Tag Archives: Human Rights
Stokely Carmichael speaks at the University of California’s Greek Theater, Berkeley, California, October 29, 1966
Stokely Carmichael, initially an acolyte of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and his philosophy of nonviolent protest, became a leader in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), but was radicalized when he saw peaceful protestors brutalized in the South.
In the mid 1960s, Carmichael challenged the civil rights leadership by rejecting integration and calling on blacks to oust whites from the freedom movement. Following his arrest during a 1966 protest march in Mississippi, Carmichael angrily demanded a change in the rhetoric and strategy of the civil rights movement. “We’ve been saying ‘Freedom’ for six years,” Carmichael said. “What we are going to start saying now is ‘Black Power.”
12 September 1977 – 18 December 1946
“Being black is not a matter of pigmentation – being black is a reflection of a mental attitude.”
– The Definition of Black Consciousness, I Write What I Like, 1978.
Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) leader, South Africa’s most influential and radical student leader in the 1970s and a law student at the time of his death. He became a martyr of the Freedom Struggle and posed one of the strongest challenges to the apartheid structure in the country. Biko was murdered on 12 September 1977, in a Pretoria detention cells.
Due to local and international outcry his death prompted an inquest which at first did not adequately reveal the circumstances surrounding his death. Police alleged that he died from a hunger strike and independent sources said he was brutally murdered by police. Although his death was attributed to “a prison accident,” evidence presented during the 15-day inquest into Biko’s death revealed otherwise. During his detention in a Port Elizabeth police cell he had been chained to a grill at night and left to lie in urine-soaked blankets. He had been stripped naked and kept in leg-irons for 48 hours in his cell. A blow in a scuffle with security police led to him suffering brain damage by the time he was driven naked and manacled in the back of a police van to Pretoria, where he died.
On September 10, 1971, more than 1,000 inmates took over the Attica Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison located in western New York.
The prisoners broke windows and burned beds and furniture after overtaking 32 guards and civilian employees.
It took over 1,500 state troopers and sheriff deputies to regain control.
By September 13th 1971, 42 people had been killed and the uprising was over.
BlackPast.org – There were many causes of the riot. Tensions were already high “as the prison was extremely overcrowded and inmates were being denied basic sanitation needs. They were usually limited to one shower a week and one roll of toilet paper per month. Additionally there were allegations of racism by the prison’s all white guards against the 54% black population and a significant Puerto Rican minority.
Using pipes, chains, and baseball bats, the inmates quickly overcame the guards in the area. Suddenly they were in command of the prison and had taken 40 staff members hostage. Their demands were: federal takeover of the prison, better conditions, amnesty for the crimes committed during the revolt, and the removal of the prison’s superintendent.
The authorities and prisoners remained at a stalemate for four days until New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller approved an operation to reclaim the prison. Tear gas was dropped by helicopter into the prison yard and law enforcement officers opened fire into the smoke. In six minutes more than two thousand rounds had been discharged. The prison was retaken but at the cost of thirty nine inmates and ten guards lives.
The nine member commission put together by Governor Rockefeller to sort out this tragedy had a number of criticisms about the handling of this situation. The media was allowed access and this attention gave the prisoners a national spotlight that they were unwilling to give up. Governor Rockefeller, despite numerous requests from the Corrections Commissioner Russell Oswald to come to the prison, had refused and then ordered the state’s armed forces into action without ever appraising the situation himself. Also the negotiations were hampered by the fact that they took place with 1,200 rioters looking on.
The assault itself was poorly planned and inmates and hostages alike were wounded and killed as a result. The use of shotguns after the tear gas was dropped in particular was criticized as the potential for unintentional injuries was enormous. Additionally no adequate medical care was arranged for those injured in the assault and rushing to find help for the wounded put lives needlessly in danger.”
In the end there were conflicting calls for tougher prisons on one side, and for prison reform to correct the abuses that had contributed to the riot on the other. In the immediate aftermath of the riot, the prisoners’ rights movement flourished for a brief bit and a number of reforms were instituted. But in the years since, politicians have opted to be “tougher on crime by incarcerating many more people, thus overcrowding many facilities; reducing any service that might be seen as “coddling” prisoners; reducing or eliminating prison education programs” and generally creating a permanent criminal underclass.
A Candid Debate On Black Manhood, Homosexuality and Civil Rights | Cleo Manago, Tony Wafford & Kevin Alexander Gray
Social architect/activist Cleo Manago participated in a candid debate on homosexuality in Black communities, civil rights and attitudes behind Black resistance to affirming homosexuals at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network’s 2009 Summer Conference held in Atlanta, GA. Manago was joined by author/activist Kevin Alexander Gray, and National Action Network’s Director of Health & Wellness, Tony Wafford.
According to Manago, “often when I have these discussions in the Black community, someone gets up talking about production, to produce or to not produce being the measure of who deserves the most rights or who deserves the most respect, which is not logical because most sex people have, including heterosexual sex, is not to reproduce.”
Manago further went on to discuss that while HIV is killing us [the Black community] it’s difficult getting heterosexual men involved in part based on myths, judgments and under-discussed issues around manhood in the Black community.