ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
“Specifically, you were observed posting unauthorized materials, which
advocated student participation in a protest activity that had not been
registered or approved. . . . Some of the materials advocated actions
considered to be a disruption of the academic activities of Hampton
University (specifically ‘Nov. 2 student walkout; no school.’)”
Hampton U Students Protest
Against American Policies At Home & Abroad
HU Administration Threatens Expulsion
Hampton University would give wrong message by punishing activists
By Wil LaVeist
November 27 2005
C’ mon, HU. Tampering with free speech again?
Threatening to expel college students for doing what college students ought to do speak out on social and political issues?
Punishing kids who, for a change, pulled the cell phones from their ears and showed concern for the world beyond BET, MTV and facebook.com?
That penalty can’t be the message you want to send, but that’s the impression after word got out last week that at least one Hampton University student, Aaron Ray, received a letter summoning him to a hearing about an campus demonstration. It’s not the kind of message that a university ought to send to its next generation of leaders.
Last year, it was a misunderstanding that led to The Script student newspaper being confiscated – a major public relations blunder. Now this? C’mon now, HU. Nov. 2, about 20 HU students joined a national walkout promoted by World Can’t Wait, a group that wants to drive out the Bush administration, which is doing a good job of it on its own.
The students skipped classes to hand out fliers that discussed issues such as the mounting costs and death toll of the war in Iraq and AIDS. “Instead of just going home and going to sleep, people were being productive and making our classmates aware of the issues,” Ray told me. The fliers began appearing on campus near Oct. 28, when Bush gave a speech about the war on terror to troops in Norfolk. Ray, a sophomore, got a letter from a dean that read:
“Specifically, you were observed posting unauthorized materials, which advocated student participation in a protest activity that had not been registered or approved. . . . Some of the materials advocated actions considered to be a disruption of the academic activities of Hampton University (specifically ‘Nov. 2 student walkout; no school.’)”
HU officials acknowledged the hearing but declined to speak about it. Apparently, the student protesters failed to get their fliers approved by university officials. Let’s be real here: Aren’t unapproved fliers often circulated on campus without punishment? Like fliers promoting off-campus parties?I’m an adjunct professor in HU’s journalism department. As a black college graduate – Lincoln University of Pennsylvania – I understand HU’s culture and cherish its history and mission.
But if speaking out on vital social issues creates an academic disruption, then – trust me – students need more disruptions. Too many of them are disengaged from civic concerns and disconnected from the legacy that they’re supposed to carry on.
Yes, they should follow university rules, but paddling students who are socially conscious sends the wrong message. We want them to be strong leaders when they cross over into the real world. Campus protests are part of their development. HU is a private institution, which gives it more leeway to impose tight rules. Like most fine schools, it’s protective of its reputation and should be. But it can be overly protective, even Draconian at times.
Part of that rep built over 137 years is that many of its students are more conscious about putting on airs than putting on a rally. But the school has a strong protest legacy that’s as old as the Emancipation Oak, spanning from lunch counter sit-ins in downtown Hampton during the civil rights movement to the campus protest related to the first President Bush in 1991.That year, President George H.W. Bush was the commencement speaker. Richard Mason, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Peninsula, was among the 100-plus students who protested.
He told me that they weren’t so much anti-Bush but annoyed that they had no say in choosing their speaker.
In hindsight, having the president speak at HU was good PR for the school, Mason said. Still, empowering, rather than punishing, students who speak out would produce better leaders and better press coverage, he said.
“Teach them the right way, so you’re not looking like a squirrel in the road dodging the cars, trying not to get squashed” by the bad publicity, Mason said.
Expulsion is the highest punishment students can get. I doubt you’ll go there, HU. Still, threatening to punish students for behaving like true college students should? C’mon now.
Wil LaVeist teaches pro bono as an adjunct professor in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism at Hampton University. He can be reached at 247-7840 or by firstname.lastname@example.org .
Copyright (c) 2005, Daily Press
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Hampered at Hampton U. By Rob Capriccioso Inside Higher Ed
Wednesday 30 November 2005
Left-leaning students at Hampton University have felt for some time that campus administrators favor conservative groups and limit the free speech of liberal ones. Their argument has gained steam – and faculty members’ support – over the past month, as seven students who helped organize a gathering opposing the Bush administration face a hearing Friday that could lead to their expulsion.
Students on about 200 campuses across the country participated November 2 in an event sponsored by the nonprofit group World Can’t Wait – Drive Out the Bush Regime, which encouraged students to walk out of classes to signal dissatisfaction with the Bush administration. Student organizers at Hampton didn’t want to “encourage people just to stay in bed sleeping” that day, says Aaron Ray, a sophomore. http://www.truthout.org/docs_2005/113005S.shtml
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Hampton U. students to face hearing over fliers
By Philip Walzer, The Virginian-Pilot
© December 1, 2005
HAMPTON Seven Hampton University students face a disciplinary hearing Friday for distributing fliers last month criticizing the war in Iraq and the U.S. governments response to Hurricane Katrina. The maximum penalty would be expulsion
Officials of the private university say the students violated rules requiring prior approval of demonstrations. The students say the university s stance violates their freedom of speech.
We dont want to get kicked out of school, said one of the students, Brandon King , 21, a senior from Chesapeake. We just want to express our opinions. College should be a place that encourages you to do that.
About 20 students gathered at the schools student center around noon Nov. 2 to staff a table and hand out fliers on topics such as the Iraq war, anti-gay prejudice and the U.S. prison system.
It was part of a nationwide campaign led by the group World Cant Wait , which is sharply critical of President Bush, to encourage college students to walk out of class to engage in political discussion.
What we did on Nov. 2 had nothing to do with Hampton University, said King, a graduate of Western Branch High School. We werent attacking the school in any way, shape or form. We just wanted the student body to be aware of the histories going on in the world.
The organizers had hoped students would stop to listen to speeches and poems over a period of two hours.
But five minutes into their efforts, they said, campus security officers told a few of them, including King, to leave the center, asked for their student IDs and told them their actions were not authorized.
Sheridan Owens, 19, a sophomore from Charlotte , said an officer took down her name and told her she was violating university regulations for wearing a button saying Drive Out the Bush Regime.
On Nov. 18 , seven students, including King and Owens, received letters accusing them of violating the university Code of Conduct. A hearing was set for Nov. 21 but was later rescheduled for Friday .
The students said they dont know why some of those involved in the event received letters and others did not.
Bennie G. McMorris Jr ., Hamptons vice president of student affairs, did not return a call to his office Wednesday.
In a statement released by the university, McMorris said, The issue is not about the ‘Bush Administration, genocide in the Sudan, AIDS awareness and homophobia. The issue is compliance with University policies and procedures.
McMorris said the students violated rules requiring demonstrations to be registered in advance and banning the distribution of unauthorized handbills or advertisements on University property.
The students said Hamptons rules placed them in a Catch-22.
Students, they said, may register for an event only if they are part of a sanctioned student group.
Many of the participants had sought approval to form a chapter of the human-rights group Amnesty International. But for at least the past four years, King said, the university has refused the request.
They also said students regularly pass out fliers for other activities, such as parties.
In 2003, administrators confiscated copies of the student newspaper on the eve of homecoming after it published an article on health violations in the cafeteria.
Some of the seven students see a link between that incident and their own predicament.
Its a leadership that is completely irrespective of any perspective that is not their own, said John Robinson , 21, a senior from Suitland, Md.
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William Watkins explained how with the creation of HBCU’s more specifically, Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (now Hampton University) “played no small role in creating a comprador class for the twentieth century. Black compradors have anchored the Black South. They have been pious, conservative, obedient, and loyal to the sociopolitical order. They have supported gradualism, incrementalism, and non-violence over revolution.
They have provided a sometimes prosperous middle class without which the capitalist economy could not have stabilized. They have acted as a buffer in the South, providing business services, education, religion, fraternal orders, and hope to a people battered by slavery, sharecropping, violence and four centuries of oppression.”
An avid proponent of this as an educational model that creates these pseudo-progressive results was the founder of Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, General Samuel Chapman Armstrong. Armstrong’s true feelings of blacks should not go unmentioned due to how these beliefs guided him in administering education to blacks. Armstrong felt the black “does not see ‘the point’ of life clearly; he lacks foresight, judgment, and hard sense. His main trouble is not ignorance, but deficiency of character; his grievances occupy him more than his deepest needs. There is no lack of those who have mental capacity. The question with him is not one of brains, but of right instincts, of morals and of hard work.”
Armstrong placed blacks in the category of “savage races” that were “mentally sluggish” and “indolent.” Character training was/is the only way blacks could be salvaged. This is why Hampton University’s educational model is so significant. It is not just schooling, but also it was/is, as Watkins puts it, “saving a race from itself.”
The most prominent black advocate for this model was Armstrong’s neophyte Booker T. Washington. Because blacks faced oppression and political repression on a daily basis, W.E.B. Du Bois felt this reality should not go ignored. He pleaded with Washington to address these realities by stating “It is wrong to encourage a man or a people in evil doing; it is wrong to aid and abet a national crime simply because it is unpopular not to do so We have no right to sit silently by while the inevitable seeds are sown for a harvest of disaster to our children, black and white.”
In saying this, Du Bois draws the line between himself and supporters of Armstrong and Washington’s form of education and indoctrination. When black students rebel against the existing social order, they are looked at as deviant because they buck an educational model that truly does not function in their favor. [unknown excerpt]
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Call the school! Let Hampton administrators know how you feel. Tell them to drop all charges against the students, recognize the activist club as an official student organization, and craft a free speech policy that doesn’t criminalize dissent
Dr. Bennie McMorris, Vice President for Student Affairs 757-727-5264 email@example.com
Woodson Hopewell, Dean of Men firstname.lastname@example.org 757-727-5303
Jewel Long, Dean of Women email@example.com 757-727-5486
John Robinson is an organizer at Hampton University. He is one of the students charged in violation of the Hampton University Student Code of Conduct. He is a senior sociology major from Washington D.C.
Brandon King is also both an organizer at Hampton U and one of the students charged in violation of the Hampton University Student Code of Conduct. He is a senior sociology major and a native of Chesapeake VA.
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Dear Mr. Hopewell & Ms. Long:
I was distressed to read the article “Corporate Plantation” by John Robinson and Brandon King and to learn of the repression of students’ rights to free speech and free assembly by the administration of Hampton University.
We should be encouraging students to be concerned about and to move on social and political issues such as urban renewal in New Orleans, the plight of the poor in this country, the crisis in the Sudan, the increase in HIV/AIDS, particularly in the Black community, and the criminal war in Iraq. This kind of activism is greatly needed at a time of turmoil in this country.
I add my voice to those of hundreds who have called, sent letters and e-mails of protest over the treatment of the students. We are very concerned about this whole sad situation at one of our premier institutions.
Please–do the right thing.
Sincerely, (Dr.) Miriam DeCosta-Willis Professor Emerita University of Maryland, Baltimore County
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Five HU students must do community service: Seven Hampton University students who took part in a walkout last month will find out next week they’ll be disciplined for not getting the university’s approval for the event. But one student said he and four others received letters late Friday saying they would be required to complete 20 hours of community service. “The community service is reasonable,” said student Aaron Ray. “But what we had to go through to get to this point was not reasonable.” The 19-year-old is from Columbia, Md.
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Now that this ordeal is over, I am interested to hear what some of my fellow Hamptonians think of the recent events at HU. I have my thoughts, most of which I will reserve for an open letter I plan to send to the Dean of Students. In short, though I am not comfortable with what seems to be an administrative regime that governs in a fascist like-manner. I do understand the challenges the administration has in trying to maintain Hampton’s integrity and character, especially with the last few years being plagued with some negative events and press, but this latest incident coupled with the infamous Hampton Script incident is a bit disturbing.
At the very least the administration seems to be insensitive and somewhat misguided. At worst the administration seems intent on suppressing progressive consciousness and activism. The point is, while the ultimate punishment the students received is on the surface reasonable, the process leading up to it and the underlying message sent by the administration is one that warrants closer examination. Do we at Hampton have an administration that seeks to encourage conformity via fear?
Also, on a deeper level I wonder about how the university’s handling of this situation and others is consistent with notion of nurturing and inspiring young black women and men- two ideals that are have been implicitly part of the HBCU agenda. Given the nature of this particular situation, the fact that these student were actually arrested appears to have been extreme. I would think that a black college would strive when reasonable, to guard against involving any of its student in the criminal justice system.
These students obviously had benevolent intentions, even if they did not adhere to university policy and procedure. My thinking is that this kind of social awareness and ambition should be encouraged and not discouraged. These students are people who have the potential to effect positive change in society as opposed to maintain the status quo. They also could potentially make the university and the culture at large proud.
Unfortunately, their college may be responsible for them having an added strike against them (a previous arrest). There are professions such as law, law enforcement, finance and banking, not to mention graduate school applications, that inquire about a person’s arrest record- not conviction record and now these student will be saddled with that arrest for life. and for what? because they were being leaders on their college campus.
For black students to be arrested on a black college campus for attempting to raise the awareness of young black people about issues that affect black people seems counter-productive to the agenda of black educationinspiring and empowering a new generation of black thinkers and leadersunless of course our Alma Mater has some other agenda. It seems like the administration conveniently used “the letter of the law” to stifle these students’ activism efforts and send a even stronger message to the student body at large.
I venture to say that had the administration wanted to, it could have handled this situation with considerably more compassion and sensitivity as well as provided the students with some guidance, insight and support in their effortsthings you expect to get from a historically black institution. Could the Dean of students simply have called the students in for an off the record discussion? Who knows what could have come of that meeting.
Quite probably the situation would have been resolved in a manner that would have spared the students and their parents the cost and stress incurred during this ordeal. The university could have also spared itself the negative press it received.
More consequentially, however, a student could have acquired a mentor and an elder could have inspired a future leader. Is Hampton so intent into shaping itself in the image and likeness of a Harvard or a Yale that is neglecting to provide its students with that which the Harvards and Yales can’t provide our young peoplean environment designed to raise the consciousness of black people and inspire them to improve the conditions of black people globally. I truly love our alma mater which is why I am compelled to question its policies and practices. Love doesn’t require condoning our alma mater’s practices. True love often demands challenging the alma to live up its implicit purposes.A Hampton Graduate
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December 8 2005
Please read this very important statement [below] from a Hampton student, which was sent to all of us who wrote letters of protest to the Hampton administration. Student John Robinson, in a brilliant and eloquent summary of events, has put his finger on the significance of student activism–particularly in his final paragraph.
Like the lunch counter demonstrations of students in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1960, perhaps this incident at Hampton will ignite a nation-wide movement of students against the immoral and corrupt policies of this country, policies that permitted the inhumane treatment of poor Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans on the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Katrina.–Miriam
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We would like to thank everyone for their help in the last couple of weeks as we worked to defend the rights of students at Hampton University. Because of the love, support, and encouragement that you all extended in the form of petitions, faxes, e-mails, and phone calls, we are happy to report that NO student got expelled at Hampton for raising political consciousness. However, as John Robinson so eloquently states in the article that follows, the fight at HU is not over. Though the punishment of community service is more reasonable than the threat of expulsion, we recognize that true justice would mean that the students would not have received any penalty for the incident that took place on November 2nd, 2005. Again, we thank each and every one of you for your support. Sincerely, The Activists at Hampton University
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Dear Dr. McMorris, Mr. Hopewell, and Ms. Long: I have recently read a student account of what appears to be a pattern of non-democratic and repressive practices at Hampton University. I am an associate professor at Nazareth College in New York State who teaches Social Foundations of Education with an Urban Focus. In this course we study the history of education as a foundation for other course topics. Being familiar with the Chapman Armstrong/Washington tradition, it is not surprising to me that remnants of this history remain part of your institution. As I seek to educate predominately white pre-service teachers, who as you know have little knowledge of and experience with African descent people, I teach that the meaning of education for Black people historically has been to affirm humanity, to uplift the cultural collective, and to achieve liberation. Your apparent counter-example does not alter this, however if does send a loud message to students and others that the long-standing struggle for civil and human rights no longer requires white monitoring and control. Hegemony is successful (although not complete) when control can be achieved from within. I urge you to consider dropping all charges against students who attempt to exercise the rights their ancestors died for. While socio-political affiliations can be difficult to negotiate, our children are trying to take the best traditions of the past and carry them forward. We may not always agree with their politics or approaches, but they seek to protect us and future generations from a reversal of gain we cannot quite imagine. Sincerely, Ellen Swartz, Ph.D. Frontier Chair in Urban Education
(9 December 2005)
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Hampton Students Not Expelled! But Fight Not OverBy John Robinson Hampton University students faced disciplinary hearings on Dec 2, 2005 at 9:00 am in the Student Center cyber lounge. As I arrived I immediately noticed bands of protesters already picketing right outside the University. By the time the six other students and I met with the parents and lawyers in front of the room that the hearing was to be held, there were already over 20 student supporters standing right outside the door. As we made last minute preparations to our cases, students continued to pour into the student center. At about 9:20 the parents, character witnesses, students, and administrators began to enter the room. After everyone was seated, the Dean of Men and Dean of Women outlined the rules of the hearing for everyone in attendance. They told everyone that the only questioning would be done by the administration. Students did not have the ability to question the shabby evidence presented against them and instead had to rely on the word of the campus detective relating to what was actually on the video footage.
This was despite the hearing notice given to the students that suggested the students would have the opportunity to both present a case and have substantiation for any evidence put forth by the administration. The administrators then decided to sequester the seven students and question them individually. They allowed only the pre-selected family, lawyers, and character witnesses to come in the students. The hearing ultimately amounted to not much more than a formal interrogation. Shortly after the hearing had commenced it became abundantly clear that Hampton University was no longer in control. As was mentioned before, the Administration’s case was extremely weak. The administrators seemed nervous as they listened to the chief lieutenant clumsily describe the one piece of footage that he had an opportunity to view and that he elected not to present. But things only got worse from there for the Administration as the lawyers exposed the unfairness of the Administrative Hearing process itself.
Also the parents were strongly in support of their children and nearly every one lashed out at the administration at some point. The parents made good points about the procedural injustices inherent in Hampton’s administrative hearings. The objections made were met by the blank, clueless stares of administrators, and following that, irrational rebuttals. The parents and lawyers succeeded in making the administrators implicitly admit that the decisions being made were completely arbitrary and in no way adhered to any conceivable standards of fairness. Students and people from the community came out in numbers. As discontent among the parents continued to mount, more and more students stood in front of the door wearing paraphernalia that blatantly revealed that they were in support of the student activists, and more people grabbed pickets and duct tape and joined the free speech demonstration. They put the duct tape over there mouths and wrote the words “free speech” on their faces. They held signs demanding free speech for the students and imploring the cars driving by to “honk if they agree”. They applauded the students for promoting education on issues that so deeply affect the students at the school as well as black people everywhere. By 12:00 noon it was all over the local news stations.
The administrators seemed flustered and nervous as they had to continually defend the legitimacy of their Kangaroo Court. It was so obvious that Hampton was a lot more accustomed to handling things in ways that were unapologetically authoritarian and not subject to many of the rules we take for granted. They only knew how to use naked force. They were not used to the “checks and balances” that the people themselves imposed on Hampton. This caused the proceedings to degenerate to a series of dramatic power trips.
The students watching the hearing through the glass witnessed the Dean of Students, who was supposed to have no part in the hearing, angrily march from his seat in the back to the front of the room, and threaten to throw out a professor who spoke as a character witness for the students. His argument was that saying what he had never known the student to do was not a witness of character. The lawyer noted how absurd the Dean’s objection was. The administrative panel also threw one of the fathers of the students out of the hearing, and threatened to throw out another student’s mother, and one of the lawyers.
The administrators were incredibly rude to students and parents alike, instinctively telling them to “shut up” and threatening to dismiss them. Meanwhile, outside the hearing, the police carried out the authoritarian practices of the school on the student supporters. There were police EVERYWHERE and they confiscated the posters and film of students with reckless abandon. A student DJ who supports the activists attempted to play music in the student center, something that happens nearly everyday, and he was promptly stopped by a university official fearing the music would further embolden the students.
At the beginning of the hearing we were told that we would not receive verdicts that day and we shouldn’t expect them before the next 1-2 days. However after the strong show of support by the students and community, the university decided to have the verdict ready mere hours after the hearing had finished. The Hampton seven was called into the office of the Dean of Men and Dean of Women, and for an hour we watched the school officials scurry around frantically to get the letters typed and hopefully make this bad dream go away.
The students were not expelled. To save face, the university imposed 20 hours of “community service” on most of the involved students. This is an illegitimate punishment for legitimate protest. It also represents the administration having to back down from its most draconian threats in the face of opposition. But this bad dream will linger, and the students will continue to fight, at least until Hampton University changes its policy and practices toward progressive thought among students and faculty. On December 2, Hampton University looked like I’ve never seen it look before. The students, it seemed, realized that this was not a fight for the Hampton seven but a fight for the student body. More importantly they realized that they themselves could fight to make Hampton and the world a better place. Students, who only days ago refused to sign a petition because they feared harsh repercussion, now boldly stood in the defense of the activists against campus police. Teachers who were previously silenced by the privacy obligations of the school now spoke to their students in class and urged them to become involved.
Black students from other schools became more involved in the antiwar struggle at their own schools. Students from Howard University, an HBCU in Washington D.C., came down to stand in solidarity with us and brought with them 912 signatures from Howard students gathered in just 2 days. The students at Hampton for the first time saw students stand up against the university, and they saw the university do all it could to back down. At the end of the hearing, the Dean of Men could not restrain himself from questioning me about the article “Corporate Plantation.”
Before I had a chance to answer the Dean of Students interjected that it was not appropriate. I have no doubt that if the school was not being so closely watched, that line of questioning would have gone much further. But the student movement showed its strength and resilience. The students at Hampton greatly appreciate the many people who joined with them in this struggle against this repressive administration. We showed them something they had not saw in a long time.
However the school intends to downplay the event so the controversy will go away. The atmosphere will probably become worse after that as they will do all they can to prevent activists from doing anything especially now that they can identify several. That means that even though we were victorious in this particular battle, the fight goes on. The school in the past weeks, just as it has done frequently in the past on a more or less arbitrary basis, has declared a moratorium on students groups. It simply cannot be that easy for the school to prevent students from having the ability to organize, peaceably assemble, and discuss issues that affect them.
This must be resisted. The student activists at Hampton concern themselves primarily with interpersonal on-the-ground organizing. Through this we aim to spread the political consciousness to black students that the educational program of Hampton has refused them. Hampton’s practices provide evidence that what was true 80 years ago, remains true today. Assertive political activity among Black Americans is viewed as doubly blasphemous, and as such is met with the harshest repression. We will not heed the advice of detractors who say that if we don’t like the school we should transfer. We know that we are here for a reason and we have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters both student and non-student to serve the community as best we can. The actions of the administration has made Hampton’s campus fertile ground for social activism. We must capitalize on that and demand a comprehensive change in practice and policy relating to progressive thought. This is not merely a free speech issue. With what many call the largest urban renewal project in American history happening in New Orleans, it is vital that these issues be central to general political discourse, especially among African Americans.
Black students have infinite potential, but the program of Hampton as well as elitist ideology everywhere, MUST be counteracted. In recognizing the rising repression at other schools against students and professors we necessarily consider this battle in the context of the larger struggle against empire and war. This fight ultimately bolstered black student involvement in the student movement, and so long as black students are able to organize on the ground there will be many more. Let us continue our fight and make the change we know is possible.
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B.B. King is the greatest living exponent of the blues and considered by many to be the most influential guitarist of the latter part of the 20th century. His career dates back to the late forties and despite now being in his eighties he remains a vibrant and charismatic live performer. B.B. King has been a frequent visitor to the Montreux festival, appearing nearly 20 times, so choosing one performance was no easy task. This 1993 concert will surely rank as one of his finest at any venue. With a superb backing band and a great set list its a must for any blues fan.
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The Thrill is Gone
The thrill is gone The thrill is gone away The thrill is gone baby The thrill is gone away You know you done me wrong baby And you’ll be sorry someday The thrill is gone It’s gone away from me The thrill is gone baby The thrill is gone away from me Although I’ll still live on But so lonely I’ll be The thrill is gone It’s gone away for good Oh, the thrill is gone baby Baby its gone away for good Someday I know I’ll be over it all baby Just like I know a good man should You know I’m free, free now baby I’m free from your spell I’m free, free now I’m free from your spell And now that it’s all over All I can do is wish you well
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Film Review by Kam Williams
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Red Rubber, Black Death
A Belgium Kings Sins Revealed in Film
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By Adam Hochschild
King Leopold of Belgium, writes historian Adam Hochschild in this grim history, did not much care for his native land or his subjects, all of which he dismissed as “small country, small people.” Even so, he searched the globe to find a colony for Belgium, frantic that the scramble of other European powers for overseas dominions in Africa and Asia would leave nothing for himself or his people. When he eventually found a suitable location in what would become the Belgian Congo, later known as Zaire and now simply as Congo, Leopold set about establishing a rule of terror that would culminate in the deaths of 4 to 8 million indigenous people, “a death toll,” Hochschild writes, “of Holocaust dimensions.”
Those who survived went to work mining ore or harvesting rubber, yielding a fortune for the Belgian king, who salted away billions of dollars in hidden bank accounts throughout the world. Hochschild’s fine book of historical inquiry, which draws heavily on eyewitness accounts of the colonialists’ savagery, brings this little-studied episode in European and African history into new light.Gregory McNamee
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Rape Crisis in Congo Tied to Mining ActivityWashington Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, helped launch an international awareness raising campaign called V-Day in 2007 to end sexual violence in eastern Congo. UNICEF estimates that hundreds of thousands of girls have been raped in the last decade in the two eastern provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu. “Corporate greed, fueled by capitalist consumption, and the rape of women have merged into a single nightmare,” Eve Ensler said at U.S. Senate hearings on May 13. “Women’s bodies are the battleground of an economic war.” Ensler said that international mining companies with significant investments in eastern Congo value economic interest over the bodies of women by trading with rebels who use rape as a tactic of war in areas rich in coltan, gold and tin.
“Military solutions are no longer an option,” she said. “All they do is bring about the rape of more women.” The United States has invested more than $700 million in humanitarian aid and peacekeeping to Congo, according to the U.S. Department of State.
Prendergast said this money will do nothing to root out the economic causes of eastern Congo’s conflict and sexual violence.
He said a comprehensive long-term strategy to combat rape needs to change the economic calculus of armed groups. Prendergast asked senators to support the Congo Conflict Minerals Act, which was introduced by Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold in April of this year.
The bill aims to break the link between resource exploitation and armed conflict in eastern Congo by requiring companies trading minerals with Congo or neighboring states to disclose mine locations and monitor the financing of armed groups in eastern Congo’s mineral-rich areas.
“The sooner the illicit conflict minerals trade is eliminated, the sooner the people of Congo will benefit from their own resources,” said Prendergrast. U.S. consumers, Prendergrast said, can also help by pressuring major electronic companies – from Apple to Sony – to certify that cell phones, computers and other products contain “conflict-free minerals,” a campaign tactic popularized by the Sierra Leone-based film Blood Diamonds. Such a process would use a tracking system for components, similar to that developed in 2007 under the Kimberly Process. This international certification scheme ensures that trade in rough diamonds doesn’t fuel war, as it did in Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone during the 1990s.
Germany has already developed a pilot fingerprinting system for tin that could be expanded to other minerals and help establish certified trading chains, linking legitimate mining sites to the international market. Truthout
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Congo has attracted attention in the media [as a place that is suffering] systematic rape in war. One statistic quoted is 200,000 rapes since the beginning of the war 14 years ago, and it is certainly an underestimate. When in Congo, I met government representatives and particularly women who had been raped and violated. It was interesting but also disappointing – nothing is getting better and more and more civilians are committing rapes. But I should be fair and say that there has been progress, the government has introduced laws against rape, it has a national plan and there is political will. There is a lot to do to implement the legislation, but now there is an ambitious legal ground to stand on to be implemented by the police, judiciary and health care. Margot Wallstrom – “There Is Almost Total Impunity for Rape in Congo”
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Missing words have been restored and the entire novel has been repunctuated in accordance with Conrads style. The result is the first published version of Heart of Darkness that allows readers to hear Marlows voice as Conrad heard it when he wrote the story. “Backgrounds and Contexts” provides readers with a generous collection of maps and photographs that bring the Belgian Congo to life. Textual materials, topically arranged, address nineteenth-century views of imperialism and racism and include autobiographical writings by Conrad on his life in the Congo.
New to the Fourth Edition is an excerpt from Adam Hochschilds recent book, King Leopolds Ghost, as well as writings on race by Hegel, Darwin, and Galton. “Criticism” includes a wealth of new materials, including nine contemporary reviews and assessments of Conrad and Heart of Darkness [Contents] and twelve recent essays by Chinua Achebe, Peter Brooks, Daphne Erdinast-Vulcan, Edward Said, and Paul B. Armstrong, among others. Also new to this edition is a section of writings on the connections between Heart of Darkness and the film Apocalypse Now by Louis K. Greiff, Margot Norris, and Lynda J. Dryden. A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are also included.
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By Isabel Wilkerson
Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper’s wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man’s turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners’ plans to give him a “necktie party” (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by “the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn’t operate in his own home town.” Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist Wilkerson’s magnificent, extensively researched study of the “great migration,” the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an “uncertain existence” in the North and Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.
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posted 2 December 2005