In the early morning of October 16, 2018, I was awakened by the muffled voices of my parents who were scurrying around their home. I could hear them speaking but did not know what they were talking about. Besides, I was interested in getting a bit more sleep. At approximately 7:00am one of them appeared in the doorway. She told me what time it was and that we were evacuating. Initially I thought, is it that serious? Nevertheless, I immediately got out of bed and put on some jeans and tennis shoes, grabbed my Vera Bradley duffle and put a few toiletries into the matching cosmetics bag. I was visiting, so my bags were readily available. It took very little time and we were out the door and into the driving rain.
When I arrived at Chattanooga’s Second Missionary Baptist Church, A true Southern gentleman, The Rev. Paul McDaniel, met me personally met at the door. Born in Rock Hill, South Carolina, Pastor McDaniel has been part of the Southern landscape and its African American community for most of his life. After attending Morehouse College in Atlanta, he received a Masters of Divinity degree from Colgate-Rochester Divinity School and a Masters of Arts degree from the University of Rochester in New York. A Chattanooga resident since 1966, Rev. McDaniel is stepping down from his post at the Second Missionary Baptist Church after almost 50 years of service. A larger-than-life figure in the community, I share our conversation in his honor.
NOTE: This article was originally published on The Huffington Post.
On what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday the world will revisit his extraordinary leadership after his 1990 release from twenty-seven years in prison. Yet, Mandela’s influence was far-ranging long before the 1990s when he pulled together the South Africa that we know today, negotiated a rainbow nation, and became its first black president. I want to honor Mandela’s early impact and emphasize the global involvement in South Africa’s apartheid government and in its demise. The role of international financial institutions in the Mandela story is key for me both historical and personal. Lobbying the banks to divest in South Africa was the catalyst for my involvement not only in the anti-apartheid movement, but in the advocacy of civil rights over a life time.
When Jessica’s father bought her a one-way ticket to the States from Guatemala when she was 25, that was his way of saying, “I believe in you, hija, and I expect you to truly ‘be ‘somebody’.’” Now go do it.
DATELINE: Police questioned a black graduate student who fell asleep while studying in a dormitory common room.
I picked up a local newspaper and was confronted by this headline: “Harassment for ‘being black’ gains attention.”
My blood started to boil.
I took in a deep breath, cussed to myself, and slowly exhaled.
There’s not a day that goes by without more evidence of how tough it is for many African Americans to go about their daily activities – any activity it seems. We’ve gone from DWB (Driving While Black), to SWB (Shopping While Black), to BWB (Barbequing While Black), to SISWB (Sitting in Starbucks While Black), to SIADWB (Sleeping In A Dorm While Black). Insanity is too mild a word to describe this racial mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.
Too many Millennials and members of their younger cohort, Generation Z, consider civil rights history as ancient history at the dawn of a new millennium. However, there are profound and poignant lessons which today’s young people need to learn. The most important lesson is how to make major changes in society through the type of peaceful means championed by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his fellow civil rights leaders of the time.
A term of significance for young people to comprehend is: “civil disobedience.”
Editor’s note: Given the recent statements about Chinese Americans by FBI chief Christopher Wray, the ADR is republishing this excellent article on the history of Chinese Americans. Wray has accusing Chinese individuals in academia, from professors to scientists to students, of “taking advantage” of and “exploiting the very open research and development environment” in the U.S.
Asian Americans comprise about 4.5% of the United States. Among them, the Chinese Americans, with a little over three million—constitute the largest Asian ethnic group in the U.S. Most of them arrived at this country in three separate immigration waves, each characterized by its own set of reasons for migration.
When I started teaching civil rights in graduate school, I developed a timeline of civil rights events in the United States. I included positive ones as well as tragedies, and tried to include more than African-American connected events, to represent a fuller picture of American history than is usually represented. I also included some world events to provide context and some removal from a “calculus of suffering” so often indulged in by one group comparing its history with anothers. The timeline makes no promises of completeness, and is a work in progress. It is generally referenced, and is fairly reliable. This timeline proved to be popular with students, who mostly had been raised and educated on the myth of progress, American Dream, and City on a Hill themes. They were surprised by the uneven progression of social equity in American history, with its frequent “one step forward, two steps back” meme. I’ve chosen some examples from just one year in this timeline for black History Month.
Although traditionally the month of February has celebrated famous African-Americans throughout history, maybe it’s time to augment how that history is told with our personal history stories, ones that define and shape who we are today.
The neighborhood I grew up in conjures up images of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” Hal Rauch’s “Our Gang” with scenes of Mayberry from the “Andy Griffin Show” added to the mix. The folks in my neighborhood were caring, creative and resourceful because we had to be. Our survival depended on it.
In the mid-1990s, at the dawn of the Information Age, when many were concerned that the lack of awareness and participation in this new world by communities of color would create a Digital Divide, Ken Granderson had an idea. He was one of a handful of black entrepreneurs in the industry, and was committed to helping make this new reality more accessible to communities of color by creating computer technologies that featured people of color, created by people of color.
So for Black History Month 1997, following previous Black History Month technology projects that digitized the Boston Public Library’s book chronicling 350 years of Black Boston History, and launched web sites for Boston’s predominantly black communities, in 1997, Ken collaborated with his friend and fellow black technology entrepreneur Dale Dowdie, and starting with a small public domain listing of about 3 thousand entries, launched BlackFacts.com as the Internet’s first data-driven Black History web site, which was powered by technology built by black engineers, and populated by teachers and history buffs throughout the US and several other countries.