Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Interview with Ex Slave Aunt Harriet Smith 1941

Aunt Harriet Smith says 's, she was just 13 years old during the Civil War. Listen to her story as she gives her account of what it was like to be a slave in those days. In this 1941 interview by the Library of Congress, Aunt Harriet recounts her days on the plantation picking cotton as a young child and witnessed first-hand black soldiers marching into battle during the Civil War.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Why Are Black Communities Disproportionately Effected By Air Pollution?

Systematic oppression comes in many forms, not just the usual job discrimination and lower wages most people hear about. There are more dangerous forms of oppression; such as environmental racism.

It is not a coincidence that so many black communities are located in close proximity to power plants or near oil refineries. Large corporations have a long history of preying on poorer communities because, of the lack of political power they hold.

A new study released Tuesday by the advocacy group Clean Air Task Force (CATF) and the NAACP reported that African-Americans are disproportionately effected by health problems associated with air pollution from oil refineries.

According to the study, more than 1 million African-Americans live within half a mile from an oil and gas refinery, while roughly 14% of the black population live in a county with a oil operation. Considering the fact that black Americans make-up only about 14% of the U.S population shows that black communities have a higher risk of being impacted by pollution-related health conditions verses other racial groups and according to the study that number is growing each year.

For example, Houston and Dallas have the highest risk of childhood asthma related to ozone smog; a by-product of oil and gas facilities. Texas, Ohio, California, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma have the largest share of African-American citizens living within areas the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers high risk zones. These are areas within half a mile of active oil processing plants.
The study also expressed concern for black communities as far away as Chicago, D.C., and New York City that are effected by the pollution of oil refineries carried by the wind. Black communities are more apt to be exposed to toxins in the air like benzene, sulfur dioxide and formaldehyde; which have all been linked to elevated risks of cancer, asthma, and endocrine disrupting illnesses. African American children were reported to have been effected by 138,000 asthma attacks resulting in 101,000 lost school days each year.

Another 2017 study by the American Lung Association reported that in 2015 people in Baltimore experienced 89 days of elevated smog, and on 20 of those days it was at unhealthy levels, increasing the risk of premature death, asthma attacks, and other adverse health impacts. African Americans account for 63 % of Baltimore's population.

Get involved in the fight to rid populated areas of hazardous oil facilities. To find out if your community is located near oil and gas facilities go to www.oilandgasthreatmap.com and visit www.methanefacts.org to learn how you can join organizations fighting for a healthier environment. Read the full report titled Fumes Across the Fence-Line.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Ex-Slave And Oldest American Charlie Smith Full Interview

The oldest recorded person to ever live in the United States was ex-slave Charlie Smith; who was reported to had died in the year 1979 at the age of 137. Though, there was great debate about his actual age, in this 1975 recorded interview with the Library Of Congress he states that he was "144 years old". That would make him 148 years old at the time he died. Listen as he gives his account of what it was like to be kidnapped from Africa and made a slave in the United States; and of his life as a U.S. citizen afterward.

The complete transcript is below:

Interview with Charlie Smith, Bartow, Florida, March 17, 1975

Elmer Sparks: Ready? The following is an interview between Elmer Sparks, Texas ranchman and historian, and, with Charlie Smith, old-time slave of Bartow, Florida. Uh, [voices in the background, background noise will remain throughout the interview] we've already got on the introduction on it.

Charlie Smith: O.K.

Elmer Sparks: Is it turning?

Charlie Smith: Yes.

Elmer Sparks: Uh, Mr. Smith, what is your full name?

Charlie Smith: Charlie Smith.

Elmer Sparks: Charlie Smith.

Charlie Smith: The man that raised me name me Charlie Smith. My first name, first name what my mother name me, is Mitchell, Mitchell Watkins. That's what my mother and father name me, Mitchell Watkins. I was raised in that, uh, born in Africa. And come to the United States. You see that was in slavery time. They sold the colored people. They sold the colored people. And they bringing them from the Africa. And they brought me from Africa. I was a child, a boy. The colored folks want to throw me off the boat coming from Africa. "Throw him overboard!" I was in cuffs. "Throw him overboard, let the damn whale swallow him like he done Jonah." Hadn't have been, the colored one want to throw me off, hadn't have been for L. and the Captain of the boat. L. was a white man and the Captain of the boat was a white man, but the colored is the one wants to throw me off the boat. And D. J., when they bring him from Africa, Liberia Africa, where I was brought from. And put in the United States. Me know, the northern people bought colored folks, put you up on a block and sell you, bid you off. The highest bidder gets you. Highest bidder gets you. Well the northern people bought colored folk and the South bought colored folks. And the northern people didn't carry you with them, colored people to the North. Say that it was too cold for them you know to stand the cold. But they got southern white folks, they got southern white folks to look after them, and they pay the uh, colored, the white folks, southern white folks to look after them. And they got to mistreating them, so. And they come down, the North to the South, first fought a war to free the colored. North and South fought a war. And that was slavery time. And freedom [unintelligible]. I ain't reading for it because I couldn't read. I knowed when it was done. And the man they put you up on a block to sell you, to bid you off. And when they come down here and freed them, they bought the, the North bought the whole state of Louisiana and give it to the colored people for their territory. And make the laws and rules their selves. And the colored people sold their rights, sold out to the white, sold to white. And that freed them, and the North freed them. The North and South fought a war, the first war it was in the United States, North and South fought a war that, that freed the colored people from slavery time. I ain't read for it because I couldn't read. I know it because I raised through it. The colored, the colored people always did hate me from a child. Bringing me from Africa, the colored want to throw me off the boat. "Throw him overboard," cuss. Throw him overboard." Let the, cuss, let the [Elmer Sparks interrupts]

Elmer Sparks: Now how did, how did you come to be on the block, get out and brought over here? Was you brought over by surprise?

Charlie Smith: Yeah, they, they, they brought me over here. The, the, the, the North, the people, sold the colored people.

Elmer Sparks: Did they trick you to get you on the boat?
Charlie Smith: What? They fool you on the boat. They fool the colored people on the boat. I ask my mama could I go down to the boat landing to see that white man. I was raised in Galina, Africa. That was in Africa.

Elmer Sparks: Yeah.

Charlie Smith: That'swhere I was [gotten?] raise, born at, in Africa.

Elmer Sparks: Yeah.

Charlie Smith: And the white folks, didn't no white people stay in Africa, south part of Africa.

Elmer Sparks: Yeah.

Charlie Smith: They stayed in the north part of Africa. And that where they sold the colored people, in the south part of Africa. They put you up on a block and bid you off. And the way they got us on the boat, he said, "Come right in here!" That what they said. "Come in here! Colored in here, all the colored. Over in that country, you don't have to work. If you get hungry, all you got to do go to the fritter tree." Had the fritter tree on the boat, claim that the fritter tree. "You go to the fritter tree." Same thing now we hear people call in the United States, call them pancakes, they call them flitters. And them flitter tree, bore the, the tree bore the flitters, they claim. "Here the flitter tree. It's on the boat." We got on. Carried show us the fritter tree on the boat. "Come on down here!" Called the lower deck on the, on the called the flitter tree. Then he show us the syrup tree. "Here the syrup tree," and it was on the boat, too. "Come on down here!" And the hole on the lower deck on the boat, they keep calling the hatch hole. "Come on down here in that hatch hole!" They showed us something down there. Got down in the hatch hole, we should have felt the boat moving, but we thought we was going back up there to the fritter tree. And they are leaving. And when it landed, it landed in New Orleans. That where the colored people was sold at. Sold. They bringing us from Africa over here, the colored folks want to throw me off. "Throw him overboard, throw him overboard." And the white, Mr. J., Mr. J. say, "Don't you throw tat boy out there!" "Throw him overboard! Goddam, let the damn whale swallow him like he done Jonah." That what they said. Going to throw me off the boat, bringing me from Africa in the United States. That was when we had the slavery. Just put you on the block and sell you. Put you on a stage, but well they called it a block. Put you up on a stage. Than man would buy you. The highest bidder gets you. Bid on you. [Elmer Sparks and Charlie Smith overlap]
Elmer Sparks: I've heard of that.

Charlie Smith: The highest bidder gets you. He'll carry you to his plantation. Put another one up there. Me highest bid, which ever one bid, gives the most, he'll carry him to his plant, that the white, in the South. And they went to mistreating the, the colored. Getting children by the colored women. And all such as that, getting colored. And the white find it out, how they was treating them. They hurt them. And they come down here, the first war ever was in the United States was the North and South fought a war to free the colored.

Elmer Sparks: And who was it that bought you? Do you remember who bought you?

Charlie Smith: Bought me?

Elmer Sparks: Yeah.

Charlie Smith: Oh. I was in, in uh, when they went to New Orleans, that's where they sold the people. The man that raised me, he didn't buy me. The man raised me. They would try to put you up on the block to sell you. He was Jake. The man was Jake. He name me. that's the name I go in now. Charlie Smith. He name me. When he, uh, I uh when he took me. He raised me, in Texas, Galveston, Texas where I was raised in. And the man that raised me, he name Charlie Smith, and that's the name he give me. He gave me Charlie Smith. And always teach me and his children. He treated me just like he treated his children, in everything, not one thing, everything. We ate together, we slept together. All the boys now, we just talking not about the women now. All we the boys slept together. I was, uh, raised with a cattleman. Charlie Smith raised me. He had all kind of cattle. And all of us toted pistols and something to shoot. And I was the only colored cowboy. I got on a cowboy shirt now that I brought from Texas. Been have it all of my days. I was raised up a cowboy. I was the only cowboy [record skips], colored cowboy he had, was in Texas. His name was Charlie Smith. And he always teach me and his children, anything you got to have don't never let it give out. He say, "And enjoy your money when you living. You can't carry none of it with you when you dead." He said millionaires die and leave all they got. Everything they got, they ain't carry nothing with them. And that, his name was Charlie Smith and he name me Charlie Smith. And he always told me don't change my name. And when he died, all us, he had three, uh, three or four of them, [unintelligible]. He didn't put no money in no bank. He had these little old money safes. People tell me, people got them now in some places, in the house, you know. He had two, two in the drugstore, in the dry goods store, and two in the grocery store. That made four. That where he kept his money and all us cowboys' money, what we didn't tote. We, all cowboys wore boots. Half a leg boots, knee, what they call knee boots that come clean to your knees. Well, we toted our, what he didn't keep for us, we toted in our boots. And I was the only colored cowboy he had. All the rest of them white. We toted pistols and rifles. We carried them, we carried them. We killed bears and panthers and things like that, what was eating up the stock. He was a cattleman. He had plenty of cattle. And all them animals, bears and panthers and things like that and lions, they'd eat up the little pigs and real young stuff. That's what [we makes (?)], the cowboys was carrying their pistols and rifles, to kill them.

Elmer Sparks: Now what did you do after the slaves were free? After you was with him [Charlie Smith interrupts]

Charlie Smith: With him ....

Elmer Sparks: Yeah, you just went ahead a working huh?

Charlie Smith: [mumbles] When they freed the colored, we just stay. The man would. [clears his voice] When they freed the colored, they, they bought the whole state of Louisiana and give it over to the colored people for their territory to make their laws and rules. And the colored people sold their rights. All that ??? and property, anything, they have to get it approved by the white. Now, that's the way it was done. They ain't got no, can't make no laws, can't make no rules. If they make them, the white let them have it. They sold out.

Elmer Sparks: Now after he died down then, where did you go then?
Charlie Smith: After who died?

Elmer Sparks: After this Charlie Smith.

Charlie Smith: He ain't dead.

Elmer Sparks: Well I mean the one [Charlie Smith interrupts]

Charlie Smith:Oh, he dead all right, but where I went, I went, he sold the colored folks. After free, after he sold the colored people. After slavery, slavery time, they sold the colored folks.

Elmer Sparks: Well did you go out in the [Charlie Smith interrupts]

Charlie Smith: And, and, and the first war was in the, in the, the North and the South fought a war. The North bought colored people, and the South bought colored folks, and, and in the North they got the, the Southern white folks to look after them and to take care of them. They wouldn't carry them north, say it was too cold for them, and got the southern white folks to look after them. And the Southern white folks was uh, went to mistreating them.

Elmer Sparks: Did, did, did you go out West then or stay there? [Elmer Sparks and Charlie Smith overlap]

Charlie Smith: No, I wasn't in the West. I wasn't in the West [mumbles]. I was in the West when they freed them.

Elmer Sparks: That's what I mean, after they freed them.

Charlie Smith: Yeah, after they freed them I was in the West. That was when we call old man Charlie. When they went to selling them. He'd object, selling, uh, selling me. Put you up on a block, he'd object. Because he rule that part of Texas. He was a cattleman. And they rule that part of Galveston. He rule that part, and what he, he said, he, he, went. [Elmer Sparks interrupts then Charlie Smith continues] And when they want, want to sell me, put me on, on the block, and then he project. And they didn't do it. And he raise me. Carried me to his house. And ame. He name me Charlie. His name was Charlie and he name me Charlie. [Elmer Sparks and Charlie Smith talk at once and Charlie Smith continues].

Charlie Smith: That's the name he give me, that's the name. My name what my mother and father name, my name Mitchell, Mitchell Watkins. But he sold me and he got me, and he name me Charlie. That's the name I go in. And when he, he died, he died. And when he died he always teach me and his children. Didn't teach us one thing, he teach us all. He say, "Anything you got to have, don't never let it give out." He say, "Enjoy your money when you living, because you can't carry none of it with you when you dead. Enjoy your money when you living." He teach us that all the time. And I didn't go to school much. Because I thought I hadn't been, when you [used to ?] toting those pistols and nothing to shoot with, and I was so full of loading my pistols and rifles I had to carry, and, and didn't learn anything else. But I was the only colored boy. All his cowboys was white. We all ate together, we slept together, and everything. Wasn't no difference in the treatment at all. None. Old man Charlie.

Elmer Sparks: Did you, did you move up to Mississippi? Didn't you go to Mississippi? Eventually?

Charlie Smith: Oh, I been all over, all the way down [Elmer Sparks interrupts Charlie Smith].

Elmer Sparks: You, you worked, you worked in Mississippi didn't you?

Charlie Smith: I'm a, I'm a state man mister. I work for the United States. I go get bad people. I'm a state man and will as long as I live. Here my folders right here . I'm a state man. I'm the man went with, me and Billy the Kid, the man went and got the man kill the President. And the state name me. I got three name. The United States, I work for the United States now.
[ Pause]. Name me "Trigger Kid." Me and Billy the Kid, went and got the man kill the President, went and got him. Had a five hundred dollar reward, anybody go get him. He kill the President. Guiteau killed Garfield. Garfield the first President ever was killed of the United States. And the man killed him name Guiteau and went back over in his state where he come from.

Elmer Sparks: That was Charles Guiteau wasn't it?

Charlie Smith: And when they, put out the five hundred dollar reward anybody would go get him. There was six men right at the line of the states. You had to get your authorities from them to go over there. Everybody go over there and get them five hundred dollars, them mens would kill them. Kill them. [unintelligible] They'd kill you. If you go over there and get that man, the man done the killing, he went back in that state because that was the state he was born and raised in. And there's six men right at the line of the United States. You, you, you had to get authorities from them to go any further in that state, state. And they done it, and we, me and Billy the Kid, they sent us over there. This United States name me "Trigger Kid," but that's a name I've hated. I been working for the United, I work for the United States now. If you bad, I get all bad people. That's my job now. White or black. If you be do the wrong thing, and they send me after you, only reason I won't get you, I won't see you. They send us after him. The man kill the President. [recording stops briefly then interview starts up again]
Elmer Sparks: You then, you picked some fruit didn't you? You done follow the fruit picking?

Charlie Smith: Oh I've done all kinds.

Elmer Sparks: Yeah, yeah. You ....

Charlie Smith: Here, right here. Here, here, here's, here my picture. Me and this man, that's my, my picture, and that's my age, and this [unintelligible]. That's a white man. Me and him was the two oldest people in the world at that time. I was standing at the County Court [unintelligible]. There it is right there. And I, I, I ,was picking fruit. [unintelligible] Yeah. [Elmer Sparks and Charlie Smith overlap]

Elmer Sparks: They told me you, they told me you were a picking fruit when you was a hundred and thirteen. Is that right?

Charlie Smith: Oh right, don't you see?

Elmer Sparks: Uh, I see.

Charlie Smith: That's it. That's if I tell folks that, that's the reason the state printed and sent to me to show people.

Elmer Sparks: Yeah.

Charlie Smith: In United States. I might be work for the United States now. I'm a state man. I work for the United States. I go get bad people. White or black. Don't care how old, who you is. If I got, if you do the wrong thing I go, I'm a United States man as long as I live.

Elmer Sparks: Uh, were you, uh, interviewed by Robert Ripley? Do you remember that, Robert Ripley?

Charlie Smith: Robert ???.

Elmer Sparks: Ripley. He's right there. That's [unintelligible].

Charlie Smith: Well I remember all, all bad people. I remember them white or black.

Elmer Sparks: This Ripley's the man you're pictured with there Charlie.

Charlie Smith: Yeah, yeah. Yeah that's him. That's the reason I carry it. I show it to people. Me and this man was the two oldest people in the world, and required us to meet. That's a white man. And the state name me "Trigger Kid." Me and Billy the Kid went and got the man kill the President then. Guiteau killed Garfield. Garfield was the President of the United States.

Elmer Sparks: He, he, he, he would know, and I've read about it.

Charlie Smith: And, and, and we were, he killed him. Guiteau. Killed Garfield. And, uh, and uh, everybody go over there to get him, for them five hundred dollars, they kill them. There was six men right at the line of the states. And then everybody go over there to get the man what kill, killed the President. That's what state he was raised in, the man done the killing. He'd go back in that state. See, that's the state he was born and raised in.

Elmer Sparks: Do you remember what state that was Charlie?

Charlie Smith: Where?

Elmer Sparks: The state where this, where this Garfield went back in, Guiteau.

Charlie Smith: Yeah, I don't know. I don't remember because I forgot it now. But I
know he went back in the [Elmer Sparks interrupts]

Elmer Sparks: [unintelligible - names states]

Charlie Smith: Yeah, yeah. He went, went back in the state he was, he was born and raised in. And the, when he got to, to kill the man, he went back in that state. Well there was six mens there at the line, at uh Baltimore. Six men was killing everybody going there to get him, after this man went down to kill him. Guiteau killed Garfield. Garfield is the first President ever was kill of the United States.
Elmer Sparks: They wrote a book about it, you know.

Charlie Smith: And Guiteau killed him and went back in that state what he was born and raised in. And anybody that went there over there to get him, them six mens was there at the line, they'd, they'd kill them. And they killed them, and they sent me and Billy the Kid. The state name me "Trigger Kid," and Billy the Kid, that was a white man. We went over there, just ride up there, and, said, "Hi, where you going?" They bring them six men. Call them six mens hooking bulls. They had to get authorities from them to go any further in that state. "Where you going?" "Going across the desert." "All right, you get authority form us. You got authority?" So we cuss. Say, "We got authority. We got authority from the United States." Showed them this, "Here it is. And here our, here our god, and here our goddamn authorities." that's what we told to them six men. Call them six men hooking bulls. We ride on. "All right, go ahead!" Said, "We damn sure going." Ride on off. Got to the camp, with a guard. Told us they want to search. Guards all come to, guards that, that was there. "Y'all come by the hooking bulls?" We cuss. Say, "We come by some damn bull or another." "Well you got authorities from the hooking bull to search. The boss of the camp ain't here. [Elmer Sparks talks in the background] The boss of the camp ain't here." He said, "If you want to search, the boss of the camp ain't here, and the guards was there." [Elmer Sparks talks in the background] The guards was there. [unintelligible].

Elmer Sparks: Well, uh, coming back to the uh, modern day, or later. Did the Social Security people, did they come see you?

Charlie Smith: Social Security?

Elmer Sparks: Yeah.

Charlie Smith: Yeah.

Elmer Sparks: They did. And, you remember how old you were then?

Charlie Smith: The man raised me, yeah, the man raised me. The man that raised me name, give me the name I got. Charlie Smith.

Elmer Sparks: Well I mean [Charlie Smith interrupts]

Charlie Smith: I was raised in Galveston, Texas.

Elmer Sparks: Well I mean later, later, then uh, uh. Were you about a hundred and thirteen when they Social Security people come and say [Charlie Smith interrupts]

Charlie Smith: [Charlie Smith is quite irritated here] Well don't you, I done show it to you. There it is, down there.

Elmer Sparks: That's what I'm trying, that's what I'm trying to say. [Elmer Sparks and Charlie Smith overlap]

Charlie Smith: I done showed it to you.

Elmer Sparks: And you're not [Charlie Smith interrupts]

Charlie Smith: Keep on asking them question, that's the reason I showed it to you. I show it to you. My age, yeah, I'm older now than I was then. I'm older now. I'm a 144, last, last year, fourth of July. 144 years old now. My birthday, I gets a birthday card, I'm a 144 last fourth day of July, last year. I'm 144.

Elmer Sparks: And you don't, you don't wear glasses.

Charlie Smith: No, I ain't never wore none.

Elmer Sparks: And you don't wear a hearing aid, is that it?

Charlie Smith: I got hearing. I hear just as good now as I ever been hearing.

Elmer Sparks: Oh, I believe that.

Charlie Smith: I can see good as I ever have. The United States takes care of me. The United States. If I, if they send me direction, only reason I don't get you, I don't see you. I'm the man straightened up [unintelligible, a place]. Sent me there. Colored people didn't pass through there. You could go up-town but you couldn't stay in [unintelligible]. I straighten it up. The state sent me there to straighten it. Now the colored people own property there. Right between here and [unintelligible - place]. The colored porter couldn't get off the train there. White folks didn't allow him to get off the [train?] colored porter on the train couldn't get off there. The state sent me there, to straighten it up. I straightened it so the colored folks can get off there. Now colored, colored people own, own property in, in [unintelligible - place]. I had to go to near [unintelligible - place]. Sign was printed up there right at the depot. What the sign say, "Read Nigger And Run. That what was on the sign. The state sent me there. Say, "Go tear that sign down." Said, "If you need any help, let us know that." I went there. The sign was right up there, right at the depot. Said, "Read Nigger And Run." He say, he ask me, "You, you got authority?" I said, "Yeah. I got authority." "Present your authorities." "Here my goddamn authorities, and here my help. These forty-fives." I tore it down. At, at, at [unintelligible - place]. I tore it down. Anywhere the states tell me to go and do, I does it. Now. Always did ever since I been working for the ???, I been working for the United States a hundred years. But I'm grown older now.
Elmer Sparks: Do you belong to the Mason Lodge?

Charlie Smith: Yes. I was made a Mason. I been, first time I got old enough, I was put in it. The man that raised me put me in the Masons. I been a Mason 100 years. If I wasn't a Mason I couldn't join [unintelligible]. And you, and any other man get my age, any, anybody white or black. You can get too old to join the Masons. You can get too young to join. I, I got old enough, the man put me in the Mason. Old man Charlie. He put me in the Mason. If I weren't one, I couldn't go, that's that's in the ring, but just the set dropped out of it. The square and compass. He dropped that out, out [Elmer Sparks interrupts]

Elmer Sparks: Well I'm a Mason.

Charlie Smith: That was this ring that, that the set was in that ring, and it dropped out. I was been a Mason a 100 years. Old man Charlie put me in the Mason. I'm the first colored man ever to be made a Mason in the United States, in Louisville. [Elmer Sparks and Charlie Smith overlap] If I weren't nary one, not only me, nobody my age. You can get too old to join the Mason. And you can get too young to join the Mason. If I weren't nary one now, I couldn't be, because I'm too old. And anybody my age, white or black, you can't join the Masons you that age. I know it. I been a Mason a hundred year. I know Mason.

Elmer Sparks: And you're speaking of cowboys, we're, we're both cowboys. We're right out of the [Charlie Smith interrupts]

Charlie Smith: Oh yeah, I'm the only colored cowboy old man Charlie had. He had plenty cowboys, but I was the only one he had. He raise me.

Elmer Sparks: How many were there in your family originally?

Charlie Smith: Oh in my, my family?

Elmer Sparks: Yeah.

Charlie Smith: Oh do [Elmer Sparks interrupts]

Elmer Sparks: Your mother and your children and your sisters.

Charlie Smith: I, I didn't have but uh, one brother and two sisters, three sisters with the baby sister. My two oldest sisters was, uh, one of them was name, one of them was, both of them was married all right. My oldest one, my baby sister, she just a little old kid. She's the baby of all us children. I had one brother. His name was Simon Watkins. My name, what my mama and daddy name me, Mitchell Watkins. The name where, the one that name me, Charlie Smith, that's the white man raised me, in Texas. Charlie Smith. And he treated me just; like he treated his children. In everything. We ate together, slept together. Yeah. And when he died [slight pause]

Elmer Sparks: Well, uh

Charlie Smith: People bragged on preachers. So good and so honest and all like that. When he died, I give them the money, to a preacher, to preacher [i.e., people] bragged on preachers. I give my money to preachers because I, I didn't want to take it myself. All the cowboys toted it, wore boots and what money they, old man Charlie didn't keep for us, we kept it ourselves in our boots. And I was the only colored cowboy. We all ride together. We all ate together. And not at one time, all the time. And I was treated just like one of the white.

Elmer Sparks: Did you, did you, were, see, you worked in, in Mississippi at one time did you?

Charlie Smith: Oh yeah. I worked everywhere I went. I, when they took that picture there was took, I was standing right down over there over there toward Auburndale. When that picture was took. [Elmer Sparks and Charlie Smith overlap] Sent us, sent us to Denver, Colorado.

Elmer Sparks: Is that I wonder if we haven't about covered this, and we'll take some pictures. That all right? And so, thank you and we will take some pictures here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Audio Recording Of Ex-Slave Fountain Hughes Unedited

Fountain Hughes was born a slave in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1848. He gained freedom at age 17 after the Civil War in 1865. Hughes, was 101 years of age at the time of this recording; which was done by U.S. Library of Congress in 1949.  Listen as he gives us his wisdom, financial advise, and a vivid description of what slavery was like for him.

The transcript of this recording can be found below.


Fountain Hughes: Talk to who?

Hermond Norwood: Well, just tell me what your name is.

Fountain Hughes: My name is Fountain Hughes. I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia. My grandfather belong to Thomas Jefferson. My grandfather was a hundred and fifteen years old when he died. And now I am one hundred and, and one year old. That's enough. [recording stops and starts again]. She used to work, but what she made I don't know. I never ask her.

Hermond Norwood: You just go ahead and talk away there. You don't mind, do you, Uncle Fountain?

Fountain Hughes: No. And when, now, your husband and you both are young. You all try to live like young people ought to live. Don't want everything somebody else has got. Whatever you get, if its yours be satisfied. And don't spend your money till you get it. So many people get in debt. Well, that all was so cheap when I bought it. You spend your money before you get it because you're going in debt for what you want. When you want something, wait until you get the money and pay for it cash. That's the way I've done. If I've wanted anything, I'd wait until I got the money and I paid for it cash. I never bought nothing on time in my life. Now plenty people if they want a suit of clothes, they go to work and they'll buy them on time. Well they say they was cheap. They cheap. If you got the money you can buy them cheaper. They want something for, for waiting on you for, uh, till you get ready to pay them. And if you got the money you can go where you choose and buy it when you go, when you want it. You see? Don't buy it because somebody else go down and run a debt and run a bill or, I'm going to run it too. Don't do that. I never done it. Now, I'm a hundred years old and I don't owe nobody five cents, and I ain't got no money either. And I'm happy, just as happy as somebody that's oh, got million. Nothing worries me. I'm not, my head ain't even white. I, nothing in the world worries me. I can sit here in this house at night, nobody can come and say, "Mr. Hughes, you owe me a quarter, you owe me a dollar, you owe me five cents." No you can't. I don't owe you nothing. Why? I never made no bills in my life. And I'm living too. And I'm a hundred years old. And if you take my advice today, you'll never make a bill. Because what you want, give your money, pay them cash, and then the rest of the money is yours. But if you run a bill they, well, so much and so much and you don't have to pay. Nothing down it's, it's all when you come to pay. It's all, you don't have to pay no more. But they, they'll, they'll charge you more. They getting something or other or else they wouldn't trust you. But I can't just say what they getting. But they getting something or other else they wouldn't want your credit. Now I tell you that anybody that trusts you for two dollars or have a account with them by the month or by the week, store count or any account. They're getting something out of it. Else they don't want to accommodate you that much to trust you. Now, if I want, course I ain't got no clothes, but if I want some clothes, I, I ain't got no money, I'm going to wait till I get the money to buy them. Indeed I am. I'm not a going to say because I can get them on trust, I go down and get them. I got to pay a dollar more anyhow. But either they charge you more or they say taxes are so much. But if I've got the money to pay cash, I'll pay the taxes and all down in cash, you know. It's all done with. So many of colored people is head over heels in debt. Trust me trust. I'll get it on time. They want a set of furniture, go down and pay down so much and the rest on time. You done paid that, you done paid for them then. When you pay down so much and they charge you fifty dollar, hundred dollars for a set and you pay down twenty-five dollars cash, you done paid them. That's all it was worth, twenty-five dollars, and you pay, now you, I'm seventy-five dollars in debt now. Because I, I have to pay a hundred dollars for that set, and it's only worth about twenty-five dollar. But you buying it on time. But people ain't got sense enough to know it. But when you get old like I am, you commence to think, well, I have done wrong. I should have kept my money until I wanted this thing, and when I want it, I take my money and go pay cash for it. Or else I will do without it. That's supposing you want a new dress. You say, well I'll, I'll buy it, but, uh, I don't need it. But I can get it on time. Well let's go down the store today and get something on time. Well you go down and get a dress on time. Something else in there, I want that. They'll sell that to you on time. You won't have to pay nothing down. But there's a payday coming. And when that payday comes, they want you come pay them. If you don't, they can't get no more. Well, if you never do that, if you don't start it, you will never end it. I never did buy nothing on time. I must tell you on this, I'm sitting right here now today, and if I's the last word I've got to tell you, I never even much as tried to buy a, a shirt on time. And plenty people go to work, go down to the store and buy uh, three and four dollars for a shirt. Two, three uh, seven, eight dollars for a pair of pants. Course they get them on time. I don't, no, no, no. I say, I got, I buy something for five dollars. Because I got the five dollars, I'll pay for it. I'm done with that.

Hermond Norwood:  You talk about how old you are Uncle Fountain. Do you, tell how far back do you remember?

Fountain Hughes: I remember [pause]. Well I'll tell you, uh. Things come to me in spells, you know. I remember things, uh, more when I'm laying down than I do when I'm standing or when I'm walking around. Now in my boy days, why, uh, boys lived quite different from the way they live now. But boys wasn't as mean as they are now either. Boys lived to, they had a good time. The masters di, didn't treat them bad. And they was always satisfied. They never wore no shoes until they was twelve or thirteen years old. And now people put on shoes on babies you know, when they're two year, when they month old. I be, I don't know how old they are. Put shoes on babies. Just as soon as you see them out in the street they got shoes on. I told a woman the other day, I said, "I never had no shoes till I was thirteen years old." She say, "Well but you bruise your feet all up, and stump your toes." I say, "Yes, many time I've stump my toes, and blood run out them. That didn't make them buy me no shoes." And I been, oh, oh you wore a dress like a woman till I was, I [be-believe [?] ten, twelve, thirteen years old.

Hermond Norwood: So you wore a dress.

Fountain Hughes: Yes. I didn't wear no pants, and of course didn't make boys' pants. Boys wore dresses. Now only womens wearing the dresses and the boys is going with the, with the womens wearing the pants now and the boys wearing the dresses. Still [laughs].

Hermond Norwood: Who did you work for Uncle Fountain when ... ?

Fountain Hughes: Who'd I work for?

Hermond Norwood: Yeah.

Fountain Hughes: When I, you mean when I was slave?

Hermond Norwood: Yeah, when you were a slave. Who did you work for?

Fountain Hughes: Well, I belonged to, uh, B., when I was a slave. My mother belonged to B. But my, uh, but, uh, we, uh, was all slave children. And after, soon after when we found out that we was free, why then we was, uh, bound out to different people. [names of people] and an all such people as that. And we would run away, and wouldn't stay with them. Why then we'd just go and stay anywheres we could. Lay out a night in underwear. We had no home, you know. We was just turned out like a lot of cattle. You know how they turn cattle out in a pasture? Well after freedom, you know, colored people didn't have nothing. Colored people didn't have no beds when they was slaves. We always slept on the floor, pallet here, and a pallet there. Just like, uh, lot of, uh, wild people, we didn't, we didn't know nothing. Didn't allow you to look at no book. And then there was some free born colored people, why they had a little education, but there was very few of them, where we was. And they all had uh, what you call, I might call it now, uh, jail centers, was just the same as we was in jail. Now I couldn't go from here across the street, or I couldn't go through nobody's house without I have a note, or something from my master. And if I had that pass, that was what we call a pass, if I had that pass, I could go wherever he sent me. And I'd have to be back, you know, when uh. Whoever he sent me to, they, they'd give me another pass and I'd bring that back so as to show how long I'd been gone. We couldn't go out and stay a hour or two hours or something like. They send you. Now, say for instance I'd go out here to S.'s place. I'd have to walk. And I would have to be back maybe in a hour. Maybe they'd give me hour. I don't know just how long they'd give me. But they'd give me a note so there wouldn't nobody interfere with me, and tell who I belong to. And when I come back, why I carry it to my master and give that to him, that'd be all right. But I couldn't just walk away like the people does now, you know. It was what they call, we were slaves. We belonged to people. They'd sell us like they sell horses and cows and hogs and all like that. Have a auction bench, and they'd put you on, up on the bench and bid on you just same as you bidding on cattle you know.

Hermond Norwood: Was that in Charlotte that you were a slave?

Fountain Hughes: Hmmm?

Hermond Norwood: Was that in Charlotte or Charlottesville?

Fountain Hughes: That was in Charlottesville.

Hermond Norwood: Charlottesville, Virginia.

Fountain Hughes: Selling women, selling men. All that. Then if they had any bad ones, they'd sell them to the nigga traders, what they called the nigga traders. And they'd ship them down south, and sell them down south. But, uh, otherwise if you was a good, good person they wouldn't sell you. But if you was bad and mean and they didn't want to beat you and knock you around, they'd sell you what to the, what was call the nigga trader. They'd have a regular, have a sale every month, you know, at the courthouse. And then they'd sell you, and get two hundred dollar, hundred dollar, five hundred dollar.

Hermond Norwood: Were you ever sold from one person to another?

Fountain Hughes: Mmmm?

Hermond Norwood: Were you ever sold?

Fountain Hughes: No, I never was sold.

Hermond Norwood: Always stayed with the same person. [Hermond Norwood and Fountain Hughes overlap)

Fountain Hughes: All, all. I was too young to sell.

Hermond Norwood: Oh I see.

Fountain Hughes: See I wasn't old enough during the war to sell, during the Army. And uh, my father got killed in the Army, you know. So it left us small children just to live on whatever people choose to, uh, give us. I was, I was bound out for a dollar a month. And my mother used to collect the money. Children wasn't, couldn't spend money when I come along. In, in, in fact when I come along, young men, young men couldn't spend no money until they was twenty-one years old. And then you was twenty-one, why then you could spend your money. But if you wasn't twenty-one, you couldn't spend no money. I couldn't take, I couldn't spend ten cents if somebody give it to me. Because they'd say, "Well, he might have stole it." We all come along, you might say, we had to give an account of what you done. You couldn't just do things and walk off and say I didn't do it. You'd have to, uh, give an account of it. Now, uh, after we got freed and they turned us out like cattle, we could, we didn't have nowhere to go. And we didn't have nobody to boss us, and, uh, we didn't know nothing. There wasn't, wasn't no schools. And when they started a little school, why, the people that were slaves, there couldn't many of them go to school, except they had a father and a mother. And my father was dead, and my mother was living, but she had three, four other little children, and she had to put them all to work for to help take care of the others. So we had, uh, we had what you call, worse than dogs has got it now. Dogs has got it now better than we had it when we come along. I know, I remember one night, I was out after I, I was free, and I didn't have nowhere to go. I didn't have nowhere to sleep. I didn't know what to do. My brother and I was together. So we knew a man that had a, a livery stable. And we crept in that yard, and got into one of the hacks of the automobile, and slept in that hack all night long. So next morning, we could get out and go where we belonged. But we was afraid to go at night because we didn't know where to go, and didn't know what time to go. But we had got away from there, and we afraid to go back, so we crept in, slept in that thing all night until the next morning, and we got back where we belong before the people got up. Soon as day commenced, come, break, we got out and commenced to go where we belonged. But we never done that but the one time. After that we always, if there, if there was a way, we'd try to get back before night come. But then that was on a Sunday too, that we done that. Now, uh, when we were slaves, we couldn't do that, see. And after we got free we didn't know nothing to do. And my mother, she, then she hunted places, and bound us out for a dollar a month, and we stay there maybe a couple of years. And, she'd come over and collect the money every month. And a dollar was worth more then than ten dollars is now. And I, and the men used to work for ten dollars a month, hundred and twenty dollars a year. Used to hire that a way. And, uh, now you can't get a man for, fifty dollars a month. You paying a man now fifty dollars a month, he don't want to work for it.

Hermond Norwood: More like fifty dollars a week now a days.

Fountain Hughes: [laughs] That's just it exactly. He wants fifty dollars a week and they ain't got no more now than we had then. And we, no more money, but course they bought more stuff and more property and all like that. We didn't have no property. We didn't have no home. We had nowhere or nothing. We didn't have nothing only just, uh, like your cattle, we were just turned out. And uh, get along the best you could. Nobody to look after us. Well, we been slaves all our lives. My mother was a slave, my sisters was slaves, father was a slave.

Hermond Norwood: Who was you father a slave for Uncle Fountain?

Fountain Hughes: He was a slave for B. He belong, he belong to B.

Hermond Norwood: Didn't he belong to Thomas Jefferson at one time?

Fountain Hughes: He didn't belong to Thomas Jefferson. My grandfather belong to
Thomas Jefferson.

Hermond Norwood: Oh your grandfather did.

Fountain Hughes: Yeah. And, uh, my father belong to, uh, B. And, uh, and B. died during the wartime because, uh, he was afraid he'd have to go to war. But, then now, you, and in them days you could hire a substitute to take your place. Well he couldn't get a substitute to take his place so he run away from home. And he took cold. And when he come back, the war was over but he died. And then, uh, if he had lived, couldn't been no good. The Yankees just come along and, just broke the mill open and hauled all the flour out in the river and broke the, broke the store open and throwed all the meat out in the street and throwed all the sugar out. And we, we boys would pick it up and carry it and give it to our missus and master, young masters, told we come to be, well I don't know how old. I don't know, to tell you the truth when I think of it today, I don't know how I'm living. None, none of the rest of them that I know of is living. I'm the oldest one that I know that's living. But, still, I'm thankful to the Lord. Now, if, uh, if my master wanted send me, he never say, you couldn't get a horse and ride. You walk, you know, you walk. And you be barefooted and collapse. That didn't make no difference. You wasn't no more than a dog to some of them in them days. You wasn't treated as good as they treat dogs now. But still I didn't like to talk about it. Because it makes, makes people feel bad you know. Uh, I, I could say a whole lot I don't like to say. And I won't say a whole lot more.

Hermond Norwood: Do you remember much about the Civil War?

Fountain Hughes: No, I don't remember much about it.

Hermond Norwood: You were a little young then I guess, huh.

Fountain Hughes: I, uh, I remember when the Yankees come along and took all the good horses and took all the, throwed all the meat and flour and sugar and stuff out in the river and let it go down the river. And they knowed the people wouldn't have nothing to live on, but they done that. And that's the reason why I don't like to talk about it. Them people, and, and if you was cooking anything to eat in there for yourself, and if they, they was hungry, they would go and eat it all up, and we didn't get nothing. They'd just come in and drink up all your milk, milk. Just do as they please. Sometimes they be passing by all night long, walking, muddy, raining. Oh, they had a terrible time. Colored people that's free ought to be awful thankful. And some of them is sorry they are free now. Some of them now would rather be slaves.

Hermond Norwood: Which had you rather be Uncle Fountain?

Fountain Hughes: Me? Which I'd rather be ? [Norwood laughs]You know what I'd rather do? If I thought, had any idea, that I'd ever be a slave again, I'd take a gun and just end it all right away. Because you're nothing but a dog. You're not a thing but a dog. Night never comed out, you had nothing to do. Time to cut tobacco, if they want you to cut all night long out in the field, you cut. And if they want you to hang all night long, you hang, hang tobacco. It didn't matter about your tired, being tired. You're afraid to say you're tired. They just, well [voice trails off].

Hermond Norwood: When, when did you come to Baltimore?

Fountain Hughes: You know when, you don't remember when Garfield died, do you? When they, when they shot Garfield? No, I don't think you was born.

Hermond Norwood: I don't think I was then.

Fountain Hughes: No, you wasn't [overlaps with Hermond Norwood]. Well, I don't remember what year that was myself now, but I know you wasn't born. Well, I come to Baltimore that year anyhow. I don't remember what year it was now myself. But if I laid, if I was laying in the bed I could have remembered. But uh, I don't remember now.

Hermond Norwood: But did you go to work for Mr. S. when you came to Baltimore?

Fountain Hughes: Oh no, no. I work for a man by the name of R. when I first come to Baltimore. I used to, I commence to haul manure for him. The old horses was here then. No elec, and no electric cars, and no cable cars. They were all horse cars. And I used to haul manure, go around to different stables, you know. Why people, everybody had horses for, for their use when I first come here. They had coachmen, and men to drive them around. Didn't have no, automobiles, they hadn't been here so long. And uh, and then they put on a cable car, what they call cable car. Well they run them for a little while, or maybe a couple or three years or four years. Then somebody invented the electric car. And that first run on North Avenue. Well, uh, that run a while and they kep't on inventing and inventing till they got them all, different kinds of cars, you know. It was, uh, horse cars. Wasn't no electric cars at all. Wasn't no, wasn' no big cars like they got now you know. I just can't, I just can't think of, uh, what year it was. But uh, [pause and then some ambiguous conversation]

Hermond Norwood: You're not getting tired are you Uncle Fountain?

Fountain Hughes: No, no I ain't. I'm just same as at home. Just like I was setting in the house. And uh, see what. I was thinking about oh, now you know how we served the Lord when I come along, a boy?

Hermond Norwood: How was that?

Fountain Hughes: We would go to somebody's house. And uh, well we didn't have no houses like they got now, you know. We had these what they call log cabin. And they have one, old colored man maybe one would be there, maybe he'd be as old as I am. And he'd be the preacher. Not as old as I am now, but, he'd be the preacher, and then we all sit down and listen at him talk about the Lord. Well, he'd say, well I wonder, uh, sometimes you say I wonder if we'll ever be free. Well, some of them would say, well, we going to go ask the Lord to free us. So they'd say, well, we, we going to sing "One Day Shall I Ever Reach Heaven and One Day Shall I Fly." Then they would sing that for about a hour. Then they, next one they'd get up and say let's sing a song, "We Gonna Live on Milk and Honey, Way By and By." They'd, they'd, oh I can hear them singing now but I can't, can't, uh, repeat it like I could in them days. But some day when I'm not hoarse, I could tell you, I could sing it for you, but I'm too hoarse now. And then we'd sing, [pause] "I'm Gonna," "I'm A-Gonna Sing Around the Altar." Oh, I, I wish I could, I wish I could sing it for you, "I'm Gonna Sing Around the Altar."

Hermond Norwood: Well I wish you could too. [overlaps with Fountain Hughes].

Fountain Hughes: And they, they, well this, someday when you come over here and I'm not hoarse, you get me to come up here and I, I'll sing, I'll try to sing it for you.

Hermond Norwood: O. K. I'm going to do that.

Fountain Hughes: This is the. Now, I heard, people here now sing about "Roll Jordan Roll." Well that's a old time, that's what the old people used to sing in old back days.

Hermond Norwood: Is that "Roll Jordan Roll?"

Fountain Hughes: Yeah. But they don't sing it like the old people used to sing it in them day. They sing it quite different now. [pause] And, and another one they sing, "By and By When the Morning Come." Well they sing that different too. But the old, they're getting the old people's song. I hear them come over the radio. I know them all just as good as they, but they sing them different.

Hermond Norwood: Have different names to some of them, huh?

Fountain Hughes: [overlaps with Hermond Norwood] Yes. Well they cut them off shorter and all like that. It's a, if I had my voice, I would sing just one for you so you go in that [unclear] but I can't do it on account of my voice. But someday you come over here, you come in, you call me up and let me know and how my voice is. Ever since I took that medicine from my doctor, well it hurt my voice. I, I, I, now there was a preacher in my house the other night, he live right next door to me, and he played on the piano. And he played something and I sung it for him. And now he wants me to go down to his church next Sunday. I told him, I says, "Now if I go down to your church, I'll not sing nothing. Because if I do I'll get ho, hoarse I can't talk." But he said, "Brother Hughes, I don't care whether you sing or not. I just want you to go down there and let the people see who you are. Let them see what a, what a old people is." I said, "Well uh, Reverend, why I'll, I'll be glad to go down with you." So, on next Sunday I'm going down to his church if I living, and nothing happen. But if he, if he sing something old, I, I, [laughs].

Hermond Norwood: Just sing along.

Fountain Hughes: [Becomes excited, slapping noise in background] I feel, I feel the spirit now, but I can't, I got to keep quiet. Now you, do you ever hear this fellow that comes over the radio? I think they call him H. Comes on Sunday night about twelve o'clock, on WFBR?

Hermond Norwood: No I don't know whether I've ever heard him or not.

Fountain Hughes: Well I, you turn him on. He comes on a quarter after eleven, on Sunday night. Well, you, you must have heard him cause he says, "Can't uh, can't, can't keep a good man down." So, it makes so much noise, look like everybody ought to hear him. But now when that fellow comes around, I'm laying in the bed, don't you know, I get just so I got to be in that, because it's, it's all old time business.

Hermond Norwood: Uh um.

Fountain Hughes: And, uh, somebody don't like it. They says, "I don't like H." I says, "Why?" "Oh," he says, "he make too much noise." I say, "Well, well, the, the Bible say make a noise over Jesus? Jesus said make a noise over me, so he makes a noise over him." And I does enjoy certain of his show. Oh, he's oh everybody, he's got a big crowd and we just get so happy I got to do that too. [noise in background] Boy, when you feel the grace of God you've got to jump up. I lay in bed, I got to get up. Have, you have to carry on. And then next morning I can't talk. [break on the tape for a new reel] Doctor gave me that medicine, it just tore me all to pieces.

Hermond Norwood: Uh huh, I see. I sure hope it comes back again because I'd love, I'd like to hear you sing.

Fountain Hughes: Well old people used to say, "Wonder If I Shall Ever Reach Heaven or Wonder Shall I Fly." I, I used to could sing it. I can sing, well sometimes I hear the spirit, you know and I may get to singing something again someday. People now, I [voice trails off].

Hermond Norwood: Do you go to church every Sunday Uncle Fountain?

Fountain Hughes: Uh uh. Don't go to church at all. I set and listen to the radio.

Hermond Norwood: Listen to it on the radio huh.

Fountain Hughes: Because I'll tell you why I don't go to church.

Hermond Norwood: You rather not have this on? Hm? You rather not tell me or you rather not have this on when you tell me?

Fountain Hughes: It don't make any difference. I ain't going to say nothing wrong. I ain't going to [unclear]. If I, I, I, I say...

Sunday, September 24, 2017

J. Cole Joins NFL Boycott And Reminds Us Of Rosa Park's

With great power comes responsibility as another hip-hop mogul steps up to the plate.
That's what rapper J. Cole said earlier today on Twitter. And that's not all he said either; he actually tweet bombed a whole thread advising his loyal fans to join the boycott of the NFL. He share's the same sentiments as many others who have joined former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in his stand against the racist lyrics found in the National Anthem and the injustices suffered by the black community. Kaepernick lost his position in the NFL due to his acts of activism. J. Cole goes on to remind the black community of Rosa Park's.
This is a reference to The Montgomery (Alabama) Bus Boycott of the 1950's. That boycott started when a black woman named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat for a white man which resulted in her being arrested and jailed. Her arrest caused a outrage in the black community and a civil rights protest began using the black community's economic spending power to end racial segregation on Montgomery city buses. The boycott began on December 4, 1955 and ended December 20, 1956; between that time Montgomery's black population refused to ride the cities public transportation. Many walked, road bikes, or carpooled to get to where they had to go. After 381 days of boycotting the end result was the Supreme Court ruling that the bus segregation was unconstitutional. Success!

J. Cole continues on saying,
I wish it was that easy for the rest of the black community J. Cole. That was back in a time when the black community moved as a unit and had loyalty; these days it seems no one cares about what's going on unless it effects them directly. Read J. Cole's entire tweet bomb here

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Rapper Jay-Z Joins NFL Boycott And Turns Down Super Bowl Offer

With great power comes responsibility; and rap mogul Jay-Z is obviously playing his position and using his platform to demonstrate solidarity at a time when the black community has never been more torn. The black communities biggest influencers are its entertainers and it's them who have the power to move the masses.

Lady Gaga’s 2017 Super Bowl halftime performance sent ratings soaring sky high. In hopes of topping last years viewership the NFL looks to rap artist Jay-Z to fill that spotlight for the 2018 NFL Super Bowl.

Unfortunately for the NFL, Jay-Z has refused the offer. The rapper showed his loyalty to the black community last week when he gave NFL player Colin Kaepernick a shout-out during the stage performance of his new hit "The Story of O.J.", Friday night in NYC. He also said, that the song was dedicated to the late activist Dick Gregory, who died last month.

Kaepernick still hasn't been signed with any NFL team, after his refusing to stand for the National Anthem and speaking out on injustices in the black community; this caused public distaste which led to many participating in a boycott of the NFL.

Monday, September 11, 2017

What Is A Ghetto

Did you think the word "ghetto" was a modern term or that black people came up with it? Think again. Neither did modern day whites. The word is actually over 500 years old and it's Italian.

See, in 16th century Italy, the Venetian Republic created "ghettoes" to confine thousands of Jews to a small gated prison community. Under the Venetian Republic, Jews were segregated from the rest of Venice.

The Venetian Ghetto is not too far in appearance from today's projects and public housing units; minus the gates which kept them from leaving. Sad thing is, think of how many people you know who proudly say they are from the ghetto today or who refer to themselves as being ghetto or hood.

The word "hood" is actually worse, because it's a degradation of the word "neighborhood" by getting rid of its root word "neighbor"; something that’s a key element in forming a community. You cannot form a community without neighbors! The suffix word you are left with is –hood which means nothing.

I know many might say I'm reaching or that these are just words, but you take a look at any hood and tell me if it’s a place full of neighborly individuals. If the people who live next door or across the street from you can witness someone breaking into your house and won't call the police; that is not a neighbor. If you can't walk down the street at night without worrying about getting robbed, mugged, or raped by people you share a community with, then you don't have neighbors.

Everyone in the black community is silent about the problems there until something affects them personally.  How many of the people there, know who the shooters are, but won't have anything to say until it's one of their children who get shot. These misguided young men are out here killing each other as well as the innocent, because you know as well as I do that the bullets usually hit the wrong person.

The "hood" is not a neighborly place to live. It's a "ghetto" and a ghetto is a confinement by definition.  The modern-day ghetto's don't have gates to lock you in, because they don't need to physically confine people who mentally confine themselves.  The gates have been replaced with businesses that none of the people of the community own.

The majority of the money spent in the black community leaves the black community to go to another ethnic groups community. So, in short a Ghetto is a confinement for blacks but, it’s a commodity to America's economy at the same time, because Ghetto's are like oil reserves. They provide a steady flow of income to the infrastructure of everyone else's community, but the blacks.

So the message here is this, black people living in the "so called ghetto" today, can look at what the Jews achieved. Though they were confined behind gates in the Ghetto of Venice, Italy. Though they were segregated from the rest of Venice. Instead of worrying about integrating with Venetian society and fitting in; they used that confinement as a opportunity to strengthen the bonds of their own community and form their own social economical class just doing business with each other.

Even after the fall of the Venetian Republic, after Jews were no longer segregated from the rest of society, they still kept and continue to keep their community close knit and progressing economically; even if that means taking from your community to give to their own. In fact, all the other races are doing it as well.

So moral of the story is, put the word "neighbor" back in front of the word "hood".  And make it a neighborhood. Every ghetto has the potential to be a black metropolis.