Book Excerpt Of The Week, “Let The Trumpet Sound: The Life Of Martin Luther King Jr.” By: Stephen B. Oates

“The city fathers, however, refused to take the boycott seriously. ‘Comes the first rain day,’ the mayor said with a laugh, ‘and the Negroes will be back on the buses.’

In fact, it rained the next day. But the Negroes stayed off the buses, most of them trudging to work under umbrellas and newspapers, bundled up against the wet cold. When he observed that the mayor was certain that communists were at work in Montgomery.

To force Negroes back on the buses, the police commissioner ordered Negro taxi companies to change the minimum rate of forty-five cents per customer, thus ending cheap taxi fares for the boycotters. But King [and his organization] moved quickly to meet the crisis. They devised an ingenious car pool- based on a similar operation used in the Baton Rouge boycott- which went into operation on Thursday, December 13. Volunteer Negro drivers transported people to and from work, operating out of forty-eight dispatch and forty-two pickup stations established in key sections of the city. The car pool was so efficient that a local white judge later praised it as the best transportation system Montgomery had ever known.

In time, B.J. Simms of Alabama State took command of the car pool and ran it with military precision…

Not all the Negroes would ride in Brother B.J.’s vehicles. Some preferred to ‘demonstrate with their feet’ their desire for dignity and justice, and they walked to and from work every day, regardless of the weather.

Once a car pool driver chanced upon an old woman hobbling along with great difficulty, and he offered her a ride. She waved him on. ‘I’m not walking for myself. I’m walking for my children and my grandchildren.’

Then there was Old Mother Pollard. ‘Now listen’ King told her at church one night, ‘you have been with us all along, so now you go on and start back to riding the bus, ’cause you are too old to keep walking.’ ‘Oh, no,’ she protested, ‘I’m going to walk just as long as everybody else walks. I’m going to walk until it’s over.’ ‘But aren’t you tired?’ King asked. ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘my feet are tired, but my soul is rested…’

The miracle was manifested in other ways too. When threatened by white employers, boycotting domestics refused to be intimidated.” -From, “Let The Trumpet Sound: The Life Of Martin Luther King Jr.” By: Stephen B. Oates

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Black History Fact

According to, Miriam Benjamin invented a chair that “allowed hotel patrons to summon waiters by pushing a button attached to the back. The signal would buzz the waiter station and a light would appear on the chair, letting the waiters know who needed service. The actual patent was issued to Benjamin in 1888. Her invention was adapted and used in the United States House of Representatives. The chairs are not often seen in hotels or restaurants any more, but you could say the Gong and Signal chair was a precursor to signaling systems on airplanes to alert flight attendants when a passenger requires assistance or service. Benjamin was the second black woman to receive a patent.”

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The 2008 not guilty verdict in the Sean Bell case evoked outrage, emotion, and debate. It is not an anomaly that the police officers involved in the Sean Bell slaying were acquitted of all charges on all counts in State Supreme Court. I could run out of ink printing the names of people who have been victimized by the inaptly named justice system.

The American justice system has been especially terroristic towards the African American community. Many community members can cite historic and personal accounts to prove this. Therefore, it would be foolhardy (at the least) to turn to a system that has methodically oppressed us, and request that they free us. We can only free ourselves through extreme discipline and intelligent planning.

As a community we have been too compliant with leaders who organize ineffective, delayed reactions. The only strategy that can save us in this last hour is one that calls for a collective code of conduct that will be conducive to improving the conditions of our community, and shifting the paradigm of how we are treated by outside entities. The first step of this code of conduct should be based on economics.

The old adage of “money talks,” still reigns true in the new millennium. Any political scientist worth his or her library card will tell you that: “Economic powerlessness equals political powerlessness,” and conversely “economic power equals political power.” This means that if we continue to allow our wealth to be extracted from our community, we will remain impotent.

The power of the collective “Black Dollar” is often discussed. However, that power has been left unchanneled. Today is the day to change that. A one-time boycott is not going to bring long-term change and respect to our community. Our community has launched boycotts before. Our success and ascension will be based on what we consistently do. For this reason, we should initiate “BUY BLACK FRIDAYS.”

BUY BLACK FRIDAYS is a small step towards our community acquiring power via controlling our economics. Every Friday, people who acknowledge the injustice and oppression that the African American community has been consistently subjected to should do one of the following:

Option #1: Spend $0 on Friday
Option #2: Spend no more than $10 on Friday
Option #3: Only Shop at Black Businesses on Friday
[PLEASE NOTE THAT THE ABOVE OPTIONS CAN & SHOULD BE EXERCISED ON A DAILY BASIS. However, we can all at the very least focus on Fridays. This way we can take a collective stand and build our collective discipline. Please remember that this is only Phase 1!].

To the people who are tempted to label “BUY BLACK FRIDAYS” as racist, I say this: In the big scheme of things, this is about right & wrong, justice & injustice. The African American community is a strong, proud community that has endured the brunt of America’s iron fist. We must stop the pounding. I feel that any fair-minded individual will concur, and join in.

ANY business that is privileged to enjoy the support of the African American community MUST return that support.

I thank you in advance for your effort and dedication.

-Elsie Law AKA Starface

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What’s In A Name?: Cadillac: The Slave-Holding Founder Of Detroit

“The Detroit River frontier, which encapsulates the present Detroit are and the counties of Essex and Kent in Ontario, was also a centre of French habitation and hence slavery. Black slavery in the Detroit River district began when the fur trader and explorer Antoine de La Mothe Cadillac traveled to the region and in 1701 founded Detroit. Cadillac had brought with him several dozen slaves, both Panis and Africans, from Montreal to build a fort at Detroit for the purposes of the fur trade. Among Cadillac’s party were potential settlers and colonists. So while the fur traders roamed the Michigan/Ohio countryside, colonists settled on both banks of the Detroit River with their African slaves. These servants for life thus became part of the settlement process and development of the Detroit River district. Black slaves also worked in the fur trade with their owners. Of course, enslaved Native people also made the French colonization of the Detroit River district possible. Acadia (parts of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island), though not defined administratively as a part of le Canada, was also a French colony in which enslaved Africans lived, worked, and died.” -From, “The Hanging of Angelique” By: Afua Cooper

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