Monday, July 6, 2009

The First Day of the Last Week

So today is our last week, and in my class we got our new and final teacher that is going to teach us about the sixties. First we talked about the documents that we read which were about the sit-in demonstrations, Freedom Summer and the Black Panther Party. We compared and contrasted the thoughts of a black demonstrator and a white demonstrator and discussed how the sit-ins started off the civil rights movement.

We then watched a movie about the March v. Fear, which was started by James Meredith (who was going to apply to Mississippi University) until he was shot while marching. Martin Luther King and other marchers continued the march for Meredith. While they were marching they were harassed by many whites, especially the police.

After that movie we watched another clip about Malcolm X, MLK, SNCC, and the Black Panthers. We saw how the media tried to make a huge deal out of the contrast between MLK's non-violent movement and Malcolm X and the Black Panthers more radical movement. I didn't think that the way Malcolm X or the Black Panthers handled situations with a more violent approach was bad because whites in the South did the same thing. I think they handled their situations perfectly.

After the movie was over we talked about it and if "Black Power" meant violence and why power equals violence to people. I don't necessarily think that power means violence, but in past cases people striving for power use violence to obtain power, so usually people connect power with violence.

We then ended class and I rushed to the pizza party hosted by Dean Rose only to find out it was over. Then, thinking that the concert that Brown was having was mandatory, I went to it, even though I was very tired and hungry. The concert was nice and Mr. Richard played the piano very beautifully. Today was a very relaxing day and I hope that tomorrow I learn something that I haven't already learned.


Charles Tillman Ramsey said...

I am sure that you will learn something new tomorrow in class. What I hope to read in your post is a comparision and contrast between the different era's. I want to learn more about how you see the changes in society.

Why did African-Americans begin to protest and ask for better working and housing conditions. Why were Whites so viruently opposed to integration? How come this did not happen in the 50's. Well it did come up in the 50's, but society did not see it as a problem until Whites starting dying in the movement.

Blacks have always complained since Slavery about the way they have been treated in this country. However when white students who sympathized with the black rural poor in Alabama and Mississippi came to register them to vote and have them ask for equal rights and they were killed and or beaten it got the attention of President Kennedy. So make no mistake about how the tide of history changed.

Brown .vs. Board of Education did not end segregation in schools. It ended segregation in Topeka Kansas, Wilmington Delaware, The State of South Carolina and Washington D.C. They were the defendants in the case. That was it and it was not until another twenty years that segregation in schools was completely abolished on the books. I want you to google the "Southern Manifesto". This is powerful and moving document that took direct aim at the United States Supreme Court for overturning "separate but equal" from the Plessy .v. Ferguson case. You will want to google that famous case from 1895 that started the infamous days of Jim Crow laws.

I hope that you will continue to ask critical questions and get a better idea of why we had such horrendous events that showed the ugly underbelly of this country. It is also sad that the class will not have time to chronicle the struggles of women who were marginalized during this period and relatively confined to working support service jobs to men and to also not have much power. There were less women in the United States Congress than minorities, even during the 1960's.

Sorry that you missed the Pizza party, but you had a great time at the Concert. I am glad that you had some fun. I do hope that you will give us your thoughts and impressions about how you felt about being at Brown University on your own for these three weeks.

Take care.

Charles T. Ramsey, Esq.
School Board Member
West Contra Costa
Unified School District

Don Gosney said...



I worry that we sent you all the way across the country to attend a class where you have to worry that they’re not going to teach you something that you already know. It must be nice to be so well informed and educated at such a young age.

I am greatly concerned, Avauna, that you may have embraced the ideal that violence is the solution to social injustice. That because one side crosses the line and uses brutal aggression to reinforce their control over other people that this then justifies an equally barbaric response from those being oppressed.

Perhaps this is why Malcolm X and Huey Newton were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize just as the Reverend Martin Luther King was. Wait—I got that wrong. When Huey Newton murdered a police officer in Oakland he was arrested and not praised by the world. When Malcolm X proclaimed that the assassination of President Kennedy was justified it precipitated his own downfall.

Who do you think had more of a positive impact on the world: the likes of Martin Luther King and Ghandi or Huey Newton, Stokely Carmichael, George Jackson and Donald DeFreeze?

When fighting any kind of a battle, Avauna, the public’s perception of the issues and the people fighting them are key to the victory. With TV covering the marches in Birmingham and elsewhere and the subsequent reaction by the whites and the police, the world was able to see the injustice and were alarmed. Those images stirred the fires of discontent in so many millions of people and were a part of the effort to affect a solution.

On the other hand, scenes on TV of blacks rioting, looting and destroying their own communities only served to alarm the public and hurt the cause of those demanding social change.

In the case of Blacks seeking equal rights in the US, the whites held the power and even after the courts declared that discrimination was illegal, if the whites were unwilling to relinquish their control over that power then there weren’t any real changes. If you want to make changes the best solution has always been to convince those holding the power that their position is wrong and needs to be changed. Change at the end of a gun isn’t really change at all.

When the people holding the power—the whites—saw the violence in the streets when they watched their Walter Cronkite while eating their dinner, it rarely made them want to change things for the better. What it did, do, Avauna, is anger so many of them that they refused to change. The violence—on both sides—probably extended the discrimination and perpetuated the violence for quite a number of years longer than it should have.

Don Gosney said...


Try to put this in perspective in your own home: you want a later curfew because you think you deserve it. Your folks—the ones with the power—want to keep your curfew where it’s at. This is partly because they really think your curfew is adequate, partly because they remember that’s the way it was when they were your age and also because your folks want to reassert their power and authority over you.

You want to prove to them that the curfew they’ve imposed is inadequate so you torch the family car. Do you think that because of your action your folks will cave in to your demands and revise your curfew or do you think that your folks might bull their necks and redouble their efforts to reinforce their control over you?

Now, what do you think might have been their response had you sat down with them and given them argument after argument demonstrating the error of their thinking and proving to them that a longer curfew was not an unreasonable request?

You still might not win your argument but at the very least I think you could get them to sit down and listen.

Lastly, Avauna, violence only begets more violence and is never the solution. I remember an old poster that used to hang on my wall when I was your age. It read: War never decides who’s right—only who’s left.

When al Queda took down the Twin Towers, did their action convince you that their argument and cause were valid and that we should pull out if the Middle East? Or maybe did it convince you that retribution was in order?

“A more violent approach” is rarely the solution, Avauna, and I hope that before you leave Brown this is something that’s touched on either in your class or in some discussion you might have. This is something that maybe you can learn a little something about.