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Black History

COMMENTARY: Shame And Shade In Birmingham

CHICAGO CRUSADER — f anyone deserves a civil rights award, Angela Davis certainly does.

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By Julianne Malveaux

If anyone deserves a civil rights award, Angela Davis certainly does. The activist and scholar has been on the front lines of the civil rights movement all of her life. She has been especially active in prison reform matters, but she has also been involved in other civil and human rights issues. When I learned back in October that she would get the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, I was absolutely delighted. I imagined the wide smile the daughter of Birmingham must have flashed when she learned that she would be honored.

Julianne Malveaux

Julianne Malveaux

Everyone in Birmingham wasn’t thrilled, though. Some people in the conservative Southern town seemed disturbed that she had been a member of both the Black Panther Party and the Communist Party. Others were concerned about her support of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement) against the Israeli occupation. She has said that she stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people, and advocates for their fair treatment in Israel.

Some ill informed people consider the BDS movement “anti-Semitic.” They suggest that any questions that one raises about Israel shows a bias against Jewish people. But Davis, a lifelong human rights activist, is concerned about the humanity of Palestinian people, as well as other people. And she is rightfully concerned, as many of us are, about the spate of laws recently passed that downright outlaw the BDS movement. According to the Middle East Monitor, a teacher in Texas, Bahia Amawl, refused to sign an oath that required her to pledge that she “does not currently boycott Israel,” that she will not boycott Israel and that she will “refrain from any action that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with Israel.” Texas is among some 25 states that have passed laws forbidding the state from doing business with companies that boycott Israel! It will also not invest pension funds in companies that support BDS. Thirteen more states including Washington DC, have similar laws to the Texas law pending, pitting people’s first amendment rights of free speech against support for Israel. And Florida Senator Marco Rubio, in the middle of a government shutdown, had the nerve to introduce national legislation that mirrors the Texas law (actually, Illinois was the first state to pass this discriminatory law).

Lots of people in Birmingham aren’t having it. Though the “Civil Rights Institute” has rescinded its award to Dr. Angela Davis, there has been significant protest about the decision. Birmingham’s Mayor, Randall Woodfin, who is a non-voting member of the Museum Board and did not participate in the decision to rescind the award (the city provides the museum with about a million dollars a year in operating funds) has expressed his dismay about the decision. Three board members have resigned from the board. And Alabama columnist Roy S. Johnson has written a fiery column accusing the Civil Rights Institute of insulting Rev. Shuttlesworth and staining its own legacy. Johnson says the Birmingham Jewish community may have been the loudest, but not the only folks pushing for Davis’ award to be rescinded.

Who rescinds an award after it has been granted for statements that were not recently made, but are a matter of record? Angela Davis has long been an outspoken activist, just like Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth was. Nothing had been changed from the time Davis was notified of the award and January 4, when it was rescinded. The BCRI did not have to honor Davis, but their canceling the award is a special kind of insult. Fortunately, Angela Davis has a thick skin, and she knows exactly who she is. She didn’t cringe when then-California governor Ronald Reagan had her fired from UCLA for her membership in the Communist Party. She didn’t flinch when she was incarcerated for a crime she did not commit. And she will not tremble because the BCRI rescinded the award.

Indeed, demonstrating the indomitable spirit that she is known for, Angela Davis will travel to Birmingham in February for an alternative event. And the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum has egg on its face. That city showed a young Angela Davis who they were when the Four Little Girls, some of whom she knew, were killed at the 16 Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.  And they are showing her who they are once again. Shame and shade!

Unfortunately, I’m not surprised. One of the founders of the Women’s March has demanded the resignations of Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour because they attended one of Minister Louis Farrakhan’s Savior’s Days. Marc Lamont Hill lost his CNN commentary gig because he spoke up for Palestinian rights. Alice Walker has been criticized because she supports BDS. Now Angela Davis is being denied an award. When is enough going to be enough?

For the record, I support Palestinian rights. And I support Israel’s right to exist. Are the two incompatible? I think not. The one-state solution, with a right to return, and full citizenship rights for Palestinians makes sense. But Israel is not about to budge, and BDS as an attempt to influence it. States passing laws to outlaw free speech erodes the first principle of our Constitution and undercut the actions at the very foundation of our nation. Remember the folks who dumped tea into the Boston Harbor because of an unfair tax?  Today that action might be against the law!

Julianne Malveaux is an author and economist. Her latest book “Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy” is available via www.amazon.com. For booking, wholesale inquiries or for more info visit www.juliannemalveaux.com.

This article originally appeared in the Chicago Crusader.

Art

Actor Clarence Williams III, 81

Williams was an actor from 1960 to 2018 and was best known for his roles as Linc in “The Mod Squad” (and his signature line, solid) (1968-1973) and Prince’s father in “Purple Rain” in 1984.

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Actor Clarence Williams III

Actor Clarence Williams III was born on Aug. 21, 1939 in New York, New York and died on June 4, 2021 of colon cancer in Los Angeles, California.

Williams was an actor from 1960 to 2018 and was best known for his roles as Linc in “The Mod Squad” (and his signature line, solid) (1968-1973) and Prince’s father in “Purple Rain” in 1984.

He acted in the theatre, on television and in film.

On “The Mod Squad” Williams was one of the first Black actors to have a lead role on a television series. Following in the footsteps of Bill Cosby and Diahann Carroll.

Cosby recommended Williams for his role as Linc.

He was married to actress Gloria Foster from 1967 to 1984 when they divorced.  Foster died in 2001.

Williams is survived by his daughter, Jamey Phillips.

Wikipedia, The New York Times, and CNN were sources for this story.

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Black History

Juneteenth: Our Independence Day

Also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, it commemorates the end of slavery, the seminal event in Black history.

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Graphic courtesy istock.

June 19, or Juneteenth, is independence day for many Americans of African descent.

Also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, it commemorates the end of slavery, the seminal event in Black history.

President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation took effect on Jan. 1, 1863, but was read to slaves in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, more than two years later.

There are several different accounts of why the news of freedom took so long to arrive.

One story has it that slaves were intentionally kept ignorant about their freedom in order to allow crops to continue being harvested. Another has a messenger traveling by mule to deliver the news, and it simply took more than two years to arrive from Washington, D.C., to Texas. Yet another story has the messenger being murdered before he could deliver the message.

No matter the origin of Juneteenth, the end of slavery is definitely worth celebrating. But while much has happened in the 158 years since slavery officially ended, its legacies still remain in the form of disparate salaries, educational levels and incarceration rates.

Juneteenth, which is now observed in 48 states (North Dakota and Hawaii do not observe)  and the District of Columbia, is a time to take stock of our progress — and of the work that remains.

Last year, during the pandemic our current vice president and former senator, Kamala Harris, said:  “[m]y message on this Juneteenth:  may we honor those who suffered, died and survived the crushing reality of slavery by looking to the future.”

Twelve years ago President Barack Obama said: “African Americans helped to build our nation brick by brick and have contributed to her growth in every way, even when rights and liberties were denied to them.”

We’re still building it.

In 2021, as our state opens up post-pandemic and we deal with racial reckoning as we never have before  #BlackLivesMatter is becoming a reality. 

This year is truly our Independence Day.

Happy Juneteenth.

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African American News & Issues

Black Panther Mini Museum Free to BIPOC Juneteenth Weekend

Lisbet Tellefsen is the curator, Linnea Du is the editor, Otherwise provided design, and Art Kotoulas production.

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Graphic courtesy West Oakland Mural Project.

The Mini Museum of the Black Panther Party @ The Mural opens on Juneteenth, June 19, 2021, at 831 Center St., Oakland, CA.  It’s open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  Tickets for up to five people for a 30-minute tour can be purchased in advance by logging onto westoaklandmuralproject.org.  Children under 12 are free as are BIPOC folks during Juneteenth weekend. Individual tickets can be purchased for $12.50.

Lisbet Tellefsen is the curator, Linnea Du is the editor, Otherwise provided design, and Art Kotoulas production.

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