Black History Fun Fact Friday – Benjamin Montgomery and a Word of Caution about Black History Memes

 

Welcome back to another Black History Fun Fact Friday.

Today, we are talking about how important it is for us not to let the dreams of our ancestors die. We are talking about picking up the mantel, reversing generational curses, and rededicating ourselves to our forefathers and fore-mother’s legacy. We are also talking about being careful with internet research and sharing disinformation, and we are doing it by looking at the life of one man, Benjamin Montgomery and his son Isaiah.

Benjamin Montgomery was born a slave in London Country VA in 1819 and was sold to a Mississippi planter named Joseph Davis. Davis was the older brother of Jefferson Davis who later served as President of the Confederate States of America. Montgomery was taught to read and write by Davis children and was tasked with running Joseph’s general store on Davis Bend plantation. Montgomery did so well that he was promoted to overseeing Joseph’s entire purchasing and shipping operations. Benjamin learned land surveying, techniques for flood control and the drafting of architectural plans. Montgomery was also a mechanic and an inventor but as an enslaved man, his inventions were denied patents. And even though Jefferson Davis made it a law to allow slaves to file patents, Montgomery’s inventions were still denied. But Montgomery’s inventions was not his only passions. Benjamin also had dreams of owning his own land.

After the end of the Civil War, Joseph Davis sold his plantation to Montgomery and his son Isaiah. Benjamin and Isaiah set out to fulfill Benjamin’s dream by using the land to establish a community of freed slaves but natural disasters ruined their crops and they were unable to pay off the loan to Davis. As a result, the land went back to Joseph and Montgomery died the following year.

Even though this is sad, it gets better. Isaiah (Montgomery’s son), did not let his father’s dream die. He purchased 840 acres of land along with a number of former slaves and founded the town Mound Bayou in Mississippi in 1887. You remember Mound Bayou right? It‘s the first all-black town of Mississippi I talked about it here back in 2016. Isaiah was named the town first mayor.

Be Careful with Black History Memes:

Before I leave you, I must share a word of caution. Since it’s “cool” to be “woke” now, I’ve been seeing a lot of disinformation about black history circulating on memes on social media. Sadly, a lot of these memes are not historically accurate. Hurricanes do not come from the spirits of “enslaved black women.” That’s not true, and that’s not where Hurricanes come from. There is one about Charles S.L. Baker that says that he invented heat. This is also not true. Charles S.L. Baker improved on the Friction Heater and was one of many who received a patent for it. He did not invent heat. Heat had already existed for thousands of years before S.L. was born. Additionally, the meme says the man next to him is his assistant. This is also not true. Some sources say this man is Charles’ brother but no one really knows who the other man is.

There is another meme out about this story that says Montgomery bought the land he was enslaved on. This is false. Montgomery did not buy the land as you have just read. The land was given to him on a loan and then it was taken back. The victory in this story is his son’s determination to pick up where his father left off and to establish a community for freed blacks. That is what this story is about. Isaiah paid attention to his father’s vision, and he dedicated himself to his father’s memory.

Our history is far too rich and deep to have to make stuff up. Please make sure you are fact-checking before spreading information and Wikipedia is not a credible source for research. Only use it when the information presented can be verified by another, credible, source.


The Road to Freedom is being revised and I am looking for readers to give me feedback on it before having it re-edited. Below is what the book is about, and a link to the book on Amazon. I have reduced the price to 99cents for those of you who would like to help me out! (I just changed it so if it’s not showing up yet as 99cents, please check back later.) Simply read the short book and get back to me with feedback and if you are willing, I’d also appreciate an honest review. Thanks so much!

About

Deeply concerned about the state of Black America, a fight with his brother compels a young Joseph to leave his mother’s house and join his friends for a trip to Atlanta for SNCC’s (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) second conference. Excited to live life on their own, Jo and his friends have left school and the lives they were living for a chance to become part of the movement. With no money and essentially no plan the seven friends, three black and four white, set out for the road when they are stopped by a racist cop who makes them exit the car. The teens are unaware that a mob of Klansmen also await them at the New Orleans bus terminal. Find out in the 3rd installment of the Stella Trilogy how Joseph and his friends discover the truth about themselves in the Jim Crow south on The Road to Freedom.

 

“Wow this was a Great Read!! The road to Freedom:Joseph’s story, may be set In the time frame of the early 60’s but its content is very relevant to today’s current events. The writer takes you on a journey through the eyes of a young man named Joseph. He and his friends begin down a road with only the hope of wanting to somehow help the fight for equality of “African Americans” and to stop the mistreatment they suffered under segregation and Jim Crow laws. They realize that this task would be harder than they imagined.” – Amazon Customer Review

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Black History Fun Fact Friday – The Short Violent Life of Robert “Yummy” Sandifer: So Young to Kill, So Young to Die.

On Wednesday, August 31, 1994, Yummy “Robert” Sadifier was shot in the back of the head with a .25 caliber pistol at a viaduct at 108th & Dauphin Avenue in Roseland, Chicago, IL. At 12:30 am police found him lying on dirt and bits of broken glass according to newspaper reports. They pronounced him dead at 2:20 am, on Thursday, September 1, 1994. He was the city’s 637th murder victim of the year.

On January 3, 1993, The Chicago Tribune ran a headline, “Killing Our children,” that read: “In 1992, 57 children age 14 or under were murdered in the Chicago area, felled by snipers, sacrificed by gangs, killed by parents. It was a year for burying the young.”

In early ‘94, when I was just in the second grade and we lived in the Robert Taylor Projects on Chicago’s south side, my uncle came to pick us up from school early because the gangs were at war and there was a lot of shooting. We had to run to our building, shielded by our uncle.

This is the kind of environment Yummy’s growing up in.

Robert “Yummy” Sandifer was born on March 12, 1983, the fourth of ten children born to Lorina Sandifer. His father, Robert Atkins, went to prison three months before he was born and Lorina was a prostitute who neglected her children, according to news reports. On January 19, 1986, they removed Robert Jr. from his mother’s home when police found him and his older siblings in the house alone. DCFS, the Department of Children and Family Services, intervened in August 1986 and turned Robert and his siblings over to their grandmother Jannie Fields. But a Cook County Probation Officer, according to Time Magazine, said that Field’s home was not a nurturing place for Robert. The young Robert found refuge in the streets among gang members as most young black males do who grow up poor, no family, no friends, no education and little opportunity. Yummy joined the gang and racked up a record too long for his young age.
  • January, ’92 – Arrested
  • July ’92 – Prosecuted for robbery, case dropped, witness doesn’t show
  • January ’93 – Attempted robbery, trying to steal jacket, witness doesn’t show, case dropped
  • May, ’93 – Attempted Robbery, key witness doesn’t appear
  • June, ’93 –  Robbery Charge, sentenced 2 yrs probation, he is only ten

Yummy was charged with 23 felonies and 5 misdemeanors in his short life. He was prosecuted on eight felonies and convicted twice; sentenced to probation – the most punitive penalty available under state law, at the time, for children under 13. Even for murder, state law barred jailing children under 13 in an Illinois Department of Corrections youth facility.” – https://newafrikan77.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/the-forgotten-story-of-robert-yummy-sandifer/

Yummy also used guns, allegedly killing Shavon Dean, a 14-year-old girl who lived next door to him two weeks before his own murder.

“Police hunted Yummy, putting descriptions of him in the paper and pounding the streets for the eleven-year-old on the run. By midnight, August 29, 1994, the Chicago Police were working with FBI agents with 20-30 officers involved (Detective Cornelius Spencer). “Dozens of police officers – tactical units, gang crimes officers and detectives –joined by members of the FBI’s Fugitive Task Force fanned out searching for the boy as far away as Milwaukee, nearly two hours away, where Yummy had a relative, Nevels told The Chicago Sun-Times. The case was discussed at roll calls at every police district in the city.” – https://newafrikan77.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/the-forgotten-story-of-robert-yummy-sandifer/

Grandmother fields also searched for her grandson. She received a call from him asking why the police were looking for him. He was ready to come home. They agreed to meet on 95th Street but when she got there Yummy was gone. She waited until 10:00pm. The boy never showed. Yummy was murdered at 12am, a sad end to a 77-hour boy-hunt that put Chicago on the map for its violence.

Robert had no mother, no father, and no family to nurture him. In fact, he was abused. He was taken to the hospital at 22 months with cigarette burns on his body.

“There were 49 scars,” said Donoghue at the trial of Derrick Hardaway. “I had to use two diagrams.” There were so many scars on Yummy’s body he could not use the one chart typically used by medical examiners.”

He turned to the streets and was said to be an impressionable kid. He looked up to gang members and was a member of the BDs or Black Disciples. Based on the descriptions of the robbery charges and the witnesses “not showing,” it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to discern that the crimes Robert committed were being ordered by older and higher-ranking members of the gang. They had to silence him before the police got to him. “Dead men tell no tales,” said a 37-year-old uncle of Robert. “They put him to sleep.”

How does one judge the criminal life of an eleven-year-old with no stability? I can only imagine how scared he must have been with the FBI and police looking for him.

Robert_sandifer

As a kid, Robert was small for his age. He loved to swim, draw, and loved cars. He loved Gyros, Chocolate Chip and Oreo cookies. He loved cookies so much so that it gave him the nickname Yummy. A neighbor interviewed says he was bad, fought and broke into people’s houses.

The mayor of Chicago admitted that Yummy had slipped through the cracks. Just what cracks were those? The sharp crevices that trap children and break them into cruel little pieces. Chicago’s authorities had known about Yummy for years. He was born to a teenage addict mother and a father now in jail. As a baby he was burned and beaten. As a student he often missed more days of school than he attended. As a ripening thug he shuttled between homes and detention centers and the safe houses maintained by his gang. The police arrested him again and again and again; but the most they could do under Illinois law was put him on probation. Thirteen local juvenile homes wouldn’t take him because he was too young.

-Nancy Gibbs, Time Magazine

“Nobody didn’t like that boy. Nobody gonna miss him,” said Morris Anderson, 13. Anderson used to get into fistfights with Yummy. “He was a crooked son of a___,” said a local grocer, who had barred him from the store for stealing so much. “Always in trouble. He stood out there on the corner and strong- armed other kids.” (Murder in Miniature, Time Magazine)

“Everyone thinks he was a bad person, but he respected my mom, who’s got cancer,” says Kenyata Jones, 12. Yummy used to come over to Jones’ house several times a month for sleep-overs. “We’d bake cookies and brownies and rent movies like the old Little Rascals in black and white,” says Jones. “He was my friend, you know? I just cried and cried at school when I heard about what happened,” he says, plowing both hands into his pants pockets for comfort before returning to his house to take care of his mother. “And I’m gonna cry some more today, and I’m gonna cry some more tomorrow too.”

According to Yummy’s aunt:

“He wasn’t violent and he wasn’t bad. The way they talkin bout now, that’s not true. He was this and he was that and I know that he was not. He was very short to be his age, he was real short. He was very smart he could draw, he could read, he could write.”

Gloria, Robert’s Aunt, Weekend TV, September, 1994

According to news reports though, Robert was illiterate and personally, I believe it. I think he was smart (as his friends says he used to invent stuff and at 11 he already knew how to drive cars), but I also believe he had no guidance and no one there to nurture him. I believe his aunt that he was smart but I also believe he struggled in school. Coming from a broken home and struggling as he did goes hand in hand with not excelling academically. I wish there was someone there to nurture his intellect. It makes me sad to think he had no one.

Shavon’s aunt, the teen Robert killed by stray bullet, also says in the same video that she never had a problem out of Robert. “He respects me,” she said in the film. She has even taken him on a trip with her. She says, “I can’t say that he killed my niece because I wasn’t there. It was at nighttime and nighttime has no eyes and bullets have no direction.”

Was Yummy innocent or guilty? Did his age make him innocent or did his murders make him guilty? How does one judge the criminal life of an eleven-year-old who was about to turn himself in when he was shot in the head? And what of the two young brothers found guilty of his murder? They were young too and ordered to kill Yummy by the same gang in exchange for their own lives. This story is sad because ultimately, four babies lost their lives: Shavon Dean (14), Cragg and Derrick Hardaway (16 and 14, currently spending their lives behind bars for Yummy’s murder), and Robert “Yummy” Sandifer.

Only Yah can judge them.

 

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On September 2nd, the Chicago Tribune ran an article called Robert: Executed at 11, calling Yummy a Victim and Victimizer. September 19, 1994, Yummy stared out at the country on the front cover of the September edition of Time Magazine with the headline:

“The Short Violent Life of Robert ‘Yummy‘ Sandifer: So Young to Kill So Young to Die.”

Black History Fun Fact Friday – Dr. Joseph N. Jackson

If you follow me on Instagram, then you are already familiar with this name. You may not, however, be familiar with his legacy. Dr. Jackson is many things: an inventor, businessman, scientist, and humanitarian. He’s the Co-founder of the Black Inventions Museum, Inc. and still invents today. But before we get into Joseph’s life, we must establish some additional facts.

1955-Nov-Radio-TV-News-REMOTES
Lazy Bones Wire Remote

Jackson didn’t invent the remote itself. He improved on earlier inventions, making the TV remote what we know it to be today. Nikola Tesla created one of the world’s first wireless remote controls, which he unveiled at Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1898. However, Tesla‘s boat remote was a flop. Another remote version was developed called “Lazy Bones,” and was connected to the television by a wire. The wireless remote control, called the “Flashmatic,”  was developed in 1955 by Eugene Polley.


Joseph was born in Harvey Jefferson Parish, Louisiana the fourth of eight children. At 17 he worked as an oil field tool maintenance help and police. He also went to school while he worked learning how to repair televisions and later owned his own repair shop for seven years.

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In 1961, Joseph received his GED and went to television repair school at night. He also owned and operated a radio and television service shop part-time in Fayetteville, North Carolina, near Fort Bragg where he was stationed.

I found it fun to discover that he was stationed in Fayetteville near Fort Bragg because it was the same place my husband was stationed when he was in the military as an engineer and equipment operator. Also, like hubby, Joseph was honorably discharged from the Army. Great men think alike 😉

After being honorably discharged in February 1968, Joseph re-enlisted in June 1970, working as an engineer equipment technician in Korea. Joseph graduated from the Army Recruiting and Career Counselor School in 1971 and transferred to California in 1973. He was an Army Recruiter and Career Counselor until his retirement in July 1978.

Before his retirement, Joseph also completed his degree in Business Administration at Columbia College and holds a Doctorate in Applied Science and Technology from Glendale University.

remote

As an inventor, Joseph invented what led to the precursor of the V-Chip, the technology that is used in the television industry to block out violent programs and the creation of the TV Remote Control. Joseph still invents today and has founded Protelcon, Inc., in 1993 to market and distribute, the TeleCommander, the first empowerment television accessory designed to give parents control over the viewing content of children.

Dr. Jackson has had numerous appearances on local television, and several articles published in the “Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, The Los Angeles Sentinel, The Wave” and other local newspapers. He also appeared in “Jet Magazine,” on January 19, 1978. He is a member of The Black Business Association of Los Angeles, The Hawthorne Chamber of Commerce, and served on the Advisory Board at Cal State University of Long Beach School of Engineering.

Dr. Jackson now serves as Patent Consultant to many potential inventors throughout the country.


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Black History Fun Fact Friday – How the Election of 1960 Changed the Majority Black Vote

On the tail-end of his TMZ interview, Kanye West posed a question, “is it true that blacks used to be Republican?” He went on to say, “the majority of African Americans used to be Republican….what was the reason that majority of blacks went from being Republican to being Democrats?”

I thought it would be a good time to merge current events with a fun fact for anyone who may have been left confused. While I won’t say that every black American did so (that wouldn’t be accurate), it is true that until the 1960s, the majority black American voted Republican. And for the record, let me be crystal clear: I am not a Republican and I am not a Democrat. They are two wings of the same bird as far as I am concerned. Malcolm X said it best:

I’m no politician. I’m not even a student of politics. I’m not a Republican, nor a Democrat, nor an American – and got sense enough to know it. I’m one of the 22 million black victims of the Democrats. One of the 22 million black victims of the Republicans and one of the 22 million black victims of Americanism. And when I speak, I don’t speak as a Democrat or a Republican, nor an American.

– Malcolm X, (1964). Speech, The Ballot or the Bullet. Retrieved from http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/blackspeech/mx.html

Due the African American experience in this country (U.S.), most black voters I’ve spoken to support the party they feel are in the best interest of black people (even if they really aren’t, ijs) and back then this party was the Republican party. It was the party of Lincoln, who many blacks saw as a hero because of the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the enslaved in certain states.

A little-known fact is that Martin Luther King Dr. was closer to Republican candidate Richard Nixon than he was Kennedy. King and Nixon were friends. They met in Ghana in March 1957 and agreed to stay in touch. That summer, Nixon worked with King to strengthen the 1957 Civil Rights Bill.

Nixon and MLK

“I will long remember the rich fellowship which we shared together and the fruitful discussion that we had,” Dr. King later wrote to the vice president, telling him “how deeply grateful all people of goodwill are to you for your assiduous labor and dauntless courage in seeking to make the Civil Rights Bill a reality… This is certainly an expression of your devotion to the highest mandates of the moral law.” – MLK

Nixon replied, “I am sure you know how much I appreciate your generous comments. My only regret is that I have been unable to do more than I have. Progress is understandably slow in this field, but we at least can be sure that we are moving steadily and surely ahead.” (Read Nixon’s full letter to King Here.)

King and Nixon talked often and after a black woman in Harlem stabbed Dr. King at his book signing in September 1958, Nixon was among the first to write to him.

Why are we talking about this?

Because what halted their friendship had a lot to do with what also ultimately halted the majority black vote of the Republican Party.

In his fiery inaugural speech in January of 1963, the new governor of Alabama, George Wallace had pledged, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” (you know, the clip used in every documentary about the civil rights movement) This launched civil rights protests throughout the city of Birmingham, Alabama.

Birmingham at the time was already a very racists city. It was where lots of Civil Rights activity took place that was met with violence and the city was nicknamed Bomingham because of the number of bombings that took place on a regular basis from people in opposition to integration. Such bombings resulted in the bombing of homes and lead to such tragedies as the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church on September 15, 1963 killing four little girls. The church stood in an area common for such attacks.

When King was arrested on October 19, 1960 during a sit-in protest of lunch counters in Atlanta and sentenced to hard labor, Civil Rights Activists approached both sides, Democratic and Republican, rallying for someone to do something to get King out of jail. Nixon even got a visit from Jackie Robinson, asking him to help with getting Dr. King out. Robinson was opposed to John F. Kennedy as President because he thought he was weak on Civil Rights and so did many black Americans at that time. It was common knowledge that the Democrats had the support of Southern racists. During the campaign, Kennedy raised suspicions in the black community by his support of Southerners, meeting privately with them and promising Governor Vandiver that as president he would never use federal troops to force Georgia to desegregate its schools.

Long story short, Nixon shot Robinson down, saying, it would be “grandstanding” to speak out in defense of King, according to his aide William Safire. This forever changed Nixon and King’s relationship….and King’s endorsement.

“I always felt that Nixon lost a real opportunity to express … support of something much larger than an individual, because this expressed support of the movement for civil rights in a way. And I had known Nixon longer. He had been supposedly close to me, and he would call me frequently about things, getting, seeking my advice. And yet, when this moment came, it was like he had never heard of me, you see.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It is my opinion that Nixon withdrew because he had ulterior motives with starting Cointel Pro, the Counter Intelligence Program that destroyed such black revolutionary organizations as The Black Panthers.

Meanwhile, Bobby and Jack Kennedy discussed the political ramifications of getting King out of jail. Senator Kennedy phoned Governor Vandiver asking if there was anything the Governor could do to get King out. (Thomas, Evans (2013). Robert Kennedy: His Life. pp 103.) Vandiver didn’t want to do it but he wanted Kennedy to win the presidency. A call was made to Coretta Scott King, word got out about the phone call, rumors spread, and shortly afterward, King was released from jail. Upon landing in Atlanta, King endorsed Kennedy and because blacks supported King, they supported Kennedy in mass.

While I cannot say for sure this swung the black vote in the Democrats favor 100% (there’s no way to provide proof of this on my part), I do know it had a LOT to do with it.

“Nixon in 1960 won just 32 percent… Four years later, facing Barry Goldwater, Lyndon Johnson won 94 percent of the black vote, which set a demographic pattern that endures.”

(Frank, J (2013, 21 January). When Martin Luther King Jr. and Richard Nixon Were Friends. Retrieved from https://www.thedailybeast.com/when-martin-luther-king-jr-and-richard-nixon-were-friends)

Meanwhile, Kennedy had been in the White House for years and had not delivered on his promise to support new anti-discrimination measures. When he was a Senator, he had promised that he would which resulted in a ton of support from African American voters.

“The first thing the cracker does when he comes in power, he takes all the Negro leaders and invites them for coffee. To show that he’s all right. And those Uncle Toms can’t pass up the coffee. They come away from the coffee table telling you and me that this man is all right. Oh, I say you been misled. You been had. You been took.”

– Malcolm X

Malcolm X, By Any Means Necessary: Malcolm X Speeches and Writings (Atlanta, GA: Pathfinder Press, 1992), 59

It wasn’t until violent protests forced Kennedy to act that he did act. Racial tensions had reached a fever pitch. American citizens were horrified to see blacks being bitten by dogs, beaten with clubs, and drowned with water-hoses. Protests were getting more violent. All of this led up to the signing of the Civil Rights Act.  John F. Kennedy proposed and Lyndon B Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, and is considered one of the crowning legislative achievements of the civil rights movement

…and many blacks have been voting Democratic ever since.

“He was sentenced to six months at hard labor, but presidential candidate John F. Kennedy reached out to the King family and helped secure Dr. King’s release, earning him pivotal black votes that would help him win the presidency that year.”

Black Then, (2017, 25 August) October 19, 1960 – Martin Luther King Arrested in Atlanta Sit-In Protest. Retrieved from https://blackthen.com/october-19-1960-martin-luther-king-arrested-in-atlanta-sit-in-protest-video/

“The government itself has failed us. And once we see that all of these other sources to which we’ve turned have failed, we stop turning to them and turn to ourselves. We need a self-help program, a do-it-yourself philosophy, a do-it-right-now philosophy, a it’s-already-too-late philosophy. This is what you and I need to get with. And the only time – the only way we’re going to solve our problem is with a self-help program. Before we can get a self-help program started, we have to have a self-help philosophy.”

– Malcolm X

Black History Fun Fact Friday – Georgia’s School-Prison for Black Boys

“Today, students of color in the United States are nearly three times more likely than white children to be labelled cognitively impaired. When Latoya walked into Seth’s first special-education classroom, she said, “I did not see one white child. All I saw was black boys.”

“School,” one student said, “is like prison where I am in the weird class.”

This isn’t really a black history fact. It‘s more like a modern-day fact with roots that go back to the Jim Crow era.

GNETS is short for Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support but support is not a word that I find fitting for this program. Earlier this week, I came across an article, “Georgia’s Separate and Unequal Special Education System,” which detailed how the GNETS program separates children by disability and race. As I read on, it became apparent to me that GNETS is an entirely separate school system in itself, that turns the classroom into a prison for black youth, disproportionately, black boys.

According to Bestcounciling degrees.net, “Psycho-education is a form of education that is specifically offered to individuals who are suffering from any one of several distinct mental health conditions impairing their ability to lead their lives. The ideal aim of the psychoeducational approach is to give both the individuals who suffer from psychological conditions and their families a stronger base of knowledge for knowing on ways to cope and thrive in spite of the condition.” These programs exist by way of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA.

IDEA was introduced in 1975 and first came into being on October 30, 1990, when the “Education of All Handicapped Children Act” was renamed “Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. According to Beth Ferri, a disability scholar at Syracuse University, IDEA provided a kind of loophole to the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which outlawed racial segregation in schools. “Before the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was enacted in 1975, U.S. public schools accommodated only 1 out of 5 children with disabilities. Until that time, many states had laws that explicitly excluded children with certain types of disabilities from attending public school, including children who were blind, deaf, and children labeled “emotionally disturbed” or “mentally retarded.” (Wikipedia)

IDEA sounds nice, but it became a double-edged sword. While it may have tackled the issue of allowing children with disabilities to be integrated into the public school system, it was also a subtle response to Brown vs. Board of Education. Schools that did not want to integrate could do so by re-labeling blacks disabled and pushing them out. Now racial segregation continued “under the guise of ‘disability.” Disabled, poverty-stricken, and feeble-minded are just a few code words used throughout history in the America‘s that were often references to African Americans. Instead of blatant racism or racial epithets, people could just say things like “ghetto,” or “inner-city,” when referring to black people.

GNETS
Photo by LaToya Ruby Frazier for the New Yorker

“Data obtained through records requests reveal that the percentage of students in the GNETS program who are black boys is double that of the public schools in the state. Most of the students in GNETS are classified as having an “emotional and behavioral disorder,” a vague label that does not correspond to any particular medical diagnosis. A teacher who worked for five years at a GNETS program called Coastal Academy, in Brunswick, told me, “We always had a sprinkling of middle-class white kids, maybe two or three, but they didn’t stay long. Everyone made sure they got out. It was the black students who were trapped there. They came in first grade and never left.”

An investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that Georgia’s public schools assign a vastly disproportionate number of African American students to psychoeducational programs, segregating them not just by disability but also by race. In such instances, disability has become synonymous with race. Black children in these programs are restrained using dog leashes, experimented on, and locked in rooms like prisons, with bars over the windows. In one such room, a 14-year-old boy hanged himself.

At a school in Cordele, students with behavioral disorders must use segregated restrooms. They have separate lunch periods. They have to enter through a special door and, unlike their peers without disabilities, pass through a metal detector.” In Rome, students in the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support program aren’t allowed to engage with other students – or even leave the basement.”

“As a black kid, you keep getting in trouble,” said Craig Goodmark, a lawyer with Atlanta Legal Aid who represents families of disabled children. “You get in trouble, there are no mental health services. The only mental health services are in the GNETS. That sort of combines to create a reality.”

Seven-year-old David got into trouble as soon as his mother enrolled him in school after moving to Cobb County last spring. He received out-of-school suspensions for 10 of his first 17 days, then was suspended another nine days in the first two weeks of the fall semester. His offenses, according to school documents, included “physical violence without harm,” “class disruption” and “insubordination.”

“Basically,” his mother said, “he was set up for failure.”

“The longest restraint lasted 15 minutes, after David screamed, threw items at other students, toppled desks and slapped at teachers. To keep David from biting him, a school report said, a teacher pushed his fist into the child’s mouth and held it there for several minutes. David told Tonyi he gagged and almost vomited. The school district later said the teacher appropriately controlled David’s “disruptive and assaultive behavior.”

Through such programs as GNETS, Georgia illegally segregates thousands of students with behavioral or psychiatric disorders, often in schools that are dirty, in poor repair and, in some cases, served as blacks-only facilities before court-ordered integration, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Fifty-four percent of students in Georgia’s psycho-educational programs are African American, compared to 37 percent in all public schools statewide, the Journal-Constitution found. In half of the 24 programs, black enrollment exceeds 60 percent. In one, nine of every 10 students are African American.

Sources:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/10/01/georgias-separate-and-unequal-special-education-system

http://specials.myajc.com/psychoeducation/

https://www.ajc.com/news/local/georgia-illegally-segregates-disabled-students-federal-inquiry-finds/Wof1iqxxvvdJv2cyowCs3O/

https://www.ajc.com/news/local/death-highlights-lack-regulation-georgia-psychoeducational-schools/vUhQ7un2Yxy7kiXGqkSBdN/


Be sure to check out other Black History Facts by visiting the Black History Fun Fact Friday page!

Yecheilyah on The Source, WURD Radio, 8/24, @onWURD #onWURD

This week, Black History Fun Fact Friday is going live!

Join me and host Stephanie Renee on The Source, WURD Radio this Friday, August 24th @ 10:25a EST. I’ll be discussing my Black History Fun Fact Friday article series (which is returning soon with some new fun facts, find previous articles right here on the blog. Click here) and the Legacy of Dunbar, the first Black Public High School in the United States. The Source airs on WURD Radio, 96.1FM and 900AM in Philadelphia or online at http://www.WURDRadio.com. You can also download the free app @ WURD Radio. Chat soon! @onWURD #onWURD #Onward #EachOneTeachOne #educhat

Black History Fun Fact Friday – Lucy Craft Laney

Welcome back to Black History Fun Fact Friday. Today, we learn about Lucy Craft Laney.

Lucy Craft Laney was a famous educator in the late 1800s and early 1900s. She opened her own school in 1883, which became known as Haines Normal and Industrial Institute in Augusta, Georgia where she served as teacher and principle for 50 years.

Laney was born on April 13, 1854, one of ten children, to Louisa and David Laney. Laney was not enslaved as David Laney purchased his freedom twenty years before Laney’s birth and then purchased his wife’s freedom sometime after their marriage. Laney was taught to read by her mother at the early age of four. By 12 Laney could translate passages in Latin. She attended Lewis (later Ballard) High School in Macon, GA which was sponsored by the American Missionary Association.

Laney prepared to be a teacher at Atlanta University in 1889 (later Clark Atlanta University), graduating from the Normal Department (teacher’s training) in 1873.

Sewing_class_at_Haines_Normal_and_Industrial_Institute,_Augusta,_Georgia_LCCN2003652513
Sewing class at Haines Normal and Industrial Institute, Augusta, Georgia

Laney’s school started out small with just a handful of students. She began her school in 1883 in Augusta. Her school was chartered by the state three years later and named the Haines Normal and Industrial Institute. Originally, Laney intended to admit only girls, but several boys appeared and she could not turn them away. By the end of the second year, there were more than 200 Black students enrolled in Laney’s school.

Over the years, Laney made many improvements and additions to the school. In the 1890s, the school was one of the first to offer kindergarten classes for African-American children in the South. She also opened a training center so that black women could train as nurses. The school’s curriculum provided the students with traditional liberal arts courses as well as vocational programs, which was groundbreaking at the time, but that’s not all. Laney’s school also acted as a cultural center for the Black community, hosting lectures by nationally famous guests, and various social events.