today in black history

February 27, 2024

On this date in 2007 Brown University pledged to raise $10 million to make amends for benefiting from the enslavement of Africans.


POSTED: September 22, 2011, 12:00 am

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Last night the state of Georgia, with the approval of the U.S. Supreme Court, executed a man for a crime that the evidence indicates he did not commit. With callous disregard for the truth, and a bloodthirsty vengeance, our government willfully put to death a man whose only crime was being African-American and subject to the inhumanity of a criminal justice system fraught with bias. While we may never know the actual vote of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, the blood of Troy Davis stains the hands of the Board’s members. As it does the Chatham County District Attorney Larry Chisolm. The collective cowardice of these government officials should send shudders through decent people in this country.

Is this really America?

Having grown up in the shadow of the civil rights movement of the 1960’s the legacy of American injustice resonates to this day. The idea that in 2012 we still have vestiges of “southern justice” in the south and north, and every corner of this country, exposes the degree to which the criminality and immorality of the Civil War and Jim Crow eras still exist. The ‘strange fruit” that Billie Holiday lamented still sways, but not from the poplar trees but from the branches of our criminal justice system. Where we once feared the tyranny of the Ku Klux Klan, the case of Troy Davis gives us reason to fear our government. State’s rights, with all its murderous symbolism, was on full display in Georgia last night; a painful reminder that on any given day our number might be called.

Is this really America?

It is not lost upon me that Black hands also sent Troy Davis to his death. African-Americans serve on the Georgia Parole Board, the District Attorney is Black, we have representation on the Georgia Supreme Court, and an African-American, suspect as he is, sits on the U.S. Supreme Court. My point is that we also have a collective failure of leadership when African-Americans in positions of authority are seemingly preoccupied with perpetuating oppression for the sake of social acceptance over any semblance of ethical behavior. It is a disgusting and repulsive betrayal of decency, all the more repugnant since their professional status is the consequence of the struggle of Black people. For too long we have shielded these Black caricatures from public criticism out of some twisted sense of loyalty. “Black like Me,” the title of an epic book detailing the inhumanity of southern racism by John Howard Griffin is also apropos as a description of the degree to which some Blacks choose to conform to white supremacist tendencies and how we must reclaim our cultural identity from pretenders. The emotional distance that some African-Americans are willing to travel from their own community to prove their “American” allegiance is disgusting.

Damn, is this really America?

With deference to Black residents of the state of Georgia, every effort should be made to forego support of the state. From attending Atlanta Falcons football games to canceling business meetings and family vacations, not a penny should be spent supporting any enterprise that benefits the state of Georgia. If nothing else, we should not aid this state in any form or fashion. To spend money in a state that so callously tramples civil rights insults the memory of Troy Davis and would make one an accessory to the crime. Not so much as a piece of gum should be purchased in Georgia for the foreseeable future. The one thing we have left is the power of our spending, and we would be idiots to spend our money in a state that executes the innocent.

Is this really….Yes!

Troy Davis is dead. The state of Georgia murdered him and we cannot bring him back from death. We can, however, act like his death matters and not simply move on and conduct business as usual. This time, for once, be willing to display our disgust and anger.

Walter Fields is the Executive Editor of

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