Most of us have heard about the legendary Deacons for Defense. Through exhaustive research and interviews, Umoja introduced us to many other unsung heroes and sheroes (although not surprising the historical documentation was scant on women’s contribution to armed resistance in the south). Men and women like Hartman Turnbow, Rudy Shields, Robert “Fat Daddy” Davis, C.O.Chin, Ora “Miss Dago” Bryant, Luella Hazelwood and many more. Their inspirational stories affirmed that black folks stood with dignity, unflinchingly looking in the face of pure hatred and forged on to re-define their futures.
Every 28 hours in 2012 someone employed or protected by the US government killed a Black man, woman, or child! This startling fact is revealed in Operation Ghetto Storm: 2012 Annual Report on the Extrajudicial Killings of 313 Black People by Police, Security Guards, and Vigilantes.
“When we started this investigation in early 2012, we knew a serious human rights crisis was confronting the Black community”, says Kali Akuno, an organizer with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM). “However, we did not have a clear sense of its true depth until we compiled and examined the annual figures. We have uncovered outrageous rates of extrajudicial killings–rates, that when they are found in countries like Mexico or Brazil, are universally condemned. The same outrage inside the U.S. also demands immediate action.”
There is an episode of the television show Law & Order in which a black attorney is asked by a white counterpart if he thinks of himself as a black lawyer or as a lawyer who’s black. During a racially charged case later in his career, the attorney comes to the conclusion that he originally considered himself the latter but grew to realize that he was the former.
Here’s hoping that before his final term in office concludes, the first black president will rightly conclude that he is a black president, and not just an American president who happens to be black, and subsequently has a responsibility to speak for those black Americans who cannot speak for themselves.
Precisely what happened at 116th Street and South Avalon Boulevard has long been debated. Versions of the episode have varied. Probably the most complete account is by Jerry Cohen and William S. Murphy, reporters whose coverage of the riots helped The Los Angeles Times win a Pulitzer Prize in 1966 and whose book that year, “Burn, Baby, Burn! The Los Angeles Race Riot, August 1965,” explored the event even further.
When I read those words this week, I thought it sounded like a good recommendation for residents of my hometown, Washington, DC, which has in essence been two separate and unequal cities since my great grandparents came here in the 1920s—and it remains so today.
Of the three, Fraley is by far the youngest, but also the most pivotal and divisive. He’s spent his entire career at Monsanto. He was hired in 1981 as one of the company’s very first molecular biologists, led the company’s intense drive to sell genetically engineered crops in the 1990s, and is now the company’s chief technology officer. In fact, if there’s a single person who most personifies Monsanto’s controversial role in American agriculture, it’s probably Robb Fraley.