Showing posts from March, 2011

March 31 -- $25 million buys the USVI

March 31, 1917… Before this date, what is NOW called the US Virgin Islands was known as the Danish West Indies. The cost of the purchase was 25 million dollars, which I REALLY hope you might have gathered from the title of this post. “but Phlip, what in the blue hell does this have to do with black history?” you ask? If you know anything about the West Indies, you know that is where the slaves were transported to (or through) when the US was making attempts to deter slave owners from importing them (link from my own archive, that). With that in mind, a great many of the black folks settled on the French (Haiti), Dutch (what we’re talking about now, among others) and mostly Spanish-controlled Caribbean nations. With that said, the white folks went to where they could own slaves or back home and the black folks became the majorities. With that in mind, the US Virgin Islands being a US Territory inhabited by brown people, this becomes a black history fact. Now, I look at the de

March 30 -- The best rapper EVAR!!!

March 30, 1962 marks the date of birth of one Stanley Kirk Burrell, a rapper who could be heralded using the right language as the best rapper ever invented… How, you ask? Well, if Jay-Z, and then Lil Wayne laid claims to being the “best rapper alive” based upon their popularity and sales figures, BOTH would be served a cold hard lesson when it is explained that NEITHER had an album remain #1 for 21 solid weeks or had an album go diamond – even approaching DOUBLE diamond with over 18 million sold to date. Yes, the album marked the beginning of the end the first time hip hop started to die on us, what with the heavyhanded sample usages and poppy simple lyrics and dancing and shit, all of which made way for a certain Robert Van Winkle to step in and play Elvis to Hammer’s Chuck Berry. [ Phlip note – yeah, I said it!] Any old ways…. Today marks the date that Hammer was born into the world, and you can take that how you want – positive or otherwise. While you can chide him for t

March 29 -- Walt "Clyde" Frazier

On today’s date, in 1955 – 24 years, 3 months and 3 days prior to allowing myself and my twin to escape from her uterus – my mother was born. I thank my grandparents for that. Unfortunately, however, in the greater interest of continued black history, my mom is not famous, so I could only offer to put her BEFORE today’s topic of conversation… Today is the balding dude who wears the crazy suits on NBA TV and TNT for Knicks games, NBA Hall-of-Famer and wearer of #10 way back when the Knickerbockers were still a credible threat to win anything of substance… Walter “Clyde” Frazier was a 6’4” point guard with shooting guard tendencies as a scorer. While Willis Reed is heralded for inspiration in his limping back onto the court in game 7 of the 1970 NBA finals, the hero of the day was Frazier with his 36 points and 19 assists. His jersey hangs in the rafters of Madison Square Garden, evidence of why the current Knicks have so few available jersey numbers to choose f

March 28 -- Not all George Bushes Hate Black People

^^^ Let the record show that I do not know that to be true, for the record... Anyway… On today’s date in 1990, President George Bush (Bush41, not Bush43) granted Olympic sprinter and pack-a-day smoker Jesse Owens a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal, which is synonymous with the Presidential Medal of Freedom as the highest civilian honor one can receive in the United States. Slightly off the point here is that, while the President ANNOUNCES and gives the Congressional Medal of Freedom, the actual granting of it is born of acts of congress, and both houses are required to put it through. With that said, George H. W. Bush might have delivered the medal – to Owens’ FAMILY, I might infer – he was just the messenger in such. The Congressional Gold Medal is given for outstanding accomplishment in the name of the US, and I am willing to bet that Owens’ showing up Hitler at the Berlin Olympics despite the irony of being a sprinter who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 35 years wa

March 27 -- Charleston Ride-in protests

This one will be short and sweet… On today’s date in 1861, black demonstrators in Charleston staged ride-ins on streetcars… As with any other”…-in,” this was born of their not being allowed service on the railway, and carried out in a nonviolent demand for equal servicing. It would be a little over one month following, on May 1, that the Charleston City Railway company would relent and allow everyone equal rights to ride in their streetcars. Don’t blame me for coming late in the day with a short post, there was simply very little to post on when I went into this.

March 26 -- Thomas J Marshal's big deed

Next time you go to work and see the sprinkler system, you should stop a moment and thank Thomas J Marshal. Yes, I know that a great many of the two of you have never heard of the guy… What He did on today’s date in 1872 was to get the patent for the fire extinguishing system that put together a system of pipes, valves and all that goodness to bring the water from the storage to delivery in the prevention/stoppage of your ass burning to death. That Patent # was 125,063. I wish I was able to find any more on the guy, but the fact remains that information on black inventors from the 19 th century will be scarce as can be, even on the 2011 internets. That said, not much more I can do but thank the dude for laying the groundwork for the systems that keep me safe indoors in industrial buildings.

March 25 -- March from Selma to Montgomery completed

I know this one will feel like a bit of a cop-out, but the fact remains that we all know I like to stick to things to completion. [ Phlip note – hence how I missed a day and went back the next and filled the gap instead of going on as if...] Well, y’all surely remember my March 7th post about Bloody Sunday, where the first attempt to march from Selma to Montgomery was quashed by police, fire hoses, German Shepherds, billy clubs, Uncle Ruckus, seething racial hatred, Sarah Palin and a passive-aggressive President… [ Phlip note – most of that observed, the rest understood] Well on today’s date, ironically the same number of days later then as it has been between the posts now, the 8,000ish people had initially assembled and completed what had been 4-day trek. The beauty of this is that not all were black and that not all were Christian either, the power of what was right stepped across lines out of sheer necessity. As the group approached Montgomery county, more marchers joined. The l

March 24 -- "make me feel feel good"

Look, we've all seen it... It has been argued since it happened. Today was the day that, in 2002, Halle Berry won the Academy Award as best actress. This is black history because she was the first black woman to win it. The argument/discussion is because she had to get done by a white dude while screaming one of the most awkward "while being fucked" quotes I have heard before or since. Take what you will from it, I was going to post a vid of the scene, but decided against it.

March 23 -- Moses Malone

Fellow basketball fans out there these days know PRECISELY who I speak of when they read the title of this one… Since Moses Malone, the closest we will have gotten to him in the current league as far as a 2-way player is my as-mentioned most improved player Kevin Love. Except for the fact that Kevin Love gets his on 100% effort in a league where such things are not exactly common. Moses Malone had to come up in a league where one needed to know how to take a punch and deliver one as well. Today marks the date that Moses was born, about 2ish hours up I-85 from me in Petersburg VA. A veteran of the old ABA and then in the NBA post-merger, Moses Malone retired after 19 professional seasons as the LAST holdover from the pre-merger ABA days. 1 – time NBA champion in 1983 1 – time NBA finals MVP (same year) 13 – time NBA All-Star 3 – time NBA MVP 2001 Naismith Hall-of-Fame inductee 2 nd all-time in free throws attempted and made … and the one that impresses me most,

March 22 -- Laws prohibit the equipping of boats for slave transit

Look, I know it sometimes feels like I am harping on this whole slave trade thing in these posts… I also know that I seem to find something completely new in my searches for things to use from day to day… March 22, 1794; Congress passed the Slave Trade Act of 1794, which made it illegal to build and equip a boat with the then-necessary tooling to transport slaves. The first person tried and convicted under the Act would not be for over 3 years, in which John Brown of Rhode Island lost his boat. In 1798, Congress went a step further to place a PER slave fine of a then-astronomical $300 on people convicted. Personally, as I read these, I find it quite odd that there was so much legislation, attention and general opposition to slavery in general for the whole of the time of its institution, yet it was allowed to last for so long in spite of. The act would be modified several times over the course of its effectiveness, receiving even an upgrade even

March 21 -- Extra P

Those who love hip hop like I love hip hop know who the Extra P is... To those who don’t, take a moment on Google and Youtube to familiarize yourself. Today happens to be his 39 th birthday. Rather than bog the proceedings down with a bio that you can find on 50 different sites, I will let a video tell this one and call it a day.

March 20 -- The Vaction Home of Someone's Uncle Thomas

March 20… This is ironically hilarious. Today, in 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe published Uncle Tom’s Cabin, an anti-slavery novel that is said to be what led to the Civil War and with it, the end of slavery in America… What’s so ironic about that? Well, last week, ESPN aired “The Fab 5” documentary, in which Jalen Rose explained that the 18 year-old Jalen thought that black Duke players were “uncle Toms” Furthermore, Duke and Michigan – where Jalen played his own college ball – played a game in the NCAA tournament today as well. So now you can see how this could be both ironic and funny. Anyway, the book became the best-selling novel of the 19 th century. The focus of the story was the fictional Uncle Tom at the center of the story. From there, it explains the cruelties of slavery and presents the hypocrisy of a culture of love (Christianity) nurturing such a culture. [ Phlip note – at least that is how I took it] Anyway, the story progresses where Tom i

March 19 -- "Glory Road"

For those too lazy to read words and shit, start here and continue through your torrents until you have watched the movie... Anyway… On today’s date in 1966 – 7 years to the day prior to the birth of my older sister – Texas Western University, who you all know as University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) won the national championship against the University of Kentucky. What, ask you, does this have to do with black history? well… Black people LOVE basketball And… UTEP was the first southern university to integrate its athletics programs, and in turn became the first to GO AFTER black players… In 1966, this all came to a head with Don Haskins fielded an all-black basketball team and THEY won the national championship. Look, I know that an all black team is EXPECTED to take it all in 2011, though it just won’t happen these days. HOWEVER In 1966, I don’t even think black people could VOTE yet. [ Phlip note – wait, just one year removed… thanks, Google!] Back to the

March 18 -- Let me see your ID... wait, nevermind

Those who are inclined to refer to themselves as “activists” – and by “activists,” I mean the people who actually get off their asses and do shit instead of the passive aggressive type who sit on Twitter and berate people until their subject of ire loses interest and does something more important – knew what this post was about at the first lining. The whole “let me see your ID” was one of the reasons that people had such an issue with Apartheid in South Africa… People, most often black, were questioned and asked for their identification for little to no reason, then treated worse than I treat Bruiser when I come home to find a warm pseudo-chocolate treat on my floor when I come in from work. [ Phlip note – I whoop his ass and put him in a smallish cage] All this in the name of segregation, which was allowed to exist in South Africa under legal pretenses until 1992… Officially, the policy was called “Apartheid,” and was far more daunting than anything one might

March 17 -- Streetsweepers

Did y’all know that there was once a time where all that shit you threw out of your horse-drawn carriage had to be swept and cleaned up by actual people? Yeah, I know it seems weird to me too, but prior to March 17, 1896, when C. B. Brooks designed and patented the street sweeper, which attached brushes to trucks and at least pushed the stuff to the side of the roads, making trampling of workers less common. “just what in the blue hell does that have to do with black history?” Seriously, if you had to ask that, then you’re too far gone for me to help you. C.B. Brooks was a black dude. As ever, I couldn’t find much about him, so let us not look for his bio here today. Mr. Brooks, we salute you on behalf of the city workers the world over!


Terrible reality TV programming and being an individual who can draw out “too far man, too far…” jokes even in a roast, one must stand aside and see that Flav was an integral part of an influential group of individuals in hip hop. The hypeman/sometimes-rapper/comic-relief member of Public Enemy, we initially knew him for his adlibs randomly placed in the middle of songs – most especially “YEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAH BOYEEEE!!!” if we know nothing else of him. Some of us remember other things like “911’s a Joke” and--… well hell, I can’t think of another song of his that I could make myself listen to if I had to do so right now. Beyond that, he became famous for his bastardization of the “dating reality show” mold that was initially used on The Bachelor and has now become VH1’s go-to move. It was so much to the point where one contestant that lost on his show, then TWO that lost on HER show got identical shows of their own – two EACH at that(!?) And as I understand it, as the one who brainsto

March 15 -- A Black Newspaper in Los Angeles

On today’s date in 1933 the Los Angeles Sentinel was founded… This is a black history fact because that makes it the longest-running and most influential black-run newspaper in the Western US that it’s 125,000 readers actually PAY to read. Started by Col. Leon Washington at a time where black readers would surely NOT find things of interest to them in conventional newspapers. While I am sure that the approach has had to be massaged a bit for new-millennia viability, the same COULD be said for it as it relates to current times as well. Not that I expect my couple of readers in the LA area to read newspapers. See, I know most (all but one) of them through internets interaction as it were, I am going purely on my source material on this one in the statement that the Sentinel is a “staple for black life in Los Angeles.” As it were, that is said to be the focus of the paper, so that is the audience catered to. Yet, I THOUGHT I’d heard nothing of it until I began looking for something to use

March 14 -- Slave work became a bit easier...

Wait, what? March 14, 1794… Eli Whitney secured the patent for the Cotton Gin, which quickly and easily performed the task of separating the cotton fibers from the seed from whence they came. “well what in the great blue hell does this have to do with black history?” Well… Slaves, and then indentured servants, and THEN sons/grandsons of those indentured servants did this work in the state where my roots are seated. Speaking of sons and grandsons, my own grandfather dropped out of high school, to join the army and come back to finish that AND college to avoid this future. Hell, his brother left the fucking mule in the field and left to go to DC for the same reason. Fun fact: the cotton that your drawz are made of are basically of the “flower” of the cotton plant. Funner fact: that “flower” is damn near as thorny – and a WHOLE lot more leathery – than the hulls around a ROSE. With fun facts behind us (or above us, as the na

March 13 -- Happy Born Date, Common

Fun fact: Lonnie Rashid “Common” Lynn is one of my favorite rappers, if only based upon his second, third and 5 th albums. Funner fact: Lonnie Rashid “Common” Lynn is one of my LEAST favorite ACTORS, if only based upon his performances (or lack thereof) in EVERY movie has been in would be the reason why. I remember when I was in 7 th grade, rushing home to see I used to love H.E.R. on Rap City with Joe Claire and Big Lez on BET (when that station mattered) every day. I remember buying the CD and learning every word of it, then losing it and having to wait 8 years to buy it because it was out of print. I remember buying One Day it’ll All Make Sense ON the day it released (record store was a mile from my highschool) . I bought the next albums on their respective release dates, though I only loved one of them, and just tolerated The Electric Circus ... Anyway, through all of these, and the budding of an acting career, One Day… remained my favori

March 12 -- Benjamin Banneker and Pierre Charles L'Enfant Commissioned to design DC

This is only a one-half black history fact, as only Banneker was black, L’Enfant was a Frenchie. Anyway… On today’s date in 1791, President George Washington commissioned L’Enfant – with whom Benjamin Banneker worked on the project – with the task of designing the 10 square-mile spit of land of Federal territory that was to be the nation’s capital. As legend has it, the Frenchie was less than diligent in handing in his homework, and in such was failed out of the course by the president. Having handed in nor published NONE of his work, one could say that the capital city was up shit creek (or the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, as it were) without a paddle. This is where Banneker becomes the “man who saved Washington,” when he purportedly spent two days completely reconstructing the majority of the plans from memory. The story has it that these plans were what were eventually became the blueprints that became the capital city. This is a bit embellished, as Banne

March 11 -- "A Raisin in the Sun"

March 11, 1959... Lorraine Hansberry’s play opened in the Barrymore Theater starring Sidney Poitier and Claudia McNeil in the starring spots. At 530 showings, it was the longest-running black-written production in Broadway before or since it. ( Phlip note – how GREAT is it that it was this and not some Tyler Perry bullshit?) I could go in on the remakes of the play, I will be honest that I NEVER heard of it until Mrs. Mewborn’s class in 5 th grade, when we watched the made-for-TV 1989 version she recorded on VHS (HA! remember those?) and we watched over the course of 2 days in class. As it were, as with any of my pop-culture jokes that are carefully woven in the jokes that are in-person conversations with me, I have a few go-to moves from this production. ( Phlip note – a conversation with me in person goes a LOT like my blogs, foul language and all, just imagine I’m doing a lot of talking with my hands too) Back to the point, here… The original was nominated for four To

March 10 -- R.I.P. Harriett Tubman

Look, we know who she was and what she did. In being the lynchpin for the very actions that saw that which she was most strongly against actually put down – and WITHIN her lifetime, no less – she is one of the few black heroes that would see at least a portion of their dream (semi-pun totally intended) come to fruition. Well on today’s date in 1913, she passed away at the believed age of 93, though we know quite naturally that we would be fine to assume a “give or take” when discussing the ages of those born slaves. The sad part about this in 2011 terms is how people nowadays choose their “heroes” in the most bass-ackwards of manners. People are deified and damn near worshipped who do nothing, stand for nothing and are often not much more than some slick words and a pretty packaging. We really must start choosing our idols better, people.

March 9 -- "The Greatest Rapper of All Time Died on..." -Canibus

Look, the fact that I don't agree with the Canibus line, does not mean that I don't recognize Biggie's spot in the history of hip-hop. For the record, I do not possess the opinion that Tupac was the best ever either, but this post is not about that either. As it were, however, I know I was more of a Biggie fan than probably anyone in my high school - packed to the gills with 'Pac stans. I was more a fan of his ability to tell a story in a conversational manner, not relying on tricks to make his rhymes rhyme. Yes, I know there was a ton of drug/gun/sex talk, a great much of it probably fabricated, but what did I care? I was 17! I will go as far as to say I remember the very night it happened... The homie Damian threw a party (most epic one in all of high school) for the first weekend following his birthday, and his pops LEFT the house and let him do it. Being that Damian and I lived on the same street, I walked to and from the party. Well, I kinda stumbled home at 3somet

March 8 -- "African Slavery In America," the article

This article was written in 1774 (yes, BEFORE the revolution) and published on March 8, 1775, (ALSO before the revolution). It was initially published in the Pennsylvania Journal and the Weekly Advertiser. While Thomas Paine did not claim to have written the anonymously-submitted article, he has since been credited with its scribe. I am of the opinion that he is so credited because of his involvement with anti-slavery movements that began popping up the following month. The text of the article, as found here thanks to the good folks over at Google, reads… To Americans: That some desperate wretches should be willing to steal and enslave men by violence and murder for gain, is rather lamentable than strange. But that many civilized, nay, Christianized people should approve, and be concerned in the savage practice, is surprising; and still persist, though it has been so often proved contrary to the light of nature, to every principle of Justice and Humanity, and even good policy, by a

March 7 -- From Selma to Montgomery... "Bloody Sunday"

Look, I know we all (should) at least know about the Selma to Montgomery marches of 1965. The fact remains, however, that it was the best representative black history item relevant to my interests with the date of March 7th. Born of the Voting Rights Movement, and with the support of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. and his organization, who would bring prominent support to the effort. The planning of the event took place in the face of injunctions against “civil rights activity,” with meetings that could be considered as ‘rogue’ when considering the (unfair) laws that they defied. … but they pushed on… Voter registration drives and protests commenced over the months leading up to the marches in several counties surrounding Selma as well. At one of these – non-violent, mind you – demonstrations, state troopers attacked the crowd gathered, and one man was shot trying to protect his mother as they fled. He would die a week later And now it was time to march from Selma to Montgomery. The

March 6 -- Scott v Sanford

As ever, I know that this is one we have been beaten in the head with as far as items to cover for black history is concerned, but the other options were an unfunny black comedian (D.L. Hughley) and a basketball player who has been out of my good graces for 7 years now (Shaquille O’Neal). So… On March 6, 1856 the US Supreme Court ruled that people of African descent imported into the United States as slaves (or THEIR progeny, whether or not they themselves were slaves) had no protections under the Constitution and therefore had no rights as citizens. Also, congress had no authority to stop slavery in federal territories and since slaves were not to be citizens, due process applied not to them, and they could not sue in court. Speaking of due process, however, slave OWNERS – owner being the operative word here – were protected in that their slaves were viewed as property and therefore could not be taken without due process. What is funny about Dred Scott is th

March 5 -- The first person to die in the American Revolution

Look, I know that anyone reading this SHOULD know the name immediately upon reading the title, we were killed to death with that during black history month in school. What we did not know, however, was the date. At least I wasn't, not without researching for this post. Crispus Attucks – a VERY slave-ish name – was believed to be in his 40s when he was the first person shot to death by British redcoats in the Boston Massacre. he is held as a martyr of the American Revolutionary War, with which there IS no America. As ever, with black “heros,” even those only famous for dying, his history is an amalgamation of “little is known” and “well, we still argue over his race… was he a slave, freedman or escapee. Hell, we think he may have had a little Indian in him too!” See the ramp-up to the election of one Barry Obama for continuation of the effectiveness of diminishing the blackness of someone who cannot be denied. Ironic that the prevailing truth that fl

March 4 -- Maxwell "Grand Puba" Dixon

You know how important the memory of things that meant a lot to you as a kid are when you’re adult? That is where today’s post comes from. I mean, the fact remains that Brand Nubian’s albums were only a little more than mediocre – say “pretty good,” I might – but there was ALWAYS that one song that would stick to your conscience. As I type that sentence, the real fans among us are simultaneously remembering 3 or 4 of those songs. Punks Jump Up… All For One Slow Down and for those who acknowledge Puba’s solo career… 2000 One thing they always say with musicians of any sort is that it is not so much what is said as it is the voice used to say it. Some of what Grand Puba and Brand Nubian advocated or spoke on (mainly the Islam-based subject matter) might have them on a no-fly list in 2011. It seemed more in the late 80s/early 90s that it was all about the music, and beats that could jar your fillings and the above-named catchy tunes and hooks were what the doctor ordered. So why am I

March 3 -- "Cant we all just get along?"

March 3, 1991... Motorist and (then alleged) drug user Rodney King is spotted speeding on the 210 in LA, and – by his own admission – RUNS at speeds of up to 117mph, for fear that a DUI would violate his parole for a prior case. Off of the freeway, the chase continued through surface streets, now having taken on several more black-and-whites and some choppers. Cornered, King stopped and he and his compadres were ordered from the car and complied. King, on the other hand remained in the car initially and (according to officers) acted strangely when he finally did step out. Cops converged on him with guns drawn, but put them away and tried to take him down with hands only, but they say he resisted. Superhuman strength, mixed with the previous odd behavior, led the patrol officers to think that Rodney King was dusted, but toxicology tests prove otherwise. At this point, another officer ordered the others away, and King allegedly yelled “DON’

March 2 - Recontruction begins in the USofA

With the end of the Civil War, the task of reassembling the country – this time in a slavery-free configuration – was squarely on the shoulders of the United States Congress… On this day in 1867, the first of the Reconstruction Acts was passed. The others would come over the course of the following year and one month that followed and lived on in spite of President Andrew Johnson’s attempt to veto the acts. We can thank Congress for killing Habeas Corpus and, with it, The Supreme Court’s appellate power over a case such as this one. I ALMOST stopped short of saying WHY this is relevant to black history, but I think it should be obvious in exactly what the points of the act contained. § Creation of five military districts in the seceded states not including Tennessee, which had ratified the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and was readmitted to the Union (so they couldn’t get cute and try that bullshit again) § Requir

March 1 -- Civil Rights act signing, first attempt

(silly graphic retired until next February) On today's date in 1875, Congress approved the Civil Rights Act , which granted equal rights to people, guaranteeing that everyone - regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude - were entitled to the same treatment in "public accommodations" (lodging, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other entertainment venues, for those who don't read English good) . Under this, if found guilty, one would face a penalty of between $500 and $1,000 and/or 30 days to 1 year in prison. As one might expect by its timing, the law was rarely enforced, especially after the 1876 presidential election and withdrawal of federal troops from the South. In the 1883 Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3 (1883), the Supreme Court deemed the act unconstitutional on the basis that Congress had no power to regulate the conduct of individuals. The Fourteenth Amendment prohibits discrimination by the state, not by individuals. Fret

Black History Month; Extended

At the suggestion of my mother and the confirmation of the idea at the hands of a good friend, I am going to CONTINUE the black history posts on beyond the month of February. I will ATTEMPT to take this all the way for the whole of one year’s worth of posts, but we know that sometimes time and complacency become a draw on creative juices. That said, the approach will be largely the same, presenting a historical event/birth/death of someone brown as it relates to black in America people, but not necessarily ones that you are bludgeoned to shit with in school. And I will be doing it without the silly graphic from here on, at least until next February. Also, I will be back to more of my normal postings as well, again time permitting. Wish me luck!