Today In Fact, 28 August

St. Augustine Day and a day of tragedy, anger and glory for African Americans. This greatest of all African saints died today in 430, leaving a legacy of devotion and literature that has moulded the very synapses of our thinking.

I’m sure it is merely coincidence but today in 1833, Queen Victoria signed the Slavery Abolition Act which banned slavery throughout the Empire. Fifty years too late for African American slaves who would have to endure another generation of slavery.

It wasn’t much better for freed slaves and their descendents living in Mississippi though. In 1955 on this day Emmet Till, a 14 year old black lad was abducted, had an eye gouged out, beaten then shot and had barbed wire tied around his neck and drowned in the Tallahachie River. All this because he had made some suggestive remarks to a white woman.

Till’s murder galvanized the civil rights movement in the United States. There was great resistance against the movement from white people, entrenched in a racist worldview. Two years on this day, as if to prove the point, Senator Strom Thurmond started the longest filibuster speech in US history, speaking for 24 hours and 18 minutes nonstop in order to delay the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

Yet today is also a day of glory for African Americans because it is the day in which Martin Luther King Junior gave his famous “I have a dream speech” on the March to Washington. In the wake of the speech and march, King was named Man of the Year by TIME magazine for 1963, and in 1964, he was the youngest person ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 1964, the Philadelphia race riots broke out on this day when Odessa Bradford got into an argument with two police officers, one black, Robert Wells, and the other white, John Hoff, after her car stalled at 23rd Street and Columbia Avenue. As the argument went on, a large crowd assembled in the area. A man tried to come to Bradford’s aid by attacking the police officers at the scene, both he and Bradford were arrested.

Nobody died but 341 people were injured, 774 people were arrested and 225 stores were damaged or destroyed in the three days of rioting. Some of the tension was attributable to religion, with Black Muslims and black nationalists pitted against Black Baptist ministers who called for calm.

Four years later to the day, at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, more riots broke out. Mayor Daley had his police and soldiers brutally attack protesters. This tactic was supported by voters who voted Nixon in the following year. Four decades later, the citizens of the United States would vote Barak Obama as President.

So today is quiet a day for African Americans all told.

– Posted by Douglas Racionzer ( )