Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Veterans Day – from Chris Chandler

November 12, 2014

The following is from an email from a Kerrville friend, who is an amazing performer, funny as well as a serious poet and artist. I thought it worthwhile to preserve it here and offer it for your consideration. I agree with Chris that it is well and good that we should honor our veterans on November 11th, but I also believe it is important to honor the “other veterans” who have given so much in the effort to preserve and fight for freedom for all of us.

Veteran’s Day
By Chris Chandler
I believe that on Veteran’s Day it is important to remember there are many ways to die in the service of your country. We should not only honor, remember, celebrate and lay wreaths upon the tombs of our fallen military veterans, But our fallen Veterans for Justice and our fallen Veterans for Peace. All who gave their lives for our freedom.

I am aware of the naiveté of my pacifism. Yes, The United States did do her fair share liberating Europe and vicariously Russia from brutal  tyranny just sixty odd years ago. But most of our military campaigns have been dubious at best. Perhaps we did need to step in a century ago and mop up that awful squabble over the shifting powers of the newly industrialized European Corporations (I mean countries) Perhaps Abe Lincoln was justified in raising troops and marching them against his rebelling people. (Though people much smarter than me have pondered that one for much longer than I have. Could the slaves have been freed with out a war?)

But The War of 1812 – AKA the failed land grab of Canada.?
The Seminole Wars?
The Texas Revolution?
The Invasion of Mexico?
The Indian Wars of ’65 to 90?
The Invasion of Cuba?
The Philippines?
Countless occupations in Central America?
The Korean war?
Vietnam?
The Cold War?
Oil War I?
Oil War II?
The occupation of Afghanistan?

I can at least intellectually wrap my head around honor in serving your country. But, I also recognize (at least by odds) that inside Unknown Soldier’s tomb lays a conscript. Throughout human history poor people have been drafted to fight in rich people’s fights. But still, I believe in Abraham Lincoln’s words. “We have come to dedicate… a final resting place for those who here gave their lives [so that the] nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.”

Yes, in my younger days I might have jumped up on a bar stool and decried all warfare on Veteran’s Day. But today I think – of those who have fallen in wars just and unjust. I think of conscripts forced to fight. Economic conscripts caught between Hardship and Kandahar – Bankruptcy and Baghdad. They are martyrs. They should be honored. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. However, There are many ways to die in the service of your country. Many people in the United States have taken on many battles that are just, proper and good.

The fight for the 8 hours day.
The fight for child labor laws.
The fight for women’s suffrage.
The fight of civil rights.
The anti war movement.
The Fight for Gay Rights.
The Fight for Immigrants’ Rights.
(to name a few.)
Not to mention
The war on Poverty
The War on Drugs.
The War on Christmas.

No, seriously on this Veteran’s Day I remember not only our fallen Veterans of War, but I remember Sacho and Vanzetti. Joe Hill, and John Brown. August Spies and Albert Parsons and the other Haymarket Martyrs.

I remember Rachel Corey. I remember Alison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and William Schroeder who were killed at Kent State.

I remember James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Henry Schwerner, young civil rights workers, were arrested by a deputy sheriff and then released into the hands of Klansmen who had plotted their murders.

I remember Emily Davidson who in 1913 martyred herself in protest of women’s right to vote.

No, I can’t name them all. And there are countless activists that have died in the line of duty. I ask for a tomb of the unknown activist. I ask Barak Obama on Veteran’s Day to lay a wreath in Utah where Joe Hill was killed by firing squad. “Don’t mourn. Organize,” he said.

On this Veteran’s day, I remember Medgar Evers, who directed NAACP operations in Mississippi when he was shot and killed by a sniper at his home.

I remember that in May 1920 despite efforts by police chief (and former miner) Sid Hatfield and Mayor C. Testerman to protect miners from interference in their union drive in West Virginia. A gun battle ensued, resulting in the deaths of 7 detectives, the mayor and 2 miners. Baldwin-Felts detectives assassinated Sid Hatfield 15 months later, sparking off an armed rebellion of 10,000 West Virginia coal miners at “The Battle of Blair Mountain,” still, “the largest insurrection this country has had since the Civil War” The battled included aerial bombardment of US Citizens by the US military. I remember the battle of Matawan.

I remember Rev. George Lee, one of the first black people registered to vote in Humphreys County, used his pulpit and his printing press to urge others to vote. White officials offered Lee protection on the condition he end his voter registration efforts, but Lee refused and was murdered. I remember that on November, 23 1887 The Louisiana Militia, aided by bands of “prominent citizens,” shot at least 35 unarmed black sugar workers striking to gain a dollar-per-day wage. I remember the victims of the Thibodaux Massacre.

I remember Harvey Milk the first openly Gay politician to hold elective office in California who was assassinated after passing stringent anti gay policies.

I remember the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in 1911 whose death brought to light working conditions as well as child labor laws.

I remember Lamar Smith who was organizing black voters was shot dead on the courthouse lawn by a white man in broad daylight while dozens of people watched. The killer was never indicted because no one would admit they saw a white man shoot a black man.

I remember that on July 6 1892 Pinkerton Guards, trying to pave the way for the introduction of scabs, opened fire on striking Carnegie mill steel-workers in Homestead, Pennsylvania. I remember the victims of The Homestead Strike.

I remember that on December 29 1890 as many as 500 Lakota Sioux American Citizens were mowed down with machine guns by the United States Army as the attempted to practice their religious freedom. I remember Wounded Knee I.

I remember that on April 23, 1973 between eight and twelve individuals (names unknown) trying to break the siege of Wounded Knee by The U.S. Armed Forces were intercepted by vigilantes. None were ever heard From again. I remember Wounded Knee II.

I remember that on June 21 1877 Ten coal-mining activists were hanged in Pennsylvania. I remember the “Molly Maguires”

I remember Herbert Lee, who worked with civil rights leader Bob Moses to help register black voters, was killed by a state legislator who claimed self-defense and was never arrested. Louis Allen, a black man who witnessed the murder, was later also killed.

I remember that on March 5, 1770 five labor leaders including one abolitionist were killed by the British Military. I remember the Boston Massacre.

I remember the hunger strikes of the Suffragettes. I remember that on January 13 1874 as unemployed workers demonstrated in New York’s Tompkins Square Park, a detachment of mounted police charged into the crowd, beating men, women and children indiscriminately with Billy clubs and leaving hundreds of casualties in their wake. Commented Abram Duryee, the Commissioner of Police: “It was the most glorious sight I ever saw…” I remember the victims of The Tompkins Square Riot.

I remember Paul Guihard, a reporter for a French news service, was killed by gunfire from a white mob during protests over the admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi.

I remember Raymond Yellow Thunder, member of the American Indian Movement tortured and beaten to death after being stripped naked and left in a Gordon, NE bar.. Found a week later stuffed in a trunk.

I remember Rev. Bruce Klunder was among civil rights activists who protested the building of a segregated school by placing their bodies in the way of construction equipment. Klunder was crushed to death when a bulldozer backed over him.

I remember that on June 8, 1904 A battle between the Colorado Militia and striking miners ended with six union members dead and 15 taken prisoner. I remember the Dunnville Massacre.

I remember Elijah Lovejoy abolitionist murdered for his beliefs and his printing press destroyed in 1837.

I remember Rev. James Reeb, a Unitarian minister from Boston, was among many white clergymen who joined the Selma marchers after the attack by state troopers. Reeb was beaten to death by white men while he walked down a Selma street.

I remember Fred Hampton, an African-American activist was assassinated as he lay in bed in his apartment.

I remember that on November 11, 1919 Violence erupted when members of the American Legion attempted to force their way into an IWW hall in Centralia, Washington during an Armistice Day anniversary celebration. Four armed intruders were shot dead by members of the IWW, which prompted a local mob to publically lynch IWW organizer Wesley Everest. I remember The Centralia Massacre.

I remember Viola Gregg Liuzzo, a housewife and mother from Detroit, drove alone to Alabama to help with the Selma march after seeing televised reports of the attack at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. She was driving marchers back to Selma from Montgomery when she was shot and killed by a Klansmen in a passing car.

I remember that on September 10, 1897 Nineteen unarmed striking coal miners and mine workers were killed and 36 wounded by a posse organized by the Luzerne County sheriff for refusing to disperse in Pennsylvania. The strikers, most of whom were shot in the back, were originally brought in as strike-breakers, but later organized themselves. I remember the victims of the Lattimer Strike.

I remember Jonathan Myrick Daniels, an Episcopal Seminary student in Boston, had come to Alabama to help with black voter registration in Lowndes County. He was arrested at a demonstration, jailed in Hayneville and then suddenly released. Moments after his release, he was shot to death by a deputy sheriff.

I remember that on February 24 1912 Women and children were beaten by police during a textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

I remember the Bread and Roses Strike.

I remember Vernon Ferdinand Dahmer, a wealthy businessman, offered to pay poll taxes for those who couldn’t afford the fee required to vote. The night after a radio station broadcasted Dahmer’s offer, his home was firebombed. Dahmer died later from severe burns.

I remember that on August 19 1916 Strikebreakers hired by the Everett Mills owner attacked and beat picketing strikers in Everett, Washington. Local police watched and refused to intervene. In response, the IWW called for a meeting. When the union men arrived, they were fired on; seven people were killed, 50 were wounded, and an indeterminate number wound up missing. I remember the Battle of Everett.

I remember Clarence Triggs was a bricklayer who had attended civil rights meetings sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality. He was found dead on a roadside, shot through the head.

I remember that on November 21, 1927 picketing miners were massacred in Columbine, Colorado. I remember the first Columbine Massacre.

I remember Benjamin Brown, a former civil rights organizer, was watching a student protest from the sidelines when he was hit by stray gunshots from police who fired into the crowd.

I remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister, was a major architect of the Civil Rights Movement. He led and inspired major non-violent desegregation campaigns, including those in Montgomery and Birmingham. He won the Nobel peace prize. He was assassinated as he prepared to lead a demonstration in Memphis.

I remember that on October 12 1898 Fourteen were killed, 25 wounded in violence resulting when mine owners attempted to break a strike by importing 200 nonunion black workers. I remember the victims of the Virden massacre.

I remember that on April 27 1973 Buddy Lamont-AIM member was hit by M16 fire at Wounded Knee, Bled to death while pinned down by fire. Still no investigation.

I remember that in July of 1877 A general strike halted the movement of U.S. railroads. In the following days, strike riots spread across the United States. The next week, federal troops were called out to force an end to the nationwide strike. In Chicago, federal troops (recently returned from an Indian massacre) killed 30 workers and wounded over 100. I remember the “Battle of the Viaduct”

I remember Malcolm X though killed by people within his own cause, the institution of racism and the “Hate that hate produced” was the ultimate culprit in his demise.

I remember that on April 20 1914 the State Militia attacked a union tent camp with machine guns, then set it afire. Five men, two  women and 12 children died as a result. I remember The “Ludlow Massacre.”

I remember that on July, 22 1916 a bomb was set off during a “Preparedness Day” parade in San Francisco, killing 10 and injuring 40 more. Thomas J. Mooney, a labor organizer and Warren K. Billings, a shoe worker, were convicted, but were both pardoned in 1939.

I remember IWW organizer Frank Little lynched in 1916 Butte, Montana.

I remember Philip Black Elk-AIM supporter killed when his house exploded. No details as to possible bomb parts found available. No further investigation.

I remember United Mine Workers organizer Ginger Goodwin was shot by a hired private policeman outside Cumberland, British Columbia in 1918.

I remember that on December 22, 1919 approximately 250 “anarchists,” “communists,” and “labor agitators” were deported to Russia where several of them died. I remember the first day of the 70 year Red Scare.

And finally on Veteran’s Day, I remember The Veteran’s Day Massacre in which Police killed 10 and wounded 30 at the Republic Steel plant in Chicago in 1937.

Yes, these are battles – and yes let us remember. It is by no means all. But it is important we remember them all. To paraphrase Utah Phillips, (who was paraphrasing someone else – making this a “Folk” quote) “The most dangerous thing in the world is a long memory.” And “Once your memory goes. Forget it.”

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Freedom Riders Revisited

July 4, 2011

There was a great article published in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette on Sunday July 3, 2011. I felt it was worth preserving here so I did….
It was written by one of the Freedom Riders, John Curtis Raines, a man born to privilege, but moved to participate in the fight for freedom and equality. The punch line is found in the final paragraphs, when he points out that the battle is not over yet… the problem now is huge difference between the rich and the middle class in America today… well worth the read!!!

Get on the bus
Freedom Riders’ work remains unfinished
BY JOHN CURTIS RAINES
SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

Fifty years ago this month, I arrived here in Little Rock for the first time. I road in on a Trailways bus with four other Freedom Riders. Fifty years ago, here in Little Rock, I was arrested and put in jail because the five of us—three blacks and two whites—got off the bus together and went together into the “white” waiting room, and sat down. We were arrested on the charge of “a threatened breach of the peace.” We were quite properly arrested. We did intend to breach the peace, the socalled peace of legalized segregation. We wanted to and did challenge and break those laws that should never have been made laws in the first place.
The judge who found us guilty and put us in jail was named Quinn Glover. For me that jail sentence would become a moment of truth, the beginning of a second education that I wasn’t supposed to get. How so? What kind of education was I not supposed to get?
I was born white and male. Less obvious was the fact that I was born into a family of considerable class privilege. When I first became aware of things around me in Minneapolis, Minn., back in the late 1930s, my family and I were living in a house with five fireplaces and seven bathrooms. There was a live-in maid and for the first five years of my life I would be raised by a governess. I didn’t ask for any of that, but that’s what I got.
It was the total package of privilege. There were private schools and private clubs and private summer camps. There were tennis lessons and sailing lessons and horseback riding lessons. The first world I learned, my first education, was a world I learned from top down, from inside privilege and power. But nobody back then told me that.
Fifty years ago this month, one of my own kind—a white male of class privilege, Judge Quinn Glover—sent me to jail. For the first time in my life I found myself outside power and regarded by power as an enemy—and power had the power to punish me for that. Without that jail I would be much less suspicious, much less critical of power than I am today. Without that jail I would have remained selfsatisfied and tame—enjoying without thinking about it the privileges I got without my choosing it with my birth.
I came to the South 50 years ago riding a bus because I wanted to help black folks get some of the public freedoms I already enjoyed—not a very radical or radicalizing reason—a kind of noblesse oblige. Instead the black community of the South saved my life, both literally and figuratively. It was an education most of us privileged white boys never got, and didn’t even know enough to miss it. Without asking for it or even wanting it, I got a second chance at life.
So, thank you, Little Rock. Thank you, Judge Glover. But especially, thank you Rev. Benjamin Elton Cox and Bliss Ann Malone and Annie Lumpkin and all the other courageous young and not-so-young black folks of the South who stood up for America by sitting down at the lunch counter, who went to prison and by that act saved freedom in our land, who found a way and made a way where there was no way. Thank you to all those nameless ones who made history even as the forgotten ones of history.
Let me share the stories of a few of those forgotten ones. I never learned their names, but they taught me things I needed to learn and, in one case, literally saved my life.
I came to the South again in 1964 to join the Mississippi Freedom Summer. The idea was to bring a thousand students from the North, mostly white, and join with Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee workers in Mississippi to work on a voter registration drive and establish local freedom schools. I was assigned to Hattiesburg, Miss. By then I was married and had two small children. My wife Bonnie gave me permission to go. The majority of the white folks in Mississippi regarded us white protesters as betrayers of our own race. There were, however, a few exceptions. One was a music professor at the local university who spoke with a thick German accent. One night he gathered perhaps ten local white Mississippians who were in favor of our activity. We met in his living room and because of the fear of local white retaliation the windows were covered with blankets.
I asked him: “Why are you doing this? The administration of your university is highly politicized and if they find out you could lose your job.” The man, a white man of some 50 years or so, answered simply and directly and very powerfully. He said: “Why do I do this? Because I come from Aushwitz.” It was the first time I met a Holocaust survivor.
The last time I would go South as a civil rights worker, and the time I nearly got killed, was in May of 1965. A black Baptist preacher, Charles Sherrod, who had been a fellow student with me at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, was leading a voter registration drive in Newton, the county seat of Baker County in southwest Georgia. In that county, the black population constituted a two-thirds majority, but in 1965 not one black was registered to vote. Sherrod phoned from Newton back to the seminary in New York because the black demonstrators were getting routinely beaten by the local white toughs. And the FBI and the northern news media would not come the 50 miles from Albany, Ga., to Newton because back then white violence against blacks was not considered newsworthy. So Sherrod asked for some white guys to come and join the protest. I was one of two who did that. And sure enough, the FBI and the northern news media showed up.
We were marching together around the county courthouse where the voter registration office was located. Just in front of me was a black woman of some forty years with two of her children marching just in front of her. A white woman half her age came up and said: “Bessie, you get out of that line or never come to work at my house again!” Bessie stayed in that line, lost her job, but a few months later she got her vote.
Here is how my life was put at risk, and how a local black farmer whose name I never learned saved my life. I had rented a car to get from Albany to Newton, and a local black protester had an epileptic seizure and needed to be taken to the hospital up in Albany. They asked me if I would take him, and I said I would. But I didn’t even get out of town before the cops arrested me for, so they said, “driving on the wrong side of the street.” It was early evening, and I was arrested and thrown into the local jail. Usually, the jail is in the basement of the county court house and is relatively safe. But not in Newton. Instead, the jail was an isolated, freestanding squat building out behind the court house and shrouded in darkness. There were only bars, no glass in the windows. There was a black part of the jail and a white part. I was the only one in the white part. All the local Ku Klux Klan would have to do is pour gasoline through the window and throw in a match and that would have been the end of John Raines.
But the local black community knew I was in danger and they got a local black farmer to put his farm up as collateral for my bail. The next morning, I was out.
Iwent South to help others get their freedom. And they gave me back my life, together with a second education a privileged white boy from the North wasn’t supposed to get, one many back then didn’t think I needed to get. I got what I needed and I am grateful for that. Thank you, South. Thank you, black community of protest. Thank you, Rev. Cox and Rev. Sherrod for being the pastors this white boy needed back then.
But that was then, and this is now. Back then the struggle for justice was a racial struggle. And we made some progress on that. But today, the struggle for justice is a class struggle, a struggle against the vastly expanding inequality of income and of wealth that today assaults our nation and threatens our freedom.
For working-class and middle-class Americans the dream is turning into a nightmare, a nightmare of unemployment and underemployment, a nightmare of being underpaid and overworked, a nightmare of owing more to the bank than your house is worth. Wall Street may be back in the big bucks, but Main Street is running on empty. And most of this has been going on for 40 years now.
Here’s what’s gone wrong. Successive administrations in Washington, both Republican and Democrat, stood by while our factories closed, stood by while the working class way of life was dismantled and destroyed. Yes, they talked about new, good jobs—first it was “high technology” and then “the dot-com economy” and now “the new green economy.” But those jobs weren’t that many and they didn’t pay that well. The jobs that did come were at the lower end of the service economy—clerks in Wal-Mart or Home Depot, or aides in hospitals or assisted living homes. Meanwhile, the top 20 percent of income earners were doing just fine, and the top 1 percent were doing even better; they were fast at work stealing America.
Here’s how that story of stealing America gets reflected in economic statistics.
Let’s go back 30 years ago. In 1976 the percentage of total U.S. income going to the wealthiest one percent was nine percent. Thirty years later, in 2006, that same one percent increased their income hold on national income to 24 percent. That’s nearly a threefold increase in inequality of income in 30 years. How did that happen? This is how. In those thirty years four-fifths of the increase in the total national income went to that wealthiest one percent. For most of us, our income was stagnant (even adding a second paycheck), but for the top one percent, their income was exploding.
When talking about inequality we should talk about wealth because, besides income, wealth includes the value of a house, the value of stocks and bonds, the value of retirement accounts, and so on. Wealth measures inequality more accurately than income alone. By the end of that 30 years between 1976 and 2006 the richest one percent of U.S. households owned 33.8 percent of all the national wealth. That’s more wealth in the top one percent than the combined wealth of 90 percent of the rest of American households. In those thirty years we became a vastly unequal country.
And that inequality is not just about money. Concentrated wealth translates into concentrated political clout. And in recent years the Supreme Court has made the political effect of that inequality much worse. The court decided to count money as speech and to count corporations as a person, so that wealthy persons and wealthy corporations can now spend as much on elections as they want. Money is speech, corporations are persons? That’s nonsense. But the result of that irrational rationalization is that Big Money is taking away from the rest of us the meaning of our vote. Big Money is buying America, and five out of the nine Supreme Court Justices say that it’s legal. Is it legal to steal a country from its own people?
That’s not the America I was taught. America is supposed to be about a promise, a promise about average folks working hard, living clean and each generation doing a little better. But that America is being lost.
Yes, it’s easy to get cynical. All you have to do is have your eyes open. But only those who don’t care about freedom can afford to get cynical. Those of us who do care have to fight. Because freedom can never be freedom for the few at the expense of the many. Political freedom is built upon and preserved by equality—not absolute equality but that relative equality of common citizens sharing an equal voice in how things are run, and for whose benefit. That’s the America I was taught.
Fifty years ago we got on a bus together. We went to jail together. Some of us lost our lives. Fifty years ago, struggling together, we won some freedom for America. But today that freedom is threatened once again. This time the issue is not race but a new class of the wealthy few who want to rule the rest of us as if they were princes or kings, rule us without our consent.
So, it’s time to get on the bus again, the bus called “freedom.” Our destination is “a nation of the people, by the people and for the people”—that dream of a nation that still lies ahead. We the people must demand of the wealthy what they don’t want to do—and that is to join with the rest of us and fight for the future of America that belongs to all of its citizens. And that means new taxation policies. And it means new regulations on the flow of international investments. It means the wealthy must join the rest of us and begin to re-invest in things made in America.
Fifty years ago we got on a bus together, 50 years ago we sat down at lunch counters together, 50 years ago we marched on the streets together, we went to jail together. Fifty years ago we put our dreams together—and we won some freedom for America. Well, it’s time to get on the bus together once again—the freedom bus of 2011. It’s right there, waiting for us.
John Curtis Raines is emeritus professor of religion at Temple University, a United Methodist minister and recipient of the Lindback Distinguished Teacher award. Raines was one of five Freedom Riders to arrive in Little Rock on July 10, 1961, and will be speaking at a symposium at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center on July 9 and attending the public commemoration to unveil a plaque in honor of the Freedom Riders at the Old State House the following day. For more information see lrfreedomriders.org.

Memorial Day from Chris Chandler

June 28, 2011

Chris Chandler, a remarkable poet and performer, in a recent newsletter listed some people who need to be remembered on Memorial Day as well as our soldiers. The following is an excerpt from that newsletter that I thought I should preserve for posterity’s sake…. and for my own failing memory.

It’s an important and impressive tribute to the many who have died for just causes!

… today I think – of those who have fallen in wars just and unjust. I think of conscripts forced to fight. Economic conscripts caught between Hardship and Kandahar – Bankruptcy and Baghdad. They are martyrs. They should be honored. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

However, There are many ways to die in the service of your country.

Many people in the United States have taken on many battles that are just, proper and good.

The fight for the 8 hours day.
The fight for child labor laws.
The fight for women’s suffrage.
The fight of civil rights.
The anti war movement.
The Fight for Gay Rights.
The Fight for Immigrants’ Rights.
(to name a few.)

Not to mention
The war on Poverty
The War on Drugs.
The War on Christmas.

No, seriously on this Memorial Day I remember not only our fallen Veterans of War, but I remember Sacho and Vanzetti. Joe Hill, and John Brown. August Spies and Albert Parsons and the other Haymarket Martyrs. I remember Rachel Corey. I remember Alison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and William Schroeder who were killed at Kent State.

I remember James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Henry Schwerner, young civil rights workers, were arrested by a deputy sheriff and then released into the hands of Klansmen who had plotted their murders.

I remember Emily Davidson who in 1913 martyred herself in protest of women’s right to vote.

No, I can’t name them all. And there are countless activists that have died in the line of duty.

I ask for a tomb of the unknown activist. I ask Barak Obama on Memorial Day to lay a wreath in Utah where Joe Hill was killed by firing squad. “Don’t mourn. Organize,” he said.

On this Memorial day, I remember Medgar Evers, who directed NAACP operations in Mississippi when he was shot and killed by a sniper at his home.

I remember that in May 1920 despite efforts by police chief (and former miner) Sid Hatfield and Mayor C. Testerman to protect miners from interference in their union drive in West Virginia,. A gun battle ensued, resulting in the deaths of 7 detectives, the mayor and 2 miners. Baldwin-Felts detectives assassinated Sid Hatfield 15 months later, sparking off an armed rebellion of 10,000 West Virginia coal miners at “The Battle of Blair Mountain,” still, “the largest insurrection this country has had since the Civil War” The battled included aerial bombardment of US Citizens by the US military. I remember the war the Matawan.

I remember Rev. George Lee, one of the first black people registered to vote in Humphreys County, used his pulpit and his printing press to urge others to vote. White officials offered Lee protection on the condition he end his voter registration efforts, but Lee refused and was murdered.

I remember that on November, 23 1887 The Louisiana Militia, aided by bands of “prominent citizens,” shot at least 35 unarmed black sugar workers striking to gain a dollar-per-day wage. I remember the victims of the Thibodaux Massacre.

I remember Harvey Milk the first openly Gay politician to hold elective office in California who was assassinated after passing stringent anti gay policies.

I remember the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in 1911 whose death brought to light working conditions as well as child labor laws.

I remember Lamar Smith who was organizing black voters was shot dead on the courthouse lawn by a white man in broad daylight while dozens of people watched. The killer was never indicted because no one would admit they saw a white man shoot a black man.

I remember that on July 6 1892 Pinkerton Guards, trying to pave the way for the introduction of scabs, opened fire on striking Carnegie mill steel- workers in Homestead, Pennsylvania. I remember the victims of The Homestead Strike.

I remember that on December 29 1890 as many as 500 Lakota Sioux American Citizens were mowed down with machine guns by the United States Army as the attempted to practice their religious freedom. I remember Wounded Knee I.

I remember that on April 23, 1973 between eight and twelve individuals (names unknown) trying to break the siege of Wounded Knee by The US Armed Forces were intercepted by vigilantes. None were ever heard From again. I remember Wounded Knee II.

I remember that on June 21 1877 Ten coal-mining activists were hanged in Pennsylvania. I remember the “Molly Maguires”

I remember Herbert Lee, who worked with civil rights leader Bob Moses to help register black voters, was killed by a state legislator who claimed self-defense and was never arrested. Louis Allen, a black man who witnessed the murder, was later also killed.

I remember that on March 5, 1770 five labor leaders including one abolitionist were killed by the British Military. I remember the Boston Massacre.

I remember the hunger strikes of the Suffragettes.

I remember that on January 13 1874 as unemployed workers demonstrated in New York’s Tompkins Square Park, a detachment of mounted police charged into the crowd, beating men, women and children indiscriminately with Billy clubs and leaving hundreds of casualties in their wake. Commented Abram Duryee, the Commissioner of Police: “It was the most glorious sight I ever saw…” I remember the victims of The Tompkins Square Riot.

I remember Paul Guihard, a reporter for a French news service, was killed by gunfire from a white mob during protests over the admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi.

I remember Raymond Yellow Thunder, member of the American Indian Movement tortured and beaten to death after being stripped naked and left in a Gordon, NE bar.. Found a week later stuffed in a trunk.

I remember Rev. Bruce Klunder was among civil rights activists who protested the building of a segregated school by placing their bodies in the way of construction equipment. Klunder was crushed to death when a bulldozer backed over him.

I remember that on June 8, 1904 A battle between the Colorado Militia and striking miners ended with six union members dead and 15 taken prisoner. I remember the Dunnville Massacre.

I remember Elijah Lovejoy abolitionist murdered for his beliefs and his printing press destroyed in 1837.

I remember Rev. James Reeb, a Unitarian minister from Boston, was among many white clergymen who joined the Selma marchers after the attack by state troopers. Reeb was beaten to death by white men while he walked down a Selma street.

I remember Fred Hampton, an African-American activist was assassinated as he lay in bed in his apartment.

I remember that on November 11 1919 Violence erupted when members of the American Legion attempted to force their way into an IWW hall in Centralia, Washington during an Armistice Day anniversary celebration. Four armed intruders were shot dead by members of the IWW, which prompted a local mob to publically lynch IWW organizer Wesley Everest. I remember The Centralia Massacre.

I remember Viola Gregg Liuzzo, a housewife and mother from Detroit, drove alone to Alabama to help with the Selma march after seeing televised reports of the attack at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. She was driving marchers back to Selma from Montgomery when she was shot and killed by a Klansmen in a passing car.

I remember that on September 10, 1897 Nineteen unarmed striking coal miners and mine workers were killed and 36 wounded by a posse organized by the Luzerne County sheriff for refusing to disperse in Pennsylvania. The strikers, most of whom were shot in the back, were originally brought in as strike-breakers, but later organized themselves. I remember the victims of the Lattimer Strike.

I remember Jonathan Myrick Daniels, an Episcopal Seminary student in Boston, had come to Alabama to help with black voter registration in Lowndes County. He was arrested at a demonstration, jailed in Hayneville and then suddenly released. Moments after his release, he was shot to death by a deputy sheriff.

I remember that on February 24 1912 Women and children were beaten by police during a textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts. I remember the Bread and Roses Strike.

I remember Vernon Ferdinand Dahmer, a wealthy businessman, offered to pay poll taxes for those who couldn’t afford the fee required to vote. The night after a radio station broadcasted Dahmer’s offer, his home was firebombed. Dahmer died later from severe burns.

I remember that on August 19 1916 Strikebreakers hired by the Everett Mills owner attacked and beat picketing strikers in Everett, Washington. Local police watched and refused to intervene. In response, the IWW called for a meeting. When the union men arrived, they were fired on; seven people were killed, 50 were wounded, and an indeterminate number wound up missing. I remember the Battle of Everett.

I remember Clarence Triggs was a bricklayer who had attended civil rights meetings sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality. He was found dead on a roadside, shot through the head.

I remember that on November 21, 1927 picketing miners were massacred in Columbine, Colorado. I remember the first Columbine Massacre.

I remember Benjamin Brown, a former civil rights organizer, was watching a student protest from the sidelines when he was hit by stray gunshots from police who fired into the crowd.

I remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister, was a major architect of the Civil Rights Movement. He led and inspired major non-violent desegregation campaigns, including those in Montgomery and Birmingham. He won the Nobel peace prize. He was assassinated as he prepared to lead a demonstration in Memphis.

I remember that on October 12 1898 Fourteen were killed, 25 wounded in violence resulting when mine owners attempted to break a strike by importing 200 nonunion black workers. I remember the victims of the Virden massacre.

I remember that on April 27 1973 Buddy Lamont-AIM member was hit by M16 fire at Wounded Knee, Bled to death while pinned down by fire. Still no investigation.

I remember that in July of 1877 A general strike halted the movement of U.S. railroads. In the following days, strike riots spread across the United States. The next week, federal troops were called out to force an end to the nationwide strike. In Chicago, federal troops (recently returned from an Indian massacre) killed 30 workers and wounded over 100. I remember the “Battle of the Viaduct”

I remember Malcolm X though killed by people within his own cause, the institution of racism and the “Hate that hate produced” was the ultimate culprit in his demise.

I remember that on April 20 1914 the State Militia attacked a union tent camp with machine guns, then set it afire. Five men, two women and 12 children died as a result. I remember The “Ludlow Massacre.”

I remember that on July, 22 1916 a bomb was set off during a “Preparedness Day” parade in San Francisco, killing 10 and injuring 40 more. Thomas J. Mooney, a labor organizer and Warren K. Billings, a shoe worker, were convicted, but were both pardoned in 1939.

I remember IWW organizer Frank Little lynched in 1916 Butte, Montana.
I remember -Philip Black Elk-AIM supporter killed when his house exploded. No details as to possible bomb parts found available. No further investigation.

I remember United Mine Workers organizer Ginger Goodwin was shot by a hired private policeman outside Cumberland, British Columbia in 1918.

I remember that on December 22, 1919 approximately 250 “anarchists,” “communists,” and “labor agitators” were deported to Russia where several of them died. I remember the first day of the 70 year Red Scare.

And finally on Memorial Day, I remember The memorial Day Massacre in which Police killed 10 and wounded 30 at the Republic Steel plant in Chicago in 1937.

Yes, these are battles – and yes let us remember. It is by no means all. But it is important we remember them all.

Thanks Chris!!

SoLost from the Oxford American

March 18, 2011

SoLost (So Lost in the South, actually) is an award winning video series from the Oxford American.

I was made aware of its existence through the Paper Trails column in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette (3/18/11). Linda Caillouet mentioned it without offering any details as to what it is actually about.  I was curious and went to the Oxford American website and found it. It’s a series of videos, most no more than 5 or 6 minutes long, related to their favorite subject, what it means to be southern. I watched two or three and plan to watch them all. They are definitely worthy of the awards.

I heartily recommend spending some time to drink it in…

examples:

  • Legendary rockabilly frontman and session player Billy Lee Riley died this summer and was honored with a benefit concert at the equally-legendary Silver Moon Club in Newport, Arkansas, which lies along the newly-dubbed “Rock ‘N’ Roll Highway 67.”
  • another focuses on Dyess Arkansas and Johnny Cash…. good stuff!!

SoLost

 

Louisiana Purchase Historical Surveys

February 11, 2011

Recently put online, by the Arkansas Commissioner of State Lands, are some historical documents related to the original survey of the Louisiana Purchase.  Quite interesting, but a little hard to navigate if you don’t know the layout of the townships and sections…

Louisiana Purchase Survey Historical Notes and Plats

Maybe I’ll see if I can figure it out… but the amazing thing is that “Using today’s modern technology including lasers and GPS (global positioning system) imaging it was discovered that in the fall of 1815, in a black water swamp, in the middle of the wilderness, they missed the intersection point by almost 1 inch!”