Emma Goldman was dubbed "one of the most dangerous women in America" by J. Edgar Hoover. But that's just the beginning of a legendary life of keen insight, uncompromising anarchism, and burned bridges. Read the rest
The Howard Buffet Foundation owns 7,500 manuscripts and 2,500 photos of civil rights hero Rosa Parks. They've loaned them to the Library of Congress, who've digitized them and posted them online. Read the rest
The only people who turned up to the much-hyped Anti-Beyonce rally in New York? Fans, one of whom waved a placard asking "Where yall at?"
New York magazine's The Cut reported a grand total of three anti-Beyonce protesters, including a man named Ariel Kohane who told reporters he thought the song "Formation" was a call for violence against police.
Early Tuesday a tweet from "Proud of the Blues" account called on protesters to attend.
Conservatives tried to organize the event, at NFL headquarters, to protest Beyonce's recent performance at the Super Bowl. Featuring black-clad dancers in vaguely-military outfits (and followed-up by a music video portraying police violence against minorities) it led to complaints she was being "divisive" and "the real racist."
But so few turned up to support the complaints yesterday that it's became an embarrassment to those who had promoted the event online.
Here's Saturday Night Live poking fun at white folks dealing badly with getting woke by the new song:
Maryland Judge Robert Nalley pleaded guilty Monday to ordering deputies to shock a defendant with a 50,000-volt charge. Nalley, who presided over Charles County Circuit Court, reportedly agreed to a plea deal whereby he receives a year of probation.
It's not Nalley's first trouble, either: In 2010, he pleaded guilty to tampering with a vehicle after deflating the tires of a cleaning woman's car, to punish her for parking in his space. For that, he was suspended for five days without pay.
CBS News reports that he was charged with violating the victim's rights in the July 2014 stun cuff incident. The maximum sentence is a year in jail and a fine of $100,000.
During jury selection, the defendant, reading from a prepared statement, objected to Nalley's authority to conduct the proceedings. After the man repeatedly ignored Nalley's questions and his commands to stop speaking, Nalley ordered a deputy sheriff to activate a "stun-cuff" the defendant was wearing.
"Do it. Use it," Nalley said.
The defendant stopped speaking when the deputy sheriff approached him and activated the device, which administered an electric shock for about five seconds. The defendant fell to the ground and screamed and Nalley then recessed the proceedings, according to the plea deal's statement of facts.
Ars Technica's David Kravets reports that stun cuffs are the hot new thing.
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[Victim/defendant Delvon L.] King eventually agreed to serve two years after withdrawing a motion for a new trial. In that motion, he said he could not adequately represent himself out of fear of being shocked again.
In the great tradition of political heroes, Martin Luther King's legacy has been sanitized and purged of its most radical and urgent notions, watered down to a kind of meek pacifism that omits his beliefs in radical political change as a necessary condition of attaining real justice. Read the rest
The takeaway from this story: never consent to a warrantless search.
On April 15 a DEA agent boarded a passenger train in Albuquerque and began grilling people about where they were going and why. Joseph Rivers, a 22-year-old black man, told the agent he was going to LA to make a music video. The agent asked Rivers if he could search his bags, and Rivers, bless his naive heart, consented. The agent didn't find drugs or weapons, but he found $16,000 in cash, so he took it, simply because a black man with that much money must be a drug dealer.
Joline Gutierrez Krueger of the Albuquerque Journal writes,
Rivers was left penniless, his dream deferred.
“These officers took everything that I had worked so hard to save and even money that was given to me by family that believed in me,” Rivers said in his email. “I told (the DEA agents) I had no money and no means to survive in Los Angeles if they took my money. They informed me that it was my responsibility to figure out how I was going to do that.”
Other travelers had witnessed what happened. One of them, a New Mexico man I’ve written about before but who asked that I not mention his name, provided a way for Rivers to get home, contacted attorneys – and me.
“He was literally like my guardian angel that came out of nowhere,” Rivers said.
Martin Luther King, Jr.'s soaring oration has come to define how many think of him, so it's interesting to hear Dr. King speaking conversationally in 1964 with Robert Penn Warren, almost in the relaxed feel of a podcast. Read the rest
We've known for years that the FBI spied on Martin Luther King's personal life and sent him an anonymous letter in 1964 threatening to out him for his sexual indiscretions unless he killed himself in 34 days. Now we have an unredacted version of the notorious letter. Read the rest
Bob Fitch snapped this picture of a sheriff’s deputy pursuing photographer Matt Herron during a protest in Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1966. Courtesy the Bob Fitch Photography Archive.
Ben Marks of Collectors Weekly says: "My colleague Hunter Oatman-Stanford has just published an article about the photographers who documented the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and '60s. These photographers, Hunter learned, were deeply committed to the cause of Civil Rights, but their job was not be be heroes—they were expected to get their photos back to the offices of CORE, SNCC, and the NAACP, so they could be distributed to publications around the country in order to get the message out about what was going on down South."
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Although organizations like SNCC supplied photos to both black and white publications, almost all their photographers were white men, which seems surprising for a group promoting integration at all levels of society. “With very few exceptions, we were white,” says Matt Herron, another prominent civil-rights photographer. “It was obviously very dangerous for a black photographer to shoot a demonstration or some public event. Also, to be a freelance photographer in those days, particularly a photojournalist, it required equipment, money, and spare time to teach yourself the craft. Those resources were not generally available to black kids.”
Herron had previously worked for Kodak in Rochester, New York, where he’d become one of Minor White’s students, learning the ins and outs of developing, printing, and photographic aesthetics. Through White, Herron would eventually meet his mentor, Dorothea Lange, who encouraged his interest in social documentary photography.
Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, a major event in the history of civil rights in the United States. Members of the Ku Klux Klan planted a box of dynamite at the church, which was a major organizing center for the black community and civil rights protests. The resulting explosion killed four girls — Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Denise McNair.
That part of the story is pretty well-known. What isn't well known is the fact that one of those girls, Addie Mae Collins, may well have been a victim of racism after her death, thanks to a longstanding tradition where white medical schools raided black cemeteries for dissection cadavers. I happened to stumble across this story last week, while reading Harriet Washington's book, Medical Apartheid. The tale, and how it connects to racism both historical and modern, haunted me all day yesterday. Read the rest
As the Prism/NSA leaks story unfolds, many Americans are left with a cynical "are you surprised?" response that rather misses the point. Recent American history is full of stories of spies using surveillance to target civil rights heroes like Martin Luther King, who was heavily surveilled during the Kennedy administration, culminating with the FBI sending him an anonymous package with evidence of his adultery and a note telling him to kill himself.
Here's a video and transcript of an excellent Chris Hayes editorial on MSNBC in which Hayes reminds us that America's spooks can and do use intelligence to attack causes that are later seen as being on the side of justice:
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In 1964, after Hoover called King the most "notorious liar in the country" in a press conference, a package was sent to King in the mail, a package the House select committee ultimately traced back to the FBI. Inside this package, one of the most remarkable artifacts in American history was an anonymous letter addressed to Martin Luther King and a copy of an electronic surveillance tape apparently to lend credence to threats of exposure of derogatory personal information made in the letter. We don't know to this day for sure what was on that tape. The heavy speculation throughout the years it was of personal and sexual nature recorded by a device planted in Dr. King's hotel room.
The letter that came with the tape read in part, "you know you are complete fraud and a great liability to all of us negroes.