Forget President’s Day-Today We Celebrate Huey P Newton on His Bday

George Washington Today February 17th 2014. For many people it’s the conclusion of a 3 day weekend in which we are encouraged to celebrate Presidents Day where we honor Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Celebrating Lincoln is understandable considering he helped put an end to the horrific institution of slavery by putting forth the Emancipation Proclamation, even though he had to be pressured by abolitionist like Frederick Douglass and others.

Celebrating Washington and Jefferson who were founding fathers of this country and slave owners is not the biz no matter what angle folks take. There was no excuse for their participation in the horrors that were unleashed on enslaved Africans who were not considered human, which on top of being forced to work from sun up to sun down, were subjected to harsh whippings, rapes and their children being sold off.

Some like to point out that Washington freed his slaves. In fact it was written in his will. Yes we heard that story. They were freed after he died. All  316 of them were freed by his wife Martha Washington who waited  a good twelve months to honor her husband’s wishes.

Some like to point out that Washington often expressed support for the gradual abolition of slavery. Maybe that’s true, but this is the same Washington who signed the Fugitive Slave Law which allowed slave owners to recapture enslaved Africans even if they managed to escape to states that had abolished slavery. Washington put this law into effect in 1790, which was a good 14 years after he signed the Declaration of Independence that asserted All Men Are Created Equal. We now know that assertion didn’t include Black folks.

We should also remember that Washington came to the aid of the French who had gotten their butts beat by enslaved Haitians who rebelled and overthrew their slave masters. Instead of recognizing their independence Washington dispatched emergency aid. He wanted the newly freed Africans to put back into bondage.

Thomas JeffersonThomas Jefferson is honored in many parts of this country on President’s Day and is depicted as a beloved figure. He should be remembered as a man who like Washington also owned hundreds of slaves and unlike Washington who instructed his slaves to be freed in his will, Jefferson feared slave revolts and opposed any law that would allow owners to free them.

Many like to talk and romanticize about the love affair Jefferson had with Sally Hemings, an enslaved girl of mixed race who was 14 when Jefferson first got at her. She had 6 children by the President. In describing the relationship, many like to refer to Hemings as Jefferson’s mistress which implies she was a woman who was free and willing participant in a sordid love triangle. Hemings was enslaved and had no agency in this relationship. That makes her a victim of rape. People should reflect on that for a minute.

Lastly folks should note, that like Washington, Jefferson opposed Haitian getting their independence and went HAM on them by putting in place an embargoes designed to economically cripple them. He too feared slave rebellions.

Huey P NewtonInstead of honoring slave holding Presidents, one should note that February 17th is the birthday of Huey P Newton co-founder of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense..Since its Black History month we figured it would be good to give folks some insight as to who Huey was and what the Panthers were about.. Here’s a brief bio on Huey…

Huey Newton, the youngest of seven children, was born in Monroe, on 17th February, 1942. His father, who named his son after the radical politician, Huey P. Long, was an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP).

At Merritt College in Oakland, California, Newton met Bobby Seale and in 1966 they formed the Black Panther Party. Initially established to protect local communities from police brutality and racism, it eventually developed into a Marxist revolutionary group. The Black Panthers also ran medical clinics and provided free food to school children.

The activities of the Black Panthers came to the attention of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. Hoover described the Panthers as “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country” and in November 1968 ordered the FBI to employ “hard-hitting counter-intelligence measures to cripple the Black Panthers”.

The Black Panthers had chapters in several major cities and had a membership of over 2,000. Harassed by the police, members became involved in several shoot-outs. This included an exchange of fire between Panthers and the police at Oakland on 28th October, 1967. Newton was wounded and while in hospital was charged with killing a police officer. The following year he was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

After being released from prison Newton renounced political violence. Over a six-year period 24 Black Panthers had been killed in gun fights with the police. Another member, George Jackson, was killed while in San Quentin prison in August, 1971.

Huey P Newton chair Newton now concentrated on socialist community programs including free breakfasts for children, free medical clinics and helping the homeless. The Panthers also became involved in conventional politics and in 1973 Bobby Seale ran for mayor of Oakland and came second out of nine candidates with 43,710 votes (40 per cent of votes cast).

Newton published his book, Revolutionary Suicide in 1973. The following year he was arrested and charged with murder and assault with a deadly weapon. Released on bail, Newton fled to Cuba but in 1977 he returned to the United States and was freed after two hung juries.

Newton returned to his studies at the University of California and in 1980 he received a Ph.D. in social philosophy. His dissertation was entitled:War Against the Panthers: A Study in Repression in America. Huey Newton was shot dead on 22nd August, 1989, while walking along a street in Oakland.

courtesy of

Over the years Huey Newton and the Black Panthers inspired many within Hip Hop. From Public Enemy to 2Pac to Digital Underground who started off as the Spice Regime a Black Panther styled group to Paris to the Fugitives which was a Bay Area group composed of Panther children.

In recent years we’ve seen revolutionary artists like Eseibio the Automatic who hails from Oakland pick up the mantle and keep the Panther legacy alive. His album Revolutionary Minded is a testament to that commitment.  He furthers that commitment by organizing programs for the youth and sparking off weekly letter writing campaigns for political prisoners, many who are former Panthers who fearlessly laid it down for the liberation of the people.

Below are some clips to get you up to speed as to who Huey Newton was and what he was about..

The Obama Conquest Newsweek Cover Stirs up an Array of Emotions.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and this Newsweek cover ups the ante.  There’s a lot going on here with this provocative flick starting with the comparison of President Obama to Napoleon/ George Washington.

At a time when we have employers firing folks because Obama was re-elected, racial unrest on a college campuses like Ole Miss, folks from 15 states trying to kick off a secession movement and Fox News anchors having major meltdowns, this cover with its headlines will only serve to enrage folks more even if the story was intended to be complimentary.

At the same time one must keep in mind that the President of the US in many respects is the President of the while many may see Obama as a conqueror of the racist adversaries who opposed him here at home, he’s still the man behind drone strikes, mass deportations Africom, regime change, and NDAA and in that sense he’s deemed a conqueror to be feared. The US is perceived as an empire and Obama is the head of it. the words Obama Conquest underscore that sentiment.

Toussaint L’ouverture

The Newsweek cover has in its headline GOP: You’re Old You’re White You’re History. Considering we had so much vitriol coming from the GOP with cries to ‘take the country back‘, which many took as code to stop Blacks and other people of color from advancing, this cover is sure to be a dagger is some people’s hearts. Obama winning or conquering has been his opposition’s worst fear. And while its true many have compared the picture to Napoleon or George Washington.. I’m gonna say Obama in this photo reminds me of Toussaint L’ouverture, the man who defeated Napoleon, maybe that’s why some folks are scared.

Anyway that’s my two cents, whats your thoughts on this cover?

On President’s Day We Remember How our Founding Fathers Owned Slaves

As we celebrate President’s Day the thought that four of our first 5 Presidents owned slaves has not gone unnoticed. I’ve been observing how President Ronald Reagan has undergone a major PR, revisionist makeover and could not help but wonder how much of a make over our early Presidents have undergone. BTW we set the record straight on Ronald Reagan with this essay we penned a couple of weeks ago.. Why All of Us Should Celebrate Ronald Reagan Day-Let’s Teach the Kids

It’s no secret that when we learn about George Washington and Thomas Jefferson in school, their slave-owning legacies are barely mentioned.  In fact if you bring it up, some so-called patriot types get angry. I found this out a few years ago during an appearance on CNN when engaged in a debate and some far right pundit attempted to extol the virtues and wisdom of the Founding Fathers.. She mentioned George Washington specifically. When I pointed he was a slave owner she almost blew a gasket. I haven’t been back on CNN since.

Its obvious reminding folks of our founding father’s dubious past is a touchy topic. Look at what’s going on in the great state of Tennessee. There you have Tea Party Lawmakers want to remove slavery and its association to Founding fathers from history books.

You have other Tea Party folks like Congresswoman Michele Bachmann attempting to rewrite history by suggesting the Founding Fathers attempted to end slavery. They did nothing of a kind and she got famously schooled by CNN reporter Anderson Cooper for making such erroneous remarks.

No one wants to talk about how slaves were beaten, raped and at the mercy of slave owners. They were property with absolutely no rights and yet we insist on honoring the Founding Fathers on days like President’s Day without fully acknowledging the cruel institution some were a part of.  In addition there was the genocide that many participated in when it came to dealing with Native Americans. Treaties broken, people slaughtered and land taken are all a part of their sordid legacy.

The mantra of many who hold up the founding fathers on president’s Day is Deny, deny deny until people start believing the lies. I’m reminded of this encounter I had during the 2004 RNC in New York City. I came across a brother holding a banner of the Founding Fathers. I asked him about it and things got a little testy. He even called the police..

This President’s Day we should do more than shop at Macy’s for their annual sale.. We should become students of history and try to correct the wrongs of the past. It starts with us being honest about our Founding Fathers.

On a side note this year President’s Day falls on the Feb 21, this was the day Malcolm X was assassinated.. We should remember his legacy today. He’s sadly being written out of history, probably by the same folks who are busy remaking Reagan and removing the word ‘slavery’ from text books.

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