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Descendants of the World

Pan-African Empowerment & Knowledge for Black People around the world. Dedicated to individuals of African decent regardless of what Country they're from.


Black History #7: Missouri’s Dred Scott Case, 1846-1857

Via Missouri Digital Heritage

In its 1857 decision that stunned the nation, the United States Supreme Court upheld slavery in United States territories, denied the legality of black citizenship in America, and declared the Missouri Compromise to be unconstitutional. All of this was the result of an April 1846 action when Dred Scott innocently made his mark with an “X,” signing his petition in a pro forma freedom suit, initiated under Missouri law, to sue for freedom in the St. Louis Circuit Court. Desiring freedom, his case instead became the lightning rod for sectional bitterness and hostility that was only resolved by war. Details


Black History #6: Juan Almeida Bosque of the Cuban Revolution

Mr. Almeida was one of several Cuban vice presidents and had been among only three surviving rebel leaders who still bore the honorary title “Commander of the Revolution” — a title reserved for top leaders of rebel troops under Mr. Castro’s command in the 1950s.

A statement in government news reports on Saturday said Mr. Almeida would “live on forever in the hearts and minds of his compatriots.” Cuba declared Sunday a national day of mourning and ordered all flags flown at half-staff.

A bricklayer who began working at age 11, Mr. Almeida was the only black commander among the rebel leaders. He was one of the most important and decisive voices in the battle to overthrow the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, as well as in the early years following the Jan. 1, 1959, triumph of the Cuban revolution.

Mr. Almeida was often seen at public events alongside the Cuban leader until Mr. Castro fell gravely ill in the summer of 2006 and finally resigned the presidency in February 2008. Mr. Almeida then became a mainstay beside Mr. Castro’s younger brother and successor, President Raul Castro.

With his white hair and mustache, Mr. Almeida was a highly visible member of Cuba’s ruling elite, sitting on the Communist Party’s Politburo and serving as a vice president on the Council of State, the country’s supreme governing body.

The government statement called him “a paradigm of revolutionary strength, solid convictions, bravery, patriotism and service to the people.” It said Mr. Almeida’s body would not lie in state, in accordance with his wishes, and funeral arrangements would be announced later.

Mr. Almeida, who was born on Feb. 27, 1927, joined the fight against Batista’s dictatorship in March 1952 as a young law student at the University of Havana, where he met Fidel Castro, another aspiring lawyer.

Mr. Almeida was at Mr. Castro’s side a year later, on July 26, 1953, when Cuba’s future president led an armed attack on the Moncada, a military barracks in the eastern city of Santiago. It failed, and Mr. Almeida and both Castros were sent to a prison. But that failure launched the revolutionary battle that triumphed more than five years later.

Mr. Almeida and other survivors of the offensive were freed in May 1955 under an amnesty granted to the young revolutionaries. He accompanied the Castros and other comrades to Mexico, where they formed a guerrilla army.

They returned to Cuba in December 1956 on the American yacht Granma and launched their battle from the island’s eastern Sierra Maestra. Mr. Almeida, the Castro brothers and Ernesto Guevara, an Argentine known as Che, were among only 16 who survived the landing, in which most of the rebels were killed by government troops.

“No one here gives up!” Mr. Almeida shouted to Guevara at the time, giving the Cuban revolution one of its most lasting slogans and ensuring his place in Cuban Communist history. As a guerrilla leader, Mr. Almeida later headed his own front of military operations in eastern Cuba.

After Batista fled Havana in 1959, Mr. Almeida served in various military posts, ranging from head of motorized units to chief of the Rebel Army’s air force. He later was named a vice minister and chief of staff of the Revolutionary Armed Forces.

He was a member of the Communist Party of Cuba’s Central Committee since its creation in 1965. His duties included welcoming new foreign ambassadors to Cuba and greeting other visiting dignitaries. He cut back on public activities in December 2003, however, citing heart problems.

Mr. Almeida also composed traditional Cuban music and wrote about his years behind bars and in the mountains.

Details of his personal life were always closely guarded, and it was not clear how many survivors he had.

via New York Times


Black History #5: Haitian Independence 1804–1805 (First Black Republic in the World)

Haitian Independence 1804–1805
1 January 1804
In Gonaïves, Dessalines proclaims Haiti’s independence, signaling the formation of the world’s first black republic. He publishes a Declaration of Independence, signed by himself and Christophe, and the colony “Saint-Domingue” is abolished forever. The original Taino name of Hayti is officially restored.

“The proclamation was a formal acknowledgement of the self-determination of those diverse and ordinary individuals of whom the black masses were composed.”

Though Haiti is independent, Haitians still fear that they will be invaded by outside forces. French troops remain in the eastern part of Hispaniola and France is actively lobbying England, Spain and the United States to isolate Haiti commercially and diplomatically. France emphasizes that Haiti is a threat to the countries’ plantation system and slaveholders. The global community shuns Haiti, a major contributing factor to Haiti’s later impoverishment.
Jan-Feb 1804

Dessalines orders the slaughter of the remaining French residents in Haiti after promising them protection. Blacks and mulattoes, most of them former slaves, exact revenge on the whites and as many as 4,000 are killed. They are urged on by Dessalines, who famously cried, “Koupe tèt, brule kay,” meaning, “Cut their heads, burn their houses.”

8 October 1804
Dessalines is crowned Emperor Jacques I of Haiti.

20 May 1805
Dessalines ratifies Haiti’s first constitution. To strengthen national unity and bring together the country’s various factions, the constitution proclaims all Haitians black. The constitution also legitimizes Dessalines’ regime, legalizing structures set in place since independence. The constitution reaffirms the permanent abolition of slavery, that all Haitians are free and equal; and above all Haitians’ inalienable right to land ownership.

Upon declaring independence, Haiti claimed a singular place in world history. The Haitian revolution, lasting from 1791 to 1804, culminated in the first independent nation in the Caribbean, the second democracy in the western hemisphere, and the first black republic in the world.

Since the revolution, over 200 years ago, Haiti has struggled with external and internal dilemmas. The revolutionary wars had destroyed nearly all of the country’s colonial infrastructure and production capabilities. In the 1800s Europeans and Americans ostracized the fledgling nation politically and economically, contributing to Haiti’s decline from one of the world’s wealthiest colonies to one of its most impoverished countries.

The 20th century ushered in an era of American occupation from 1915 to 1934 and totalitarian regimes under the Duvaliers from 1957 to 1987. After decades of political suppression, Haiti held new democratic elections and in 1991 President Jean-Bertrand Aristide took office. He was ousted just months later, and the following years were filled with coup d’états, military regimes, and daily violence.

In 2006, René Préval was elected president and since then Haiti has experienced a period of relative political and social calm. This stability was shaken most recently in 2008 when Haiti was hit by four successive hurricanes over the course of just weeks. The natural disasters resulted in hundreds of deaths, injuries and lost homes. Famine and disease swept the country, exacerbated by Haiti’s lack of infrastructure or governmental services.

Haiti will be recovering from these disasters for years, adding to its long list of challenges. Already the country is crippled by poverty. Additionally, Haiti has been commonly misrepresented for decades. American media, for example, have equated Haitians with savage voodoo ceremonies, HIV/AIDS, and “boat people” refugees beginning in the early 1900s. Aside from ignoring factual evidence, these accounts disregard the complexity and richness of Haiti’s resilient culture and people. Despite its poverty, Haiti is clearly an exceptional nation, and one that has had a profound impact on the world since it was claimed by Columbus over 500 years ago.

via Brown University


Black History #4: Marcus Garvey

Born in Jamaica, Marcus Garvey (1887-1940) became a leader in the black nationalist movement by applying the economic ideas of Pan-Africanists to the immense resources available in urban centers. After arriving in New York in 1916, he founded the Negro World newspaper, an international shipping company called Black Star Line and the Negro Factories Corporation. During the 1920s, his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) was the largest secular organization in African-American history. Indicted for mail fraud by the U.S. Justice Department in 1923, he spent two years in prison before being deported to Jamaica, and later died in London.

Born in Jamaica, Garvey aimed to organize blacks everywhere but achieved his greatest impact in the United States, where he tapped into and enhanced the growing black aspirations for justice, wealth, and a sense of community. During World War I and the 1920s, his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) was the largest black secular organization in African-American history. Possibly a million men and women from the United States, the Caribbean, and Africa belonged to it.

Garvey came to New York in 1916 and concluded that the growing black communities in northern cities could provide the wealth and unity to end both imperialism in Africa and discrimination in the United States. He combined the economic nationalist ideas of Booker T. Washington and Pan-Africanists with the political possibilities and urban style of men and women living outside of plantation and colonial societies. Garvey’s ideas gestated amid the social upheavals, anticolonial movements, and revolutions of World War I, which demonstrated the power of popular mobilization to change entrenched structures of power.

Garvey’s goals were modern and urban. He sought to end imperialist rule and create modern societies in Africa, not, as his critics charged, to transport blacks ‘back to Africa.’ He knitted black communities on three continents with his newspaper the Negro World and in 1919 formed the Black Star Line, an international shipping company to provide transportation and encourage trade among the black businesses of Africa and the Americas. In the same year, he founded the Negro Factories Corporation to establish such businesses. In 1920 he presided over the first of several international conventions of the UNIA. Garvey sought to channel the new black militancy into one organization that could overcome class and national divisions.

Although local UNIA chapters provided many social and economic benefits for their members, Garvey’s main efforts failed: the Black Star Line suspended operations in 1922 and the other enterprises fared no better. Garvey’s ambition and determination to lead inevitably collided with associates and black leaders in other organizations. His verbal talent and flair for the dramatic attracted thousands, but his faltering projects only augmented ideological and personality conflicts. In the end, he could neither unite blacks nor accumulate enough power to significantly alter the societies the unia functioned in.

Finally, the Justice Department, animated by J. Edgar Hoover’s Federal Bureau of Investigation and sensing his growing weakness, indicted Garvey for mail fraud. He was convicted in 1923, imprisoned in 1925, and deported to Jamaica in 1927. Unable to resurrect the unia, he moved to London, where he died in 1940.

Garvey’s movement was the first black attempt to join modern urban goals and mass organization. Although most subsequent leaders did not try to create black economic institutions as he had, Garvey had demonstrated to them that the urban masses were a potentially powerful force in the struggle for black freedom.


Black History #3: Nat Turner Rebellion

Via The University of North Carolina

Nat Turner is widely regarded as one of the most complex figures in American history and American literature. October marks the anniversary both of his birth and of his arrest as the leader of one of the United States’ most famous slave rebellions.

Nat Turner was born October 2, 1800 on a plantation in Southampton County, Virginia. Turner was deeply committed to his Christian faith and believed he received messages from God through visions and signs in nature. When he was in his early 20s, these signs led him to return to his master after an escape attempt. Similarly, a solar eclipse and an unusual atmospheric event are believed to have inspired his insurrection, which began on August 21, 1831.

Nat Turner’s rebellion was one of the bloodiest and most effective in American history. It ignited a culture of fear in Virginia that eventually spread to the rest of the South, and is said to have expedited the coming of the Civil War. In the immediate aftermath of the rebellion, however, many Southern states, including North Carolina, tightened restrictions on African Americans. Over the course of two days, dozens of whites were killed as Turner’s band of insurrectionists, which eventually numbered over fifty, moved systematically from plantation to plantation in Southampton County. Most of the rebels were executed along with countless other African Americans who were suspected, often without cause, of participating in the conspiracy. Nat Turner, though, eluded capture for over two months. He hid in the Dismal Swamp area and was discovered accidentally by a hunter on October 30. He surrendered peacefully.

The Confessions of Nat Turner appeared shortly after Turner’s capture. Published as the definitive account of the insurrection and its motivation, the “confession” remains shrouded in controversy. Thomas Gray, a lawyer, released the account, claiming that Turner had dictated the confessions to him and that there was little to no variation from the prisoner’s actual testimony. However, as a slaveholder mired in financial difficulty, Gray likely saw tremendous profit and propaganda potential in satiating the public’s thirst for knowledge about such an enigmatic figure. In addition, literary critics have consistently pointed to discrepancies in Turner’s language and tone throughout the document. They suggest that Turner and Gray’s agendas conflict consistently in the text and thus create the ambiguity that has characterized the document for over a century and a half.

The Confessions of Nat Turner is part of three collections on DocSouth: “North American Slave Narratives,” which includes all the existing autobiographical narratives of fugitive and former slaves published as broadsides, pamphlets, or books in English up to 1920; “The Church and the Southern Black Community,” which presents a collected history of the way Southern African Americans experienced and transformed Protestant Christianity into the central institution of community life; and “The North Carolina Experience, Beginnings to 1940″ collects a wide variety of print and manuscript materials that tell the story of the Tar Heel State.


J Cole – Be Free (Mike Brown Tribute)

Via Huffington Post

A week after 18-year-old Michael Brown was fatally shot by Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson, people across the country are demanding justice, including a multitude of entertainers and other public figures. Roc Nation artist J. Cole is the latest to add his voice with a new track titled, “Be Free.”

Backed by a news report with a sound bite from Dorian Johnson, Brown’s friend and eyewitness to the shooting, the piano-driven ballad demands peace and calls for an end to gun violence.

In a statement, the 29-year-old Cole said he is “tired of being desensitized to the murder of black men.”

There was a time in my life when I gave a fuck. Every chance I got I was screaming about it. I was younger. It’s so easy to try to save the world when you’re in college. You got nothing but time and no responsibility. But soon life hits you. No more dorms, no more meal plan, no more refund check. Nigga need a job. Nigga got rent. Got car note. Cable bill. Girlfriend moves in and becomes wife. Baby on the way. Career advances. Instagram is poppin. Lebron leaves Miami. LIFE HITS. We become distracted. We become numb. I became numb. But not anymore. That coulda been me, easily. It could have been my best friend. I’m tired of being desensitized to the murder of black men. I don’t give a fuck if it’s by police or peers. This shit is not normal. I made a song. This is how we feel.
Rest in Peace to Michael Brown and to every young black man murdered in America, whether by the hands of white or black. I pray that one day the world will be filled with peace and rid of injustice. Only then will we all Be Free.


Black History #2: Gaspar Yanga

Gaspar Yanga—often simply Yanga or Nyanga—was a leader of a slave rebellion in Mexico during the early period of Spanish colonial rule. Said to be of the Bran people and member of the royal family of Gabon, Yanga came to be the head of a band of revolting slaves near Veracruz around 1570. Escaping to the difficult terrain of the highlands, he and his people built a small maroon colony, or palenque. For more than 30 years it grew, partially surviving by capturing caravans bringing goods to Veracruz. However, in 1609 the Spanish colonial government decided to undertake a campaign itself to regain control of the territory.

Led by the soldier Pedro González de Herrera, the Spanish troops which set out from Puebla in January 1609 numbered around 550, of which perhaps 100 were Spanish regulars and the rest conscripts and adventurers. The maroons facing them were an irregular force of 100 fighters with some type of firearm, and four hundred more with primitive weapons such as stones, machetes, bows and arrows, and the like. These maroon troops were led by Francisco de la Matosa, an Angolan. Yanga—who was quite old by this time—decided to employ his troops’ superior knowledge of the terrain to resist the Spaniards, with the goal of causing them enough pain to draw them to the negotiating table.

Upon the approach of the Spanish troops, Yanga sent terms of peace via a captured Spaniard. Essentially, Yanga asked for a treaty akin to those that had settled hostilities between Indians and Spaniards: an area of self-rule, in return for tribute and promises to support the Spanish if they were attacked. In addition, he suggested that this proposed district would return any slaves which might flee to it. This last concession was necessary to soothe the worries of the many slave owners in the region.

The Spaniards refused the terms, and a battle was fought, yielding heavy losses for both sides. The Spaniards advanced into the settlement and burned it. However, the people fled into the surrounding terrain, and the Spaniards could not achieve a conclusive victory. The resulting stalemate lasted years; finally, unable to win definitively, the Spanish agreed to parley. Yanga’s terms were agreed to, with the additional provisos that only Franciscan priests would tend to the people, and that Yanga’s family would be granted the right of rule. In 1618 the treaty was signed and by 1630 the town of San Lorenzo de los Negros de Cerralvo was established. This town, in today’s Veracruz province, remains to this day under the name of Yanga.

Yanga in Mexican History
Five decades after Mexican independence Yanga was made a national hero of Mexico by the diligent work of Vicente Riva Palacio. The influential Riva Palacio was a historian, novelist, short story writer, military general and mayor of Mexico City during his long life. In the late 1860s he retrieved from dusty Inquisition archives accounts of Yanga and of the expedition against him. From his research, he brought the story to the public in an anthology in 1870, and as a separate pamphlet in 1873.[3] Reprints have followed, including a recent edition in 1997. Much of the subsequent writing about Yanga was influenced by the works of Riva Palacio, who wrote of proud fugitives who would not be defeated.


Black History #1: The Murder Of Emmett Till

Emmett Louis Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955) was an African-American boy who was murdered in Mississippi at the age of 14 after reportedly flirting with a white woman. Till was from Chicago, Illinois, visiting his relatives in Money, Mississippi, in the Mississippi Delta region, when he spoke to 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, the married proprietor of a small grocery store there. Several nights later, Bryant’s husband Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam went to Till’s great-uncle’s house. They took the boy away to a barn, where they beat him and gouged out one of his eyes, before shooting him through the head and disposing of his body in the Tallahatchie River, weighting it with a 70-pound (32 kg) cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. Three days later, Till’s body was discovered and retrieved from the river.


The Black Agenda by Vincent LaMotte

Not guilty, two words have never cut me so deep, not guilty, followed by a smirk and a handshake of one George Zimmerman to his attorney.  In their moment of jubilation, a wave of emotions struck the black community, anger, disgust, sadness, some a non-nonchalant attitude of “what can we do about it.”  Me, myself, I felt a load of sadness, I shed tears, I had to go outside to collect myself, this case hit me hard, all I could see was my son Quran, and my nephew Damian Jr., thinking how this verdict said “yes it is still open season on black males.” I felt physically sick, stomach tied in knots, headache, chest was tight, I literally became sick over the outcome of this case.  Pundits say this case is not about race… Really? Not about race??? That statement in itself is asinine, let’s call a spade a spade, America never solved its issue with race, it’s always disguarded, swept under the rug, tucked away, never addressed in hopes that it will just someday vanish, we play the good little field negros, and go about our day, don’t stir up a fuss, well sorry America, this way the straw that broke the camels back.

Today, I went to work, I felt like I just witnessed a lynching, and was forced to return back to my field labor. I saw a brother that had to be around my sons age, he looked so happy, so cheerful, so full of life, but the thought that white America doesn’t see what I see, he’s going to grow up and they will still view his as a threat, still view him as a Nigga.   I couldn’t focus on work, all I was thinking about is how could I do my part to help save our young black men, how could I get them to stop killing each other, how could I get them to walk with self confidence, speak with confidence, love and protect our families.

The bright side of this tragedy, I believe this has woken a majority of black America up, everyone wants to act, not just talk, which is what I believe our elders intended for us to do before their untimely demises.  The main question I run into is where do we start?  I think is why movements fall off, we’ve gotten rilled up for the deaths of Troy Davis, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, and so on, but within days the momentum dies down, however I think this is was the ultimate wake up call.

Everyone that knows me knows I am a huge sports fan, The Los Angeles Lakers in particular, while this past season has been one of best, however they’re life lessons that can be learned from this tumultuous season; 1. Without proper coaching or direction, you are bound for disaster, 2. Everyone has to be on board (I’m looking at you Dwight Howard), 3. You still have to believe even though odds do not favor you, 4. You are never out of it, (Kobe taught us that knocking down two free throws with a torn Achilles).  I used that analogy to say, WE NEED A BLACK AGENDA, a code of ethics that we as Black people should follow, to keep brothers from killing brothers, being breeders (making babies and not raising them), produce more scholars than athletes, how to run a legit black business, and how to get back to Community, below are a few ideas I propose.

1.  Circulate the black dollar, look at your community, notice the business in your community feed your needs, the food spots, the hair spots, the grocery stores, do the the owners look like you? Do the owners respect you? No but they take your money, and do not give back to it, stop breaking bread with them! Support Black Business! Quit making Gucci rich, quit making Louis Vutton rich, they do nothing for us!

2.  Community – Your kids are my kids, my kids are your kids, your family is my family, my family is yours, it takes a village, we should get back to block parties, learn your neighbor, barbeque, put good positive energy in the air.  If possibly Friday afternoons from 7pm – 10:30pm, we should hold events for the kids, making education fun for them, giving them other options, show them that we care and love them, pick up where the black panthers started with the free breakfast program, it’s all about our kids, they are the ones we have to invest in to see a manifest of change in our people.

3. Keep The Black Family Together – This cycle of broken families has to cease! There is nothing more beautiful than black love, we need to get off this tip that black love is weak, IT IS NOT. Brothers you are not weak for loving your woman! You are not weak for loving your children, you are not a sucker for making an honest woman out of the mother of your child, you are strong, you are bold, you are the provider and protector, you are respected!  Sisters, we love you, you are the most precious thing to us, you bear our seeds, you are our nurturers, our back bone, without you, we are nothing, you are loved and appreciated, there is nothing with loving the father of your child, there is nothing wrong with supporting the brother when he is down and out, your strength is unmeasured!  LOVE IS NOT WEAK BLACK PEOPLE, LOVE IS NOT WEAK BLACK PEOPLE, LOVE IS NOT WEAK BLACK PEOPLE!!! LOVE IS STRONG, LOVE IS POWERFUL, LOVE SAVES LIVES! KEEP BLACK FAMILIES TOGETHER, WE ARE ALL WE HAVE!!! IT IS EASY TO HATE, BUT IT TAKES STRENGTH TO LOVE!!!

4. Finger pointing/ Hating must stop! - We must get on the same page black people! This goes back to my sports analogy, when everyone on your team is doing their own thing, and disrespecting one another, we’re back where we started.  I’ve fell victim to this too, blasting my people on social networks because they don’t think the way I think, do things the way I do, all that does is produce negative energy, we become a contraian people no different than the ones that oppress us.  We must spread love, push positive energy, love one another, quit worrying about titles i.e.: “I’m a real nigga,” “I’m a bad bitch,” etc. it’s irrelevant, don’t search for validity while losing your dignity in the process.  You black, you are the mother and father of civilization,  arts, mathematics, science , you do not need a title, this world is yours.  In short, love one another.

5. Self Confidence/ Self Respect - We’re not niggas! God made us better than that!  Respect yourself, take pride in your appearance, be confident, you can do whatever you want, this world is yours, if you want change for yourself, your community, you can make it happen, it is in you to be great.  Take everything in life in moderation, have fun, enjoy life, but do not loose yourself in the process to where it becomes your life, you abandon your seeds just to “turn up,” or starve your seeds just to get the newest pair of J’s.  Respect yourself, demand respect from others, treat others with respect as well, you are special!

6. Do Not Support False Representation - Do not support artist or athletes, who have a voice, yet say nothing, artist or athletes who take credit for starting trends, fashion, pushing new cars, but when it comes to being held accountable for creating the energy and the soundtracks that young black boys and girls murder each other to, sell poison to, inject, snort, or pop poison to, have unprotected sex to, and blow money to, they don’t want to accept blame.  We must demand better, in a general sense of things, it’s as if rappers keep reminding us we have cancer, well it’s time to start producing the cure.

These are a few ideas I have, after taking a step back and analyzing the problems we have, some may agree, some may not, that’s good, we need to have a debate, we need to get on the same page, know what works for us, however this is not a time to be passive, and accept the status quo, we can make change, you just have to believe and have faith. If you guys out there have any ideas that you want to add, please feel free to do so, we need a game plan!  In conclusion, I love all of my brothers and sisters, I am willing to dedicate my life to our advancement, you guys are worth it, I see the potential, I love you guys, peace!