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Time Travelers: My brush with the KKK in South Carolina

On July 18, 2015, I experienced something that I would have never thought would have happened in my life. I came in direct contact with time travelers. I’m talking about members of the Klu Klux Klan and the Neo Nazi Party. That’s right; I’m talking about the political organization responsible for the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in 1963. The same political operatives who lynched an estimated 4800 Americans in the name of White Supremacy, and that’s just the documented cases. This is the same group that in its peak in 1920 had more than 4 million people in membership. On July 18th, I was within an arm’s reach of time travelers from an era of American history that most of us think of as gone and forgotten. There was not a single cloud in the sky and the heat index was 104 degrees as I arrived and pulled out my camera. The Klan and Nazis weren’t the first group to gather at the South Carolina capitol grounds that day. A rally held by the Black Educators for Justice, a subset of the New Black Panther Party, started off the day’s events.  I’ll admit, even as a man of color I was a little bit nervous regarding the Black Panthers. After the Charleston Massacre, one of their leaders, Malik Shabazz, made some very virulent comments laced with hate speech against white Americans, even at one point calling for their eradication. I was afraid I would hear this type of rhetoric at the rally at our state capitol.  Instead, the speakers at the rally spoke about American history, unfairness in current public policies, and black on black violence as well as other issues that need to be resolved within the black community. I specifically remember one of the leaders named Hashim Nzinga telling the crowd (which included Caucasians holding confederate flags) that they came for peace, to provide information, and to achieve understanding. By the end of the rally there were Caucasians yelling out “Black power!” and clapping. Before the rally was over, the main leader advised everyone to pick up their litter and to be safe as they made their way over to the other side of the statehouse where the KKK/Neo Nazi rally was about to kick off. Continue reading

MS secedes stating, "A blow at slavery is a blow at civilization"

Mississippi seceded from the Union on January 9, 1861, less than 3 weeks after South Carolina. Its Declaration of Secession is remarkably explicit about the role of slavery as the cause of the war. The document contains just 688 words and "slave" or "slavery" is mentioned 7 times; "rights" is mentioned 3 times.  It's difficult to see how anyone can read Mississippi's Declaration of Secession maintain that slavery was not the main cause of the Civil War. This is true for South Carolina's, Texas's, and Georgia's declarations.  Continue reading

In Seceding, TX Mentions Slavery 21, Race 9, Rights 4 Times

In 2010, the Texas State Board of Education voted to minimize the role of slavery in developing new guidelines for teaching about the Civil War. Patricia Hall, a Republican board member, asserted, "States' rights were the real issues behind the Civil War. Slavery was an after issue." Starting next month, 5 million students in Texas will learn about American history based on these changes.  Continue reading

SC's Declaration of Secession Mentions Slavery 18 Times

In case you're wondering why South Carolina seceded from the Union, take a look at the Declaration of Secession (December 24, 1860). There are 18 mentions in total of "slaves," "slave-holding," or "slavery." The mentions have been boldfaced and italicized here. Go here to read Texas' declaration of secession which mentions slavery 21 times. Mississippi seceded a few weeks after South Carolina stating that "Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world." Continue reading

Federal Trial on North Carolina's Voting Restrictions Underway

Winston-Salem, NC —  In 2013, Story of America was embedded in the North Carolina General Assembly to document the passage of what many call the most aggressive voting restrictions law since the end of the Jim Crow Era. (See embedded video series below.)   [CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO PODCAST] A Federal Court trial to determine the constitutionality of these restrictions gets underway today in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I spoke with Allison Riggs, lead counsel for the League of Women Voters, which, along with the U.S. Department of Justice and the North Carolina NAACP will argue  that House Bill 589 violates the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Continue reading