ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



. . . eminent families and captains of industry and clergy of this church, presiding bishops included,

share responsibility to the enormities of slavery. Many in this land continued to profit from

the forced labor and deprived liberty of sons and daughters of Africa long after

the “legal” end of the commerce in human flesh called the slave trade.



Books by Katharine Jefferts Schori


Gospel in the Global Village: Seeking God’s Dream of Shalom / A Wing and a Prayer: A Message of Faith and Hope

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Delivering Good News to the Oppressed

A Service of Repentance

By The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop and Primate / The Episcopal Church


The great dream of God has always been quite clear to the prophets. Isaiah’s vision of delivering good news to the oppressed, liberty to the captives, and comfort to the grieving is a whole-hearted and full-bodied expression of abundant life, in right relationship to God and neighbor. Micah says that all that’s really important in life is to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly in God’s presence. Amos has choice words for those who “sell the righteous for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals” [Amos 2:6], he reminds his hearers that God will not let such transgressions go unpunished.

Human beings have repeatedly forgotten or ignored the image of God borne by their brothers and sisters. We have turned away from loving our neighbors as ourselves. We have degraded those who are like us under the skin, so that we might use them worse than beasts of burden. We have sought to be god, lording it over others. In the process, we have repudiated that divine image in ourselves and discovered that there is little or no health in us.

Human beings have sought to use others for their own ends since we first came down from the trees. We can observe the other apes building dominance hierarchies that minimize some of the violence in their societies, and know that some of that pattern is built into our own DNA. But the supposedly spiritual animal has not risen far above his origins. We are often as fallen as our Biblical ancestors Adam and Eve, seeking to be their own gods.

Slavery has existed from the time one human being could physically compel another to serve desires. It was likely fairly limited initially, for it requires significant superiority in numbers, power, or firearms to enforce the will of one or a few against an entire community. Slaves have long been the spoils of war on every continent, and traded between warring parties in ancient tribal conflicts. Military economies have been built on their labor of slaves—Rome, Athens, and the other supposed ancestors of modern democracies relied on a subjugated class. Even early Christianity, under Paul’s leadership, couldn’t really imagine a society without slaves. He reminded them to obey their masters, and the use of proof texts long provided ecclesiastical support to those who tried to justify the propriety of human property. 

Yet it was the wholesale trading in slaves, begun under the Portuguese in the 1400s, that scaled up inhumanity to inhuman enormity. More than 10 million slaves were shipped from Africa to the Americas in the next five centuries. In the 18th century alone, Britain shipped 2.5 million slaves. Katrina Browne and Tom DeWolf tell us that the DeWolf family was responsible for importing 10,000 slaves to these shores. And the church was there through it all, giving supposedly sacred support to a degradation of the image of God, in both captive and captor. In the slave ports in Africa, churches were built close to those prisons and holding cells for those soon to be exiled from their native land. The church baptized many, often without informing or asking consent from those who were grafted onto the Body of Christ.

Yet, in the persistent reversal of the gospel, lifting up the lowly and putting down the mighty, those seeds took root in rich soil, and grew into fruit those Anglican clergy could never have imagined. That fruit produced eventually seeds that helped to demolish the evil fields in which they were planted. The prophets are often unpopular, but rarely wrong.

The particularly American role in slavery involved people across this land, and not just in the Deep South. Katrina Browne’s work, and her cousin’s book, are opening the eyes and minds of many northerners to the ways in which eminent families and captains of industry and clergy of this church, presiding bishops included, share responsibility to the enormities of slavery. Many in this land continued to profit from the forced labor and deprived liberty of sons and daughters of Africa long after the “legal” end of the commerce in human flesh called the slave trade. They simply exported the greatest evidence of it to places like Cuba. I wonder if our governmental animosity toward that nation might be different today if we did not share guilt for the human conditions there.

Even after the end of the Civil War, a war supposedly fought to free the slaves, to ensure equal human dignity and life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all human beings in this nation, even after that human greed soon re-established the reality of slavery. Douglas Blackmon has written an immensely important book,

Slavery by Another Name

, detailing the intentional and conscious ways in which slavery was effectively reinstituted in the southern United States soon after the Civil War. Legally undergirded by criminal penalties that restricted almost every aspect of life for African Americans, those systems forbade even the freedom to work where and for whom one pleased. Those laws provided opportunities to arrest human beings who appeared to be strong manual laborers on the flimsiest of excuses, and then sell those human beings to white farmers, mine owners, foresters, and industrialists—supposedly to pay off the costs of their arrest and imprisonment.  

Blackmon details facts as well as following the stories of individuals and families caught up in those farcical and fiendish proceedings. He reports that by the end of the 1880s at least 10,000 black men were enslaved in southern states, mining, farming, and making turpentineii  Miners and industrialists grew wealthy off this ready supply of almost free labor. So did the communities which sold the laborers. By 1889, when its entire annual budget was only about $1 million, Alabama was garnering more than $120,000 a year from selling convicts, almost all of them black. The end of the 1880s at least 10,000 black men were enslaved in southern states, mining, farming, and making turpentinei.iii But it wasn’t just the old Confederacy that was involved. The investments on which the industrialists relied came from New York and Wall Street.

In 1907, one mining company in Birmingham was relying almost exclusively on slave labor. Those mines and their related enterprises sold steel to companies like Southern Pacific and the Union Pacific railroads. It was also the time of a major stock market crash and dire threats to the economy, one which would sound very familiar to us today. JP Morgan, stalwart Episcopalian who helped to start the Clergy Pension Fund, was involved in a buyout to ensure financial stability. It involved US Steel buying those slave mines in Birmingham. Three weeks later, the new president of that mining operation signed a contract for 400 more convict-slaves.iv

Atlanta has a similar story, with mines, and brickworks, and industrialized farms that operated with slave labor around the year 1900. An operation controlled by Fourth National Bank of Atlanta was the primary beneficiary, a firm eventually subsumed in Wachovia Bank Company. In 1896 that bank’s owners drove over 1200 convict laborers, representing nearly 40% of Georgia’s available prison labor pool. Wachovia, however, has done some investigation into its own history and significant reparative work in recent years.v

Through all of this, there was almost no federal oversight, investigation, or intervention. There was a small foray by a federal prosecutor named Reese in Montgomery in 1902, under Teddy Roosevelt. He had very limited success in prosecuting what were called peonage cases (debt-slavery), mostly because juries didn’t have the stomach to convict their fellow townsmen. Repeated requests to federal officials for assistance were almost universally ignored. Ignored, that is, until World War II began.

Nazi Germany and imperial Japan actually helped to end this atrocity. Propaganda from the enemy sought to convince African Americans that their lot would be better with nations who took their humanity seriously. Only then did federal officials begin to worry about the stain on this nation. Well, my friends, that stain has spread far and wide. It was the rare privileged person of faith who was able to see the sin of chattel slavery, in either North or South, before the Civil War. It was even rarer for a church member to speak out against that inhumanity or work to end it. Rare as well to work against Jim Crow.

Nor have we yet truly begun to teach our children about the sins of this nation: enslavement of Native Americans by early colonists; northern involvement in the African slave trade; the wretched excesses of plantation slavery; or the institutionalized criminalization of black life in the south after the Civil War. We have hardly begun to look at the realities of our heritage. All of our clergy participate in a pension system begun by one who benefited from slavery. Trinity Church, Wall Street, had slaves on its farms in New York in the 1700s. There were at one time slaves at Virginia Seminary—working, not attending classes—and that diocese reports that in 1860, more than 80% of their clergy owned slaves. 

The consequences continue to this day. Most of us, white and black, put our money in banks whose history is in some way connected to profits made from slave labor. Most of us benefit from steel made by companies with some connection to those slave-driven mines of the industrializing South. Most of us expect to live in communities made safer by law enforcement and prisons.

Who is in those prisons? I would suggest to you that the grossly inappropriate racial balance in our prisons today is partly the result of criminalizing most parts of black life in the South, from the 1880s well up until the 1960s. The difficulties for the inner city black families today also have something to do with centuries of removing black men from their families, to serve as slave labor in somebody else’s field, or mine, or factory.

Through it all, people of privilege looked the other way, and too few found the courage to question inhuman ideas, words, practices, or laws. We and they ignored the image of Christ in our neighbors. We colluded with businesses and industries that sought only the greatest profit, made on the backs of forced labor. That search for profit at all costs is not just greed but idolatry, and we are being reminded of its consequences in our own day.

Yet there is hope. Against all rational possibility, there is hope. The slave chaplains in Ghana began a journey of faith that eventually resulted in prophets and witnesses like W. E. B. Du Bois (who began life in an Episcopal Sunday school), Sojourner Truth, Zora Neale Hurston, and Dr. King, as well as our latter-day prophets, like Barbara Harris, Ed Rodman, Martini Shaw, Thomas Logan, C. David Williams and so many here today. Profiteers and owners may have intended to use the gospel to control, but God used it to set the captives free, eventually. There is no limiting the power and love of God to transcend the death and evil of this life. Yet we will not experience the full resurrection until the whole body of Christ rises again.

We’re going to go out from this place today, remembering that great vision of God for a restored creation, where all humanity lives together in dignity, with justice and peace, whether black or white, Hispanic or Chinese, woman, man, gay, straight, enemy or friend. We’re going to leave this place today knowing that that great vision of liberation, redemption, and healing is indeed possible, if we join in. It’s going to take the utter commitment and labor of all those who have freely chosen the yoke of Christ, whose service is perfect freedom—freedom for all humanity. We are recommitting ourselves to that service. When we do, we can once more lift our heads and rightly say, “today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”


i Browne, Katrina. Traces of the Trade. Thomas DeWolf, Inheriting the Trade. Beacon

ii Blackmon, Douglas.

Slavery by Another Name

. p. 90

iii Ibid, 95

iv Ibid, 294-5

v Ibid, 387

Service of Repentance / St. Thomas, Philadelphia / 4 October 2008, 10:30 am

Source: EpiscopalChurch

Katharine Jefferts Schori (born March 26, 1954, in Pensacola, Florida) is the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Previously elected as the 9th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada, she is the first woman elected as a primate of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Jefferts Schori was elected at the 75th General Convention on June 18, 2006 and invested at Washington National Cathedral on November 4, 2006. She took part in her first General Convention of the Episcopal Church as Presiding Bishop in July 2009. . . . Episcopal Church elects first woman Presiding Bishop. . . . Katharine Jefferts Schori, A Wing and a Prayer: A Message of Faith and Hope. New York: Morehouse Publishing (January 2007). Wikipedia

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The Civil War began in Charleston—at a convention—By Robert N. Rosen—One hundred and fifty years ago today, at high noon on April 23, 1860, the Democratic Party opened its national convention in Charleston. The Democratic Party was then the majority party in American politics. The president, James Buchanan, was a Democrat.

His predecessor, Franklin Pierce, was a Democrat. ‘There are radical and inextinguishable feuds in the Democratic Party,’ the reporter Murat Halstead wrote, ‘and they must come out here and now.’

Indeed, ‘no American political convention has ever held so much meaning for a party and nation,’ one historian wrote about the convention in Charleston. The Republican Party was in its infancy. The Old Whig Party of Henry Clay had collapsed, and anti-slavery, ‘Free Soil’ men created a new party, the Republican Party, led by John Fremont, Henry Seward, the influential senator from New York, and Salmon Chase, the senator from Ohio.

The powerful senator from Illinois, Stephen A. Douglas, who had defeated that upstart Abraham Lincoln for a Senate seat from Illinois, was in line to be nominated for president in Charleston. He would then go on to preserve the Union by accommodating Southerners and pacifying Northerners on the burning, all-consuming issue of slavery. PostandCourier

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Lessons from Confederate History Month—The unedited truth is that Lincoln ended slavery in the Confederacy for the same reason it was instituted—to make capitalism more functional. By the 1860s the Industrial Revolution was in gear. Northern industrial businesses would outperform Southern agrarian businesses, making it necessary to restructure labor, commerce, and capital investments. Paying low wages to Black industrial laborers therefore made better economic sense and great social policy for a more civilized face of government. But since Southern states stood to lose billions in property (enslaved) assets and wealth, the Confederates sought secession and war became an unavoidable consequence of this industrial shift. While a Confederate victory would have definitely prolonged slavery, this should not be politically misconstrued into the notion that Lincoln’s fight against secession was thereby a fight for the justice of abolition. To believe that the principal of the Civil War was to “free” Africans from the Confederates is as inaccurate as thinking the current war in Afghanistan is being fought to free Afghans from the Taliban. Although Afghans may eventually be liberated from Taliban influences as a by-product of the war, the underlying purpose and politics of the conflict are immensely more far-reaching. And likewise were the driving circumstances between the Civil War and the by-product of Emancipation.— Ezrah Aharone

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Henry Louis Gates pens Article Absolving—White People For Slavery-Wants us to Blame Africans—Wow this is a two-page story that the New York Times is running . . . You’d think Henry Louis Gates would’ve learned a few things after his confrontation with Cambridge police last year when they accused him of breaking into his house and jammed him up . . .  Apparently not. All I can do is shake my head and note that this article appears the night after ABC Nightline ran that story about Black Women not finding suitable men. As author Bakari Kitwana pointed out. . . So this article basically says Africans helped white slavers capture us. Duh. We’ve . . . known that. Hell it was Black slaves that usually ran to master and told about slave insurrections. It was Black slave that were sometimes made to be overseers. None of that absolves the horrific institution of slavery which here in the US was rooted in the strong belief that our ancestors who were forced to work those fields were less than human and forced to endure unspeakable horrors.—Davey D HipHopPolitics

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See Amiri Baraka’s Essence of Reparations—Nehesi House

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Skip continues to not understand the differences between the primary victims (the enslaved Africans), The collaborators (a very small minority of Africans) and primary beneficiaries (Europeans & Arabs. Only Black people and others of color are always expected to accept Blame for their victimhood. No one would dear even approach Jewish people about… See More accepting blame for their collaborators in those death camps. There were many. They know, they were not in charge and they know who the real decision makers and beneficiaries of their exploitations and deaths were. All oppressed and suppressed people have collaborators. Why are we expected to elevate ours and give them more significants in the African holocaust. Skip is basically a white apologists in Brown face. He is a collaborator also.—Maisha Ongoza

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Ending the Slavery Blame-Game—By Henry Louis Gates, Jr.—Cambridge, Mass.— But the sad truth is that the conquest and capture of Africans and their sale to Europeans was one of the main sources of foreign exchange for several African kingdoms for a very long time. Slaves were the main export of the kingdom of Kongo; the Asante Empire in Ghana exported slaves and used the profits to import gold. Queen Njinga, the brilliant 17th-century monarch of the Mbundu, waged wars of resistance against the Portuguese but also conquered polities as far as 500 miles inland and sold her captives to the Portuguese. When Njinga converted to Christianity, she sold African traditional religious leaders into slavery, claiming they had violated her new Christian precepts.

Did these Africans know how harsh slavery was in the New World? Actually, many elite Africans visited Europe in that era, and they did so on slave ships following the prevailing winds through the New World. For example, when Antonio Manuel, Kongo’s ambassador to the Vatican, went to Europe in 1604, he first stopped in Bahia, Brazil, where he arranged to free a countryman who had been wrongfully enslaved. African monarchs also sent their children along these same slave routes to be educated in Europe. And there were thousands of former slaves who returned to settle Liberia and Sierra Leone. The Middle Passage, in other words, was sometimes a two-way street. Under these circumstances, it is difficult to claim that Africans were ignorant or innocent. NYTimes

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It should now be clear to everyone who follows even remotely the reparations issue that since the rightward turn of the US since 911 Obama, as the first Black president, is likely the least person with the ability to address the reparations issue from any positive angle. The second black president might have a better shot. One of the arguments the right wing threw at Obama over the health care issue was the claim that really it was, they said, a form of reparations for blacks. Under these circumstances, in my opinion, the best thing Obama can do for reparations is to say nothing at all at the present time.

Secondly Gates’ argument that Africans who were enslaved by the US were already slaves is an old argument long promoted by apologists for the slavocracy and Confederacy. He should resign his position as head of the Harvard’s DuBois Institute in shame. People who unqualifiedly equate pre-feudal African slavery with chattel slavery of the capitalist era only promote confusion and intellectually disarm us. Ray is absolutely correct to label this piece a “buck dance.”

Finally, to date at least, the apology by African leaders and Africans in general for their participation in the slave trade is their issue. To the best of my knowledge Gates is the only public person to go to Africa and berate the Africans for their historic involvement in the slave trade. Senegal’s president Wade denounced the reparations movement only because his ancestors were leading slave traders and fears personal financial accountability. And there is a church in Congo (the name of which momentarily escapes me) that is promoting a project for Congolese to symbolically buy back slaves from the West as a form of national redemption.—Damu 

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I guess Skippy wasn’t through with his career in idiocy when he did the PBS special Wonders of the African World . I remember this fool standing in front of an Ethiopian priest wearing a Harvard t-shirt and a condescending smirk on his face asking to see the ark of the covenant. He also went to Ghana and told an Akan king that he could NEVER forgive Africans for Slavery. Gates has had his lips epoxied to the white boy’s behind for a loooooong time. With the exception of The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African-American Literary Criticism, his scholarship is questionable. I got a good laugh when he did that show on PBS that tracks the DNA of celebrities. It turns out that the majority of his ancestors are from Sweden or something. No surprise to me. … Gates should be publicly rebuked by all conscious scholars. This happened once before when Black Scholar Journal published an issue dedicated entirely to criticizing his PBS Special Wonders of the African World  Duane Deterville

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Control, Conflict, and Change

The Underlying Concepts of the Black Manifesto

Reparations as Tactic of Black Liberation

Or Loosening the Social Controls on Blacks

By James Forman, Chairman 

United Black Appeal


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Churches: A Black Manifesto—Time Friday, May. 16, 1969—James Forman, one-time executive director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, disrupted a Sunday Communion service at Manhattan’s Riverside Church to demand, among other things, that the church, located on the edge of Harlem, turn over 60% of its investment income to the conference. Two days later Forman posted the conference’s “Black Manifesto” on the door of the headquarters of the Lutheran Church in America; the Lutherans’ share of the reparations bill, he said, was $50 million. Finally, he appeared at the New York Archdiocesan chancery to demand $200,000,000 from U.S. Roman Catholics.

Ironically, this blunt demand on the churches originated from a well-intentioned effort by a liberal interfaith group to draw out black ideas for the economic betterment of urban ghettos. The Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), which includes 23 Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Negro and Mexican-American groups, organized the National Black Economic Development Conference to bring black leaders together for discussions and action on the economic aspects of Black Power. The result was not what IFCO had expected. Forman took over a meeting of the conference in Detroit and called for an end to the capitalistic system in the U.S. Then he pushed through a “Black Manifesto,” which passed 187 to 63, with many abstentions—Time

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Black Manifesto by The Black National Economic Conference—The New York Review of Books—July 10, 1969—We the black people assembled in Detroit, Michigan for the National Black Economic Development Conference are fully aware that we have been forced to come together because racist white America has exploited our resources, our minds, our bodies, our labor. For centuries we have been forced to live as colonized people inside the United States, victimized by the most vicious, racist system in the world. We have helped to build the most industrial country in the world.

We are therefore demanding of the white Christian churches and Jewish synagogues which are part and parcel of the system of capitalism, that they begin to pay reparations to black people in this country. We are demanding $500,000,000 from the Christian white churches and the Jewish synagogues. This total comes to 15 dollars per nigger. This is a low estimate for we maintain there are probably more than 30,000,000 black people in this country. $15 a nigger is not a large sum of money and we know that the churches and synagogues have a tremendous wealth and its membership, white America, has profited and still exploits black people. We are also not unaware that the exploitation of colored peoples around the world is aided and abetted by the white Christian churches and synagogues. This demand for $500,000,000 is not an idle resolution or empty words. Fifteen dollars for every black brother and sister in the United States is only a beginning of the reparations due us as people who have been exploited and degraded, brutalized, killed and persecuted. Underneath all of this exploitation, the racism of this country has produced a psychological effect upon us that we are beginning to shake off. We are no longer afraid to demand our full rights as a people in this decadent society. . . . NYBooks

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Henry Louis Gates gets slavery’s history all wrong—By Dr. Boyce Watkins—What occurred after we left Africa can and must be considered independently from what happened while our forefathers were in the mother land.

Beyond the indisputable financial damage caused by slavery, there is also a price to be paid for pain, suffering and aggregate trauma. Even the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which abolishes slavery, has a clause stating that it’s still OK to enslave another American, as long as that person has been convicted of a crime. Given that the United States incarcerates 5.8 times more black men than South Africa did during the height of apartheid, it’s easy to argue that the human rights violations of American slavery continue to this day.

The arbitrary label of “convict” is used against black men in a disproportionate fashion as a loophole for American corporations to continue to profit from slave labor. I don’t want to play the “blame game.” But mainstream media must not play the “irresponsibility game,” by promoting apologist African-American scholars who are willing to write off 400 years of systemically oppressive behavior. While the Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?” approach makes some of us more comfortable, the truth is that America cannot become truly post-racial until it overcomes its past-racial influences. TheGrio

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The Essence of Reparations

By Amiri Baraka

Slavery by Another Name

The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II

By Douglas A. Blackmun

Wall Street Journal bureau chief Blackmon gives a groundbreaking and disturbing account of a sordid chapter in American history—the lease (essentially the sale) of convicts to commercial interests between the end of the 19th century and well into the 20th. Usually, the criminal offense was loosely defined vagrancy or even changing employers without permission. The initial sentence was brutal enough; the actual penalty, reserved almost exclusively for black men, was a form of slavery in one of hundreds of forced labor camps operated by state and county governments, large corporations, small time entrepreneurs and provincial farmers. Into this history, Blackmon weaves the story of Green Cottenham, who was charged with riding a freight train without a ticket, in 1908 and was sentenced to three months of hard labor for Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad, a subsidiary of U.S. Steel.

Cottenham’s sentence was extended an additional three months and six days because he was unable to pay fines then leveraged on criminals. Blackmon’s book reveals in devastating detail the legal and commercial forces that created this neoslavery along with deeply moving and totally appalling personal testimonies of survivors

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Obama’s America and the New Jim Crow

The Recurring Racial Nightmare, The Cyclical Rebirth of Caste

by Michelle Alexander

Most people don’t like it when I say this. It makes them angry. In the “era of colorblindness” there’s a nearly fanatical desire to cling to the myth that we as a nation have “moved beyond” race. Here are a few facts that run counter to that triumphant racial narrative:

*There are more African Americans under correctional control today—in prison or jail, on probation or parole—than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.

*As of 2004, more African American men were disenfranchised (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified, prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race.

* A black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born during slavery. The recent disintegration of the African American family is due in large part to the mass imprisonment of black fathers.

*If you take into account prisoners, a large majority of African American men in some urban areas have been labeled felons for life. (In the Chicago area, the figure is nearly 80%.) These men are part of a growing undercaste—not class, caste—permanently relegated, by law, to a second-class status. They can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits, much as their grandparents and great-grandparents were during the Jim Crow era.

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Michelle Alexander: US Prisons, The New Jim Crow

Where Have All the Black Men Gone?—Michelle Alexander—In 2005, for example, 4 out 5 drug arrests were for possession and only 1 out of 5 were for sales. Most people in state prison for drug offenses have no history of violence or significant selling activity. Nearly 80 percent of the increase in drug arrests in the 1990s — the period of the most dramatic expansion of the drug war — was for marijuana possession, a drug less harmful than alcohol or tobacco. In some states, though, African Americans have comprised 80 to 90 percent of all drug convictions.

This is The New Jim Crow. People of color are rounded up — frequently at young ages — for relatively minor drug offenses, branded felons, and then relegated to a permanent second-class status in which they may be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and subjected to legal discrimination in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits. Those who are lucky enough to get a job upon release from prison find that up to 100 percent of their wages may be garnished to pay fees, fines, and court costs as well as the costs of their imprisonment and accumulated child support. What, realistically, do we expect these folks to do? When those labeled felons fail under this system to make it on the outside — not surprisingly, about 70 percent fail within 3 years — we throw up our hands and wonder where they all went. Or we chastise them for being poor fathers and for failing to contribute to their families. It’s a set up. This system isn’t about crime control; it about racial control. Yes, even in the age of Obama.


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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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update 23 April 2010 




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Related files:   A Caring and Just Society    A Theology of Obligation & Liberation  Control, Conflict, and Change   Why We Owe Them  Delivering Good News to the Oppressed    Special Order 15 

Forty Years of Determined Struggle  A Caring and Just Society