This afternoon former police officer Derek Chauvin received his sentence for the murder of George Floyd.
[Manhattan Beach, CA – April 10, 2020] Protest is an American right. Some who do not like it or attempt to marginalize its effectiveness always ask the rhetorical question why is it necessary? The strategy of a protest is not a fix-all or immediate remedy. Instead, its main thrust is to raise awareness of an issue or an incident. Bruce’s Beach has been around for over 100 years. It pops in the news every so often then disappears. The George Floyd murder on May 25, 2020 brought a public outcry not seen in years. People from all walks of lives and various ethnicities, including many Whites raised their voices to the injustice they witnessed from social media footage. A residual effect of the Floyd issue elevated the Black Lives Matter movement to a special status, whereas four years earlier they were vilified and mischaracterized as some type of violent force. Their presence created an awareness for many to allow their voice to be heard on social issues around the globe.
Manhattan Beach is a tony beach community nestled along the shorelines of Southern California. It has the appearance of a very progressive tolerant community. But like all things it has its history and was recently thrust in the news on April 9, 2021 by Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn during a press conference led by her, Supervisor Holly Mitchell, State Senator Steven Bradford and various public officials. It just so happens that even though the property is in Manhattan Beach, the County of Los Angeles is the current owner and that is why Hahn led the conference.
Bruce’s Beach was a venue created by Charles and Willa Bruce in 1912. Their goal was pretty straightforward – to create a place for African-Americans to enjoy the beach. History and context are two important parallels. Southern California, specifically the greater Los Angeles area was experiencing a population boom. As Slavery was legally outlawed and followed by Reconstruction many decided it was better to “start-over” than deal with Jim Crow or “southern traditions.” Those African-Americans who could make the migration from the South did so. Unfortunately, Jim Crow as a vestige of White Supremacy followed them as it was dominant in areas some thought were off-limits, such as Manhattan Beach.
As a native of Los Angeles I had never heard of this place! I was fortunate as my parents stressed education and I have been blessed to travel and experience other cultures. About ten years ago I made a decision to become more informed, particularly African-American history. Racism was happening then and it still permeates our society today.” Larry Wiggs, II
A new beginning
The Bruce’s left New Mexico and discovered Manhattan Beach. Mr. Bruce was a pullman porter so he was away most of the time. Thus, Bruce’s Beach was opened and operated by Willa. Even though the venture was successful, some White’s simply could not accept the fact of African-American’s creating a haven for themselves. The Bruce’s dealt with harassment, violence and other acts of organized intimidation until finally the City of Manhattan Beach used eminent domain to force them out. The Bruce’s dream of tranquility and peace faced the reality of overt racial discrimination. In 1912, they paid $1,225 to acquire their coveted piece of property. In 1924 The city paid them $14,500 as compensation and told them to move on.
The Bruce’s story is compelling. Unfortunately, there are many noteworthy examples of African-Americans being stripped of their resources and the final chapter of what happened has never been told, hidden in recorded documents or marginalized as if nothing nefarious occurred.
What Hahn communicated yesterday is historic. You hear all of the time of the wealth-gap? For many African Americans the gap is a direct result of their ancestors having their property or assets stripped from them, thus there was nothing to “pass down.” At the same time, some whites will rightfully argue they were not involved in Slavery or did not create any of the ills which caused the gap. Historians have rightfully defined “white privilege.” The Bruce’s Beach issue puts the topic right back on the table – the legacy of wealth.
Why is it hard to discuss Reparations?
Reparations appears more complicated than it really is. History notes various groups in the past have been made whole in some fashion. It only turns into a huge problem or something not to be discussed when attempting to deal with the descendants of enslaved Africans. You heard the lady in the clip pose the question what is all of the fuss about? After all, eminent domain is a legal process municipalities can use to acquire property for the public good the Bruce’s were paid something! The issue specifically related to the Bruce’s is the city wanted to rid itself of a racial problem and used eminent domain as the resolution. The question remains what legacy could the Bruce’s have left their heirs had race not been the issue to force them to leave?
I’m from Burbank and saw the news about the beach, so I needed to see it for myself. I knew about certain groups being discriminated against but I was shocked to see racial covenants were enforced to keep Blacks from buying homes in many parts of Los Angeles.” An anonymous middle-aged White man
The word reparations scares the hell out of people, primarily because they do not understand it. Interestingly in the past political leaders or those in power acknowledge making various ethnic groups “whole” who have been harmed by White Supremacy or racist behavior as a necessary remedy towards reconciliation. That is, unless those harmed are African-American. Hopefully Hahn and other leaders will spur a nationwide crusade that it is one thing to apologize yet it is another to repay and truly make whole to ensure the descendants can attempt to enjoy the same legacy that so many take for granted. First things first. While reimbursement or reparation dollars have not been specified, for now the energy is to return the property to Bruce’s heirs. There is also discussion of the County reverting from owner to tenant of the Bruce heirs, as a major part of the property is currently being used by them.
The Bruce’s Beach incident is American history so here is a recommended bibliography for additional reading:
Thanks to the tireless work of Dr. Carter G. Woodson Black History Month is now commonplace and widely celebrated in the United States as well as around the globe. California strikes again as a leading state of African-American first. On January 29, 2021 Governor Gavin Newson swore in San Diego Assembly member and Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus Dr. Shirley N. Weber as California Secretary of State. Dr. Weber is the first-ever African American to serve as Secretary of State in California history.
“As the state’s Chief Elections Officer, Dr. Weber will continue her lifelong dedication to defending civil rights and will undertake a vital role in protecting our democratic process at a critical time.” Governor Newson.
Henry Aaron passed away yesterday. For baseball nerds like myself I was sad to hear the announcement. It came on the heels of what has been quite a week. First, we saw the news that Trump “was gone.” After four years of tremendous turbulence which saw him contribute to the Republican party losing the House of Representatives, then the Senate and finally the presidency his antics, criminal behavior and abusive personality will undoubtedly make him one of the most memorable boneheads in history. That same day civility returned as Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.
Larry King RIP
Then this morning we awakened to the news that legendary broadcaster Larry King passed away at 87. But this post is about Henry Aaron.
The legend of The Hammer
Sports is part of our culture and oftentimes history is made right before our eyes. Henry Aaron was an unassuming professional athlete. He was known as “Hank” and later as “The Hammer.” During his era many great African-American players blossomed and their slugging prowess might have been taken for granted.
Through his career he was not known as a high-profile player. His first major league team was with the Milwaukee Braves which was considered a small-market franchise. This more than anything allowed him to fly under the radar as it was not until you analyzed his stats that you realized his greatness. He played twenty-three years and not once did he go on the DL (disabled list). There were no pads to protect his body from blazing fast-balls, no batting gloves to protect his hands from being jarred by a batted ball which didn’t connect with the sweet spot of the bat. He just went and did his job, day in, day out and through it all earned the distinction as the home run king.
The historic 4th Inning
On that Monday night in 1974, I was at the apartment of my buddy Ed Davis. The Braves were playing our beloved Dodgers and we knew it was a matter of time but we sat in anticipation drinking Schlitz beer. Just like that, after Al Downing (known as Gentleman Al) let go of the pitch we heard Vin Scully describe the historic moment of 715.
Aaron wound up with a whopping 755 home runs. He became a great ambassador of the game and for his activism in civil rights. As Atlanta was preparing for the 1996 Olympics, Aaron’s home field, Fulton County stadium was about to be transformed into the main Olympic venue. We heard that once the games were complete the stadium would be named in honor of him. Unfortunately, that did not happen. In 2000 I finally got a chance to visit “Turner Field” and while I came for the game as the Braves were hosting the Pirates, I wanted to see the field replication that was embedded into the parking lot. It featured an accurate layout of the field and had a marker where Aaron’s 755th blast landed. What a site! As I went to see the game, I was lucky to catch a home run ball off the bat of a Pirates player.
In 2017, Trust Park (Suntrust) became the new home of the Braves. I was still miffed they moved from “the hood” but I had a trip to Atlanta which coincided with the baseball season and luckily it was a home game. I organized the trip because I wanted to see long-time Dodger Matt Kemp who had been recently traded to the Braves. In addition, I wanted to see the much-heralded Hank Aaron statue and other tributes the new stadium featured. It was quite a site.
Aaron’s legacy will be remembered by fans around the globe and known for his humanity and goodwill.
The cover picture is from the first "Freshman" college in 2006 as students took their place in front of the iconic Dr. Bethune statue at the campus
Dr. Mary McLeod-Bethune’s legacy is historic. The school she founded in Daytona Beach, FL is a proud HBCU (Historically Black College and University) campus.
Dr. Bethune will be the first African-American to have her statue in Statuary Hall which is located in the United States Capitol in Washington, DC. Perhaps aided by the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement during last year’s worldwide reaction, Dr. Bethune’s statue will replace Confederate General Kirby Smith.
Interestingly the statue will be sculpted by Italian Master sculptor Nilda Comas. While her selection was already sealed, it brings some consternation among African-American sculptors who for years have developed an impressive tradition in preparing works of art. Similar to the Dr. Martin Luther King memorial which was produced by a Chinese sculptor, once again they may feel shut out of lending their talents to such revered figures.
Nevertheless, this represents a great testament to the respect Dr. McLeod-Bethune garnered during her life’s work.
editorial note: Bethune-Cookman University (BCU) has a great history particularly in Daytona Beach. The campus is two miles from the Atlantic seashore. More importantly it is located approximately one mile from Jackie Robinson stadium, which is where Robinson played as part of his brief minor league stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The venue is now part of the Chicago Cubs organization. For those who watched 42 featuring Chadwick Bosman, many scenes from Robinson’s time in Daytona Beach were near the campus. Our youngest son, Fred IV was a graduate of BCU.
Stevie Wonder & Hurricane Dave
Shortly after George Floyd was murdered and folk took to the streets many used the airwaves to voice their response.
One leader, you will recognize when you hear the song spoke poignantly about how African-Americans have historically dealt with the consequences of having a “knee on their neck.”
Through Hurricane Dave’s genius and the gift of Stevie Wonder who owns KJLH (Kindness, Joy Love & Happiness) radio station in Los Angeles (102.3FM), part of the leader’s speech “I can’t breathe” is woven into Wonder’s “Vision” song which is from his 1973 Innervisions album.
If the song does not load – try this link
[Los Angeles, CA – Day 18] It has been eighteen days since George Floyd was murdered. Depending on one’s perspective or life’s experiences, sides have been drawn. Just about everyone agrees ex-officer Chauvin as well as the other three arresting ex-officers used excessive and unnecessary force.
The Floyd incident has morphed from a moment to a movement based on what we are witnessing in cities around the globe. As expected, there are those who proclaim the reaction is over-blown. They go further to suggest it is some type of Democratic funded operation to smear our system. I guess they feel because Floyd was African-American and the majority of them vote in favor of Democratic candidates, surely the party must be behind their antics? They quietly dismiss the notion that deciding which political party to support boils down to which one MOSTLY supports your issues? It appears to be a sound-bite that some accept based on which media they consume?
One side sees a need for justice. The other side sees a need to stop disrespecting civility. Another critical analysis those in opposition can’t explain, as history may be the final arbiter is why folk from various ethnicities, age groups and other demographics have joined the movement? To further justify their belief the reaction is fueled by a political party, they voice opposition via social media suggesting those who support the reaction to Floyd are ill-informed or have they been induced into some cult?
Most have forgotten the Black Lives Matter has been around. Just in 2016, through media it was vilified as a revolutionary group you should be scared to associate with. That’s why this time is different. As mentioned, folk from all walks of life have changed their social consciousness and now proudly proclaim the Black Lives Matter moniker.
There is one more critical point about protesting which those in opposition somehow find difficult to accept or understand. Protesting is a public gesture to create awareness of the issue. Following must be a series of actions which make the reason for protesting a serious action. As an example most people never heard or knew of Emmett Till, Jimmie Lee Jackson or more contemporary examples such as Alton Sterling, Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner or even George Floyd. It was the type of tragic death they suffered which made them household names. Therein lays a prime reason for the public outrage we are experiencing. It is bigger than any specific named person. It has to do with a system that minimizes their life merely because they were black. It has very little to do with their past as a seed of racism makes it okay to marginalize those who are deemed less than. Unfortunately, many buy into this paradigm while defining themselves as wholesome american folk.
Protest is a basic right. How long people take to the streets is anybody’s guess? What we are hearing by documenting daily events is it will continue until November 3rd! While Black Lives Matter is the main organization leading the protest, many splinter groups have joined and that has helped fuel the energy to sustain the reaction.
Revolutionary Communist Party known as RevCom was one group which led the Los Angeles Protest – Day 18. Just like when Black Lives Matter hit the scene, their name probably scares the hell out of people. The long and short, they are a social-action group. One of their main tenets is trying to unite “Brown & Black.” Speakers did a very good job in communicating how racism has been used to divide the groups. Unfortunately many in the affected groups have bought into the notion of distrusting the other. As an example one of the passionate Latina leaders expressed how many from Mexico and other Latin American countries have been raised to feel African-Americans are lazy, untrustworthy, criminal and otherwise the type of people you need to stay away from.
Like many rallies, the participation builds as it weaves through the streets to their final destination. They started across the street from City Hall, facing Grant Park. Headed south on Spring street, the spirited group marched to 7th Street and headed west until they reached Mac Arthur Park which is several miles away in the Westlake community. There were no incidents or negative reaction. As a matter of fact, many who were driving stopped their cars to show support. A few actually joined the marchers. Folk came out of restaurants and bars to show support. The Los Angeles Police picked up the rear to undergird the marchers progress as they went through the streets.
[Los Angeles, CA – Day 9] Activism is nothing new to me, at least that’s what I want to think! Today marked the 9th day since the murder of George Floyd and after jockeying my schedule I ran out of excuses of why I could not be on hand to document the important rally scheduled at 3pm..
You’ve all seen the protest which followed ex-policeman Chauvin pulling a rare move most of us haven’t seen – putting his knee of the neck of George Floyd, while he had been restrained and in hand-cuffs. The cous de gras was Chauvin’s bold move to comfortable place his hand in his pocket while cutting off Floyd’s air flow. Most of you saw what we all saw and perhaps that inspired you to raise your voice and join the movement?
I was trying to remember when was the last time I saw a reaction of this magnitude? I go back to 2000 when I was fortunate to travel to Chiapas, Mexico to get a first-hand glimpse of supporters of Subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatista movement. The revolutionaries rose up against the government while loudly proclaiming – BASTA!!!!!!
The reaction from Floyd’s murder seems a bit different. We’ve heard that refrain from members of the media who have been reporting the events One of the major protests today centered at the Hall of Justice (County of Los Angeles) at the steps of District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s office. As I was driving to secure a parking spot, I could see a flurry of participants head towards Temple & Broadway. Signs in tote it was quite a sight. I just knew this was different from the many events I have attended/participated in.
The crowd swelled to easily 10,000 plus. The event was well organized and despite the Covid-19 pandemic we are dealing with folk had mask and other protection. Folk were walking the line dispatching out water, squirts of hand-sanitizer, snacks and even first-aid stations so you could maintain your energy. Their focus was maintaining a safe environment to insure the message of change was front & center.
A very interesting dynamic that I witnessed was the demographic of the crowd. I would guestimate the primary ages ranged from 20 – 40. The ethnic composition was what you would expect from Los Angeles. It was exceptionally diverse. The take-away from today’s event as well as those which have taken place since Floyd’s life was cut short is will the energy and commitment get translated into serious civic engagement – VOTING? For all the signs and images of being fed-up, will the people have the courage to leverage their voice and create the change they are seeking?
Above Photo. MINNEAPOLIS , MINNESOTA - MAY 31: The makeshift memorial and mural outside Cup Foods where George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer on Sunday, May 31, 2020 in Minneapolis , Minnesota. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
For enslaved Africans the vestiges of racism and slavery have a ghost-like affect in the United States of America. Like the current Covid-19 pandemic the results can be deadly.
George Floyd will be a martyr for the 2020 rebellions which are sweeping across the nation. Born in Houston Texas, Floyd found Minneapolis as a place to try and live out his dreams.
Many questions have popped up since his murder was shown across media. Minnesota has long prided itself as a state you could enjoy life. All of that sounds good but for the vast majority of African-Americans who like Floyd migrated there, that has not been their reality.
To get a better understanding of why many view the Floyd murder as a symbol resulting from the vestiges of racism and slavery, you’ve got to pause and pay attention to history: current history.
The income gap in Minneapolis between white and black families is the second worse in the country, at $50,000. Judy Woodruff, Executive Producer PBS News Hour
Like so many states, as productive as Minnesota is for some it has a history. For African-American’s that history translates into the same oppressive behavior which led to Floyd being murdered. We are not putting a blanket assessment on the people of Minnesota, especially those in the majority who are white but understanding the history and putting that understanding in a reasonable context might create objectivity when discussing Floyd. No doubt many African-Americans have created upward-mobility but a vast majority live in poverty which can be traced to the systemic social policies which are documented through the United States.
Here are two excellent sources that showcase current disparities in Minnesota and specifically Minneapolis
The segment is called “Roots of Anger” and starts at the 39:40 mark of the video.
The second piece is very interesting and shares how Minnesota became known as the “Jim Crow of the North.” I saw this special screening during the 2020 Pan-African Film Festival and it is riveting.