Wednesday, February 27, 2019

It was a great time with Chauncey Robinson, social media editor of People's World, in Connecticut February 21 to 25, 2019.  In case you missed, here are some links:

Tom Ficklin Radio Show Monday, February 15
https://tomficklin.blogspot.com/2019/02/tom-ficklin-radio-show-with-chauncey-k.html?m=1&fbclid=IwAR1HXXU8ojNT14rgmz4UIKHqZ8Yfwlq6elS5f6cnlxA5lo4keMEutUYH3yM

Richard Hill Radio Show "Straight Talk" airs Tuesday March 5 
 https://soundcloud.com/wpkn895/chauncey-robinson-straight-talk

People's World article New Haven Residents to Yale: Fulfill Your Jobs Promise
https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/new-haven-residents-to-yale-university-fulfill-your-jobs-promise/

People's World article Black History: The Great Migration Then and Now
https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/black-history-the-great-migration-then-and-now/

 Full text of "The Great Migration: Then and Now" speech to Hartford and New Haven 45th People's World African American History Month events
https://ctpeoplebeforeprofits.blogspot.com/

Chauncey Robinson's Remarks to The Great Migration: Then and Now events

Chauncey K Robinson, social media editor of People's World spent five days in Connecticut where she was guest speaker at the 45th People's World African American history Month events in Hartford and New Haven, "The Great Migration: Then and Now".  She also appeared on two radio shows and visited Nelson Pinos in sanctuary.  Following are her remarks to the two events:

The Narrative of Struggle and Resistance
By: Chauncey K. Robinson

I’m happy to be joining here with you all today to celebrate Black History month and within that, the resilience of a people. As someone who helps in writing stories for a living, both fiction and non-fiction, I think narrative is very important. The stories we push to be told can greatly influence the movements of today.

It’s important to make the connection to the struggles we’ve been through in the past to the trials and tribulations we face today, not only as individuals, but as a movement of peoples, cultures, and histories, intertwining towards what is hopefully a brighter and stronger future together.

The quote on the flyer for this event from the famous Civil Rights activist Ella Baker says, “We who believe in freedom cannot rest,” and that is because our journey is a long one, but a righteous one.

We are in turbulent political times. We currently have a president and White House administration that is focused on emboldening a base fueled by hatred, bigotry, fear, and paranoia.

Through outright, not so subtle, racist rhetoric, the current administration has continued to paint a picture of an America (and a world) deeply divided. Painting a false picture that only a certain group of people deserve protection, just rights, job security, and a fulfilling way of life. Through continued lies, hateful rhetoric, and fake government emergencies, many people, especially working people of color, have seen an upheaval and threat to our ways of life.

According to an analysis from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, over the past four years, the number of hate crimes reported to police have continued their dramatic rise—reaching the highest level the United States has seen in a decade. There has been a reported 17 percent increase in hate crimes from the previous year alone.

Trump and his administration have constantly tried to scapegoat real issues plaguing working people, such as poverty, unemployment, and a growing wealth gap, on the idea of the ‘other’- which is usually coded language for people from marginalized groups.

Most recently we’ve seen this with the targeted attack on the rights of undocumented people living in the United States. Fake emergencies are being called to build a Wall that will do nothing to solve any of the systemic issues in this country, while children are torn away from their families, resulting in traumatizing experiences that will forever haunt them.

Yet, this targeting of the ‘other’ is not a new strategy or tactic by those that seek to oppress and exploit people of color and working people as a whole. The very struggle of Blacks in this country has been one of combating, and rising above, adversity and severe exploitation.

From the days of brutal slavery, to the Great Migration where over six million African-Americans moved out of the rural South in order to find new economic stability, all the way to now where the fight against systemic racism continues, the story of Black people in this country serves as a symbol for hope, courage, and resilience in the face of oppression.

It is a narrative that we, those who advocate for equality and true freedom, must take ownership of, and promote, in the face of ‘fake news’ and rhetoric that seeks to make us forget our past struggles and triumphs.

They want us to forget, because they hope we won’t stay diligent in not only the fight for our equality, but the fight for the freedom and justice for all, including those part of their own great migration now, seeking a chance for safety, security, and a better way of life here in the United States.

Since the theme of the event is The Great Migration then and now in relation to Black History month, as a journalist who focuses on culture and art, I wanted to bring highlight to one of the great movements born out of the Great Migration of African Americans in the early 1900s. That being the Harlem Renaissance.

Spanning throughout the 1920s, the Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual, social, and artistic explosion that took place in Harlem, New York. It was known as the "New Negro Movement". One of the things this movement included was the new Black cultural expressions across the urban areas as African-American made their way out of the South into the Northeast and Midwest United States.

Harlem was the city in which the largest chunk of that migration ended up. The feeling of many historians is that the Harlem Renaissance was considered to be a rebirth of African-American arts.

To first put it into perspective as to why the Great Migration occurred, that gave birth to the Harlem Renaissance, it’s essential to understand the disenfranchisement that African-Americans were going through after the attack on, and eventual defeat of, Radical Reconstruction. Events don’t happen in vacuums.

Radical Reconstruction is the time period after the Civil War when freed enslaved African-Americans were gaining rights and representation in government. This was combated and attacked by the ideals of white supremacy that sought the continued disenfranchisement of Blacks, post-slavery.

This gave way to the rigid segregation system that we know as Jim Crow. Black communities were terrorized by the KKK, other white supremacist organizations, and lynch mobs. Because of this continued assault on their rights and safety in the South, many African Americans made their way to what they hoped would be greener pastures in the North, Midwest, and Western states.

Yet, the experiences of brutality, the failure of Reconstruction, and the hope for true democracy didn’t leave those that migrated. This goes back to not forgetting our history and experiences, but taking hold of them, and giving voice and space to our experience.

There were many groundbreaking works that would dare to show the complexity, layers, and nuance of the African American experience during this era.

Such as the ground breaking “Three Plays for a Negro Theatre” by white playwright Ridgely Torrence that gave Black actors the space to convey complex, fleshed out, characters on stage that went beyond Blackface and minstrel shows- that often depicted crude stereotypes of African Americans.

Claude McKay, Jamaican writer and poet, wrote the political sonnet If We Must Die in 1919, that spoke to the fighting spirit of Black people taking charge of their struggles and combating oppression. The Harlem Renaissance put a spin on many influential institutions that were part of African American life and culture.

Such as religion. American painter, illustrator and visual arts educator, Aaron Douglas, often used his artwork to display Christian stories infused with Black people, infusing this biblical imagery with Black struggle.

Music told the stories of Black pain and triumph. Billie Holiday, the great “Lady Day,” an American jazz singer whose famously brought mainstream attention to the haunting song Strange Fruit which talked about American racism, and the lynching of African Americans. Holiday once noted in her biography about the groundbreaking song: “It reminds me of how Pop [her father] died. But I have to keep singing it, not only because people ask for it, but because twenty years after Pop died, the things that killed him are still happening in the South.”

It was Holiday’s insistence to keep singing this song that put her on the rader of the notorious FBI racist Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner for the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who would go on the hunt for Holiday seeking to destroy her career and livelihood, mainly because she refused to stay silent through her art.

Great American poet, novelist, and activist, Langston Hughes used his writing to explore Black identity, and also the topic of sexuality and homophobia. Hughes’ essay The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain in 1926 called for Black artists and creators to stand in the truth of their identity, rather than trying to aim to please white sensibilities and “mainstream” audiences.

It should be understood that during this time, the north, midwest, and western states weren’t some sort of utopia for Black Americans who made the migration. Racial tensions remained, oppression remained, race riots occurred, and the ideals of white supremacy still threatened the ways of life of African Americans and persons of color all over the U.S.

What’s to understand from the Harlem Renaissance is that within that continued struggle, art and resistance continued to produce a movement that is part of the foundation we stand on today.

Organizations that fought for true democracy and equality were active during this era as well. W.E.B DuBois, leading American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, and greatly associated with the Harlem Renaissance, was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

During this era the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) played a key role in the labor movement, and the rights of workers in organizing unions and a strong labor force. Which is of course connected to the struggle of African-Americans during the Great Migration to find stable work and livable wages. Something we still deal with today.

It was inspiring to get into Connecticut and attend the Town Hall meeting on Thursday in New Haven, as hundreds of residents continued to hold the largest employer in the city of New Haven, Yale University, accountable on their agreement to employ local residents. Even Yale’s agreement to do so three years ago came about through the pressure put on them by the community to do better by the people. Fights like this are in the vein of a long history of the fight for stability and livable wages.

During the late 1920s the CPUSA helped to organize "Upper Harlem Council of the Unemployed." This nationwide day of action against unemployment brought 500,000 people into the streets. The CPUSA led the way during the infamous case of the Scottsboro Boys--nine young Black men charged in 1931 with rape. The CPUSA, along with the NAACP, worked for the young men’s defense, and against their racist convictions.

Progressive journalism during this period advocated for equality, true democracy, and namely the protection of the rights of African Americans. The official publication for the NAACP, The Crisis, came about during this era in 1910, with one of the founders being W.E.B. DuBois.

Three of the principles of The Crisis was, and remains, "to battle tirelessly for the rights of humanity and the highest ideals of democracy. To tell the world the facts. To expose injustice and propose solutions. To speak for ourselves.”

The predecessor for the People’s World, the publication I’m on the editorial board of, was also leading the way on journalism for struggle, as The Daily Worker. The publication, founded in 1924, was often one of the first publications that wasn’t predominately Black, that reported on issues concerning people of color, namely African Americans.

The Daily Worker reported on such cases as that of William Bell, a murdered African American man, and his family’s fight for justice. This was a lynching that took place in Chicago.

In 1944 The Daily Worker was the first non-predominately Black publication to report on the case of Recy Taylor. A young Black women fighting for justice after being raped by white men. The Daily Worker interviewed Recy, and gave her a platform to tell her story.

Spreading our narrative to the world, and giving a voice to our struggle and our victories is essential. This is what the Harlem Renaissance was able to do in reflecting the time of the first Great Migration back in the early 1900s.

We continue that today, as art, stories, and movements are building in defense of the the Great Migration immigrant workers are doing now, and the continued fight for racial and economic justice for all today.

As we go into the next election year, we see that great strides have been made. Historic happenings have occurred. Such as an unprecedented amount of women, particularly women of color, even more specifically Black women, are running for public offices, and winning.

In 2017 a number of Black women took political offices, and we’ve seen a continued emergence of Black women taking the center of the public political arena, such as Stacey Abrams, to demand equality and justice for all. Representation that looks like us is important, and we not only elect those that support our struggles, but elect ourselves to tell our stories, and lead the way for true democracy.

None of this today would be possible, if not for the fights of our past. It influences our present, and how we will learn from it shall determine our future.

As Civil Rights leader Rev. Dr. William Barber, of the Poor People’s Campaign, which builds on the Poor People’s Campaign of the 1960s, has said, we must “challenge the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy, ecological devastation, and the nation’s distorted morality.”

As voter suppression, often targeted towards communities of color runs rampant, it is important to understand that we have less voting rights today than when the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which we fought for, was passed.

The voter suppression that happened in Georgia, and other states in the recent midterm elections, is connected to a larger anti-democratic effort underway across the country. The rights of voters have been under attack since the removal of a major provision in the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court in 2013. This provision required that lawmakers in states with a history of discriminating against voters of color had to get federal permission before changing voting rules. Since the removal of this provision, thus the gutting of the Voting Rights Act many of these same states have implemented stricter voter registration rules, often targeting voters of color.

Systemic Racism is still going. Legislative actions and legal decisions at the federal and state levels has restricted the ability of people of color—especially poor Black people, Latinx, and Native Americans—to participate in the democratic processes.

The so called “tough on crime” politics has led to increased policing of working poor communities, along with a tenfold increase in annual spending on prisons since 1976. Prisons, as we know, have become the new form of modern slavery, as Blacks, Latinos, and people of color are placed in prison at a higher disproportionate rate than their white counterparts.

Federal spending on immigration, deportation, and border policies has increased from 2 billion to 17 billion dollars, while deportations has increased tenfold between the years 1976 and 2015.

Nearly 41 million Americans live below the federal poverty line.

But we’ve fought this before, and we can win again. It is through this understanding of past battles and victories that we keep in the forefront what we are deserving of now, and what we have always been capable of achieving.

We fought against Jim Crow and severe oppression, but the fight continues. And it’s through solidarity, and the joining together of peoples struggles that we’ll build a bridge forward. We must hold dear to our history and our stories, and continue to speak on, the horror and the hope.

As one of my favorite writers, authors and anthropologist, Zora Neale Hurston, who was also a staple of the Harlem Renaissance, once said, “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” We must give voice to our pain, our struggles, and our victories.

Black History month is every month. Black History is American history. Don’t let them tell you different. We celebrate and learn from our history, to continue to fight for our future.
Thank you.


Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Great Migration: Then and Now


The Great Migration: Then and Now
45th People's World African American History March and Celebration
Guest Speaker: Chauncey K Robinson

"The Great Migration: Then and Now -- Fleeing Terror, Searching for Jobs and Equality," is the theme of the 45th People's World African American History Month celebration on Sunday, February 24, 2019 in New Haven. The day includes a march, arts and writing competition, guest speaker, drumming and dance.

To kick of the march, Pastor Bette Marks will tell her story, like the many African American families in New Haven who trace their roots in the city, during the great migration from the South in the 1930's and 40's when companies like Winchester recruited workers to come up from North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia. They were fleeing Klan terror and looking for a better life.

Stories will also be told of the migrants from Central American countries coming to New Haven and the United States today, fleeing terror and economic devastation in their countries and hoping to find new opportunities for their families.

The "Jobs for Youth - Jobs for All" march will call on Yale to meet its signed commitment to hire from neighborhoods like Dwight, Dixwell, Newhall, Fair Haven and the Hill with high unemployment. The march leaves the New Haven Peoples Center, 37 Howe Street, at 2:30 pm and will wind through the Dwight neighborhood to Troup School, 259 Edgewood Avenue, for the 4:00 pm program.

Guest speaker Chauncey K. Robinson, journalist and social media editor of peoplesworld.org from Los Angeles, California believes that writing and media, in any capacity, should help to reflect the world around us, and be tools to help bring about progressive change. She says she seeks to make sure topics that affect working class people, peoples of color, and women are constantly in the spotlight.

The program will include drumming by Brian Jarawa Gray and African dance with Ice the Beef.

Prizes and acknowledgments of entries to the Arts and Writing Competition grades 8 to 12 will be presented. Students are asked to reflect in artwork, essay, poetry, rap or song about grandparents or great grandparents who came up from the South in the past, or about someone who came up from Latin America or elsewhere recently. "What did they find? How can we continue the struggle for good jobs and equal rights to fulfill the dreams of those who came and made New Haven home?  What are your dreams for a better life?" Entry deadline is February 14. For information visit ctpeoplebeforeprofits.blogspot.com or e-mail ct-pww@pobox.com

During the Great Migration (1916 to 1970), six million African Americans left the South. They moved to cities like New Haven in the North and the West. They were fleeing discrimination, lynchings, denied rights and a lack of jobs. They were searching for a better life for themselves and their children.

As they settled they found that segregation and racism were not just in the South. The migration gave rise to the Civil Rights Movement and before that to the art, literature and music of the Harlem Renaissance that stirred the country and the world.

Artist Jacob Lawrence created a series of paintings about the Great Migration in 1940. He said, "And the migrants kept coming...their struggles and triumphs ring true today. People all over the world are still on the move, trying to build better lives for themselves and for their families."

In 2018 famed activist and scholar Angela Davis said, “I believe that the major civil rights issue of the 21st century is the issue of immigrant rights.”

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

MLK Keynore: How to Survive a Shutdown


"Fifty years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, hate and fear are celebrated from the White House and seats of power and greed is extolled as good," decried Pastor Kelsey Steele at Varick Memorial AME Zion Church during a service and rally sponsored by New Haven Rising.

"I am tired of political theater. Trump wants a wall. We need a bridge. We have to unite and mobilize and educate people there is power in the vote," Steele emphasized.

"Progress report," said Steele. "Forty percent of the population in New Haven lives in low income neighborhoods and holds only four percent of the living wage jobs in this City."

"We are facing challenges associated with segregated development in our city and state." said Steele.

Tyisha Walker Myers, chief steward of Local 35 Unite Here at Yale, and president of the New Haven Board of Alders urged everyone to come to City Hall on February 21 for a public hearing at which Yale has been asked to present employment numbers.

April 1, 2019 is the deadline for the University to meet the agreement it signed in 2015 to hire 1,000 people who live in New Haven including 500 people who live in low-income, largely Black and Latino neighborhoods.

Steele linked the jobs struggle at Yale, New Haven's largest employer, to the national crisis, entitling his keynote call to unity and action, "How to Survive a Government Shutdown."

Addressing the long term struggle, Steele praised New Haven Rising as social justice warriors. "Where will we be on April 4, 2019, fifty-one years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr? We are on a path to move this city and country forward," he said leading the assembled in a passionate chant, "Jobs for Youth. Jobs for All."

The Connecticut legislature has enacted measures making available unemployment insurance and interest-free loans of up to $5,000 to federal workers during the shutdown and allowing towns to extend their property tax deadlines.

Emergency action and legislation is also required to bridge the gap for survival during the shutdown for thousands of Connecticut residents who rely on federal government administered SNAP for food security, WIC for their children's well being and Section 8 for housing.













Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Great Migration: Then and Now -- 45th People's World African American History Events


"The Great Migration: Then and Now -- Fleeing Terror, Searching for Jobs and Equality," is the theme of the 45th People's World African American History Month celebration on Sunday, February 24 in New Haven. The day includes a march, arts and writing competition, guest speaker, drumming and dance.

Some stories will be told of the many African American families in New Haven who trace their roots in the city to the great migration from the South in the 1930's and 40's when companies like Winchester recruited workers to come up from North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia. They were fleeing Klan terror and looking for a better life.

Stories will also be told of the migrants from Central American countries coming to New Haven and the United States today, fleeing terror and economic devastation in their countries and hoping to find new opportunities for their families.

The "Jobs for Youth - Jobs for All" march will call on Yale to meet its signed commitment to hire from neighborhoods like Dwight, Dixwell, Newhall, Fair Haven and the Hill with high unemployment. The march leaves the New Haven Peoples Center, 37 Howe Street, at 2:30 pm and will wind through the Dwight neighborhood to Troup School, 259 Edgewood Avenue, for the 4:00 pm program.

Guest speaker Chauncey K. Robinson, journalist and social media editor of peoplesworld.org from Los Angeles, California believes that writing and media, in any capacity, should help to reflect the world around us, and be tools to help bring about progressive change. She says she seeks to make sure topics that affect working class people, peoples of color, and women are constantly in the spotlight.

The program will include drumming by Brian Jarawa Gray and African dance with Ice the Beef.

Prizes and acknowledgments of entries to the Arts and Writing Competition grades 8 to 12 will be presented. Students are asked to reflect in artwork, essay, poetry, rap or song about grandparents or great grandparents who came up from the South in the past, or about someone who came up from Latin America or elsewhere recently. "What did they find? How can we continue the struggle for good jobs and equal rights to fulfill the dreams of those who came and made New Haven home?  What are your dreams for a better life?" Entry deadline is February 14. For information e-mail ct-pww@pobox.com

During the Great Migration (1916 to 1970), six million African Americans left the South. They moved to cities like New Haven in the North and the West. They were fleeing discrimination, lynchings, denied rights and a lack of jobs. They were searching for a better life for themselves and their children.

As they settled they found that segregation and racism were not just in the South. The migration gave rise to the Civil Rights Movement and before that to the art, literature and music of the Harlem Renaissance that stirred the country and the world.

Artist Jacob Lawrence created a series of paintings about the Great Migration in 1940. He said, "And the migrants kept coming...their struggles and triumphs ring true today. People all over the world are still on the move, trying to build better lives for themselves and for their families."

In 2018 famed activist and scholar Angela Davis said, “I believe that the major civil rights issue of the 21st century is the issue of immigrant rights.”