History and Healing:  Season One, Episode 6

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is Oh So Relevant Today



The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a brilliant man who tried to love America into living up to its creed and to its grand ideals.  A lot has been said and written about Dr. King, yet there is still so much to be said, because there are so many ways to look at what he did, what he said, and how he processed the world around him.  Today, we are fighting the same struggles with which he wrestled.  Here is one of my takes on Dr. King.
A Few Resources:
Beyond Vietnam—A Time to Break Silence speech at Riverside Church in New York, April 4, 1967 https://americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkatimetobreaksilence.htm
Stanford University:  The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute (online) https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/ There is a treasure trove of information at this site, the repository for the King papers.
Where Do We Go From Here:  Chaos or Community, by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1967)
In the Spirit of Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bessemer Workers Fight for Justice. https://www.workers.org/2021/03/55465/
When Muhammad Ali Refused to go to Vietnam:  Muhammad Ali and Vietnam. https://www.theatlantic.com/news/archive/2016/06/muhammad-ali-vietnam/485717/
Short video on Muhammad Ali (“You my Enemy.”)  https://youtu.be/HeFMyrWlZ68)
FBI ’Honors’ Martin Luther King Jr., 50 Years After Plotting to ’Neutralize’ Him.  https://www.alternet.org/2017/01/fbi-honors-martin-luther-king-jr-50-years-after-plotting-neutralize-him/
How the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike Expanded the Civil Rights Struggle:  https://www.history.com/news/sanitation-workers-strike-memphis




History and Healing                                                                        Season One; Episode 5:  Fred Hampton Was Love (In Action)

Judas and the Black Messiah has stimulated more interest in Illinois Deputy Chairman, Fred Hampton.  As a native of Fred's hometown of Maywood, Illinois, Dr. Sherrod adds additional "color commentary" to Fred's awe-inspiring background with the hope that more people will come to know the truth.  People who quest for liberty and justice all over the world revere Fred Hampton.  Love for the people, as we clearly see today, is, in and of itself, a revolutionary act.  Fred was a beautiful human being--loved by many across the racial spectrum.  If you don't know about him, by all means check out the movie, Judas and the Black Messiah, this podcast, and some of the many books written that contain information about this forever young real life Black Panther King.  (Shout out to Ryan Coogler, whose integrity and brilliance in filmmaking is unsurpassed, for being a producer of this film.)  
Long live the beautiful spirit of Chairman Fred Hampton.


Here are some resources about Fred and the Panthers:
The Essence of Fred Hampton: An Attempt to Capture the Spirit of a Young Man Who Influenced So Many and to Pass It On to Those Who Didn’t Have the Opportunity to Meet Him, edited by William Hampton.  This is a wonderful, but hard to find, collection of thoughts on Fred Hampton by people who knew him.  This booklet was lovingly compiled by Fred’s brother, the late William “Bill” Hampton who died in 2018. (Years ago, I saw a copy of it at the Oak Park, Illinois library!)
The Assassination of Fred Hampton, by Jeffrey Haas (Jeff Haas was one of the attorneys who waged a years long legal battle in civil court on behalf of Fred's family, Panther Mark Clark's family, and others, after they were assassinated.  The case, after an 18 month trial and then an appeal, finally culminated in a settlement in 1983.)
Fred Hampton: 20th Commemoration by The December 4th Committee      http://peopleslawoffice.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Hampton.-20th-Anniversary-Booklet-1989.pdf.   This is a very informative commemoration booklet about Fred Hampton that was produced 20 years after the assassination by people who knew him.
People's Law Office (This is the law office that represented Fred Hampton and, later, his family.)  The website contains a cornucopia of information on the Panthers and the legal work the Law Office did on behalf of Panther members.  https://peopleslawoffice.com/the-assassination-of-fred-hampton-a-short-peoples-history/
Black Against Empire by Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin, Jr.  This is considered one of the most comprehensive works written about the Black Panthers by an outsider with a scholarly interest in the different chapters of the Party.
From the Bullet to the Ballot: The Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and Racial Coalition in Chicago by Jakobi Williams.  This book was written by another Panther scholar—a professor who grew up in Chicago with an interest in, and, therefore, an emphasis on, the Chicago Chapter of the Party.
The Black Panthers Speak edited by Philip S. Foner. This is an early compilation of speeches by Panther Party members.
Revolutionary Suicide by Huey P. Newton.  This is an autobiography of Huey P. Newton, who, along with Bobby Seale, founded the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California in 1966.
A Taste of Power:  A Black Woman’s Story by Elaine Brown.  This is an absorbing memoir by the only woman to be Chairman of the national Party when Huey P. Newton left her in charge after he went into exile.

Season 1; Episode 4:      Shut Up and Play?  Nah, Check Out Star Black  Athletes At Harvard More Than A Century Ago!

History and Healing, February 22, 2021
Did you know there were Black athletic superstars at Harvard at the turn of the century--that is from the 1800s to the 1900s?  Black athletic brilliance stretches back more than a century, and it reaches into the most exalted halls of recognized academic excellence. In fact, the first Black Assistant Attorney General of the United States, William Henry Lewis, was a superstar football player while he attended Harvard Law School!  (The eligibility rules were different then; a law student could play on the football team.)  Lewis was a mentee of Attorney John Mercer Langston—the same man the town of Langston, Oklahoma and Langston University are named after!
In this podcast episode, you will learn more about Lewis and another Harvard athlete who played for him, William Clarence Matthews.  Among other interesting things, Matthews went on to become an attorney for the inimitable Marcus Garvey.
For more information about Lewis and Matthews, here are some starting points!
William Henry Lewis:  https://harvardmagazine.com/2005/11/william-henry-lewis-html
William Clarence Matthews:  https://vtdigger.org/2020/06/14/then-again-breaking-the-color-barrier-in-baseball-in-vermont-in-1905/
Here is more information of John Mercer Langston (1829–1897)
Langston was an attorney, abolitionist, the founding dean of Howard Law School, and the first African American to be elected to Congress from his native Virginia (1889-1891).  He helped US Senator Charles Sumner draft the Civil Rights Act of 1875.  Langston was president of what is now Virginia State University when he mentored William Henry Lewis and helped him get into Amherst College before he matriculated at Harvard Law School.  It has been reported that Langston helped abolitionist, John Brown, with his raid on Harper’s Ferry. Also, one of Langston’s most famous legal cases involved defending Edmonia Lewis, who was accused of poisoning two of her white classmates at Oberlin.  Edmonds Lewis, who had been severely beaten by white terrorists, was acquitted and became a celebrated African American sculptor.  Both Langston University and the town of Langston, Oklahoma are named after John Mercer Langston; and award-winning author and poet, Langston Hughes, was his great nephew!  His home in Oberlin, where he once lived, is a designated National Historic Landmark.



       Happy Black History Month, 2021, but Please Note:  Every Month is Black History Month, because "Black History" is World History.  Black people created History!  Never Forget:  Civilization itself started in Africa!                            

Podcast Season 1, Episode 3:      Every Month is Black History Month, but, okay,                                                                         Happy Black History Month, 2021

History and Healing:  February 7, 2021



     This special Black History episode starts with a brief history of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the “Father of Black History,” and the founder of “Negro History Week,” which commenced in 1926, and is now Black History Month.  Dr. Woodson was the second Black person to earn a Ph.D. (Class of 1912; doctorate in history) at Harvard. Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, who earned his doctorate in sociology in 1895 was the first.  An intellect of the highest order, what Dr. Woodson did in founding and promoting Negro History Week, was, quite simply, necessary, profound, and forward thinking at a time when America simply did not want to acknowledge that Black people are the backbone of this society, culture, and economy.
The second part episode three is devoted to a discussion of why we should study the extraordinary history of Black people.  More specifically, at this point, it is obvious that, like Dr. Woodson did, it is time to elevate again and deliver a more honest, accurate, and comprehensive curriculum to our students in public institutions—from kindergarten through graduate and professional school! There is not a single subject to be learned that Black people have not been at the center of—from literature and science, to math, architecture, engineering, art, music, and, of course, history.  We do, indeed, need discrete classes in Black literature, history, scientists, music, etcetera, but it is imperative that the whole public school curriculum is updated to be more accurate and inclusive.  
Ignorance is not bliss, and it is slowly eroding the advances we have made and killing our society—as anyone who is paying attention to what is unfolding in the country today can plainly see.  The truth is a necessary ingredient for the health of a great society; and, right now, society is far from healthy.


     Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950) was a historian who earned a Ph.D. from Harvard (1912), after spending his youth struggling to get an education.  Born poor in New Canton, Virginia, back then, schools for Black students were, typically, only open for 4 or 5 months out of the year, as their labor was needed in the fields and it was needed to help their families survive financially.  Some rural areas didn’t even have upper grade school levels or high schools for Blacks, and despite the desperate pleas of Black people for a decent education, the powers that were then, could not have cared less. (As one strategy to educate their children, many Black parents in the south organized and literally built their own schools—which will be the subject of a later History and Healing podcast...)

     Woodson's parents, who were formerly enslaved people, had lacked access to education themselves--but rejoiced in their freedom and encouraged and inspired their son to get an education.  Ultimately, he was able to pursue his education in earnest when he moved to West Virginia.  Woodson went on to become an extraordinary intellect and educator who understood the vital need to preserve the history of Black people, lest it be degraded, sullied, and diminished by other oppressive forces.  A tireless educator who wrote books and journal articles of strong academic rigor, amazingly, Dr. Woodson did not enter high school in West Virginia until he was 19 years old.  Understanding the importance of a good education, from there, however, he attended Berea College in Kentucky (Class of 1903), before enrolling at the University of Chicago where he received a second bachelor's and a master's degree before becoming only the second African American to earn a doctorate (history, Class of 1912) at Harvard in 1912. (Dr. W.E.B. DuBois was the first in 1895.)  Dr. Woodson was a member of Omega Psi Phi.

     Woodson wrote the classic work, The Miseducation of the Negro (as well as over 30 other books and many articles) in 1933--a book that has stood the test of time and still reads like it could have been written yesterday in terms of its content and ultimate wisdom.  Woodson is considered the “Father of Black History.”  He is the progenitor of Black History Month (formerly Negro History Week which began in 1926), and one of the founders of the Association for the Study of Negro (now African American) Life and History, which is still going strong today.  The Association, which continues to publish the Journal of Black History, formerly the Journal of Negro History, (1916), undertakes the “scientific study” of  “neglected aspects of Negro life and history,” and Woodson was inspired to undertake this study by Chicago’s historic Bronzeville community.  The founders of the Association  wanted to firmly establish “...that people of African descent had contributed significantly to the making of civilization and the movement of history.”  Other founders included Dr. George Cleveland Hall (see below), William B. Hartgrove (a high school teacher from Washington, D.C.) Alexander L. Jackson (director of the Wabash YMCA in Chicago), and James E. Stamps (a Yale-trained economist).

      During his life, Dr. Woodson held several jobs, including Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Howard University, Academic Dean of the West Virginia Collegiate Institute (now West Virginia State University, but he was happiest and most comfortable with his entrepreneurial and non-profit pursuits that advanced the history of Black people. As one can imagine, back then, nothing came easy for Dr. Woodson, but he, like many other Blacks, persevered with the full understanding that he had crucial and important contributions to make to his people, this society, and the world--and so he did.  His own history is stunning in terms of his achievements, far too many to mention here, but one would do well to study this brilliant man's life.  Dr. Woodson died in 1950, but his name is (very deservedly) emblazoned on many an institution, including many public schools, a museum in Florida, the Carter G. Woodson Library of Malcolm X College in Chicago, and the Carter G. Woodson Center for Interracial Education at his alma mater, Berea College.  His Washington, DC home is also a National Historic Site. 

     The massive Woodson Regional Library at 95th and Halsted in Chicago is named for Dr. Woodson; and it houses the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, the largest Black history and literature collection in the Midwest.  Interestingly, the Hall Branch Library, at 48th and Michigan Avenue in Chicago, is named after another one of the Association’s founders, Dr. George Cleveland Hall. This culturally rich library branch was a meeting place for many extraordinary writers and poets, including Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, and Langston Hughes!)

(Dr. George Cleveland Hall, was a surgeon, with a strong civic life, who was also the head of the Chicago Urban League.  Dr. Hall worked as the Chief of Staff at Chicago's Provident Hospital in gynecology and as a surgeon. Provident, now a part of the Cook County Health System, was founded by Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, the first physician to successfully perform open heart surgery.  It was founded as a training ground for Black health professionals--most of whom were refused training at white institutions.) 


Fun Fact:

     The celebrated poet, Langston Hughes (1902-1967), worked as an assistant to Dr. Woodson.  At that point in his life, Hughes had dropped out of Columbia University (much to the chagrin of his father) and was working odd jobs as he wrote his poetry.  His job was primarily to help Dr. Woodson with a project called, Free Negro Heads of Families in the United States in 1830.  Also, in The Life of Langston Hughes, Vol. 1: 1902-1941: I, Too, Sing, America, Arnold Rampersad, wrote about the 22-year-old Langston:  “...fired the furnace early in the morning, dusted the furniture, sorted mail, answered some pieces himself, wrapped and mailed books, banked the furnace at night, and, when his employer was away, supervised the entire office.”

     Hughes wrote that Dr. Woodson was an indefatigable man who took his work very seriously.  He wrote that, once Dr. Woodson returned early from a trip and discovered Hughes and other assistants playing cards. Disappointed, Dr. Woodson lectured them on purpose and responsibility to the race.  Ultimately, Hughes moved on, and he wrote in his autobiography, The Big Sea:  “Although I realized what a fine contribution Dr. Woodson was making to the Negro people and America, I personally didn’t like the work I had to do.  Besides, it hurt my eyes.” Sounds like a 22-year-old!  ?


For more on Harriet Tubman, please scroll down to the bottom of the page and see a section on Harriet Tubman (including a video) from January 4th!


**A few books by Dr. Carter G. Woodson
The Miseducation of the Negro (1933), The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 (1915), The Negro in our History (1922), African Heroes and Heroines (1939), The History of the Negro Church (1921), The Rural Negro (1930) The Negro Professional Man and the Community, with Special Emphasis on the Physician and the Lawyer (1934)
**The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) (www.asalh.com): 
—Dr. Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Professor of History and of African and African American Studies at Harvard, is the President. She is the author of Righteous Discontent:  The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church 1880-1920 (1994) and several other publications.
—Dr. Lionel Kimble, Associate Professor of History at Chicago State University, is the Vice President.  His research interests are Black Chicago, US Labor and Working Class History, and World War II.  He is also the president of the Chicago chapter of ASALH.  He is the author of A New Deal for Bronzeville:  Housing, Employment, and Civil Rights in Black Chicago, 1935-1955 (2015).
**Other founders of the ASALH, along with Dr. Woodson, Dr. George Cleveland Hall, William B. Hartgrove, Alexander L. Jackson, and James E. Stamps.

Podcast Season 1, Episode 2:       The Mobs!  The Lies America Tells Itself and Why Schools Must Teach


History and Healing:  January 30, 2021


Just a minimal understanding of how white mobs have operated in the face of Black progress or advancement could have laid a foundation so that no one would have been surprised by the insurrectionist behavior of the white mob at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Listen in on a brief presentation about the ways just a few of the many, many, MANY white mobs have behaved in America. From 1866, just after the Civil War, to the 1898 Wilmington, NC coup d’etat, to a brief examination of attempts to integrate public schools, and communities in Chicago, this podcast conveys the tip of the iceberg when it comes to mob action that has been deployed to terrorize Black people/communities in this country.

Suggested for further edification:
Family Properties: How the Struggle Over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America by Beryl Satters
Satters is a professor of history at Rutgers and the daughter of a Chicago civil rights attorney who grew up in Chicago, Evanston, and Skokie. Her book examines the racially discriminatory, legally sanctioned policies in the housing sector that led to Chicago becoming a model of racial segregation and racial inequality that continues to this day.
Making the Second Ghetto: Race & Housing in Chicago, 1940-1960 by Arnold Hirsch.
This book, rich in details and research, helps one understand the horrific, extraordinarily overpriced conditions Black people were forced to live in as the “Black Belt” section of Chicago, where most Blacks were contained, became more and more dangerously overcrowded. The book delivers deeply documented details about white mobs, violence, and policies that worked to restrict Black movement in Chicago.
The Autobiography of Black Chicago by Dempsey Travis.
Travis, a WWII veteran, realtor, activist, and Chicagoan presents an excellent mix of autobiography of himself and the Black community in the city. At the end of the book, he publishes a number of interviews of people who were high profile movers and shakers advocating for the Black community in different spheres of life in Chicago.
The Case for Reparations by Ta Nehisi Coates.
This seminal article makes a case for reparations to Black people by excavating some of the horrific inequities in the housing market in Chicago, as well as the inequities in federal housing policies that deeply injured Black people—financially, as well as socially, culturally, and politically—while reporting on some of the ways in which Black Chicagoans fought for homeownership at a time when getting a mortgage was out of the question for most, regardless of income. This was at a time when land installment contracts, on a take it or leave it basis, (adhesion contracts) were used as a mechanism for thwarting so many Black people’s dreams of purchasing a home—while making many white “sellers,” who preyed on Black people‘s desire for home ownership, extremely wealthy.
A Raisin in the Sun, the 1959 award-winning play by Lorraine Hansberry.

The play, which won the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, was inspired by Hansberry’s family’s fight to leave the dangerously overcrowded “Black Belt” to move into a spacious home in the previously all white Woodlawn section of the city near the University of Chicago. The next day after the Hansberry’s moved in, the white female neighbor next door filed suit (Lee v. Hansberry, 1940) alleging that they could not occupy the home because of the racially restrictive covenant in the deed preventing Blacks from purchasing the home. (Racially restrictive covenants in deeds were prevalent in Chicago.)  Hansberry was 28-years-old when she won the Critics’ Award.  She died at 34.




A Raisin in the Sun, the famous poem by Langston Hughes




The Chicago Defender, one of the most storied African American newspapers, the Defender chronicled the history of Black progress, pain, and setbacks in Chicago, the nation, and the world, and it often featured brilliant, hard-hitting editorials that exposed discriminatory white supremacist actions and policies in all areas of Black life from policing, violence, and housing to employment and beyond.  Newspapers from the times cited in this podcast are quite illuminating.




Young, Gifted, and Black, sung by the High Priestess of Soul, Nina Simone, this.  This song was practically an anthem during the Black Arts literary and artistic period in the 1960s.  The song was later covered by the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.  Both star singers turned in splendid renditions of the song that delivered a thesis of self-love, healing, and empowerment to the Black community.  (Nina Simon was good friends with Lorraine Hansberry)


Ball of Confusion by the Temptations.  This song resonated with the Black community in the 1960s—a community grappling with hatred, discrimination, and the disinvestment in Black communities allowed to descend into ghettos, and the unrelenting attempts by the power structure to keep them there.




History and Healing Podcast Episode 1:  Week of January 14, 2021


"We should not forget that the freedom you and I enjoy today...is largely due to the brave stand taken by the Black sons of Haiti."  Frederick Douglass



Happy New Year!  Let Your New Year Be Revolutionary--Learn More About

  The Haitian Revolution (1791-1804)




     Haiti declared itself free on January 1, 1804, and, on that day, they became the first independent, free Black nation in the Western Hemisphere!  The brilliant men who waged the Haitian Revolution deeply inspired enslaved American Blacks.  This podcast is about how the Haitians, on the tiny little island of Hispaniola, defeated the heralded military leader, Napoleon, and his "mighty" French Army.  The podcast is also about how, most unfortunately, the Haitians, by ejecting that previously feared colonizing force, have been punished by western powers, including the United States, ever since.  All hail Haiti. ?? 


    But first:  WooHoo! We are rid of Trump, but do NOT be deceived!  His acolytes are many and they are raging--searching for a fight.  It is not that these people love Trump; it is that Trump has opened up a lane--a wide lane--for them to be themselves. So, let us fortify ourselves with knowledge!  


     Let's start the New Year by examining why Haiti should be revered, and by examining the real reasons why westerners vilify Haiti.  There is a lot to be learned and gained by studying the courage and strength of Haiti. 


     Remember when Trump made that ignorant and appalling comment about Haiti—the tiny nation that is often maligned by White people, especially those representing western power.   Remember when, after a devastating 2010 earthquake, Pat Robertson claimed, that Haiti has been “cursed” by one thing after another because, according to him, the Haitians made “a pact to the devil” to gain their independence from their French colonizers? 


     Trump, like Robertson back then, dredged up some of the vile nonsense that has been used to denigrate Haiti ever since the people there had the audacity to brilliantly fight White people to get free.  The truth is that the history of Haiti is something to behold, for in the process of getting free the Haitians defeated Spain, Britain, and France to gain their freedom.



     It is impossible to tell the glorious history of the Haitian Revolution in a short writing, so I will just make a few important points.  I will start by saying, at the time of the Haitian uprising, Haiti, which shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, was called Saint Domingue.  Originally, it had been conquered by Spain, but it fell into the hands of the French, so that by the time of the slave rebellion it was a colony of France, which is why many Haitians speak French to this day.


     Saint Domingue was a “sugar colony” where Black enslaved people performed extremely difficult labor under inhumane and indecent conditions.  Saint Domingue was called “The Eden of the Western World” and “The Pearl of the Antilles” because it was the wealthiest, most profitable colony in the world—producing almost half of the sugar and coffee consumed in Europe and in the Americas, as well as other products.  It generated anywhere from approximately two-fifths to two-thirds of France’s world trade income.  (There were about 8000 plantations in Haiti.)  So, it was highly coveted by western powers. 


     But why is Haiti so maligned?  Think back to your elementary and high school days and what you learned about the hey-day of the French military.  You likely learned that Napoleon Bonaparte was the “baddest”  military “genius” walking the face of the planet at that time, right?  Well, guess what?  Under the extraordinary military genius of, first, a Black man named Toussaint L’Ouverture, and then a Black man named Jean-Jacques Dessalines (who declared “Haiti” free in 1804), Haiti infuriated, frustrated, and ultimately defeated and vanquished Napoleon’s forces—thereby embarrassing France and White folks.  The battles were brutal and many lives were lost, but in the end, the Haitian Revolution represented an astonishing achievement that reverberated all over the world. It was a serious blow to the notion of “White Supremacy; and western White powers have been incensed ever since.


     So, how could the fact that the Haitians defeated Napoleon, Spain, and England be explained to the satisfation of White people?  Well, it is said that the night before the slave rebellion, the Haitian leaders participated in a Voodeaux or Voudou ceremony.  You call it “voodoo,” but it is really Voudou (or Vodou) which is translated to mean “Spirit.”  It is impossible to discuss something as complicated and sophisticated as Voudou in a few sentences.  In fact, it is difficult to discuss it as one religious order, because it takes many forms.  So, let me say that during the slave trade, as you know, African peoples were dropped off in Europe, North America, Central America, and South America in what is known as the African Diaspora (Diaspora meaning the movement or scattering of a people from their ancestoral homeland).


     So, Haitian Voudou, Cuban Santeria, Brazilian Candomble, and Jamaican Revival Zion were (and continue to be) legitimate religious systems practiced by African people, in different parts of the world, who were attempting to preserve their own indigenous religious traditions and beliefs while being forced to take on the religious traditions of their captors.  So, through a process called syncretism, what you see in Voudou are indigenous West African religious beliefs intermingled with elements of Roman Catholicism and even some Native American beliefs; and a lot of the symbolism in Voudou and Catholicism is the same.  Voudou has spiritual, cultural, and social relevance to Haitians, and yes it is tied to their revolutionary struggle. Today, the country is about 80% Roman Catholic, and some say it is 100% Voudou!


     So, because the Haitians practiced Voudou, and outsiders did not understand it, and since the Haitians defeated the Spanish, English, and French, many white people considered it the religion or spirit of resistance, and they sought to demonize it and make others think Haitians were wild people running around practicing so-called “Black Arts.”  They were hoping that whatever the Haitians were doing, it would not be used to help other Blacks gain their freedom.  In reality, the Haitians were men and women of tremendous faith who believed they had the right to be free.  So, they sought to, and did, liberate themselves.


     Now, in truth, practically everyone who has seriously studied Haiti walks away with the unmistakable understanding that the real reason Haiti has suffered what Randall Robinson calls “an unbroken agony” is because in the process of winning their freedom, the Haitians contributed mightily to the destruction of the fundamental tenets that slavery rested upon in the first place, including the notions of Whites supremacy and superiority.


     The Haitians also inspired Black people throughout the Americas (and the world) who were still in bondage and helped them believe that they, too, could get free.  It is said that many of the slave uprisings in the United States and in the rest of the Americas, were inspired, in part, by the Haitian Revolution, including the ones staged by Denmark Vesey (1822) and Nat Turner (1831).  These rebellions were ultimately unsuccessful, but they rocked slaveholders to the core.


     Other things that injured Haiti include the fact that, in defeat, the French demanded that Haiti pay them enormous sums of money, including 150 million francs, and Haiti paid France in an attempt to have a place in the international commercial community.  So, Haiti paid reparations to the French for beating them!  However, after the Haitian Revolution, Europe imposed a trade blockade against the country for many years, the United States did not recognize Haiti as an independent republic until 1862, and the US military occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934 with some very horrific consequences for Haiti.


     I could go on and on about the ways Haiti has been punished by western powers—but it is not because of some pact with the devil, it is because they had the audacity to liberate themselves.  Frederick Douglass, who, from 1889 to 1891, served as Minister Resident and Consul General to Haiti, said, “Haiti is Black and we have not yet forgiven Haiti for being Black.”


     All Americans owe a debt of gratitude and support to Haiti.  Prior to being defeated by the Haitians, Napoleon had wanted to use what was then Saint Domingue’s land mass as part of a military strategy, and he wanted to use some of those courageous and brilliant military men from Saint Domingue to attack the United States to enlarge the French Empire.  France had already purchased a huge stretch of land in North America—referred to as the Louisiana Territory—from Spain.  However, after the Haitians defeated him, Napoleon gave up that dream of military expansion and actually sold the land that had been purchased from Spain to the United States for the bargain basement price of 15 million dollars.  Subsequently, the Louisiana Purchase was divided into 13 states or parts of states.  Napoleon did this to keep the land from falling into the hands of the British, as France and Britain had been warring off and on for years.


     I will end with Frederick Douglass’ words:  “You and I and all of us have reason to respect Haiti for her services to the cause of liberty and human equality throughout the world, and for the noble qualities she exhibited in all the trying conditions of her early history… We should not forget that the freedom you and I enjoy today, that the freedom that eight hundred thousand colored people enjoy in the British West Indies, the freedom that has come to the colored race the world over, is largely due to the brave stand taken by the Black sons of Haiti.”



Further Reading: 

The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouventure and the San Domingo Revolution, by C.L.R. James




History and Healing:  Happy New Year!  Week of  January 4, 2021

                                             "I can't die but once."  Harriet Tubman

When Spirit Calls:  Is your Spirit calling you to great things?

Harriet Tubman  (History & Healing)


Think you know everything you need to know about Harriet Tubman?  Think again!  This lady was the embodiment of what it means to be psychologically healthy.


When Spirit Calls… 


What animated Harriet?  Is your life force calling you to do something big; or, perhaps, something small that will have a big impact?


When you bring into consciousness the image of this tiny woman traveling into danger again and again to free Black people, you have to conclude, as did the influential psychologist, Abraham Maslow, that Harriet Tubman was the very representation of what it means to be psychologically well, to be healthy.


A spiritual woman, not only was Harriet the greatest conductor on the Underground Railroad, she was also a spy and a scout who gathered invaluable intelligence for Union commanders.  A master strategist, she directed forces during the Civil War, including on the gutsy Combahee River Raid where her group destroyed millions of dollars worth of Confederate property and supplies—while liberating more than 700 slaves. 


Like many of our ancestors, Harriet understood the medicinal properties of plants and herbs, so she was a reassuring nurse (or should we say "doctor") of tremendous reputation among military men in need of healing.


A suffragette with style, Harriet married a war veteran 22 years her junior. 


Let’s all hail this queen by freeing ourselves from what Malcolm X famously called the prison of our minds.  Do You.  Free yourself of your psychological luggage, so you can be yourself.


Harriet’s genius and bravery allowed her to famously declare, “I never lost a passenger.”  What will yours allow you to say?





What is the lesson of Harriet Tubman telling you?  Are you grappling with something that has been laid on your heart, that you can’t shake, but that you consider too awesome.  Something you think is out of your grasp?  Will you be able to forgive yourself years from now when you realize you gave up too easily? 


If it’s one thing that Black people know how to do, it’s strive and work hard—very hard.  You work hard on your job—some of us work two and three jobs; why not work hard for your dream, whatever it is?  Black people!  We know how to innovate, how to make a way out of no way, how to improvise—never forget that. It’s in your DNA.  Just decide for whom you want to do all that work!


Think of it this way:  Five or ten years from now, you will have accomplished what you want to do, or you will not have even tried, but five or ten years will still have elapsed.  Don’t die while you’re still alive.  Free yourself and be yourself!


“I can’t die but once.”

Harriet Tubman



From Army.mil:


“Once in Hilton Head, Harriet began her work as a spy and an organizer and leader of scouts.  She selected and paid (out of “secret service money”) nine reliable Black scouts, riverboat pilots who knew every inch of the local waterways, and trained them in methods of gathering intelligence.  Using Harriet’s knowledge of covert travel and subterfuge and their familiarity with the terrain, these scouts mapped the shorelines and islands of South Carolina… Historian H. Donald Winkler, in his book Stealing Secrets, writes:  ‘Harriet and her nine-man spy team evolved into a kind of special-forces operation for the Black regiments.  Her team sneaked up and down rivers and into swamps and marshes to determine enemy positions, movements, and fortifications on the shoreline beyond the Union pickets.’”  To read more go to: https://www.army.mil/article/126731/harriet_tubman_nurse_spy_scout



Cool Fact:  Harriet Tubman is to be honored on the 20 dollar bill—replacing the murderous Andrew Jackson.










The video above was for a course we conducted called History and Healing which was a precursor to our podcast.  We conducted the course because we understand that "the truth shall make you free."  We need to know the truth, not the bastardized narrative we have been told in an attempt to dehumanizes us.  Our historical reality is worlds apart from what most of us have been taught. The honest history of our people will both empower and provide us with an understanding of why the world around us looks the way it does.  Our aim is to share knowledge, provoke thought, advance understanding, and promote healing.  

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