Design a site like this with
Get started

The real story of the sundown towns of America that banned Black people after nightfall

HBO series Lovecraft Country, which references the dark and racist history of the United States. In the series, based on a novel by the same name, three Black travelers drive through 1950s America and get to a sundown town, where they are immediately pulled over by a cop. The cop threatens fatal violence if they don’t leave before sundown.

The scene brought back discussions around the troubled history of sundown towns and how some still do exist in various forms. Sundown towns were real across the U.S. from 1890 to the years following Jim Crow. They were all-white communities or counties that intentionally excluded Black people and other minorities through discriminatory laws, threats, harassment or use of violence.

These all-white communities were named sundown towns because they were places where Black people were allowed in during the day to work or shop but had to be gone by nightfall. “There were thousands of these sundown communities and most of them were predominant in the Midwest, in the West and in the North,” author Candacy Taylor told WBUR. “So most people assume it was the South that was the problem, but that really wasn’t the case.”

After slavery was abolished in the United States, many White lawmakers in the South introduced discriminatory policies leading to the establishment of the Jim Crow era. There was segregation in trains, buses, schools and other public facilities. And it was around this same period that many sundown towns emerged. But these sundown towns were not only in the South as already mentioned.

During the Great Migration, which began in about 1910, large numbers of Black people left the South to escape racism and poverty. Many moved to the North, Midwest, and West, thinking they would find a better life in other areas of the U.S. But they were wrong. History says that as more and more Black people began to migrate to other regions of the country, many towns that were predominantly White started using discriminatory laws and other means to discourage Black people from living among them.

It is unknown exactly how many sundown towns the U.S. had, but historians estimate that there were up to 10,000 sundown towns across the country between 1890 and 1960 and they were mostly in the Mid-West and West. At many sundown towns, signs were posted at the city limits. “N—-r, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On You In Alix”, one of the signs in Alix, Arkansas, in the 1930s, read. Other towns posted: “Whites Only After Dark.”

Some sundown towns also used discriminatory housing covenants to make sure that no Black person would be allowed to purchase or rent a home, according to BlackPast. “Cool Summers, Mild Winters, No Blizzards, No Negroes,” the town of Mena, Arkansas, advertised. There are also stories of how Black people who passed through these sundown towns but did not leave after dark were arrested, beaten, or sometimes killed by White residents.

Of course, there were sundown towns in the North, Midwest, and West that did not display signs warning Black people to stay out, but they enforced racial restrictions through violence. In 1930, two Black teens were lynched in Marion, Indiana, compelling the town’s Black residents numbering about 200 to leave. In the 1950s, a white mob also took to the streets of Vienna, Illinois, after a Black man escaped from prison. The mob set fire to many Black homes, forcing residents of those homes to flee.

And in some sundown towns, businesses that hired Black employees or served Black customers were boycotted by White residents. In some cases, Black motorists who passed through such towns were followed by police or residents to the city limits.

“The sundown town was really a way that the North and West patrolled and monitored race without having the dirty signs of saying ‘colored only’ or ‘whites only,’ ” said Taylor. “[It’s] almost a covert operation because there would just be one sign at the county line saying ‘N-word, don’t let the sun set on you here’.”

As sundown towns rose, Black people or Black travelers who wanted to tour the U.S. found it difficult traveling long distances, especially by car. BlackPast writes that in 1930, 44 of the 89 counties along the famous Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles had no motels or restaurants and forbade Blacks from entering after dark.

Owing to these difficulties, a postal worker from Harlem known as Victor H. Green penned The Negro Motorist Green Book to help Black people or travelers find safe places to stay, shop and eat on the road. Printed from 1936 to 1967, the book was used by two million people.

James Loewen, a sociologist, also researched and wrote the book “Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism,” in 2005, providing what he calls “the world’s only registry of sundown towns.”

Loewen during his research also found that many of the sundown towns burnt signs, adding that there is no official record that some existed at all. To Taylor, sundown towns are just like any other towns in America.

“I have been to a couple that still seem to hold on to their racist heritage, and they have a large number of white supremacist groups,” the author, who has spent time documenting Green Book sites and exploring how Black Americans can travel safely across the U.S in 2021, said. She added that some towns like Harrison, Arkansas, still display confederate flags and “big, scary signs”.


I Can’t Breathe

We know it was a lynching and wanted to directly share the words of one of our correspondences.

I Can’t Breathe by Kevin Rashid Johnson
We Can’t Breathe: On the Lynching of George Floyd. by Kevin Rashid Johnson:

On May 24, 2020, a crowd of onlookers witnessed the slow death by asphyxiation of a handcuffed Black man in Minneapolis.

This was a public lynching.

Only, unlike in times past, this crowd didn’t cheer but instead pleaded over and over for the cop who murdered George Floyd, to let him breathe; to take his knee off his neck and let him up. Several times onlookers tried to physically intervene, only to be themselves threatened with pig violence.

Also, unlike days of old, this murder was filmed for the world to also witness. And Minneapolis exploded! Thousands poured into the streets in protest.

Until just a few years ago, the world and Amerika at large denied that Black and Brown people in Amerika were routinely murdered by the cops.

The advent of cellphone technology and social media enabled everyday people to force a world in denial to bear witness to the reality of our lives under racist imperialist occupation.

Proportionally, more of us are murdered today by cops than were killed by lynch mobs during the Jim Crow era. And just like during Jim Crow, our killers are protected by a system that closes ranks to villainize the victims and portray our abusers as well-intended arbiters of justice. They’ve even crafted language to recast these killings as benign and something other than murder. Instead of calling it what it is, they’ve coined the euphemism, “police-involved shootings.”

What they are is a continuation of lynching. The cops have always participated in this sort of violence. They’ve never been a source of service or protection in our communities.

Black and brown people have always been corralled into marginalized spaces of Amerikan society where we’ve lived a suffocated existence. We were suffocated to death by everyday Amerikans at the instigation and participation of their elites, political leaders, and often the cops when we were hung from trees.

The lynching by suffocation of George Floyd, like that of Eric Garner in 2014, as they protested over and over “I can’t breathe!”, is but a continuation of the same in a racist capitalist society that must be fundamentally overturned. We’ll never be able to breathe free until it is!

Dare to Struggle Dare to Win!
All Power to the People!

-Kevin Rashid Johnson, MOD New Afrikan Black Panther Party

In 1918 and 2020, Race Colors Amerika’s Response to Epidemics

In 1918 and 2020, Race Colors America’s Response to Epidemics
In 1918 and 2020, Race Colors America’s Response to Epidemics

A century ago, In cities across the nation, black people struck by the flu were often left to fend for themselves.

“In Baltimore, white sanitation department employees refused to dig graves for black flu victims.”

In American epidemics, race is a preexisting condition.

Whether it’s the influenza pandemic of 1918 or COVID-19 over a century later, race and ethnicity have been, and continue to be, enormous factors in determining whether people will receive medical attention when they become ill, and the sort of attention they will receive.

In “The 1919 Influenza Blues,” Essie Jenkins documented the toll the flu took on the country, noting that viruses don’t discriminate when it comes to their victims. She sang:

“People died everywhere
death went creepin’ through the air
and the groans of the rich
sure were sad

But it was God’s own mighty plan
He’s judging this old land
North and South, East and West
can be seen

He killed rich and poor
and he’s going to
kill some more …”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, the 1918 flu infected 500 million people worldwide and resulted in 50 million deaths around the globe, 675,000 of which were American. But while viruses don’t discriminate, people do. In cities across the nation, black people struck by the flu were often left to fend for themselves. They received substandard care in segregated hospitals, where they could be relegated to close quarters in basements, or they were only allowed admittance to black-only hospitals. Even in death, black bodies were neglected by white public infrastructure. In Baltimore that year, white sanitation department employees refused to dig graves for black flu victims after the city’s only black cemetery, Mount Auburn, could not accommodate any more graves.

“The mayor then had to appeal to the War Department, which is now called the Defense Department,” said Marian Moser Jones, a social historian and ethicist of public health at the University of Maryland. “The War Department sent 342 black soldiers, black American soldiers to do the task, which is very much in keeping with the way black soldiers were treated by the Army in the war. They were detailed to the worst duties, the most grueling labor details were the ones who were most often sent out to clean out the trenches after a battle and even exhume and rebury dead soldiers’ remains.

“It’s sort of a continuity from the war. The resources that were there, that were limited, the resources to address African American health and even death were overwhelmed in cities like Baltimore.”

“While viruses don’t discriminate, people do.”

The flu epidemic is inextricably linked to World War I. The first cases in the U.S. were identified in soldiers living in close quarters in Army barracks before heading to Europe to join the war, which the United States entered in April 1917. Even the name that we use to identify the disease, the “Spanish flu,” is inaccurate, according to historian Kenneth C. Davis, author of More Deadly Than War: The Hidden History of the Spanish Flu and the First World War.

“Fear driven by propaganda, censorship and lies were so much a powerful part of the spread of the Spanish flu. People were misled, often deliberately, by officials,” Davis said. “Newspapers were censored. The reason it is the Spanish flu is because of censorship. [During the war] Spain was a neutral country. It didn’t censor its news reports as rigorously as some of the warring countries did, so the first report of a massive epidemic comes out of Madrid in the spring of 1918 and that’s the reason it was reported by Reuters in London that Madrid was under a mass epidemic. That’s the reason it was called the Spanish flu. It certainly didn’t originate there.”

Today, in the age of COVID-19, it’s worth examining the social dynamics of 1918 and how their legacy continues to shape modern public health.

“A lot of my historian friends have a cottage industry now talking about the lessons learned. I’m a bit more cautious,” said Vanessa Northington Gamble, a medical doctor and professor of medical humanities and American studies at George Washington University. “Who you are — and I mean in terms of your race, your gender, where you live — will have a major role in how you experience COVID-19. It also will play a major role in the services that you get. … If there’s anything we can learn from the 1918 influenza epidemic, is that we really have to look at issues around race and class and racial and social inequities.”

Race and Patient Care

When the flu epidemic of 1918 came to Chicago, black people were blamed, and that blame came directly from John Dill Robertson, the city’s commissioner of public health. It wasn’t just white medical officials who engaged in this sort of blame. Robertson had a tremendous influence on the way the Chicago Tribune covered migration, and there, the prejudice was plain. Even before the pandemic reached Chicago, the Tribune’s coverage of migration was alarmist.

A March 5, 1917, headline from the Chicago Daily Tribune, as it was known at the time, blared, Rush of Negroes to City Starts Health Inquiry.

The flu simply heightened those existing prejudices.

“Half a Million Darkies from Dixie Swarm to the North to Better Themselves,” the paper proclaimed July 8, 1918. In the corresponding article, reporter Henry M. Hyde laid out a series of pathologies: Black people moving to Chicago from the South, he wrote, “are compelled to live crowded in dark and insanitary rooms; they are surrounded by constant temptations in the way of wide-open saloons and other worse resorts.”

The reason for such ills wasn’t any innate inferiority that could be attributed to blackness. In an academic paper about Jim Crow and public health, Betsy Schroeder Schlabach, a professor of history and African American studies at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, explained how discriminatory housing policies created ghettos. Black people were relegated to limited parts of the city. Housing was overcrowded, and white landowners became slumlords, charging rents that were 15% to 25% higher for black tenants, and then refused to make needed repairs when asked.

“When the flu epidemic of 1918 came to Chicago, black people were blamed.”

“The way that the Tribune, especially, talks about disease is the same way they talk about the Great Migration: swarms of migrants coming to the city and bringing with them all sorts of disease,” Schroeder Schlabach said. “There’s similar ways that today we talk about the border or the way definitely [President Donald] Trump talks about immigration crisis and disease.”

Interestingly, the Nov. 2, 1918, edition of the Cleveland Advocate bore the headline: Flu Shuns Us, Says Health Doctor, referring to black people. The idea that black people were not getting the flu, or dying from it the way white people were, was a widely held belief at the time, Gamble said. Getting a clear picture of what black people experienced nationally during the flu pandemic is difficult. Gamble thinks that segregated black neighborhoods may have functioned as a makeshift quarantine. But it’s also likely that instances of black illness were underreported.

“The only year in the 20th century when black people in the USA had lower influenza mortality than white people was 1918,” researchers Helene Økland and Svenn-Erik Mamelund wrote in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. “One hypothesis is that black people, who mainly lived in the South and under miserable living and working conditions, cramped conditions, white racism and violence, and poor medical care, were less susceptible to the 1918 influenza pandemic autumn wave due to higher exposure to the less virulent spring and summer waves. However, this hypothesis, the mechanisms for the crossover in the role of race in 1918 pandemic mortality, and the subsequent return to the ‘normal’ pattern of higher black than white mortality in 1919, have received little attention in the literature, nor has this [or other] hypothesis been theoretically or empirically substantiated.”

“The idea that black people were not getting the flu, or dying from it the way white people were, was a widely held belief at the time,”

Gamble was also circumspect about fully trusting black infection statistics. “I do not say it’s definitive. There’s some indications [that black people were less affected],” she said. “And black physicians believed it too. But even if the incidence was lower, the number of black people who got influenza in 1918 overwhelmed the health care and social services institutions that were available to black people. So black hospitals were overwhelmed. Black nurses were overwhelmed. Things such as the National Urban League, they had volunteers to go into homes to try and take care of people. They were overwhelmed, and especially because the black community, for the most part, was left on its own.”

Shroeder Schlabach found that Robertson’s public health edicts functioned as another layer of Jim Crow laws, limiting the movement of black Americans, and effectively quarantining them to ghettos on the city’s South Side. Public health officials became a de facto police force. Beginning in 1917, Robertson’s health department passed 75 regulations, regulating where people could drink water to where children could play. It also implemented mandatory reporting of flu cases.

“If you caught influenza, you were obligated to self-quarantine and then report that you had caught it to the Department of Public Health, and then they would come to your house and placard your house, like put a big red sign up on your house,” Schroeder Schlabach said. “That served to stigmatize disease. The Public Health Department sent visiting nurses on expeditions to find people who were sick. They would visit homes, and that resulted in about 40,000 visits [across the city] during the pandemic where nurses and public health officials could come into your house without your permission and ask if you were infected.

“What that does, especially for black households during the pandemic, is it takes away the sanctity of the home, giving the Public Health Department, who also had the power of the police, entering into your home. For the black family in early 20th-century Chicago, that’s a direct threat to their safety. These ordinances about mandated reporting of disease were the ones that functioned similarly to Jim Crow laws that regulated all facets of black life.”

“Black hospitals were overwhelmed. Black nurses were overwhelmed.”

Black people who were wealthy enough could visit a doctor in his office. Dr. Roscoe Giles, for example, placed ads in The Chicago Defender announcing his services. But for those who were less fortunate, Provident Hospital, the nation’s first black-owned and -operated hospital, was one of the few places where black people could be seen and treated. While black medical schools, such as Howard University Medical School, which grew out of the Freedmen’s Hospital in Washington, and Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, were instrumental in turning out black physicians, Provident was crucial in training black nurses.

The Defender also ran columns by Dr. Wilberforce A. Williams advising black readers how to avoid the flu.

“He combines really practical advice about washing your hands, covering your mouth when you cough, but also, ‘If you want to be a good black citizen, donate to these things,’ or, ‘Live hygienically, and that means you can be a good person,’ ” Schroeder Schlabach said. “I found that to be a really interesting mix in his articles. In one article, he chastises a young mother who didn’t want to report that her child had contracted the disease because she feared social isolation. He just rakes her over the coals like, ‘This is foolish. You can’t put your pride before the well-being of the community.’ ”

Even as they were relegated to inadequate medical facilities, with black doctors and nurses facing shabby treatment and disrespect, black people still found ways to make the best of horrible situations.

“Black Chicagoans responded with innovation and tremendous grit and determination,” Schroeder Schlabach said. “At one point, the Public Health Department mandated that people needed to wear a mask. And what a group of black Chicago ladies do is that they start innovating with the masks and making them out of delicate lace and exquisite jewels. So even in the face of the pandemic, they were looking fabulous in these diamond-studded flu veils. Doctors and nurses just refused to accept any form of segregation. They’re more like icons. I see that as remarkable determination.”

Race, Professionalism and Modern Inequality

The effects of America’s doctrine of separate and unequal life permeated everything during the 1918 flu epidemic. It not only shaped who received treatment and where, but also which people were deemed qualified to provide medical care.

In the midst of the first World War and the flu epidemic, there was a hope that black people could prove themselves as full Americans by serving their country, both in the medical field and in the military. The occupations, they hoped, would function as a “citizenship machine.”

“It was W.E.B. Du Bois who really motivated African Americans to enlist and join the Army,” Davis said. “He thought this would really prove how they were loyal Americans who could make a great contribution to the war effort and to fighting. And some of the first American troops to go to France were African American troops, including the very famous group known as the Harlem Hellfighters.”

Yet white institutions like the American Red Cross (ARC) were loath to accept black nurses into their ranks to help with the war effort until the situation was so dire that they had no choice.

“Many African American women were rebuffed by ARC chapters when they sought to participate, and had to create their own alternatives for wartime voluntarism,” Moser Jones wrote in a case study of the American Red Cross’s response to the flu pandemic. “Similarly, black women seeking to enroll as ARC nurses met with frustration. During the war, the ARC served as the official recruiter of nurses for the U.S. Armed Forces. The nursing division, which required every ARC nurse to have completed three years of training in an accredited nursing school, enrolled 24,000 trained nurses. Trained black nurses, however, were rejected for service abroad, and were only enrolled as reserve members of the home defense program.”

“They were finally allowed to come in and treat white soldiers, but they were still of course living in segregated facilities,” Davis said. “So, even the angels of mercy taking care of these dying soldiers still had to confront the racism of the day.”

“White institutions like the American Red Cross (ARC) were loath to accept black nurses into their ranks.”

A job listing in the December 1918 Monthly Bulletin of the Department of Public Health and Charities of the City of Philadelphia was openly discriminatory:

There are four vacancies for assistant physicians at the Philadelphia Hospital for the Insane. Thirty-fourth and Pine Streets, two at a salary of $900 per annum and two at $720 per annum, including board, lodging, and laundry. Applicants must be white, twenty-one years of age, residents of Philadelphia, and licensed to practice in the State of Pennsylvania. These positions are open to both sexes. Successful candidates must reside at the hospital.

The Nov. 2, 1918, edition of The Chicago Defender reported that a black nurse named Olive Walker in Ohio was “denied the privilege of helping the Red Cross nurse committee to down the influenza epidemic at Hiram College. The dean of the college refused to allow her to serve when he became aware of her racial identity.” Lincoln Hospital in New York would hire black nurses, but not black physicians, Gamble said. And even the famous Dr. Giles of The Chicago Defender was asked to leave a new job at a tuberculosis sanitarium after six hours on the job. White patients didn’t want him to treat them.

Public health historians say that prejudice in American health care is once again at the forefront with the emergence of COVID-19. This time, Asians are the target of racialized scapegoating, from the Trump administration labeling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” to Asian Americans being blamed for the pandemic’s presence in America.

“I called my mother, who works at a hospital in Northern California,” wrote Frank Shyong, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. “I asked her to stay home, but her boss told her if she didn’t show up, she would lose her job. At work, patients sometimes refuse to be seen by her, because suddenly an Asian woman in a face mask is a threat.”

“Lincoln Hospital in New York would hire black nurses, but not black physicians.”

In November 1918, the Rev. Francis J. Grimke preached a sermon about the flu epidemic and what lessons could be gleaned from it. His words, delivered to the 15th Street Presbyterian Church in Washington, still hold tremendous relevance:

Jesus said, “The first and great commandment is, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.’ And the second is like unto it, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ Upon these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Race prejudice, colorphobia, runs directly counter to both of these great commandments. And, therefore, never mind what the white man may think of it, we see clearly what God thinks of it, and it is the estimate that He puts upon it that is to determine its character. Let us hope, therefore, not only for the sake of people of color, but also for the sake of the white people themselves that the great lesson as to the folly of race prejudice — of assuming that a white skin entitles one to better treatment than a dark skin, which this epidemic has so strikingly taught, may not be lost upon them. It is a lesson which for their own sake it is well for them to learn. It will be better for them here, and it will be better for them hereafter, if they learn it, and learn it well. And, of course, it will be better for us as a race in this country. It will remove out of the way some very serious obstacles to our progress, and will relieve us of many of the disagreeable things that we are at present forced to endure, though not without protest.

COVID-19 has not only brought interpersonal racism to the fore, but heightened the degree to which structural racism affects treatment and care.

Public defender Scott Hechinger and defense attorney Rebecca Kavanagh have pleaded with officials to release inmates as COVID-19 has spread through the close quarters of Rikers Island, New York City’s main jail complex. Similar situations exist in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities, where detainees are facing shortages of soap. Both places disproportionately house black and brown people.

“My worry is that there will be two standards of care, that incarcerated patients with one set of symptoms may be denied access to hospitals, even though in the community people with the same sets of symptoms do go to the hospital,” Dr. Homer Venters, the former chief medical officer for New York jails, told The Guardian. “And then that will lead to different rates of deaths and certainly to different rates of preventable deaths among people who are behind bars.”

“Detainees are facing shortages of soap.”

As with the 1918 flu, responses, or lack thereof, to COVID-19 have become tied up with patriotism and xenophobia in ways that exacerbate the spread of disease. In the midst of the 1918 pandemic, Philadelphia hosted a massive parade to sell war bonds to pay for the American war effort.

“There was enormous pressure,” Davis said. “If you didn’t buy the war bonds, you weren’t doing your part. You were a slacker. So 200,000 people go out, even though the health department knows that the virus is in and around Philadelphia, on the Navy bases, and they were going to have this parade and soldiers and sailors were going to be marching in the parade. Two days after that parade, every hospital bed in Philadelphia was filled and it was a complete disaster and it was a disaster because the authorities ignored the advice not to cancel this parade.”

In a live chat with constituents on Facebook, Tate Reeves, the governor of Mississippi, explained his opposition to giving official orders to the public to implement COVID-19 quarantines. “Eric Worth [a constituent] says ‘China did a lockdown and it was good for them. Why can’t Mississippi?’ Well, Eric, I’m going to tell you that Mississippi is never going to be China,” Reeves said. He has since given a shelter-in-place order to one county in the eastern part of the state, but insisted that a statewide shelter-in-place order was “not sustainable.”

In 1918, “things like the war effort and paying for the war and patriotism and support for the war, really outdid the concern for public health,” Davis said. “They were so interested to keep the troops going to Europe that they kept filling these ships up with sick men and these ships became what were called floating coffins. So, that’s a really important lesson as well. Misplaced priorities. When you place things like the economy over the public health, you do so at grave peril to many, many people.”


Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy

The 1898 white supremacist riot in Wilmington, North Carolina, which African American writer Charles Chesnutt immortalized in his novel The Marrow of Tradition (1901), is brought to life again in this new historical account.

Image result for Wilmington’s Lie The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy


Wilmington’s Lie
The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy

David Zucchino
Atlantic Monthly Press
ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2838-6

The curtain of segregation and white supremacy fell so hard on African Americans in the first six decades of the 20th century that, in hindsight, its crushing power takes on a certain air of inevitability. As a result, sometimes we tend to overlook the particulars of its origins.

We know that the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) dismantled the legal underpinnings of Southern segregation and the entrenched doctrine of “separate but equal,” as established 58 years earlier in another landmark court ruling, Plessy v. Ferguson (1896).

But the codification of that “separate but equal” doctrine and the brutal, decidedly unequal conditions of segregation for which it cleared the way was hardly an inevitable consequence of prevailing attitudes on race at the turn of the century. Likewise, its judicial reversal in Brown—or the prolonged, painful, costly, and unfinished struggle to make Brown’s challenge to white supremacy stick—didn’t simply happen because the immutable forces of history had their way.

The negation of the egalitarian impulses of Congressional Reconstruction and the triumph of segregation at the turn of the century didn’t begin with Plessy. The white supremacist revolution that overturned the seemingly self-evident implications of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments and African Americans’ relentless struggle for self-determination came about not, primarily, through the tidy outcomes of court cases, legislation, or electorally articulated popular will. Rather, white supremacy consolidated its power through political calculation, racist defamation, intimidation, terrorism, and premeditated, remorseless violence.

One reason 20th century Jim Crow’s 19th century backstory remained obscured for so long is the power of political propaganda before and after the fact that buried our history’s ugliest moments and distorted the details that survived.

One of the most cataclysmic and little known or understood events in the rise of white supremacy in the late 1800s—and perhaps the final nail in the coffin of Reconstruction, two decades after the removal of federal troops from the South—occurred in Wilmington, North Carolina on November 10, 1898, when white supremacists engineered a military coup to overthrow the city’s elected government.

In a single day white militias burned a black newspaper office to the ground, attacked the black population en masse with a staggering arsenal—including a rapid-fire Gatling gun—and drove the remnants of the Wilmington’s Fusionist (a racially integrated Republican-Populist party) government from the city, quickly installing coup leaders in its place.

In Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Zucchino cuts through a century of propaganda, myth, and big white lies to unmask the stunning history of the Wilmington coup, its origins in the political climate of the era, and its far-reaching implications for North Carolina and the rest of the resurgent Confederacy in the decades that followed.

Much like Steve Luxenberg in his similarly well researched and swiftly paced Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson and America’s Journey from Slavery to Segregation, Zucchino introduces a cast of fascinating and remarkably well-drawn characters that populate his narrative. As such, Wilmington’s Lie could benefit from a dramatis personae like the one that precedes the opening pages of Separate.

Zucchino depicts Wilmington as a city with a large and uncharacteristically affluent black population, including an influential and fearless newspaper editor and publisher in the Record’s Alexander Manly, and a number of blacks serving in the city government and police force. Wilmington was also, at that time, the preeminent city in a state still run (if somewhat ineffectually) by a Republican governor, Wilmington native Daniel Lindsay Russell.

In 1898, many years into the Redemption era—in which white supremacist Southerners “redeemed” their states from the Republican ravages of Reconstruction (foremost among them black male suffrage)—North Carolina stood apart from some other states in that Republicans retained a strong influence in the state. What’s more, many blacks were still participating actively in elections and government.

Wilmington’s unusual heritage as a place where freemen and freedmen thrived enhanced its appeal for middle-class blacks three decades after the end of the Civil War. The elections of November 9, 1898, afforded Democrats and white supremacists an opportunity to take back a considerable portion of Wilmington’s local government, although some offices would remain beyond their electoral reach for another five months.

Paying close attention to Wilmington affairs in the run-up to the election was Josephus Daniels, editor and publisher of North Carolina’s largest newspaper, the Raleigh-based News & Observer. Daniels emphatically positioned his paper as “the militant voice of white supremacy.”

In 1898 Daniels mounted a virulent propaganda campaign against Wilmington’s Fusionists. Daniels’ purpose was twofold: Through his own scathing editorials and the jarringly racist political cartoons of his protégé Norman Jennett, the News & Observer portrayed Fusionists and Republicans as treasonous enemies of the South, and Wilmington blacks as buffoons, brutes, and rapists, allegedly arming themselves for riot and race war.

Also sounding the call for white supremacist revolution was Alfred Moore Waddell, a Confederate colonel and former North Carolina congressman desperate for a path back into power. Waddell was convinced, Zucchino writes, “that no other white man in Wilmington possessed his ability to draw lessons from the past and proscribe the future.” Days before the 1898 elections, Waddell told an assembled crowd of Wilmington whites, “We will have no more of the intolerable conditions under which we live. We are resolved to change them if we have to choke the Cape Fear with carcasses!”

Indeed, as Zucchino so vividly recounts, Waddell successfully intimidated the vast majority of Wilmington’s blacks into avoiding the polls on November 9, securing the desired Democratic landslide. The following day, Waddell would lead the charge of 2,000 white supremacists to wage war on Wilmington’s black citizens, killing at least 60, driving 1,500 or more into hiding in the swamps and forests outside of town, and permanently exiling hundreds more.

Waddell’s coup would also force what remained of the Fusionist government to leave the city. He installed himself as mayor, with a full complement of like-minded white supremacists joining him in power.

Wilmington’s Lie proves equally revelatory in Zucchino’s portrayal of the aftermath of the bloody coup, in which the implications of the book’s title become frightfully clear. Zucchino details how the myths that Waddell, Daniels and others created before and after the events of November 10 gave rise to legal campaigns to crush black male suffrage in North Carolina and effectively drive blacks out of political and electoral power for decades to come. Zucchino astutely describes the North Carolina suffrage amendment of 1899–1900 and the “grandfather clause” that virtually nullified blacks’ voting rights as “marvels of political opportunism” quickly copied by other states throughout the South.

These laws left blacks in a state of near-complete disenfranchisement throughout most of the region until the Voting Rights Act of 1965—just one example of the staggering consequences of an outrage still little-known outside of North Carolina, and barely acknowledged in the city of Wilmington itself for more than a century after it occurred.

As Zucchino also notes, sustaining the odious legacy of Daniels, Waddell, and others, the Republican supermajority North Carolina legislature of the mid-2010s continued to innovate in the strategic perpetuation of white supremacist electoral power, returning the state to the vanguard of systemic African American vote suppression.

Why Don’t We Raise the RBG Flag?

Why don’t we raise the RBG flag? The answer, quite simply, is because we raise the Red Flag of Revolution. The red, black and green flag designed by Marcus Garvey has been popularly adopted to represent Black nationalism in Amerika. People may ask, “Don’t you believe Black people have been constituted as a nation within the U.S.?”

Yes, we do, specifically in the “Black Belt” South under the post-slavery conditions of neo-feudalism (share-cropping) and “Jim Crow” segregation. We also believe that the U.S. was constituted as a “white” nation under the conditions of colonization, genocide, slavery and racial segregation. But as Huey P. Newton pointed out, the U.S. has ceased to a nation and has become a globe-reaching empire, which makes it impossible for other nations to have an independent existence.

If the Black (New Afrikan) Nation can no longer meet the criteria to be a nation, and colonizationnational independence is precluded by Empire’s global domination, then what is the path to Black liberation? It is World Proletarian Socialist Revolution, which will create a world without borders and nation states, based upon revolutionary people’s power and the leadership of the world proletariat.

The World has become too small for independent nation states, and too advanced for capitalist-imperialism and private ownership of the means of production. Capitalism has made itself obsolete, and it needs to be swept aside in the interests of humanity.

Nations and nationalism belong to a specific time period in history, the period of rising capitalism and throwing off the yoke of feudal oppression. As Stalin pointed out, “The national question is essentially a peasant question.” The peasant’s demand for land and liberation from feudal oppression is championed by the rising bourgeoisie who establish their borders and claim a monopoly on the use of force within them, and the exclusive right to exploit the natural resources and labor power of the proletarians within those borders, as well as the right to levy, enact laws and conscript soldiers.

But as imperialism develops, the national bourgeoisie are superseded by and subordinated to the imperialist bourgeoisie, which increasingly becomes transnational. Formerly independent nation states are converted to junior partners in global imperialism or dependent neo-colonial puppet regimes. The path to liberation thus switches from national liberation to overthrowing Empire and creating global revolutionary intercommunalism as a stepping stone to global classless society.

There cannot be a “Black revolution,” simply because there is only one monopoly ruling class oppressing everyone on the planet, and it is in everybody’s interest to overthrow them and seize control over the means of production from them. The world proletariat is black, brown and white, in essence, it has no nationality, no gender. The proletariat is all of us who must sell our labor power to the capitalists for less than it is worth. It is also the “Last Class in History,” because it is its historic destiny to liberate itself by ending the division of society into exploiting and exploited classes.

The proletariat’s flag is red, for revolution, and for the blood of slaves, serfs and workers shed over centuries in struggle against oppression and for liberation. Realizing that nationalism is now a dead end, why would we want to promote it? Revolution belongs to the people – ALL THE PEOPLE – who dare to be free. As Malcolm X put it;

 “I believe that there will be ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those who do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the system of exploitation. I believe that there will be that kind of clash, but I don’t think it will be based on the color of the skin…”

Malcolm X also said: “You can’t operate a capitalistic system unless you are vulturistic; you have to have someone else’s blood to suck to be a capitalist. You show me a capitalist, I’ll show you a bloodsucker… It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck. Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it’s more like a vulture. It used to be strong enough to go and suck anybody’s blood whether they were strong or not. But now it has become more cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless. As the nations of the world free themselves, the capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It’s only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely.”



Marian Anderson: Let Us Break Bread Together

Let us break bread together on our knees

Let us break bread together on our knees

When I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun

O Lord, have mercy on me

Let us drink wine together on our knees

Let us drink wine together on our knees

When I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun

O Lord, have mercy on me

Let us praise God together on our knees

Let us praise God together on our knees

When I fall on my knees with my face to the rising sun

O Lord, have mercy on me



It took 10 minutes to convict 14-year-old George Stinney Jr. It took 70 years after his execution to exonerate him.

Racism, U.S. Racism, U.S. History, Black History, African American History, George Stinney, KOLUMN Magazine, KOLUMN, KINDR'D Magazine, KINDR'D, Willoughby Avenue, WRIIT,

George Stinney Jr was executed in 1944 for the murder of two white girls. (Reuters)

In March 1944, deep in the Jim Crow South, police came for 14-year-old George Stinney Jr. His parents weren’t at home. His little sister was hiding in the family’s chicken coop behind the house in Alcolu, a segregated mill town in South Carolina, while officers handcuffed George and his older brother, Johnnie, and took them away.

Two young white girls had been found brutally murdered, beaten over the head with a railroad spike and dumped in a water-logged ditch. He and his little sister, who were black, were said to be last ones to see them alive. Authorities later released the older Stinney – and directed their attention toward George.

“[The police] were looking for someone to blame it on, so they used my brother as a scapegoat,” his sister Amie Ruffner told WLTX-TV earlier this year.

On June 16, 1944, he was executed, becoming the youngest person in modern times to be put to death. On Wednesday, 70 years later, he was exonerated.

Stinney’s case has tormented civil rights advocates for years.

He was questioned in a small room, alone – without his parents, without an attorney. (Gideon v. Wainwright, the landmark Supreme Court case guaranteeing the right to counsel, wouldn’t be decided until 1963.) Police claimed the boy confessed to killing Betty June Binnicker, 11, and Mary Emma Thames, 8, admitting he wanted to have sex with Betty. They rushed him to trial.

After a two-hour trial and a 10-minute jury deliberation, Stinney was convicted of murder on April 24 and sentenced to die by electrocution, according to a book by Mark R. Jones. At the time, 14 was the age of criminal responsibility. His lawyer, a local political figure, chose not to appeal.

Stinney’s initial trial, the evidence – or lack of it – and the speed with which he was convicted seemed to illustrate how a young black boy was railroaded by an all-white justice system. During the one-day trial, the defense called few or no witnesses. There was no written record of a confession. Today, most people who could testify are dead and most evidence is long gone.

New facts in the case prompted Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen to vacate his conviction on Wednesday – 70 years after Stinney’s execution.

“I can think of no greater injustice than the violation of one’s Constitutional rights which has been proven to me in this case,” Mullen wrote.

The case has haunted the town since it happened, but garnered new attention when historian George Frierson, a local school board member raised in Stinney’s hometown, started studying it some years ago. Since then, Stinney’s former cellmate issued a statement saying the boy denied the charges. “I didn’t, didn’t do it,’ ” Wilford Hunter said Stinney told him. “He said, ‘Why would they kill me for something I didn’t do?’ ”

In 2009, an attorney planned to file statements from Stinney’s family members, but waited because he heard a man in Tennessee, who was not related to Stinney, could offer an alibi for the youth. The man never came forward. It reportedly delayed the new trial, but didn’t stop it.

“South Carolina still recognizes George Stinney as a murderer,” defense attorney Matt Burgess told CNN earlier this year. “We felt that something needed to be done about that.”

New details started to emerge. Stinney’s family claimed his confession was coerced, and that he had an alibi that was never heard. That alibi was his sister, now Amie Ruffner, 77. She said she was with him at the alleged time of the crime, watching their family’s cow graze near some railroad tracks by their house when the two girls rode over on their bicycles.

“They said, ‘Could you tell us where we could find some maypops?’ ” Ruffner remembered them saying, according to WLTX-TV. “We said, ‘No,’ and they went on about their business.”

Stinney was accused of murdering the girls while they picked wildflowers.

Stinney’s family fled their home. His brother, Charles, who is now in his 80s, said in a statement they never came forward because they were terrified.

“George’s conviction and execution was something my family believed could happen to any of us in the family. Therefore, we made a decision for the safety of the family to leave it be,” Charles Stinney wrote in his sworn statement.

Aime Ruffner after testifying at a hearing to reopen the case for her brother George Stinney Jr. in Sumter, S.C. (Reuters)

Earlier this year, the case picked up speed. At a hearing in January, Stinney’s family demanded a new trial. Mullen heard testimony from Stinney’s brothers and sisters, a witness from the search party that discovered the bodies and experts who challenged Stinney’s confession. A child forensic psychiatrist testified this week that Stinney’s confession should have never been trusted.

“It is my professional opinion, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that the confession given by George Stinney Jr. on or about March 24, 1944, is best characterized as a coerced, compliant, false confession,” Amanda Sales told the court, according to NBC News. “It is not reliable.”

Still, some argued Stinney’s admission of guilt was clear.

At the time a law enforcement officer named H.S. Newman wrote in a handwritten statement: “I arrested a boy by the name of George Stinney. He then made a confession and told me where to find a piece of iron about 15 inches long. He said he put it in a ditch about six feet from the bicycle.” Few other documents from that time exist.

James Gamble, whose father was the sheriff at the time, told the Herald in 2003 he was in the back seat with Stinney when his father drove the boy to prison.

“There wasn’t ever any doubt about him being guilty,” he said. “He was real talkative about it. He said, ‘I’m real sorry. I didn’t want to kill them girls.’ “

Indeed, just 84 days after the girls’ deaths, Stinney was sent to the electric chair. Today, an appeal from a death sentence is all but automatic, and years, even decades, pass before an execution, which provides at least some time for new evidence to emerge.

Stinney was barely 5 feet tall and not yet 100 pounds. The electric chair’s straps were too big for his frail body. Newspapers at the time reported he had to sit on books to reach the headpiece. And when the switch was flipped, the convulsions knocked down the large mask, exposing his tearful face to the crowd.

Frierson and Stinney’s family maintained that they never wanted a pardon.

“There’s a difference: A pardon is forgiving someone for something they did,” Norma Robinson, George Stinney’s niece, told the Manning Times. “That wasn’t an option for my mother, my aunt or my uncle. We weren’t asking forgiveness.”

Instead, they sought what’s called a “writ of coram nobis.” It means, in essence, mistakes were made.


A modest proposal for the abolition of slavery in America in the 21st century

“Slavery in America” – Art: Arkee Chaney, A71362, P.O. Box 1327, Galesburg IL 61401

by Kevin ‘Rashid’ Johnson, Minister of Defense, New Afrikan Black Panther Party

(Written in 2006*) – “Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing [a people] to slavery.” – Thomas Jefferson: Rights of British America, 1774

United States Constitution, 13th Amendment

“Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

“Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 4

“No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”

With the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in December of 1865, it would seem that slavery was officially abolished in all areas of the U.S., but for the seemingly minor exception of punishment for a crime. Yet, notwithstanding the occupation of the South by the Union Army, the ink was not dry on the parchment when the dreaded “Black Codes” began to be enacted to put the newly freed slaves back into chains.

Ex-slaves who could not prove they had regular employment were arrested and ordered to pay a stiff fine. If they could not pay, they were hired out in involuntary servitude.

Black children were condemned to serve as apprentices in local industry. The chain gang and contract labor became a regular feature of the political economy, alongside sharecropping, Jim Crow segregation, lynching and KKK terror.

Deprived of the vote, citizenship was an empty cup. Despite the gains of the Civil Rights Movement, the chain gang is back, and so is contract labor for prisoners. In the 10 former slave states, those who have ever been convicted of a felony are denied the right to vote, as are all of the more than 2 million prisoners throughout the U.S.

“Why should we vote?” – Art: Arkee Chaney. Arkee weighs in on the voting debate. What’s your answer and why?

All across America, we have witnessed the rise of a new era of slavery, as prison populations have more than tripled in the past three decades. The lines between the criminal justice system and free enterprise have been blurred with the rise of the prison-industrial complex.

The mostly Black, Hispanic and Native American prison populations are ground down by cruel and unusual punishment while being denied a political voice and basic human rights and dignity and are subjected to exploitation by multinational corporations as a captive labor force. This has nothing to do with rehabilitation. You can’t teach citizenship through slavery!

To put an end to this cruelest of oppressions and violation of the inalienable rights of the People, we call for the immediate amendment of the 13th Amendment to end slavery for all, and the extension of universal suffrage to all, including prisoners.

We declare all elections not based upon full universal suffrage to be invalid and powers not derived from the consent of the governed to be usurpations.




Send our brother some love and light: Kevin Johnson, 264847, Pendleton Correctional Facility, G-20-2C, 4490 W. Reformatory Road, Pendleton, IN 46064.

*Rashid suggested this article be republished now to contribute to the discussion and debate about whether or how we should choose our form of government and who should represent us. It originally appeared on his website, at Electoral politics has been a lively and sometimes acrimonious topic on the left for decades that must be revisited frequently as circumstances and public opinion evolve and new ideas are raised and new opportunities revealed. Readers are encouraged to weigh in.

Trump Isn’t Special: All US (united snakes) Presidents Support White Supremacy

William C Anderson, author of a recent article titled, “Using Patriotism to Deflect Racism is a Deadly Mistake,” said “the Oval Office is quite familiar” with white supremacists like Donald Trump. “It misses the point to say things like, ‘Trump is disrespecting the office or lowering the standard of the presidency,’” said Anderson, “when this has always been a white supremacist position.”

source: Trump Isn’t Special: All US Presidents