ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Day in and day out, far into the night, even on Sundays and holidays, Big Tom
was on the job plugging the Commie line and literature. He must have thought
he was a sort of voice in the wilderness, because rain or shine, in summers
heat and winters cold, he was very active
Henry Winston & Benjamin Davis Benjamin Davis
* * * * *
Big Tom the Red
By Manning Johnson
White supremacy and racism made him a crusading Communist. Red flattery and its facade of idealism made him a devoted doorbell pusher, rally speaker and riot hand. Negro loyalty defeated him, converted him, and brought him back.
Big Tom the Red is a husky, strapping Negro. He was born Thomas Williams in a small town in Georgia. His neighbors and other people in the Negro ghetto known as Harlem, in New York City, gave him the name Big Tom the Red. The name was fitting because of his size and his fanatical efforts to sell them Communism.
When they spoke of him it was not with any personal hate, because they all like Big Tom but they didnt like what he had to sell. His politics were all wrong in their opinion and they tried to tell him in many ways, but he was a stubborn guy. Bluntly they told him that Communism is not the answer to the Negroes problem and that he was on the wrong track, but there was no changing him unless he learned by his own experience that he was wrong.
People liked Big Tom because he is a likeable guy, and they respected his intelligence, his ability, and determination to do something for his race, though they knew that he was misguided. They often wondered how he got tied up with the Commies, when he could have gone a long way without them. They all agreed that the race problem must be solved but not the way the Communists proposed. They tried to get Big Tom to see it their way, but their efforts were in vain.
Day in and day out, far into the night, even on Sundays and holidays, Big Tom was on the job plugging the Commie line and literature. He must have thought he was a sort of voice in the wilderness, because rain or shine, in summers heat and winters cold, he was very active distributing handbills, selling literature, ringing doorbells, speaking at meetings, recruiting members, visiting unions, clubs, fraternal organizations, churches, and leading riots.
The cause of Communism was his first love. Family and other personal considerations were secondary. He would leave his family for long periods at a time to do work for the Party. In the true sense of the words, Big Tom was a professional revolutionist. He would go anywhere the Party sent him. He would do anything the Party wanted done.
He hated America, swore allegiance to the Red Flag emblazoned with the hammer and sickle, adopted Soviet Russia as his fatherland, accepted Stalin as his leader, and dedicated his life to the destruction of America and the Sovietizing of the world. All this he did, believing that in this way his people would be freed from the evil of racism.
How did Big Tom get this way? What soured him on America? What turned him into a traitor? What made him commit treasonable acts, in the interests of an alien government, against his own country and urge others of his race to do the same? Briefly the answer is racism and Communism.
He was born and reared in Jim Crow surroundings which in time he grew to hate. The narrowly circumscribed life based upon race hate and the belief that he had no rights which a white man was bound to respect rankled and embittered him. He wanted to get out of it. His friends who had gone North wrote glowing letters about the freedom and privileges to be found there and advised him to get out of the South as soon as he could get together enough money. Some of them told that they were never going to return even to visit relatives. All this impressed Big Tom and gave him something to look forward to.
He wanted to go to college, but his parents couldnt afford it, so he had to go to work after finishing high school to add to the family income. Getting even a high school education was a big thing, since so many others were lucky if they finished grade school.
After graduation he married a fine and attractive girl and would have settled down, but he could not harden himself to the Jim Crow surroundings as had so many others of his race. The vivid recollections of a race riot in which white hoodlums indiscriminately attacked Negroes, burned their homes, wrecked their businesses, and the Roman Holiday atmosphere that prevailed when one of his neighbors was dragged from his home and lynched, left a deep impression on him so that no amount of persuasion could stop him from moving his family North to freedom.
A surprisingly new world was to open to Big Tom. He settled in a tenement in Harlem. It was one of the many tenements in this area that had seen their best days long before the white people move out and the Negroes moved in. In this overcrowded area with its horrible slums, vermin-infested buildings, and unsanitary conditions, he mingled with other Negroes who, like himself, had fled the South in search of a better life and opportunities for advancement.
He encountered much difficulty before he got a menial job doing heavy and dirty work in a metal shop on Long Island. This was the only kind of job given to a Negro. He had to take it and sweated and strained with the other Negroes. His wife, Martha, also got a job as a domestic to help pay the exorbitant rent exacted by a greedy and heartless landlord. There was no other place to live, not for a Negro, so the landlords jacked up the rent two and three times what it was when white people lived there.
In fact, the white landlords opened the area to Negroes knowing that the whites, not wanting to live in the same community with Negroes, would move out and then they could get much higher rental from the Negroes. Big Tom looked upon this as robbery without a gun, but there was nothing he could do about it, so he fell into line by cluttering up his tenement flat with roomers to help pay the rent. Four years before his wife had given birth to a son and he wanted a private room for him, something that he didnt have when he was a boy, but this was a luxury he could not afford, so they were compelled to crowd three in one room.
Harlem is a Negro ghetto on the island of Manhattan, in New York City. Except for the fact that it is the hub of Negro life, it does not differ from the ghettos found in other big cities or from the area down by the railroad tracks in smaller cities and towns. Here can be found numerous issues that can be exploited to stir up the populace. And where there are issues, you find the Communists. They have a job to do, and they need the Negro to help them do it.
Big Tom had heard of the Reds through the part they played in the Scottsboro Case, but he had not been impressed with their propaganda. He had contributed some money to the cause and that is about as far as he had gone. They had left circulars under his door asking him to attend this-or-that meeting for this-or-that cause which he read and ignored. His only interest was taking care of his family, making ends meet, attending church regularly, and completing a course in a trade school which he attended at night in an effort to get ahead. If he had been left alone he might have gone a long way. But you dont stay in Harlem or any other Negro community long before the Commie contact you. They are busybodies peddling their wares wherever they think people will buy.
On the job where Big Tom worked, there was a white fellow who took a sudden interest in him, because Big Tom stood out among his fellows. He was a sort of leader among the other Negroes. They looked up to him. This white fellow went tout of his way to be friendly and took up the cudgels, so to speak, for Big Tom when other white employees made slurring and insulting remarks.
When Big Tom finished trade school and sought a promotion to machinist helper, only to be turned down by management, this white fellow was quick to point out the injustice and suggested doing something about it. Posing as a friend and different from the other white men in the plant, he was able in time to break through Big Tom distrust, and he pressed his advantage by inviting him to a meeting of a Negro and white group, ostensibly working for equal rights for the Negro people.
The program of this group as outlined to Big Tom by his white friend was very attractive, but he had learned never to trust a white man. Time and time again he promised to attend a meeting but always found an excuse not to appear. Far from being discouraged, the white fellow kept after him until he finally got him to a meeting of the group.
At the meeting he was introduced to the comrades. They greeted him warmly and made him feel at home. The principal speaker, for the benefit of the newcomers, painted a vivid picture of the unjust treatment of Negroes locally and nationally, and urged them to join in support of the campaign to eliminate these conditions.
Other speakers talked about lower rents, better housing conditions, better jobs, and other legitimate things which gave clarity to the thoughts that were troubling Big Tom, and he felt that here was a group that he should support. That night he joined the League of Struggle for Negro Rights.
Hooked by the bait of this Commie front, he was on the road. He was given literature to read. What he did not understand, his white friend patiently explained. At subsequent meetings the speakers very cleverly and skillfully tied up the just grievances of the Negro with the system. The capitalist system was pointed up as the evil thing responsible for the Negros plight. They hammered away at this until Big Tom began to hate the system. The struggle for Negro rights became a struggle for national liberation from the oppressive capitalist system.
Meeting followed meeting. Activity followed activity. In his enthusiasm for the cause, he neglected his family. The opiate of Communism had him under its spell. His wife complained, so he pressured her into joining to help the cause. Soon home and church became the least important things in Big Toms life. Home became only a place in which Big Tom slept after laboring in the Communist vineyard. Church became a place only to visit when you wanted the members to support some Red campaign; otherwise it was a tool of the system.
The League of Struggle for Negro Rights was, like all other Commie fronts, a school for Communism. The masses are attracted and then schooled in Communism. Those who show the qualities of leadership are given special attention, as in the case of Big Tom. He didnt know anything about Communism, but they soon explained to him what it was all about and convinced him that while he was a good leader he could become a better leader through membership and training in the Party.
They pointed out to him that James W. Ford, William Patterson, Harry Haywood, Otto Huiswood, and other leaders of the organization were members of the Party and that they were leaders because they were trained by the Party. Consequently he joined the Communist Party thinking that in this way he could advance himself and his race.
Shortly after he joined the Party came study groups and secret schools where he wolfed down the Commie line, spurred by the belief that he could work efficiently for the liberation of his race and also by the promise of greatness through leadership. The Party leaders took him out of the shop and put him on the payroll so that he could devote full time to Party work. His enthusiasm, courage, loyalty, and ability as a speaker and organizer earned him a scholarship in the Lenin Institute, in Moscow, which all expenses paid by the Russian Government.
A surprising new world had opened to him. His new-found comrades had opened up little-dreamed-of opportunities and made him feel, for once in his life, that he was really important. In the Lenin Institute, they pumped him full of the theory, strategy, and tactics of race and class warfare, rebellion, and revolution.
They taught him to hate and to teach the masses to hate America and all other capitalist governments and to mold that hate into talents and energies to be put in the service of the revolution. Moreover he met Dimitri Manuilsky, Lazar Kaganovich, O. Piatntzky, Alexander Lossovsky, and other leaders of the Soviet Government, whose word is law to every Communist all over the world, and listened to their assurance of full backing of the program in America.
On his return to the States he was, like a number of other Negroes who graduated from the Lenin Institute, full of enthusiasm and zeal to bring about the revolution. He was assigned by the Party leadership to work among his race, and he tackled the job with vigor. This enthusiasm did not last, because he soon found out that getting Negroes to accept Moscows program was a tough job.
The results were disappointing. The vast majority refused to buy. Sure Jim Crow, discrimination, and the other evils of racism created grave discontent; sure the Black Belt, where racism is rampant and exploitation shameful, is a fertile ground for the seed of rebellion, but, despite this, the Negroes couldnt be sold.
There were times when Big Tom had his doubts about the Party leadership and the program that he was ordered to carry out. After all, he was no bureaucrat, because he worked daily among the members of his race. He knew their feelings, their moods, and their aspirations. He knew that they respect the opinion of their leaders on all-important race matters and destroying their leadership is easier said than done. He knew that Negroes are loyal to America even in the face of injustice and that they want and seek integration and equality in American society, not separation into a Negro state arising from the fires of rebellion, bloodshed, and revolution.
Though he knew all these facts, he dared not express them lest his remarks be construed as opposition to Stalins program, and nobody stays in the Party who even thinks that Stalin The Leader is wrong.
However, these doubts persisted and forced Big Tom to take stock of the more than twenty years of his activity. He had worked in numerous Commie front groups. He had seen and helped them grow only to see them wither on the vine. He had founded and helped build the National Negro Congress. It seemed for a few years that this set-up would turn the trick for the Party because of the wide support and backing it enjoyed among Negroes and whites.
But when A. Phillip Randolph, the President, walked out and exposed the Partys control and domination of this organization; it eventually went the way of all the others. New front groups like the Negro Labor Council were formed to attract Negroes to the Party. He would have to plug this one until it was exposed and then there would be another and another to sell. To Big Tom, it had become a vicious circle of deception.
The more he thought about it the more the picture began to clarify. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Urban League, the Interracial Councils, which he condemned as tools of Wall Street, were getting things done. The leaders of these groups he called filth from the gutter and raisleaders. The Negro press he called gutter journalism. All because he was told to do so by the Party bosses.
Why, he asked himself, when these groups were getting results in healthier race relations? Then it dawned on him that he was the sucker, not the Negroes who refused to buy. He was the one that had been used to mislead his people by telling them that the solution of their problems lies in Communism.
Vividly he recalled that he was taught that he was first a Communist and second a Negro and that the Party decides what is best for the Negro, because the tail does not wag the dog, the dog wags the tail. In this he saw for the first time the cynical, evil, and ruthless face of Communism behind the mask of warm and smiling friendship toward the Negro. Then and there he resolved to get out of the Party and expose it.
Big Tom talked it over with his wife. She told him that had been her opinion for a long time but she wanted him to find out for himself. Then she reminded him how they persecuted, slandered, and hounded George Hewitt, Negro Communist, to his grave. There were others with whom Big Tom worked that he and other called traitors, and enemies of labor. He could expect no better treatment, but his mind was made up so that come hell or high water he was through with the Reds.
Now that Big Tom has broken with the Party, he had fears where he used to have hopes. He knows that the Jim Crow laws, denial of fair employment and upgrading, discrimination in housing and education, the use of mayhem and lynching to enforce Southern customs and traditions, denial of the right to vote, are excellent issues that the Reds can use to subvert the Negro population. He continues to be surprised that Negroes with few exceptions have rejected the attractive appeals of the Reds, even though racism has done more than any other thing to drive them into the camp of Communism.
Big Tom knows that one of the most dangerous illusions white Americans can develop is the belief that since the Negro has rejected Communism business can go on as usual. The temporary defeat of the Reds has not discouraged them. But under the lash of Moscow, they are more determined than ever, and it should be borne in mind that Stalin will not accept excuses for failure in any assignment.
Though Big Tom quit, he remembers that there are others like him who are still in the Party and are fanatically loyal to Stalin. Take for example Benjamin Davis, Jr. [1903-1964], who shouted at a meeting in Harlem I would rather be a lamppost in Moscow than to be president of the United States, before he was sent to jail for conspiring to overthrow the U. S. Government.
And take for example William Patterson, Moscow-trained leader of the Civil Rights Congress, who presented the We Charge Genocide petition to the United Nations in Paris, with much fanfare and publicity. He made his presentation with full approval, sanction, and support of the Moscow high command. The carefully documented material showing racial violence was the result of studied preparation. Patterson did not, nor did the other Red leaders, expect the petition to be accepted, but they recognized the dramatic and wide propaganda value of the material in the petition.
Here was a group of Americans, headed by a Negro, accusing their own country of deliberate intent to destroy, in whole or in part, its Negro population. Obviously this propaganda was not so much aimed at impressing the Negro in the U. S. A. as it was to win the darker races to Soviet leadership by using the unjust treatment of the Negro as proof that America hates the darker races. Big Tom remembers Red tactics. In this way they sow seeds of suspicion, distrust, and hate of America and the West, and at the same time pose the Communists as the friends and champions of the darker races.
He shudders every time racists in America add more fuel to the fire. For instance, the bombings in Florida in which Mr. Harry T. Moore, leader of the N.A.A.C.P., and his wife were killed; the rioting in Cicero, Illinois; the statement of James Byrnes, Governor of South Carolina, a former U. S. Secretary of State, to the effect that he would abolish the school system in his State, should the U. S. Supreme Court outlaw segregated schools, and the statement of Grand Dragon Hendricks that rivers of blood will flow if Negroes dont keep in their place. These horrible incidents are used by the Reds to create much of the distrust, suspicion, and hate expressed against America by the darker races.
Big Tom hopes America will face this problem squarely. It is vital to the present and future security and well-being of our country.
Big Tom wishes everybody could see it as he does: racism in America, Malanism in South Africa, and the outmoded relations with colonial peoples maintained by shortsighted Western leaders, who refuse to recognize the necessity, the moral and Christian duty of change, are giving the Communists the tools to dig the grave not only of the West but of our whole Christian civilization.
* * * * *
Manning Johnson was a Communist Party leader for ten years, during which time he served on the National Committee. He later worked with the F.B.I., investigating Communism. He is now a Consultant for the Department of Justice, Investigations Division.
Source: The Sign, December, 1952
* * * * *
* * * * *
By Lorraine Hansberry
I can hear Rosalee See the eyes of Willie McGee My mother told me about Lynchings My mother told me about The dark nights And dirt roads And torch lights And lynch robes
The faces of men Laughing white Faces of men Dead in the night sorrow night and a sorrow night
* * * * *
Writer Lorraine Hansberry’s sober eulogy of the death of Willie McGee weighed heavy on the hearts and minds of the American Left. On May 8, 1951, a crowd of five hundred lingered outside the courthouse of Laurel, Mississippi, to witness the execution of yet another black man convicted for allegedly raping a white woman. His 1945 lightning trial resulted in a guilty conviction delivered in less than two and a half minutes by an all-white, male jury, setting off a heated five-year legal struggle that drew national headlines. Despite an aggressive appeals defense team who attempted every legal maneuver in the book, the US Supreme Court ultimately chose not to intervene. With the legal lynching of the Martinsville Seven in February, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg’s conviction in March, followed by the execution of McGee in May, 1951 was a bad year for Left-leaning lawyers (Parrish 1979; Rise 1995). Most discouraging, national news sources like the New York Times and Life magazine red-baited the “Save Willie McGee” campaign andas Life reportedits “imported” lawyers (Popham 1951a; Life 1951). Few felt McGee’s passing with as heavy a heart as his chief counsel, thirty-one-year-old Bella Abzug.
Before Abzug became a representative in Congress and a leader in the peace and women’s movements, she confronted the Southern political and legal system at the height of the early Cold War. Retained in 1948 by the Civil Rights Congress (CRC)a New York-headquartered Popular Front legal defense organizationthe novice labor lawyer honed her civil rights . . .
* * * * *
#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson
#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
* * * * *
By David Graeber
Before there was money, there was debt. Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systemsto relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. The problem with this version of history? Theres not a shred of evidence to support it. Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that for more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goodsthat is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors. Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections.
He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like guilt, sin, and redemption) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong.
We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it. Debt: The First 5,000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known historyas well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy. Economist Glenn Loury /Criminalizing a Race
* * * * *
By Michele Alexander
Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits.
Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarcerationbut her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.Publishers Weekly
* * * * *
By John Lewis and Michael DOrso
Lewis, an Alabama sharecropper’s son, went to Nashville to attend a Baptist college where, at the end of the 1950s, his life and the new civil rights movement became inexorably entwined. First came the lunch counter sit-ins; then the Freedom Rides; the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Lewis’s election to its chairmanship; the voter registration drives; the 1963 march on Washington; the Birmingham church bombings; the murders during the Freedom Summer; the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party; Bloody Sunday in Selma in 1964; and the march on Montgomery. Lewis was an active, leading member during all of it. Much of his account, written with freelancer D’Orso, covers the same territory as David Halberstam’s The Children. Halberstam himself appears here briefly as a young reporter but Lewis imbues it with his own observations as a participant.
He is at times so self-effacing in this memoir that he underplays his role in the events he helped create. But he has a sharp eye, and his account of Selma and the march that followed is vivid and personal. He describes the rivalries within the movement as well as the enemies outside. After being forced out of SNCC because of internal politics, Lewis served in President Carter’s domestic peace corps, dabbled in local Georgia politics, then in 1986 defeated his old friend Julian Bond in a race for Congress, where he still serves. Lewis notes that people often take his quietness for meekness. His book, a uniquely well-told testimony by an eyewitness, makes clear that such an impression is entirely inaccurate.Publishers Weekly
* * * * *
By Tom Reiss
Here is the remarkable true story of the real Count of Monte Cristoa stunning feat of historical sleuthing that brings to life the forgotten hero who inspired such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. The real-life protagonist of The Black Count, General Alex Dumas, is a man almost unknown today yet with a story that is strikingly familiar, because his son, the novelist Alexandre Dumas, used it to create some of the best loved heroes of literature. Yet, hidden behind these swashbuckling adventures was an even more incredible secret: the real hero was the son of a black slavewho rose higher in the white world than any man of his race would before our own time. Born in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), Alex Dumas was briefly sold into bondage but made his way to Paris where he was schooled as a sword-fighting member of the French aristocracy.
Enlisting as a private, he rose to command armies at the height of the Revolution, in an audacious campaign across Europe and the Middle Eastuntil he met an implacable enemy he could not defeat.
* * * * *
By Shirley Sherrod
Sherrod sets the record straight on her forced resignation from the Department of Agriculture in 2010. The author. . .was director for the USDA’s Rural Development in Georgia when conservative political blogger Andrew Breitbart attacked her for allegedly reverse racist comments she made at an NAACP event. The threat of exposure on national TV was enough to send the USDA running for cover, and she was dismissed. Sherrod decided she had to fight back. She and her husband have been directly involved in the struggles for political and economic justice in Georgia and elsewhere since the 1960s, and they were part of Martin Luther King’s movement for civil rights. She writes about growing up in segregated Georgia and the circumstances surrounding her fathers murder and the arson of her family homeat that time, fear was the daily diet that kept the status quo alive. In the 70s, Sherrod and her husband worked with other farmers in Georgia on experimental projects.
Denied drought assistance funds by the USDA, they faced foreclosure and joined a class-action suit to redress the discrimination. Eventually, they won the settlement, a decision strongly opposed by conservatives. Sherrod writes sharply about the continuing legacy of racism and how economic policy, hidebound bureaucracy and plain malice affect poor people everywhere, and why pretending that we are in a post-racial world doesnt help anyone. An inspiring memoir about the real power of courage and hope.
* * * * *
From The World and Africa, 1965
* * * * *
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
online through PayPal
* * * * *
Browse all issues
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
* * * * *
update 24 September 2012