Celebrating Black History Month.The Black History Moment Series #30: My Black History Heroes & Heroines. The End Of The Series.

Thanks so much for this series and for including the link to the entire series for those who missed it, or might want to return to this great blogging on Black History.

Posted on 03/01/2014, in Black History Month, Potpourri and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Thanks for re-blogging this excellent series, Xena!

    Outstanding concluding article with its spotlight on so many important civil rights and present-day leaders!

    I was glad to see some of Fannie Lou Hamer’s quotations:

    “I guess if I’d had any sense, I’d have been a little scared – but what was the point of being scared? The only thing they could do was kill me, and it kinda seemed like they’d been trying to do that a little bit at a time since I could remember.”

    You can pray until you faint, but unless you get up and try to do something, God is not going to put it in your lap.

    We didn’t come all the way up here to compromise for no more than we’d gotten here. We didn’t come all this way for no two seats when all of us is tired.”

    “All my life I’ve been sick and tired. Now I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

    “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”


  2. For those of you who might not have heard of the Greenwood, Mississippi food blockade:

    .Defying generations of white-supremacy, a small trickle of Leflore county Blacks continue to show up at the courthouse even though they know they won’t be allowed to register. For sharecroppers and farm laborers in the Mississippi Delta, winter is the lean time, the hard time. With no work and nothing to eat, they rely on Federal surplus food commodities for survival.

    The White Citizens Council strikes back — at poor people in general, not just the few Blacks trying to register. The Council controls Greenwood politics, no politician can win election without their support, and as winter closes in they order the County Board of Supervisors to stop distributing Federal food aid to 22,000 Leflore County citizens — most of them Black, a few poor white or Choctaw.

    [In this era before Food Stamps, Federal “commodity” programs stave off starvation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides basic food commodities — bags of flour, rice & beans, boxes of canned goods, dairy products, and so on — to states, counties, and private welfare agencies who distribute them to poor and hungry families. Begun in the 1930s under the Roosevelt administration, the official stated purpose of these programs is to provide subsidies and price support for farmers and agribusiness corporations.]

    By mid-winter, conditions are desperate. Sam Block and Wazir Peacock inform SNCC headquarters in Atlanta:

    Saturday, January 19,1963. … these people here are in a very, very bad need for food and clothes. Look at a case like this man, named Mr. Meeks, who is thirty-seven years old. His wife is thirty-three years old, and they have eleven children, ages ranging from seventeen down to eight months. Seven of the children are school age and not a one is attending school because they have no money, no food, no clothes, and no wood to keep warm by, and they now want to go register. The house they are living in has no paper or nothing on the walls and you can look at the ground through the floor and if you are not careful you will step in one of those holes and break your leg. [1]
    And as Bob Moses later writes in a letter to a northern supporter:

    We do need the actual food. … Just this afternoon, I was sitting reading, having finished a bowl of stew, and a silent hand reached over from behind, its owner mumbling some words of apology and stumbling up with a neckbone from the plate under the bowl, one which I had discarded, which had some meat on it. The hand was back again, five seconds later, groping for the potatoe I had left in the bowl. I never saw the face. I didn’t look. The hand was dark, dry and wind-cracked, a man’s hand, from the cotton chopping and cotton picking. Lafayette and I got up and walked out. What the hell are you going to do when a man has to pick up a left-over potatoe from a bowl of stew? — Bob Moses. [1]

    SNCC sends word to its supporters on college campuses and in Friends of SNCC chapters throughout the country — and people respond.

    Comedian Dick Gregory charters a plane to deliver emergency food supplies to Greenwood. He becomes a Movement stalwart, raising funds, participating in demonstrations, enduring beatings and arrests in the cause of Freedom.

    Michigan State students Ivanhoe Donaldson and Ben Taylor drive a truckload of food, clothing, and medicine 1,000 miles down into the Mississippi Delta over the Christmas holidays. The local cops are tipped off — perhaps by some Federal agency — and the two are busted in Clarksdale for “possesion of narcotics.” The supposed “narcotics” are actually aspirin and vitamins. They are held on $15,000 bail (equal to $115,000 in 2012). After 11 days in jail, a nation-wide protest gets them released, but the confiscated food, clothing, and medicine mysteriously disappears from police custody before it can be returned to them. Ivanhoe is not intimidated, in the following months he delivers a dozen truckloads of food to embattled Greenwood and goes on to become a SNCC field secretary.

    Meanwhile, the Kennedy administration and U.S. Department of Justice do nothing effective to protect the voting rights of Black citizens. With legal support provided by Dr. King, SNCC sues Attorney General Robert Kennedy and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover in January of 1963 demanding that they enforce existing Federal voting rights laws. Rather than performing their Constitutionally-required duty to protect the rights of all citizens, Federal lawyers quash the suit.

    But violence, intimidation, beatings, arrests, and Federal dereliction, all fail to halt the growing movement. And the food blockade backfires.

    Whenever we were able to get a little something to give to a hungry family, we also talked about how they ought to register. The food was …identified in the minds of everyone as food for those who want to be free, and the minimum requirement for freedom is identified as registration to vote. — Bob Moses [8]


  3. Thank you for another insightful post on how brave and how hard the fight to try and get people to behave as decent human beings. I wonder if the folks Delta who committed these atrocities felt as if their Lord sanctioned their actions, to deny food to human beings and to stop them from having even a modicum of equality


    • mindyme,
      Good question. They don’t read their Bibles or they do, but think it’s written for unbelievers rather than for believers. The Bible says that love does no harm. When we see people doing harm to others, we know that the love of God is not in them; they are not motivated by love; and they give a false witness to the world of God.


  4. This article tells of the inhumane treatment by Whites toward Blacks who attempted to vote in 1960 in Fayette and Haywood Counties, TN:


    Whites in Fayette and Haywood Counties used their economic advantage to penalize African Americans, many of whom lost employment, credit, and insurance policies. Whites circulated a list of those African Americans who had attempted to vote; the majority of white merchants refused to sell them goods and services, and some white physicians withheld medical care.

    In the winter of 1960 white property owners evicted hundreds of black tenant farmers from their lands.

    African American leaders did not surrender to the pressure tactics. With the support of black property owners, they formed makeshift communities known as “Tent Cities.”

    They erected drab-green surplus army tents, and homeless families prepared to face the cold winter winds. With no means of support, day-to-day existence provided a continuous strain for “Tent City” residents, even though supporters from across the country helped with shipments of food and clothing. Hate groups such as the White Citizens Council and the Ku Klux Klan terrorized the residents by firing shots into the tents.



    • Many of the dispossed move into a tent encampment — known as “Freedom Village” or “Tent City” — on land owned by Shepherd Towles, a Black farmer. The initial 14 tents are donated by an anonymous white merchant (his name kept secret to this day for his safety). A second Tent City is established on land owned by Gertrude Beasley.

      Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver asks the Red Cross and other agencies to help the evicted Blacks. The local all-white Red Cross chapter refuses, saying there is “No need.” The AFL-CIO donates money. Food and clothing are donated by the UAW in Detroit, and volunteer Teamsters drive the supplies south. In 1960, the newly formed Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Southern Conference Education Fund (SCEF), the Quakers, and the National Baptist Convention rally national support for the Freedom Villages.

      The NAACP organizes a national boycott of oil companies whose Tennessee stations are refusing to sell gas to Black voters. Gulf, Texaco, and others agree to sell gas to Blacks who desperately need fuel for their tractors and trips to Memphis to purchase food.


      On Christmas night, 1960, Jim Forman records Georgia Mae Turner in her cold, damp tent:

      They say if you register, you going to have a hard time. Well, I had a hard time before I registered. Hard times — you could have named me ‘Georgia Mae Hard Times.’ The reason I registered, because I want to be a citizen. … I registered so that my children could get their freedom. — Georgia Mae Turner.


%d bloggers like this: