Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
May 27, 2008
As the former president of the Ossining NAACP for 8 yrs and now vice president under chapter suspension I felt compelled to write this letter after being received in Paris, France by common by dignitaries attending the unveiling of a new street called Rue Mumia Abu Jamal. Naming a street for Mumia Ab-Jamal who they believe is innocent. I was also with Harry Belafonte when he made the video that was played saluting the people of France for this historic event and stating he believed in Mumia’s innocents.
For a little bit of background for the readers let me say. Our chapter is located in a racist town called Ossining New York the home of Sing Sing prison. From the late 1800’s New York State has executed 695 people 9 of them women. Sing Sing prison has executed 615 of that total. Some innocent. The Ossining NAACP started a youth program in the prison whereby youth could actually dialogue with inmates who would have been executed if the death penalty had not been outlawed in the mid 60s in New York State. My I say the last execution was that of an African American male. Our of that program came Steven Hawkins a well known former NAACP Legal Defense Fund Lawyer, Death Penalty lawyer and former lawyer for Mumia Abu-Jamal. So it was a natural thing for our chapter so support Mumia and submit the result ion over many blockades that were set up
After demonstrating at the NAACP national convention, in 2004 in Philadelphia Pa. along with members of the International Concerned Families and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal and other organizations A resolution was passed by the national organization supporting a new and fair trial for Mumia and called upon all its units nationally and internationally to support that call.
The only thing that has happened is that the Ossining chapter of NAACP, the chapter that brought the original resolution was suspended on bogus charges that stem from the resolution and demonstrations at the national convention(NY times Sunday 7/17/ 2005) According to the Amsterdam News article by Hope Clive 2/9/05 When she called Julian Bond he said knew nothing about the suspension by Hazel N. Dukes president of the New York Conference of branches. We never got a hearing or chance to explain our side of the story.
The case of Mumia Abu Jamal has now been put on a fast track and the Fraternal Order of Police and their Uncle Toms and Tomasina's have gone on a campaign to kill Mumia. We wrote to Julian Bond asking for a meeting with the national leadership. The response we got back from Dennis Hayes the general counsel of NAACP was they were too busy ,but would meet soon with Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania about the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.
While in France a French government official invited us to sit in on an action session that Dennis Hayes and other NAACP officials were attending. The French were trying to find out how to handle the uprisings in the Afrikan community. We could not because of prior commitments. Anyway the NAACP delegates had no answer because they are out of the loop just as they are in America.
We wanted to tell the NAACP leadership that Governor Ed Rendell has always been a rabidly pro-death penalty person. When he was DA and Mayor of Philadelphia Rendell’s offices oversaw and validated the frame-up of Mumia. Rendell in his campaign for Governor vowed to sign the papers to execute Mumia if he were elected. Rendell was the DA during the first attack on MOVEs house in 1978.
He worked with Rizzo and the Philadelphia police to destroy the MOVE house before it could be thoroughly examined for evidence to negate the lies about MOVE.
The NAACP chose to sit down with this devil before sitting down with Pam and Ramona Afrika Dr. Suzanne Ross and Sundiata Sadiq.
We hope the new CEO Ben Jealous will re-instate the 69yr old Ossining Chapter, and put an end to this foolishness and class collaborationist policy of the Association.
The Ossining NAACP is still functioning. Not officially but still we rise The brutality against our children in this town by the police has escalated. We are still on call. We will still stand with Mumia and all our Political prisoners after this suspension is dealt with.
NYC Coalition to Free Mumia Abu Jamal
Life member and Former president Ossining Chapter NAACP (in suspension)
10 Madison ave
Ossining NY 10562
Critical Moment for Mumia Abu Jamal and Black Leadership is Silent
On March 29, 2008, hundreds of Black, white, and Latino folk gathered at the Adam Clayton Powell Office Building on 125th Street in Harlem to protest the Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision denying Mumia Abu-Jamal a new trial, or even a hearing detailing his trumped-up murder conviction of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner in Philadelphia 26 years ago. Congressman Charles Rangel, senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), has his office there.
The Adam Clayton Powell Office Building was chosen after numerous calls were made on the Congressional Black Caucus to reaffirm their 1995 and 1999 support for Mumia. At this crucial time, Mumia needs that support once again.
The executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, Dr. Joe Leonard, directed us to stop calling because the Black Caucus has a procedure to follow. He said he would relay these issues to the proper individuals, and they would get back to us. The chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus is Carolyn Kilpatrick; given the attitude Leonard displayed, she probably never even received our request to meet with her. Regardless, no one ever contacted us. She must now hear from all of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s supporters.
Ten months ago, when we contacted the executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus, Dr. Joe Leonard, his response was a familiar one. We were given the same runaround over two years ago by the national NAACP’s Dennis Hayes, their national legal counsel and now interim CEO. He wrote us saying the NAACP was too busy to meet with us but instead would meet with Governor Ed Rendell to discuss Mumia’s case. That struck us as odd since Rendell promised to sign the death warrant for Mumia as soon as it came across his desk. This was his campaign promise when he ran for governor. When Tookie Williams was facing execution at the hands of the California authorities, the NAACP visited him in jail and even offered him a job with the national organization. We applaud that move even though it was not part of their national call, as Mumia was and is. Some of us feel that this was a move by the NAACP to drum up membership and donations since there were no serious demonstrations by the organization or a national call to stop the execution. We also wonder why they have not offered a similar offer to Mumia at a time when such pressure could make a difference. Funny, the NAACP could turn out 10,000 folk in South Carolina to demonstrate about the Confederate flag flying over the South Carolina capitol building, but not one demo to stop the execution of Tookie. The NAACP also turned out thousands in Detroit to bury the word “nigger,” but not one demo to support Mumia.
Maybe we should have buried some of our Black leadership with the n-word.
Mumia Abu-Jamal has strong support among the rank and file of working-class people and also such notables as former mayor of New York City David Dinkins. He is a lawyer and after studiously reviewing the case of Mumia declared his support for Mumia’s freedom. Support also came from other notables in the Afrikan community such as Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Dick Gregory, Danny Glover, and many others in that same vein.
At the national convention of the NAACP in Philadelphia in 2004, after great pressure from Mumia supporters outside and inside the convention hall, the NAACP passed a resolution urging all chapters of the NAACP at home and abroad to study the case of Mumia and demand a new and fair trial for our brother. What transpired after the 2004 convention was that the only chapter in America (the Ossining NAACP) that brought the resolution to the national convention was suspended by Hazel Dukes, president of the New York State NAACP chapter. Dukes was earlier convicted of stealing money from a dying friend who had entrusted Duke to handle her estate. Strangely enough, after the controversy of her conviction subsided, Dukes was re-elected in 1999 to her former post. Her re-election has long since been thought of by many members to have been rigged.
In 2005, after we made the NAACP nervous at the national convention in Washington, DC, with our demonstration and speaking to the membership, Hilary Shelton, lobbyist for the national NAACP, promised to meet with us. During a visit to his office in Washington, DC, Shelton told us that he would get us an audience with at least a couple of brothers or sisters in the CBC who would listen to what we have to say. Shelton “played us” like his namesake, who “came under fire” during a landing in Bosnia, because we never got a hearing.
We have seen our legislators and lawmakers become frightened by the attacks of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) lobbyist in Washington, DC, whose only purpose is to see that Mumia and other Black people are executed. Congressman Chaka Fattah from Pennsylvania, a Mumia supporter, fell victim to the FOP as did John Street, former mayor of Philadelphia.
If it were not for the working people of these United States and the world, Mumia would be dead by now. Those Black leaders in office that pretend to advocate for justice when we fall in the hands of the injustice system have failed to step up to the plate. The rank and file people must step up the struggle for Mumia’s freedom. We must expose these Black leaders for their cowardice and hypocrisy.
Mumia has spoken about this subject, and they want him silenced. His national radio comments never talk about his case but about the oppressed around America. His comments have been diametrically opposed to some Black leaders’ positions. One such contradiction is in New York and cities where our people are suffering. In New York, we are facing the loss of Harlem to avaricious developers and the Columbia University plan to gentrify what we call our beloved Mecca (Harlem) for Afrikan folk around the world. When we look at who is leading this land grab, we find Hazel Dukes and certain NAACP chapters in support of this ethnic cleansing of Harlem under the guise of redevelopment. When we pull back the covers, we see Congressman Charles Rangel and David Dinkins, along with various clergy, supporting this process that threatens “the village of Harlem as we know it.”
The 2004 resolution in Philadelphia by the NAACP was a move to silence the Mumia movement because they merely meant to throw us a few bones. They had no intention of dealing with the Mumia issue in any meaningful way. This was evident in Dukes’s statement shortly thereafter that the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal was not a priority of the NAACP. The Black leadership took a chapter right out of the counterintelligence program (COINTELPRO), whose predecessor (COM-FIL) carried out infiltration of suspected Communist organizations and individuals. One such person was radical Black leader W. E. B. Du Bois, one of the founders of the NAACP who created the Crisis magazine. He exposed the lynching of hundreds of Black men and women around America. Finally, the NAACP succumbed to the federal government’s demands and kicked W. E. B. Du Bois to the curb.
In spite of the courts that violate their own decisions and our rights every day, these same Black leaders have not stood up as the NAACP and Congressional Black Caucus and said, hell no, we ain’t lettin’ this brother Mumia go down like this!
Even after Judge Ambro of the Philadelphia Third Circuit Court of Appeals in his dissent on a 2-1 decision said that the decision not to hear Mumia’s appeal around “Batson” was part of a double standard not to hear Mumia out. Ambro’s minority opinion states further that every other “Batson appeal” that was reasonable before that court was granted. Mumia has been the only exception. Mumia’s' appeal went beyond reasonable.
The prosecutor Lynn Abrahams has stated her intent to execute Mumia. Surprisingly, even after this outrageous decision by the appellate court, we have not heard a “mumblin” word from the NAACP, Black elected officials, or the Congressional Black Caucus.
Brothers and sisters, it is time for us to act.
First, let us start holding Black leadership accountable. Call and write these folk as soon as possible and tell them this decision is too outrageous for their organizations or individual political affiliations to stand by in silence while this lynching of an innocent man is playing out before the world.
Rep. Charles Rangel, 212 862 4490
Dennis Hayes, Interim CEO and President, NAACP (National), 410 580 5777
Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick, Chair of Congressional Black Caucus, 202 225 2261
Richard Macintyre, Communication and Media, NAACP, 410 580 5787
Dr. Joe Leonard, CBC Executive Director, 202 226 9776
National Caucus of Black Legislators, 202 624 5457
Or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sundiata Sadiq 914 941 6046
New York Coalition to Free Mumia Abu Jamal
Former President-Ossining NAACP (In Suspension)
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Some of the greatest minds I’ve ever known held court while sitting on empty milk crates in the parking lot of ghetto liquor stores. At their feet I embraced the love of knowledge, and through their tutelage defined self-worth in my own terms.
These were the “Eulipians”—writers, poets, musicians, hustlers, and uncommon drunks—shade-tree philosophers, who contemplated the fungus between the toes of society. And without apology, these visionaries danced with reckless abandon, unfettered by formal inhibition, through the presumptuous speculation of the ages.
While these obscure intellectuals stood well outside the mainstream of academy, I watched with astonished delight as they and their students sang, scat, and scribed the thrust of their philosophy into the mainstream of human knowledge. And as one such student, I fully embrace and promote their creed, that knowledge is free, and thus, will transcend attempts to be contained through barriers of caste and privilege, leaving man's innate thirst for knowledge, free to someday overwhelm his lust for stupidity.
Meet Sonny. He wasn't all that big on bling, but he damn sure knew how to keep it real.
Eric L. Wattree
We knew him as Miles,
the Black Prince of style,
his nature fit jazz to a tee.
Laid back and cool,
a low threshold for fools,
he set the tone
of what a jazzman
Short on words,
and unperturbed, about
what the people thought;
frozen in time, drenched
in the sublime,
of the passion
his sweet horn
Solemn to the bone,
distant and torn,
even Trane could
scarcely get in;
I can still hear the tone
of that genius who mourned,
that precious note
that he couldn't
Friday, May 23, 2008
I got a phone call today. I get a lot of calls from “observers” (translation: supporters and haterologists), and I appreciate every single one of them. However, being as busy as I am, I usually don’t have time to call anyone back. I call my mama back and if my daughter would call me, she would be at the top of my list. I also call my grandmother. That’s enough to fill the free time at airports or on the way to the office.
If I call you back, I am returning the call because I either love you or respect you. I don’t return calls just because I think the caller is a “big shot”. In this business, everyone is into networking and butt kissing so they can meet this important person or that one. I’ve always felt that life is too short for that crap. For example, my homeboy Marc Lamont Hill at Temple University (one of the top black scholars in America), Al “The Inspiration” Duncan (an amazing public speaker and youth advocate) in Atlanta and Bill Thomason (a top black money manager) are brothers I always call back immediately because I respect their integrity. It’s really that simple for me.
On this day, I had some free time. I was driving to the office and I had a message from a woman named Karen. Karen’s family is full of Syracuse alumni. Honestly, most calls and emails I get from Syracuse alumni are not all that favorable. While I get cheers from the black and latino alums, the reality is that Syracuse has not had a strong historical black and latino presence. This is doubly true on the faculty, where a tenured professor of color is incredibly rare.
But I respect everyone, and I decided to use my free time to call Karen back. I was a little nervous, since I really wanted to talk to my grandmother. The risk was that I would miss a great conversation with grandma just so another alum could yell at me for being an outspoken black man.
But Karen was worth the investment because she was super duper cool. It also turned out that Karen is the daughter of the greatest alumnus in Syracuse University history, the great Jim Brown.
Jim was not amazing for what he did on the field. Yes, he had super human strength and was such an outstanding athlete that they changed the rules to find ways to stop him. But that doesn’t impress me, for black men have always possessed amazing athletic ability. Jim’s intellect impressed me far more than his athletic ability, for he is every bit as intelligent as he was athletic. But truth be told, while his intellect impressed the heck out of me, it didn’t impress the HELL out of me. Don’t get me wrong, he was a smart brother, but there are a lot of smart black male athletes, in spite of what the media tells you.
What impressed the HELL out of me was Jim Brown’s COURAGE. That is what left his mark on the university, and that is what will leave his mark on the world. While he may not be perfect, his strength inspires me as a black man to focus and overcome all that lies around me.
I have a Trinity of strength when it come to my black male “adopted fathers”. In this trinity, there is Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown. I adopted these men many years ago when I saw my intelligent, highly educated, rich, famous African American predecessors selling out in droves. It seemed that the only black men rising to prominent positions in American society were the ones who most readily allowed themselves to be fully emasculated. Sure, these men might speak big behind closed doors, but out in public, there was a degree of weakness, cowardice and commitment to self-preservation that made me shudder. These were the men who would tell me that speaking out in favor of the poor would get me into trouble. They would tell me to leave behind the brothers in prison and the kids in the educational system because it might jeopardize my chance to drive a Jaguar one day. While I listen to such men respectfully, I found myself having a midlife crisis at the age of 25, wondering if there was a way to have a more meaningful existence.
I miss the days when athletes used their platforms for something other than another McDonald’s endorsement. It is most sad and ironic that the athletes with the most wealth and greatest power also happen to be the least educated and the least willing to become educated. Individuals such as Michael Jordan become about as politically-neutral as a can of spinach, all so he can turn his $200 million dollar fortune into a $300 million dollar fortune. I have always been of the opinion that black prosperity and social activism can go hand in hand. We can all continue Dr. King’s work, whether it is on the streets or in the board room. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
I connected with Malcolm just because he was Malcolm. Malcolm X was clearly the greatest leader in American history. I connected with Muhammad Ali because he is from Louisville, my hometown, and also my second cousin. He taught me that a black man does not have to hold his head down in shame and weakness when the cameras turn on. I connected with Jim Brown because his spirit lives on my campus, Syracuse University. Jim created the path for me to do what I do today, and it was his ability to endure the firestorms of Syracuse controversy that remind me to stay focused in my endeavors.
The great shame of our generation is that someone convinced us that our existence is about one person. It is important for all of us to remember that we are part of something greater, and the greatest gift you can give to future generations is to clear a path for someone else to run through. Malcolm gave his life, Muhammad gave the prime of his boxing career, and Jim risked his life so that my generation could walk through doors that had been previously closed. I plan to march through that door with dignity and open another door for those behind me.
That is what scholars and intellectual leaders are supposed to do.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of “What if George Bush were a Black Man?” For more information, please visit www.BoyceWatkins.com.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Their living conditions could only be described as tragic. Of the seven adults who shared the badly dilapidated rental unit in a rundown area of southwest Atlanta, not one held a job. They eked out a dead-end existence for themselves and the two children who lived with them by pooling government benefits, including an $852 monthly Section 8 housing subsidy. When I described their heartbreaking living conditions to a liberal friend, she replied in all seriousness, “That’s what you conservatives want, isn’t it?”
My brother in law is also a liberal. Last August, I forwarded to him an email I received earlier in the year about the interracial double murders that had just occurred in Knoxville. Using Wikipedia, he found that the press had since backed off initial reports that the white victims had been horribly mutilated by the black defendants. Without checking to see if I was aware that the reports had changed (I wasn’t), and apparently convinced I was a willing participant in a sick attempt to promote racial animosity, he sent a terse reply that I should “stay off the neo-Klan blogs”.
Here is where I stand on race and poverty:
* For the last twenty years, I worked as an executive recruiter in the graphic arts industry. When I saw that managerial positions at most printing plants were filled almost exclusively by whites, I actively sought minority candidates to present to my clients. Some of the highly qualified individuals I found jobs for were the first African-Americans to ever hold positions of responsibility at their new employers.
* A few years ago, I risked my personal safety to chase down a robber who stole the purse of an elderly black woman in a crime-ridden area of downtown Atlanta. When I returned the purse to its tearful owner, she told me it contained her just-cashed Social Security check, all the money she had to her name. It never entered my mind to not help her because she was black and poor.
* I do not have an iota of hostility towards black people, poor people, or anyone else. Although I was not enlightened enough at the time to take part in the civil rights movement, I recognized long ago that Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of our country’s greatest heroes. In short, I have nothing but best wishes for a people subjected to the terrible injustices of slavery and segregation, just as I do for all people who have yet to lift themselves from poverty.
The absurd insinuations about me from a friend of forty years and a man I have been related to for an equal time were not intended as personal attacks. They were merely a profound reflection of the twisted way two people I have known for decades have been indoctrinated to view conservatives: when it comes to race and poverty, conservatives are downright evil, even when they are long-time friends or close relatives.
My friend and my brother-in-law are not alone. For the last four decades, the Democratic Party has conducted a campaign to stereotype conservatives as mean-spirited racists who couldn’t care less about the suffering of others. Legions of rank-and-file liberals have been brainwashed into believing that their political opposites are morally-defective bigots who have a sadistic desire to starve children, kick old people out of nursing homes and disenfranchise minorities of their hard-won rights. Such charges are patently false.
Bumper stickers that express open contempt for the charitable instincts of conservatives are common in many blue-state areas of the country: “Better A Bleeding Heart Than No Heart At All”, “The Moral High Ground Is Built With Compassion”, The Road To Hell Is Paved With Republicans, “Republicans Are People, Too – Mean, Greedy, Selfish People”.
Given the realities of charitable giving by party affiliation – as a group, conservatives are demonstrably more generous than liberals -- it’s beyond ironic that so many liberals cast their ballots with an unfounded air of moral superiority. The right is routinely portrayed as greedy and uncaring, yet liberals do exactly the same as conservatives when it comes to personal charity: give a small fraction of what they have to the poor, while selfishly hoarding the lion’s share for themselves.
Neither liberals nor conservatives give until it hurts, but not because no one cares about human suffering. People of all political stripes have simply observed that continually giving money to people whose hands are always up does little to help them turn their lives around. That makes it hard to understand why anyone would support giving them an endless stream of government money.
Over the last four decades, the burden of caring for the poor has been politically shifted from the private sector to government. In doing so, we have created a weakened society where millions of citizens who ought to be working instead rely on public assistance. By giving the poor benefits they have not earned, the federal government has become a giant enabler that doles out just enough to extinguish the willingness of many recipients to make it on their own. As Bill Cosby accurately observed, welfare kills the human spirit.
Liberals are due full credit for being the first to recognize that something should be done about poverty. No conservative can argue that the war on poverty initiated by LBJ and a Democratic Congress was not well-intended. But, after forty years of massive welfare programs, the number of destitute citizens in the world’s greatest country remains appallingly high, particularly in urban areas. Our misguided compassion has contributed to the virtual disintegration of the black family, with generations of innocent children born into lives of hopelessness.
The tragic plight of the nine African-Americans in the Section 8 duplex is all the evidence I need that on-going welfare is a cruel hoax to inflict on anyone but the severely disabled. Burgeoning welfare programs may attract votes, but they also cause grievous harm to millions of the very people they are intended to help. Open-border advocates claim that illegal immigrants do the work Americans won’t do. Many of the unemployed poor don’t do such work because welfare provides a far less strenuous alternative.
The way out of poverty is self-reliance, a lifestyle that welfare does little to encourage. From food stamps and Section 8 housing to WIC payments and Medicaid, government programs for the poor discourage work, reward idleness and make it easy for children to be thoughtlessly born into desperate conditions. Some of the chronically poor are where they are due to circumstances beyond their control. Many more have simply forfeited the chance to succeed in the greatest land of opportunity on earth, thanks in no small part to the initiative-destroying assistance of an enabling government.
No, we cannot declare cold turkey on the welfare-addicted, but we should do far more to actively encourage them in the other direction, not for our benefit, but for theirs. For too long, our national answer has effectively been to consign them to a dead-end existence while the rest of us live in comfort as far from the projects as we can get. In the process, we are robbing them of the only thing of value they have -- the chance for a better life.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Senator Eric Adams, Attorney Norman Siegel., 100 Blacks and Law Enforcement, National Latino Officers of America, Grand Council of Guardians, and the National Black Police Association. Have called on Commissioner Kelly for swift punishment of the two undercover police officers whos actions was disrespectful towards Three –Star NYPD Chief Douglas Zieglar.
Chief Zieglar in his briefing to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, said that the two cops, who are white, had no legitimate reason to approach his SUV with guns drawn. Even after he gave them his NYPD ID the two didn’t believe that he was who he said he was.
The Sean Bell verdict has given Law Enforcement a legal alibi that a Black man can be unarmed, shot , killed, and still be a legal threat just by the color of his skin. As Black Law Enforcement Professionals we now have to be extra cautious when we react to situations when we are off duty or as plain clothes officials less we fall into the same situation as out brother Detective Ridley or Sean Bell. It’s unfortunate that the only time we are truly recognized as law enforcement is when we don the blue uniform. Until perceptions of Black males are changed in the institutional thinking of policing, the Back Law Enforcement community and the Black community at large in New York will remain at a disadvantage.