From World Socialist, "100 years ago: 36 black prison workers die in stockade fire.
Convict labor in the US South.
Thirty-six black prison laborers were killed after the coal mine stockade where they were forced to work caught fire. There were “few survivors” according to a press account, among them three white inmates. The men were leased to the Red Feather Coal Company by the state of Alabama’s penal system.
There was little media coverage of the disaster. The New York Times dutifully repeated company claims that the fire was started by an inmate attempting to escape. “Among those who burned is the Negro who started the blaze,” according to the Times. How this could have been established if the man had died, the Times did not bother to report.
The “rescue” effort was primarily concerned with seeing to it that no one escaped. Or, as the Times put it, the effort “to guard the prisoners who were hurried outside greatly hampered rescue work.” Indeed, one of the 36 killed “was fatally shot by guards while attempting to escape.” The Times concluded that “it was with much difficulty” that the few survivors “were prevented from eluding the guards.”
The forced labor of prison convicts emerged in the South in the 1870s after the US Civil War (1861-1865) had abolished slavery. “Southern justice” routinely rounded up black men, as well as poor whites, who were then sold for a fee to mines, railroads, and other interests. The men were not paid, had no rights, and were subject to savage beatings."
---- Although prefaced with "convict labor in the US South" and a photo of black men on a chain gang, the gist of the blurp is saying look, look, see how racist the US South is - burning poor black prisoners who were forced to labor under god awful conditions. "They" abolished slavery and made us inmates, while the North paid pennies to lock white women and children in factories - leave it to the racist South to force the black convict into labor to benefit the companies who sold coal to fuel the factories in the progressive North.
WSWS insinuates that "the Negro who started the blaze" was framed because the NYT did not explain how his guilt was established since he died in the fire. Typical, just typical, blame the black man. Although I suspect the remaining prisoners and guards who survived pointed fingers as to who and how the blaze began.
Then there's the obligatory WSWS reminder of Hillbill Whitey and his "southern justice" for black men. Hinting times haven't really changed that much for the poor downtrodden black man - still a target for those evil white capitalists.
I'll further the convict labor history a bit. From 1866 to 1937, all across the US, states leased convict labor. The Brits did the same thing between 1607-1776 by sending convicts to US colonies - particularly Quakers, Scottish Covenanters, Monmouth Rebels, and other political and military trouble makers. After the Revolution they had to ship their criminal, mainly white folks, to Australia.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, U.S. miners were strongly against the convict-lease system, as it depressed wages, and the practice instigated several miner rebellions. In 1891 Tennessee miners initiated guerrilla attacks at Briceville in Anderson County. In the initial confrontation, three hundred miners surrounded the stockade, took charge of the forty prisoners, marched them and their guards five miles to Coal Creek, sealed them in boxcars, and shipped them to Knoxville. The miners requested the intervention of Governor John P. Buchanan to protect the rights of labor. The governor agreed to meet with the miners, but ordered three companies of state militia to restore order and return the convicts to Briceville.
Of course, nothing changed much until around 1930s, about the same time child labor was outlawed. Convict labor did help spur the growth of unions.
Even so, prison labor was not abolished, simply "restricted" and spruced up a bit and today, psychologists and social experts agree, work is considered a necessary part of the rehabilitation of criminals. (Is calling a convict a "criminal" P.C.?) The main work of prisoners now is maintenance activities, outdoor public works (farming, road building, reforestation), telemarketing... And of course the living conditions are much much much better. Mandatory labor today is termed "work-release" and "job training" or the "prison industries" sort of like cottage industries but without the home-based warm fuzzy ... well, I guess it is home to some men.
Today, compared to previous times, prisons are quite comfortable - cable tv, gym, clean clothes, regular meals, health care, counselors, religious or spiritual accommodations, college courses, libraries, sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Hmm ... taxpayer provided food, clothing, shelter, education, entertainment, medical care ... prison almost sounds like ... socialism? Maybe we are all in the process of being rehabilitated for USA Supermax.
Frederick Douglass, in 1893 wrote of the convict-lease system, giving 2 reasons why the majority of convicts were black. First: "The religious, moral and philanthropic forces of the country — all the agencies which tend to uplift and reclaim the degraded and ignorant, are in the hands of the Anglo-Saxon. Not only has very little effort been made by these forces to reclaim the Negro from the ignorance, immorality and shiftlessness with which he is charged, but he has always been and is now rigidly excluded from the enjoyment of those elevating influences toward which he felt voluntarily drawn. In communities where Negro population is largest and these counteracting influences most needed, the doors of churches, schools, concert halls, lecture rooms, Young Men's Christian Associations, and Women's Christian Temperance Unions, have always been and are now closed to the Negro who enters on his own responsibility. Only as a servant or inferior being placed in one corner is he admitted. The white Christian and moral influences have not only done little to prevent the Negro becoming a criminal, but they have deliberately shut him out of everything which tends to make for good citizenship."
Fred, that is rather disappointing. Douglass, born into slavery, sold, beaten, escaped, self-educated, world traveler, author, statesman - did not wait for the Anglo-Saxons or the YMCA to lift him from "ignorance, immorality, and shiftlessness."
Douglass' second reason is the same still heard today, although certainly more true in 1900 - that of the unfair sentences meted out to black men.
(Also irksome to me, Douglass was president of the Freedman's Savings Bank (1865-1874) which collapsed taking million$ from the black community - due to corruption, shady investments, speculation, etc., like today. Douglass stepped in at the last minute to "boost the morale of depositors and investors." An intelligent man, he had to know what was going on - what did he know and when did he know it.)
Anyway, I'm tired of the redundant stories of life's unfairness, particularly to black America.
Perhaps Douglass was the forerunner to Jessie or Al - you know, in one breath calling you an ignorant degraded shiftless nigger and in the next breath blaming it on whitey.
(That reminds me, anyone ever explain why Jessie wanted to cut off Obama's huevos? )
Monday, May 10, 2010
From World Socialist, "100 years ago: 36 black prison workers die in stockade fire.
Sunday, May 02, 2010
Gosh Bubba, wasn't it more interesting when we had Bush the Younger to bash and gnash our teeth on?
Now, again, we get to hear the "right" yammer about socialism coming to America - never mind that's it's been arriving in increments over the last 70 or so years.
The republicans would have you think Obama is ushering socialism in - even as he bails out the big business of banking, insurance, healthcare, housing, auto, etc. and creates more bureaucracy and bureaucrats - just as Bush the Boy did under the guise of "security." Obama does it under the cover of "economic recovery."
Surely, soon, we will all be safer and richer. And the woooooooorld will live as one ...
Arizona toughened up its immigration laws and "activists" are in an uproar. Obama says the bill is "misguided" and "his administration is examining whether it would violate civil rights."
Damn near anything can be condoned or undone now under "civil rights."
The sad fact is the majority of Latino hordes crossing the border are not coming to do the jobs Americans won't do - but come for the benefits, come as deadbeats to live with cousins who may or may not be legal but have settled in, and/or the trafficantes. So stop kidding yourself ... the illegals today drift back and forth across the border leaving a trail in the US of crime, debt, and illegitimate babies with fat white girls on the system (as if America needs help with that). So you say illegals put a lot of money back into the US economy? Yes, my daughters-in-law (Mexican nationals) say the money not sent south of the border is spent on diapers and beer. Have you ever lived in a US barrio? It's just the inner city 'hood speaking Spanish with brighter paint.
As I've said before, if you had millions of blacks illegally crossing the border, D.C. would solve the problem in a week. And while progressives would claim sympathy for those poor black folks only trying to feed their families, they would say illegal immigration depresses US wages, burdens our entitlement programs, and encourages criminal activity. Because you see, deep down in their hearts, progressives prefer their voting slave sheeple light-skinned. Hordes of illegal Africans crossing the border - no way. Hordes of lighter-skinicans - okay.
A couple of weeks ago Obama instructed his Health and Human Services secretary to draft rules requiring hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid payments to grant same-sex couples "visitation right." Hailed and cheered as some sort of advancement for gay rights. Every gay couple I've known over the last 40 years never had a problem in a hospital setting. Pure barrypandering.
Obama recently recognized iconic godmother of civil rights, Dorothy Height. She died at 98 after a long, long career in social activism. She stood with MLK during his "I Have a Dream Speech." Betcha never heard of her. Black History month has worked so well. I bet Obama never heard of her until shortly before her memorial, in fact he said "We came to know her in the early days of my campaign."
I suppose in the heyday of women's rights, Gloria Steinem was spokesperson enough for white women demanding equal pay and equal orgasm (and still failing at both), and Angela Davis for black women. Dorothy wasn't sufficiently militant for that time period or TPTB-guided social change. Height was a lady, but the poster-girl plan called for an in-your-face black woman on the FBI wanted list.
Obama panders as well as any president, in fact, democrats seem to be better at it than republicans. Dems make you believe, as you bend over, that they're doing something for you while they further the agenda of the powers that be. Republicans don't care if you believe they're doing something for you or not - bend over.
Have you scanned the headlines on "progressive blogs"? If they're not talking about themselves and how intelligent they are, or banning someone who doesn't agree - they're ranting about Arizona immigration apartheid, gentrification, reparations, black sell-outs i.e. black conservatives, and fundraising for a former 1960s thug now known as a political prisoner. And/or a mention of the latest skit on the Comedy Channel, as this is where the average progressive gets his ideology (versus the hilarious Sean Hannity on the right).
Never mind that polls show the majority of Americans support the Arizona immigration law, or support domestic oil drilling, or are against things like same-sex marriage - you're gonna get whatever it takes for TPTB to create the America they want - one where the majority is puerile, tingling and palpitating over elected personalities rather than real leaders.
When my teen high school granddaughter watched clips from something on t.v. showing presidents and other pols on late night talk shows, she commented "...hard to take them seriously when they do talk show t.v., it's seems undignified."
Yep, it's hard to take politicians seriously or see them as having any dignity, but maybe that's the goal, since dignity would imply they're worthy.
Posted by Kate-A at 9:13 AM