Her body was recovered the next day and an inquest found that she met her death at the hands of persons unknown (euphemism for lynching).

After Walter Sampson lost a pocketbook containing $120, it was found by a little boy. As he went to return it to its owner, William Crutchfield, Ballie’s brother, met the boy. Apparently, the boy gave him the pocketbook after being convinced it had no value. Sampson had Crutchfield arrested and taken to the house of one Squire Bains.

A mob came to take Crutchfield for execution. On the way he broke lose and escaped in the dark. The mob was so blind with rage they lay blame on Ballie as a co-conspirator in her brother’s alleged crime and proceeded to enact upon their beliefs culminating in the aforementioned orgy of inhumanity.

Belle Hathaway
At 9 o’clock the night of January 23, 1912 100 men congregated in front of the Hamilton, Georgia courthouse. They then broke into the Harris County Jail. After overpowering Jailor E.M. Robinson they took three men and a woman one mile from town.

Belle Hathaway, John Moore, Eugene Hamming, and “Dusty” Cruthfield were in jail after being charged with the shooting death a farmer named Norman Hadley.

Writhing bodies silhouetted against the sky as revolvers and rifles blazed forth a cacophony of 300 shots at the victims before the mob dispersed.

Sullivan Couple Hung as Deputy Sheriff and Posse Watch
Fred Sullivan and his wife were hanged after being accused of burning a barn on a plantation near Byhalia, Mississippi November 25, 1914. The deputy sheriff and his posse were forced to watch the proceedings.

Cordella Stevenson Raped and Lynched
Wednesday, December 8, 1915 Cordella Stevenson was hung from the limb of a tree without any clothing about fifty yards north of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad outside Columbus, Mississippi. The gruesomely horrific scene was witnessed by thousands and thousands of passengers who traveled in and out of the city the next morning.

She was hung there by a bloodthirsty mob who had taken her from slumber, husband and home to the spot where she was raped and lynched. All this was done after she had been brought to the police station for questioning in connection with the arson of Gabe Frank’s barn. Her son had been suspected of the fire. The police released her after she convinced them her son had left home several months prior and she did not know his whereabouts.

After going to bed early, a knock was heard at the door. Her husband, Arch Stevenson went to answer, but the door was broken down first and his wife was seized. He was threatened with rifle barrels to his head should he move.

The body was left hanging until Friday morning. An inquest returned a verdict of “death at the hands of persons unknown.”

5 Hanged on One Oak Tree
Three men and two women were taken from the jail in Newberry, Florida on August 19, 1916 and hanged by a mob. Another man was shot by deputy sheriffs near Jonesville, Florida. All this was the result of the killing the day prior of Constable S.G. Wynne and the shooting of Dr. L.G. Harris by Boisey Long. Those who were lynched had been accused of aiding Long in his escape.

Mary Conley
After Sam Conley had been reprimanded by E.M. Melvin near Arlington, Georgia, his mother Mary intervened to express her resentment. After Melvin slapped and grappled with her, Sam Conley struck Melvin on the head with an iron scale weight, resulting in his death shortly afterward.

Although Sam escaped, his mother was captured and jailed. She was taken from the jail at Leary and her body was riddled with bullets. Her remains were found along the roadside by parties entering into Arlington the next morning.

Bertha Lowman
Demon Lowman, Bertha Lowman, and their cousin Clarence Lowman were in the Aiken, South Carolina jail when it was raided by a mob early on October 8, 1926. The three had been in jail for a year and a half while they were tried for the murder of Sheriff and Klansman Henry H.H. Howard. Howard was shot in the back while raiding the house of Sam Lowman, father to Bertha and Demon. Klansmen filed by Howard’s body two-by-two when it laid in state. A year after his funeral a cross was burned in the cemetery at his grave.

Although the Lowman’s were tried and sentenced to death, a State Supreme Court reversed the findings and ordered a new trial. Demon had just been found not guilty when the raid on the jail occurred. Taken to a pine thicket just beyond the city limits their bodies were riddled with bullets.

The events which resulted in this lynching are surreal to say the least. Samuel Lowman was away from home at a mill having meal ground on April 25, 1925. Sheriff Howard and three deputies appeared at the Lowman Cabin three miles from Aiken. Annie Lowman, Samuel’s wife and their daughter Bertha were out back of the house working. Their family had never been in any kind of trouble. They did not know the sheriff and he did not know them. Furthermore, they were not wearing any uniform or regalia depicting them as law enforcers. Hence the alarming state of mind they had when four white men entered their yard unannounced, even if it was on a routine whiskey check. It was even more distressing because a group of white men had come to the house a few weeks earlier and whipped Demon for no reason at all. After speaking softly to each other the women decided to go in the house.

When the men saw the women move towards the house they drew their revolvers and rushed forward. Sheriff Howard reached the back step at the same time as Bertha. He struck her in the mouth with his pistol butt. Mrs. Lowman picked up an axe and rushed to her daughter’s aid. A deputy emptied his revolver into the old woman killing her.

Demon and Clarence were working in a nearby field when they heard Bertha’s scream. Demon retrieved a pistol from a shed while Clarence armed himself with a shotgun. The deputies shot at Demon, who returned fire. Clarence’s actions are not clear. When it was all over a few seconds later the Sheriff was dead. Bertha had received two gunshots to the chest just above her heart. Clarence and Demon were wounded also. In total five members of the Lowman family were in put jail.

Samuel Lowman returned to find in his absence he had become a widower with four of his children in jail along with his nephew. In three days he would be charged with harboring illegal liquor when a quarter of a bottle of the substance is found in his backyard. For that the elderly farmer was sentenced to two years on the chain gang.

18 year old Bertha, 22 year old Demon and 15 year old Clarence were tried for the Sheriff’s murder and swiftly found guilty. The men were sentenced to death with Bertha given a life sentence.

Demon’s acquittal made it appear that Clarence and Bertha would been freed as well. The day they were murdered they were taken from the jail, driven to a tourist a few miles from town and set loose. As they ran they were shot down.

Mr. Lowman contended one of the deputies who coveted the Sheriff’s job was his real killer. The same man later led the mob which slew Lowman’s children and nephew. Apparently, he knew they could identify him as the culprit.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote Alias_Avi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 10 2013 at 6:58pm
Rosa Parks was a mothaf*cking G!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Ladybird0724 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 10 2013 at 7:34pm
Originally posted by pattigurlatl pattigurlatl wrote:

Originally posted by Ladybird0724 Ladybird0724 wrote:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=134131369

Recy Taylor was a 24-year-old mother when she was abducted at gunpoint and gang raped by a group of white men in Alabama in 1944. An activist named Rosa Parks was sent to investigate the attack. Taylor's case, and a number of others like hers, helped spark the civil rights movement. Danielle Lynn McGuire explores the story and the pattern of racist, sexual assaults on black women, in her book, "At the Dark End of the Street". In Tell Me More's weekly "Behind Closed Doors" conversation, host Michel Martin speaks with the author as well as with rape survivor, Recy Taylor.

* I would def. recommend reading the story. the url has an audio interview w/ the author as well as Recy Taylor.
Ladybird, thanks for sharing this. I never heard of this story and are they referring to THE Rosa Parks?


yes.

Rosa Parks did so much more than she is given credit for.

a couple yrs ago, the state of AL officially gave an apology to Recy. Her story is heartbreaking. I would def. listen to the audio interview.
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George Junius Stinney Jr. (October 21, 1929 – June 16, 1944) was, at age 14, the youngest person executed in the United States in the 20th century. The question of Stinney’s guilt and the judicial process leading to his execution remain controversial. Stinney, who was black, was arrested on suspicion of murdering two white girls, Betty June Binnicker, age 11, and Mary Emma Thames, age 8, in Alcolu, located in Clarendon County, South Carolina, on March 23, 1944. The girls had disappeared while out riding their bicycles looking for flowers. As they passed the Stinney property, they asked young George Stinney and his sister, Katherine, if they knew where to find “maypops”, a type of flower.When the girls did not return, search parties were organized, with hundreds of volunteers. The bodies of the girls were found the next morning in a ditch filled with muddy water. Both had suffered severe head wounds. Stinney was arrested a few hours later and was interrogated by several white officers in a locked room with no witnesses aside from the officers; because there were no Miranda rights in 1944. Within an hour, a deputy announced that Stinney had confessed to the crime. No written confession exists, only a few handwritten notes a deputy who was present during the interrogation. Reports said that the officers had offered the boy ice cream for confessing to the crimes. According to the confession, Stinney (90 lbs, 5’1″) wanted to “have sex with” Betty and could not do so until her companion, Mary was removed from the scene; thus he decided to kill Mary Emma. When he went to kill Mary, both girls “fought back” and he decided to kill Betty, as well, with a 15 inch railroad spike that was found in the same ditch a distance from the bodies. According to the accounts of deputies, Stinney apparently had been successful in killing both at once, causing major blunt trauma to their heads, shattering the skulls of each into at least 4-5 pieces. The next day, Stinney was charged with first-degree murder. Jones describes the town’s mood as grief, transformed in the span of a few hours into seething anger, with the murders raising racially and politically charged tension. Townsmen threatened to storm the local jail to lynch Stinney, but prior to this, he had been removed to Charleston by law enforcement. Stinney’s father was fired from his job at the local lumber mill and the Stinney family left town during the night in fear for their lives.The trial took place on April 24 at the Clarendon County Courthouse. Stinney’s court appointed lawyer was 30-year-old Charles Plowden, who had political aspirations. Plowden did not cross-examine witnesses; his defense was reported to consist of the claim that Stinney was too young to be held responsible for the crimes. However the law in South Carolina at the time regarded anyone over the age of 14 as an adult. The jury returned a guilty verdict and Stinney was sentenced to death in the electric chair. When asked about appeals, Plowden replied that there would be no appeal, as the Stinney family had no money to pay for a continuation. The execution was carried out at the South Carolina State Penitentiary in Columbia, South Carolina, on June 16, 1944. At 7:30 p.m., Stinney walked to the execution chamber with a Bible under his arm. Standing 5’1″ and weighing just over 90 pounds, he was small for his age, which presented difficulties in securing him to the frame holding the electrodes. Neither did the state’s adult-sized face-mask fit Stinney; his convulsing exposed his face to witnesses as the mask slipped free, “revealing his wide-open, tearful eyes and saliva coming from his mouth ". After two more jolts of electricity, the boy was dead. Stinney was declared dead within four minutes of the initial electrocution. From the time of the murders until Stinney’s execution, eighty one days had passed.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote PurplePhase Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 11 2013 at 12:16am

Little Known Black History Fact: Bill Wilkerson


Pilot Bill Wilkerson of Pleasant Garden, North Carolina was among the first black pilots in the country. Wilkerson flew 15 years for Piedmont Airlines, which became a part of US Airways in 1989. In 1980, he became the second black person to earn the rank of captain with the company. The retired pilot still wears his captains’ uniform while he gives tours at the North Carolina Transportation Museum.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ladybird0724 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 11 2013 at 2:38pm

“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” That 1969 Neil Armstrong quote is certainly associated with space exploration, but even before that actress Nichelle Nichols was making all kinds of history in space — sort of. Portraying Lt. Uhura, the communications officer on the U.S.S. Enterprise on TV’s Star Trek from 1966 to 1969, Nichols was the first African American woman on TV not portraying a servant.

Despite that groundbreaking status, however, Nichols was tempted to quit the show because she felt her role lacked significance. No less than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. changed her mind. He told Nichols she was a vital role model for black children and young women all across the nation. In fact, former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison credits Nichols’ portrayal of Lt. Uhura for her career inspiration.

And it wasn’t just Jemison that Nichols influenced. After the cancellation of Star Trek, Nichols volunteered for Women in Motion, a NASA minority and female recruitment campaign. Those recruited as a result of her efforts include Dr. Sally Ride, Colonel Guion Bluford, Dr. Judith Resnik and Dr. Ronald McNair. (Below Nichols and other members of the Star Trek cast stand beside the Space Shuttle Enterprise.)

Prior to her role on Star Trek, Nichols sang with the Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton bands, performed in nightclubs and in musical theater, her first true love.  And since the iconic TV show, she has performed in films, made guest appearances on TV, including a recurring role on ABC’s Heroes, and done considerable voiceover work. But no doubt, she will forever be most associated with the role of Lt. Uhura and known as one half of the first interracial kiss on U.S. television (the other half was William Shatner’s Captain James T. Kirk), quite controversial when it occurred in 1968.


















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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Ladybird0724 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 11 2013 at 2:39pm

This is Peter Ramsey, the director for Rise of the Guardians, which incidentally also makes him the first African American to direct a big budget animated motion picture. Besides directing ROTG he already has a hefty resume working as a storyboard artist for countless films including Shark Tale, A.I., and Fight Club.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (4) Thanks(4)   Quote Ladybird0724 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 11 2013 at 2:54pm
The Snowy Day Ezra Jack Keats

Published in 1962, young Peter was the first African-American main character to be present in children’s picture books.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote Alias_Avi Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 12 2013 at 11:33am
ETA: I'm providing the link because the author makes interesting comments in the comment section too

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rajiv-malhotra/indian-americans-learn-history_b_2633146.html

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What Indian Americans Can Learn During Black History Month


Rajiv Malhotra

Rajiv Malhotra

Author, 'BEING DIFFERENT: An Indian Challenge to Western Universalism'


February is celebrated as America's Black History Month, making it an opportune time to examine some important relationships between the Indian and black communities in this country. For one, there are longstanding ties between the two peoples that ought to be unearthed and rekindled. Mahatma Gandhi started his civil disobedience movement in South Africa where he spent 21 years honing his political philosophy and leadership skills. The event that became the turning point in his life was when he was thrown off a train, because as a person of color he was not allowed to sit in first-class even though he had a first-class ticket. The indignity of this event, similar to that experienced by all people of color in South Africa at that time, launched him into a life of social and political activism. His movement culminated in the eventual overthrow of the British Empire and colonialism in general.

Gandhi's non-violent struggle later inspired the young Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who studied Gandhi's civil disobedience approach known as satyagraha, and visited India in 1959 for a month. The details of this trip are memorably recounted in his essay, "My trip to the land of Gandhi", published in Ebony magazine in 1959. Martin Luther King Jr. had this to say about the reception he received:

"Since our pictures were in the newspapers very often it was not unusual for us to be recognized by crowds in public places and on public conveyances [...] Virtually every door was open to us. We had hundreds of invitations that limited time did not allow us to accept. We were looked upon as brothers with the color of our skins as something of an asset. But the strongest bond of fraternity was the common cause of minority and colonial peoples in America, Africa and Asia struggling to throw off racialism and imperialism".
The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., too, has had recurring contact with India in all the years of his active career. In one trip he spent six months in India prior to the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S.

Recently, in 2008, on the occasion of Gandhi's 60th death anniversary, he delivered the memorial lecture in New Delhi where he remarked, "One can argue that Mahatma Gandhi, known as Bapu (father) to his compatriots, was the spiritual godfather of these world-class figures (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela) who changed the world."

Today, as Indian Americans have become established successfully in their newly adopted country, it is easy to forget the importance of these bonds. We must remember that the 1965 Immigration & Nationality Act which opened the door for large numbers of Asians, Africans and Latin Americans, was enacted against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement and the changes in attitude that it created. This reversed the previous system that was designed to maintain the European racial composition of the United States.

Immigrants from India tended to be well-educated, middle-class professionals seeking prosperity, and they hit the ground running to seize the opportunities. Because most Indian Americans arrived after the Civil Rights Act, they did not experience the indignities suffered by African Americans, and because they belonged to the post-Independence generation of India, they hadn't experienced life under colonial rule either. Professional success came relatively quickly to many Indians and this dulled the impetus to appreciate the benefits of a strong collective identity.

The long list of successful Indian Americans is impressive indeed, but it has made many too self-centered and single-minded in economic pursuits. Success has led to the myth that "becoming American" makes a collective identity irrelevant. Few Indian leaders have studied the history of immigration and identity formation of other minorities in America. They are confused about what the hyphenated identity as "Indian-Americans" means, and what their unique American journey and cultural background could contribute to the fabric of this country.

The recent unceremonious dismissal of Citigroup CEO, Vikram Pandit, despite his stellar record, should cause Indian Americans to do some soul searching. Sadly, Pandit found himself without allies on his own board of directors to defend him as one of their own. In fact, none of the board members was close enough to him to even give a hint that he was about to get fired. When he arrived at the fateful board meeting, he had no clue of what was in store for him.

Moreover, this shocking episode went un-scrutinized by our community that feels uncomfortable addressing its vulnerability for being "different." Individual success, based solely on merit, has surely taken us a long way in America. The playing field is level enough to advance up to a point, but without the anchor and security of a collective voice, high-achieving Indians will remain the solitary outsiders, easy to bring down.

What does all this have to do with African Americans, one might wonder? My response is that they have deep memory and understanding of building community organizations in America. Black churches have historically played a strategic role in building a positive selfhood and collective consciousness, and today there are numerous African-American civic organizations with depth and maturity to secure their position. Unlike the case of Indian immigrants, theirs has not been a quick-success journey, but a long, hard one with many valuable lessons learned along the way.

The Reconstruction era after the emancipation of slaves had offered many lessons to African Americans. Ostensibly, it was to be a period when blacks and whites would together rebuild the South, share political power and rehabilitate the former slaves. Indeed, many blacks attained prominent positions, and two blacks were elected as senators. So they felt little need to build separate institutions, imagining that the American melting pot would suffice. The advances made during the Reconstruction, however, proved to be short lived. Soon there was a backlash against blacks and the nation entered the era of Jim Crow laws and the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. Freedom from slavery did not mean that whites accepted blacks as true equals in jobs and power. Equality had its limits, especially at times when whites faced economic distress.

It was after this experience that a new kind of African-American leadership emerged with a focus on building a resilient, independent identity with its own institutions. Unified action was encouraged. This groundwork ultimately led to the American Civil Rights Act in the 1960s, just as Gandhi's struggle took nearly half a century of strenuous work before culminating in India's independence. The African-American experience shows us that there is no substitute for grassroots community building and activism, an endeavor that Indian Americans have barely begun. Whether African Americans, Jewish Americans, Hispanic Americans or Muslim Americans, the importance of investing in robust civic organizations based on a solid definition of one's distinct identity has been indispensable in America.

Without such bottom-up community building, we can expect to see more Vikram Pandits, easily booted out. Or, as I wrote in my blog last week, there will be more Bobby Jindals willing to whitewash their ethnicity in order to get ahead. African Americans provide the experience we need for building a distinct identity in this country. Dr. King said it best: "The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But, the way of non-violence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community."



Edited by Alias_Avi - Feb 12 2013 at 12:21pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Naturalchick30 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Feb 12 2013 at 11:36am
Originally posted by Ladybird0724 Ladybird0724 wrote:

The Snowy Day Ezra Jack Keats

Published in 1962, young Peter was the first African-American main character to be present in children’s picture books.
 
I used to love this book as a child
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