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PRESSROOM: Legislation Introduced to Establish African Burial Ground Museum In New York

NNPA NEWSROOM: The African Burial Ground is a cemetery in Manhattan that’s considered the oldest and largest known burial ground in North America for free and enslaved Africans. It serves great historical, cultural, archaeological and anthropological significance, officials said.

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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

Members of the New York Democratic delegation, led by U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler, joined Representatives Gregory Meeks, Yvette Clarke, and Adriano Espaillat, this week in announcing the reintroduction of the African Burial Ground International Memorial Museum and Education Act.

The legislation would establish a museum and education center at the African Burial Ground in Manhattan, a site that currently holds the remains of an estimated 15,000 free and enslaved Africans and early-generation African-Americans from the colonial era, according to a news release from Schumer’s office.

The museum would be managed by the National Park Service in consultation with the African Burial Ground Advisory Council, which would be established by new legislation.

“The African Burial Ground is culturally and historically significant to New York and the nation,” Schumer said.

“The establishment of a museum and an education center at this cemetery will illuminate the plight, courage and humanity of the free and enslaved Africans who helped create New York,” he said.

The African Burial Ground is a cemetery in Manhattan that’s considered the oldest and largest known burial ground in North America for free and enslaved Africans. It serves great historical, cultural, archaeological and anthropological significance.

The burial ground includes DNA samples from the remarkably well-preserved human remains that will enable researchers to trace the home roots in Africa of those individuals buried there.

The site became a National Historic Landmark in 1993 and was designated as a national monument in 2006.

“As a nation, we must always remember the tremendous burdens and afflictions experienced by those who were brought here in bondage, and who fought – for generations – against impossible odds to achieve the full measure of dignity and equality and justice that they were due,” Schumer said.

“I am proud to cosponsor this legislation and I urge my colleagues to pass this bill and for the president to sign it into law,” he said.

“The burial ground serves as a tribute to the enslaved and free African men and women who lived in and helped build New York,” said Gillibrand. “Establishing a museum and an education center at this location would memorialize their stories and protect their legacies.”

“This is an important part of New York’s history that deserves to be recognized. I am proud to work with my colleagues in the New York delegation to introduce this legislation and urge my colleagues in Congress to pass this bill,” Gillibrand continued.

Nadler added that, “on the site of the African Burial Ground lie the remains of thousands of free and enslaved early African residents of New York, making it a site of the utmost historic and cultural significance for New York City and the United States.”

“A Memorial Museum and Education Center on those grounds will pay respects to the thousands buried there, acknowledge the central role that enslaved and free African men and women played in building New York City from its earliest history, and educate Americans and other visitors about the profound and far-reaching impact of slavery on American society,” he said.

From the beginnings of the colonial past to long after the formation of the union, enslaved Africans and their descendants have endured bondage and forced labor, followed by segregation and discrimination in America, Meeks said.

“Their resiliency should be commemorated, and their plight: never forgotten. Constructing the African Burial Ground Memorial Museum will serve to commemorate their bravery, remind us how long the journey towards justice has been, and contextualize the historical roots of the inequities that still persist to this day,” he said.

The sacred African Burial Ground Memorial Museum and Education Center will serve as a tool to educate communities on the long-lost history of the enslaved and freed African-Americans, whose labor ultimately built the City of New York, said Clarke.

“Amid the fight for equity, justice and fairness, we must shed light on the human rights violations that occurred in both colonial and federal New York City during the 17th and 18th centuries. This history deserves to be honored, remembered and studied by all Americans to ensure that such cruelties never occur again,” Clarke said.

Espaillat added that this year marks 400 years since the first African slaves were brought to the United States and the beginning of one of the darkest periods of our nation’s history.

“Establishing the burial ground is a tremendous way to reflect on the significant suffering and injustice slavery had throughout the United States,” Espaillat said.

“We can never forget the horrors that were inflicted through slavery, and the African Burial Ground Memorial will play a vital role in our ability to better understand the past and honor the history that all groups of people have had on American culture and our continued crusade for freedom and justice for all,” he said.

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Bay Area

Richmond’s Carrie Lee Moore, Turns 100

She first came to California in 1944 and resided in the City of Alameda and worked at Treasure Island. She said that it rained every day and she had to run for the bus or train. When she experienced an earthquake for the first time, she was so nervous that she left California and went back to Shreveport, LA.

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Stephen Wheeler/Unsplash

Carrie Lee Moore/ Unknown

Carrie Lee Moore (known as Nook to her family) was born on May 23, 1921, in Red Bird, OK., to the proud parents of Carrie James and Leonard Moore. She was the youngest of three children.

She first came to California in 1944 and resided in the City of Alameda and worked at Treasure Island. She said that it rained every day and she had to run for the bus or train. When she experienced an earthquake for the first time, she was so nervous that she left California and went back to Shreveport, LA. She thought by that time Shreveport would be paying workers the same wages that she could get in California, but it wasn’t so. 

She returned to California in 1945 and became a member of Star Bethel Baptist Church in Oakland under the leadership of Rev. George Henderson.  There she met the love of her life, Enoch Johnson, and they married on May 11, 1946. Later they moved to Detroit, Mich., because the war had ended while they were in California and if you weren’t in a union, the servicemen got the jobs first. (Her father always promised to take her there and she finally got an opportunity to get there.) She graduated from Kemble Servicing School in 1966 with a Master Certificate.

She resided in Michigan for 38 years and worked for the Cadillac Industry Plant for 34 years as a power machine operator. She also was the pianist for Nazarene Baptist Church in Michigan for 22 years before returning to California in 1984 to help her sister take care of her father, Leonard Moore, who was a member of North Richmond Baptist Church.

She joined North Richmond Baptist Church in 1984 (with her letter from Nazarene Baptist Church) under the leadership of the late Rev. CW Newsome. She has been active in everything at the church including Sunday school, BTU, the Mission, Christ Ministry, Mothers Board, Citizen Group, Brown Bags, choirs, committees, ministering to the sick, wherever she is needed, she is there.

Down through the years she has been a musician for several churches in the area including, Emmaus Baptist Church, Mt. Carmel, EverReady, Bible Way, Shields Convalescent, the Christ Ministry, and still plays for North Richmond Baptist Church.

When asked what keeps her so healthy, she responded, “the Lord.” (Although she walks regularly to get her exercise.)

She got her driver’s license at the age of 70 and drove for 20 plus years until she decided not to renew her license. She is very independent and does not depend on anyone to take her where she wants to go and definitely does not mind walking or taking the bus.

She has taught needle craft and enjoys sewing. As a child, she was an avid basketball player and played ‘corncob’ baseball.

She is a joy to be around and will keep you laughing with all of her funny sayings.

Her favorite scripture is Psalms 1:1-2, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”

Her advice to the young is found in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly diving the word of truth.”  She also added that whatever you do, keep Christ in your life.

She truly loves the Lord and loves studying His Word.

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African American News & Issues

Geoffrey’s Inner Circle Not included in Funding Support

We will ultimately be successful in our efforts to reach the goal of our fundraising campaign but will also ensure that the native Oakland community of African Americans will receive equal assistance and opportunity in this city.

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Athenian Nile Club founded in 1915 often presented their wealthy members in entertainment in Black face

Publisher’s note by Paul Cobb: Several years ago when writer MarvinX Jackmon and I asked Mayor Libby Schaaf and Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney to name the downtown business district in honor of the historic Black achievements, Black Newspaper, Black Businesses, Art Galleries, Black Museum, Government Buildings, Arts and Entertainment venues, I asked the Mayor to make sure that Geoffrey’s Inner Circle would receive the same financial support and grants that the Fox Theatre and the Oakland Auditorium were receiving. I reminded her how I as the former director of OCCUR, had led a group of historical preservationists to save the Fox from a demolition wrecking ball, she said she liked the Malonga Arts Complex instead. We at the Oakland Post support Geoffrey’s Go Fund Me appeal https://gofund.me/b2541419 with a $1,000.00 donation and my wife Gay Plair Cobb and I urge others to join us either in-kind or with at least the donation of a “Tubman” ($20.00 bill). Geoffrey’s ironically was the original home of Oakland’s white power structure. (We have published a photo below of how those White wealthy leaders often met and entertained themselves by adorning themselves in Black Face at the former Athenian Nile Club ( now Geoffrey’s). And now that the same establishment is represented by the face of a Black man, his establishment is being whitewashed with neglect.

The Post has asked Mr. Pete to give his own opinion below.

Paul Mooney appeared at Geoffrey’s Inner Circle some 30 or more times over the years. His platform and message were always used to shed a light on the grave racial disparity and economic injustice that has, whether acknowledged or not, plagued this country since its inception. This racially aggressive ideology has also had its tangles in our dear city of Oakland. A disparity study illustrated by Dr. Eleanor Ramsey highlighted the glaring absence of African Americans in the city’s landscape of budgeted allotments for professional services, labor construction and city development.

Former entertainer Paul Mooney often performed at Geoffrey’s urging America to face-up to White racism

While I applaud Yoshi’s Oakland for reaching their goal in their most recent Go Fund Me efforts, it should be noted that Yoshi’s also received $5 million dollars in assistance from both the City and Port of Oakland to open a jazz entertainment venue at Jack London Square. Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, a live entertainment venue that began at Jack London Square, has been operating for 30 years. This offer was not extended to expand GIC or renovate, nor was it offered to any other Black Owned Business in the entertainment genre in Oakland.

The Fox Oakland was $50 million dollars over budget for its renovation project and most recently left the City of Oakland with a $78 million cost overrun.

When an African American Development Firm entered a bid on the Oakland Auditorium/ Kaiser Center, the city gave a white developer the contract and $12 million dollars in naming rights. This deal in its origin should not have had any monetary exchange whatsoever, naming rights included. The aforementioned developer has additionally secured a 99-year lease that will cost him a hefty $1 dollar. He will also receive tax credits to the tune of a $20-$40-million-dollars in subsidies. Go fund me has a different ring to it if you are non-black and vending with the City of Oakland it seems.

We will ultimately be successful in our efforts to reach the goal of our fundraising campaign but will also ensure that the native Oakland community of African Americans will receive equal assistance and opportunity in this city.

Thank you in advance for your support!

Geoffrey Pete
GoFundMe

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Activism

California Reparations Task Force Elects Leadership

The newly elected leaders represent an inter-generational team, bridging the millennial and baby boomer generations, which are known for their often-conflicting worldviews.

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Screen shot from the task force taking the oath of office (Twitter).

The California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans hosted its first public meeting June 1.

The virtual gathering marked the official launch of the first-in-the-nation initiative organized to investigate how a state engaged in and benefitted from slavery, and how it practiced or condoned racial discrimination, excluding African Americans from economic and other opportunities.

During the meeting that lasted over four hours, the nine-member task force elected Kamilah V. Moore, a Los Angeles-based activist and attorney, as its chair. The group also elected Rev. Dr. Amos Brown, pastor of Third Baptist Church in San Francisco and president of the San Francisco NAACP branch, as vice chair.

The newly elected leaders represent an inter-generational team, bridging the millennial and baby boomer generations, which are known for their often-conflicting worldviews.

Moore, who passed the California bar examination in January, intends to use her studies in domestic and international human rights to provide perspective on, “how the recommendations comport with international standards of remedy for wrongful injuries caused by the state, that includes all reparations and special members measures as understood by various international protocols laws and findings,” she said.

In her term as chairperson, Moore says she will provide expertise on, “how the state of California will offer a formal apology on behalf of the people of California for the perpetuation of gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity against Black Americans who descend from chattel slavery in the United States.”

A history buff and student of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights veteran Brown has dedicated more than six decades of his life to fighting for racial justice and equality.

“I’m concerned about our people and making sure that we stay on point in terms of delivering the sons and daughters of Africa what belongs to them,” said Brown.

The task force will be collaborating with the California Department of Justice to conduct research and provide recommendations for compensation based on the requirements of Assembly Bill 3121, the legislation that paved the way to set up the task force.

The reparations task force will work with renowned researchers and scholars to both quantify and qualify the damage slavery had on African Americans in California. The collaborators will conduct extensive research to examine the economic, educational, and social injustices suffered by descendants of enslaved Black people in the United States.

Kirsten Mullen and William A. Darity, Jr., co-authors of the book, “From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the 21st Century,” will provide general guidance for ways the state needs to implement reparations.

History professor Stacy Smith will offer expertise on the impact of slavery specific to California and how racial injustices affected the descendants of enslaved Africans.

Loyola Marymount University African Studies professor Marne Campbell will lead a research team that includes students to compile a report on various federal and state laws, regulations, policies, and practices that discriminate against African Americans.

“We must be aggressive in our efforts, be honest and direct, and figure out what we need to do in California, and be an example to the rest of the nation,” said California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, who authored the bill when she was an assembly member representing the 79th District in the San Diego area.

Weber said that the inaugural meeting is a historic moment that is 400 years overdue for African Americans.

“It’s time for folks to acknowledge the harm that’s been done, the harm that continues to be done,” said Weber.

“We are here today because the racism of slavery birthed an unjust system and a legacy of racial harm and inequality that continues today in every aspect of our lives,” she said.

“We are here today not just to seek an answer to say, ‘Was there harm?’ But your task is to determine the depth of the harm, and the ways in which we are to repair that harm,” Weber said to the task force.

Besides Brown and Moore, other task force members are state Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena); Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Gardena); Cheryl Grills, a clinical psychologist; Lisa Holder, a racial and social justice attorney; Jovan Lewis, a social scientist who focuses on racial and economic disparities; Monica Montgomery Steppe, a San Diego city councilmember; and Donald Tamaki, an attorney who worked on the landmark case that won reparations for Japanese internment camp victims.

The task force is scheduled to host a follow-up public meeting in July to finalize the scope of their study — and how they will move the reparations conversation forward in California.

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