On Saturday, more than 40,000 gathered in Washington, D.C. for the Justice for All march against police violence.
Earlier in the week, a group of black mothers who lost children to police violence met to “tell their stories and advocate for changing existing laws that leave families vulnerable to police brutality and accountability loopholes.” They, too, called for Congressional hearings on police brutality and federal legislation authorizing special prosecutors to investigate police shootings.
Nearly 60 years ago, another black mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, grieved for the racially-motivated murder of her son.
Emmitt Till was murdered for allegedly whistling at a white woman. The acquittal of the two white men charged with his murder shocked the conscience of the nation. The verdict paved the way for the Department of Justice to intervene in local law enforcement cases when civil rights are violated, as well as the Civil Rights Movement.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, I visited the tree that was planted in memory of Emmett Till on the U.S. Capitol Grounds. It wasn’t easy to find. No one knew the tree had been planted, let alone where it was located. So my friend and I walked the 274 acres in search of the tree. I finally stumbled upon it. You can imagine my dismay to discover it’s located in the middle of a parking lot.
Actually, when I first read the marker, I didn’t realize it was the Emmett Till tree. I thought it was for a new tree species or in honor of Sen. Susan Collins.
I had to get on my knees to read the small print:
To honor Emmett Till, a young African-American man whose brutal killing in 1955 raised public awareness that led to civil rights reforms.
Frankly, this so-called honor is more about Collins than Emmett Till. If you share my concern the marker does not do justice to his legacy, then say something via Twitter (@SenatorCollins), email or by phone at (202) 224-2523.
Perhaps by the 60th anniversary of his murder, there will be a marker befitting Emmitt Till’s place in American history.
This month marks the 50th anniversary of John Coltrane’s 1964 masterpiece “A Love Supreme.”
From Boston to San Francisco, Americans are celebrating what many consider the greatest spiritual jazz composition of all time. Sadly, we in Philadelphia are marking the occasion with a commitment to fight to preserve Coltrane’s presence in the city that nurtured and shaped him.
As I previously wrote, the Pennrose Company demolished the “Tribute to John Coltrane” mural.
The company did it with no input from the community and no plan to preserve the presence of an American cultural icon. The loss sparked an outrage on social media. Tweet after tweet asked the same question: WTF?!
Through public subsidies and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, Pennrose has gotten rich building properties for the poor. The politically-connected company has been sucking on the public teat for more than 20 years. Indeed, it is one of the nation’s top 10 affordable housing developers.
While Pennrose can afford hundreds of thousands in political contributions, primarily to Republicans, it has contributed nothing to replace the tribute to the man that put Philly jazz on the map.
In any case, social media provides a platform to raise awareness of an issue. But to make something happen, one has to agitate offline. So the Avenging The Ancestors Coalition has organized an Arts and Culture Committee, which I chair. Our mission is to preserve African Americans’ cultural heritage – and presence – in Philadelphia by any means necessary (BAMN).
To get involved, come to the next monthly meeting of ATAC, which will be held on Monday, December 15, 2014, at 7:00 p.m. at Zion Baptist Church, Broad and Venango. For more information, call (215) 552-8751.
The Ferguson grand jury is still deliberating on whether to charge Police Officer Darren Wilson in shooting death of Michael Brown or send him on his merry way.
When the verdict is announced, groups will hit the street with all deliberate speed. The Ferguson National Response Network is curating after-the-verdict events nationwide. The FBI, National Guard and police departments across the country are getting ready. So are social justice activists.