Saturday, November 10, 2007

African-Americans must rise to the example of our forefathers

By Frank M. Conaway

I once knew a proud man. He was called "black" or "Negro" - or worse. This man worked long hours to provide for his wife and five children. Rain or shine, he rose early and went to his job at the docks. It was a tough job, a thankless job. He didn't mind because he knew he had to provide for his family.

He didn't graduate from elementary school. However, he made his children stay in school because he knew an education would open doors for them that had been closed to him. He made sure he instilled in his kids a sense of values and good moral judgment. And, yes, he voted in every election.

When hard times came, he did not complain. This man was not angry, because he knew anger destroys the soul. Before civil rights became a reality, he dreamed of a better day. He dreamed that his children would become productive citizens.

Our forefathers, like the man I speak of, suffered, fought and died to make our lives better. As they look down on us, they must be so disappointed in what little we have done with our lives. They struggled to make black people equal, to get us the right to vote. What have we done with those hard-won rights? Many of us do not exercise our right to vote, much less become politically active. It is easier to sit back and complain about how unfair life is to African-Americans.

True, sometimes we are stirred to action. It was heartening to see how the African-American community bonded during the recent "Jena 6" ordeal. Black people from all walks of life went to Louisiana, or met at colleges and churches across the United States, to show their solidarity for the six African-American students who were unfairly charged in a racially motivated incident.

But such cases are rare. I have not seen this type of coming together of African-Americans for a long, long time - not since the civil rights movement of the 1960s. We, as a people, need to keep this momentum going. It is fine to support the Jena 6, but will we change how we run our own lives?

To quote Gandhi, "The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems." We need to cure ourselves of our apathy. We need to rid ourselves of the collective chip on our shoulders and stop asking what's going to be done for us. If our noise-making isn't followed by action, it serves no purpose other than to grab headlines.

Many immigrants, legal and illegal, have arrived in the United States with little money in their pockets, not speaking English and with no transferable education. Yet they are industrious and find ways to make a living. Often, they work long hours in what others would call disagreeable jobs. However, within a generation, many become productive citizens who give back to the community. Many immigrants struggle to send their children to college. In turn, many of the second generation become professionals. Once immigrant families are established as citizens, they become politically active so their voices can be heard.

Many African-American dreamers have also turned their dreams into reality: people such as Booker T. Washington, Rosa Parks, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. These men and women and countless others paved the road for us with their blood, struggles and suffering. We need to get back on this road and travel together to keep their dreams alive.

The African-American community needs to wake from its collective sleep and begin to live its dreams. We began to wake up with the Jena 6. Now, we need to take a cue from the examples set by immigrants. If this is too uncomfortable, we should look back to our forefathers, who fought for our equality.

It will take hard work. Blacks are a strong force, one to be reckoned with - if we would only get our acts firmly together and stop lamenting what could or should be. African-Americans need to finally begin to be accountable for their lives and take action to improve their lot in life - like that man with the five children and almost no education, who yet managed to achieve a better life for his family.

He was my father.

The fact is that too often, we are our own oppressors. A strong dose of self-respect is greatly needed to cure the many social ills that plague the black community. We need to stop making excuses for our misfortunes and get on with it. These are tough words, I know. But sometimes the truth hurts.

Frank M. Conaway is clerk of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.,0,1982419.story

Thursday, November 8, 2007

As Michael Baisden Holds Fundraiser, Students To Rally In Atlanta

You're probably already familiar with the Fundraiser Michael Baisden is holding on Friday and Saturday nights for his UnEqual Justice Fund. You should also be familiar with what studnents at Georgia State are doing during the day on Saturday November the 10 in Atlanta.

Led by Professor Cindy Milligan, Students will hold a rally on campus, and speak to the issues.

"We Speak For Justice"
A Rally for focusing on the issues surrounding The Jena 6, put on by students

Where: Georgia State Unversity, Student Center, 44 Courtland Street.

When: Saturday November 10, 2007, 3:00 - 4:30

"GSU's Advanced Public Speaking class (Speech 3010) has taken on a very interesting project this semester called "We Speak For Justice." I offered them the opportunity to learn how to organize a rally and create a public forum to express their personal ideas and opinions. Without hesitation, each of them embraced the idea with enthusiasm and commitment and organized a rally focusing on the issues surrounding The Jena 6." - Prof Milligan

If you're in the Atlanta area, please support these students, these young adults in their effort. Also check out there webpage on the rally for more:

Rapper Bun B Speaks on Jena Six

Bun B would be known to most of you as a so-called gangsta rapper.

To me, he’s know as a highly underrated (at least outside the south) ill MCee, and half of the legendary Hip Hop due UGK or Underground Kings. They came up out of Port Author Texas in the early 90s, and me being a Louisiana boy of about 13, their shit got big play around my way; though they weren’t really known nationally.

People think rappers are dumb and pointless by definition, and truth be told, a lot them are. But many of them are not. So peep Bun speaking intelligently and articulately about the Jena situation and how he relates being where he’s from:

Also peep Mos Def on the situation again, going off on the punk-ass rapper community. Mos and Bun were at the Jena March:

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Jena 6 In Court - November 7th, 2007

Four of the Jena 6 Bryant Purvis, Robert Bailey Jr, Carwin Jones and Theo Shaw were arraigned today on charges of second degree aggravated battery. Purvis, who was previously charged with second degree murder had his charge reduced today.

According to the AP News: “Purvis is set to stand trial as an adult in March 2008. If convicted, he could be imprisoned for up to 22 years.”

Not at the Fight, and Not Arrested Until the Next Day:

Purvis has contended that he wasn’t even apart of the Justin Barker beating, and only saw the fight from a far. The fact that he wasn’t arrested on the spot the day of the fight tends to support this. He didn’t get arrested until the next day, from what I can glean is based on one witness saying they may have seen him in the fight. Though not at the fight, he was however the leader of the protest under the “white’s tree” that led this same DA, Reed Walters, to threaten to end protesting black student’s lives with a stroke of his pen.

I posted video of Tina Jones, Purvis’ mother, talking about this at the Jena March, with Purvis standing along side her.

According to the AP News article: Purvis' lawyer, Darrell Hickman, said Purvis was "30 feet away from the melee when it took place" and that the charges against Purvis should be dismissed. If they aren't, Hickman said he will seek a change of venue because of the intense emotions and attention tied to the case in Jena.
"There has just been too much that has gone on here in Jena," he said. "It would be impossible for everyone to put aside those feelings."

Purvis, who attended the hearing neatly dressed in a white shirt, black slacks and a necktie, was accompanied by his mother and brother.

Now a senior attending classes in Texas, Purvis said he's concentrating on his studies and basketball, and hopes to attend college.