Notebook on Michael Brown, Kajieme Powell, and W.E.B. Du Bois (part 1 of 2)

“No one seems to think it significant that upon the policemen’s arrival Kajieme Powell possibly had reason to fear for his life and reacted in a manner consistent with his disability.” ––Article excerpt (Aberjhani)

“Democracy is not a gift of power, but a reservoir of knowledge.” –– from The Wisdom of W.E.B. Du Bois

The month of August happens to be one in which a number of notable events in African-American history, relatively recent in historical terms, have occurred. There are the birthdays of such celebrated individuals as author James Baldwin (Aug. 2), President Barack Obama (Aug. 4), and philanthropist and performing artist Michael Jackson (Aug. 29).

From this point forward, people shall also certainly recall August 9, 2014, as the day when 18-year-old’s Michael Brown’s death served to ignite a series of violent night-time protests eerily reminiscent of similar scenes from the 1960s. The chaos also functioned as yet one more reminder of how readily the lives of African-American men are deleted from this world by violence.

With the 2009 killing of 22-year-old Oscar Grant in Oakland, Calif., the 2011 execution of Savannah’s 42-year-old Troy Anthony Davis, the 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, and the currently-pending case of 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson found dead in a rolled-up wrestling mat at his school in Lowndes County, Georgia, so fresh in recent memory, such a reminder was hardly necessary.

But there it painfully is. As Jaeah Lee reported in Mother Jones and others have written elsewhere, similar occurrences are far more frequent than many might imagine. This reality is nothing like advantageous diversity that many multiculturalists prefer to believe is possible for the United States. It also says much more about the cost of romanticizing faith in guns and violence than lawmakers and lobbyists seem willing to acknowledge.

To read the full special report article by Aberjhani please click here:
Notebook on Michael Brown, Kajieme Powell, and W.E.B. Du Bois part 1 of 2 – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

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Text and Meaning in Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream Speech (part 1 of 4)

 (photograph of MLK National Memorial by Larry Downing for Reuters)

“He captured the spotlight of history precisely at the right time, and responded with a blueprint for what America could become if it trusted its democratic legacy… He was murdered. But his dream still excites our social and political imaginations. It beckons us to work, to realize the dream that America can indeed be a truly pluralistic society and that planet Earth can be a place in the universe where peace, justice, and freedom are the dominant ethos.” ––James M. Washington, Introduction to A Testament of Hope, The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.

August 28, 2013, will mark the 50th anniversary of the great 1963 March on Washington D.C. for Civil Rights and for Martin Luther King Jr.’s delivery of his now iconic “I Have a Dream”speech before a national audience.  Plans had long been underway to commemorate the event on Saturday, August 24, with a symbolic reenactment of the original march. Recent events, however, such as George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the killing of Trayvon Martin and the Supreme Court’s decision to all but repeal the 1965 Voting Rights Act, have inspired many to call for something beyond symbolism.

With Martin Luther King, III, working alongside Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, the goal has evolved from hopes to make a meaningful emblematic gesture to accomplishing a true nonviolent protest that will help encourage action against the seeming tide of political and social regression sweeping over the nation. With that in mind, the commemorative march, conferences, film festivals, concerts, and other activities slated to take place August 24 – August 28 will help determine the significance of MLK’s dream in 2013.

Fresh Film Takes on a Complex Issue

Whereas much of contemporary America’s troubles may be traced to economic factors, the racial component has become too increasingly volatile to dismiss with a few short-lived riots or with condescending political motions that sound momentous but ultimately deliver little along the lines of sustainable solutions. As if to underscore how much aspects of race relations have not changed since the original march on Washington, the new films Fruitvale Station and Lee Daniels’ The Butler provide contrasting yet complementary portraits of life and death as a black male in America.

To read the full article by Aberjhani please click this link:
Text and meaning in Martin Luther King Jr.s I Have a Dream Speech part 1 of 4.

George Zimmerman Verdict Counters Notion of Post-Racial America

Protesters rally against Zimmerman verdict Reuters Photo

Protesters weigh in Los Angeles weigh in on Zimmerman “not guilty” verdict. (Reuters photo by 
Jason Redmond)

Many eyes blinked dumbly, like those of someone realizing they have just been stabbed, and people’s heads shook in slow disbelief when the announcement came Saturday night, July 13, 2013, that George Zimmerman, the man who admittedly killed  Trayvon Martin, had been found “not guilty” of murder.

It remains a difficult conclusion to process––and likely shall remain so for years to come––because certain definitive facts of the case were never disputed. And those, namely actions initiated by Mr. Zimmerman, are what led to the 17-year-old Martin’s death.

Once the presiding judge ruled to allow manslaughter­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ as an optional verdict in place of second degree murder, it seemed almost a given that manslaughter was the very least on which the jury would decide.

Appearing on television Journalist Bob Schieffer’s Face the Nation program July 14, author Michael Eric Dyson and NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous both noted that despite attempts to minimize racial aspects of the case, race was clearly a factor. No one could really dispute that Zimmerman had apparently come armed, loaded, and prepared for the purpose of shooting something or someone. They could not dispute that against instructions not to do so, he had left a vehicle where he was perfectly safe and created a situation that quickly turned deadly. Although the term “racial profiling” was banned from use in the courtroom, no one could seriously dispute that Zimmerman’s sole reason for approaching the teenager was because he was black and male.

Justice and Fear

Television analysts of the case have said the jury’s decision likely hinged on the assessment that Zimmerman feared for his life at the moment he pulled the trigger and that specific moment of fear legally justified his use of lethal force. Why did no one think it likely that Trayvon Martin had started to fear for his life the moment Zimmerman started stalking him without reason?

To continue reading the full article by Aberjhani please click this link:
http://www.examiner.com/article/zimmerman-verdict-counters-notion-of-post-racial-america

Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis No. 17: 1st Anniversary of the Execution – by Aberjhani

Mosaic poster of executed prisoner Troy Anthony Davis. (Courtesy of NAACP)

From the time he was first placed on trial for the murder of Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail in 1989 until his death by execution one year ago, September 21, 2011, more questions than answers have tended to accumulate where the case of Troy Anthony Davis was and is concerned.

As far as any observers––including such trained onlooker as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Amnesty International, and Color of Change–– have been able to tell, Davis was not executed because he was proven guilty.  He was executed because technicalities of applied legal practice and questionable choices in regard to his defense failed to confirm his innocence. For the average person, such a distinction is murky at best. For Troy Anthony Davis––and for an as yet undetermined number of individuals––it literally meant the difference between life and death.

The case of Troy Anthony Davis is not one that shall gently disappear inside the shadowy annals of American history. It generated while it lasted too much pain for too many people. Moreover, prior to culminating in the highest dramatic fashion with the executed prisoner’s death, there was that of his mother Virginia Davis only a few months before. And after his death, his courageous sister Martina Davis-Correia succumbed to the cancer she had been battling at the same time she fought on her brother’s behalf.   

It shall also continue to linger, inform, and influence because too many issues associated with it remain dangerously relevant. Considerations of race in the American judicial system represent only one such issue. The increasing use of DNA forensics testing ––a technique which the lack of physical evidence in regard to the Davis/MacPhail case rendered inapplicable––under suspiciously unclear circumstances is another.

According to the Innocence Project founded in 1992, “To date, 297 people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing, including 17 who served time on death row. These people served an average of 13 years in prison before exoneration and release.”  

Troy Davis served 22 years in prison before his execution.

In the case of the slain teenager Trayvon Martin, the shooter George Zimmerman has steadfastly maintained he shot Martin because the teenager had grabbed his gun and was trying to shoot him. This past week, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement issued a statement that none of Martin’s DNA was found on the grip of the gun.

The Capital Punishment Debate

To read the full article by Aberjhani please click the following link:

Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis No. 17: 1st Anniversary of the Execution – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

Trayvon Martin, Robert Lee, and Millions of Tears Fallen (Part 1) | Aberjhani | Blog Post | Red Room

Protester carrying an image of Trayvon Martin and family members. (photo by Jonathan Alcorn/Reuters)

Florida State Attorney Angela Corey’s announcement April 11 that George Zimmerman had been arrested on charges of second-degree murder for the shooting of Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012, brought some sense of relief to Martin’s family but has not quelled the concern of many that Martin’s death represents only one incident within a pervasive pattern.

Appearing on the NBC’s Today Show Thursday, Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, expressed her belief that the shooting was an “accident” resulting from circumstances that “got out of control.” She later clarified her statement on MSNBC by pointing out that, The ‘accident’ I was referring to was the fact that George Zimmerman and my son ever crossed paths. .. My son was profiled, followed and murdered by George Zimmerman, and there was nothing accidental about that.”

Tracy Martin, the teen’s father, in response to a question from Gayle King on CBS This Morning, expressed relief knowing Zimmerman was now in custody and “wouldn’t be able to take another seventeen-year-old’s life.”

Both parents throughout the struggle to see Zimmerman arrested have maintained they are less interested in the racial aspects of the case than they are in the issue of “right and wrong.” While various observers have respectfully supported their stated position, some contend that the issues are not necessarily separate. 

To continue reading this article by Aberjhani please click the link:
Trayvon Martin, Robert Lee, and Millions of Tears Fallen (Part 1) | Aberjhani | Blog Post | Red Room.