ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



He was exiled to Turkey in 1964 from where he went to Iraq in 1965. His home for

the next 13 years was the holy city of Najaf where he established himself as a leading

religious figure. His criticisms of the Pahlavi regime were secretly circulated in Iran



Imam Khomeini Poet as Legislator

Chronology of Political Changes in Iran 

Spanning Imam Khomeini’s Life


Imam Khomeini’s life spanned almost a century of political changes in Iran. When he was born in 1902 the country was already dominated by foreign influences that continued until the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Both financial and economic conditions were at a low ebb and discontented groups were secretly distributing anti-government leaflets. By the end of 1905 public protests had led to establishment of a majlis.

October 1906: First majlis opened. Fundamental laws drawn up to form the core of the first constitution were not replaced until 1979. Though formally a constitutional monarchy the Qajar Muhammad Ali Shah was a cruel autocrat who tried to get rid of the majlis through his Prime Minister Atabak.

August 31, 1907:  Atabak was assassinated after failing to destroy the majlis. That same day the Anglo-Russian Entente was signed in secret which divided Iran into three spheres: northern and central Iran in the Russian sphere, southern Iran in the British sphere an area in between, the neutral zone, where oil was found in 1908.

1914-1918:   By late 1917 British and Russian forces occupied most of Iran. Food was scarce and cost of living spiralled up, and up.

1918-1919:   Severe famine killed one quarter of the people in the north.  

1919-1920:  Britain consolidated its control over Iran with the Anglo-Persian Treaty of 1919; escalating resistance by the people.

1920:  A government set up under a nationalist, Moshir ad-Dauleh, suspended the Anglo-Persian Treaty until foreign forces had withdrawn and the majlis could discuss issues freely. He was forced to resign and succeeded by pro-British Sepahdar who put British officers in charge of the Cossack Brigade.

1921:  Commander of the British forces in Iran, general Ironside, encouraged Reza Khan to assume power of the country’s only well-armed force. Reza Khan used the Cossack Brigade as a power base for a new government under Sayyid Zia ad-Din, the pro-British prime minister, and himself as war minister. The government put down protest movements and suppressed all opposition. US Standard Oil Company gained concession for oil in north Iran.

1923:  Reza Khan, the strong man in the dying days of the Qajar monarchy, persuaded the weak Ahmad Shah into exile.

1925-1941:  After abandoning his supposed preference for a republic, Reza Khan founded the Pahlavi dynasty. Military conscription enacted in 1926 and military expenses were the largest budget item.

Modern dress decreed for men in 1929. Women to give up hijab. All opposition suppressed. Reza Khan’s reforms modelled on Ataturk’s.

1941-1945:  Second World War. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, it wanted to use Iran as a base, Reza Shah’s hesitation in accepting British-Soviet demands to expel the Germans sparked off an invasion of Iran on August 25. The shah was forced to abdicate in September. Soviet forces were in northern Iran, British in south, Tehran unoccupied.

January 1942:  Britain, Iran, and Soviet Union signed an alliance agreeing to help Iran’s economy during war and to withdraw forces within six months of end of war. The exiled shah’s son, Muhammad Reza, was the new monarch. Famine in 1942 paved the way for US economists. The Tudeh Party with pro-Soviet line formed. US gained control of all key economic posts. He also puts forward the concept of an Islamic government, writing ‘A government of Islamic Law controlled by faqih will be superior to all the iniquitous governments of the world.’

1945-1947:  Democrat Party, a coalition of groups, in Azarbaijan province elected its own provincial assembly in November 1945. Iranian forces in area allowed Democrats to take over army posts. December 1945: a Kurdish autonomous republic established also supported by the Soviets. July 1946: a general strike encouraged by the Tudeh Party in Khuzistan’s AIOC oil fields. British forces ordered to Basra and a British supported exile, Shaikh Khaz’al, raided Khuzistan. New US ambassador, George V Allen, had Iranian forces sent to Azarbaijan and Kurdistan to put down autonomies. Leaders shot, exiled and jailed.

1947-1953:  Opposition to AIOC strengthened. AIOC paid more in income tax to British government than royalties to Iran. Mosaddeq led opposition to AIOC and majlis adopted his position.

Oil industry nationalised in March 1951. Mosaddeq became premier and headed the National Front. US opposed nationalisation of oil and organised international boycott of Iranian oil. AIOC retaliated with gunboats maintaining the oil had been stolen from them. Iran’s oil revenue was thus cut off. British put restrictions on Iran’s trade and bank assets in Britain. AIOC, new British government under Churchill and foreign advisers had shah dismiss Musaddeq. Mass demonstration brought him back to power. CIA prompted by British intelligence organised his overthrow in August 1953 after he attempted to get control of the army still in US hands.

1953-1960: Iran increasingly dependent on west; US the dominant power. Expensive military hardware, fancy consumer goods and prestige projects were profitable to the US. SAVAK, the secret police, set up in 1957 under the CIA with the Israeli Mossad’s assistance. Repression stepped up: imprisonment, torture and killings to stifle opposition; agents infiltrated society to create a police State.

1960-1963:  Until his death in 1961 Ayatullah Boroujerdi of Qum was the marja’e taqlid (source of imitation). By 1963 Ayatullah Ruhullah Khomeini’s name was coming to the fore as a leading opponent to the shah’s regime. His theological courses in Qum attracted large numbers of students, fascinated by his criticism of government policies while teaching ethics. He was one of Boroujerdi’s successors to the function of marja’e taqlid. In March 1963 the Faiziyeh in Qum was attacked by paratroopers and SAVAK on the anniversary of the martyrdom of the sixth Imam, Ja’far as-Sadiq. Students were killed and Ayatullah Khomeini was arrested.

Released after a short detention he continued with his criticism of US control of Iran. On June 3 he said, ‘The constitution has been bought with the blood of our fathers, and we will not permit it to be violated.’ Imam Khomeini was arrested and detained until August.

The day following his arrest, the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Husain, demonstrations erupted calling for his release in Tehran, Isfahan, Mashad, Shiraz and Kashan. Security forces shot 15,000 demonstrators. Upon his release, he told his followers to boycott the October elections and was arrested again.

1964-1970:  Ayatullah Khomeini was released from prison in May 1964. In October the majlis passed a bill giving diplomatic immunity to US military advisers followed by accepting a US$200 million loan from the US for military hardware purchases. Ayatullah Khomeini attacked the bills in a pamphlet.

He was exiled to Turkey in 1964 from where he went to Iraq in 1965. His home for the next 13 years was the holy city of Najaf where he established himself as a leading religious figure. His criticisms of the Pahlavi regime were secretly circulated in Iran and his messages to the Muslim world were distributed in Makkah at Hajj.

His criticism of Iranian government policies were well founded. Land reform proved to be a disaster. The bill excluded orchards, pastures, plantations, and mechanised farms and gave landlords time to make fictitious sales and gifts to relatives to lessen their legal holdings or to convert their lands to fall into the exemption category. Only nine percent of Iran’s peasants received land and even they did not get help for increasing production.

Meanwhile, after the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war Ayatullah Khomeini conferred with Sayyid Baqir as-Sadr on the possibility of launching a joint effort against Israel.

1970-1977:  With oil prices redoubled the shah announced that Iran would soon become one of the world’s five great powers. He ignored the reality of food shortages, traffic jams, overcrowding and street fighting in Tehran. The west recycled his petro-dollars into arms purchases. Iran had more British Chieftan tanks than Britain itself. The US sold the shah fighter planes before they were in production or known to be reliable. US military suppliers took up key positions in the economy. Cement and building materials were used for military bases and created a shortage for house building. Westernisation of Iran was challenged by Dr Ali Shari’ati but oil, banking, and armaments were firmly in US hands.

The 1971 coronation and huge celebration of the shah fantasising that the Persian monarchy dated back 2 500 years showed up the gulf between the rich and the poor. It was severely criticised by Ayatullah Khomeini.

Suppression of all free speech, press, and even potential opposition led to a concentration of dissidents establishing themselves overseas They were encouraged by the circulation of Ayatullah Khomeini’s messages on cassette. He called upon the ulama in Iran to denounce political terror and the ruin of Iran’s resources.

When the shah visited Washington to see president Carter in 1977 he faced a huge hostile demonstration. In Iran women students started to wear hijab again, and a religious opposition began to assert itself. In October 1977 Ayatullah Khomeini’s son, Mustafa, was killed in Iraq by SAVAK agents.

1978:  In January at the instigation of the shah an article was published in Ettala’at newspaper violently attacking Ayatullah Khomeini. The next day theological students in Qum organised a peaceful protest and sitting which was violently set upon by security forces leaving many martyred. Demonstrations progressively spread throughout the country.

Ayatullah Khomeini urged the people to strive for the overthrow of the monarchy in favour of an Islamic government. Memorial demonstrations for the martyred took place every 40 days with more and more Muslims being killed by security forces. Demonstrations facing armed soldiers demanded the return of Ayatullah Khomeini.

August:  377 were killed in a cinema fire in Abadan.

September:  The shah requested Iraq to expel the Ayatullah, hoping that without a base his leadership would diminish. Ayatullah Khomeini said he was prepared to leave for a country not subject to the shah’s dictates but no country offered him asylum and the assurance that he could continue his activities 

September: At the end of Ramadan, a huge protest demonstration led to the imposition of martial law in Iran. When the people gathered in Jaleh Square the next morning, unaware of the imposition, the security forces opened fire killing thousands. A horrified nation rose against the shah. Strikes closed down bazaars, schools, universities, offices, factories and oil fields. The shah’s wealthy relatives and friends escaped to the west with US$1.5 billion over three months. From Paris Ayatullah Khomeini sent messages on cassette freely into Iran for distribution. Arrived in Neauphle-le-Chateau near Paris.

December 10 and 11 (Muharram 9 and 10):   Nearly four million people went into the streets demanding an Islamic government under Imam Khomeini’s leadership. Thousands of unarmed demonstrators were killed. Detainees were tortured and the wounded were massacred in their hospital beds. The inexorable pressure of public opinion forced the US to persuade the shah to appoint a prime minister, Shahpur Bakhtiar, to deflect the influence of Ayatullah Khomeini.

Jan 16, 1979:  The shah fled the country for Egypt leaving a powerless government but ecstatic crowds on the streets.

Feb 1: From Paris Imam Khomeini flew into Iran to a tumultuous welcome.

He had a provisional Islamic government set up by Mehdi Bazargan and the Revolutionary Council negotiated with the security forces. After hundreds of air force personnel expressed support for Imam Khomeini, a Tehran military establishment was suddenly attacked by the shah’s Imperial Guard. The air force’s call for help was answered by masses of unarmed people who forced the guards to return to their barracks. With most of the security forces acknowledging Imam Khomeini’s leadership, police stations, prisons, army bases and government offices were all taken over by revolutionaries.

Feb 11:  Shah’s regime finally collapsed.

Feb 16:  Four of ex-shah’s guards shot.

March 1: Imam Khomeini’s declaration of Islamic government made it clear that there was no place for democracy.

April 1: The Islamic Republic proclaimed by Imam Khomeini to public acclaim.

April 7: Ex-premier Hoveida executed.

May 1:  Ayatullah Mutahhari, chief of the Revolutionary Council, assassinated.

July 5:  Big industries in private hands nationalised.

July 9:   Imam announced an amnesty for all jailed under the ex-shah except murderers and torturers.

Oct 23:  Ex-shah admitted to New York hospital.

Nov 4:   Iranian students in New York demonstrated against the deposed shah’s presence in US.

US embassy in Tehran, known as the ‘nest of spies,’ taken over by the students following the Imam’s line. They held 52 people for 444 days against the return of the ex-shah and stolen assets.

Nov 6:     Mehdi Bazargan left office.

Nov 23   Economics and Foreign minister Bani Sadr declared all Iranian foreign debts null and void.

Dec 4: Adoption of a constitution, entrusting Imam Khomeini with supreme power; it was adopted after a referendum.

Dec 15:    Ex-shah left US for exile in Panama after being refused entry in Mexico.

Jan 4, 1980: UN secretary general Kurt Waldheim cut short a mission to Iran when he was refused a request to see US hostages.

Jan 25:  Bani Sadr appointed president.

Feb 7: Bani Sadr given power to deal with hostage issue.

Feb 17:  UN secretary general completed formation of a commission to examine ex-shah’s activities.

March 10:   A spokesman from the Imam’s office said when UN commission published its results showing ‘it is in favour of Iran and they prove they are truthful they can come back to Iran and meet the hostages.’

March-May:  First majlis election.

March 23:    Ex-shah left Panama for Cairo just 24 hours before Iran was due to serve a request for his extradition.

April 9:  US diplomatic ties with Iran broken.

April 25:  US commando raid to rescue hostages failed in a sandstorm. Imam Khomeini said the mission was ‘an act of stupidity.’

April 30:   Arab gunmen seized 20 hostages in Iran’s embassy in London.

May 5:  SAS stormed the embassy killing four of five gunmen. Press Attaché Lavasani had been killed by the terrorists.

May 11:  Tomb of Reza Khan, ex-shah’s father, smashed near Tehran.

July 27:  Ex-shah died in Cairo. Funeral shunned by western leaders.

Aug 11:   Muhammad Ali Raja’ appointed prime minister.

Sept 22: Iraq invaded Iran despite its announced commitment to the UN charter and contrary to clause one of article 33 of the charter referring to peaceful settlements in disputes between governments.

Sept 24: Iraq attacked Abadan and Khorramshahr setting fire to Abadan’s oil refinery.

Nov 2:  Majlis approved four conditions laid down by Imam Khomeini for release of US hostages.

Nov 16:   More than 500 Iranians killed in Iraqi attack on Susangard.

Jan 20, 1981:  US hostages released on very day US president Carter’s term of office ended.

June 10:  Imam Khomeini dismissed Bani Sadr as head of armed forces.

June 20:  Impeachment proceedings began against Bani Sadr.

June 21:  Bani Sadr dismissed from presidency.

June 28: 72 high-ranking officials martyred when a bomb explode in the Islamic Republican Party’s headquarters in Tehran.

July 24:  Muhammad Ali Raja’I elected president.

July 29: Bani Sadr given refuge in France.

Aug 30:  Bomb explosion killed president Muhammad Ali Raja’I and minister Javad Bahonar.

Sept 29:   Four of Iran’s military chiefs killed in plane crash.

Oct:  Ali Khamenei elected president and Mir Hossein Mousavi appointed prime minister.

March 28, 1982:   Iran gained ground in heaviest fighting of war.

May 24:  Revolutionary guards entered Khorramshahr. Regained most of the territory taken by Iraq in early stages of the war.

July 14: Imam Khomeini broadcast an appeal for Iraqis to rise up and overthrow Saddam Hussain. Iranian forces invaded Iraq and reached within nine miles of Basra.

Sept 15:  Ex-foreign minister Sadeqh Qotbzadeh found guilty of plotting to overthrow government.

Oct 1: Iran launches an offensive against Iraq as war enters its third year.

Oct 2: 60 killed and 700 injured in terrorist bomb blast in Tehran.

Feb 1983: Leaders of (communist) Tudeh Party arrested.

May 4: Eighteen Soviet diplomats expelled; Tudeh Party disbanded.

June 11:   Operations launched to liberate more territory; 50,000 Iraqi troops taken prisoner.

July 23: Iranian onslaught drove Iraqis out of Haj Omran in Kurdistan.

April 1984: Elections held for second majlis. Hujjatul-Islam Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani had 1.5 million votes.

June 12:  UN secretary general Perez de Cuellar’s call on Iraq to halt its attacks on Iran’s residential areas.  

March 18, 1985: Iranian forces broke through Iraqi lines in offensive north of Basra threatening road to Baghdad.

Aug 14: President Ali Khamenei reelected to office for second term.

Nov 22:  Ayatullah Montazeri appointed Ayatullah Khomeini’s successor.

Feb 19,1986:  In an 11-day offensive Iranian forces captured the Faw Peninsula; Iraq used mustard gas to hold them back.

July 2: Iran captured border town of Mehran.

Nov 4: Irangate’ arms for hostages deal disclosed.

Jan 18, 1987: Iranian forces reached Basra.

May 17: Iraqi missiles hit US frigate killing 37 but not an accident.

July 17:  French embassy in Tehran closed down.

July 20: UN security council Resolution 598 called for immediate ceasefire. Not accepted by Iran which demanded Iraq be named the aggressor.

July 31: More than 400 pilgrims killed in Makkah of whom 275 were Iranians.

Sep 29:  Iran stepped up its patrol of the straits of Hormuz as US helicopter patrol intercepted and boarded Iranian ship, the Iran Ajr.

Oct 18: Four US destroyers blasted two Iranian offshore platforms with 1,000 shells, leaving them ablaze and badly damaged.

Feb 28, 1988: War of cities intensified with 135 missiles landing on Tehran.

March 17: More than 5,000 killed by Iraqi chemical weapons in Halabjeh and over 8,000 critically wounded.

April 18: US sank Iranian vessels in Gulf. US helicopter gunships supporting Iraqi assault on Faw.

June 2: Majlis speaker Hashemi Rafsanjani appointed acting commander of armed forces.

July 3:  US cruiser shot down Iranian airbus killing all 290 people aboard.

July 18: Iran reluctantly accepted UN Resolution 390. Imam Khomeini said for him the decision was more deadly than taking poison.

Aug 20: Ceasefire on warfront. Negotiations opened between Iran and Iraq. Prime minister Mousavi said Iran’s doors would remain closed for western trade and influence.

Feb 15, 1989: Imam Khomeini declared Salman Rushdie should die for his blasphemy against Islam in The Satanic Verses.

March 7: Diplomatic links cut between Britain and Iran.

March 19: Hujjatul-Islam Rafsanjani declared a candidate for presidency.

March 29: Ayatullah Montazeri’s resignation as future leader of Iran accepted by Imam Khomeini.

April 24: Committee appointed to draft constitutional reform.

May 23: Imam Khomeini underwent operation for internal bleeding.

June 3:  Imam Khomeini passed away.

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011  


#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 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

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as “the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field ‘cut their teeth’.”

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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 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

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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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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posted 29 June 2005 




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