Fri 6 Dec, 2002 10:07 pm
The Peace Movement has not died, nor is it resting. I thought this would be a good time for a meeting thread to exchange information and to remenisce. Because so many peace activists also are civil rights proponents it seems natural to include both topics together.
It is difficult to determine if President Bush is so full of blood lust he will invade Iraq, whatever the cost, or if it's simply a game of chicken to insure that Iraq will disarm if it has not already done so. It is the place of the Peace Movement to act as though the former were true, until Bush's final decision has revealed itself. I confess, I do not understand the mentality that drives the current administration. I believe that the president has too much ego to allow himself to be a total puppet, though there is an element of that. I don't know how far down he is prepared to drag us; I don't know if the Democratic party has enough morale to rally itself against him.
My purpose here is not to rabble rouse, but to have a meeting with like or similar minds to discuss what has been and is going on.
Philip Berrigan has died at age 79 of cancer. He served eleven years total behind bars for his antiwar activities.
One of the voices of protest I fondly listened to belonged to Ed Sanders - Yeah, the gross poet wanna be who sang dirty songs as the leader of THE FUGS. Ed had a good ear for music and he had some great ideas in between the sex/drugs thing. He put the poets Matthew Arnold, William Blake and Charles Swinburne to music. (Well, with Swinburne it was more of a chant, almost a rap.) He did the same thing for Ginsburg's Howl he did for Swinburne.His own composition, RAMSES II IS DEAD, MY LOVE appears in Songs That Tell Stories, at the end of the thread. Another song by Sanders is JOHNNY PISSOFF MEETS THE RED ANGEL, from the album It Crawled into My Hand, Honest. The lyric in part goes
"I woke up all sweating
My derringer in hand
I have a hand grenade launcher
And a burp gun under the bed"
"Ain't no pink --- legislature
Gonna say I can't have guns"
He chastises Johnny, sayng at the end
"When the red angel comes
And the T. V. is cold
Will you pray in the dawn
For the rest of your soul
When you lie in the dour death coma
Do you think you're gonnago to heaven
With a violent heart
With a violent heart
(Are you ready, Johnny? Are you ready to meet me?)
Ahimsa oh Johnny ahimsa
In the spinning confusion ahimsa
In the flood of life death and torture
Ahimsa ahimsa ahimsa
Ahimsa is the seashell of Buddha
Ahimsa is the rose and the lamb
When the red angel comes
And the T. V. is cold ...."
Sanders also wrote a book on the Manson murders. I think it may be called THE FAMILY.
Well, after all these years I searched his websit last week. What a dissappointment. He not only promotes Republican messages, he reads like an advertisement for the NRA. I left the site determined to still love the man he once was to me and so I continue to listen to his records to this day.
edgarblythe=thanks for the "blah3"
Last night PBS had a re-run of folk music of the 60s and 70s and I felt the old blood start to stir and I am ready to engage in political protest of this coming war. This time I am better prepared but feel it is an obligation to get active again.
I wish I were young and unattached for a couple of years so I could go where I need to go and do what I need to do, but, alas, I will mostly write and agonize. Still, that's something. In the 60s I went to the east coast because that is where the power center is located. I was extremely green and not at all effective for the most part. I did get my draft board excited when I mailed them my draft card. I think they let me slide because I already had my honorable discharge.
BLACK ACHIEVEMENT GAP by William Raspberry
John U. Ogbu's book, BLACK AMERICAN STUDENTS IN AN AFFLUENT SUBURB is based on a study undertaken at the behest of African American parents in Shaker Heights, Ohio, who wanted to know why their solidly middle class children were lagging academically behind their white counterparts.
"What amazed me is that these kids who come from homes of doctors and lawyers are not thinking like their parents," Ogbu, who helped popularize the notion that hard-working black students are often put down by their peers for "acting white" told the New York Times. "They don't know how their parents made it. They are looking at rappers in ghettos as their role models, they are looking at entertainers. The parents work two jobs, three jobs, to give their children everything, but they are not guiding their children."
Ronald Ross saw the Times piece and hit the ceiling.
"Anyone foolish enough to write some foolishness like that..." he sputtered during a long telephone interview. "How can he be so deliberately naive? You can bet the white conservatives will jump on this as an excuse for not addressing the real problem."
Well, what does Ross think the real problem might be? "Racism" he says without hesitation.
Ross is worth listening to. Now a "distinguished fellow for education reform" at the New York office of the National Urban League, he is credited with turning around the school system of Mt. Vernon, N. Y., in the few years of his recent superintendency.
Really turning it around. At Longfellow Elementary, for instance, only twelve percent of the fourth-graders passed the state prescribed acheivement test the year he arrived. The following year, ninety four percent did. The citywide pass rate rose in a single year from thirty three percent to fifty percent - then to seventy five percent and up.
He insists he found no particular evidence for the "acting White" syndrome. "Of course there are kids who don't want to study, or who put down their peers who do, but there's nothing about that that's endemic to the black race. This is everybody." The real problems, he insists, are money and racism.
Since by his own account he wasn't able to do much about the money, how did Ross root out the racism that was holding black kids back?
What he did, he told me, was to accuse white teachers and administrators of not really caring about the education of black children. "I'm bestowing an Oscar on all of you." he told one gathering in a speech that landed him in political trouble, "because every time I come here, you make me believe you care about these children."
And that ended the racism and made the turnaround possible?
"I can't tell you how many racists retired or moved on," he said. "And I don't care." What he does care about are the administrative, curriculum, and pedegogical changes he ushered in. "I worked with the union to move the teachers and principals who weren't performing. We tore apart the curriculum and developed a new one based on the New York state exams, then took a careful look at our best practices. It just made sense to me that what's taught should be what's tested."
And that's not all he did. He spoke at churches all over town and cajoled parents into participation, at one point charging them with reading to their children for at least half an hour every night.
In short he did what Ogbu the Berkely anthropologist might have done: He set about changing the culture in which his youngsters operated.
So why is he so furious at Ogbu? Ar far as I can tell, it is because Ogbu, a Nigerian-born immigrant, sees culture as the overriding determinent (though he would acknowledge the impact of racism), while Ross, a militant black educator, who just turned fifty eight, looks at the same scene and sees race first and foremost, though it is clear from what he did in Mt. Vernon that he sees the importance of culture.
If there's a critical difference between these two bright and thoughtful men, it is that Ross sees it as of greater importance than Ogbu that white people confront their racism.
My own vantage point is Washington, D. C., where the superintendent, the school board majority and the overwhelming majority of principals and teachers are black. And yet, the academic outcomes here - the acheivement gap - seem no different than in Cleveland or Shaker Heights or the affluent and predominently black Prince George's County, Md. Surely unacknowledged racism can't explain them all.
Can Ogbu? I guess I'll have to wait for his book.
I first became aware of the struggle between the races when my elementry school teacher brought a record to class for us to listen to. It was about the murder of Emmet Till. I no longer recall the singer of the record, but the lesson contained in the song stayed with me. When not too many years later I heard about the bus strike and Martin Luther King, I said to myself, "It's about time." I was gratified to learn that black Americans were taking a strong stand. Prior to that my family had moved to a neighborhood that was about two thirds black and Mexican American and the third portion being whites, orientals, Portugese, etc. I saw very quickly that we all were humans first, colors a distant second. Then we moved to another state, a southern one. For the first time I saw the dual facilities for whites and coloreds. The schools in the part of the state where we settled were integrated. I was ashamed of the way my white counterparts treated the blacks, who suffered all indignities with grins. They got away from their tormentors at the first opportunity. I was sure their grins faded just as fast. It was quite a change from the California school where black students had often been among the class leaders. I know I will never lose the fire to see racial justice done. I see now that many Americans feel deep seated need to kick Arab butts. I mightily hope enough of us retain the common sense to know the difference between legitemate enemies and manufactured ones.
"I first became aware of the struggle between the races when :"
1957 Desegregation at Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock Central High School was to begin the 1957 school year desegregated. On September 2, the night before the first day of school, Governor Faubus announced that he had ordered the Arkansas National Guard to monitor the school the next day. When a group of nine black students arrived at Central High on September 3, they were kept from entering by the National Guardsmen. On September 20, Judge Davies granted an injunction against Governor Faubus and three days later the group of nine students returned to Central High School. Although the students were not physically injured, a mob of 1,000 townspeople prevented them from remaining at school. Finally, President Eisenhower ordered 1,000 paratroopers and 10,000 National Guardsmen to Little Rock, and on September 25, Central High School was desegregated.
I was 7 years old and going into 2nd grade in Memphis, TN - just a hop, skip and jump away. I was scared and confused. I couldn't figure why all these big ole men and a governor were keeping some little kids from going to school. Needless to say, after this there is no wonder I have so little respect for cops, uniforms, and government officials that use all that power to squash the small and innocent. I had respect for Judges who were courageous - now that too is gone!
trent lott, take a hike!
I have told this tale of my trip to D. C. with Jesse Jackson on Abuzz, but I want it here.
I had moved to New York to be close to the power center of the country for my anti war activity. I secured a job with a man who rented his truck by the hour to persons who invariably used it to move to their new homes. He would drive and I would come along just in case they wanted to hire us to carry things for them. One day the boss, a black man with Jamaican parents, payed for me to go with him on a trip with Jesse Jackson to set up a tent on the White House lawn - the tent to be painted where it stood - black, of course. I jumped at the chance. When we showed up there were at least three chartered buses waiting. As it turned out, only seven persons besides Jesse got on; the other buses were returned. I was pretty green, sitting, slumped somewhat, looking into space, wrapped up in my own thoughts. All of the people knew one another and carried on conversations I was not brought into. I was shook out of my reverie by Jesse sliding into the adjoining seat. "Why are you here?" he asked. A fair enough question, since I was the only white one on board. I had planned none of this, so I had little to share. "I want to see how these things work," I said. Jesse laughed. "You're going to see how they work all right." I marvelled at how young and smooth he looked, like a high school boy.
We disembarked and right away began to haul the tent to the lawn. We were met by a swarm of police, who outnumbered us. After a brief standoff, Jesse announced that we had achieved what we set out to do, and we left. We had made the news, which was the real objective.
We went from there to the Lincoln Memorial, where the 1968 Mothers' March on Washington had gathered and was prepared to move out. My boss and I fell in at the end. Republican Senator Charles Percy's secretary took an interest in me. She told me of her son, then in Vietnam, and her wish to bring him home. She tried to push me to commit to going to the Smithsonian to try for a job - Why, I was not sure. I have no remembrance of the speeches made before JFK's grave that day. After it broke up we were taken to a wealthy black church, where Floyd McKissick was to speak. Waiting in an outer hall, I stood to the side as my boss conversed with someone. I became aware of a strong, beautiful woman, heard her speak, "I want to ask a question. Why is he here?" The woman pointed directly at me. Startled and intimidated by all the attention, I looked back at a dozen or so enquiring faces. As the only white in the hall, I understood why the question was being asked. I stammerred and spoke about my opposition to the war and my support for the cause of civil rights and they went about their business, satisfied.
Mr. McKissick spoke that night of civil rights. He admonished the white liberals in the audience, "Don't come to our neighborhoods to teach about civil rights. We know about civil rights. Teach it in your own neighborhoods. That's where it's needed." One white man was visibly upset. "Where does that leave us?" he was asking. Floyd says, "If you are our friend you will understand."
We returned to New York by train. I began to look forward to future engagements in the name of civil rights and anti war protests.
I saw it all on TV my mom made me watch. I cried a lot and could not really understand it. BillW we must be the same age or very close to it.
Edgarblythe I loved that story on Abuzz and love it here.
Joanne, we're turning into fine old wine (hope it's not vinegar).
Another story - about 1958, the summer after my first story: my brother and I got YMCA membership to learn how to swim. We're still living in Memphis and families only had one car back then (unless you were Republican). Anyway, we were taught how to ride the public bus system.
Well, we jump on the bus and run to the back sit - remember it was that bench thing, don't know if it still is. We always went to the back seat. Anyway some blacks were telling us we couldn't sit there, whites had to sit up front. We told them that blacks get all the luck getting the back seat and all. We refused to move. I'm telling you - they got a big kick out of that and said you just go on and sit there, we deserved that seat.
Of course, it wasn't until years later, thinking back to that time that I understood what it was all about. Actually, to tell you the truth, I'm still just about as naive. I still don't understand what stupidity like that is all about. I just can not for the life of me understand segregation.
Edgarblythe already has heard this from me but I was in D.C. the summer of 63 and am somewhere in that crowd on the mall during the I have a dream speech.
One similar experience I had in D.C. was one night we were boarding a ship of dinner on the Potomac and a trip up the River to an amusment park (can't remember the name right this moment) any way we looked over and saw another boat loading but everyone one was black. We didn't get it until we discussed it on the plane trip back to San Diego. Then we started putting two and tow together. Sometimes for young people it take some time to understand in toto what is going on in front of you nose, so many other distractions in youth.
Edgar, Joanne - wish I could have been there, I was in thought and still am (if that makes sense)!
I was one of the 'Harvard Square 7' arrested out of God knows how many thousands of people at an anti-war rally that Jerry Rubin spoke at back in the early 70's. Turned into a massive riot. Walking the gauntlet up the steps of the police station in Cambridge was a piece of cake compared to the beating we took in the back room.
I got tear gassed but avoided getting beat up.
My Mom told me of an incident in Texas - before I was born, I suppose. Riding a bus on which there was just one vacant seat left, she observed a woman come on board and approach that seat. The young man occupying the window side moved to block her. "She's not sitting here" he said. Mom described how embarrassed she felt seeing the woman treated so, simply because of her skin color.