Monthly Archives: February 2009
The sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
A year after the death of the beloved Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the same city where he held protest for equality, injustice was still brewing. But the people of Memphis held steadfast to the dream of Dr. King and decided that they would not be moved. They would stand up for equality and the dream would live on.
In 1969 in the city of Memphis, TN over half the students in the school system were black, so why was the school board all white?
Even after the NAACP got involved the school board that represented a majority of black students remained all white. The black community’s dismay with the lack of black representation on the school board led to what came to be known as Black Mondays. The participating students and teachers knew that the boycotts were risky and some were torn about a potential outcome, but they were adamant on seeing a change. The school boycott campaign began in the fall of 1969 and continued for approximately 5 Mondays. The first Black Monday took place October 13, 1969 and over sixty thousand black students participated in the boycott by being absent from school that day. Each Monday that followed black students and teachers boycotted by not showing up to teach or attend school. The current mayor of Memphis, Dr. Willie Herenton, who was then a principal, was the only principal to ally with the Black Mondays protest and walk out of school.
Black Mondays led to other boycotts including those of black employees of St. Francis Hospital, black city workers staying home from work and a boycott of downtown businesses. The Black Monday Boycotts drew much attention and finally in November of 1969 the boycotts were called to an end by a coalition of black organizations when the Board of Education filed a lawsuit against some parties involved citing contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The lawsuit was dropped, but the point of Black Mondays had been made. The school system receives state and federal funding based on student attendance and with over half the students in the system participating in Black Monday each Monday the impact was hard hitting.
Black Mondays resulted in the addition of two black non-voting members to the Memphis School board and indeed paved the way for future black school board members. Currently the Memphis City School Board of Commissioners is majority African American. (Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners)
Link from The Commercial Appeal Black Mondays Signaled a New Day written by Wendi C. Thomas
February 28, 2009 at 2pm The Benjamin Hooks Central Library in Memphis, TN will be hosting a discussion panel to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Black Monday. The panel will include Maxine Smith, Dr. Vasco Smith and Dr. Miriam DeCosta-Willis, all civil rights activists who will share their memories of the historical boycotts.
Civil rights leaders and a multitude of others have come forth speaking out against the cartoon by artist Sean Delonas which was run in the New York Post on February 18, 2009. The cartoon has been called offensive, racist and insensitive.
Mr. Delonas however has stated that these accusations are ridiculous and that the cartoon is about the economic stimulus bill and in no way is indicating that President Barack Obama should be shot. The editor-in-chief of the New York Post, Col Allan had this to say,”The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event.”
However that explanation is not acceptable to those (myself included) who have taken offense to the cartoon which shows two white police officers standing over a dead chimpanzee that that have just shot and killed. The caption states “They will have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill.’
How the New York Post or the cartoon artist can rebut the fact that the cartoon is offensive and has racist undertones is beyond belief. Even with The New York Post adding that the cartoon also plays wit to the woman attacked by a chimpanzee in Connecticut it still does not satisfy those who are not willing to accept any excuses for the cartoon’s insensitivity or the New York Post bad judgment call. First let’s examine the facts:
President Barack Obama wrote the stimulus bill mentioned in the cartoon caption.
President Barack Obama is of African descent.
Throughout history and to present time, monkeys, chimpanzees and other primates of the ape family have been used to downgrade and dehumanize the African American race.
The cartoon shows a dead chimp, killed by two white officers who are stating that someone else will have to write the next stimulus bill.
There is no way to deny that the cartoon is blatantly racist. I won’t even downplay it by saying it has racial undertones, no it is blatantly racist and in my opinion the New York Post needs to make a public apology to everyone who may have been offended by the cartoon’s offensive artistry and caption. It showed bad judgment on part of The New York Post when the cartoon was okayed to be placed as part of the newspaper’s printing.
Reverend Al Sharpton, Marc Morial (National Urban League President), Barbara Ciara (President of the National Association of Black Journalists) and others are speaking out and demanding that the New York Post clarify what point the cartoon actually makes since the post has denied that it has any racial inferences.
Another note: This is not the first time artist Sean Delonas has had his work called offensive or insensitive. He is the same artist who has been ridiculed for his cartoons on gay marriage licenses and the ex-wife of Paul McCartney who has one leg. Click here to read more about Delonas and his controversial cartoons.
Click here to view CNN Panelists discussing the cartoon.
If you would like to join the Call 2 Action against the cartoon run by the New York Post here is more information on how you can call, send a letter or email to the New York Post. Also Rev. Al Sharpton will be leading a demonstration today, Feb 19, 2009 at noon if you are in the New York area. Please remember that in all things there must be order. If you choose to email or call The New York Post please be respectful.