Black History We Didn’t Learn in School Part 5

This week’s Black history lesson is all about the Douglass family. Emily dove into the few facts we know about Anna Murray Douglass and Brenton covered the life, history and impact of Frederick Douglass. 

You can listen to this episode of the podcast here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/835951

You can find the podcast Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChOYEcADJdxxAsLuNEJGaYQ

Resources we used: 

Emily:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/hidden-history-anna-murray-douglass-180968324/

Brenton: 

https://www.history.com/.amp/topics/black-history/frederick-douglass

https://www.biography.com/.amp/activist/frederick-douglass

https://nmaahc.si.edu/blog-post/nations-story-what-slave-fourth-july

Ways to continue to get involved and donate to BLM causes: 

https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/

Black History We Did Not Learn In School Part 4 & Podcast Update

The fight to end racism is still in full swing & so is our fight to educate ourselves.

This week on But Really Tho podcast Brenton shared the full story of the Little Rock Nine and Emily wrapped up her 2 part conversation on Malcom X.

Link to listen to the podcast is here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/835951

Resources we used are here:

Malcolm X: https://www.biography.com/news/malcolm-x-assassination

Little Rock Nine: https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/central-high-school-integration
https://time.com/4948704/little-rock-nine-anniversary/

We are On Youtube

We have migrated newer episodes of the podcast over to youtube. Check them out here.

And if you want to continue listening to us blather in quarantine you can find our veronica Mars Rewatch Podcast here

ICYMI

I’m doing Vlogmas in July over on my youtube channel & I’ve launched a brand new self paced coaching program “But Really Tho – What Do YOU Want?”. Follow my youtube & subscribe to my newsletter to learn more!

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Black History We Didn’t Learn In School Part 3

Keeping with last week’s theme we decided to continue to educate ourselves on Black History – because our knowledge is sorely lacking. 

This week on the podcast we shared information about Malcolm X (Emily’s share) and the 2003 South Carolina School Raid (Brenton’s share). 

The link is below if you want to listen to the podcast. 

https://www.buzzsprout.com/835951/4264283-episode-23-black-history-part-3-malcolm-x-stratford-high-raid

Let’s jump in! 

Malcolm X  – Resource I used https://www.malcolmx.com/biography/

The assisination of Malcolm X is still hotly contested but before we can dig into the who and why (more on that next week) we need to understand who Malcolm was and why he was so important for the Black Power movement.

Malcolm’s Childhood 

Malcom was born as Malcolm Little on May 19, 1825 in Omaha, Nebraska. Malcolm’s father was Earl Little. He was a Baptist Minister and supporter of Black Nationalist Leader Martin Garvey. Earl’s activism created a target on the Little family from the White Supremacist group the Black Legion. 

The Little family had to move often due to this target and in 1929 their house in Michigan was burned down. In 1931 Earl’s body was found lying on the trolly tracks. In both of these instances the police ruled that these were accidents. Now, we assume that it was the work of the Black Legion. 

A couple years after his father’s death, Malcolm and his seven siblings were placed in different foster care and orphanages. Their mother had a mental health breakdown within a couple years of the attack and was institutionalized. 

Young Adulthood 

In his early adulthood Malcolm and a friend moved to Boston. They were arrested for burglary and Malcolm was sentenced to 10 years in jail. 

Malcolm spent his time in jail learning. His brother Reginold visited him at told him about the Nation of Islam. Malcolm began learning about the Nation of Islam and the current leader Elijah Muhhammad. Elijah Muhhammad taught Nation of Islam members that white society was actively working to keep Black Americans from empowering themselves. 

Malcolm agreed with the message and converted to Nation of Islam. By the time he was paroled in 1952 he had educated himself on the NOI’s teachings. He also changed his last name to X. Malcolm believed that “Little: was a slave name. X signified the loss of his tribal last name. 

Nation of Islam 

Malcolm worked his way up the NOI and became a minister and spokesperson for the group. He is credited with increasing membership from 5k to 30k over the course of 11 years. He gave many interviews and was a beautiful aurotor with a powerful message. 

The rapid growth of NOI and Malcolm’s popularity caught the attention of the FBI. They infiltrated NOI and planted bugs, wires and went undercover. 

Muslim Mosque, Inc 

In 1963 Malcolm learned that Elijah Muhammad was abusing his position of power and was having relations with six women in the group. Malcolm refused to cover for Elijah and ended up leading the NOI. 

Malcolm felt guilty for bringing so many people to an organization that was lead by a man who did not follow his own teachings. 

After leaving Malcolm founded the Muslim Mosque, Inc. He also went on a pilgrimage to Mecca. On his pilgrimage his outlook on the world changed. He met “blonde haired and blue eyed men that I could call my brothers”. This caused Malcolm to change his message. He now wanted to speak to all races about the importance of the Black Power movement. 

Assisinantion 

Next week I’ll dig into what we know and don’t know about his assisination but here’s some basic info. 

After learning NOI Malcolm was marked for assisination. On Valentine’s day in 1965 someone firebombed his home. Luckily, he and his family were all ok after this event. A week later Malcolm was speaking at the Audubon Ballroom and was shot FIFTEEN times by THREE men. 

The men were all registered as members of Nation of Islam.  

Stratford High School Raid

Example and policing facts pulled from “The End of Policing” by Alex S. Vitale.

School-Prison Pipeline

Schools are currently an integral part of the prison industrial complex. There are a few key ways that schools feed students toward incarceration. The move to measuring school success based on test scores has resulted in more suspensions and expulsions for “problem” students. Rather than working with children, they are instead removed altogether. This in essence inflates the school’s test scores but leaves these students without further education. This is not a fault of the school’s per se (budgets and other items are based on these scores) but a wider problem of the education system.

To deal with punishments, schools have also seen an increase in “School Resource Officers” or SROs. These are police stationed at schools. A study during the 2013-2014 school year estimated more than 43,000 police were based in schools in the US. This is number had drastically increased during the 90’s due to a fear of a juvenile crack epidemic and the Columbine shooting. These officers based in schools are there to enforce the law, but often take part in disciplinary planning and enforcement. In 2011-2012, the Department of Education reported that 92,000 arrests were made in schools. Another study showed schools with SROs had nearly 5x the arrests of other schools. The Department of Education also found that Black, Latino, and special needs students were disproportionately subjected to Criminal Justice. A Washington Post report listed that at least 120 SRO forces utilized the 1033 weapons transfer program, which puts military weapons in the hands of police.

November 7, 2003 – Goose Creek, SC

Administrators at Stratford High School worked with SROs to organize a SWAT team raid of their school. According to principal George McCrackin “We received reports from staff & students that there was a lot of drug activity. Recently we busted a student with over 300 plus prescription pills. The volume and amount of marijuana coming into the school is unacceptable.” A local paper reported that the high school was one of the largest in the state and one the top in schools academically in Lowcountry.

Lt. Dave Aarons, Goose Creek police, said suspected drug dealers appeared to be knowledgeable of the school surveillance cameras. Students would congregate under the cameras and periodically walk into the bathroom with different students. “They know where the cameras are.”

14 officers with SWAT gear stormed the school and “moved initially to safely secure the 107 students in the hallway.” According to Aarons “anytime narcotics and money are involved, there is a reasonable assumption weapons are too.” Students were told to get on their knees with their hands on their heads. 12-14 students were placed in handcuffs for failing to comply. 12 backpacks were confirmed by police dogs as well. Jason Weeks, student, told WCSC that the police were aggressive. “[They] pushed us against the wall and searched us.” “There is certain people you know sell drugs, they could have just searched them.” Another students, Aaron Sims said they put a gun up to their friend and pushed them against a wall without even saying anything.

No drugs were found and no arrests were made. David Burrow, Secondary School Supervisor said “The school had no knowledge guns would be drawn,” but he still stood by the raid. Black students represented less than a quarter of the student body but were more than ⅔ of students targeted. The ACLU brought a lawsuit to charge police and school officials with violating students’ right from unlawful search and seizure. The case was settled in 2006. The settlement protected students’ freedoms; the raid was declared unconstitutional and blocked the police department from future use of force at the school. A $1.6 million fund was established to compensate the students and cover medical and counseling costs from the incident. With this settlement, those students became the only ones in America with complete freedom from unconstitutional search and seizure.

https://www.aclu.org/press-releases/landmark-settlement-reached-notorious-school-drug-raid-caught-tape?redirect=drug-law-reform/landmark-settlement-reached-notorious-school-drug-raid-caught-tape

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/drug-raid-at-sc-high-school/#app

https://www.cnn.com/2003/US/South/11/07/school.raid/

Black History We Didn’t Learn In School Part 2!

Keeping with last week’s theme we decided to continue to educate ourselves on Black History – because our knowledge is sorely lacking. 

This week on the podcast we shared information about Juneteenth (Brenton’s share) and Claudette Colvin (Emily’s share). 

The link is below if you want to listen to the podcast. 

https://www.buzzsprout.com/835951/4190654-episode-22-black-history-they-didn-t-teach-us-in-school-part-2

Let’s jump in! 

Juneteenth – June 19, 1865

Also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, and Cel-Liberation Day. It is the oldest national commemoration of the end of slavery in the US. This marks the day when the final slaves in the confederacy were freed. This comes two and a half years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (September 22, 1862), which was the executive order that made all confederate slaves free. It officially took effect on January 1, 1863, but was hard to enforce in confederate states since they were not governed by Union laws. Only when General Lee surrendered in April 9, 1865, did it fully take effect.

Texas was the last confederate state to receive news of the Proclamation. There are no concrete reasons why it took so long, but there a couple of theories:

  • The messenger was murdered on their way to Texas
  • News was deliberately withheld by enslavers to maintain the labor force.
  • Federal troops waited for slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest.

Either way, Texas was never one for following the rules.

Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865. He announced news that the war had ended and that slaves were now free. This date is celebrated as the end of slavery, but that wouldn’t come until the ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 6, 1865. Many border states during the Civil War (including Kentucky, Maryland, Tennessee) were not part of the confederacy so the Proclamation didn’t come into effect. Once freed, Black citizens spread across Texas and neighboring states to establish a new life as independent people.

The celebration of June 19 became known as “Juneteenth.” Celebrations were meant as a time for reassuring one another and gathering together community members. Activities included rodeos, fishing, barbecuing, and baseball. Dress was very important as old laws had governed what slaves could wear. Therefore celebrations included casting off old clothes into rivers and wearing clothing that belonged to old slavers. There was and continues to be a focus on self improvement and education. Celebrations usually took place in rural areas and in churches as there was often pushback and protest from the white community. Eventually, Black land owners were able to donate land specifically for celebrating.

Celebrations declined along with the economy in the early 1900’s. National textbooks provided less detail on former slaves & slave practices. They intentionally left out Juneteenth and focused on Lincoln’s Proclamation as the end of slavery. Juneteenth began to recirculate during the Civil Rights movement, as protestors wore pins to tie their current struggle with their ancestors. Senator Al Edwards was able to make it an official state holiday in Texas on January 1, 1980. It is the first emancipation celebration that had state recognition. Today there are many Juneteenth organizations promoting the holiday and Black historical knowledge. There has been a large push to make it a national holiday (you can sign the petition as well). It is recognized in 46 states; the only stragglers are Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

https://www.juneteenth.com/history.htm

https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/13/opinions/make-juneteenth-a-national-holiday-now-joseph/index.html

https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/19/us/juneteenth-state-holidays-trnd/index.html

Claudette Colvin 

I remember learning about Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus system but no one shared 15 year old Claudette Colvin’s story with me until recently. 

Claudette Colvin was riding home from school on March 2, 1955 (nine months prior to Rosa Parks). She was asked by the bus driver to give up her seat and refused stating that she had paid her fare and had a right to keep her seat. She was eventually forcibly removed by police officers and taken to jail. 

Black History 

Claudette had been learning about Black History at school. The women she had been studying were Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. As a class they had also discussed the current racism they were experiencing (ex: not being able to try on clothes in stores). 

Claudette was inspired by the women above and said that it felt like Sojourner Truth was holding her down on one side and Harriet Tubman on the other. She could not get up. 

Not Alone 

Claudette was not the only woman to refuse to give up her seat on the bus. Many women did it throughout the movement and were faced with fines. 

What makes Claudette unique is that she was one of four women represented in Browder v Gayle – the court case that successfully overturned the bus segregation laws in Montgomery. 

Why Did History Overlook Her? 

Colvin believes she was overlooked due to age and aesthetics. Rosa Parks was secretary of the NAACP and had a middle class look to her. Colvin was shunned by her community after the bus incident and ended up pregnant at a young age. The civic leaders at the time thought an adult would make a better representative for the movement than a minor. 

Youth Activism 

I think it’s important to note that the majority of the civil rights movement was young people at the time and 50% of them were women. 


You can learn more about Claudette and her book in the NPR article below. 

https://www.npr.org/2009/03/15/101719889/before-rosa-parks-there-was-claudette-colvin

Let us know if there are any moments you want us to focus on in the future – we still have so much to learn!

And if you want to check out last weeks post it can be found here!

Black History We Didn’t Learn About In School

As part of my journey to be a better ally I’ve been educating myself on America’s systemic oppression of Black people. It’s no surprise that a lot of our (white people’s) wrong doings were white washed or downplayed in History class in an effort to coddle us into thinking we lived in a post-racist society (of course this was total bs). Black history was hidden in plain sight from us.

Taking Black History Education into Our Own Hands  

Since I don’t think I’m alone in my ignorance on those issues, Brenton and I decided it would be an excellent use of our podcast But Really Tho to dig into things that were conveniently glossed over. I went down a COINTELPRO rabbit hole and he dug into the Tulsa Race Massacre. I’ve included our research (with some personal commentary peppered in) below and I hope you will take the time to educate yourself. Sources will be included at the bottom of each section. 

If you are an auditory learner you can stream the podcast via the link below or on any major podcast player. 

Let’s Learn 

http://butreallytho.buzzsprout.com/835951/4076894-episode-21-black-history-they-didn-t-teach-us-in-school

COINTELPRO, the Black Panther Party and Fred Hampton (Emily’s share) 

Black Panther Party 

To truly dig into this we need to start with a base level knowledge of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defence. As a child, I was told that the Black Panthers were part of the Black Power movement. Images of men with guns in leather jackets and black berets were juxtaposed with photos of MLK’s “peaceful protests”. This was not only a disservice to my and my peers’ educations but it’s also a disservice to the Black community and lacks historical accuracy. 

I’m going to confess a major piece of ignorance here. The way I was taught about the Black Panther Party in history class I assumed Malcom X was the founder – this is inaccurate. The Panthers started the party in the wake of Malcom X’s assisination and after a teenager named Matthew Johnson was murdered by the SF PD in 1966. 

The Black Panther Party was a political party that wanted to end police brutality. Formed by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale they organized social programs (such as a children’s breakfast program and healthcare clinics) and presented a 10 point program for ending police brutality, assisting with housing, employment opportunities and justice for all. 

The Black Panther Party organized armed neighborhood watches to protect their communities. At their peak they were about 2000 members strong across the US. They had chapters in major cities such as LA, NYC, CHI and Philadelphia.

MIsconceptions and the FBI’s Lie

Media and history often portrays the Black Panthers as a gang or a communist organization but they were neither. The first FBI director J. Edgar Hoover called the Black Panther Party “one of the greatest threats to the nations internal security” in 1968. By 1969 the Panthers had been declared a communist party and an enemy of the United States by the FBI. Because of this declaration the FBI began investigating the Black Panther Party through their CounterIntelligence Program – COINTELPRO. 

The FBI weakened the Black Panther Party by exploiting existing rivalries within the Black Power movement, trying to undermine and dismantle the free breakfast for children program (absolute monsters for trying to take food away from kids), and did this by planting a spy named William O’Neal. This work ultimately led to the assisination of the Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton in 1969. 

Fred Hampton

Fred Hampton went to school to study law because he wanted to do something about police brutality. He was a leader with the NAACP youth council and after hearing about the Black Panthers he moved to downtown Chicago to join them. 

Fred Hampton was smart and charismatic. He brokered non-aggression pacts between Chicago street gangs. He quickly grew to be the leader of the Chicago Black Panther Chapter. As leader, he organized social programs such as the breakfast for Children Program and the Peoples Clinic. The FBI became interested in him because of his leadership role. 

Fred Hampton quote on the breakfast for children program being a revolution.

William O’Neal was a criminal that the FBI convinced to infiltrate the Black Panther Party to get close to Fred Hampton. The FBI paid him to rise the ranks of the party and slip them information. Under the guidance of the FBI O’Neal executed plans to cause rift between the Panther Party members and build mistrust within the group. 

December 1969

On the evening of 12/3/1969 O’Neal slipped a sleeping pill in Fred’s drink before leaving the Panther Party headquarters – Fred’s house. Officers were then dispatched to Fred’s house where they shot 100 times into the home. Fred’s bodyguard Mark Clark was killed instantly and one round was fired from his gun AFTER he had been shot in the heart. 

The police shot Fred in his bed while injuring his pregnant fiance and other Panther Party members. His fiance survived and had a boy, now called Fred Hampton Jr. The remaining Panther Party members at the house were charged with attempted murder, armed violence and a barrage of misinformation. In the end the charges against them were dropped due to a DOJ investigation.

The Chicago PD referred to the incident as a “fierce gun battle” but the DOJ investigation proved that 99 out of 100 shots were fired from the Chicago PD – making this a one sided battle and assisination. 

we understood that politics is nothing but war without bloodshed and war is nothing but politics with bloodshed. Fred Hampton Quote

COINTELPRO 

Since the police, not the FBI, shot and killed Fred this seems like it would be an easy cover up, right? Well, a short time after the murder there was an FBI break in at the Philidelphia office. These documents revealed COINTELPRO information including the FBI’s possession of a floor plan to Fred’s house marked with his room and an outline of a deal to cover up FBI involvement in the assasination. 

Charges and Settlements 

In 1970 the survivors of the raid and relatives of Hampton sued the government for $47.7 million dollars over their civil rights being violated. The case was dismissed. After it was determined that the government withheld documents the case was reopened in 1979. In 1982 Cook County and the federal government agreed to pay a settlement of $1.85 million. 

Final Thoughts 

Not only is it a disservice to Fred Hampton and the Black Panther Party that this was not taught in school BUT it is also infuriating to hear that society itself has brushed this story under the rug. Black history is often white washed by our education system and this is no exception. It’s important to highlight the major mistakes our government has made to avoid repeating them. If you think I missed anything or mis-spoke on the topic at all feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. I am happy to issue any corrections. butreallythocoaching@gmail.com 

Sources: 

Now to the Tulsa Race Massacre (Brenton’s Share)

Aka Tulsa Race Riot, Black Wall Street Massacre, Greenwood Massacre

Referred to as the single worst incident of racial violence in American History

Greenwood District in Tulsa, Oklahoma (1906-1921)

Black people came to the area during the westward expansion and Native American removal. Many Black people lived with Native Americans for a variety of reasons. Some were slaves to the tribes, but many tribes had differing rules on slaves so some Black people live among them as free people.

There was a great land rush within Oklahoma between 1889 – 1907, when Oklahoma became a state. JB Stratford, a wealthy educated attorney, came to Tulsa in 1898. He purchased land within the area to set aside and sell directly to Black people. He believed Black people could have a better chance of economic progress if they pooled their resources. OW Gurley followed, a wealthy Black land owner who bought 40 acres of land from JB Stratford. He was considered one of the wealthiest Black men in America and owned numerous properties in Greenwood. The two led to the foundation of a wealthy Black district within Tulsa, what eventually became recognized as Greenwood in 1906. Booker T. Washington was impressed by the area when he visited in 1905 and coined it “Black Wall Street.”

America and White Supremacy

Greenwood’s success led to white residents of Tulsa to feel resentful. As the years went on, Greenwood continued to increase in economic, population, and land size. Post WWI, white supremacy was also on the rise. The KKK was resurgent and there were 31 lynchings in Oklahoma from 1906-1921. There was also the “Red Summer” in 1919, where cities in the Midwest and Northeast experienced severe race riots. During these riots, white people attacked Black communities often with the aid of police.

Tulsa Race Massacre: Monday May 30

4pm: 19 year old Dick Rowland, a Black shoe shiner, entered the elevator of the Drexel Building to go use the Black only restroom at the top floor. 17 year old Sarah Page was the white elevator operator on duty. A clerk at Renberg’s clothing store in the 1st floor heard what sounded like a scream and then saw a young Black man race from the elevator. He assumed she was assaulted and summoned the police. Current thought is that Dick probably tripped into the elevator and braced on Sarah’s arm to steady himself rather than committing assault. This was not the popular theory even though Sarah did not press charges.

Tulsa Race Massacre: Tuesday May 31

Morning: two officers arrest Dick Rowland for assault. Moved to a jail cell at the top of the Tulsa courthouse station. The sheriff was worried about a lynching as a murder suspect was grabbed the year before.

3pm: Tulsa Tribune runs a story in the afternoon with the headline “Nab N-word for Attacking Girl in an Elevator.” The paper, which was known for its sensationalist headlines, also warned of a lynching. An hour after the paper hits, white residents begin gathering around the courthouse.

8pm: The outside crowd grows to several hundred. At 9:30pm, 50-60 armed Black men show up to back up the sheriff but are turned away. Attorney James Luther later said the sheriff had summoned them by speaking to OW Gurley. The sheriff denied this claim. The armed Black men cause white people to begin arming themselves as the crowd grows to between 1000-2000.

10pm: 75 armed Black men arrive for back up, but are turned away again. Supposedly a white man asked one of them to surrender their pistol and they declined. A shot was then fired starting a gunfight immediately. The Black men retreat back to Greenwood, while the white people follow them to Greenwood. White rioters began to attack Greenwood businesses and noted KKK member W. Tate Brady was part of the riot.

Tulsa Race Massacre: Wednesday June 1

1am: The white mob begins setting fires to Black businesses. By 4pm, over two dozens of businesses were set ablaze. At 5am: a train whistle is heard and the white attackers mistook it for a signal for an all out assault. They begin to attack Black residences and shooting fleeing Black families. There are also reports of planes attacking and dropping firebombs on Black people and businesses.

9:00am: National Guard is deployed to stop the violence. By then, an estimated 4000 Black residents had been rounded up and detained. By 12pm, martial law is declared and riots are suppressed.

Two different reports estimate the dead to either be between 75-100 or 150-300. 10,000 Greenwood residents lost their homes, with an estimated $1.5 million in real estate destroyed. Many Black people had to sleep in tents after the riots when they started to rebuild the area.

The riot was largely omitted from local, state and national histories. Many survivors were also silent because they worried it could happen again. The white massacre therefore was kept relatively quiet, until 1996 when Oklahoma commissioned an investigation into the historical account. The team delivered their report in 2001. Despite a list of items to rectify were given (including reparations), Oklahoma only acknowledged the events in history books via the “1921 Tulsa Race Riot Reconciliation Act.” There is still an ongoing search for the mass graves from the event. In February 2020, Oklahoma announced plans to roll out an extensive education curriculum. The target date was April 2020, but there has been no news since COVID-19 disrupted schools.

Sources: