Archive for the Category »JimCrow «

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Jim Crow & Freedom Riders…

At (now 73) I’ve traveled much of the Americas—North, South and Central—the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  And for my class and political tenacity (or as some prefer: stubbornness), I’ve spent more than a total of 23-yrs in jails and prisons around the planet.

If you support the establishment of Constitutional Democratic Socialism and actively participate in that future…you will do time … assuming you survive.

In all of that travel and circumstances, I’ve encountered two horrific and systemic examples of racist hate and violence: the American Old South and Colonial-Settler Israel.

(One might reasonably opine, especially given that many of the leaders and emigrants to Israel are American and American-educated, that our early colonial history of native genocide and African slavery is the running template for Zionist Eretz Yisrael since before it’s establishment in 1948.)

(When I originally wrote this in 2011, it was) the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides.  Well over half of the US and the world today were not even born yet back in 1961. For them, I suppose it’s all just ancient history.  For me, it was yesterday.

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Prison Industry History (4)…

This is the final article in this series (Oct 19-22, 2010).  The connections have been drawn between the reality we face today in gulag America to its foundation in convict leasing and prison industrialization in the post-bellum period (1865-77).  And is now meeting with a resurgence thru prison privateering…

Tennessee Coal Creek War

One of the central books in this discovery process is Worse Than Slavery…” by David M. Oshinsky (1997).  The South initiated the technique of criminalizing those they could, notably the former slaves in order to disenfranchise them from political power, dehumanize them in the popular culture, and to exploit their labor.  Over 100 years of Jim Crow helped create this perversion even in the midst of the struggle for democracy. more…

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Prison Industry History (3)…

This article is third in a series.  The previous two were the 20th and 21st of October, 2010…

In the immediate period of the South after the Civil War (1865), there was a severe shortage of white males and a surplus of newly freed blacks.  In the competition between them, whites had the decided advantage of greater political and social resources.

Private Prison Industry…

For several years, the Union Army and the Freedman’s Bureau enforced emancipation, but by 1877 the Republican Party surrendered the South in return for the election.  The stage was set for Jim Crow and mass black criminalization. 

Labor-intensive industries, such as cotton, lent themselves to plantation organization.  Within short order, a number of Black Codes were specifically created to provide the law and sanctions to maintain this labor.  These included the Vagrancy Act, which provided that all blacks over the age of 18 must provide proof of a job at the beginning of every year. more…

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Prison Industry History (1)…

There are episodes in the histories of all peoples that are joyful and shameful.  Some to be praised and commemorated, and others seemingly best forgotten, or worse, blamed on the “other.”

Worse Than Slavery…

One of the best forgotten would seem to be the immediate period after the American Civil War.  And, in fact, much of it seems to have been, indeed, “forgotten.”  Too bad.  It’s true: History forgotten is history repeated.

When I was in my sixth year of imprisonment in the contemporary American gulag–currently at three million and still growing–a friend sent me a just-published book, “Worse Than Slavery,” Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice, by David M. Oshinsky (1996).

If one has a personal library that includes any American history, “Worse Than Slavery” is definitely one of those to include.  If my 20+ years in the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has any positive meaning, knowing how we came to this point is certainly one of them. more…

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Marchin’ vs. Shufflin’…

On one occasion I was invited to speak to an assembly at the prison chapel on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Apparently, I was the only prisoner in a camp of over 800 souls who had actually marched with Dr. King.

Almost all of the campers present were black.  The majority had not been born when Dr. King was assassinated (1968).  As Dr. King would say, “Longevity has its uses…”

I’d like to be able to write that that my short speech included how “acting black” is one of the greatest tricks perpetrated on the African-American.

Despite the intervention of perceptive black leadership, many inmates continue to employ the “nigger” and “monkey ass” vernacular incessantly.

It’s difficult to even get to lunchtime without hearing the epithets–both in casual conversation and as invective–constantly.  Jim Crow is quite alive and well even in the black culture. more…

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The Old-New South (1)…

Flying Con-Air in 2001 from the Lewisburg to the Atlanta Penitentiaries after 11 years in the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), I was intensely curious as to how the South had changed.  Especially the prisons.

My initial serious time behind the walls was the 1964-65 period when I was sent to a Tennessee chain-gang.  While it was only a misdemeanor case, it managed to stretch into more than a year of hard time.

     I was young and full of it; fighting for civil rights, I was convinced I was going to change the world—or at least part of it.  There were those just as convinced that I wasn’t. more…