“I had reasoned this out in my mind, there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other.” Mother Harriet Tubman
I am dedicating all of my remaining posts this year to Black African American females because a race can rise no higher than its’ females.
As in all of my posts, UNDERLINED WORDS are links.
Below is an email I received from Arisha at Color Of Change.org regarding renaming a Charleston, S.C. street. Following this letter is my “Open Letter” reply.
Last Friday, South Carolina officials removed the Confederate flag on the state capitol grounds in South Carolina for good. Civil rights groups have been fighting for this for decades. Tragically, it took the killing of nine innocent Black people at Emanuel AME in Charleston to mobilize politicians to take the flag down. Now that they are listening, it’s time to face the other symbols of racism and remnants of slavery that haunt our country. Even though the flag was taken down in Columbia, 100 miles from Charleston, there are still signs of racism gripping anyone who walks through the doors of Emanuel AME.
The church itself is located at 110 Calhoun Street, a street named for pro-slavery politician and states’ rights advocate John C. Calhoun. Calhoun famously called slavery “a positive good” and described the entire Black race as “low, degraded, and savage.”1 Though he never lived to see the firing shots, Calhoun was key in helping to ignite the Civil War. That the City of Charleston still chooses to honor him with this street name is shameful.
But Charleston has another history. It is a history of the men and women who waged resistance against the exploitation of Black people. This history includes Denmark Vesey, a former slave who purchased his own freedom and helped establish Emanuel AME in Charleston in 1816.2 Within the walls of Emanuel AME, Vesey planned a slave uprising that would have taken place on July 14, 1822 had it not been revealed to a local slave owner.3 As the leader of this uprising, Vesey is also a symbol of Black resistance, making ‘Mother’ Emanuel AME a celebrated historical landmark today.
This week, as we remember the anniversary of Denmark Vesey’s planned uprising for freedom, and the Emanuel 9 who lost their lives in last month’s attack, we are reminded that the fight for racial justice continues. Calhoun Street should be renamed Emanuel 9 Way to memorialize the beloved members of the congregation who were killed in the attack on the church—Tywanza Sanders, Cynthia Hurd, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Reverend Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Myra Thompson, Ethel Lance, Reverend Daniel Simmons, Sr., Reverend DePayne Middleton-Doctor, and Susie Jackson.
Thanks and Peace,
–Arisha, Rashad, Hope, Brandi, Brittaney, Brandon, Johnny, and the rest of the ColorOfChange team.
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I look forward to receiving and reading emails from you and the rest of the Color Of Change team because they are both thought-provoking and informative and I encourage you to continue your great work.
I feel compelled to respond to this particular email because I perceive you are missing the mark by focusing on the wrong person(s) and issues. My response is an “Open Letter”, that I will be posting on my blog @ www.itsstilltime.wordpress.com.
The death of our nine brothers and sisters was indeed a tragedy and we must remember it as such, just not in the way you are proposing. Excluding State Senator Clementa C. Pinckney, the remaining eight victims were not publicly working towards the improvement of Black African Americans.
Sister Arisha what positive impact will renaming Calhoun Street to “Emanuel 9 Way” have on how we Black African Americans are treating one another? True, Dylan Roof murdered nine Black African Americans in “Cold blood” however; we are killing more than nine of us on a weekly basis.
Just this past July Fourth weekend, we killed seven of us, after shooting nearly sixty of us and this was just in Chicago during one weekend. I invite you to read my post: “The Making of a Slave” by Willie Lynch at my blog: http://www.itsstilltime.wordpress.com.
By renaming, the street from “Calhoun Street” to “Emanuel 9 Way” dishonors Charleston’s Black African American residents as well as all Black African American tourists.
I say this because renaming Calhoun Street to “Emanuel 9 Way” both empowers and immortalizes Dylan Roof, the shooter of the “Emanuel 9” and all White Supremacists because one cannot think of “Emanuel 9 Way” without thinking of Dylan Roof. Therefore, our emotional energies will automatically focus on a negative and depressive thought every time we think of “Emanuel 9 Way”.
Furthermore, the “Emanuel 9” embraced and trusted Dylan Roof, a White American male stranger only because of his “whiteness”, which is what resulted in their being murdered. Evidence of their trust is on cell phone pictures proudly taken of Dylan Roof sitting among them.
You had the beginning of an excellent suggestion Sister Arisha, when you said, “This week, as we remember the anniversary of Denmark Vesey’s planned uprising for freedom…”, you just didn’t follow through.
I say let us truly remember Baba Denmark Vesey by having Calhoun Street renamed in his honor to “Denmark Vesey Way“, along with a “Historical Marker” stating that he was one of the co-founders of Emanuel AME Church as well as a Freedom Fighter who selflessly gave his life so all Black African Americans could be free.
By so doing, every time we think of “Denmark Vesey Way“, we can boldly hold our heads up, stick our chests out and feel enormous pride.
In closing, I invite you to read my post – “SOUTH CAROLINA’S CONFEDERATE FLAG IS DOWN – NOW WHAT?” @ http://www.itsstilltime.wordpress.com.
Your Elder Brother,