Why Didn't They Tell You?

Dr. FRANK MARTINS COMMENTARY ON HISTORICAL, SOCIAL & ECONOMIC ISSUES OF OUR TIME

that the Russians influenced voting in U. S. presidential elections of 1932 and 1936?

that the Russians influenced voting in U. S. presidential elections of 1932 and 1936?

The Mueller Report concluded that there was no evidence that Russia colluded with or conspired with the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 election in favor of Donald Trump or that voting was affected by Russian interference, which did happen. Indeed, Russia has been meddling in American domestic politics for almost a century, and there was a time when Russian meddling may have affected voting in two presidential elections, in 1932 and 1936.

In his classic work, The Negro and the Communist Party, Wilson Record spends most of his time trying to explain why, after three decades (1920-1950) of trying, the Communists never made any significant inroads among Negroes, i.e., Americans of African Heritage. Their attempts to recruit Americans of African heritage into the Communist Party, for the most part, were abysmal failures. Though the Communists had not been successful in recruiting Americans of African Heritage for membership in the Party, they evidently were successful in the 1930’s in putting more cracks in what had been an almost monolithic attachment of Black People to the Republican Party, the reverse of present circumstances.

It is important to understand that the Communist Party in the United States was an arm of the Communist Party in Russia, certainly from the 1920’s to the end of the Soviet Union in the 1990’s. The American Party got its marching orders from the Kremlin in Moscow. Speaking of “boring from within” as an ineffectual strategy, Wilson notes that, “No one was more aware of this than the men in the Kremlin who directed the activities of the Communist International and of the American section”.1 In short, any influences attributed to the American Communist Party during the era under consideration must ultimately be connected to Russia.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first run for President as the standard bearer for the Democratic Party was in 1932, against incumbent Herbert Hoover, when the country was in the depth of the Great Depression; he won the election by a landslide. His 1936 victory was also a landslide. Though their loyalty to the Republican Party had been diminishing since the late 1920’s, the majority of Americans of African Heritage still voted for Hoover in 1932. Nonetheless, 1932 seems to have been an important turning point.2 Thus in 1934, Arthur W. Mitchell, who had served four years in the U. S. House of Representatives as a Republican, switched party affiliation and was elected to the U. S. Congress as the “first Negro Democrat”3.

Wilson attributes this change in party affiliation partly to the activities of the Communist Party in noting that “Communists played a role in weaning Negroes away from the Republican Party in 1932 and in piling up the black vote for Roosevelt in 1936.”4, when Roosevelt received 71% of the black vote.5 This was done through putting “… their canvassers and precinct workers at the disposal of the Democratic Party machines. … By 1936 the [Communist] Party had dropped much of its criticism of Roosevelt and the New Deal, redirecting its vitriol almost exclusively towards Roosevelt’s detractors.”6 Since Roosevelt’s victory was so lopsided, it is doubtful that the black vote affected the election outcome. Nonetheless, if Wilson is right, the Russians did impact voting in American Presidential elections going back more than 80 years. Obviously, the Russians felt that the Democratic Party’s world view was more sympathetic to their agenda than that of the Republican Party.

Since 1936, a majority of the black vote in every presidential election has gone to the Democrats. Another breaking point occurred in 1964 when the Democratic nominee Lyndon Johnson received 94% of the black vote. Black Demographics concluded that it was “… the association of civil rights legislation with John F Kennedy and Lyndon Banes Johnson that solidified Black loyalty to the Democratic Party for good. JFK proposed and LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlawed public discrimination.  LBJs Republican opponent, Barry Goldwater, opposed it garnering Johnson 94% of the black vote that year, which was a record until 2008. Johnson later signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act.” Interestingly, though the Democrats had a supermajority in both the House and the Senate, it was the Republican minority that carried the day in approving the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

In 1964, Democrats held 253 of the 431 seats (four seats were evidently vacant) in the House of Representatives and 67 of the 100 seats in the Senate. In other words, the Democrats had enough votes to pass any legislation without any Republican support and had enough votes to override a presidential veto. However, in the voting for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, only 153 Democrats (60% of all Democrats) voted for the bill which fell short of the 216 votes needed to pass the legislation. Republicans made up the difference with 136 (76% of all Republican in the House) votes for the legislation. In the Senate 46 Democrats voted for the legislation, thus falling short of the 51 needed. With 27 of the 33 Republicans voting for the bill, the required number of votes was assured. However, given Barry Goldwater’s opposition to the legislation, the overwhelming Republican support for the civil rights legislation in both the House and the Senate was not enough to fend off the Democratic landslide among black voters.7

In 2004 when George W. Bush ran for re-election, fifteen percent (15%) of Americans of African Heritage identified as Republicans, the highest since 1960. Eleven percent (11%) identified as independent, and eleven percent (11%) voted for George W. Bush in 2004. By 2016, only three percent (3%) identified as Republicans while 23% identified as Independent. Donald Trump received 8% of the black vote in 2016.8 In short, the black vote is not as monolithic as we may assume it is. It will be interesting to see how much of the black vote goes to Donald Trump in 2020.

Featured Image of Communist Party protest of 1930’s accessed at https://www.google.com/search?q=great+depression&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS894US894&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiy5eO-1IHrAhUSca0KHXxLAnoQ_AUoAnoECBwQBA&biw=1920&bih=871

  1. Record, Wilson (1951). The Negro and the Communist Party. Atheneum: New York, p. 52.
  1. U. S. House of Representatives, “Party Realignment and The New Deal”. Accessed at https://history.house.gov/Exhibitions-and-Publications/BAIC/Historical-Essays/Keeping-the-Faith/Party-Realignment–New-Deal/
  2. Franklin, John Hope (1967). From slavery to freedom: A history of Negro Americans, 3rd edition. New York: Alfred A Knopf, p. 528.
  3. Wilson, p. 311
  4. Black Demographics. Accessed at https://blackdemographics.com/culture/black-politics/
  5. Wilson, p. 131
  6. Information on voting accessed at https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/88-1964/h182
  7. Black Demographics.

that recent protests have been anything but peaceful?

that recent protests have been anything but peaceful?

As I have listened to the reporting on the protests in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, invariably the protests were, and still are, described by reporters as mostly peaceful; however, the scenes shown of the protests more often than not showed protesters setting fires, breaking windows in buildings, fighting with or taunting police officers, painting graffiti on buildings or sidewalks, or pulling down statues. All of these actions constitute violent behavior.

Mischaracterization of Protests by Media

There often has been a disconnect between the descriptions of the protests and the scenes actually shown or described. An example of this disconnect is the reporting on a protest in Sacramento by the Sacramento Bee as, “A peaceful protest turned briefly into a tense standoff with police on a highway overpass. Demonstrators threw water bottles, trash, and other objects at officers, who then fired pepper bullets and flash-bang grenades to disperse the crowd …” Was that a peaceful protest? Of twenty-two (22) protests, in as many cities, in late May/early June, listed and described by the news website nj.com, only two (Memphis and Boston) were peaceful. When I think of peaceful protests, I think of the non-violent marches and sit-ins of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and the 1960’s. The protesters in that peaceful, non-violent movement never engaged in any of the above mentioned violent behaviors. They were trained to accept abuse and even beatings without retaliating. These current protesters are aggressively confronting and physically attacking police officers and committing other acts of violence. The current funeralizing of Congressman John R. Lewis should be a reminder of what truly peaceful protests look like.

Cities in Turmoil

The protests have continued in cities like Seattle and Portland, Oregon. In actuality, what’s going on in Portland and some other cities is rioting, not protesting. Innocent bystanders, police officers, and protesters have been killed or injured. The turmoil has continued unabated in Portland for the past two months (61 days). During all of this, too often the police have been told to stand down by the mayors of these cities where this rioting is occurring. As a result crime is soaring, including homicides with the killing of innocent children in New York, Chicago, and other cities. Some of these places are in turmoil, and local officials and governors are not doing very much, if anything, to stop it. Many citizens are living in fear in certain areas.

Reaction to Federal Government Intervention

What is most disconcerting is that many public officials, from city mayors up to the Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives seem to take the side of the lawbreakers while denigrating law enforcement officials and efforts of the President to protect Federal property. The Seattle City Council tied the hands of the police in dealing with violent demonstrations, to the dismay of the Police Chief. In Portland, demonstrators launched an assault on the Federal Courthouse and other Federal installations in that city. Therefore, the President ordered additional federal officials to be dispatched there to protect the buildings. Federal law enforcement officials right away arrested some of the perpetrators. A fence was constructed around the building. Demonstrators immediately began to try to tear down the fence. The following statement issued by the Portland Police Bureau and reported in the New York Post describes what happened Saturday night/Sunday morning (July 25-26),

“Throughout the night some people in this crowd spent their time shaking the fence around the building, throwing rocks, bottles, and assorted debris over the fence, shining lasers through the fence, firing explosive fireworks into the area blocked by the fence, and using power tools to try to cut through the fence,” the bureau said in a statement.

“People wore gas masks, carried shields, hockey sticks, leaf blowers, flags, and umbrellas specifically to thwart police in crowd dispersal or attempt to conceal criminal acts. People against the fence sprayed unknown liquids through it toward the courthouse. People tied rope to the fence and attempted to pull it down,” the bureau said.

“At about 1:03 a.m. people in the crowd attached a chain to the fence and with many people pulling managed to pull a section of it down,” the bureau said, with protesters also lighting fires in the street.

“People climbed over the fence to get close to the federal courthouse. People continued to launch mortar style fireworks at ground level that were exploding near others.”

Lasers aimed at Federal officers resulted in the possible permanent blindness of three individuals. The Portland Police Bureau declared a riot in the early hours of July 27 which marked the 60th straight day of violent demonstrations in Portland.

There was a time when such actions would have brought forth unanimous condemnation from elected officials but not in this case. Last week, the mayor of Portland went to the protest site and told the rioters that he was on their side. Their response was to demand that he quit his job. Mayors of other cities have made it clear that they do not want help from the President and have asked him not to send in additional federal officials. In a statement condemning President Trump’s acting to protect Federal buildings, Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, called the federal officers “storm troopers”.  Meanwhile Federal buildings in Portland are being destroyed. Evidently the aim is to burn down the Federal Courthouse.

Antifa and BLM

Who are the leaders of these riotous protests? Who are the drivers? Some of the demonstrators in these crowds are legitimate protesters who are concerned about police misconduct. However, the protests have been hijacked by radical groups. Antifa and Black Lives Matter (BLM) seem to be the primary instigators. Most of the rioters appear to be white. Literally Antifa means anti-fascist. It is a somewhat elusive organization of groups who coalesce for disruptive and usually violent protests. They oppose fascism and white supremacy but do not stop there. They are anti-capitalist, anti-American, anti-conservative, anti-Christian, and anti-Trump; ditto for BLM. Both Antifa and BLM are hard-core revolutionaries bent on tearing down the United States of America and remaking it according to their Marxist/Socialist image of what they think is the good society. At a gathering of BLM near a Federal Courthouse in Los Angeles in support of the rioting taking place in Portland, the spokesperson urged, “…  unity against President Trump, as well as fascism and capitalism.”1 (Italics added)

They are not interested in reform. Hence they do not want to reform the police but abolish the police. After they have taken down statues of every Confederate, they will concoct reasons to take down the statues of each and every historical figure they target. They also are working on undermining the Church and the Family. In the final analysis, the Constitution and Declaration of Independence must go. The Declaration of Independence must go because it declares that our rights come from God. They want a clean slate.

The Consequences of Antifa and BLM Having Their Way

The Radical Left’s getting in control would spell the end of freedom as we know it. One of the tenets of those who adhere to Marxist/Socialist doctrine is equality of outcomes, not equality of opportunity. It seems that the primary reason for the Left’s assertion of the existence of systemic racism is the inequality of outcomes. Thus the fact that the median family income of African-American families is less than that of whites is prima facie evidence of discrimination and racism, even if the differences can be explained by differences in productivity factors. Some people earn more than others because they have more education or more marketable skills. Egalitarian socialism has always failed. A few examples will suffice to illustrate the point.

The Pilgrim Experiment

Initially the Pilgrims tried to implement a system of egalitarian socialism. All that was produced by the community was put into one pot and redistributed to everyone based on the principle, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” What was the result? Eminent starvation. There were the freeloaders who worked very little or none at all. Some young men resented widows with children receiving more than they who had worked to produce the goods. William Bradford, their leader, saw that this was not working. Therefore, he instituted changes by assigning land to individuals who were allowed to keep the fruit of their labor. In short order, they had plenty. The system of socialism destroyed incentives to work, thereby impoverishing the whole community.

The Chinese Reset

When Mao Zedong and his supporters took over China in 1949, they set up a Marxist/Leninist system of socialism. Almost 20 years later, the wife of Chairman Mao unleashed the young Red Guards on the population in the Cultural Revolution of the 1960’s, creating much chaos. The Chinese had tried to implement a system of egalitarian socialism that did not allow anyone to become rich; there were no millionaires. During the Cultural Revolution, highly trained scientist had been pulled out of their labs and put in the rice fields. The result was disastrous. Eventually Madame Mao’s youngsters were reigned in. Though still communist, the Chinese government allowed some free enterprise to emerge. Market forces were allowed to operate. Individuals were allowed to get rich. The unleashing of the creative energies of the Chinese people led to the Chinese miracle we know about. Chinese communism had to be modified to allow individuals to benefit from the fruit of their labor. Imposing equal outcomes did not work.  

Which Way America?

I hope that my readers see that there is more at issue here than race. Indeed, all of the turmoil right now is not primarily about race or racism. Racism is a ruse. Playing the race card is the means to another end. Socialist revolution is the end objective. This is an especially critical time because the American public attitude toward socialism has softened. In a recent Pew Research Center survey, 42% of Americans had a positive view of socialism. The subtitle of this section is the title of a publication by my classmate from Tulane University, W. Michael Cox, Which Way America, 2011 Annual Report, O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom, SMU Cox School of Business. The way of socialism is: big government, equality [of outcomes], redistribution, taxes, dependence, decline, and poverty while the way of capitalism is: economic freedom, opportunity, production, incentives, responsibility, progress, and wealth. Venezuela is a good example of the decline that may ensue when a previously prosperous country opts for socialism.  

Which way America?

Sources

  1. Black Lives Matter Protesters Gather at LA Federal Building In Solidarity With Portland. https://laist.com/2020/07/26/protesters_gather_at_la_federal_building_in_solidarity_with_portland.php
  2. Featured image of flag being burned at Federal Courthouse in Portland, OR accessed at https://www.google.com/search?q=riots+in+portland&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwjnsZ3EgfHqAhURXlMKHSDWBwMQ2-cCegQIABAA&oq=riots+in&gs_lcp=CgNpbWcQARgAMggIABCxAxCDATICCAAyAggAMgIIADICCAAyAggAMgIIADICCAAyAggAMgIIADoECAAQQzoFCAAQsQM6BwgAELEDEENQvIIGWKicBmCAsAZoAHAAeACAAX-IAdEFkgEDNi4ymAEAoAEBqgELZ3dzLXdpei1pbWfAAQE&sclient=img&ei=2qggX-fcO5G8zQKgrJ8Y&bih=871&biw=1920&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS894US894

that God has already judged America for the sin of slavery?

… that God has already judged America for the sin of slavery?

The Civil War (1861-1865) can be legitimately viewed as the price paid by America for the institution of slavery, whether viewed from a Christian or a secular point of view because slavery was the cause of the war. Except for slavery, there would have been no Civil War. There was no other issue that could have led the Confederate States of America to take up arms against the United States government. It was the “costliest and deadliest war ever fought on American soil, with some 620,000 of 2.4 million soldiers killed, millions more injured and much of the South left in ruin.”1. That number of 620,000 equals the number of Americans killed in World War I (116,516), World War II (405,399)2, the Korean War (40,000), and Vietnam War (58,220) which adds up to 620,135. In short, it was, by far, the deadliest war fought on American soil or foreign soil.

Gettysburg Address Lays Bare the Blatant Contradiction of Slavery

After the Declaration of Independence and the ensuing Revolutionary War, the Civil War could be viewed as the most important event in American history if put in the context of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Lincoln saw the war as a test of whether the American experiment would work as expressed in the first two sentences of his address,

 “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”

In 1863, the year Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address,  “four score and seven years ago” takes us back to 1776, the year of the Declaration of Independence which stated that a self-evident truth is, “all men are created equal.” According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a thing is self-evident if it is “so clear or obvious that no proof or explanation is needed”. Slavery flew in the face of that self-evident truth. The contradiction had to be resolved if the nation was to “endure”. How did Lincoln’s contemporaries view this conflict? Was it seen as God’s judgment of the nation? Was it God’s wrath?

Thomas Jefferson’s Prophetic Utterance

First let us consider the almost prophetic statement of Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers who died more than three decades before the Civil War began:

 “Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free.”  —Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781.3

Clearly if Jefferson had been living when the Civil War broke out, he would not have been surprised and would have seen it as the wrath of God falling on the nation because of the sin of slavery.

The Battle Hymn of the Republic

After visiting an army camp near Washington, D. C. in late 1861, Julia Ward Howe was inspired to write the words of The Battle Hymn of the Republic. She awakened in the wee hours of the morning and could not go back to sleep until she had penned the words to the now famous hymn. It was set to the tune of a marching song, “John Brown’s Body”. Below are the first four lines of the first and last stanzas of the hymn:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;

He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:

His truth is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,

With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:

As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,

While God is marching on.

The first stanza of this hymn is clearly saying that the Civil War is God’s judgment on the land; He was loosening the “fateful lightening of his terrible swift sword”. The last stanza makes it clear that the goal of the war was to get rid of slavery. You might say that this is what the Spirit of the Lord was speaking to Julia Ward Howe. For more than 150 years, this hymn has been performed by many choirs and symphony orchestras. Interestingly in some versions of the song, the last part of line three of the last stanza has been changed from “let us die to make men free” to “let us live to make men free”. What a difference one word makes. Substituting the word “life” for the word “death” changes the whole point of the hymn, namely, that blood had to be spilled to atone for the sin of the nation.

Views of the Church during the Civil War

While the Civil War was going on, almost every Christian denomination expressed the opinion that the Civil War was the wrath of God falling on the nation for the sin of slavery. It was judgment. A sampling of some of the expressions taken from the Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States by Benjamin F. Morris are shown below:

  1. “…beseeching Almighty God that, if in his justice he chastise us, his mercies may so temper his wrath that we may not be wholly destroyed.” The Methodist Episcopal New York Conference, March 1861, p. 865.
  2. “…our sins have called for thy righteous judgments”. Episcopalian Churches of Minnesota, April 17, 1861, p. 859.
  3. “… Believing the institution of Slavery to have been the fruitful source of the great trouble upon us, we cannot but pray and hope that the present war may be overruled by Divine Providence for the ultimate removal of human bondage from our land.” Massachusetts Congregational Association, July. 1861. p. 876.
  4. “…we acknowledge the Divine hand in our present troubles, and that we discover in them a sign of righteous indignation, on the one hand, at the iniquity which has so cruelly degraded the bondman …” General Conference of the Congregational Churches of Ohio, June, 1861 p. 881.
  5. “…implore him, in the name of Jesus Christ … to turn away his anger from us…” Old School General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, May, 1861, p. 884.
  6. “…we recognize in the defeats and disasters of our forces in the beginning of the conflict a deserved visitation of God’s wrath upon us for our complicity in the sin of slavery…” United Presbyterian Assembly, May, 1862, p. 915.

Was this what the Spirit of the Lord was speaking to the Church at that hour?

The above quotations are just a small sampling of the many statements from churches and religious organizations expressing the belief that the Civil War was an expression of God’s displeasure over the institution of slavery in the United States of American.

Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address

Lincoln, in his Second Inaugural address, said that the war looked like divine judgment to him. The next to the last paragraph of this address, filled with Biblical quotations, is all about divine judgment. That paragraph reads as follows:

“The Almighty has his own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.” [Matthew 18:7]. If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove, and that he gives to both North and South this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to him? Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” [Psalm 19:9]

The scriptural references in brackets were not part of Lincoln’s address but were inserted by this author to identify the scripture that Lincoln quoted. Though he did not dogmatically state so, it is clear that Lincoln felt that the Civil War was God’s wrath on the whole country, North and South, for the national sin of slavery. The whole tenor of the speech conveys that conviction. As noted above, the blood of 620,000 soldiers was spilled in that war. It is by far the bloodiest war America has fought.

Bought with a Price

We Americans of African heritage have been bought with a price two times.4 Jesus spilled his blood to buy us out of the bondage of sin and spiritual bondage. And in the natural, we were bought with a price when the blood of 620,000 was spilled to free us. God saw us. He heard the cries of our ancestors and delivered us. This is holy and sacred stuff! It’s enough to make one tremble!

If God has already punished America for the sin of slavery, does she need to be punished again?

References and Sources

  1. Civil War, History.Com Editors. https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/american-civil-war-history#section_1   
  2. (Google.com, https://www.google.com/search?q=Number+of+americans+killed+in+w.w.+ii&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS894US894&oq=Number+of+americans+killed+in+w.w.+ii&aqs=chrome..69i57.19096j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
  3. Quoted in Msgr. Charles Pope, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic as Bible Hymn of the Republic”. Accessed at http://blog.adw.org/?s=battle+hymn+of+the+republic
  4. I Corinthians 6:20.  

Clip art in the Featured Image at beginning of post taken from: https://www.google.com/search?q=civil+war+clipart&tbm=isch&hl=en&chips=q:drawing+public+domain+civil+war+clipart,g_1:drawing:Ibasqd7oyq4%3D,online_chips:public+domain,online_chips:american+civil&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS894US894&hl=en&ved=2ahUKEwi4v_HT7-PqAhULiFMKHepQDm8Q4lYoCHoECAEQIQ&biw=1903&bih=871#imgrc=UncvGpgsQ-anpM

that the Black National Anthem is a Christian, patriotic song of Hope?

that the Black National Anthem is a Christian, patriotic song of Hope?

The song dubbed the Black (Negro) National Anthem is Lift Every Voice and Sing.  Written by a true Renaissance man of many talents (writer, poet, educator, lawyer, diplomat, and civil rights leader), James Weldon Johnson and put to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson, an accomplished musician, as the 19th century was ending. It, indeed, became the Black People’s National Anthem. This black man James Weldon Johnson was appointed U. S Consul to Venezuela and Nicaragua by President Theodore Roosevelt whose statues are being toppled. It is truly an uplifting, Christian, patriotic song of hope. The last two lines of the song are:

True to our God
True to our native land

Clearly the native land referenced is the United States of America.

Having learned Lift Every Voice and Sing while a child in school in the Jim Crow South of the Mississippi Delta, I have always thought it was one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. Many, many artists have recorded this song, but it is most beautiful to me when sung by a church congregation or a united crowd of some kind. At the end of this essay, I have attached YouTube links to three of my favorite renditions (Diva Leontyne Price, the Roxbury Latin Glee Club, and the Winston Salem State University Choir). It was first performed in Florida in 1900 and would be performed thereafter whenever Black People congregated for important events.

In those segregated schools of the 1940’s and 1950’s, we learned the lyrics and sang the Black National Anthem along with other patriotic songs such as This is My Country, The Battle Hymn of The Republic, the Marine Hymn as well as the Star-Spangled Banner. Interestingly we also learned the lyrics and sang I Wish I Was in Dixie (Dixie). Thinking about the music and the songs we learned brings to mind two outstanding women who taught me during that era of Jim Crow: Miss Theresa Williams, a cheerful, light-complexioned lady of great character and Miss Young, a beautiful, very dark, almost completely black, lady who wore her hair in long flowing curls (not a wig).

Miss Theresa (she was really a Mrs., but Southerners called all women Miss) was my first teacher at Freewill School and was the only teacher of nine (9) grade levels in a one room school house with a partition in the middle. She played the piano and would at times bring all the students together to sing at the end of the school day. She taught us music along with the three R’s (Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic). She had to have been a good teacher because after three years there, I was fairly proficient in the three R’s. It must have been during the Korean War when she whipped me and Grover (with a rawhide strap) for fighting since she said, “If you think you’re men, maybe you ought to be fighting in the war” or something to that effect. By the way, we were fighting because Grover snatched my pencil and threw it in a ditch!

Miss Young was my music teacher in the 7th grade at Mound Bayou Consolidated School. In the 7th grade, you changed classroom and teacher every hour. One hour was devoted to music. She was a great teacher. No teacher I had during my entire student career at San Bernardino High School, Michigan State University, University of Chicago, and Tulane University was greater than she. Santa Lucia was one of the many songs she taught us. Patriotic songs were surely part of the repertoire.

Up through the 6th grade, we were taught songs by our homeroom teachers or by someone who came to the homeroom. I remember in the 4th grade when Miss Jacques taught us the music and lyrics to School Days and how she had corrected some of us who wanted to say “arithmetic” instead of “rithmetic”, as it is written in the song.

The Star-Spangled Banner comes out of the War of 1812, called by some the Second American War for Independence because had the British won, America would have lost its independence. The United States went to war with Great Britain because of economic sanctions imposed on America by the British, the western expansion issue, and because of the British practice of impressment of Americans on the open seas. This practice entailed the British taking men from American ships and drafting then into the British Navy. The combatants on the British side were the British themselves, a Confederacy of Native Americans led by Chief Tecumseh, and black slaves who escaped to British lines with the hope of being freed after the war was over. On the American side were the white Americans, Native American allies, free People of Color, and slaves who had escaped to the American lines with the hope of being freed after the war was over. Black sailors and soldiers at the Battle of Lake Erie and at the Battle of New Orleans fought valiantly and bravely for the American side. Initially being dubious of the fighting ability of the black soldiers sent to him, Commodore Perry changed his tune after witnessing their heroism and bravery in action in the Battle of Lake Erie with the words, “…they seemed absolutely insensible to danger.”1 Andrew Jackson recruited free “Negroes” for the Battle of New Orleans and promised them the same bounty and pay as the white soldiers. After preliminary campaigns leading up to the Battle of New Orleans, Jackson told his black soldiers that “the President would be informed of their conduct and that the “voice of the representatives of the American nation shall applaud your valor, as your general now praises your valor””2 Jackson’s statues are being toppled or are being called for toppling.

Neither the British nor the Americans completely lived up to their promises. Some of the slaves who fought were sent back to the owners because part of the armistice agreement required that “property” be returned.

By 1814, things had not gone well for the Americans, especially with the sacking of Washington, D. C. and the burning of the White House in August of 1814. Just before the British attack on Fort McHenry in the Battle of Baltimore, Francis Scott key was negotiating with the British in an attempt to free some American war prisoners when he ended up being detained by the British during the 25 hour-long bombardment of Fort McHenry which commenced on September 13 and lasted into the early morning of September 14. He observed the whole bombardment from the British side. To his surprise, he saw the American flag still standing and waving as the day dawned. Thus he penned the words of a poem Defence of Fort M’Henry. Later the name was changed to Star-Spangled Banner. Very soon the poem was set to the music that we now recognize as the melody of the Star-Spangled Banner.

Francis Scott Key was a slave owner, supporter of the system of slavery, anti-abolitionist, and a strong supporter of the colonization, namely, resettling blacks in Africa. However, it is not clear that he was a Negrophobe, that is, he did not necessarily hate Black People. I say this because as one of the executors of the will of John Randolph Roanoke, he fought, for a whole decade, to enforce the provisions of the will that freed Roanoke’s four hundred (400) slaves and that provided land for the slaves to support themselves. Additionally he represented slaves seeking their freedom. On the other side, he also represented slave owners seeking return of runaway slaves. Evidently he was a stickler for the law. That being said, there is nothing that can make slavery ok.

By the time of the Mexican-American War (1844-1848), The Star-Spangled Banner had become the de facto National Anthem of the United States. Woodrow Wilson by executive order in 1916 made it the official National Anthem and in 1931 Congress approved it as the National Anthem.

There is presently a call for the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing, to replace the Star-Spangled Banner as the United States’ National Anthem. The NFL plans to play Lift Every Voice and Sing at every NFL game for the first week of the season. Francis Scott Key’s statue in San Francisco was toppled almost a month ago (June 20). His offenses were being a slave owner and a line in the third stanza of his poem, wherein he says, “… No refuge could save the hireling and slave.” The slave fighting for the British and the hireling are enemy combatants from the vantage point of those on the American side. Moreover, it appears that the escaped slaves made a significant contribution to the British war effort as they did for the American side.  

You have probably noticed that generally only the first stanza of the Star-Spangled Banner is sung. I do not remember ever hearing the second, third, or fourth stanzas sung. Keeping in mind the circumstances under which the poem was written, the first stanza is very appropriate as our national anthem. Stanza three is certainly inappropriate. Therefore, let us discard the third stanza. Furthermore, there are several other traditional patriotic songs that could be performed, and, indeed, they are, depending on the event and circumstances: Battle Hymn of the Republic, God Bless America, This Is My Country, My Country ‘Tis of Thee, and Lift Every Voice and Sing are some of them. There are other less traditional songs such as God Bless the USA that can be appropriate under certain circumstances. Americans who are not of African heritage may not empathize with the lyrics of Lift Every Voice and Sing to the same extent as we Americans of African heritage. But at times it is appropriate to play it for a broader audience. There is no need to force it on others who do not feel it with the same intensity we do.

I believe we are cancelling and overturning too many things too fast. One example just came to my mind. Gayle Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints and Dixie Beer, has made the decision to get rid of the name Dixie. Yet I wonder if she realizes where the name Dixie comes from. It originated in New Orleans before the Civil War. The Citizens State Bank located in the French Quarter issued a ten-dollar note with dix – the French word for ten – written on one side. Therefore, “The notes were known as “Dixies” by Southerners, and the area around New Orleans and the French-speaking parts of Louisiana came to be known as “Dixieland”3. And of course, Dixieland Jazz originated in New Orleans. Thus we had a connection between a beer company and an early French Quarter bank. Do we want to throw all of that away?

The period under discussion is the era of unregulated banking (sometimes called “Wildcat Banking”) when individual commercial banks could, and did, issue their own currency. In short, there was nothing unusual about Citizen State Banking issuing 10-dollar notes.   

  1. Franklin, John Hope (1967). From slavery to freedom: A history of Negro Americans, 3rd edition. New York: Alfred A Knopf, p. 169.
  2. Franklin, pp. 169-170.
  3. Songfacts, https://www.songfacts.com/facts/daniel-decatur-emmett/dixie

Lift Every Voice and Sing

James Weldon JohnsonJ. Rosamond Johnson

Lift ev’ry voice and sing
‘Til earth and heaven ring
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the list’ning skies
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on ’til victory is won

Stony the road we trod
Bitter the chastening rod
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died
Yet with a steady beat
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered
Out from the gloomy past
‘Til now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast

God of our weary years
God of our silent tears
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light
Keep us forever in the path, we pray
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee
Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee
Shadowed beneath Thy hand
May we forever stand
True to our God
True to our native land

 Star-Spangled Banner

Oh! say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,

  What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming;

  Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,

  O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?

  And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

  Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;

  Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave

  O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

  On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,

  Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,

  What is that which the breeze o’er the towering steep

  As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?

  Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam;

  Its full glory reflected now shines on the stream;

  ‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh! long may it wave

  O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

  And where is the band who so vauntingly swore,

  ‘Mid the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,

  A home and a country they’d leave us no more?

  Their blood hath washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution;

  No refuge could save the hireling and slave

  From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,

  And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave

  O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

  Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

  Between their loved home and the war’s desolation;

  Blessed with victory and peace, may the Heaven-rescued land

  Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.

  Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just,

  And this be our motto, “In God is our trust”:

  And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

  O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

… the truth about the founding of America?

the truth about the founding of America?

For those of you who have been following my blog, you may notice that my writing about the events and issues coming out of the George Floyd protest is seemingly a deviation from my previous theme of correcting misconceptions or making known some unpublicized facts about the history of Africans and People of African heritage/descent. I will get back to that theme but due to the urgency of the crisis our country is going through, I feel compelled to make further comments on some of the pertinent issues, as I see them. However, there is a common theme in all that I have written and am writing: getting at the truth.

In this blog, I want to return to the founding of the United States of America. There is a persistent attempt to brand the U. S. Constitution as a racist document that excluded Black People along with a constant drum beat that the Declaration of Independence was not intended for Black People. Hence many people of African descent no longer celebrate Independence Day, July 4. The pulling down of statues has now come to include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Ulysses S. Grant (the general who led the Union to victory over the Confederacy), all former Presidents of the United States. Andrew Jackson is now in their crosshairs. The reason they have become pariahs is because they owned slaves, with the exception of Theodore Roosevelt who became president after slavery was over. This is just the beginning because other Founding Fathers owned slaves also (They pulled down a statue of Ulysses S. Grant because somebody gave him one slave). If the statues of the founders of the country have to be torn down, the next logical step is to discredit and tear down the things they created, the Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution; that process has already begun. If the whole edifice (the country) is built upon these two documents, it then follows that the whole country must come down so that they can start all over and set up a new system based on their vision of the just society with two of its cornerstones being socialism (Marxism) and atheism. Please understand socialism, Marxism, and atheism go together. There is no pretense at wanting to preserve capitalism and a market economy. Christianity also has to go. That is why the rioters had no compunction in setting fire to and vandalizing St. John’s Episcopal Church, known as the church of presidents. What an exquisite symbolic gesture, attacking a place of worship that slave-owning and reprobate presidents attended! One would have expected a hue and a cry to rise up against such a desecration, but it did not happen because the media controlled the narrative. Indeed, when the President took action to protect the church and the White House, he was attacked.

What we are witnessing is a move to delegitimize the United States of American as a country and as a civilization. Again I want to emphasize that if the people in the Black Lives Matter movement were really concerned about black lives, they would pay more attention to the carnage that is occurring every day in major metropolitan areas of the country, killings that blacks are inflicting upon blacks, and there seems to be no end to it.

Writers often grope for the right words to express an idea, a concept, or a thought. I groped for the right words to express the wrongness of judging and condemning people from the past by our contemporary standards for things that happened 250 years or more ago. Fortunately other writers have given me some appropriate language. There are “inherent constraints of circumstances” (a phrase attributed to Edmund Burke and referenced by Thomas Sowell in his book Black Rednecks and White Liberals1) that circumscribe the actions that can be taken at the time. Arthur Schlesinger called it “self-righteousness in retrospect” when we judge people in the past by our standards of today. We are today condemning the Founding Fathers for not abolishing slavery when the U. S. Constitution was drafted. I have dealt with this issue in a previous blog. In a sense, the founders were faced with a binary choice. They either formed a Constitution and a country with slavery recognized for the time being or try to abolish slavery then and get no Constitution, and the fragile country probably falls apart. The fact that they chose the former does not mean most of them were at peace with the compromise. One indication of this is the provision in the Constitution that the slave trade would be abolished in 1808, 20 years after the Constitution was drafted. If they had been at peace with the compromise, why put such a provision in the Constitution? Since they did not want to enshrine slavery in the Constitution, the word “slavery” does not appear in the original document. I assert this inference (that the framers deliberately did not use the word slavery in the Constitution) on the authority of none other than John Quincy Adams who was there when the Constitution was formed. The assertion that the Constitution defined a Black Person as three-fifths of a person is absurd and seems to reflect an inability to understand plain English. The provision applied to slaves, not all Black People; at least 60,000 Black People were, in fact, free at the time the Constitution was drafted, and they were part of “We the People” who ordained and established the Constitution, in the opinion of Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Curtis in a brilliant dissenting opinion in the Dred Scott case. Why do some people want to exclude those 60,000 Black People from “We the People” when the Constitution includes them when it specifies in Article 1, Section 2 that “the whole Number of free Persons” would be counted in determining a state’s representation? It says nothing about race or color.

Around the time of the drafting of the U. S. Constitution, something was happening in America and Great Britain that had not happened before in the whole history of humanity, namely, the questioning of the legitimacy of the institution of slavery. Throughout history, slavery had been a feature of most societies.  It had been more important in some than others and had differed markedly through time and space. In the documentary Liberty and Slavery (2016), one commentator observed that, “Only during the past 250 years was slavery questioned as an institution, over a period of 10,000 years”. This began to happen in America in the latter half of the 18th century (1750-1800). However, it would be almost 150 years later (the first half of the 1900’s) before Africans came around to this way of thinking, i.e., questioning the institution of slavery2.

Though winning independence and adoption of the Constitution did not result in the abolition of slavery, a new dynamic had been created. John Hope Franklin concluded that the War for Independence brought about movements and actions to abolish slavery. Hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of black slaves were manumitted (freed) after the war. Petitions for freedom increased because the ideology of the struggle against slavery had broadened. Manumissions and anti-slavery societies became more widespread. The debate over slavery intensified. Also the opposition intensified. Harriett Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published in 1852 and dealt an enormous blow to the institution of slavery. People were emboldened to engage in actions which pushed the nation closer and closer to war. Various acts of Congress (the Missouri Compromise and the Kansas-Nebraska Act) sought to address the issue of the spread of slavery. The Kansas-Nebraska Act said that Kansas and Nebraska would be organized as territories and the territorial governments would decide whether or not the territory would become slave or free.3

Out of the opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act came the Republican Party in 1854. As stated by John Hope Franklin, this new Republican Party was “unalterably anti-slavery in its point of view”4.  In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected as the first Republican President. Lincoln’s anti-slavery position was a matter of record. For southern slave-owners, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The war was on. After achieving success in ridding the country of slavery, this party became the advocate for and protector of the rights of Americans of African Heritage, as laid out in the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the U. S. Constitution.

While these things were going on in America, slaving and slavery were alive and well in Africa, and the institution was not being questioned. Much has been written about slavery and slaving in Africa. One of the most comprehensive treatments of the subject is the book by Sean Stilwell, Slavery and Slaving in African History. He documents that not only was African slavery widespread throughout the Continent, it was not always mild and benign. Africans were willing participants in the Atlantic Slave Trade. Several African nations such as Dahomey were built on slavery and slaving. Often they initiated wars to capture people who would be sold into slavery. They (the African states and their rulers) were not innocent victims; of course, those who were enslaved were innocent victims.  In his above referenced book on slaving and slavery in Africa, Stilwell puts it his way:

“Until the nineteenth century, Africans generally had the upper hand (with the exception perhaps of the Kingdom of Kongo). Europeans were militarily weak, remained vulnerable to tropical diseases, and were always at risk of having their food supplies cut off by angry Africans. Africans also demanded rent for the small parcels of land that Europeans occupied. Africans were in a commanding position to negotiate good terms of trade for commodities, and the prices of slaves rose accordingly.” (p. 48).

The Africans were the ones who captured the people who were sold into slavery. In other words, the Africans were willing participants in this evil enterprise. The Europeans could have done nothing without the help and consent of the African rulers and big men. The fact that the Africans had the upper hand for such a long time means that they could have kicked the Europeans out at any time during the first few centuries of the slave trade, if they had wanted to. But they did not want to. Why? Quite simply it was a lucrative business for the African leaders as well as for the European slavers. It was greed, the love of money. Africans are like any other humans; they too are capable of being driven by greed. The Bible is true when it states that “For the love of money [that is, the greedy desire for it and the willingness to gain it unethically] is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves [through and through] with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10, AMP). No race has a monopoly on evil, just as no race has a monopoly on good.

Should we condemn Africans forever and a day for having been willing and enabling participants in the evil enterprise of slaving and slavery? God forbid! We who are Christians are commanded to forgive. Additionally, we should not, and must not, forget the many wonderful contributions to humanity of Africans from the areas of the slave trade. They created well organized and stable societies that were not driven by slavery. The reports of early Europeans visitors to Africa tell of countries teeming with people and well organized down to the minutest detail. They domesticated crops, many of which were exported to Asia and the New World. They were known for their artisanry; they knew how to do things. All African people knew how to smelt iron ore and create wonderful works of iron. The Guinea Coast was initially known as the Grain Coast because of the abundance of grain produced by countries such as Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Gambia, and Senegal, going back to the middle ages. These were successful societies. The trans-Atlantic and Saharan slave trade was a major, if not the major, factor in the downfall of these civilizations, if for no other reason than the depopulation of areas that previously had teemed with dense populations.  

The bottom line is this. If we are going to condemn America for slavery and slaving, consistency requires that we do the same for Africa. The Africans were knowing accessories to the crime. I suggest that we condemn neither. America paid the price with the Civil War and has repented for the 100 years of discrimination and oppression after the Civil War. We Americans of African descent need to forgive our country, the United States of America. Yes, I said “our country” for America is indeed our country. We are free to pursue happiness. Freedom to worship as we please is a very important part of the freedom we now enjoy. We also must forgive our brothers and sisters on the African Continent and pray that they repent for deeds of the ancestors, who are also our ancestors, so that God may heal the land.

The fight being waged by the Radical Left to destroy our country is not our fight. I believe it is still the case that we Americans of African descent simply want an equal opportunity to be able to partake of the promises of the Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution, and I believe that we have that. Ben Marquis presciently stated in a 2017 article, “Today it is Confederate generals. Tomorrow it will be slave-owning presidents. How soon after that before they take down the “slave-built” White House, rip up the “slave-owner written” Constitution and Declaration of Independence, or — perhaps not as far-fetched as it may sound — start calling for the detainment or deaths of descendants of slave owners?”5 Three years ago he predicted what is happening today. It has already gone beyond Confederate generals. Do we want all of that which may ensue if the Radical Left has its way?

1. Sowell, Thomas (2005). Black rednecks and white liberals. Encounter Books: New York.

2. Stilwell, Sean (2014). Slavery and Slaving in African history. Cambridge University: New York, p. 178.

3. Franklin, John Hope (1967). From slavery to freedom: A history of Negro Americans, 3rd edition. New York: Alfred A Knopf, pp. 265-67.

4. Franklin, p. 167.

5. Marquis, Ben (2017). “1984” eerily sums up BLM, Antifa, and statue destroyers”. Accessed at http://conservativetribune.com/quote-1984-sums-up-blm-antifa/.

that the present uproar over George Floyd’s Murder is not primarily about race?

that the present uproar over George Floyd’s Murder is not primarily about race?

ONE BAD APPLE DON’T SPOIL THE WHOLE BUNCH

The killing of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin was one of the most heinous acts of brutality I have ever seen. It seems evident to me that Chauvin’s intent was to kill Floyd; otherwise why would he keep his knee on his neck for almost nine minutes and kept doing so for several minutes after Floyd apparently had ceased breathing. It looked like murder, and it was murder, and the full force of the law should be brought against Chauvin. Understandably we want to see Chauvin pay for his murder of George Floyd. This tragic event has sparked protests throughout the United States and other parts of the world.

When this all started, there was unity in everybody agreeing that this was murder and that it should be dealt with accordingly, and there is still agreement on this. However, the turn that things have taken is now very divisive. Therefore, I implore you, “Let us reason together”. Since the motto of this blog is “and the truth shall make you free”, I must speak the truth as I see it and ask that you hear me out.

The protests started as soon as the George Floyd killing was publicized and have continued more than two weeks later; and the killing of Rayshard Brooks has further fueled the flames of protest. There was some rioting, looting, and burning initially but for the most part, the protestors have been constrained and non-violent. Soon the protests morphed into a movement to abolish and/or defund police departments. The Minneapolis City Council has voted to abolish the Minneapolis Police Department. Protest groups in Seattle have shut down a police precint and taken over a six block area which the protestors named Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) but later changed the name to Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) zone and have banned police from the zone. Leaders in the City of New York want to cut a billion dollars from the city’s police budget and abolish the anti-crime unit of 600 plainclothes policemen. Los Angeles may cut its Police Department Budget by $150 million. By the time I post this blog, other cities and municipalities undoubtedly will have followed suit, calling for the abolition or defunding of police departments. I am afraid that if these demands are acceded to, even more black people will lose their lives at the hands of other Black People.

Despite CNN’s Don Lemon’s comment that he did not want to hear the saying, “One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch” again, I am saying it again and will expand upon it. Incidents involving a few policemen have been generalized to all policemen thereby painting them all with the broad brush of racism. When there is a bad apple in the bunch, you take out the bad apple and leave the rest be.  According to data released by the FBI, in 2016 there were 5,237,106 incidents (reported via the National Incident-Based Reporting System) involving the public interacting with police1. Just think on that number, more than 5 million interactions. The number of people killed by the police in 2015 was 9872. Assuming an even 5 million interactions in 2015, the 987 killings represented a mere .02% of all police interactions. In 2015, police killed 258 Black People. However, there were 6,000 black homicides2. The 258 killed by the police amount to 4.3% of the total black homicides in 2015. Interestingly, 12% of white and Hispanic homicide victims are killed by the police. If the police had not killed any Black People at all in 2015, 96.7% of the homicides would have remained. What is the source of all the other homicides? Blacks killing each other, mostly young black males. It was heart-breaking to see the killing of both George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks. But where I live, the New Orleans area, my heart is broken practically every day, if I watch the local news and read the newspaper. Typically there are multiple killings and shootings reported daily of young black men killing and maiming each other. Rarely do they die at the hands of the police. Over the past weekend, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that 2 people were killed and 10 injured by gunshot wounds in 9 separate incidents in heavily black populated neighborhoods of New Orleans. The two victims who died were a 40-year old man and an unidentified woman. Those injured included two 17-year olds, two 16-year olds, and two 15-year olds. As I am writing this post, a news alert came over my phone saying “Police are investigating a triple shooting in New Orleans East”, a black neighborhood. The situation is even worse in cities like Baltimore and St. Louis. So you see, I cannot respect Black Lives Matter until they show themselves as much, indeed more, concerned about the black-on-black killings as they are with the police killings. How can this organization say that they are concerned with black lives when their focus is on the small number, relative to the total number killed, of blacks killed by the police while being quiet about the massive killing of blacks by blacks? 

Are the police more likely to kill a Black Person than a White Person in the use of lethal force? Surprisingly, the answer is no. Being very perturbed by the Ferguson incident (Michael Brown), a brilliant young black economist from Harvard, Dr. Roland G. Fryer, Jr., decided to look at the numbers on black and white killings by the police. With a team of researchers, he investigated police killings in 10 large cities. One of the major findings of his study was, “… when it comes to the most lethal form of force — police shootings — the study finds no racial bias.”3 According to Dr. Frye, “It is the most surprising result of my career.”3 Dr. Fryer looked at situations in which an officer might be expected to fire, but doesn’t. For the city of Houston, “Mr. Fryer found that in such situations, officers in Houston were about 20 percent less likely to shoot if the suspects were black. This estimate was not precise, and firmer conclusions would require more data. But in various models controlling for different factors and using different definitions of tense situations, Mr. Fryer found that blacks were either less likely to be shot or there was no difference between blacks and whites.”3 Dr. Fryer did find that blacks were more likely to be harassed than whites, consisting of such actions as pushing into walls, using handcuffs, drawing weapons, pushing to ground, and using pepper spray or baton, which means that there is a need for some reforms.

A more recent study published in the PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America comes to essentially the same conclusions as the Frye study in concluding that, “We find no evidence of anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparities across shootings, and White officers are not more likely to shoot minority civilians than non-White officers.”4 The authors reiterate the above conclusion by noting “We did not find evidence for anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparity in police use of force across all shootings, and, if anything, found anti-White disparities when controlling for race-specific crime [italics added]”.4 Though counter intuitive, the authors found that, “… Black and Hispanic officers (compared with White officers) were more likely to fatally shoot Black and Hispanic civilians.”4 So if there is a problem with police using lethal force, is it a race issue?  How do you square this with the spate of killings of blacks by the police? With social media and everybody having cell phones, an incident involving a police killing quickly goes viral. This does not happen every day or even every week, but it happens often enough that police killings are kept fresh in the public mind.

The upshot is this: if there is a problem with police lethal use of force, it does not seem to be a racial issue. Furthermore, in the large cities where Black People are concentrated, most of the mayors and police chiefs are black. I invite you to glance over the lists displayed below of current African-American and Hispanic mayors and police chiefs of major American cities.

Major American Cities with African-American or Hispanic Mayors

African-American Mayors

  1. Chicago, IL                            Lori Lightfoot
  2. Buffalo, NY                            Byron Brown
  3. Washington, D.C.                    Muriel Browser
  4. St. Paul, MN                            Melvin Carter
  5. Baltimore, MY                         Bernard Young
  6. San Francisco, CA                   London Breed
  7. Rochester, NY                         Lovely Warren
  8. Atlanta, GA                             Keisha Lance Bottoms
  9. Columbia, SC                          Stephen K Benjamin
  10. Newark, NJ                              Ras Barraka
  11. Houston, TX                            Sylvester Turner
  12. New Orleans, LA                     LaToya Cantrell
  13. Denver, CO                             Michael Hancock
  14. Dallas, TX                               Eric Johnson
  15. Montgomery, AL                     Steven Reed
  16. Birmingham, AL                      Randall Woodfin
  17. Little Rock, AK                         Frank Sutton, Jr.
  18. Waterloo, IA                            Quentin Hart
  19. Baton Rouge, LA                     Sharon Weston Broome
  20. Richmond, VA                        Levar Stoney
  21. Kansas, MO                             Quinton Lucas
  22. Gary, IN                                  Karen Freeman-Wilson
  23. Flint, MI                                   Sheldon Neely
  24. Savannah, GA                         Van R. Johnson
  25. Fayetteville, NC                       Mitch Colvin
  26. Jackson, MS                            Chokwe Antar Lumumba

Hispanic Mayors

  1. Los Angeles                             Eric Garsetti (Jewish Mexican American)
  2. Phoenix, AR                            Kate Gallegos
  3. Tucson, AR                             Regina Romero
  4. Santa Barbara, CA                  Cathy Murillo
  5. San Bernardino, CA                John Valdivia
  6. Miami, FL                                Francis X. Suarez

African-American and Hispanic Police Chiefs

African-American Police Chiefs

  1. Portland, OR                            Chuck Levell
  2. Minneapolis, MN                     Medaria Arradondo
  3. Seattle, WA                              Carmen Best
  4. Chicago, IL                              David Brown
  5. Detroit, MI                               James Craig
  6. San Francisco, CA                   William Scott
  7. Rochester, NY                         La’Ron D. Singletary
  8. Columbia, SC                          Randy Scott
  9. Durham, NC                            Cerelyn J. Davis
  10. Newark, NJ                              Darnell Henry
  11. New Orleans, LA                     Shaun Ferguson
  12. Boston, MA                             William G. Gross (Commissioner of Boston Police Department)
  13. Phoenix, AZ                            Jeri Williams
  14. Dallas, TX                               Renee Hall
  15. Montgomery, AL                     Ernest N. Fineley, Jr.
  16. Montgomery County, MY        Marcus Jones
  17. Birmingham, AL                      Patrick D. Jones
  18. Mobile, AL                              Lawrence L. Battiste, IV
  19. Lexington, KY                         Lawrence Weathers
  20. Little Rock, AK                        Keith Humphrey
  21. Waterloo, Iowa                        Joel Fitzgerald
  22. Baton Rouge, LA                     Murphy Reed
  23. Jacksonville, FL                       Deloris Patterson Oneal
  24. Baltimore, MY                         Michael S. Harrison
  25. Sacramento, CA                       Daniel Hahn
  26. Philadelphia, PA                      Danielle Outlaw
  27. Cleveland, OH                         Calvin D. Williams
  28. Cincinnati, OH                         Eliot K. Isaac
  29. Plano, TX                                Ed Drain
  30. Gary, IN                                  Richard Ligon
  31. St. Petersburg, FL                   Anthony Holloway
  32. Tulsa, OK                                Wendell Franklin
  33. Flint, MI                                   Tim Johnson
  34. Portsmouth, VA                       Angela Green
  35. Fayetteville, NC                       Genia U. Hawkins
  36. Lansing, MI                             Daryl Green
  37. Savannah, GA                         Roy W. Minter, Jr.
  38. Jackson, MS                            James E. Davis
  39. Ferguson, MO                          Jason Armstrong

Hispanic Police Chiefs

  1. Houston, TX                            Art Arcevedo
  2. Riverside, CA                          Larry Gonzalez           
  3. Miami, FL                                Jorge Colina
  4. Orlando, FL                             Orlando Rolon

The above lists are not necessarily exhaustive. Furthermore, some of the large cities which are not run by blacks today have been in the recent past. Nonetheless this much should be clear: many, if not most, of the places where there have been high profile killing of blacks by the police are run by Blacks or Hispanics. Furthermore, more police chiefs than mayors are Black or Hispanic. Policing is done at the local level for the most part. Therefore, if there have been wrongful killings of Black People by the police, do not these black leaders bear some of the responsibility? Furthermore, some of the killings involve black police officers.

If the vast majority of police officers are performing their duties efficiently and within the confines of the law, why is there a call for the wholesale dismantling and/or de-funding of police departments? Furthermore, it has not been demonstrated that all, or even a majority, of instances where police used fatal force against black individuals did so illegally or that their use of force was in the words of Attorney General Eric Holder, “objectively unreasonable”, based on applicable federal criminal civil rights law. The highly publicized cases are all different. The use of deadly force that resulted in the death of Michael Brown is very different from the use of deadly force that resulted in the death of George Floyd. The death of Michael Brown has become the cause celebre of the movement against wrongful shooting of black people by the police which launched Black Lives Matter onto the national scene. Yet his death was judged not to have been the result of a wrongful shooting. After a thorough investigation of the Michael Brown shooting of August 9, 2014, the Department of Justice, then headed by Attorney General Eric Holder, issued a report on March 4, 2015 which concluded,

“Based on this investigation, the Department has concluded that Darren Wilson’s [the police officer involved in the shooting] actions do not constitute prosecutable violations under the applicable federal criminal civil rights statute, 18 U.S.C. § 242, which prohibits uses of deadly force that are “objectively unreasonable,” as defined by the United States Supreme Court. The evidence, when viewed as a whole, does not support the conclusion that Wilson’s uses of deadly force were “objectively unreasonable” under the Supreme Court’s definition. Accordingly, under the governing federal law and relevant standards set forth in the USAM, it is not appropriate to present this matter to a federal grand jury for indictment, and it should therefore be closed without prosecution.”5

On the matter of “hands up, don’t shoot”, the report concluded,

“There is no witness who has stated that Brown had his hands up in surrender whose statement is otherwise consistent with the physical evidence.”6

“The media has widely reported that there is witness testimony that Brown said “don’t shoot” as he held his hands above his head. In fact, our investigation did not reveal any eyewitness who stated that Brown said “don’t shoot.”7

According to the DOJ report, Michael Brown was advancing toward Wilson in a tackle run, charging with his fists balled up, when Wilson shot him. Several witnesses “… stated that they would have felt threatened by Brown and would have responded in the same way Wilson did.”8

The final conclusion was, “For the reasons set forth above, this matter lacks prosecutive merit and should be closed.”9 If you have an iota of political savvy, you know that if there had been any improper use of force by Wilson, Eric Holder would have recommended prosecution of Darren Wilson.

This is a serious matter. Based on a false narrative (Hands up, don’t shoot), Black Lives Matter invigorated its anti-police movement while chanting slogans such as “Pigs in a blanket, fry’em like bacon”10. NFL players came out of locker rooms with their hands up as a kind of protest against what they thought happened in the Michael Brown shooting. It might have also triggered a spike in police shootings and encouraged NFL players to take a knee while the National Anthem is being played. Society was damaged and divided by the pushing of this false narrative.

Steve Harvey chimed in on the protests and said that “infiltrators” had hijacked the legitimate protest against the unjust killing of George Floyd. I believe he is on to something. In his comments, it was not clear to me who he thought the hijackers were. However, I have some thoughts that may throw some light on who the hijackers may be, looking at it historically and ideologically. Groups have come in to take advantage of the protest to advance their own agendas that have little or nothing to do with grievances over the killing of George Floyd. This same sort of thing happened in Ferguson, Missouri after the Michael Brown incident. Police departments have reported that many, and sometimes most, of the violent protestors arrested came from out of town; that was the case for Minneapolis and other cities. Some of them were paid to protest. It seems that their ultimate objective is to tear down the whole institution of law enforcement as it exists. This way of viewing the matter dovetails with the concept of “systemic racism”.

The concept of systemic racism sees racism as something that permeates all our institutions, from the founding of the country to practically all present day institutions. As one writer on systemic racism puts it, “As a theory, it is premised on the research-supported claim that the United States was founded as a racist society, that racism is thus embedded in all social institutions, structures, and social relations within our society. Rooted in a racist foundation, systemic racism today is composed of intersecting, overlapping, and codependent racist institutions, policies, practices, ideas, and behaviors that give an unjust amount of resources, rights, and power to white people while denying them to people of color.”11 Everything falls within the scope of this all-pervasive umbrella: the Declaration of Independence, the U. S. Constitution, the economic system (many see capitalism is the root of all our evils), religious institutions, educational institutions, governmental institutions (legislature, courts, and law enforcements), and any and everything that can be considered an institutional arrangement. With such a broad and sweeping concept of racism, nothing is sacrosanct. The implication is clear: the whole society is rotten, i.e., racist, to the core. Therefore, the only solution that will work is to tear it all down. A simple, direct expression of this conclusion is expressed by a protestor, Syrita Steib-Martin, Executive Director of Operation Restoration, in front of City Hall in New Orleans who said, “We can no longer fix systems that were not built on inclusivity – we must abolish them all”.12 Radical groups are using this concept to justify the tearing down of one institution after another. In the concept of “systemic racism”, they have a justification for pushing their transformational revolution to completion. The Constitution is not something to be respected but something that should be gotten rid of since it defines black people as three-fifths of a person (an untruth that I dealt with in my first blog). Ironically, the non-racist nature of American society is attested to by the fact that to bring down an individual or institution, all one has to do is to bring the charge of racism against that person or institution. Just the charge is often enough to discredit and/or destroy the person in the eyes of the public. Would this be possible if America is the racist society that so many allege it to be?  

Starting about 100 years ago, the Communist Party in the United States, controlled by the Kremlin out of Russia, unsuccessfully tried to use Black People13 to advance its agenda of world domination under socialism, specifically Marxist-Leninist socialism. Given the oppression suffered by African-Americans a hundred years ago, it seemed that recruiting Black People to their cause would be an easy sell, especially since the white communists showed an interest in Black People when most other whites did not seem much interested in the welfare of blacks. In their view, communism was the ready-made solution to the problems of an oppressed people like African-Americans of the early 20th century. Though they came to the assistance of blacks on numerous occasions, they ran into some walls in trying to get blacks to embrace their ideology. One was black allegiance to ideals of America as enshrined in its Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution; Black People wanted to be able to fully partake of the promises of the Declaration of Independence and the rights of the U. S. Constitution, especially the rights guaranteed us by the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments which were put there especially for Americans of African descent, though some of these rights are basic for everyone. Secondly the vast majority of Black Americans were, and still are, Christians; the atheism of communism did not set will with them. And thirdly, Americans of African heritage did not like the idea of getting directions from Russia where their interests were subordinated to those of the USSR. In short, Black Americans did not buy into communism, with the exception of some intellectuals, W.E.B. DuBois and Paul Roberson being among them.

Many of the people who have infiltrated the George Floyd protest movement are the latter day descendants of the Communist Party USA, still using its strategy of “boring from within”14 to get control. Just as they infiltrated civil rights and black protest movements throughout the 20th century, they have infiltrated the George Floyd protest movement for the purpose of advancing their own agenda of socialist transformation. Around 1900, W.E.B. DuBois said that the problem of the 20th century was the color line. I submit that the problem of the 21st century is the struggle between socialism and free enterprise (capitalism) and the direction that the present protest has taken is more a reflection of that struggle than the struggle over racial injustice. That struggle is evident within the Democratic Party; some believe that the socialists have won.

I do not want to convey the impression that I think all is well in America. There are racists in America. Race prejudiced exists, but that does not make America a racist country. There are some police reforms that need to be instituted to address the reality of police harassment and inappropriate use of physical force. The President and the Congress are now addressing some of these issues. However, I would be remiss to not point out that we Americans of African heritage have to bring something to the table. We have to work more diligently to get our people, especially young people, to start respecting the lives and property of each other. Our behaviors have to change. There is too much crime committed by us in our communities. All of us, including elders like myself, are to blame. We have let our children down by not providing them with the right role models, primarily through the way we live our lives. We males have to raise our children (with their mothers). The best way to do that is to marry the one who has our children and to stay with her. The Bible has given us the blueprint. We just need to heed it. We need to stop some of the talk about what the “white man” is doing to us and begin to live as overcoming Christians, if you are a Christian, which most of us are. We have to stop seeing ourselves as victims. Do you believe that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you? Does not the Bible say, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31, KJV). Proverbs 23:7 tells us as a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he”. If you think that you are oppressed, you will be oppressed. You will not believe that through Christ, you are more than an overcomer and you will crumble when tribulations come your way, even though Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, KJV). If He has overcome the world, you too have overcome the world.

Epilogue

There are many Black Men and Women on police forces throughout the nation, especially in metropolitan areas where many of the high profile shootings have occurred. Do not think that black police officers are immune to the impact of the anti-police rhetoric. A tragic case involving a young African-American Baton Rouge police officer which happened after police shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge. The young man was tragically killed in an anti-cop ambush. He talked about the emotional impact of the anti-police movement on him before he was killed. The following account was published in the Washington Times in July of 2016:

“A week before he was killed in Sunday’s anti-cop ambush, Baton Rouge Officer Montrell Jackson lamented in a Facebook post the distrust and hatred he had received, even by people close to him.

In a post accompanied by his holding his newborn son, Officer Jackson described himself as “tired physically and emotionally” but swore he’d not give in. “This city MUST and WILL get better. I’m working in these streets, so any protesters, officers, friends, family, or whoever, if you see me and need a hug or want to say a prayer, I got you,” he wrote in a July 8 post that went viral Sunday evening. In the post, he even takes to task “family, friends, and officers for some reckless comments.”

“I swear to God I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me. In uniform I get nasty hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat,” he wrote. Officer Jackson, writing a few days after the on-camera shooting death of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, said that the distrust wasn’t simply to his uniform, but to his civilian life as a black man.

“I’ve experienced so much in my short life and these last 3 days have tested me to the core. When people you know begin to question your integrity your realize they don’t know you at all.” He wrote.

He concluded the post with divine exhortations and optimism.

“Finally I personally want to send prayers out to everyone directly affected by this tragedy. These are trying times. Please don’t let hate infect your heart,” Officer Jackson wrote.

The 10-year veteran of the Baton Rouge Police Department was 32.”

The Featured Image of this post is Officer Jackson and his infant son.

Don’t the lives of black police officers matter?

References and Notes

  1. Department of Justice – Federal Bureau of Investigation (December 11, 2017). FBI releases 2016 NIBRS crime statistics in report and CDE
  2. Mac Donald, Heather (2016). The danger of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, Imprimis, April 2016, Vol. 45, No. 4.
  3. Bui, Quoctrung and Amanda Cox (JULY 11, 2016). Surprising new evidence shows bias in police use of force but not in shootings, New York Times.
  4. Johnson, David J., Trevor Tress, Nicole Burkel, Carley Taylor, and Joseph Cesario (August 6, 2019). Officer characteristics and racial disparities in fatal officer-involved shootings. PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Accessed at: https://www.pnas.org/content/116/32/15877.full (6/9/2020)
  5. Department of Justice (2015). Department of Justice report regarding the criminal investigation into the shooting death of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson, p.5.
  6. DOJ, p.83.
  7. DOJ, Footnote, p. 83.
  8. DOJ, p. 82.
  9. DOJ, p. 86.
  10. CBS News/AP (August 31, 2015). “Pigs in a blanket” chant at Minnesota fair riles police. Accessed at https://www.cbsnews.com/news/pigs-in-a-blanket-chant-at-minnesota-fair-riles-police/
  11. Cole, Nicki Lisa, Ph.D. “Definition of Systemic Racism in Sociology.” ThoughtCo, Feb. 11, 2020, thoughtco.com/systemic-racism-3026565.
  12. The Times – Picayune New Orleans Advocate (June 12, 2020).
  13. Record, Wilson (1951). The Negro and the Communist Party. Atheneum: New York.

– Record states the following “The failure of the Stalinists to capture the allegiance of colored America can be explained by the Party’s umbilical attachment to the Kremlin, which inevitably relegate the question of Negro rights to a position of secondary importance. But behind this failure also lies the Communists’ inability to see the black citizen for what he is. In his embracement of the ideal of equality, the Negro has shown that he is an American in the most fundamental sense, for the egalitarian aspiration stem

about Africa’s gifts to the world: Part I – Writing

about Africa’s gifts to the world: Part I – Writing.

The parent writing system of the very letters you are reading right now comes from Africa, from the Hieroglyphic writing of Ancient Egypt. Scholars of ancient history invariably assert that writing developed in Mesopotamia (Sumeria) and Egypt at about the same time, between 3,000 and 3,300 BC, but a bit earlier in Mesopotamia than in Egypt. I believe that it was first developed in Egypt because by 3,300 BC, the hieroglyphic writing system was fully developed. Whether writing developed earlier in Mesopotamia than in Egypt is not important for the purpose at hand. The fact is that our writing is not traceable to cuneiform writing of Mesopotamia but to Egyptian hieroglyphs. This Hieroglyphic writing was either developed in Ancient Egypt itself or in Cush (Ethiopia) to the South, both of which were African civilizations.

The featured image at the top of this post shows some connections (partial list) between Egyptian hieroglyphs and various writing systems of Asia and the Greek alphabet; the last column labeled Other shows the equivalent Greek letters.1 The Roman or Latin alphabet is derived from the Greek alphabet; the Romans letters A, B, and G are equivalent to the Greek letters alpha, beta, gamma (Α, B, Γ; lower case: α, β, γ).

The Greek alphabet is traceable back to the Phoenician (Canaanite) alphabet, and the Phoenician alphabet is traceable back to Egyptian hieroglyphs.2 Phoenician, or Canaanite, writing was the first alphabetic writing; generally vowels were not written in Egyptian hieroglyphic writing nor in the Phoenician alphabetic writing, with a few exceptions. The Greek alphabet was the first writing system with vowels, an important innovation attributable to the Greeks. There were twenty-four (24) characters which constituted an Egyptian hieroglyphic alphabet; however, Egyptian writing was only partially alphabetic. By the time of the New Kingdom, Egypt maintained very close ties with Phoenicia which was integrated into the Egyptian Empire. The Phoenicians were the merchant marines of Egypt since Egypt remained an insular (inland) country until the late period.

There is evidence that the earliest form of Canaanite alphabetic writing was developed in Egypt, in Sinai, the land bridge connecting Africa and Asia (See map below); Sinai then, and still is today, was a part of Egypt. A 2018 article in THE TIMES OF ISRAEL reported that “…the first inscriptions of the written Semitic alphabet, often called Proto-Canaanite, are found at this Sinai quarry site [Serabit el-Khadim].”3 These inscriptions are thought to date back to around 1,450 BC., more than 1,500 years after Egyptian hieroglyphic writing was fully developed. If all this is so, then the first alphabetic writing, as well as the first writing system, was also developed in Egypt.

It appears that most of the writing systems of Europe and Western Asia (Hebrew, Aramaic, South Arabian Script, and Moabite are some examples) were derived from either Greek or Canaanite writing, with Egyptian hieroglyphs being the mother of all. Practically all of the European writing systems use Roman letters which a traceable to Greek letters which come from Canaanite characters which finally are derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs. Latin (Roman), Cyrillic, and Runic writing systems were derived primarily from Greek writing.

Interestingly the authors of a book on Egyptian hieroglyphs commented that, “One of the phenomena of Egyptian history is that the writing does not seem to have developed slowly, as is the case of other cultures. One moment it did not exist; then suddenly, indeed almost overnight the writing appeared fully developed.”4 This enigma is attributable to the fact that historians want to synchronize Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilization or want to put Mesopotamia before Egypt. Therefore, Egyptian civilization had to start around 3,200 BC, which gives no time to explain the development of writing. The other problem is that most Egyptologists have refused to look South to Ethiopia (Cush) as the origin of Egyptian writing, the place where Ancient Greeks and Egyptians say their civilization started. Interestingly Cheikh Anta Diop tells us that the plant and animal hieroglyphs are found in Cush more than Egypt.

Africa’s gift of writing to the Western World5 is enough to earn the gratitude of the world. The brilliance of the Greeks could not have been passed on to us without the writing system that they inherited from the Phoenicians. Undoubtedly the invention and/or adaption of writing systems facilitated the development of science and every other aspect of civilization.

In other posts, I will talk about Africa’s other gifts to the world through Egypt. I will also talk about the enormous contributions of West Africa and other parts of Sub-Sahara Africa.

1. Proto-Sinaitic script, Wikipedia. Accessed at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Sinaitic_script

2. “The Latin alphabet evolved from the visually similar Etruscan alphabet, which evolved from the Cumaean Greek version of the Greek alphabet, which was itself descended from the Phoenician alphabet, which in turn derived from Egyptian hieroglyphics.” (Latin alphabet, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_alphabet)

3. AMANDA BORSCHEL-DAN (May 22, 2018). First written record of Semitic alphabet, from 15th century BCE, found in Egypt. THE TIMES OF ISRAEL. Accessed at https://www.time First written record of Semitic alphabet, from 15th century BCE, found in Egypt sofisrael.com/first-written-record-of-semitic-alphabet-from-15th-century-bce-found-in-egypt/#:~:text=Newly%20deciphered%20Egyptian%20symbols%20on,University%20of%20British%20Columbia%20Egyptologist.

4. Scott, Joseph and Lenore Scott (1968). Egyptian Hieroglyphs for Everyone. New York: Funk & Wagnalls.

5. I have not attempted to make a connection between Egyptian writing and Chinese writing. However, we know that Egyptian hieroglyphic writing was developed hundreds of years, perhaps as much as a thousand, before the writing system of the Chinese was developed, whether in China or adjoining countries.

Source: https://www.britannica.com/place/Sinai-Peninsula

… about Africa’s gifts to the world: Part I

… about Africa’s gifts to the world: Part I

At that time gifts will be brought to the Lord Almighty

from a people tall and smooth-skinned,
    from a people feared far and wide,
an aggressive nation of strange speech,
    whose land is divided by rivers—

the gifts will be brought to Mount Zion, the place of the Name of the Lord Almighty.

(Isaiah 18: 7, NIV)

Many different people at different times have made significant contributions to the world, contributions that have benefited all of humanity or large numbers of people throughout the world. In other words, no one people have a monopoly on the giving of gifts to humanity. We regularly give credit to the Greeks and Romans for their many contributions to Western civilization, to the Chinese for the invention of gunpowder, to the Arabs for the invention of Algebra, and to Chinese, Mesopotamians, South Asians, and Meso-Americans for crop domestication. It is right to give credit where credit is due. When Africa’s contributions are brought up, the claims are too often dismissed as the ravings or romanticizing of an afrocentrist. Labelling someone as Afrocentric is a favorite way of dismissing what they are saying. If you want to call me centric in some way, call me “Truthcentric.”

Putting the above quotation in context, it is part of three chapters in Isaiah (Chapters 18, 19, and 20) where the Prophet Isaiah is delivering prophesies to Ethiopia (Cush) and Egypt in future times. Interestingly prophesies dealing with Egypt and Cush are bunched together, sort of as one unit; Chapter 18 deals with Ethiopia, Chapter 19 with Egypt, and Chapter 20 with both Ethiopia and Egypt. Ethiopia and Egypt are regularly associated in the Old Testament. The last verse from Chapter 18, quoted above,   speaks a good outcome for Ethiopia during the end times because the Ethiopians (the Black People) will submit to God by bringing gifts to Zion. The description of their land as one that rivers divide sounds like an area that is way south of Khartoum in what is now South Sudan, a country crisscrossed by rivers; you can confirm this by looking at the map below of South Sudan. Furthermore it is the home of the Dinka, Nuba, and Nuer people, some of the tallest and blackest people in the world; the Dinka are, indeed, the tallest people in the world with an average height of almost 6 feet. They are probably the descendants of the tall, black, and beautiful people that the Greeks talked so much about, those blameless Ethiopians.

Africa’s gifts to the world must begin with Ancient Egypt. I implore you not to close your mind but to hear me out and let the truth make you free. Geographically Egypt is located in Northeast Africa but is now, and rightly so, considered to be part of the Middle East or Near East. Egypt is connected to Asia via Sinai which is the small part of Egypt that is located in Asia. Thus, we have departments of Near Eastern studies that lump modern Egypt and Ancient Egypt in with Western Asia as some sort of cultural/historical unit.  The identification of modern Egypt with North Africa and Western Asia is justified today, especially since Arabs and Islam came in and took over Egypt in the middle of the seventh century of our era. But if we go back to the beginning of Egyptian history, it is a totally different story.

If I am to claim Ancient Egypt’s contributions as Africa’s contributions, I need to demonstrate that Egypt was not only a part of Africa geographically but was also African historically, culturally, and racially (genetically and otherwise). This is a connection that most Egyptologists, classicists, historians, anthropologists assiduously avoid. Indeed, from its beginning and throughout her period of greatness, Egypt was not only geographically African but was African racially (genetically and otherwise), culturally, and linguistically. The Ancient Egyptian mind was an African, not Asian, mind. We can speak of an African mind because of the cultural unity of Black Africans so often alluded to by such writers as Cheikh Anta Diop, Basil Davidson, John Hope Franklin, Chancellor Williams, Colin M. Turnbull, E. A. Wallis Budge1, and many others who also affirm that the Ancient Egyptian mind was an African mind.  

It is important to understand the great antiquity of Ancient Egyptian civilization. Almost everyone associates the beginning of Egyptian civilization with the unification of Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt into a very large kingdom or empire between 3,000 BC and 3,200 BC.  Surely this was not the beginning. As the eminent Egyptologist Sir Flanders Petrie put it, “To suppose that the civilization that we find under Menes started full-blown at that age, or to suppose that the dynastic conquerors of Egypt had no rulers before their acquisition of the whole country, is necessarily absurd [italics added].… the way must have been prepared by a long series of predecessors conquering and consolidating their power. That such a course of organization occupied three or four centuries is highly probable”2. It is not unreasonable to suppose that Egyptian history goes back 6,000 years to 4,000 BC when the Egyptians already had a calendar.3

When E. A. Wallis Budge set out on a quest to discover the source of the fundamental beliefs of the indigenous Religion of Ancient Egypt, his quest led him to Black Africa, after he could not find any connections in Asia. He goes on to say, “… I became convinced that a satisfactory explanation of the ancient Egyptian Religion could only be obtained from the Religions of the Sudan, more especially those of the peoples who lived in the isolated districts in the south and west of that region [Egypt], where European influence was limited, and where native beliefs and religious ceremonials still possessed life and meaning.”4 Sudan in the above passage does not refer to the country called Sudan but to Sub-Sahara Africa.

Basil Davidson commented that “Dynastic Egypt was not born in a void; it emerged from a Neolithic womb, and this womb was African.” He further observed that the ordinary Egyptians had their own ideas about life and the cosmos and that “… the provenance of these ideas, or of most of them, was undoubtedly more African than Asian. “God’s Land “with all its great ancestral spirits lay, for dynastic Egypt, neither in the east nor in the north, but far to the south and the west. There is nothing to show that the earliest forms of ram and sun worship or of other cults mad famous along the Nile did not take their rise in this obscure “God’s Land” of “upper Africa,” where, as we can clearly see today, they have flourished since”.5 In other words, Egypt was colonized by people from the southwest of Egypt, people who came from Inner Africa. Take note that Budge locates the people who expressed most clearly Ancient Egyptian religious ideas in the same areas that the Egyptian “considered “God’s Land”, that is, the land of the ancestors.

Thus it is only natural that the Ancient Egyptians looked to Inner Africa, not to Asia and certainly not to Europe, for direction and help. When order broke down as happened during the three Intermediate Periods, each time salvation came from the South. The kings who unified the country after the disintegration were rulers from the South.6  The prophecy of Neferty said that a son of a woman of Ta-Seti (an Ethiopian, a Cushite) would rout the Asiatics and unite the country after the chaos of the Second Intermediate Period. This was realized when Ahmose, son of a Cushite woman, pushed out the Hyskos and inaugurated the magnificent 18th Dynasty which lasted 200 years. In the Third Intermediate Period, we have the Theban priests and military leaders in Egypt appealing to the Cushite king at Napata for help in repulsing the Libyan princes who were trying to take over at Thebes. Thus, began the wonderful 25th Dynasty which lasted 100 years; their great contributions are generally either denigrated or simply ignored. Finally during the reign of the Libyan Pharaoh Psammetichus when Egyptian soldiers were being mistreated, two hundred thousand (200,000) of them deserted and placed themselves into the service of the king of Ethiopia (Cush).

Writers often assert that Ancient Egyptian is a Semitic language. The Congolese renaissance scholar and man of letters, Dr. Theophile Obenga compared the Ancient Egyptian basic words for kinship (mother, father, etc.) with the counterparts in Semitic languages and African Bantu languages. There was no similarity to Semitic languages (Arabic and Hebrew) but strong similarities with the kinship words in Bantu languages; in some instances, they were identical.7 Alessandra Nibbi noted that the Egyptians had no word for sea until it was introduced by the Semitic Hyskos during the Second Intermediate Period.8 They had no word for sea because they had developed as an inland country.

In a previous blog, I cited studies that showed Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs had the same bone structure as Black American males as demonstrated by the fact that equations developed for the purpose of estimating the living stature of American males of African descent could be satisfactorily used to estimate the living height of Egyptian Pharaohs in the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom. The equations developed for estimating the living height of white males simply did not work because those Egyptian Pharaohs were not white.

The DNA findings are stunning. An organization called DNA Tribes analyzed the DNA of nine (9) Egyptian royals from the New Kingdom, seven from the 18th Dynasty (King Tut, King Amenhotep III, Queen Tiye, mother and father of Queen Tiye, Akhenaten, and mother of King Tut) and two from the 20th Dynasty (Pharaoh Rameses III and an unknown royal). The analysis was based on 8 STR markers for each individual. Their methodology involved computing a Match Likelihood Index (MLI) for each individual for several regions. This MLI score identified the likelihood of that the individual’s STR profile appearing in that region compared to the rest of the world. For example, King Tut’s MLI score for Southern Africa was 1,519. That meant that King Tut’s DNA was fifteen hundred times more like to be found in Southern Africa than anywhere else in the world. His MLI of 1,328 for the African Great Lakes region meant that his DNA was 1,328 time more likely to be found in the Great Lakes Region than anywhere else in the world. The next highest score was 314 for West Africa. After Tropical West Africa, there was a precipitous drop in the scores, in most cases. For all other six individuals, the top scores registered were for Southern Africa, African Great Lakes Region, and Tropical West Africa.9  The other regions included were Horn of Africa, African Sahel, Levantine (countries of Western Asia which includes Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria), Aegean, Arabia, Northwest Europe, Mediterranean, North Africa, and Mesopotamia (probably Iraq and Iran). The upshot is that the places to look for the DNA of the Ancient Egyptian royalty are Southern Africa, the African Great Lakes Region, and Tropical West Africa. The findings for Rameses III are similar with the Great Lakes Region registering the highest score. For both Rameses III and the unknown royal, there is a significant score for the Horn of Africa.10 On a personal note, 23andme, a DNA testing company, indicated that Rameses III and I share a common ancient ancestor; we are in the same Sub-Saharan haplogroup, E1b1a, male chromosome.

What we have here is history, DNA analysis, contemporary observations, and osteological evidence all pointing in the same direction, namely, Ancient Egyptian origins are to the south and west. It has been pointed out that Egyptians buried their dead with the head pointing south and the face pointing west. The stature estimating equations are based on the bone structure of West Africans given that the vast majority of Black Americans are mostly of West African origin. However, a significant percentage of their DNA does come from Central Africa and the Congo. The earliest signs of Egyptian civilization seem to be at Nabta Playa, located 500 southwest of Cairo. The Nabta Playa stone circles go back over 9,000 years and constitute an amazing astronomical calendar.11 Evidently “God’s Land”, the sacred area of the ancestors, was to the far south and west, as pointed out by Basil Davidson. Interestingly Budge observed that the Africans who lived to the south and west of Egypt were the ones who had the clearest conceptions of Egyptians concepts.

What are some of the other factors that unified Ancient Egypt with the Black Africa? Briefly, they are:

  • Circumcision is a practice that is practically universal among Africans south of the Sahara. Herodotus stated that all the people of Asia, and perhaps part of Europe, who practiced circumcision learned it from the Egyptians. He was not sure if it had started in Egypt first since it was also an ancient practice in Ethiopia. According to African cosmogony, each person is born being somewhat androgynous, like Amon who has the essence of both male and female since everything comes from Him, showing indications of both genders with the foreskin of the male and the clitoris of the female. The purpose of circumcision and excision is to take away something that is female from the male, the foreskin of the penis, and something that is male from the female, the clitoris, thereby fortifying their dominant character so that the person will have an interest in procreation. Thus both circumcision and excision have a cosmological basis. My explanation of why Africans practice excision does not mean that I endorse the practice.
  • Matrilineal descent is an African custom that was practiced by Ancient Egyptians. Matrilineal descent means that inheritance is through the female. It is universal throughout Black Africa before European and Asian influences changed it among some people. Therefore, a man’s sons do not inherit from him but his sister’s sons do. If you are a king, your son does not inherit the throne but your sister’s son. Egyptologists Sir Flanders Petrie observed that during the Old Kingdom, none of the early kings appear to be sons of their predecessors. This makes sense if the maternal nephew, not the son, inherited the throne. The Egyptians and Ethiopians hit upon a way to allow the son to inherit by marrying a sister. Therefore, the king’s son is also his sister’s son and can inherit. This is how we can understand the well-known practice of brother-sister marriage among Egyptian royalty. Scholars have observed that the legitimacy of the Pharaoh’s authority came for his marrying a princess, for all periods of Ancient Egyptian history.
  •  Divine kingship is an Ancient Egyptian practice that was universal among African peoples. Descriptions of the courts of Medieval West Africans kings are throwbacks to the courts of the Pharaohs.
  • E. Wallis Budge conclusively demonstrates that a belief in the resurrection and everlasting life (immortality) are beliefs shared by Ancient Egyptians and Black Africans. These are bedrock beliefs of both. Budge states that, “… if we examine the Religions of modern African peoples, we find the beliefs underlying them are almost identical with those described above [Ancient Egyptian beliefs]. As they are not derived from the Egyptians, it follows that they are the natural product of the religious mind of the natives of certain parts of Africa, which is the same in all periods. The evidence of the older travelers … proves that almost every African people with whom they came in contact possessed a name for God Almighty, in whose existence and power they firmly believed. Their attitude toward God was, and is, exactly that of the Ancient Egyptians.”12

The above allusions are some, but not all of the commonalities we find between modern day Africans and Ancient Egyptians.

The main takeaway is this: Ancient Egyptian civilization was a genuine African civilization. As such, we are justified in viewing its contributions to humanity as part of Africa’s gifts to the world. In several blogs to follow, I will talk about Egypt’s specific gifts to the world. Also I will share with you gifts to the world from other parts of Africa, especially West Africa which has given much.

References and Notes

1. The following are some of the works of the authors mentioned: Cheikh Anta Diop, African origin of civilization: myth or reality, and Cultural unity of black Africa; Turnbull, Colin M. (1977). Man in Africa; Basil Davidson: Africa in history, The African genius, African civilization revisited, African kingdoms, and Lost cities of Africa; John Hope Franklin, From slavery to freedom; Chancellor Williams, Destruction of Black Civilization; and E. A. Wallis Budge. Osiris and the Egyptian resurrection.  

2. Petrie, W. M. Flanders (1991). A history of Egypt, Part I. London, England: Histories & Mysteries of Man Ltd., p. 49.

3. (1967), The African origin of civilization: myth or reality. Westport, Connecticut: Lawrence Hill & Company, p. 91.

4. Budge, E. A. Wallis (1911). Osiris and the Egyptian Resurrection. London: Philip Lee Warner; New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, p. xvii. Accessed at http://www.archive.org/details/osirisegyptianre01budg

5. Davidson, Basil (1970). The lost cities of Africa, revised edition. Boston/Toronto: Little, Brown, and Company. p. 63.

6. Budge, p. 136.

7. UNESCO Symposium. The peopling of Egypt and the deciphering of the Meroitic script. Cairo, 28 Januaary-3 February 1974.

8. Nibbi, Alessandra (1975). The sea peoples and Egypt. Park Ridge, New Jersey: Noyes Press.

9. Martin, Lucas. Last of the Amarna Pharaohs: King Tut and his relatives. DNA Tribes Digest, January         1, 2012.

10. Martin, Lucas. Ramesses III and African ancestry in the 20th Dynasty of New Kingdom Egypt. DNA Tribes Digest. February 1, 2013.

11. The Human Origin Project (2019). The Ancient Astronomy of the Nabta Playa Egyptian Stone Circle, accessed at https://medium.com/@humanoriginproject/the-ancient-astronomy-of-the-nabta-playa-egyptian-stone-circle-c8ecb2800223

12. Budge, p. xxv.

Observe all the rivers crisscrossing South Sudan.
This picture fits the description of the home of the tall, smooth skinned Ethiopians.
Great Lakes Region (purple): Area where you are most likely to find the DNA of King Tut and his family. The second most likely area is below this area (Southern Afruca)
Tropical West Africa: Third most likely area to find the DNA of King Tut & his family and Ramesses III

about the cost of the unintended consequences of the COVID-19 shutdown?

about the cost of the unintended consequences of the COVID-19 shutdown?

In this post, I put on my economist’s hat and seeing as I do have a Ph. D. in economics, it is fitting that I should weigh in on this issue. It is important to understand that every action taken, every public policy implemented generates both costs and benefits, in the short-run and in the long-run. Often the costs are unanticipated and/or unintended. Whether or not an action is taken, or how much of it is done, must be decided by weighing the costs and benefits of a contemplated action or public policy change. As a general rule, we can say that if the benefits of a proposed action overwhelmingly exceed the costs, then the action should be undertaken. On the other hand, if the costs overwhelmingly exceed the benefits, then it should not be undertaken.

Initially the focus was almost exclusively on the benefits (reducing infections and deaths) from implementing a shutdown of the economy. If implementing these restrictions only conferred benefits on society at no cost, then the decision would have been easy. But that is not the case. There are enormous costs as well as benefits associated with the governmental restrictions imposed in an attempt to diminish the spread of COVID-19. The first thing that comes to mind is the loss in output and concomitant incomes. Policymakers (the U. S. Congress and the President) anticipated these losses by approving legislation giving households stimulus payments, liberalizing unemployment compensation, making available loans and subsidies to businesses as well as implementing other changes to try to soften the impact of the shutdown of the economy. Both individuals and small businesses, as well as large businesses, suffered great economic losses that began to be felt immediately.

Because so many businesses had to shut down, unemployment skyrocketed as the unemployment rate went from 3.5% (effectively full-employment) in February to 4.4% in March and 14.7% in April. May’s unemployment will certainly be even higher. Almost twenty-four and a half million people lost their jobs in a mere two months. There was a corresponding loss in business income as so many businesses completely or partly shut down. This loss of employment and personal and business income is inflicting  serious emotional and psychological harm on people.

In addition to the income losses, there were negative unintended consequences. Hoarding became a problem, even before the production of goods and services began to be impacted, as people began buying up large amounts of water, toilet tissue, paper towels, and disinfectants.

Recall as part of the shutdown, hospitals began focusing almost exclusively on COVID-19 patients. Most hospitals and doctors were only seeing non-COVID emergency cases. The health of many people was delayed or foregone, and some died as a result.

Three researchers, Dr. Scott W. Atlas (physician and senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution), Dr. John R. Birge (professor at the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business), and Dr. Ralph L Keeney (professor emeritus in business at Duke University and in engineering at the University of Southern California) estimated the income loss and the costs of some of the unintended consequences of the shutdown.1 These estimate should not be taken as exact, but they do give a sense of the order of magnitude of the losses.

  1. Lost economic output and income

We will see the full impact of the shutdown on output (production of goods and services) when the second quarter (April, May, and June) Gross Domestic Product estimates are released in July. At the rate that the economy has been contracting, the researchers have estimated the annual losses to be in the trillions. According to the researchers, “This lost income results in lost lives as the stresses of unemployment and providing basic needs increase the incidence of suicide, alcohol or drug abuse, and stress-induced illnesses. These effects are particularly severe on the lower-income populace, as they are more likely to lose their jobs, and mortality rates are much higher for lower-income individuals.” Taking into account both the personal and business income losses, “With an average estimate of one additional lost life per $17 million income loss, that would translate to 65,000 lives lost in the U.S. for each month because of the economic shutdown.”2 (Italics added).

  • Delayed or foregone health care

Instead of deaths, lost years of life is another term used by the authors to measure loss of life. This seems to be a measure of life loss due to pre-mature death.

Lost years of life because of:

  • Treatment delays for situations other than COVID-19: 8,000 lives per month or about 120 years of remaining life.
  • Missed strokes not treated: 100,000 lost years of life per month.
  • Late cancer diagnosis: 250,000 lost  years of life per each month,
  • Missing living-donor transplants: 5,000 lost years of life per month.

The researchers conclude that COVIS-19 “has been responsible for 800,000 lost years of life so far. Considering only the losses of life from missed health care and unemployment due solely to the lockdown policy, we conservatively estimate that the national lockdown is responsible for at least 700,000 lost years of life every month, or about 1.5 million so far — already far surpassing the COVID-19 total.”3 Of course, we must take into consideration that the number of deaths would have been greater if the lockdown had not been implemented. The benefit would have been the lives saved as a result of the shutdown.

The takeaway is that we have to weigh both the costs and benefits, taking into account the unintended consequences of the shutdown. As Dr. Atlas said, “Policymakers combatting the effects of COVID-19 must recognize and consider the full impact of their decisions.”4  

How does all of this help us in dealing with the situation we are in right now? The question that naturally arises is, are we paying too high a cost to continue with the shutdown as it is? I think many policymakers, including the President, have come to the conclusion that we are. However, the alternative they are presenting us is not to go back to business as usual. We know more about this virus than we did two months ago. Therefore, in opening up, we implement precautions to protect against infections ramping up. There are precautions that businesses can take such as testing employees for the virus, frequently disinfecting the business premises, requiring employees to wear masks, and putting up barriers to the spread of the virus, where possible. Employees have to be tested not just once but at regular intervals. Companies will have to strictly enforce policies that many, if not most, businesses have observe for years, namely, if someone is sick, they have to go home and can only return to work when their doctor releases them.

Businesses directly serving the public must implement sensible protocols.

In short, if sensible precautions are taken, businesses can open up without it leading to big spikes in infections. Clearly we should all observe the precautions necessary to protect each. Since one can be a carrier without any symptoms (35% of those infected do not show any symptoms), we should wear the face mask in public even if we have no symptoms.

I would like to end on an optimistic note. There have been many comparisons made to the Spanish Flu of a 100 years ago. I do not think we have to repeat that scenario. Knowledge is much greater today than it was then; there has been a quantum increase in knowledge over the past 100 years, not just the store of knowledge but how we acquire knowledge. Every day we hear about promising treatments and/or vaccines that may be available sooner than we thought.

It has cost us a lot but we have learned much from this experience.

Next week’s blog will be on why Ancient Egypt is so important to the world.

  1. Atlas, Scott W., John R. Birge, and Ralph L Keeny (2020). The COVID-19 shutdown will cost America millions of years of life, in The Hill (5/20/2020).
  2. Atlas, et al.
  3. Atlas, et al.
  4. Atlas, et al.

about the beauty of Piankhi?

… about the beauty of Piankhi?

My last post dealt with the Cushite (Ethiopian, Nubian) Treasurer of Queen Amanikhatashan who ruled Cush from 62 AD to 85 AD. Piankhi was one of the early kings of the unbroken line of monarchs (kings and queens) who ruled the Kingdom of Cush for 1,200 years, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. He was king of both Ethiopia and Egypt from 747 BC to 716 BC and was the second Pharaoh of Egypt’s 25th Dynasty1. The Featured Image at the top of this blog post is Piankhi’s Victory Stela after defeat of the forces of disunity in Egypt.


At this point I want to try to clarify something that is probably creating some confusion amongst my readers. I have used the terms Ethiopia, Cush (which may be spelled with a C or a K), and Nubia interchangeably. The first thing to understand is that the country of Ethiopia of today is not the Ethiopia of the Bible or the Ethiopia of the Ancient Greeks. The Ethiopia of today used to be known as Abyssinia. Evidently Emperor Haile Selassie changed the name of the country from Abyssinia to Ethiopia during World War II. Modern day Ethiopia might have been on the southeastern fringe of the Ancient Ethiopian Empire.
Ethiopia comes from the Greek work Aithiops, meaning burnt faces which is a description of how blacks would have appeared to the first white Greeks who saw them. If we go back to the time of Homer, the Land of the Blacks (Ethiopia) extended from the western edge of Africa, including North Africa, to southern India, including Egypt and the Asiatic Middle East in between. In the Odyssey, Homer pens the following:
But now Poseidon had gone to visit the Ethiopians worlds away,
Ethiopians off at the farthest limits of mankind,
a people split in two, one part where the Sungod sets
and part where the Sungod rises. There Poseidon went
to receive an offering, bulls and rams by the hundred—
far away at the feast the Sea-lord sat and took his pleasure. (Odyssey 1.21-25)

So we see that at the time that Homer wrote the Odyssey, perhaps around 800 BC, the Blacks not only lived in Africa (“where the sun sets) but also in Asia (“where the sun rises”).
Lady Lugard’s comments on the Greek’s view of the Ethiopians is quite telling:
“The fame of the Ethiopians was widespread in ancient history. Herodotus, Homer, in even in more flattering language describes them as “the most just of men: the favorites of the gods.” The annals of all the great early nations of Asia Minor are full of them. The Mosaic records allude to them frequently; but while they are described as the most powerful, the most just, and the most beautiful of the human race, they are constantly spoken of as black, and there seems to be no other conclusion to be drawn, than that at that remote period of history the leading race of the Western world was the black race.”2 [writer’s italics].
The above views were expressed by many different Greeks over a period several hundred years. Perhaps it was because the Ethiopians were, indeed, powerful people who knew how to humanely exercise their power.
As time passed what was considered the land of the blacks became smaller and smaller until it came to designate the area south of Egypt (Sudan comes from the Arabic Beled-es-Sudan, land of the Blacks). In the Old Testament of the Bible, the Hebrews used the word Cush to refer to the land south of Egypt. The Greek Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) substitutes the word Ethiopia for Cush. Cush had no racial connotation but Ethiopia obviously did. According to David O’Connor, before 1550 BC, the Ancient Egyptians referred to the land to the south as Ta-Nehasyu (or Ta-Neheshi). We also know that they called it Ta-Seti, the Land of the Bow. After 1550 BC, Egyptians often called the country Cush (Kush) from whence came the Hebrew designation. O’Connor asserts that “… during the first millennium BC, Kush was the preferred name for all Nubia in Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, and Hebrew”.3. Somehow, over time the name Nubia came to be associated with Cush, perhaps because of the gold found in the region.
In short, when I speak of Ancient Ethiopia, Cush, or Nubia, I am talking about the civilization centered along the Nile River from the 1st Cataract to at least the 6th Cataract. Historically the area from the 1st to the 2nd Cataract was part of Nubia, but today it is part of Egypt.
I maintain that the Pharaoh Piankhi epitomized the admirable human qualities that the ancients attributed to the Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Cushite Empire, borrowing from the title of a book by the pioneering and courageous scholar Drusilla Dunjee Houston. I now proceed to back up my assertion.
Piankhi’s father, Kashta, “was confirmed in power by the priests of Amon [at Thebes], and where he obliged the High Priestess to adopt his daughter as her successor. In thus formalizing the alliance between the monarchy and the Amon cult he was following the practice of a number of earlier pharaohs. There is no suggestion of military activity connected with Kashta’s visit; apparently he journeyed in peace and was acclaimed at Thebes, as he was at Jebel Barkal as the appointed patron of Amon and defender of the faith”.4 This anointing of Kashta took place sometime before 751 BC, the year he died. Therefore, it seems clear that by their actions, the priests of Amon confirmed Kashta as the legitimate Pharaoh of Egypt, and he, therefore, became the founder of Egypt’s 25th Dynasty. This happened at a time when Egypt was being wracked by division and disunity with Libyans from the North taking control of provinces (nomes) in Middle and Lower (northern) Egypt.
With the passing of Kashta, his son Piankhi began to rule from his Cushite capital of Napata around 751 BC. In the 21st year of his reign, Piankhi received pleas for help from princes and military commanders in Egypt. “The military officials at Thebes implored Piankhi to protect the domains of Amon against the intruder”. The intruder referred to here is Tefnakhte, a Libyan prince. Evidently the number of soldiers at Thebes were not enough to deal with the Libyan and Asiatic threat. After daily pleas from the Egyptians at Thebes, Piankhi decided to act. Let us now hear the words of beautiful Piankhi, as written on his Stela6 (a massive slab of dark-gray granite, nearly 6 feet high and 4 feet 7.5 inches wide and about 1 foot 5 inches thick, written in impeccable hieroglyphics):

His first act was to send orders to, “the princes and commanders of the army who were in Egypt … “Hasten into battle line, engage in battle, surround …., capture its people, its cattle, its ships upon the river. Let not the peasants go forth to the field, let not the plowmen plow, beset the frontier of the Hare nome, fight against it daily. “Then they did so.” (Victory Stela)
They were to hold down the fort until reinforcement got there. Piankhi’s instructions of to the solders he sent to Egypt is instructive:
“When ye arrive at Thebes, before Karnak, ye shall enter into the water, ye shall bathe in the river, ye shall dress in [fine linen], unstring the bow, loosen the arrow. Let not the chief boast as a mighty man; there is no strength to the mighty without him, He maketh the weak-armed into the strong-armed, so that multitudes flee from the feeble, and one alone taketh a thousand men. Sprinkle yourselves with the water of his altars, sniff the ground before him. Say ye to him, ‘Give us the way, that we may fight in the shadow of thy sword. (As for) the generation whom thou hast sent out, when its attack occurs, multitudes flee before it.’ “

The king made it clear that they were to be laser focused on the military mission and preparation. His orders bring to mind another Ethiopian king, Memnon, who traveled to Troy from Persia (Iran) to help out his uncle Priam, King of Troy, in their fight against the Greeks. When the Trojan king offered his soldiers alcoholic drinks, Memnon said no and told his soldiers to go to bed so that they could be ready to fight the next day. Piankhi told his soldiers to purify themselves by bathing in the Nile at Thebes and sprinkling themselves with water from the altar in Egypt’s most sacred city, Thebes (which the Egyptians call No-Amon, the dwelling place of Amon, God) and then dressing themselves in fine linen. What a sight this must have been with thousands of black men (they were probably jet black) dressed in white and ready for battle! He reminds them that their strength comes from God when he tells them, “Let not the chief boast as a mighty man; there is no strength to the mighty without him, He maketh the weak-armed into the strong-armed, so that multitudes flee from the feeble, and one alone taketh a thousand men”. This brings to mind what Joshua said in verse 10 of Chapter 23 of the book of Joshua, “One man of you shall chase a thousand: for the Lord your God, he it is that fighteth for you, as he hath promised you.” (KJV). Like Joshua, Piankhi put his trust in the Lord for victory.
The soldiers did well when they engaged the enemy in battle but they let some of them get away which enraged Piankhi. Upon hearing the report, the King said, “”Have they allowed a remnant of the army of the Northland to remain? allowing him that went forth of them to go forth, to tell of his campaign? not causing their death, in order to destroy the last of them? I swear: as Re loves me! [writer’s italics] I will myself go northward, that I may destroy that which he has done, that I may make him turn back from fighting, forever.” (Victory Stela).
Piankhi fought his way north to Thebes where he completed the Feast of Amon at the Feast of Opet; he was scrupulous in observing tradition and performing sacrifices wherever he went. In terms of his culture and belief system, he was a keeper of the Law. In the above passage, Piankhi expresses the conviction that God loves him when he says, “… as Re loves me”. This same conviction that God loves him is expressed several other times in this stela. One theologian has said that one Sunday school song, Yes Jesus Loves Me, conveys the whole essence of Christianity. The Christian who walks with the Jesus is thoroughly convinced that he is beloved of God, as was Piankhi, and is the apple of his eye. Thus some evangelical churches sing a song called, Keep Me Jesus as the Apple of Thine Eye.
As Piankhi moves north subduing one city or nome after another (Heracleopolis, Hermopolis, Memphis, and Heliopolis are a few of the well-known places), he gives them two options: open up your gates, surrender and live or keep your gates closed and die. If they opened up their gates and surrendered, nobody died; he only expected obedience and tribute, which the princes, chiefs, and kings supplied in abundance: in gold, silver, lapis lazuli, malachite, bronze, many types of costly stone, other things of value, and often horses of the finest breeds. One is struck by the wealth of these cities and small kingdoms. The bounty became gifts for the domain of Amon at Thebes, and some Piankhi took back with him to Napata when the fighting was over.
An example of the ultimatum issued is the following:
“His majesty sailed north to the opening of the canal beside Illahun; he found Per-Sekhemkhperre with its valiant wall raised, and its stronghold closed, filled with every valiant man of the Northland. Then his majesty sent to them, saying: “Ye living in death! Ye living in death! Ye insignificant …. and miserable ones! Ye living in death! If an hour passes without opening to me, behold, ye are of the number of the fallen; and that is [painful] to the king. Close not the gates of your life, to be brought to the block this day. Love not death, nor hate life ……… before the whole land.” (Victory Stela).
Per-Sekhemkhperre surrendered and “The army of his majesty entered into it, without slaying one of all the people”. [writer’s italics] He extended this kind of mercy and forgiveness to all of the cities and nomes that surrendered. Only those places that resisted Piankhi suffered casualties. Tefnakht, the Libyan prince who was Piankhi’s main adversary, fled north as Piankhi advanced but eventually surrendered after he had gone to a temple and essentially hugged the horns of the altar, promising to act right. After hearing his plea, “Then his majesty was satisfied therewith.” He did not keep his promise, but instead, fought against the legitimate government of Egypt for another generation.
This valiant king was capable of going into a rage if rubbed the wrong way. After the surrender of Hermopolis, Piankhi went to inspect the horse stables and went into a rage when,
“he saw that they had suffered hunger, he said: “I swear, as Re loves me, and as my nostrils are rejuvenated with life, it is more grievous in my heart that my horses have suffered hunger, than any evil deed that thou hast done, in the prosecution of thy desire. It has borne witness of thee to me, the fear of thy associates for thee. Didst thou not know that the god’s shadow is over me? and that my fortune never perishes because of him? Would that another had done it to me! I could not but condemn him on account of it. When I was fashioned in the womb, and created in the divine egg the seed of the god was in me. By his ka, I do nothing without him; he it is who commands me to do it.” (Victory Stela).
Cleary he was a lover of horses, but this account again demonstrates his confidence in and dependence on God, more than his dependence on his flesh. He said, “Didst thou not know that the god’s shadow is over me?” In other words, do you really know who I am? I am a child of God who was predestined to be who I am.
At several points, the stela speaks of how the defeated foes came to see the “beauty of his majesty”, hence the title of this blog: Why didn’t they tell you about the beauty of Piankhi?
I believe that Piankhi’s character is consistent with the picture of the Ethiopians painted by the Ancient Greeks.
What I also see in Piankhi and his character are types and shadows of Christ and the New Testament or, perhaps, I should say types and shadows of the Christian walk under the New Covenant that Jesus Christ ushered in. Every place Piankhi went to, he did sacrifices, which the New Covenant did away with. He scrupulously keep the Law, but he never heard the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Eight hundred years later, one of his countrymen (the Cushite eunuch) heard the Gospel and responded to it immediately. Would Pharaoh Piankhi have done the same? He just migh have.
There is a 2014 PBS documentary on Prime Video about the 25th Dynasty called The Rise of the Black Pharaohs. The unstated assumption, or it could be called the inarticulate major premise, of the title of this video and the content of the video is that the Black Pharaohs of the 25th Dynasty were exceptions since everyone knows that Egyptians, and the Pharaohs up until the 25th Dynasty, were white. The unarticulated premise is that Pharaohs are white. What I submit to you is that the White Pharaohs were the exception, not the rule. I invite you to view the images of Pharaohs from Egypt’s Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, and New Kingdom shown below. If you will allow yourself to accept what your eyes see, you cannot, with a straight face, say that any of those nine individuals are white, European, or Asian.
Finally there is a misconception still being conveyed that the Ethiopians invaded or attacked Egypt. It seems obvious that they come by invitation. Egyptologist Cherubini echoes this point of view in the following passage:
“In any event, it is remarkable that the authority of the king of Ethiopia seemed recognized by Egypt, less as that of an enemy imposing his rule by force, than as a guardianship invited by the prayers of a long-suffering country, afflicted with anarchy within its borders and weakened abroad. In this monarch, Egypt found a representative of its ideas and beliefs, a zealous regenerator of its institutions, a powerful protector of its independence. The reign of Shabaka was in fact viewed as one of the happiest in Egyptian memory. His dynasty, adopted over the land of the Pharaohs, ranks twenty-fifth in the order of succession of national families who have occupied the throne.”7
The passage speaks for itself. Shabaka is Piankhi’s brother who was his immediate successor.
“… and the truth shall make you free”.

Notes and References

  1. William, J. Murnane (1997). “Disunity and foreign rule” in Ancient Egypt, David P. Silverman, ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 37.
  2. Flora Shaw – Lady Lugard (1905). A tropical dependency. London: James Nisbet & Co., Limited.
  3. O’Connor, David (1993). Ancient Nubia: Egypt’s rival in Africa. Philadelphia: The University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania, p. 3.
  4. Adams, William Y. (1977). Nubia: corridor to Africa. Princeton, N. J.: Allen Lane, Princeton University Press, pp. 260-261.
  5. Adams, p. 261.
  6. The text and the graphic of Piankhi’s Sela can be accessed at http://realhistoryww.com/world_history/ancient/Victory_Stela_of_Piye.htm)
    This is how the eminent Egyptologist James Henry Breasted described Piankhi’s Victory Stela:
    “…this remarkable literary monument is the clearest and most rational account of a military expedition which has survived from Ancient Egypt. It displays literary skill and an appreciation for dramatic situations which is notable, while the vivacious touches found here and there quite relieve it of the arid tone usual in such hieroglyphic documents. The imagination endues the personages appearing here more easily with life than those of any other similar historical narrative of Egypt; and the humane Piankhi especially, the lover of horses, remains a man far removed from the conventional companion and equal of the gods who inevitably occupies the exalted throne of the Pharaohs in all other such records”, quoted in Adams, p. 262.
  7. Quoted in Cheikh Anta Diop (1967), The African origin of civilization: myth or reality. Westport, Connecticut: Lawrence Hill & Company, p. 146.
Old Kingdom Pharaohs (L to R): Hani-3rd Dynasty; Khufu-3rd Dynasty; Niuserre-5th Dynasty

Middle Kingdom Pharaohs (L to R): Mentuhotep-11th Dynasty; Senusret I-12th Dynasty; Senusret II-12th Dynasty
New Kingdom Pharaohs (L to R): Ahmose I-18th Dynasty; Tutankhamen-18th Dynasty; Rameses III- 20th Dynasty