ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



The lowest grade of professional politician we encounter in the South . . .

trades on ignorance.  He is . . . owned by the local utility, or mill owner

or bank or oil interests.  He makes emotional appeals to Southern

pride and beats the drums for the moth-eaten myth of white supremacy.



Labor Fights All Injustice

By George Meany


It was not merely by accident that from its earliest days the trade union movement in this country became identified as a proponent of civil rights and an opponent of racial and religious discrimination.

The very nature of a trade union, in which workers unite to fight for economic justice, conditions it for voluntary enlistment in the war against all injustice.  Thus, the basic drive of the labor movement, from its inception to this very day has been for all forms of human justice and political justice, as well as economic justice.  And the continuing denial of equal civil rights to million of our citizens, merely because of their race or color, constitutes, in our opinion, wholesale injustice that stains the honor of our country.  It is a blot that must be erased, with more than deliberate speed.

Among our adult population, reason and logic have been powerless to cope with the more bitter manifestations of racial hate and prejudice.  Therefore, I have always had a good deal of sympathy for the view that the only effective way of overcoming such prejudice was the slow but sure path of education from the kindergarten up.  However, it was obvious that this process of education would be completely futile as long as the well-springs of education—the public schools themselves—were poisoned by segregation. 

The historic decision of the Supreme Court three years ago, declaring segregation in the public schools unConstitutional, opened new vistas of hope that at last the way would be cleared for the elimination of racial prejudice and discrimination through the permanent and democratic process of integrated education.

But let us face it—progress has been painfully slow in the three-year period since the Supreme Court’s decision was handed down.

It is not my purpose to criticize the Supreme Court for modifying the speed of enforcement of its decision with the word “deliberate.”  Taking all the facts into consideration, the Court had to act realistically.  But I do want to say a few words about elected public officials, especially in the South and from the South, who have violated their oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States by willfully obstructing and flouting the Supreme Court’s  ruling.

In a free country like ours, it is the privilege of any citizen to disagree—even with a Supreme Court decision.  But obedience to the law in incumbent even upon dissenters.  Respect for and compliance with the law is the responsibility of all citizens.  Certainly public officials, elected to uphold and administer the law, are doubly bound to discharge that responsibility.  Yet in the past three years, we have seen the unedifying spectacle of Governors of States, Senators, Congressmen and lesser lights in our political life conspiring together to defy the Supreme Court, to circumvent its decision and to make a mockery of the law.

In school we are taught that this is one nation, indivisible.  The history of our country is marred by a great civil war which had to be fought to prove that this is one nation, and that secession and nullification are not permissible.  Surely, that truth should now prevail.

Without question, the great majority of the people of the South, under wise leadership, would be willing to go along with the law of the land as interpreted with finality, by the Supreme Court of the United States.

Unfortunately, however, the South, for the most part, lacks that kind of leadership.  Some of the Southern States have produced outstanding public figures, Governors, Senators and Congressmen.

But, let us examine the lowest grade of professional politician we encounter in the South.  He trades on ignorance.  He is tied in with a political machine that draws its revenue from the contributions of vested interests.  This politician, in fact, is owned by the local utility, or mill owner or bank or oil interests.  He makes emotional appeals to Southern pride and beats the drums for the moth-eaten myth of white supremacy.  He is an accomplished spellbinder and an unprincipled liar.  His credo calls for opposition to any progressive change that would disturb the existing order of society and its economic control.

This is the type of unscrupulous politician most active in the organization of White Citizens Councils in a number of Southern States.  To say that the development of these extralegal organizations is disturbing to the trade union movement is a gross understatement.  I am convinced that they represent only a tiny minority of the people of the South—but a loud and belligerent minority.  These councils seek to substitute the intimidation of mob action for law and order.  They are aimed not only at Negro organizations, such as yours, but at trade unions as well, and any other liberal group or individual that dares to support and defend the Supreme Court decision.

We have done a little research into the people back of these White Citizens Councils and we have discovered an interesting and significant fact—they are the same people who have fought the trade union movement most viciously over the years.  In other words, the forces dominating this setup are against not only equal right for Negroes, but equal rights for labor.

Under the circumstances, your organization can be proud of the way the beleaguered Negroes of key Southern communities have stood up to the test.  They have been law-abiding.  They have resisted the temptation to retaliate under extreme provocation.  They have conducted themselves with dignity and restraint.  By their own civilized and commendable conduct, they have shamed their traducers and created a strong- running tide of sympathy for their plight among all the American people.

Let me assure you that the trade union movement is not going to run away from the challenge presented by the White Citizens Councils.  There have been many attempts in the past to drive union organizers out of the Southern communities by intimidation and mob action.  They failed before.  They will fail again.

It is true that the emotional stresses of this issue are so strong as to warp the good judgment even of veteran trade unionists.  I have received letters from union members saying they regarded themselves as Southerners first and trade unionists second.  I told them they had things a little twisted—that under the philosophy of our movement a man first has to be a good citizen before he can be a good union man and that the first duty of a good citizen is to obey all the laws of the land.

The interest of the trade union movement in the universal enjoyment of civil rights stems, as I said at the outset, from our dedication to human justice.  At the turn of the century, a convention of the American Federation of Labor enunciated our basic philosophy in one simple sentence—“We call all men brothers.”

That spirit of brotherhood was built into the Constitution of the merged AFL-CIO.  Among the objects and principles of the AFL-CIO, listed in Article 2, are these:

To encourage all workers without regard to race, creed, color, national origin of ancestry to share equally in the full benefits of union organization.

To protect and strengthen our democratic institutions, to secure full recognition and enjoyment of the rights and liberties to which we are justly entitled.”

Again in Article 9, the Executive Council is empowered to see to it that “all workers whatever their race, color, creed or national origin are entitled to share in the full benefits of trade union organization.”

And finally, in article 13, as an additional empowering step, the Constitution calls for the creation of a Committee on Civil Rights, “vested with the duty and responsibility to assist the Executive Council to bring about at the earliest possible date the effective implementation of the principle stated in this Constitution of non-discrimination.

These provisions in the AFL-CIO Constitution are not a dead-letter—they are an everyday working policy.  Yet, a number of our 68,000 local unions still ignore or violate that policy.  Let me assure you, we are working on them.

It is not our purpose to try to settle each case that comes up on an ad hoc basis.  By direction of the AFL-CIO Executive Council I have called a national conference of labor representatives in Washington, D.C.  At that conference, our unions will be informed of measures we expect them to take in order to make certain that all their local unions comply fully with the basic AFL-CIO policy to accord equality of economic opportunity to all workers, regardless of race, color, or creed.

Aside from the problems of equality of education and equality of economic opportunity—which, by the way involves a great deal more employer cooperation than union compliance—we are still stymied in our efforts to eliminate discrimination by the failure thus far to overcome the hurdles blocking enactment of civil rights legislation.

This legislation, as you know, seeks to establish equal status before the law for minority groups.  Without such equality before the law, the American ideal of freedom and democracy becomes a hollow mockery.

I am confident that this civil rights legislation would be adopted by both Houses of Congress were it not for the rule permitting endless filibusters in the Senate.  To date, all efforts to amend that rule so that the will of the majority can prevail have been fruitless.  The cause of justice has been defeated time and again by those elected to public office to administer justice.

The problem of coping with faithless and hypocritical politicians, who thwart the will of the people, can be solved in the same way we dealt with the faithless and hypocritical Communists.  They must be exposed.  The voters must be aroused to the American ideal and betray it ruthlessly at every turn.  The day of reckoning is coming.

Yes, it is coming soon.  To the impatient the progress achieved to date may appear slow and disappointing.  But to anyone who studies the developments of the past decade, it becomes apparent that a strong tide is running.

My confidence is based upon one all-important factor.  Aside from our moral responsibility to accord equal justice to all citizens, we are faced with a practical compulsion to do so in order to survive.  In the court of world opinion, the great weakness in America’s case—in the case of the free way of life against totalitarianism—is our failure to eliminate racial discrimination.  

Unless we can rally world opinion to our side, unless we can establish a solid front against the philosophy of slave labor and human degradation for which Soviet Russia stands, military power and atom bombs will not help us.  Today, one of the most vulnerable flaws in our national defense is discrimination.

In the clear realization of this truth, in the full knowledge that racial discrimination and intolerance have no rightful place in a free land, we must do our utmost to end these evils as quickly as we can and thereby help to strengthen and make secure the American way of life.

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The president of the AFL-CIO gave this address on receiving the 1957 Philip Murray Award of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. 

Source: Interracial Review  •  June, 1957

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Bill Moyers Interviews Douglass A. Blackmon, author of Slavery by Another Name:

 The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II (2008)

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#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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Faces At The Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism

By Derrick Bell

In nine grim metaphorical sketches, Bell, the black former Harvard law professor who made headlines recently for his one-man protest against the school’s hiring policies, hammers home his controversial theme that white racism is a permanent, indestructible component of our society. Bell’s fantasies are often dire and apocalyptic: a new Atlantis rises from the ocean depths, sparking a mass emigration of blacks; white resistance to affirmative action softens following an explosion that kills Harvard’s president and all of the school’s black professors; intergalactic space invaders promise the U.S. President that they will clean up the environment and deliver tons of gold, but in exchange, the bartering aliens take all African Americans back to their planet. Other pieces deal with black-white romance, a taxi ride through Harlem and job discrimination.

Civil rights lawyer Geneva Crenshaw, the heroine of Bell’s And We Are Not Saved (1987), is back in some of these ominous allegories, which speak from the depths of anger and despair. Bell now teaches at New York University Law School.—Publishers Weekly

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Representing the Race

The Creation of the Civil Rights Lawyer

By Kenneth W. Mack

Representing the Race tells the story of an enduring paradox of American race relations, through the prism of a collective biography of African American lawyers who worked in the era of segregation. . . . Mack reorients what we thought we knew about famous figures such as Thurgood Marshall, who rose to prominence by convincing local blacks and prominent whites that he was—as nearly as possible—one of them. But he also introduces a little-known cast of characters to the American racial narrative. These include Loren Miller, the biracial Los Angeles lawyer who, after learning in college that he was black, became a Marxist critic of his fellow black attorneys and ultimately a leading civil rights advocate; and Pauli Murray, a black woman who seemed neither black nor white, neither man nor woman, who helped invent sex discrimination as a category of law. The stories of these lawyers pose the unsettling question: what, ultimately, does it mean to “represent” a minority group in the give-and-take of American law and politics? /

For Love of Liberty

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Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered

the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar’s astonishing rise to become the world’s principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar’s changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America’s economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan’s bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt’s handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar’s dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today.

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice.

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Michelle Alexander: US Prisons, The New Jim Crow  / Judge Mathis Weighs in on the execution of Troy Davis

The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness 

By Michelle Alexander

The mass incarceration of people of color through the War on Drugs is a big part of the reason that a black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born during slavery. The absence of black fathers from families across America is not simply a function of laziness, immaturity, or too much time watching Sports Center. Hundreds of thousands of black men have disappeared into prisons and jails, locked away for drug crimes that are largely ignored when committed by whites. Most people seem to imagine that the drug war—which has swept millions of poor people of color behind bars—has been aimed at rooting out drug kingpins or violent drug offenders. Nothing could be further from the truth. This war has been focused overwhelmingly on low-level drug offenses, like marijuana possession—the very crimes that happen with equal frequency in middle class white communities.

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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 9 July 2012




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