Jun. 21, 2019

Black Excellence

I'm asking all my black brothers and sisters to support both my blog www.joesmokethoughts.com and also my one-hour daily social media Facebook Live and recorded reading project The Blackman's Read Aloud Hour. In addition, share these sites with your family and friends. One thing that I learned while studying and growing at Morgan State University was the love we had for the accomplishments and services of our fellow Morganites.

When I entered Morgan State College in January 1973, I was a young 18 soon to be 19-year-old Blackman struggling to find my purpose in life. When I graduated in 1977, I understood the magnitude of black excellence and how it was my obligation to fulfill that purpose personally and share the objective with others.

Today, I am 65 years old and I continue to walk that pathway of black excellence that the Morgan State University community began opening up to me some 46 years ago. So I hope that even if you aren't even a college graduate, or even if you never attended a college or university. Black excellence doesn't have a requirement of matriculation of college. Black excellence only requirement is that you always put one foot in front of the other and have even the smallest degree of individual perseverance.

Many of our black community today are in a desperate need for the expansion of black excellence. That's what I am attempting to do each day that I read aloud or post on my blog. Initiate, elevate and promote black excellence. I was embedded with the philosophy of lifting up, not tearing down my brothers and sister. So help me help others get lifted up in the search for black knowledge, universal black literacy, and black excellence.

Jun. 21, 2019

Why Reparations? Trenton, Tennessee, August 26, 1874

This is something I wrote 2 years ago. It was directed at the ability of people of color, Americans of African Descent to overcome barriers that were created specifically to derail our progress. These barriers, obstacles were initially overtly developed by American institutions clearly delineated to force our ancestors into corners of darkness, corners of despair, corners of hopelessness, corners of silence, and corners where it seemed death was a far better option than life. We as a community of dark souls have been confronted with the treacherous pathway of American injustice for 400 years now.

You have people who will say that we as people's whose ancestors survived the Middle Passage have constantly faced these insurmountable odds. Odds, that should have made it damn near impossible for us to drive the needle forward towards having any success in this system. This system was created, and laws were written that actually identified our black ancestors as 60% human and 40% beast, 100% chattel. It was even judged by the highest court in the land that our ancestors had absolutely no rights that a white person had to honor. The nation survived a massive civil war that should have repelled those forces that created this atmosphere of bigotry, hatred, and human deprivation. Yet, it seemed to only embolden those whites who perceived our ancestors as peoples whose envisioned that the only status in this country was having its neck constantly under the boot of the whites who controlled power.

Well, I today I say that’s the devil speaking. It is that same devil that has driven enough nails into the coffin of our people’s quest for self-determination. If that devil couldn't kill all the hopes that our ancestors held, then you know within each of us houses those powerful forces of defiance and self-belief that will recharge our energies in times of struggle. Ask yourself this, what can this current system do today that is worst than what our black ancestors faced in yesterday's past? My feeling is not a damn thing. The judicial system of the United States openly withheld justice, our ancestors faced this injustice yet maintained hope, we can as well. The institutions of this nation openly withheld opportunities to our ancestors, yet they maintained hope, we can as well. Our ancestors were openly denied the opportunity to receive anything close to quality education, the educational system was tailor to oppress our ancestors but our ancestors never lost hope in educating themselves in these oppressive conditions. Financial institutions created open oppressive policies that intentionally deterred economic independence for our ancestors. Yet, our ancestors never lost the drive to reach for levels of independence financially nevertheless. They have shackled our ancestors, killed our ancestors by reasons unknown other than skin color. Yet our ancestors never gave in to hopelessness. There always existed an element of our communities who refused to relent or to give into oppression.

Now we face another battle that some will say is the greatest battle we will ever face. Our community is demanding that the wrongs were done to our ancestors be repaired. We are asking the powers that control the ability to make those repairs own up to the wrongs of a society hellbent on our destruction. It will be easy for some in our community to say no to demanding these repairs due us. It, however, must be our job to inform those of us who say no to change that thought to a resounding yes. You see we all owe it to each and every one of our ancestors who faced oppression for no other reason than the color of their skin. Those of our ancestors who were brutalized for no other reason than their skin. Those ancestors who were denied the opportunity to live out the truest life simply because of the color of their skin. Those of our ancestors who were forced to live in squalor and filth simply because of the color of their skin. Those who were treated with injustice in a system supposedly created around the creed of justice for all simply because of the color of their skin. You see each and every one of our ancestors who maintained hope is standing at the gates of justice asking us to remember their struggles. Also, asking us to remember that they kept hope alive. If you remember their struggles and the inner quest for hope, it will make the barriers that well arise easier to cross.

Jun. 20, 2019

June 20, 1926 Wyatt Mordecai Johnson Elevated To The Presidency of Howard University

On June 20, 1926, Howard University the mecca of black colleges and universities in this nation selected Wyatt Mordecai Johnson to be the first African American who be its University President. One of the greatest educators this nation has ever produced Wyatt Mordecai Johnson was born in Paris, Tennessee in 1890. A lifelong educator, Johnson held degrees from a number of institutions including a 1911 A.B. from Morehouse College and a Doctor of Divinity degree from Howard University. Three years after his graduation from Howard he became the first African-American​ president of that institution and remained at the university’s helm for the next thirty-four​ years.

Dr. Johnson was one of the foremost committed religious leaders this country ever produced. As a matter of fact, it is well known that Dr. Johnson had a profound impact on the philosophical thoughts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was Dr. Johnson who introduced the strategies of Gandhi to Dr. King when King attended a sermon in Philadelphia that featured Wyatt Mordecai Johnson. Dr. Johnson served Howard University until 1960. During that period of time, profound changes took place at HU. The university became the leading institution for developing not only graduates who directed civil rights efforts. It also was the location where those successful strategies were formally initiated.

In 1922, Wyatt Mordecai Johnson was selected to be the commencement speaker at Harvard University. It was then that he delivered this speech on "The Faith of the American Negro". Today, in honor of Dr. Johnson, I will bring his profound words to my blog with my voice. So many great black educators have influenced the multitudes of African American today. In his time with us, Dr. Johnson was one of those educators leading the way in forging excellence in our communities. His reach still continues to light a pathway to greatness today. Let's continue to honor Dr. Wyatt Mordecai Johnson's memory by doing our best to assisting our communities to forge continued black excellence each and every day.

Jun. 19, 2019

The Blackman's Read Aloud Hour

On June 19, 2019, I will begin reading in one-hour chunks on my Facebook Live Page (Joseph Shelton Hall) The Defender, written by Ethan Michaeli, copyright 2016. This book details the history of the black newspaper the Chicago Defender and how it impacted not only black America but the entirety of America.
This book follows me completing reading Riot and Remembrance: The Tulsa Race War on June 18, 2019. I hope that you can join the live presentation which occurs Sunday-Friday's at around 5:00 PM. If not please view the taped sessions on my personal Facebook page or other sites I connect with as well as my Linked In page.

Jun. 19, 2019

Why Couldn't It Have Been Januaryteenth? That Would've Been A Real Party With A Purpose!

Why do the black communities in this nation celebrate June 19, 1865, yet ignore the date January 16, 1865? One day became a holiday of some magnitude especially in the state of Texas, Juneteenth. While the other date, January 16, 1865, became a day of little or no recognition. One date involved the issuance of an important Field Order that came one of the Union Army's second-leading commander, General William T. Sherman who famously lead a military maneuver that effectively destroyed the armed forces of the Confederate States of America from Georgia to the coastline of South Carolina. While the other General Order was issued by a non-descript Major General George Granger, who was charged with the leadership of maintaining order and control in the state of Texas. I ask this question today on June 19, 2019, as many of my black brothers and sisters are engaged in the Juneteenth celebrations. Why don't we celebrate on January 16, 1865, isn't that the day of more historically importance?

Why, Juneteenth? I mean celebrating a date when in actuality enslaved Texans had been freed for 2 1/2 years by Presidential decree of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Or, shouldn't we have celebrated the date January 16, 1865, because that is the date when freed black American were supposedly given 40 acres and a government mule by Field Order #15. I mean if our ancestors had started that celebration date it may have forced the new Union of the United States to honor the promise of the land and the mule. What exactly did General Order #3 provide black Americans on June 19, 1865? Freedom, not really, just because the Confederate State of Texas didn't recognize the Emancipation Proclamation didn't mean it was inconsequential. In addition on January 13, 1865, Congress and the President mandated that every former slave was henceforth and forever free with the passage of the 13th Amendment. In actuality, Texas didn't formally ratify the 13th Amendment until February 18, 1870, which was almost 5 years after Juneteenth. So what exactly are we as Black Americans on June 19? It surely isn't the end of slavery because we know that slavery extended far beyond June 19, 1865. It may not have been the legalized institution that was the law of the land prior to the end of the Civil War but it surely was for all intent and purposes slavery.

If we are celebrating an actual Juneteenth, which referred to the end of institutional legalized slavery in this nation. The date should be referred to as Decemberteenth, reflecting December 6, 1865, the day that the 13th Amendment was ratified. It was that date in which the 13th Amendment became a part of the United States Constitution. I don't see any national celebrations in black communities on that date. I sorta wish that our black ancestors had made a huge deal out of January 16, 1865. I sorta, kinda wish that our ancestors in South Carolina and Georgia would've had some major parties celebrating Field Order #15. You know banners and all reflecting 40 acres and a government mule. May have even caused Andrew Johnson to reconsider recalling those orders. He might've even rethought his position of giving our deserved lands back to the former Confederate rebel plantation owners. Even if he didn't reconsider every year having a Januaryteenth celebration for our 40 acres and a mule would've put reparations front and center. I am damn sure that the state of Texas wouldn't have made that day a state holiday. You ask yourself this, what did the state of Texas lose, economically in making Juneteenth a state holiday? What Texas land was given to freed enslaved peoples as reparations for the ills and injury of slavery?

I don't have any problem with reasons for a party. What is the saying now in our black communities, "party with a purpose"? Well, I would've loved our ancestors to have partied with a purpose on Januaryteenth, January 16, 1865, and every year that followed. Reparations would've have been front and center every year since, 154 years and counting.