Thursday, September 29, 2005


A Great One Gone to Glory: Civil Rights Lawyer Constance Baker Motley Dies

When I was about fifteen, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer. No one thought this was a good idea, and I received no encouragement...I was the kind of person who would not be put down.
-Constance Baker Motley

There are real heros. I know this to be true because of the freedoms I enjoy every day. Less than two generations ago Black people were living with the nightly terror of KKK Night Rides and murderous attacks against children. Its horrible to imagine even the daily humiliation of trying to find the nearest "colored" restroom. I think members of the Hip Hop generation too often forget the heroism and bravery of our ancestors and the horrors of the Jim Crow system. Maybe we're never told the story of how a generation of warriors, prophets, and heroes stood up against the American Aparteid system using civil disobedience, non-violence and the law. Their efforts laid the foundation for the freedoms we enjoy today and too often take for granted. And while recent events like Katrina have shown how much work remains to be done to achieve true equality for Black people in the U.S., I believe we can gain strength and courage for the fight from lives such as Judge Motley's.

It would be difficult to overestimate how important Judge Motley was as a jurist and civil right lawyer. She was the principle trial attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense team and argued in every major school desegregation case. Between the years of 1961-1964 she argued 10 times before the Supreme Court in civil rights cases and won 9! She argued landmark cases such as Brown v. Board of Education, the Central High School case in Arkansas and the case that let James Meredith enroll at the University of Mississippi. She was the first black woman appointed to the federal bench, as well the first one elected to the New York state Senate.

"From 1945 to 1964, Judge Motley worked on all of the major school segregation cases supported by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Among the cases in which she played a prominent role were desegregation cases involving the universities of Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Clemson College in South Carolina.

In the area of housing, Judge Motley represented African-American plaintiffs in public housing cases in Detroit and Benton Harbor, Mich.; St. Louis. Mo.; Columbus, Ohio; Evansville, Ind.; Schenectady, New York; and Savannah, Georgia.

Judge Motley was also counsel for African-American plaintiffs in the Jackson, Mississippi transportation facilities case which resulted in desegregating railroad and bus terminals and local buses in Jackson, Mississippi.

On October 16, 1961, Judge Motley argued Hamilton v. Alabama, involving the right to counsel in a capital case before the United States Supreme Court. Judge Motley also argued Swain v. Alabama before the Supreme Court in which the Court refused to proscribe race-based pre-emptory challenges in cases involving African-American defendants. Swain was overruled by Batson v. Kentucky.

On February 27, 1962, Judge Motley argued Turner v. City of Memphis before the United States Supreme Court, a case which resulted in desegregating the Dobbs Houses Restaurant in the Memphis Municipal Airport Terminal. On May 27, 1963, Judge Motley won the Supreme Court case of Watson v. City of Memphis, which required immediate desegregation of all recreational facilities in Memphis."


Hip Hop Self-Help: Kevin Liles Goes Guru on Yo A@#

Kevin Liles, the executive vice president of the Warner Music Group and one of the most powerful African-Americans in the record business, is not dropping another record, is not starting a line of butt-hugging clothing, is not going to jail...The brother has just dropped some knowledge for all y'all who need to learn a thing or two about making it in business and life with his new book Make It Happen: The Hip-Hop Generation Guide to Success. Brother Liles, who rose through the ranks to become a mover and shaker in the music business "hopes to show readers that there are more routes to success than a record contract" according to Alex Williams, whose Sept 28 article in the Internation Herald Tribune Life lessons offered by a hip-hop success profiles the music business mogul. I'm not sure how I feel about the appearence of hip-hop self help: perhaps it means that hip hop has become so universal that it has its own brand of self-help and perhaps even spirituality; or there are so many of us struggling to make it everyday that brother Liles has taken pity on us and dropped a little of the knowledge that has served him so well in his rise to the top. Either way, its enough to celebrate a brother who done well and in his own way is putting a little back in the communal till. Right on Kevin. So, get the book, READ IT, and maybe you too can go from "intern to president" like brother Kevin.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


A Day of Days: Delay Indicted!

A Texas grand jury on Wednesday charged Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates with conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, an indictment that could force him to step down as House majority leader. (Can I get a round of applause!)

Chris Bell, a former Democratic congressman from Texas, who was ousted in a DeLay-engineered redistricting after filing an ethics complaint against the Republican leader, said in an article on “At some point Mr DeLay needs to look in the mirror to see who’s responsible for his hardships. They say that he’s been such a powerful member and a powerful conservative. Mr DeLay conducts his business in a highly questionable fashion and that’s why I think he’s the most corrupt politician in America today.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Somebody's Watching Me: FBI Research Reports on the Nation of Islam

Thanks to The Memoryhole, we can now see the FBI reports on the Nation of Islam from the 1960's. Seeing and reading these documents now makes me wonder who of us are considered potential enemies of the state these days. Of course, I always wonder about being watched by the state because I grew up in one of these "Negro Cults" from the 60's called the Black Hebrews. The only difference (from an FBI point of view) is that the Hebrews' main community is overseas in Israel. Boy, would I love to see the FBI Reports on them!

Anyway, its an interesting look into spook activity aimed at the Black community in the 1960's. You know I bet you anything Haki Madhubuti and his Third World Press are being watched today. Did anyone catch his opening remarks at the Race and Hip-Hop Community Forum in Chicago in July? Everybody on the panel could be considered intellectually dangerous! The panel included Raquel Rivera, William 'Upski' Wimsatt, Oliver Wang, Ernie Paniccioli, and Bakari Kitwana.

Other Stuff From Russ Kick, The Memoryhole's Mole:

50 Things You're Not Supposed to Know

50 Things You're Not Supposed to Know 2

Everything You Know Is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to Secrets and Lies

You Are Being Lied To: The Disinformation Guide to Media Distortion, Historical Whitewashes and Cultural Myths

Friday, September 23, 2005


Blackalicious Drop The Craft

Blackalicious: The Craft

Xavier Mosley (aka DJ Chief Xcel) and Tim Parker (aka Gift of Gab) return with their fifth album as Blackalicious, following some 15 years of productions and collaborations with everyone from DJ Shadow to Lyrics Born. Funkier than ever (with live instrumentation courtesy of Spearhead bassist Carl Young, Beastie Boys percussionist Alfredo Ortiz, and funk pioneers Larry Saunders and George Clinton) 'The Craft' brings the influences of soul, funk, rock, Afrobeat, Brazilica and samba to Blackalicious' hip hop consciousness. "The Craft is our passion to bring discipline to this music, the passion to keep growing, keep stretching, keep doing things we haven't before," says Chief Xcel. "The craft is what we live for." Look for The Craft to drop on September 27.

Hear More

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Diasporic Deja Vu

"The beleaguered of New Orleans will be hit as disproportionately hard by the reconstruction as they were by the storm. New Orleans ranked 64th among the 70 biggest U.S. cities in median income before Katrina, and for many of its citizens the situation now is the mirror image of the one that faced sharecroppers in 1927. This time the city's elites are making it clear they don't want the poor back. Topography is demography in New Orleans--the poor are concentrated in the lowest-lying areas, the rich in the highest--and there is talk of letting the Ninth Ward revert to the marsh it once was, to serve as a flood containment pool in storms. Needless to say, there's no talk of compensating the former citizens of the Ninth for their displacement.

The Wall Street Journal, as usual, has been more candid in its coverage than the rest of big media. On September 8, in a page one feature titled "Old-line Families Escape Worst of Flood and Plot the Future," it quotes James Reiss, spawn of a prominent Uptown brood, thus: "Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to see it done in a completely different way: demographically, geographically, and politically. I'm not just speaking for myself here. The way we've been living is not going to happen again, or we're out." Lest he be thought insensitive, Reiss adds, "We understand that African Americans have had a great deal of influence on the history of New Orleans." The key word there is history."

Steve Perry from this week's cover story for City Pages Katrina and the lessons of the 1927 flood: The Diaspora, Blowing Down the Road

Sunday, September 18, 2005


The Measure of a Man

“The black African’s body was dissected by white antomists, his intelligence gauged by white educators, and the very existence of his soul debated by white philosophers and theologians. Few of these Caucasians doubted their racial superiority, or questioned its divine origin. Voltaire and Thomas Jefferson believed Negroes were capable of only limited mental achievement; so did Rousseau, despite his embrace of the Noble Savage ideal. David Hume, in his essay “Of National Characters (1748),” wrote, “I am apt to suspect the negroes…to be naturally inferior to the whites. There never was a civilized nation of any other complexion than white, nor any individual eminent in action or speculation.”…
Despite their different starting points, most racial thinkers based many of their most important conclusions on the same criterion – the African’s penis. It was stared at, feared (and in some cases desired), weighed, interpreted via Scripture, meditated on by zoologists and anthropologists, preserved in specimen jars, and, most of all, calibrated. And, in nearly every instance, its size was deemed proof that the Negro was less a man than a beast.”

From A Mind of Its Own : A Cultural History of the Penis
by David M. Friedman

Image from Robert Mapplethorpe's Black Book


Katrina Wipes Away The Mask

"ONCE Toto parts the curtain, the Wizard of Oz can never be the wizard again. He is forever Professor Marvel, blowhard and snake-oil salesman. Hurricane Katrina, which is likely to endure in the American psyche as long as L. Frank Baum's mythic tornado, has similarly unmasked George W. Bush." Frank Rich writing in the New York Times, September 18, 2005.

Friday, September 16, 2005


The Shame and Horror of It All: More Writings on Katrina

Company Hired to Handle Katrina's Dead Has Tainted History
Kenyon International, is part of Service Corporation International, which is the largest funeral provider in the world, owning many of the most prestigious funeral homes in the world.
Service Corporation International is headquartered in Houston, Texas. Its CEO and founder is said to be personal friends with the Bush family, prompting some controversial headlines regarding presidential influence. In recent years, the giant firm has been sued in several states for its mishandling of bodies...

The Other America
An Enduring Shame: Katrina reminded us, but the problem is not new. Why a rising tide of people live in poverty, who they are—and what we can do about it.

How Bush Blew It
"How the president of the United States could have even less "situational awareness," as they say in the military, than the average American about the worst natural disaster in a century—is one of the more perplexing and troubling chapters in a story that, despite moments of heroism and acts of great generosity, ranks as a national disgrace."

Scammers hit Web in Katrina's wake
Fake charity sites, e-mail solicitations try to cash in on public sympathy

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Katrina Refugees Must Demand Right of Return Now!

And it shall be said that "While New Orleans drowned, Bush fished."

Even as the first wave of horror emerged from New Orleans, I couldn't help myself thinking that the rebuilt city would be either a Disney park or a new Las Vegas. And recent comments from Bush and co. have not given me much hope that this won't eventually occur. Of course, Condi had not yet stopped shopping, before the Bechtels and Haliburtons started salivating over the now de-blacked city.The Wall Street Journal reported that Rep. Richard H. Baker, a 10-term Republican from Baton Rouge was overheard telling lobbyists: "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."

So, it extremely important that we demand the right of return for the victims of Katrina.

Don't let New Orleans become Disneyland.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Mama Bush: Things Working Out 'Very Well' for Poor Evacuees from New Orleans

Mama Bush let everyone know what she thought of the Katrina refugess as she toured the Houston Astrodome aspart of a group that included her husband, Bill Clinton, Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama. Here's the unfortunate quote...

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."

I guess this makes it pretty clear where George gets his caring nature from. No wonder there was such a tepid response to the disaster. I'm surprised Senator Obama didn't go off like Kanye. Its clear that the imperial Bush dynasty has no real feeling, understanding or sympathy for the Katrina victims.

Barbara Bush: Things Working Out 'Very Well' for Poor Evacuees from New Orleans


If Sean Penn is CIA...I'm KGB

Get this! Zimbabwe's dictator Robert Mugabe thinks Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman are part of a plan to oust him. I don't know what that dude is smoking but its got a lot of paranoia in it. The two Hollywood stars are featured in The Interpreter, a movie about a failed attempt to assassinate an African president. What's really weird about this story is that the movie came out like...the beginning of the summer. Did they just hear about it? File this one under weird behavior by African dictators.

from the daily arts newsletter

Harare loses the plot over Kidman film
By David Blair in Johannesburg
(Filed: 05/09/2005)

Friday, September 02, 2005


Katrina: A Black Tragedy

In the wake of Katrina, a flood of images, of black desperation, hopelessness and lawlessness is spewing from the airwaves. What is emerging is an unprecedented tragedy with a black face. This should be a wake-up call not only for Black leaders but for the nation as a whole. So, I'm encouraged that Black leaders are responding quickly and forcefully. But, I must also say that I've felt a certain sense of shame watching the looting and chaos and hearing about rapes and murders. Why, in the face of this tragedy, are we turning to violence and greed? Why aren't we all just trying to help each other? And I heard Ray Nagin loud and clear when he said that the majority of the looters are drug (read crack) addicts who in desperation are looking to "take the edge of their jones." So, now we have the tragic, desperate situation of possible hords of addicts, already mutated beyond recognition by their addiction and now desperate, hungry, jonesing and armed. It a nightmare scenario that has come to life right before our eyes, and it exposes the real stack of Black people in the United States. Its as if we as a people have absorbed some of the worst aspects of consumerism, and now that the lid has been torn off, the ugly and worst side of our charchter as a people is on display.

Black lawmakers angry about federal response to Katrina

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