Category Archives: Uncategorized

4th of July and the Confederate Battle Flag

The debate concerning the Confederate Battle Flag caused me to think about the founding of the United States vs the founding of the Confederate States. As the Smithsonian article, "Founding Fathers and Slaveholders" points out; while arguing for freedom and liberty, many of the principal founding fathers; George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, Patrick Henry, John Hancock,  and others were slave-owners. A total of twelve American Presidents were slave owners.

I have often quoted expressions of freedom and liberty from the founding fathers, some even appearing on this site; I guess when you routinely deny freedom to others, you realized how valuable freedom truely is. The founding fathers expressed a variety of reasons including taxation, being forced to provide shelter to British Troops and other intolerable acts were among the reasons the Colonies declared their independence. As Tim Wise points out in his White Privilege Lecture; the Confederacy only had one principle issue, the right to continue slavery and expand it into the western territories.

The Confederate Battle Flag had always seemed to me a symbol of the lost cause of slavery. It's as if the person displaying the flag is saying, I wish we had won so slavery could have continued. In Germany, I'm sure that there are some relatives of German soldiers that believe their ancestors served bravely and with honor, but I doubt that many would argue that flying the Nazi flag at government buildings would be a good way to honor their valor. Most of the Northern United States eventually ended slavery, but the Southern States that made up the Confederacy wanted to continue the institution of slavery so badly that they went to war and more than 600,000 men died. Had Jim Crow not replaced slavery as the new official system of oppression, I would have considered all that blood shed during the Civil War a sort of lopsided reparation.

The Confederate Battle Flag represents the men who fought against the United States of America in a state of war and should have no official role in any government within the U.S. I can not think of any similar situation where the symbol or standard of a defeated nation is officially honored as an official symbol by the victor. Had the Confederacy won the war, I am certain that no American Flag would fly at any capital within the Confederate States of America. President Obama was correct when he stated, "Removing the flag from this state’s capital would not be an act of political correctness. It would not be an insult to the valor of Confederate soldiers. It would simply be acknowledgement that the cause for which they fought, the cause of slavery, was wrong."

A recent song about the Confederate Battle Flag, "Still a Southern Man", by Will Hoge, surprising seems to agree with the sentiment expressed above.

However, the Confederate Battle Flag is not the only flag used by men with racist intent as shown below.

Klan-sheet-music - We are all loyal klansmen
Sheet music to the 1923 song, We Are All Loyal Klansmen


Six of uncles, my father's brothers, served this country during World War II. My father served during the Korean War, three of my mother's brothers served in the military and I have scores of other relatives and friends who have served or are currently serving in the military. I respect and honor their service to our country and I love my country and would not choose to live anywhere else. However, July 4, 1776 (Independence Day) does not represent freedom and liberty for black men. Ironically, Crispus Attucks, a run-a-way fugitive slave was the first casualty of the Boston Massacre, and is widely considered to be the first American casualty in the American Revolutionary War. But when the founding fathers, wrote the Declaration of Independence, and pronounced that all men are created equal; black men, were excluded. After the British offered freedom for any black men who fought; Colonel Henry Lee stated, "Success will depend on which side can arm the Negroes faster." George Washington reversed his opinion that black men should not fight in the war. Black men played a pivotal role in winning the Revolutionary War, but freedom and equality was still denied them and their contributions were mostly excluded from history books. To add insult to injury, Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution defined slaves as being 3/5 a person.

Supreme Court Declared in it's Dred Scott decision, "In the opinion of the court, the legislation and histories of the times, and the language used in the Declaration of Independence, show that neither the class of persons who had been imported as slaves nor their descendants, whether they had become free or not, were then acknowledged as a part of the people, nor intended to be included in the general words used in that memorable instrument. ……They [black people] had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect, and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic whenever a profit could be made by it. This opinion was at that time fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race. It was regarded as an axiom in morals as well as in politics which no one thought of disputing or supposed to be open to dispute, and men in every grade and position in society daily and habitually acted upon it in their private pursuits, as well as in matters of public concern, without doubting for a moment the correctness of this opinion".

Propaganda is a powerful brainwashing tool and to some degree we are all victims of unconscious conditioning. Byron Thomas, a black student at the University of South Carolina fought for the right the hang the confederate flag in the window of his dorm room. Years ago, I remember seeing a history book from a public school in the deep south that presented slavery and the civil war very differently than the history books I was issued. If you read a history book from a school in Great Britain about the Revolutionary War, George Washington and other founding fathers are referred to as traitors instead of patriots and heroes. I personally think Mr. Thomas' view is skewed, but consider some people outside the United States do not understand the patriotism of black Americans who have endured centuries of racial discrimination.

Just as black soldiers fought for the newly declared United States of America, which was against their best interest, since they were later denied the rights, privileges and freedoms bestowed upon white soldiers; blacks served in the Confederate Army. 

The 1st Louisiana Native Guard (CSA) was a Confederate Louisiana militia group that consisted of free persons of color, formed during May 1861; the militia unit was the first of any in North America to have African-American officers. The Louisiana State Legislature passed a law in January 1862 that reorganized the militia into only “…free white males capable of bearing arms… ”

The Native Guards regiment was forced to disband on February 15, 1862, when the new law took effect. Governor Moore reinstated the Native Guards on March 24 after the U.S. Navy under Admiral David G. Farragut entered the Mississippi River." As the regular Confederate forces under Major General Mansfield Lovell abandoned New Orleans, the militia units were left to fend for themselves.

The Native Guards were ordered to disband again, permanently, by General John L. Lewis, of the Louisiana Militia, on April 25, 1862, as Federal ships arrived opposite the city. General Lewis cautioned them to hide their arms and uniforms before returning home. Ten per cent of its members would later join the Union Army's 1st Louisiana Native Guard, which was a separate military unit. 

Today, I celebrate with the rest of the Nation the founding of our Great Nation, not for the Freedom Granted to White Men only in 1776 but for what this country has become and the potential for which it still has. Unfortunately, the freedom and liberty of black men did not come legally until 1865 and Jim Crow restricted that freedom.

The sentiment about the 4th of July was best express by Fredrick Douglass. On July 5, 1852, Douglass gave a speech at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, held at Rochester's Corinthian Hall. It was biting oratory, in which the speaker told his audience, "This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn." And he asked them, "Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day?"


Freed slaves observed the country’s first Memorial Day

Just over a week ago, I attended the funeral of my uncle, Alvin Hill, the 9th of 12 children. Alvin served in the army in the South Pacific during World War II; his ship was torpedoed, willing to risk all that this nation might remain strong and free. He was wounded by shrapnel,hung onto the side of his ship in the Pacific Ocean for 36 hours. As he watched his brothers in arms give up one by one, he was just at the point of letting go, he saw a light far off and continued holding in the hopes that he would be rescued.  Alvin received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for heroism during combat in New Guinea.

My grandmother gave six sons to the United States Army during World War II. All wore the uniform proudly, even though full equality and justice was denied to them. They fought because they believed that one day, this nation would live up to it's creed. Unfortunately, when it came time to recognize the mother in St. Louis with the greatest number of son's serving this country during World War II, my grandmother was overlooked and a white mother with five sons serving in the military was recognized. My father, a Korean War Veteran and Alvin's brother, is the last surviving sibling.

Today, as this country celebrates Memorial Day, another group of African Americans contributions are also overlooked. Black history is often suppressed and the history of Memorial Day is tied to a group of ex-slaves whose ceremony would later become he basis and foundation of Decoration Day, which is now Memorial Day. 

Excepted from the Digital Journal: The port city of Charleston is where the Civil War started in April, 1861, but by the spring of 1865, the city was nearly deserted of its white population. The first Union troops to enter the city and march up Meeting Street were the Twenty-First U. S. Colored Infantry, and it was their commander who accepted the formal surrender of Charleston that day.

While the city may have been deserted by most of the white folks, there were over 10,000 freed slaves who gathered to greet the Union Army. The story goes that these freedmen and women dug up a mass grave containing the bodies of 257 dead Union soldiers, only to rebury them on May 1, 1865 in a cleaned up and landscaped burial ground.

For two weeks in April, former slaves had worked to bury the soldiers. Now they would give them a proper funeral. The procession began at 9 a.m. as 2,800 black school children marched by their graves, softly singing "John Brown's Body." Soon, their voices would give way to the sermons of preachers, then prayer and — later — picnics. It was May 1, 1865, but they called it Decoration Day.

They built an archway with a placard that said "Martyrs of the Race-Course," and buried the bodies with a ritualized remembrance celebration, attended by thousands of people, white and black. The ceremony was covered by the New York Tribune and other national newspapers of that day. For over 50 some odd years, white Charlestonians tried to suppress the memory of that first Decoration Day, but the memory has been rediscovered and has a certain amount of profound meaning, if not the fact that it has been brought back into its historical context.

A few years ago, the city of Charleston and the state government authorized plans for a historical marker in Hampton Park to honor the first Dedication Day. Harlan Greene, director of archival and reference services at Avery, said the time is right; "Charleston has begun to recognize its African-American history." On May 2, 1865 the Charleston Daily Courier reported, the exercise began with the reading of a Psalm. The crowd sang a hymn, then prayed. Everyone in the procession carried a bouquet of flowers.

"We're approaching a tipping point," Greene said. "The irony of the story is that Charleston is the cradle of the Confederacy, but the memorial was for Union soldiers. It shows the richness of Charleston history."

The Charleston Post and Courier article, "The First Memorial Day", stated the May 1, 1865 ceremony had been mentioned in some history books, including Robert Rosen's "Confederate Charleston," but the story gained national attention when David W. Blight, a professor of American history at Yale, took interest. He discovered a mention of the first Decoration Day in the uncataloged writings of a Union soldier at a Harvard University library. He contacted the Avery Research Center in Charleston, which helped him find the first newspaper account of the event. An article about the "Martyrs of the Race Course" had appeared in the Charleston Daily Courier the day after the ceremony. Blight was intrigued and did more research. He published an account of the day in his book, "Race and Reunion." Soon he gave lectures on the event around the country.

"What's interesting to me is how the memory of this got lost," Blight said. "It is, in effect, the first Memorial Day and it was primarily led by former slaves in Charleston." While talking about the Decoration Day event on National Public Radio, Blight caught the attention of Judith Hines, a member of the Charleston Horticultural Society. She was amazed to hear a story about her hometown that she did not know. "I grew up in Charleston and I never learned about the Union prison camp," Hines said. "These former slaves decided the people who died for their emancipation should be honored."

Three years former slave honored Union Soldiers, General John Logan issued a special order that May 30, 1868 be observed as Decoration Day, the first Memorial Day — a day set aside “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land.”, as mentioned in the article, "Who Invented Memorial Day?"

Supreme Court of Missouri reassigns Ferguson municipal division cases

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – To help restore public trust and confidence in the Ferguson municipal court division, the Supreme Court of Missouri today transferred Judge Roy L Richter of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, to the St. Louis County circuit court, where he will be assigned to hear all of Ferguson’s pending and future municipal division cases. This assignment, made pursuant to the Court’s authority under article V of the Missouri Constitution, will take effect Monday, March 16, 2015, and will continue until further order of the Court.

The Court’s order also authorizes Richter to implement needed reforms to court policies and procedures in Ferguson to ensure that the rights of defendants are respected and to help restore the integrity of the system.

“Judge Richter will bring a fresh, disinterested perspective to this court’s practices and he is able and willing to implement needed reforms,” Chief Justice Mary R. Russell said. She noted that the Court also is assigning staff from its state courts administrator’s office to review Ferguson municipal court practices and to assist Richter in making necessary changes.

“Extraordinary action is warranted in Ferguson, but the Court also is examining reforms that are needed on a statewide basis,” Russell said. The Court continues to review specific recommendations for further changes to Rule 37, which governs the procedure of cases in all municipal court divisions. Among the changes the Court made in December 2014 to Rule 37 was a modification making clear that if a person demonstrates an inability to pay a fine, the municipal judge will be required to give the person more time to pay. The Court also will be developing “best practices” for those issues that are not well-suited to the one-size-fits-all approach of rulemaking and regulation. This process is informed by input from those practitioners, judges and outside advocates who are most familiar with the wide variety of Missouri’s municipal court divisions. Specific recommendations from these stakeholders have been, and will continue to be, studied and adopted when appropriate.

More than two-thirds of all Missouri court cases are filed in the municipal divisions,” Russell said. “Though these are not courts of record, they are the first – and sometimes the only – impression Missourians have of their court system. Although we recognize the local control our statutes give these uniquely local entities, we must not sacrifice individual rights and society’s collective commitment to justice.”

My little contribution to the cause of justice

Today October 31, 2014 is the birthday of this website and blog. I decided to create it after receiving additional harassment from the City of St. Louis two days ago.

Like many people, I have followed the Ferguson protest and wondered how I could help. My hope is that this site will provide a solution for some people who have none.

If you go into court feeling helpless, most likely that’s how you will leave. You need to empower yourself with information so that you can increase the likely hood of an outcome that is acceptable to you. You may not win if you fight, but you will certainly lose if you do not. Whatever you learn will only increase your chances of winning the next time you face a similar situation.

Good Luck!