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Est. April 5, 2002
February 22, 2018 - Issue 730

What Does It Mean to Celebrate

"Oprah is evidence of the profitability
for all of assimilation. Resistance is futile.
Give up the fight and go with the flow."

Nobody is going to teach you your true history, teach you your true heroes,

if they know that that knowledge will help set you free.

- Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography

The Machine bought some Black politicians. In the financial district as well as in rooms and offices of City Hall, many met to talk of renewing the urban landscape. And after the signing of contracts and the shaking of hands, work to change America began one city at a time. Chicago wouldn’t be outdone.

On the Southside, buildings once abandoned by landlords and occupied by the economically struggling class of Blacks are offered to the influential class as a means of “getting ahead.” Influential Blacks talked of gentrification as their hired hands gutted barely inhabitable interiors, installing new piping and electrical wiring behind new walls. And all of the newness rested on foundations topped with mahogany flooring.

Banks and the big box stores peddle credit cards and the philosophy that everything is a must have! To have is to be! It’s harder for street entrepreneurs, selling one gold chain at a time, one boombox or one state-of-the art digital device at a time, to compete.

In the era of the Moral Majority and conservatism, Americans hailed the end of the past. The end of feminism. Whatever wave. And the end to racism. Citizens, moving toward Ronald Reagan, embraced Family Values and American Exceptionalism. To condemn the poor is to condemn poverty. The lazy are the Devil’s agents.

In the confusion of it all, some sport golden crosses on chains around their necks while guzzling down a pint of liquor and others while installing gates to protect them from the unsightly lady of carts and the unwelcome Vietnam vet on the bench nearby. Compassion, as unsightly and unwelcome at home, abroad, appeared to the Latin American citizens as coups, installing dictators who, in turned, implemented brutal policies hatched among American politicians and the infamous Chicago Boys. A mindset traveled from the University of Chicago’s Economic Department to the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Only then did so much money flow back north as corpses of men, women, and children filled unmarked graves. So many “disappeared.”

Students who were Lebanese Christians didn’t want to appear in the office if Lebanese Muslim students were present. Yet, I had to make a deal. It’s Black History Month. All the presidents of the clubs are assembled in the meeting room. I looked at each of them seated around the table. Most of these club presidents, similar to the general student population, are struggling to pay tuition at this city college. Most are working. Some already have a young child or two.

Diane Nash! Kwame Ture!

I’m looking now at the Black students. The Latino/a students.

Of course, we’ll invite Mayor Washington. The first Black mayor of Chicago. Of course, we’ll invite Harold whose hands is full cleaning up the corruption and confronting the ignorance of those in City Hall who want to the survival of The Machine, who want the Old Man Daley’s son and not the back talking Black man they can’t buy.

We’ll have films, including King: A Filmed Record, Montgomery to Memphis.

But, also, how about Diane Nash and Kwame Ture? Stokeley Carmichael, I added, in case that would ring a collective bell.

It’s my first Black History Month as Director of Student Activities at what is then Loop College, the flagship 2-year college of the City of Chicago. I returned to the city the previous year after three and a half years of living in LA learning to write for newsprint in order to begin a master’s program in English. I don’t know what the previous director did in the month of February, but I am who I am. I know my commitment. I can’t speak openly about my commitment in this era where I’m working with a dean, a Black woman, and my supervisor, who bemoans the loss of a mink coat she accidentally left in the restroom, across the hall from our offices.

Nothing of the past is really dead.

I’m waiting.

Finally, someone asks about Oprah. What about Oprah? She’s just across the street!

Now all the eyes are saying - what about Oprah! I see. The jewelry. Hair is styled and nails are done fancy. The attire of all is American - whether Christian or Muslim. Black, white, Asian, Latino/a.

Oprah is evidence of the profitability for all of assimilation. Resistance is futile. Give up the fight and go with the flow.

Diane Nash, grew up here, in Chicago and graduated from Hyde Park High School. When she moved South, and joined the Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, she co-founds the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She’s with Dr. King. Organizing with Dr. King, as a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). I don’t bother to add that I was a teenage member of the Chicago branch of this organization.

Nothing about what I’m saying is hip. Today. “Getting ahead.”

Diane Nash was a war activist. A women’s rights activist.


And I still see then, in 1984, the dejected look on Kwame Ture’s face as he sat across my desk.

Students lined up along the corner of State and Lake Streets, from ABC studios to Loop College. Students filled the college lobby. In the elevator, Oprah watched as the floor numbers lit up. Once she was standing before students in a packed room, she became Oprah.

Show time!

She was a “success.”

Students were busy pursuing their education on the days when Diane Nash and Kwame Ture came to campus.

In 2018, a sheriff went on a rant about “warehousing” human beings. It seems another group of citizens, Black, stole over $4,000 worth of merchandise from a store.

As the suspects try to escape, their car crashes with another car—and luckily no one, according to Kenosha News, is seriously injured.

Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth calls a press conference. He openly suggests that some people are of no worth to society. They should be “disappeared.”

I think at some point society has to get so fed up that they are no longer willing to tolerate people who are not an asset to society... I think we have to create a threshold where, once you cross the threshold, Wisconsin, the United States, builds warehouses where we put these people who have been deemed to be no longer an asset, that are really a detriment, like these five people. I have no issue with these five people completely disappearing. At (this) point, these people are no longer an asset to our community, and they just need to disappear.

Sheriff Beth apologize to the local NAACP; he’s still free to remain in his position.

And it’s little surprise to some of us, that a white nationalist group in Florida would want to take credit for the mass shooting and killing of high school students by a 19-year old. This young man came to school showing off his guns.

No one spoke of “warehousing” him! Of the over 30 times police showed up at the home where he lived, responding to domestic violence, he was not shot dead as was 12-year old Tamir Rice, who, when police arrived on the scene, was playing with a toy gun. In seconds, he was killed.

Chicago. Las Vegas. New York. Baltimore.

What’s changed in all these years? Are we learning anything while we claim to be celebrating those human rights activists who sacrificed their lives to see to it that America is NOT where it is today? Editorial Board member and Columnist, Lenore Jean Daniels, PhD, has a Doctorate in Modern American Literature/Cultural Theory. Contact Dr. Daniels.




is published every Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble

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