I read Charles Blow’s withering statement of defiance to the incoming Trump administration and was pleased to see that an editorial columnist of his standing has taken such a committed stance of resistance based on a “moral obligation to do so.” All journalists should resist the ‘honeymoon’ with Trump and hold his feet to the fire with unsparing research and reporting. However, I am disturbed because I have not seen Mr. Blow’s fellow journalists take up the moral cudgel against the NY Times and its historic deference and service to the Central Intelligence Agency during and since the Cold War. As Carl Bernstein made clear in his 1977 Rolling Stone article castigating the Church Committee report on the Agency’s history of malfeasance, “By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA officials, have been with the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc.” (Carl Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media”) Trump called the Times “a great, great American jewel,” signifiying its former (and probably current) position as the crown jewel in the CIA’s media assets. More chilling is the incoming Republican’s wish, “And I hope we can all get along well” as it raises several questions that the artist and scholar-activist community should attend to: What will the press and the incoming president ‘getting along’ look like? How has the USG used the media to manufacture consent for its policies? Will it repeat the CIA’s use of the Fourth Estate as its echo chamber for conservative foreign policy? Will it drum up support for the extradition of dissidents like Assata Shakur, the Black Panther Activist falsely convicted of the murder of a NJ state trooper and who subsequently escaped to Cuba where she lives today? The Trump campaign’s position suggested that he would crackdown on the media. Will president Trump use these threats as leverage over a historically all-too compliant press?
As the CIA and Times shared history of manufacturing consent will show, advocates of self-determination and freedom for all, regardless of color, should be alarmed. In 1961, New York Times reporter Paul Hoffman–a WWII era Nazi agent– lent his voice and the gray lady’s gravitas to falsely condemn the emerging Congolese democracy under President Joseph Kasavubu and Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba. David Talbot relates that
The New York Times coverage of the Congo crisis had always been slanted against Lumumba, with columns and commentaries labeling him “inexperienced and irresponsible” and a “virtual dictator.” But Hofmann’s Congo coverage was so virulent in its bias that it seemed as if he were acting as a “psywar” conduit for U.S. intelligence. (Talbot, Devil’s Chessboard, p. 383)
Parroting the Eisenhower administration’s racist justifications for Lumumba’s assassination, the NYT continued its unquestioning support of the Dulles-Eisenhower hawkish line. Talbot (p. 238) relates that in 1957, “The New York Times took a similar celebratory line, calling Mossadegh “a rabid, self-seeking nationalist” whose “unlamented” disappearance from the political stage “brings us hope.”
Relative to the American National Security State including the CIA, President Trump has a lineage that should be noted. Trump’s mentor, Roy Cohn, worked both ends of the Mafia CIA connection by defending mafioso in lawsuits, by working for Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy’s purge of left-leaning government officials–a Red Scare, which disproportionately targeted Black public figures like Lena Horne, Benjamin Davis, Paul Robeson, and W.E.B. Du Bois. If Trump governs in a mold set by Nixon, his administration will be a ready-made trojan horse for the worst of America’s policy options relative to Black and Brown people:
Nixon grew into a potent political weapon for the Dulles group, a cunning operator who managed to accrue solidly conservative credentials with the Republican Party’s popular base while dependably serving the interests of the GOP’s privileged leadership class. Together, the Dulles circle and Richard Nixon would bring about a sharp, rightward shift in the nation’s politics, driving out the surviving elements of the New Deal regime in Washington and establishing a new ruling order that was much more in tune with the Dulles circle’s financial interests. Talbot, Devil’s Chessboard, p. 161)
Given our incoming President’s penchant for oligarchs like Putin, his resistance to surrendering control over his financial interests or to release his tax records, we can expect four years of opacity, mendacity and dirt-dealing that could make Allen Dulles and Tricky Dick jealous.
Fidel Castro (August 13, 1926 – November 25, 2016) is remembered in this discussion with long time international organizers Rosa Clemente, veteran scholar and activist and former Green Party Vice-Presidential nominee and Netfa Freeman currently with Pan-African Community Action (PACA) based in Washington, DC.
Are you interested in learning to speak an African language in a short period of time? Consider Morehouse College’s Wolof Summer Intensive Course, Elementary Wolof I (HMFL 101) from July 1 to July 15. This course will be taught Monday through Friday from 9:00 to 12:00 noon and from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. The professor who will be teaching this course is Dr. Mamarame Seck who is currently a professor of Wolof at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal. Dr. Seck has a Ph.D., in linguistics from the University of Florida and has taught at the University of North Carolina and Duke University. We are very fortunate to be able to have someone to teach the course with his qualifications. The course will offer three hours of credit and will meet the requirements of a full semester of the Wolof Language Program. In addition, Morehouse will be offering both Wolof 101 and Wolof 102 in the 2016/2017 academic year.
The tuition for the course will be $3,039.00. In order to audit the course the student will only have to pay $543 dollars for tuition and $54 dollars for an application fee. Please spread the word to all students who might be interested in learning the African language and participating in the spring term in our innovative African Diasporas Study Abroad Program.
“…Douglass returned to the Covey farm early on the Sunday, buoyed gingerly by the promise of Sandy’s (R)oot Magic.”
Histories of African identity and resistance are numerous and wrought with varying interpretations of the meaning and nature of that identity in Diaspora. This is a brief post sharing thoughts on a disparate pair of them: Randy J. Sparks’ Africans in the Old South: Mapping Exceptional Lives across the Atlantic World. (Harvard, 2016) and Nicholas Johnson’s Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms. (Prometheus, 2014). While Johnson’s work is clearly not, directly, about African diasporic identity, this yeoman’s text clarifies much about the roots and workings of African identity in North America and what measures were taken by those blessed with the mantle of Blackness to defend their persons and personhood. Johnson’s populist historiography and Sparks’ emphasis on exceptionalism proffers the idea that the too-seldom discussed life-narratives of those figures like Jarena Lee, Mariah Stewart, Hosea Easton, Moses Dickson and the under-acknowledged, Ida B. Wells-Barnett hold profound truths about the origins and functionality of Africanity as an identity that affirmed and defended Blackness as phenotype, and as forms of historical and cultural agency. We can see into Johnson’s chronotrope of the gun, the intelligence and consciousness that determined to defend its integrity at all costs against the worst provisions of America’s racist social contract. And in telling the story of Negroes and the Gun, we learn much more about the esteem in which Africanity was held than about martial fascination.
Sparks’ Africans in the Old South is of interest as it pushes past perceived generalizations on either side of the African-centered and Black Atlantic family feud on African identity. As he notes, surely, Ira Berlin’s “Charter generations” concept deserves round excoriation for its mestizaje ethnocentrism and sheer willingness to ignore sources on Black African agency and its role in forming the African diaspora. Sparks criticizes Berlin’s racial generalization used to promulgate a creole-centered concept, but does not see the diminution of African agency, (if not outright ‘attack’ on it in Stuckey’s eyes), as a major problem in his pursuit of establishing individual life narratives and individualist biographies of his Atlantic Creole Africans. In Sparks’ usage, “African” bears little to no epistemological power to denote cultural identity, it merely indicates “individuals born anywhere on that continent, not as a cultural identifier.” For Africana Studies scholars, this aspect of the book’s framework deserves critical review. As Stuckey noted of Berlin’s Generations in Captivity: A History of African American Slaves,
Berlin takes a concept originally meant for linguistic purposes, creolization, and applies it to culture as a whole. It is not only the stretching of the term beyond its original limits that concerns us, but the degrading stain that it carries… creolization has been “extended to animals, things, and processes: ‘sugar cane, rats, styles of cooking, among other things.” The inclusion of the term “rats” does not greatly disturb Berlin, who makes creolization a theoretical foundation of his book, conceding merely that “the term is thus mined with difficulties…”
Despite the book’s title, Sparks is not overtly committed to the goal of ensuring African agency, pursuing instead an ambiguous ‘reframing’ of African identity through biographical takes on individual life narratives. For example, the author notes that one of the protagonists, Robert Johnson, an enslaved Kissi man who was sold into Georgia and moved to Rhode island with his master would later join the African Baptist church in Boston after manumission upon his master’s death. While Sparks acknowledges that some “Historians have seen these institutions (e.g., churches), and their use of the term “African” in their titles, as evidence of an emerging African corporate identity,” he does not say that he counts himself in that group. This claim should not be a difficult task given,
“Johnson’s position as an officer in that church is important evidence of his conversion to Christianity and his own identification with an “African” identity that was more inclusive than his ethnic identity as a Kissi native.”
Through his use of primary sourcing, while disavowing any direct claim of an African-centered perspective, his individualist framework for telling the stories of the enslaved Africans—Robert Johnson, Dimmock Charlton—and biracial enslavers—Elizabeth Cleveland Hardcastle, her niece, Catherine Cleveland, John Holman and the Holman slave trading family—brings these figures’ lives into sharp relief, while achieving his aim of a more seamless integration of individual life narratives in dialog with context. Africans in the Old South is a worthwhile read as it contributes to agency-oriented historiographies of the African diaspora and models the rising importance of cultural and historical cartography in Africana Studies and the digital humanities. One only wishes that a scholar modeling African-agency in his research would not feel the need to disavow African-centeredness as a proper intellectual value in the pursuit of telling these too-seldom told life stories.
 A thorough critique of Berlin’s “Charter Generations is P. Sterling Stuckey’s “Reflections on the Scholarship of African Origins and Influence in American Slavery,” The Journal of African American History, Vol. 91, No. 4 P. Sterling Stuckey: In Praise of an Intellectual Legacy (Autumn 2006), pp. 425-443. (Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20064125).
 Randy J. Sparks’ Africans in the Old South: Mapping Exceptional Lives across the Atlantic World. (Harvard, 2016), p. 8.
Please consider the wonderful opportunity afforded by our brand new, New African Diasporas study abroad program. Morehouse College has collaborated with World Learning’s School for International Training (SIT) to develop an innovative study abroad program that will facilitate student exploration of the culture, history, religion, and business and social networks of the Mourides, a progressive Muslim movement founded by the revered Cheikh Amadou Bamba in 1883. Bamba’s brotherhood was the first nonviolent anti-colonial liberation movement in the modern era predating Mahatma Gandhi’s movement by at least a generation. The Mourides are a positive presence in cities in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas.
Under the leadership of Dr. Mansa Bilal King, 15-20 Morehouse students will be joined by a similar number of peers from other HBCUs and Traditionally White institutions for a 14-week semester abroad traveling to Senegal, Italy, China and New York City.
Students will travel to sites within each country while pursuing a 16 hour, 4 course load including the following:
Africana Muslims (African American Studies and Sociology)
Migration and Entrepreneurship (African American Studies and Business)
New African Diasporas: Frameworks and Fieldwork (African American Studies and Sociology)
Introductory Wolof I and II (AAS and Modern Foreign Languages)
For African American Studies majors and minors, all courses will count toward graduation requirements within the existing curriculum guidelines. All minors should see your major academic advisor for advice on counting these courses.
Morehouse College’s and World learning’s purpose in the New African Diasporas Program is to increase the percentage of students participating in study abroad from historically underrepresented demographic groups. In this case, African American males are the primary group addressed. All HBCU students are the next priority. The costs (roughly the cost of Morehouse tuition) and other details are available here: http://studyabroad.sit.edu/sn/programs/semester/spring-2017/adp/. Further information on how students may fund the program is available here: http://goo.gl/qSJnRB.
Please feel free to contact me, Dr. King or Director Coles about this wonderful program.
Samuel T. Livingston, Ph.D │MOREHOUSE COLLEGE│Director | African American Studies Program│830 Westview Drive, S.W.│ Atlanta, GA 30314 | 404.215.2750 (p) | firstname.lastname@example.org│http://www.morehouse.edu
Mansa Bilal Mark King, Ph.D│MOREHOUSE COLLEGE│ Associate Professor | Department of Sociology│830 Westview Drive, S.W.│ Atlanta, GA 30314 | 404.681.2800, ext. 2780| email@example.com│http://www.morehouse.edu
Answering the Call of Freedom: Moses Dickson and the Knights of Liberty Confront Slavery
S. T. Livingston, Ph.D.
In the heat of March, 1848, leading up to the Decade of crisis, a Black barber stood bent over the slumped person of a White slave owner reclining in his barber’s chair. Despite the extremely sharp straight-razor in the Black man’s right hand, the plantation owner continued his conversation with a colleague on the latest article in De Bows Review, a periodical dedicated to best practices and methods of slavery. The merits of phrenology of the enslaved at birth was the topic during this shave. Moses Dickson, now a master barber aboard the river steamboat, the Oronoco, leaned over the ‘gentleman farmer’s exposed neck stoically giving no indication that the conversation was taking place. His apprentice-ship under Mr. William Darnes early on taught him two priceless lessons: restraint and the lesson of what we may call ‘operative invisibility’—the ability to function in the presence of ‘mixed company’ while giving no indication of your perceptive presence. Distinct from the humor and poignancy that Samuel Clemmons and others would find on these riverboats, Moses Dickson, like many of the majority Black crew members saw the bloodstained markings of the Domestic Slave trade. They observed, suppressed their rage, but conspired to liberate of their people.
For over four years now, Dickson gave no indication of his plan, similar to that of John Brown to free his people and end slavery by any means necessary. According to his Manual of the Knights and Daughters of Tabor, his three years of travel took him throughout the South changed his life permanently, and committed him to the cause of Black freedom:
(He) witnessed such scenes of monstrous cruelty as caused his African blood to boil with suppressed indignation at the sight of the outrageous suffering of his people. What he saw in these three years made a lasting impression on his heart, and he became a life-foe to the slave-owner, the slave-driver and the slave-trader.
The year 1856 was a critical turning point in African American and American history. The nation was moving headlong toward division, torn by discord over the morality, ethics, politics and economics of Slavery—a profitable enterprise for White America, Peculiar Institution to some, the Evil Institution to others. Abolitionists of varied creeds and colors stepped up to oppose slavery. Among other events including the first attempted run of the largely abolitionist Republican party, the outbreak of Bleeding Kansas skirmishes over slavery and continuation of the final Seminole War (1855-58), which involved rebel Creeks and Gullah and Geechee runaways from the plantations of Georgia and South Carolina. Moses Dickson is one of the lesser known abolitionists and one whose story presents him, at once, as one of the most militant, ethical and pragmatic leaders in antebellum African American history.
Dickson was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on April 5, 1824 into a migrant family that had escaped slavery in Virginia. His life in that city mirrored the growth of the Black population there. As White Cincinnatians grew wary of the growing Black population—200 in 1820, but by 1829 2,258 people of color—they managed that growth through legal and social proscriptions and mob violence. By 1830, between 1,100 to 2000 Black people were forced to emigrate under punishment of imprisonment, which would likely mean (re)enslavement in nearby Kentucky, Tennessee, or worse: being sold down the river to enslavement in the rice swamps of South Carolina, Georgia or the Gulf coast states. Young Moses’ parents Robert and Hannah Dickson, are not listed as residents of Hamilton County, Ohio in the census of 1830. This omission speaks volumes the invisible or underground Black community in Cincinnati. His family was a part of this browbeaten underground community, which may have contributed to his committed and militant response to racist oppression. When he was eight years old, his father died; six years later, in 1838 his mother also died.
The premature death of Dickson’s parents is wholly consistent with the poor living conditions for Blacks in Ohio. While their condition must have been better than their enslaved brethren, it was by no means easy. Two years after Dickson’s birth, Whites formed a local chapter of the American Colonization Society, the “Cincinnati Colonization Society with 120 members, including many prominent citizens.” The ACS was committed to emigration of freed Black people back to Africa. While they had notable Black supporters, most Blacks did not choose to leave the land of their birth. In 1829, the Ohio legislature banned Blacks from attending its common schools and in 1838, it banned funding of Black education. In 1829 and in 1836, Dickson’s family witnessed serious attacks on the Black community. In the future abolitionist’s twelfth year, a race riot began in Cincinnati as a direct attack on the abolitionist newspaper, The Philanthropist, and its White editor, James G. Birney. After destroying Birney’s press, the mob spilled its destructive energies over into an African community called ‘Church Alley.’ Blacks drove the White mob back by firing small-arms into the crowd. After the mob abated, it regrouped and launched a second attack and the Black residents had to abandon their houses and leave the area. The mob destroyed the contents of the homes.
In 1840, he left the city at the age of sixteen to ply the profitable barbering trade on steamboats throughout the south. Similar to David Walker and other militant abolitionists of his era, Dickson saw martial action as the most effective means of ending slavery. He decided to organize in the interests of his race by calling on eleven cohorts whom he met in the course of his travels throughout the south—John Patton and Henry Wright from South Carolina; James Bedford and Silus W. Green from Mississippi; Irvin Hodges of Alabama; Peter Coleman and Willis Owens from Virginia; James Orr, Louisiana; Miles Graves of North Carolina; Henry Simpson from Georgia; and Lewis Williams from Tennessee. These men gathered in St. Louis, Missouri on August 12, 1846 at Seventh and Greene Street not far from the Mississippi river. We do not have the details of much of this history, but according to Dickson, the rebellion was planned for either December 25, 1856 or July, 1857. By 1856, ostensibly, his twelve cabalists had organized “47,000 Knights of Liberty, for the purpose of aiding in breaking the bonds of our slavery…” He continues, we expected to arrive at Atlanta with at least 150,000 well-armed men.” Interestingly, Dickson cancelled the rebellion in 1856 for unknown reasons, but most likely, the Bleeding Kansas episode and the steady reversals in the Third Seminole War, both of which heightened the militancy of the South. While we may never know why, we do know that his contributions helped to speed the end of the Evil institution.
Possibly inspired by others who resisted slavery, like abolitionists, David Walker, Frederick Douglass, and John Brown and rebels like Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, and the Seminole leader, Osceola, Dickson planned only one of the 313 slave rebellions in Black history. He and Brown planned to incite mass slave rebellions that would settle almost three centuries of debate over the right or wrong of the institution. To put it mildly, the extent of extreme measures to end slavery has been downplayed by conventional American history writing. But most notable in this year is the story of Moses Dickson and the Knights of Liberty. Dickson and his followers claimed to be at the center of the Slave Insurrection Scare of 1856-57; a claim consistent with the historical record, but unaccepted in general American historiography of the antebellum South. The documented existence of enslaved African resistance on plantations combined with guerrilla warriors based in maroon communities, (Seminole War and otherwise), demonstrates Black commitment to liberty and agency during this darkest hour of American history. Dickson’s narrative also adds to the history of principled leaders who answered the call for freedom.
 See Randall Burkett, et al. (ed.) Black Biography, 1790-1950: A Cumulative Index 2 vols., (Alexandria: Chadwyck-Healey, 1991), I: 353; J. J. Pipkin, The Story of a Rising Race: The Negro in Revelation, in History and in Citizenship (Baltimore: Thompson Publishing Company, 1902), 480; Dickson, Manual , 9. Patrick O’Connor, Assistant Marshal of St. Louis County, (Census Record of 1860, Schedule 1 – Free Inhabitants in the Third Ward of St. Louis City, MO, July 3, 1860, p. 182).
 Richard C. Wade, “The Negro in Cincinnati, 1800-1830.” J. of Negro History 34 (January 1954), 49.
 On the marginalization of Blacks in the North see C. G. Woodson, Free Negro Heads of Families in the United States in 1830; together with a brief treatment of the free Negro. (Washington, DC: The Association for the Study of Negro Life & History, 1925), liii; R. C. Wade, “The Negro in Cincinnati, 1800-1830.” J. of Negro History 34 (January 1954), 47; C. G. Woodson, “Negroes of Cincinnati Prior to the Civil War,” J. of Negro History 1, (1916), 2, 3.
Dickson, Manual (1922), p.11. Interestingly, Charles Dew, “Black Ironworkers and the Slave Insurrection Panic of 1856,” Journal of Southern History 41 (August 1975), 322, footnote 2 and Caleb P. Patterson in The Negro in Tennessee, 1790-1865. (New York: Negro Universities Press), 49-50 support Dickson’s dating of a general insurrection to December 25, 1856 or July, 1857.