Sunday, August 7, 2016

If the 1960s were to switch places with 2016 the years would look the same, and feel the same, except now we have a Black president in the White House

“I object to violence because it offers to do good, but the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent”. Mahatma Gandhi

In the Deep South, during the decades of civil unrest, the lives and futures of Black folks did not matter. Yesterday is still today in the lives of too many African Americans. Throughout this presidential election year I watch on TV, and hear angry White folks wallowing in self-pity, complaining that life as they knew it is gone. They say they feel like outsiders. They want to take back “their America.” They are talking about the good old days of White supremacy, White privilege, and their assured firstness on the ladder of opportunity.

Demonstrations and protests were the only avenues available for Black folks. There were no firsts for them. Weaponless fighting 
Students participate in demonstrations in Florida
for their share of the American pie, gainful employment and the right to live decent lives were their goals. Black parents watched their children suffer with them, all the while answering their children's questions about why they were treated differently from White boys and girls. Black parents had to explain there was no Black privilege
There will never be Black privilege for Black folks.

May 2, 1963, Birmingham, Alabama. Over 700 children--The Children’s Crusade--were arrested for participating in a protest. These children, like their adult counterparts, were beaten by police, bitten by police dogs and blasted with fire department strength hoses. The Children’s Crusade was the brainchild of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Their purpose was to resuscitate the failing anti-segregation campaign. More than 1,000 Black children were recruited and trained how to react when starring in the face violence, and name calling.

The plan was to have Black students walk out of classes, gather at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, and then march downtown. But many of the students did not make it downtown. They were arrested and hauled off to jail in paddy wagons and school buses. No matter how these children were treated they stood their ground, sticking to their vow of nonviolence. As a result of their participating in the protest the Birmingham Board of Education saw fit to expel and suspend them from school. The punishments were overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The expulsions and suspensions had been decided by the Birmingham Federal District Court.  

The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church is where four little girls attending Sunday School were killed by a bomb planted under the church’s steps by a Ku Klux Klan killer named Robert Chambliss. It took years for someone to be arrested and charged. Chambliss was charged with murder for his participation in the bombing. Unfortunately, he died in prison. Two more killers were arrested years later, and sentenced to life in prison. By the time they were apprehended they were old men.  

Everywhere African Americans have lived these stories revealed 100 percent of their history. Some incidents were too ridiculous to believe. Like the Black woman who refused to answer questions on the witness stand, because the judge referred to her by her first name. She wanted the same courtesy afforded the Whites who took the stand, all of whom were addressed as Mr. Miss or Mrs. Mary Hamilton asked that she be called Miss Mary Hamilton. The judge was not having that kind of sassy talk from this Negro gal in his courtroom! How dare she demand White folks respect her! Hamilton paid more than one price for demanding respect in the courtroom. The pissed off judge sentenced her to five days in jail, plus a $50.00 fine.

Hamilton did her time in jail, but she would not pay the fine. The NAACP legal defense team stepped in to defend her, and repealed her case to the Supreme Court. The contempt charge was overturned.

In 1964 three college aged students went to Mississippi to register African Americans to vote. Their names were James Chaney, 22, an African American from Mississippi, was a plasterer’s apprentice; Andrew Goodman, 20, was an anthropology student from New York, and Michael Schwerner, 24, was a social worker from Manhattan Lower East Side. These young activists are recorded in the chronicles of history. They met their untimely deaths at the hands of murderous hoodlums who terrorized Black people (and some Whites) living in the South. 

Goodman and Schwerner, both Jews, were shot once in the head. The most horrendous death was set aside for Chaney. He was severely beaten and shot in the head three times. The KKKers took the bodies to a dam on a farm outside of Philadelphia, Mississippi where they were buried in shallow graves. Their decomposed bodies were found a month after they were reported missing.  

The same fate awaited any civil rights activists trying to register Blacks to vote, fight against discrimination and desegregation. For well over two centuries evilness has been stacked like bricks on the shoulders of African Americans. White people made the choice to disparage Black folks, and then blame them for who they are. The outright denouncement of a race of people justified White folks animosity towards Blacks.

This leads me to ask: What kind of human being throws muriatic acid into a Whites Only
Brock pours muriatic acid in pool to chase out protesters
swimming pool that Blacks attempted to integrate? That’s what five civil rights demonstrators ventured to do, along with two of their White friends at the Monson Motor Lodge, owned and operated by segregationist James E. “Jimmy” Brock, a native Florida.

What drives a person to have such a low regard for Blacks trying to have fun on a hot summer day, despite a racially intolerant law that declared they had no right to swim in Whites Only pools in Florida? Where was the humanness?

 Any Black person or civil rights group that endeavored to break the Whites Only law of segregation subjected themselves to the facing the same deadly fate as Schwerner, Goodman and Chaney. King and Abernathy were arrested for their efforts. Fortunately, they were not set free to travel a dark country road, only to get accosted by a bunch of Ku Klux Klan thugs waiting in the darkness to take their lives. This what happened to the young activists.

A Black dentist named Robert Hayling, along with three other members of the NAACP—James Jackson, Clyde Jenkins and James Hauser--came pretty close to facing death when they bucked the KKK at a rally a year before King came to St. Augustine, Florida.

“Organized demonstrations reached St. Augustine in the summer of 1963, when Robert B. Hayling, a local dentist and advisor to the Youth Council of the city’s branch of the NAACP, led pickets and sit- ins against segregated businesses. The Ku Klux Klan and other Whites responded with violence against demonstrators, which escalated through the fall of 1963, when Hayling and three other NAACP members were severely beaten at a Klan rally, then arrested and convicted of assaulting their attackers. In December 1963, after a grand jury blamed the racial crisis on Hayling and other activists, the NAACP asked for Hayling’s resignation. St. Augustine activists then turned to SCLC for support”. (MLK, Jr. and the Global Freedom Struggle) Hayling was asked to resign because he refused to take a vow of nonviolence.

“On June 25, 300 anti-segregationist marchers who had spent the afternoon rallying at the
Teenage demonstrator beaten the KKK
site of St. Augustine's former slave market, Slave Market Square, were violently attacked by over 200 White segregationists. The segregationists easily evaded police and physically assaulted the marchers. As the marchers fled, they were chased and attacked across the city's downtown area. Close to fifty of the marchers were injured, and fifteen were treated at the city's hospital. Several hours before the attacks on the marchers, seventy-five White segregationists had attacked a group of 100 African Americans who attempted to wade into the ocean at a local White beach, and twenty people were arrested. Such violent clashes between anti-segregationists and segregationists in St. Augustine continued throughout June 1964”. (Equal Justice Initiative)

It was the eve of the Freedom Summer 1964, St. Augustine, Florida. Martin Luther King, Rev. Abernathy, Southern Christian Leadership Conference and demonstrators planned a protest. King had announced their intentions at a press conference the day before. They were going to tackle the racial problems in St. Augustine, Florida.

“When, on 18 June 1964, a Grand Jury called on King and SCLC to leave St. Augustine for one month to diffuse the situation, claiming that they had disrupted racial harmony in the city, King replied that the Grand Jury’s request was an immoral one, as it asked the Negro community to give all, and the White community to give nothing. St. Augustine, they insisted, had never had peaceful race relations’’. (Global Freedom Struggle)

Before King arrived Robert Hayling sent out a call to northern universities and colleges to come to St. Augustine to participate in sit-ins and demonstrations rather than go to the beach. Hayling and SCLC got the cooperation they needed, but hundreds of them ended up in jail. Jail space was limited. That left many students standing outside in a cramped pens with the summer heat blazing down on them.

King targeted Monson Motor Lodge restaurant to integrate. When King and Abernathy
King and Abernathy are refused service at restaurant
attempted to enter the establishment they were stopped at the door by James Brock, owner of the lodge and restaurant. The media was on hand to record the protest. In the meanwhile, Al Lingo, one of the White protesters, registered at the motel. At some point one of the rabbis with King got into a shoving match with Brock. Amid the distraction five Black and two White protesters, dressed in swimwear they had changed into, sprinted toward the swimming pool, and jumped in. White swimmers in the pool were taken aback by surprise. It did not take long for them to scuttle out of the now contaminated pool.

Abernathy wrote in his book And the Walls Came Tumbling Down. “… Hosea Williams hit on the perfect plan, one that would help us beat the heat and challenge segregation at the same time: We would integrate the motel swimming pools.

“But how will we do that?” I asked. “As soon as we walk down the street with our bathing suits on, the police will surround us and keep us from getting near a pool”.

“It’s easy,” said Hosea. “I’ve already got it worked out. A couple of our White friends will register at the Monson Motor Lodge. Then, we’ll go by their rooms, one or two at a time. We’ll change into bathing suits there and then step out the door and walk over to the pool. It’s just a few steps. Before they know we’re there, we’ll be paddling around the pool.”

An angry James Brock ordered the interlopers out of the pool. When they did not comply Brock stormed off and returned with a five gallon can filled with muriatic acid. He warmed them that he had acid in the can, and he was going to pour it on them if they did not vacate the pool. They ignored his demand. Brock poured the liquid into the water. Muriatic acid is undiluted hydrochloric acid used to clean masonry surfaces of pools. The red liquid evolved into a dark circle, spreading outward. However, the slow traveling circle dissipated before getting close to the civil right activists. A disappointed Brock expected the acid to burn their skins, thus forcing them out of the pool. He called the police.

The St. Augustine Record wrote: “King, who was jailed, wrote to a group of rabbis meeting in Savanah, asking them to help the demonstrators draw attention, including a planned swim-in at the Monson pool, which was located on the bay front. On June 17 a dozen rabbis arrived, knelt in front of the restaurant and began to pray to distract Brock while demonstrators jumped into the pool”. Brock told them to leave; that they could not pray on private property.

When the police arrived the defiant protesters told the police to come into the pool and get
Crowd watch cop take off shoes and gun and jump into pool to force demonstrators out
them if they were under arrest. One officer stepped to the edge of the pool, expecting to grab one of them. The group swam to the center of the pool as a strategy to avoid getting snatched out of the pool. A fully clothed cop, after pulling off his shoes and pistol, jumped into the pool, forcing the protesters to the edge of the pool.

In an interview with NPR, J.T. Johnson, 76, and Al Lingo, 78, the activist that rented the motel room. On a visit to StoryCorps in Atlanta, the pair recalled the hotel owner, James Brock, “losing it”.

“Everybody was kind of caught off guard”, J. T. says. 

“The girls, they were most frightened, and we moved to the center of the pool”, Al says.

“I tried to calm the gang down. I knew that there was too much water for that acid to do anything”, J. T. says. “When they drug us out in bathing suits and they carried us out to the
J. T. Johnson (left), and Al Lingo
jail, they wouldn't feed me because they said I didn't have on any clothes. I said, ‘Well, that's the way you locked me up’”!

Malcolm X, sensing that Martin Luther King was heading for trouble with local Whites and the KKK sent King a telegram: “We have witnessed with great concern the vicious attacks of the White race against our poor defenseless people there in St. Augustine. If the federal government will not send troops to your aid, just say the word and we will immediately dispatch some of our brothers there to organize self-defense units among our people, and the Klu Klux Klan will then receive a taste of its own medicine. The day of turning the other cheek to those brute beasts is over”.

The Organization of Afro-American Unity Malcolm X, chairman, 
Theresa Hotel Harlem, NY

James Brock’s dilemma was far from over. He found himself caught between a rock and a hard place, and he could not hide under the rock. He had Black and White civil rights activists on one side; White militants and the KKK on the other side. The latter terrorists of the South turned demonstrators, and began marching with signs in front of desegregated businesses.

Even though Monson Motor Lodge was not integrated, incensed bigots threw it in with other integrated businesses. It is likely word got around that Blacks had invaded the swimming pool. James Brock was now hurting financially. It was sink or swim. He desegregated his lodge and restaurant, hoping business would improve.

“Within a few days he desegregated the Monson again after a judge ordered restaurants and motels to serve Blacks. For that his restaurant was hit with Molotov cocktails”, Dr. David R. Colburn wrote in his book “Radical Change and Community Crisis.” (The St. Augustine Record)

Brock later renamed the lodge Monson Bayfront Resort. Eventually sold it to another hotel owner, who demolished it to build the Riverfront Hilton Hotel. Brock died in September 2007 at the age of 85.

"But all of the news media were there, because somehow I guess they'd gotten word that something was going to happen at that pool that day. And I think that's when President [Lyndon B.] Johnson got the message”, Lingo said.

The following day, the Civil Rights Act was approved, after an 83-day filibuster in the U.S. Senate. The St. Augustine Movement was an umbrella of the civil rights movement. Its achievements were small, and did not successfully integrate St. Augustine’s schools and businesses. The movement lasted from 1963 to 1964.
Closing with a story that fits perfectly into the Black Lives Matter movement, this head scratcher is about a Black man shot by police because he did not have a car to take his dog to the vet. The 1960s lives in 2016.

Black Man Killed in Birmingham, Alabama, during Arrest for Failure to Take Dog to
Newspaper tell the story of Robert Lacey

On January 27, 1967, Jefferson County sheriff deputies went to the home of Robert Lacey, a black father of six, because Mr. Lacey had failed to take the family dog to the veterinarian after it bit a neighborhood child. The health department had instructed the family to take the dog in for a rabies test, but the family did not own a car and had no means of transporting the animal.

The deputies knocked at the door as Mr. Lacey was getting out of the shower, and when he answered the door they told him to get dressed and go with them. Mr. Lacey asked why and told the deputies to just take the dog. The deputies said they weren’t interested in the dog and told him to get dressed. As Mr. Lacey was doing so, a gun he kept in his dresser fell to the floor. In response, the deputies pushed Mr. Lacey against the wall and attempted to handcuff him. Mr. Lacey offered to walk to the car with them, but one of the deputies said, 

“Boy, you gonna leave here with handcuffs on, dead or alive.”

Mr. Lacey was a large man; as the deputies attempted to wrestle him down, one of them fell to the ground, and the other then shot Mr. Lacey in the leg. The deputies later claimed Mr. Lacey lunged at them before the second shot, but Mr. Lacey’s family insisted Mr. Lacey fell to the ground before the deputy shot him again, “between the eyes.” Neighbors who ran to the house after the shooting were instructed by police to move the body before the coroner arrived.

Mr. Lacey’s death marked the second black man killed by Jefferson County law enforcement within nine days, and would be one of ten total law enforcement killings of Black men in the Birmingham, Alabama, area within a 14 month period spanning from 1966 to 1967. (Equal Justice Initiative)

As you can see these cops feared for their lives, and they had to kill the unarmed Black man, whose dog they had lost interest in by the time they arrived at Lacey’s house. Black lives have never mattered in America.