Thursday, August 17, 2017

The live burning of Jesse Washington is a birthmark on the face of Waco, Texas 100 years later

If in reading this article it seems that you are re-reading the same accounting of the Jesse Washington lynching that is because eyewitnesses and newspapers observed the same incident with difference eyes. Newspapers accounts were somewhat different. The variety of differences answers questions that were not previously answered by report. All-in-all the information does fall into place.

The live roasting death of 17-year-old Jesse Washington in Waco, 1916. Vigilante instigators hold two chains around his neck as the bloodthirsty mob look on like they were watching a movie. No one stepped in to stop the execution.
Once upon a time acts of violence against Black people were so horrendous and characteristically faithful in White America’s DNA that it frightened Black folks 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The fear pushed them into hiding inside their houses, churches,  sometimes slipping out of town. There were no magic stairs for them to climb in their quest to escape their involuntary imprisonment. Even after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing African slaves from bondage, the sun did not shine any brighter for them.

Life for the freed Africans was akin to psychological robbery of their souls; deliberate vandalism of their well-being. Fear and death were constant companions. They did not know how or when they would be selected to die at the hands of bogarting Whites, who acted with impunity, because White privilege allowed them that luxury. Inbred panic and adopted expectations of serious harm and death never took vacations in the lives of the newly emancipated slaves regardless of age.

John Dollard, a psychologist and social scientist studied race relations in America. In his 1937 book “Caste and Class in a Southern Town”, Dollard collected data on Southern states. He discovered: “Every Negro in the South knows that he is under a kind of sentence of death; he does not know when his turn will come, it may never come, but it may also be at any time”.

The author of an editorial published in The Waco Iconoclast did not pretend to be race friendly. William Cowper Brann parted with this biting proposal on how to eradicate the South of Black males suspected of "spoiling" White women. “If the South is ever going to rid herself of the negro rape fiend she must take a day off and kill every member of the accused race that declines to leave the country”.

In Texas between 1885 and 1942 there were 468 lynchings of which 339 were Black; 77 White; 53 Hispanic, and one Indian. Texas was the third state in line behind Georgia and Mississippi in hangings. The heaviest concentration of vigilante hoodlumism occurred along the Brazos River, from Waco to the Gulf of Mexico. Waco was the county seat of McLennan County. In 1916 lynching was a violation in Texas.

The resurrection of Jesse Washington

The resurrection of Jesse Washington’s lynching suddenly walked into the spotlight in 2001; first locally and then nationally. ABC’s Ted Kopple aired an 85th anniversary special on lynching in America. One guest was James Allen, author of “Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography In America”, a heart wrenching pictorial history of lynched men and women, the majority being African Americans. Sometimes four or five victims were lynched simultaneously from bridges, trees, utility poles, any place the mobs could throw a rope.

After researching lynchings in America it was difficult to choose a particular incident to write about. All of the compassionless deaths were ugly, reprehensible and inhumane. While looking at James Allen’s book I decided on 17-year old Jesse Washington. His death was, and still is a gigantic birthmark on the face of Waco, Texas. Washington’s short life was a tale of racism, terror, ambitious politicians, mob schizophrenia, unbridled, racial hatred and hostility. Waco citizens today are striving to erase the notorious horror story bearing their state’s name 100 years later. But the barbarity of Jesse Washington’s death refuses to disappear. His fire roasted ghost hovers Waco like a dark cloud. The historical pictures will never vanish.

Lynching and burning at the stake were once absolute entertainment for blood thirsty despots in Texas and nationwide.  Black folks did not have to be guilty of a crime to be executed by a lynch ready mob. They were always subject to getting labeled “criminal.” Mere suspicion of committing a crime led to a death sentence. A “crime” was whatever a White man, woman or mob wanted it to be. When a single hanging or multiple hangings occurred Black victims were sadistically taunted, butchered for souvenirs, and tortured before death took mercy on them.

Such was the case of Jesse Washington, who lived with his mother, father, several sister and brothers. Born in 1899, Washington and lived in Robinson, Texas, a rural community. The Crisis magazine, in a story titled “The Waco Horror”, Washington was described as a “big, well developed fellow, but ignorant, barely unable to either read or write. He seemed to have been sullen, and perhaps mental deficient, with a strong, and even daring temper”.

A farmhand, Washington’s troubles commenced when he was arrested for the beating death of Lucy Fryar (or Fryer), 53, wife and mother of two. He worked for George and Lucy Fryar on their farm in Robinson. Returning from the field one afternoon Fryar’s daughter discovered her mother’s lifeless body inside the farm’s seed shed. Lucy Fryar had been bludgeoned to death with a hammer. Suspicion fingers pointed the sheriff and his posse toward Washington, who was immediately arrested and booked.

After Washington was tried and lynched the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) secretary Royal Nash commissioned suffragist Elisabeth Freeman to investigate the Waco Horror, write a report and to obtain photos if any were available. “Will you not get the facts for us”? Nash asked in a letter to Freeman. “Your suffrage work will probably give you an excuse for being in Waco”. Freeman spent a week in Waco interviewing city officials, citizens, politicians, witnesses to the lynching, read newspapers, interviewed editors, the Washington and Fryar families, and neighbors. 

The ex-mayor of Waco, Allan Stanford, Sheriff Fleming and Judge Munroe cut a deal before the trail. The mayor sought reassurances from Robinson officials that Washington would not be lynched. “They shut the mouths of the better element of Waco by telling them that the Robinson people had promised not to do it. . . . But they did not get the pledge from the disreputable bunch of Waco that they would not stat the affair”, writes Elisabeth Freeman, commissioned investigator/reporter for the NAACP.

 The Killing of Lucy Fryar (also Fryer)

Lucy Fryer (Fryar)
Elisabeth Freeman wrote: “On Monday, May 8, while Mr. Fryar, his son of fourteen, and his daughter of twenty-four were hoeing cotton in one part of their farm; the boy, Jesse, was plowing with his mules and sowing cotton seed near the house where Mrs. Fryar was alone. He went to the house for more cotton seed. As Mrs. Fryar was scooping it up for him into the bag which he held, she scolded him for beating the mules. He knocked her down with a blacksmith hammer, and as he had confessed, criminally assaulted her; finally he killed her with the hammer.

“The boy then returned to the field, finished his work, and went home to the cabin, where he lived with his father and mother and several brothers and sisters. When the murdered woman was discovered suspicion pointed to Jesse Washington, who was found sitting in his yard whittling a stick. He was arrested and immediately taken to jail in Waco. Tuesday a mob visited the jail. They came with about thirty automobiles, each holding as many as he could crowd in. There was no noise, no tooting of horns, the lights were dim, and some had no lights at all.

“These were all Robinson people. They looked for the boy, but could not find him, for he had been taken to a neighboring county where the sheriff obtained a confession from him. Another mob went to the county seat to get the boy, but he was again removed to Dallas. Finally the Robinson people pledged themselves not to lynch the boy if the authorities acted promptly, and if the boy would waive his legal rights. A second confession in which the boy waived all his legal rights was attained in the Dallas jail. The Grand Jury indicted him on Thursday, and the case was set for trial Monday, May 15”.

Jumping ahead of the bloodthirsty miscreants intent on killing Washington, Sheriff Fleming transferred him from Dallas to Waco around midnight on a Sunday. He was “secreted to the office of the judge. There was not the slightest doubt that he would be tried and hanged the next day, if the law took its course. There was little doubt of his guilt. The confessions were obtained, of course, under duress, and were, perhaps, suspiciously clear, and not entirely in the boy’s own words. It seems, however, probably that the boy was guilty of murder, and possibly of the premeditated rape”.

In Freeman’s report she revealed that Waco politicians demanded a hanging, because there “was a political value to the county officials who are running for office.  All that elected element who took part in the lynching will vote for the Sheriff. The Judge is of value to his party because he appoints the three commissioners of the jury, and these commissioners pick the Grand Jury”.

The characters in question are Judge R. I. Munroe, who presided over Washington’s trial and Sheriff S. S. Fleming, who arrested him. Fleming was up for re-election and “has made much political capital out of the lynching”, wrote Freeman, adding that he had a “beautiful story to tell”.  When Fleming told his story he put all blame for the lynching on the shoulders of Judge Munroe. In a later interview with the Judge, Freeman asked why he did not seek a change of venue to avoid trouble. He told she did not know the South, and that a change of venue would not stop a mob. “A mob anywhere would have done the same thing”.

Waco courtroom filled to capacity on judgment day

Before the trial had begun a thrill seeking mob poured into Waco anticipating a cinematic showdown. They were ready and prepared to make the verdict happen. A Black man accused of killing and raping a White woman. A bad paring of two races. Only one verdict and one sentence was acceptable: Guilty. Death by hanging. Or chained and roasted over a bonfire. Or both.

The Waco 54th District Court’s capacity was 500, but Judge Munroe allowed 1,500 spectators to squeeze into the courtroom. News reports stated that the courtroom was so packed “the jurors could scarcely get in and out of their seats”. On Monday, May 15, 1916 the kangaroo trial began at 11 a.m. By 11:22 a.m. the foreman, W. B. Brazelton, read the verdict: Guilty. The decision was made by 12 White male jurors, one of whom “was a convicted murderer with a suspended sentence over him”. The doctor who examined Lucy Fryar’s (Fryer’s) head wounds, assessed that she had been raped, but he did not testify to the rape at the trial. Washington’s court appointed lawyer did not put on a defense, nor did he challenge the prosecutor. There are no reports that the state presented exhibits or damning evidence such as a bloody hammer, bloody clothes worn by Washington.  

It seems that Washington knew a lynch mob was going to steal him life. “The boy, Jesse Washington, was asked what he thought about them coming after him. He said, ‘They promised they would not if I would tell them about it. He seemed not to care, but was thoroughly indifferent’”, wrote Freeman, repeating a newspaper account.

Some spectators entered the courtroom armed with guns and other weapons, ready for action. According to Freeman, “A door which opened by a peculiar device had been fixed so that it would open”.  Before the verdict was completely recorded Washington was grabbed by a herd of homicidal vigilantes, and dragged out the back door of the courthouse. A large crowd was waiting for Washington’s delivery to the alley. The Waco Semi-Weekly Tribune noted what happened in the courtroom. “Then the tall man started over the heads of the crowd. Fred H. Kingsbury, who was standing alongside of Judge Munroe”.

Bloodthirsty mob from Waco and Robinson gather for the lynching.
Freeman reiterated what she read in a news reports: “A big fellow in the back of the courtroom yelled, ‘Get the Nigger’! Barney Goldberg, one of the deputy sheriffs, told me that he did not know that Fleming had dropped orders to let them get the Negro, and pulled his revolver. Afterwards he got his friends to swear to an affidavit that he was present”.

In an interview with the court stenographer Freeman learned that “there was a full minute” before all hell broke loose in the courtroom. “The people crowded around him and he knew what was coming, so he slipped out the back door with his records. Sheriff Fleming slipped out also”. Goldberg had a reason to lie. If Fleming did not win re-election he would be unemployed. He said the sheriff’s rival was “unable to read and write”. However, being illiterate was not a disqualifier. Fleming’s opponent had “three dead niggers to his credit”, and that appeared to outweigh reading and writing.

When Freeman got a chance to interview Fleming she asked him where he and the fifty deputies was when Washington was kidnapped from the courtroom. Fleming asked her, “Would you want to protect a nigger”? He told her that all he was “called upon to do in the way of protecting the boy was to get him to court”. He told her that Judge Munroe made no effort to stop the mob, although he had firearms in his desk in the courtroom.

The Waco Semi-Weekly Tribune wrote when the chain thrown around Washington broke, one of the instigators stepped forward. “The big fellow took the chain off the Negro under the cover of the crowd and wound it around his wrist so that the crowd jerking the chain was jerking at the man’s wrist and he was holding the boy. The boy shrieked and struggled”. An estimated 15,000 from Waco and Robinson attended the burning.

Freeman learned that “the mob ripped off the boy’s clothes, cut them in bits and even cut the boy. Someone cut his ear off; someone else unsexed him. A little girl working for Goldstein Mingle Department Store told me that she saw this done”.  The “little girl” was an adult manicurist. She witnessed the castration of Washington while looking out the store’s window. Although Freeman reported that names of the primary instigators were known to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The organization refused to make the names known to the public unless it received an “application responsible parties”. After learning who the ringleaders were Freeman set out to prove they were the mob participants in Gildersleeve’s photos. The five were identified by people who knew them. Their faces are prominent in the photos.

To get a feel for the distance Washington was dragged before he was lynched, Freeman wrote:  “I went over the route the boy had been taken and saw that they dragged him between a quarter-and-a-half-mile from the court house to the bridge and then dragged him two blocks and another block over to the City Hall. After they had gotten up to the bridge, someone said that a fire was already going up at City Hall, and they turned around and went back. Several people denied that this fire was going, but the photograph allows that it was”.

Lynching takes place under mayor’s window at City Hall

The live roasting of Jesse Washington.
The Waco Semi-Weekly Tribune describe the mob’s gathering of materials to start a bonfire, and setting Washington’s body afire. “A huge dry goods box was then produced and filled to the top with all kinds of the material that had been secured. The Negro’s body was swaying in the air, and all of the time a noise of thousands was heard and the Negro’s body was lowered into the box. No sooner had his body touched the box than people pressed forward, each eager to be the first to light the fire. And as the smoke rapidly rose in the air, such a demonstration as of people gone mad was never heard before. Everybody pressed closer to get souvenirs of the affair. When they had finished with the Negro his body was mutilated.

“He tried to get away, but could not. He reached up to grab the chain and they cut off his fingers. The big man struck the boy on the back of the neck with a knife just as they were pulling him up on the tree. Mr. Lester thought this was this was practically the death blow. He was lowered into the fire several times by means of the chain around his neck. Someone said they estimate the boy had about twenty-four stab wounds, none of them death-dealing.

 “When the Negro was first hoisted into the air his tongue protruded from his mouth and his face was smeared with blood. Life was not extinct within the Negro’s body, although nearly so. When another chain was placed around his neck and thrown over the limb of a tree on the lawn, everybody was trying to get to the Negro and have some part of his death. . . . As rapidly as possible the Negro was then jerked into the air at which time shouts from thousands of throats went upon the morning air”.

“Mr. Lester” was believed to be the father of the woman who observed the castration of Washington. Freeman wrote that Lester had climbed up a tree to watch the lynching. “He had seen the mob cut off Washington’s fingers and saw the blow to the back of his head by the big man that probably finished him off”.

The live roasting of Washington took place close to City Hall, under the window Mayor Dollins. Standing at the window watching the tragedy unfold were the mayor, chief of Police Guy McNamara and local photographer Fred Gildersleeve. He had been told by telephone that Washington was going to be lynched. Spectators were also watching from windows in nearby buildings, and from trees. Mayor Dollins was reportedly more concerned about destruction of the tree than burning the life out of Jesse Washington.

Whereas he took photos of the mob and the lynching/burning, Gildersleeve did not take any photos of Washington’s before his death. There is a mind-staining photo of the teenager’s naked body splayed in a grotesque pose atop the fire. The chain is around his neck, one leg is partially on the ground. The majority all-male posse of hooligans calmly watched Washington’s lowered body, undisturbed by the tragedy they helped perpetuate. 

Observing Jesse Washington hanged and roasted alive, dying an undignified death, the frenzied clan
Charred body of Washington raised for the mob to cheer his death.
of sadmasochists were not ssatisfied. They heaped more acts of violence upon Washington’s charred body. Someone lassoed his torso, threw the rope over a saddled horse, and dragged the corpse through the streets of Waco. ** I am going to take poetic license and say the body was likely dragged a short distance rather than the streets of Waco. It might have been within the square around the court house.

Waco Times Herald reported: “The body of the Negro was burned to a crisp, and was left for some time in the smoldering remains of the fire. Women and children were who decided to view the scene were allowed to do so, the crowds parting to let them look at the scene.  After some time the body of the Negro was jerked into the air where everybody could view the remains, and mighty shouts rose in the air. The torso was taken to Robinson, hung on a tree, and shown off for a while, then they too it back down again and dragged it back to town and put it back on the fire again at five o’clock”.

Freeman learned that as Washington’s torso was dragged behind a horse, “limbs dropped off and the head was put on the stoop of a disresputable woman in the reservation district. Some little boys pulled out the teeth and sold them for five dollars apiece. The chain link was sold for five cents a link”.  **disresputable” and “reservation district” suggests a house of prostitution in a red light district or neighborhood.

The brutal execution of Washington was memorialized on 5.5x3.5 post cards, made available by Gildersleeve. Countless post cards displaying the appalling photos were sold in Waco. One postcard mailed to a father from his son said: “This is the barbecue we had last night. My picture is on the left with a cross over it. Your son, Joe”.

When Elisabeth requested photos from the Waco photographer he was reluctant to provide copies to her. He wrote a note to the Waco Times Herald, telling the paper why he would no longer sell the photos. “We have quit selling the mob photos, this step was taken because our ‘city dads’ objected on the grounds of ‘bad publicity’ as we wanted to be boosters and not knockers. We agreed to stop all sale’”.

A Houston Chronicle and Herald editorial dated May 24, 1916, observed: “The sovereignty of the great State of Texas, the constituted authority of the United States, have been defied and outraged in order that an angry mob might make the last few moments of a Negro, already condemned to death, more horrible than the law decrees; so horrible indeed that no respectable citizen of this state will lower himself to declare them unjustified. It is so bad that silence must be maintained even though that silence amounts to perjury. It is so bad that thousands must lie. Remember this was not in the dead of night; not a secretly planned affair; not an assault on an unprepared jail. It was in the daytime, in the court house, in open and deliberate defiance of law and order. To burn a human is a horrible thing”.

In 2006 an interracial organization gathered at the Waco court house steps to read a resolution condemning the lynching of Jesse Washington, and to apologize for the century old tragedy. Whereas the group agreed that the lynching should be acknowledged, the majority of Waco citizens, Black and White, did not want to be reminded of 1916. They preferred that Washington’s ghost stay in its unmarked grave, hidden from Waco, history and the world.

Roland R. Fryer, the 75-year-old grandson of Lucy Fryer, did not approve of any recognition of the “Waco Horror” or Jesse Washington. He said it a “stupid idea to put up a monument to a Black man who killed my grandmother”.

Jesse Washington, author and sportswriter for “The Undefeated”, who was named after the deceased teenager, said he learned about Washington a decade ago. He set out on a personal journey to discover what happen to young Jesse Washington. He traveled to Waco, where he interviewed several people, including politicians. His last interview was with relatives of the dead teenager.
Teen's body is left on smoldering fire, later dragged to Robinson.

 One relative, Mary Pearson, 67, was very emotional when she talked to Washington about Jesse Washington, and how his death had affected her, though she did not know him. The horrific photos Washington’s charred body told the story for her. “It is something I just can’t shake. I look at the pictures . . .  it just makes me want to get me a machine gun”, says Pearson. “You lose rest. You can’t sleep.

“What really get me is how could you have a heart to do another soul like that? I mean, you can see a chicken, a hog that have no soul . . . How could you sit up there and go and get pieces of his body and save it as a souvenir . . .  How they drug him in his flesh, flesh was falling off the bone . . . Seventeen years old? Seventeen? That takes a whole lot of me. I’ve tried to keep from getting angry, but I can help it. That’s the reason why I had to go up under the doctor to get me some medicine . . .”

Washington said the family would like to see a historical marker situated at the spot where Jesse Washington was lynched, plus an apology. He said both of these requests can be realized but it's not likely to happen. Politicians and reluctant citizens have repeatdly said no to the idea.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Newly minted president bullied his way into the White House, and now he is a lost adult trying to play Washington-style politics on his terms

U.S. President Donald Trump
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Out of 250 million registered voters, 63 million voted for Donald Trump for president. To this day he cannot reconcile losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton. Trump devotees were convinced that he could and would save them. At campaign rallies Trump’s exuberant flock cheered his every word. Their enthusiasm suggested that Trump would heal their broken spirit, making them whole. They wanted to feel like they are a large patch of America's quilt again after eight years of isolation and abandonment. The main characters in Trump’s off Broadway show was the famous character actors named “Fear and Victim.”

White folks in interviews said their lives got away from them, but that was not their fault. The forlorn feeling is because President Barack Obama deserted them. White folks said for eight years that Obama did not care about them; he only cared about Black folks. The media considered White folks America’s true working class, now frustrated by marginalization.  That was the repeated meme in 2016. With the election of  realtor Donald Trump the same voters immediately proclaimed: “We got our country back!” When Obama was president they wept, whimpered and whinnied that they had “lost” their country. President Obama destroyed America, civility and their way of life. The speedy recovery and return of “their America” was magic.

In the New Yorker magazine writer David Remnick wrote an article titled “Obama Reckons with Trump’s Presidency”. Reading the article my eyes locked on a paragraph written by author Richard Porty, and quoted in Remnick’s article. The paragraph rang as true today as it did in 1998.

To his supporters Trump projected himself as their strong man. His negotiating prowess was akin to a gun welding gangster making an offer that could not be refused. Trump affirmed while campaigning: “I am your voice. I can fix it. I will restore law and order”. Talking to an all-White audience Trump scolded nonpresent African Americans, telling them they had nothing to lose by voting for him. The rallying White folks enjoyed the thrill of his words. For a minute they forgot they were the true victims. I write this last sentence with sarcasm.

“The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking for a strong man to vote for—someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the snug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, over paid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots. One thing is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by Black and Brown Americans and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back in fashion. … All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet”.

Trump put more bait on his hook with the promise: He's going to show voters how to get rich. As president he is going to be such a winner, voters will get tired of him winning. Supporters believed Trump because he is a successful businessman, who knows how to make money. These rebel rouser ralliers believed that Trump was the answer to their prayers.  God could take a vacation. Trump was their blessing. 

Had these mainly Red State folks committed to researching Donald J. Trump’s past they would have discovered some useful information. Early interviews with magazines, newspapers and on radio disclosed that  in 1999 Trump thought about running for president on the Reform Party ticket. Once upon a time Trump was a Democrat, but he flipped to Republican to run for president of the United States, a tasty morsel he has been dining on since the 1980s. That's 18 years of  contemplating.  

Trump chased after and barked at the car, caught with it, and had no idea how to drive it.  Ernest Benn, writer, publisher and publicist said, "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy".  No, he did not know Donald Trump, who wanted President Ronald Reagan to appoint him ambassador to the USSR. His ego told him that he could resolve the Cold War  in a day. Reagan took care of the dilemma himself.

Trump intended to run in 2008 against Hillary Clinton, but Barack Obama blocked him. Trump knew that he could not buck or bully Obama, nor could he beat him. Trump considered a run in 2010, but again, Obama was his firewall. He was certain that with the birther brouhaha, media focus, and White folks hating Obama, he could sprint towards a presidential home run.

When Trump said that he could teach his followers how to get rich, I laughed. It did not occur to them
Donald Trump
that Donald J. Trump was born to millionaire parents, and a father that supported his projects by loaning him millions of dollars to start his own business. Never mind the bankruptcies, and his inability to acquire loans from banks in America, due to his habit of not repaying loans in full. When his businesses drowned, Trump renegotiated the loans. Rather than chance not getting any of their money back, the banks compromised and caved. 

Trump’s cultish followers did not want to know about his failed business record that  revealed he is not a good businessman. They did not want to know that he does not own the businesses bearing his name. For a huge fee he licenses his name. None of his Trump labeled merchandise is manufactured in America. The same rule of thumb applies to Ivanka Trump and his wife Melina. He and his adult children are using the presidency to fatten their pocket books.

Trump told his followers that he understood their plight. He promised to stop jobs from leaving this country. He promised to revive the coal industry in Red Sates. Every American is going to get “beautiful” health care insurance that they can afford. Trump is hell bent on building a “big beautiful wall” to stop illegal Mexican immigrants from crossing the Southern border, bringing crime with them. “Mexico is going to pay for it!” he announced confidently. “Believe me!” No American money will help defray the cost. The “big beautiful” wall will have a “big beautiful door” for immigrants to re-enter America legally.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump talked Mafia tough all the time. He was the Godfather of campaigning. He dogged and bad-mouthed his opponents. They did not retaliate. The media and pundits helped him throw rocks at Hillary Clinton. The media have been attempting to knock down Bill and Hillary Clinton for decades. 

With the help of the media that gave Trump millions of dollars of free advertising,  the one note candidate slimmed his way into the presidency. When he won he did not alter his belligerent tone. Trump's skin did not thicken, making him immune from criticism. His early morning tweeting is nonstop. His lying is still consistent. He does not have a relationship with facts or history, and he demands constant flattery, positive press and loyalty.

All-in-all Donald J. Trump has been in office for six months but it seems like six years. His term begin with a scandal involving Russia hacking the DNC’s computers. Wikileaks released the emails to mud smear Hillary Clinton, and to help Trump get elected. The Russia/Trump scandal is breaking with new information every day. However, Trump is in deep denial and attack mode. He will not deny his male crush on Russia's President Vladimir Putin, who he refuses to attack.

A businessman without a company, or board or headquarters or hundreds of employees, Trump does not answer to anyone but himself. He thinks that being president allows him the right to break whatever laws he wants to, and not be punished. He thinks he can run America’s government like it’s his personal business. A Republican controlled Congress and Senate are standing on the sideline with their arms folded, allowing Trump to be the loose elephant in a fine china shop. 

Donald Trump is filling top positions with novice millionaire and billionaire bankers, lobbyists, family members and other people who have vowed loyalty to him. With the exception of his family, Trump campaigned against these hires and swore that none of them would be a part of his administration. He said would clean the swamp when he arrived in Washington. He lied. The swamp is bigger and deeper than ever, and Trump takes a swim in it every day.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

From my literature corner: Women Poems with Heart, Tears, Sadness, Rejection and Abandonment

Not What It Takes
Poem by Patricia 

When I was thirteen
I noticed myself becoming a woman
or what I thought was a woman then.
My first time I was allowed to wear make-up
I experimented until it was so heavy
that it’s a wonder my face
didn’t fall,
It was so thick.

I rode around and around
the block on my bicycle
where my first boyfriend lived.
I was hoping he’d notice
That now I was grown.

So I thought.

On one trip around the block
He finally came out of his house
And hollered: HELLO
So, I stopped.

He took one look at my make-up
Red lips and all,
and laughed.

Well, I knew then that’s not what it takes
To be a woman.

Poem by Chrystal

When she is asleep, she dreams
Of a lot people round her
But she can’t communicate with them.
It is as if she is invisible.
She wants to scream or move in some way
So she will be like them.

If she could just get her sister or mother
Or anyone to just touch her, she would be reality
As they are.

There are many people around her talking
And laughing.

They think she is in their presence and they talk
To her. They don’t know she can’t reply back.
They think she is normal
But she is not.

If someone would just touch her
She would be in their company
Mentally and physically.

She fights desperately and finally wakes up.
She wakes up frightened.
Why does she dream this so often?
What does it mean?
Where is she at?

I can’t stand his face
because the doorway
is always closed.

can’t let me see inside.

Doing Something Wrong

As a child I was always
doing something wrong.

Not because I was Black
but because I was a girl
and not a boy.

I didn’t like it, 
being a girl. 

Poem by Peggy Sue

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on her tuffet
Smoking her pot that was dusted.

Along came a spider
And sat down beside her
And hailed:

Hark! I’m a narc
And you’re busted!

A Sense of Love   
 Poem by Sandra

The grandchildren haven’t turned out
The way we thought they would.
Their parents are hurt and angry,
Ashamed, and worried about it.

I’m not.
I like these kids the way they are, 
Open and honest, disorganized and gentle,
Scruffy and kind.

They don’t seem to mind spending time
With me. We talked about real things:
Dreams, peace, the sky.

They tell me living
Is more important than accomplishing things.
I agree.

Their parents are outraged by this.
So I don’t go into it.
I say the kids came.

The parents say, Good. At least
They have a sense of duty.

I think they have a sense of love.

(C) poems from “So I Swung: An anthology" of work by women in the Travis County Jail, (Austin, Texas) 1978

It can't Be Love  
Poem by Zandra Diane Holmes

When we talked, I never seemed to listen.
When we loved I never shared the passion.
When we walked I never walked beside you.
When we laughed I faked my smiling gesture.
But when we argued, I awakened.

Marian Anderson
Poem by Loretta Campbell
Black Forum, 1978

She opened her mouth to sing and 
the DAR called the FBI,
who called the CIA, who called the KKK,
who burned a cross in her honor.

She opened her mouth to sing and                 
little Black girls went from
Baptist churches to voice teachers and
lined up outside the Met waiting for
the doors to open.

She opened her mouth to sing and
the White House turned up its hearing aide
while Eleanor pulled her chair up closer
to hear a revolution.

She opened her mouth to sing
and the winds of change whistled through
the crack in the Liberty Bell.
America heard a symphony in the first note.
© poems from Black Forum, Fall/Winter 1978  

*** Note: On April 9, 1939 opera singer Marian Anderson, who could not sing in all-White opera houses. She was barred from hosting a concert at Constitution Hall because of her race. This what the poem is about. The protest against Anderson was activated by The Daughters of the American Revolution. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR in protest. She helped arrange for Anderson to sing at the Lincoln Memorial.

of her choosing
Poems by dorothy Charles banks
From “Black Maria”, 1979

e/z tears flood
her eyes nearly drownin
her face, washin
away Maybelline eye lashes
that waved good/bye, so long
As did her lover

and she chose to go insane
Rather than lose him

Rather than be a/lon and
lonely, watchin happy teevee 

Rather than suicide herself, seeing
him no more                                                        

she asked me, her best friend:
ain’t that nothin
showin how damn weak I am
showin how silly I am
choosin to go n/sane
cause my cheatin man left me
leavin me outdoors
but still in love with him

leavin me weepin and grovelin
at his feet, beggin for a
little kindness from him

he didn’t give me an explanation
I deserve to know his
reason for leavin me

but he did tell me in a hateful voice:
“Bitch, yo’ ass is all the 
way out of my life! Forever and ever!
You too fuckin weak and needy!”

his words stabbed hard at my heart and soul
 but I still love him with 
my bleedin heart 
my bleedin soul
I can’t even weep for myself
I hurt so much

ain’t that nothin?
I mean . . . 
ain’t that really nothin?

Cold poem unwritten

I’m trying to write
A cold poem cause
Men keep telling me
I’m cold.
I went to Alaska
To meditate 
And wait for a cold poem
To freeze itself
Inside my head.
3 days later
I left Alaska and 
The cold snow, 
Returning to the states,
Poemless and colder 
Than ever.

(C) by dorothy charles banks

I Have Decided
 Poem by Mary McAnally
From the book “We Will Make A River” 


I have decided that I own my emptiness
It is mine.
I can tap at the roof of it
with the tip of my tongue.
I can thrash around in it
when the bowels of the night
rumble across my forehead.
I can imprison it between my thighs.
I can lure it out of me
for several delicious moments
and gaze at it
through the windows of my wrists.
I can turn up my collar
and let it shrivel me to noting.
I can hurl it across the caverns of the moon
and wait for my cycle to bring it back.
I can wear it on the ark of my consciousness
or let it simmer out the corners of my mouth.
No one can fill it but me
Nor spill it across the fine silk web of my days.
This emptiness is mine
and I own it.

Drag Assing

drag assing
ass dragging
the hot ground
cause she too lazy too
prance like she is
full of self confidence.

Miss Marymay saw her one day
and fussed at her for
dragging her feet.

“Stop a minute, young lady! 
You looking awfully
Like a flat-footed hussy
Who ain’t in a hurry
To get nowhere!

''Pick your feets up like you
supposed to do, girl!
I know your
Mama taught your better!

“You supposed to walk
On your feets
Not your ass!

“Lift your feets
Off that sidewalk and 
Strut like you got some pride!”

(C) by dorothy charles banks

The Closet

Poem by Peggy Scarborough  
from“Family Violence”, 1982

Moonlight Publications
There in the closet tat whispered
I’ll be good, Momma. I’m sorry
Over and over again
A little girl lay fighting demons
With tears lapping under her chin
I won’t be bad anymore, Momma
I won’t be bad anymore
I’ll be your good little girl again, Momma
But none opened the door