Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Real Civil Rights History Beats Out "The Help" and Hollywood's Take on Mississippi

Publisher's Note: Just received this announcement from Hunter Bear, a seasoned Civil Rights Veteran... Hunter Bear, formerly known as John Salter, was THERE when the modern civil rights movement took place in Mississippi. He is a sociologist and the perfect person to write about events that occurred. You will not have a better opportunity to see history through his eyes. Hunter is a well-known Native American activist, thus giving his book a unique perspective. Here are some links to learn more. John, by the way, was spokesman for the lunch counter sit-ins at the Jackson Woolworth store. Local papers ran pictures of him dripping with ketchup, mustard and blood, with "funny" captions that were terrifying. The movement in Mississippi brought death to many, and he was very fortunate to have survived. So, please take a look and please share this with others. It is a work of living history. Hollywood needs to read and learn.Susan Klopfer,publisher of Civil Rights and Social Justice News\\

Credit: AP Photos

A photo from May 28, 1963, shows a sit-in demonstration at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Jackson, Miss., where whites poured sugar, ketchup and mustard over the heads of the demonstrators. Seated at the counter are John Salter (left), Joan Trumpauer (center) and Anne Moody.
# # # # #


The new enlarged and updated edition of my book, JACKSON MISSISSIPPI: AN AMERICAN CHRONICLE OF STRUGGLE AND SCHISM, is now available for purchase.

The publisher is Bison Books/University of Nebraska Press. The publisher's link, a bit further down, discusses the book, provides several reviews, and carries ordering information.

The initial Introduction in the two earlier editions has been replaced by one written by me. This is, in many ways, a large, additional chapter [about 9500 words] which up-dates Mississippi, discusses our family's always interesting experiences since the first edition of JM appeared in 1979, and contains supplemental autobiographical material. And, of course, it also contains something of my reflections as a life-long social justice organizer.

The dedication:

For Eldri and the Family -- truly a Golden Horde

And in memory of Doris and Ben Allison and Medgar Wiley Evers

Thus this will likely be my basic autobiographical memoir. As a corollary to that, however, I must say that my health is fine.

The University of Nebraska Press is one of the largest university presses in the country.

Here is their announcement of Jackson, Mississippi: (Click on the photo and it'll get bigger.),674910.aspx

(You may also wish to check out the front page of our very large Lair of Hunterbear website. We have rearranged that and it now carries, among other new dimensions, about three dozen of our representative links. Makes for quick and easy reference. Also, if you know of other people who may be interested in our Jackson Mississippi message, I would be much obliged if you could pass this along. Many thanks.)

In the Mountains of Eastern Idaho


Hunter Bear (Hunter Gray / John R. Salter, Jr.)

Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'

Our Lair of Hunterbear website is now almost 12 years old. It
contains a great deal of primary, first-hand material on Native
Americans, Civil Rights Movement, union labor, and organizing
techniques -- and much more. Check it out and its vast number
of component pieces. The front page itself -- the initial cover
page -- has about 36 representative links.

See - Some Basic Pieces in our Jackson Movement
"Scrapbook" Three consecutive web pages -- primary
documents, photos of beating and demonstrations,
oral history components, much more. Begin with

And see this on the new, expanded and updated edition of my book,
Jackson Mississippi -- the classic and fully detailed account of
the historic and bloody Jackson Movement of almost 50 years ago:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mississippi Family of a Hate Crime Victim Promotes Forgiveness; time to talk about race, diversity, capital punishment and what social scientists are telling us

For Immediate Release
Susan Klopfer
Sept. 15, 2011

+ + + + +

June in Mississippi was a time to kill...for a white racist teen who tracked down a black man and took his life. To the perpetrator, the crime made perfect sense. It was an act of hate that he seems destined to perform.

This past week, I was moved to read that the family of James Craig Anderson is asking the alleged murderer not be executed. They are sending a message to Mississippi officials of forgiveness -- a rare message into a state that typically ignores the deep consequence of hate crimes, intolerance or inequality.

If you have not followed this horribly sad story, Anderson, 49, was targeted solely because of his "race" and run over by a white teenager in a pickup truck on June 26. His death, captured on a hotel surveillance video, stoked anger across the country when the footage went public.

Until CNN showed the video, after being approached by angry Mississippi citizens, the state of Mississippi had done very little concerning this crime. One official suggested that Anderson had probably done something to make the young man angry.

Drew Griffin and Scott Bronstein of the CNN Special Investigations Unit report today that Anderson's sister, Barbara Anderson Young, wrote to the county's district attorney, saying her family does not want anyone to face the death penalty. She cited the family's Christian beliefs and opposition to capital punishment.

"Those responsible for James' death not only ended the life of a talented and wonderful man," says her letter, dated Tuesday. "They also have caused our family unspeakable pain and grief. But our loss will not be lessened by the state taking the life of another."

Deryl Dedmon, 19, was arrested on a charge of capital murder, which is punishable by death or life without parole. He has not been indicted and it will be up to a grand jury to decide on the formal charges.

Dedmon and a group of teens had been partying late that night in suburban Rankin County when he asked a group of them to go out looking for a black man to "mess with," police reports state. Seven people allegedly loaded up in two cars and headed to Jackson.
# # # # #

So let the dialogue begin; here is my contribution, considering what scientists and social scientists tell us about race:

We are not teaching very well in school, at church, at work, at our civic groups or anywhere else what these academics are finding, and this is a grave mistake.

One person’s eyes are blue and your eyes are green. They have dark hair and your hair is light. Their skin is black and your skin is white. People may look a little different, but what do these differences mean, and do they even matter?

Here is the scientific answer in a nutshell: These differences are small, they mean nothing and basically do not matter.

Yet, despite solid scientific information, for some people, “race” seems to be a real issue. These differences, they believe, really matter.

So what is race? Is it “real” -- has race always been with us? How does race affect people today? Why would skin color make such a difference, so that some white teens would go out at night, looking for a black person, to kill?

These questions have answers.

Exceptionally helpful answers about “race” have been around for quite some time. I particularly respect the easy-to-understand information that was presented over eight years ago in a special documentary, RACE - The Power of an Illusion, produced by California Newsreel in association with the Independent Television Service (ITVS). Major funding was provided by the Ford Foundation and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Diversity Fund.

First -- Race is a new idea; it has not been around for ages.

The Greeks and other ancient societies didn’t divide people according to physical difference. They broke up groups by looking at religion, class, language, status, and so forth. We didn’t even have the term “race” in the English language until William Dunbar wrote a poem using the word – referring to a line of kings.

Second – is not a scientific reality; there is no genetic basis for the concept of race.

There are no characteristics, traits or gene differences in members of one “race” and another. Susan (me), a white woman, has no charactertistics or genetic differences than Larry (my friend from Zimbabwe) who is black.

Period. End of story. Tell this to Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck – anyone who tries to stir up trouble by stereotyping of people, according to “race.” Or to someone who makes disparaging remarks about President Barack Obama – because of his “race.”
Ancient societies, like the Greeks, did not divide people according to physical distinctions, but according to religion, status, class, even language. The English language didn't even have the word 'race' until it turns up in 1508 in a poem by William Dunbar referring only to a line of kings.

Third – humans do not have subspecies.

We have not been around long enough to isolated enough to evolve into separate “races” or subspecies. We might look a little different from each other – I don’t look much like my friend, Larry – but those differences are only on the surface. People are one of the most similar of all species. We have few differences, even though we make look quite a bit different from some others.

So, Fourth – Skin color really is only skin deep.

Most distinguishing characteristics, or traits, are inherited independently from one another. This means that the genes (units of heredity) influencing skin color have nothing to do with the genes influencing hair form, eye shape, blood type, musical talent, athletic ability or forms of intelligence. Knowing someone's skin color does not tell you much else about him or her. (Not all black people are musicians or athletes. This is not an accurate assumption to make.)

Fifth – Most variation is within, not between, "races."

Of the small amount of total human variation, some 85% exists within any local population, be they Italians, French, Koreans or Navajo. About 94% can be found within any continent. “That means two random Chinese may be as genetically different as an Austrian and an Italian.

Sixth – Slavery came before the idea of race.

Throughout much of human history, societies have enslaved others, often after conquest or war, or even due to debt. But people were not enslaved because of physical characteristics or a belief in natural inferiority.

In the United States, because of perhaps unique historical events, we set up the first slave system where all those enslaved shared similar physical characteristics – their skin was black.

Seventh – Race and freedom came about together.

The U.S. was founded on the radical new principle that "All men are created equal." But our early economy was based largely on slavery. How did this happen? The new idea of race helped rationalize why some people could be denied the rights and freedoms that others were given.

Eighth – Race made it possible for social inequalities to be considered natural.

As people latched on to the idea of race, along came white superiority as "common sense" in America. This justified not only slavery but also the killing off of Indians, exclusion of Asian immigrants, and the taking of Mexican lands by a nation that professed a belief in democracy. Manifest destiny was used to explain away racial practices that were institutionalized within American government, laws, and society.

Ninth – Race is not a biological fact, but racism is a real problem.

Race is a powerful social idea that allows some people complete access to opportunities and resources while taking away opportunities for others. If you do not believe this, visit a public school in a primarily black or Hispanic neighborhood.

Our government and social institutions give tremendous advantages that disproportionately channel wealth, power and resources to white people. You may or may not be aware of this, but regardless, you are affected in some way.

Tenth – Finally, insisting that Racism does not exist, will not end racism.

“We are all one family.” How many times have you heard a company owner or executive make this statement? Or…“I treat everyone the same, no matter the color of their skin.”

Sorry, we are not all the same family and people’s differences need to be understood and respected – embraced. Everyone is not alike. And this is good news! We are not a melting pot in this country – we are a tossed salad —a nd to pretend what we call race doesn't exist is not the same as creating equality.

Race, while it is not a scientific or biological reality, still exists – and “racism” is more than harmful stereotypes and individual prejudice. We need to identify and remedy social policies and institutional practices that come to us via “race” – practices that give tremendous advantage to some groups at the enormous expense of others.

Practices that preach hate and cause horrific crimes to take place, crimes such as the killing of a man because of his skin color.
~ ~ ~

The Mississippi family members who lost their beloved son and sibling because of this murder, deserves our nation's attention and respect. They have experienced an enormous loss, returning their sorrow only with love and a request that we start talking.

So, let us begin talking; the time surely is now.

We have an obligation to James Craig Anderson and his family, and to ourselves and each other.
~ ~ ~

Susan Klopfer, a New Mexico author and former Prentice Hall editor, has written three books on the history of the Mississippi civil rights movement, Emmett Till and related topics. She is currently working on a book about a gay Mississippi civil rights attorney who was murdered in 1997. Forensic questions about his death remain, she believes. For more information, visit her website at where you can link to her blogs and other sites.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hunterbear: Notes on Endangered Native Burials in the Florida Everglades; Way Back When -- Jackson, Mississippi and Civil Rights

Blog post by Hunter Bear

(Publisher's note: Hunterbear is a noted civil rights veteran, a university professor, and author.)

Earlier today I posted on the endangered Native burials in the Florida Everglades.

Sam Friedman writes:

It is hard to find words for such behavior. Attack, oppress and steal from people when they are alive, then desecrate their remains.

Not surprising, but still disgusting.

And my response:

You're right, Sam. And this situation is found across much of the United States. It's particularly prevalent in the Southwest where, in addition to such matters as construction in roads, buildings, and gas lines which can pose problem for burials, there is also a good deal of digging and looting of ancient graves for pots and crafts and sometimes presumed [but non-existent] gold and silver. Relatively recent laws, Federal and some state, are difficult to enforce in rugged back country -- even when there's some official motivation to enforce.

Not far northeastward from Flagstaff and in the lower elevated cedar country and related stretches into the very vast Navajo country, one can find hundreds of ancient Anasazi ruins around 800 years old. Those "old ones", ancestors of the contemporary Hopi, buried their dead to the south and east of their rock building structures. The latter crumbled over the centuries but the ruins and the burials remained, of course, and have been systematically pillaged by Anglo grave robbers for many, many decades. It's not unusual to find scattered skeletal remains along with the broken pieces of clay pots and other artifacts. It's also almost impossible to find a "ruin" in that region that hasn't had its burial area torn up.

In my long several days trek down vast and deep Sycamore Canyon southwest of Flagstaff in 1955, [a repeat journey is not totally out of the question by any means], I found some quite intact Native cliff dwellings in side canyons not far "up" from Sycamore Creek. I'd never reveal the location of those to anyone, anymore than I'd reveal the location of what I'm certain are the last surviving Grizzlies in that super rugged setting and in Arizona itself -- or the location of fairly rich gold bearing quartz that I spotted when the Canyon dropped down into the heavily mineralized Great Verde Fault. All of that's pretty safe -- I know of no one else who has ever done that long trek and systematic exploration. (The minerals would now be safe in any case since the eventual Wilderness Act covers Sycamore and prohibits any mining.)

The Navajo avoid anything relating to the old ruins in their vast reservation -- bigger than the state of West Virginia -- north and northeastward of Flagstaff and into Utah and New Mexico and a bit of Colorado. I've posted this before long ago but it says that pretty well:


Note by Hunter Bear:

This is simply another of virtually countless indications that the Native
nations and cultures have their own unique, deeply rooted and primary
identities. Many Anglos understand and respect this -- but many still do

Concern about DNA tests and related matters is broadly held in Indian
Country. This news story from the Salt Lake Trib quotes a Paiute's view:
"Among Brewster's own Northern Paiute tribe, he said, "We're not even
supposed to go near burials . . . the whole idea of disturbing a burial is
serious business."

This concern, for example, is extremely and very, very widely pronounced
among the Dine' [Navajo] where the Chindee [a powerful taboo] mandates
avoidance of the dead and all things directly related thereto. Violation of
Chindee requires extensive cleansing and harmony-restoring ceremonies by
Navajo medicine men -- who train rigorously for about 17 years before they
are considered full-fledged practitioners in the totally interrelated and
pervasively blended spheres of spirit, body, and Cosmos.

Our own family's ties with the Navajo are extremely close in the deepest and
most personal sense. When hunting -- say, at various points from
north/northeast and east of Flagstaff up and away into vast Navajoland -- no
Navajo I have ever been with or known would even go close to one of the many
hundreds of old [around 800 years old] Anasazi ruins whose burial grounds
are always just to the east and south of these ancient pre-Hopi villages.

The late Ned A. Hatathli [Hatathali] [1923-1972], who came from a very
traditional Navajo sheep-herding family near Coalmine Mesa, was one of my
father's top art students ever at Arizona State College, Flagstaff -- having
come there on the GI Bill via World War II. Some many years later, at the
end of the '60s, Ned played the key role in founding and launching Navajo
Community College [now Dine' College] -- the very first of the now many
Indian-controlled tribal colleges. He was NCC's first president. Far more
than all of those major dimensions, however, Ned Hatathli was a very close
family friend throughout his life. And he was someone who would often take
me deer hunting when I was a kid still without a vehicle. He used a
conventional 30/30 Winchester Model 94 lever action -- and I had an ancient
Winchester 1892 44/40 lever action which had served a venerable Basque
sheep-herder very well for decades. The jutting edge of its steel
saddle-ring-holder was worn down from an already long, long life in a tough
leather saddle scabbard. And when I got that good old rifle -- my first ever
for big game -- I was even given some black powder cartridges, but I
generally used the smokeless powder ones.

I remember an interesting -- but for me quite unsurprising -- scene where,
in the eastern edge of the Cinder Hills [a major volcanic region mostly just
east and north of Flagstaff, going back to upheavals around 1065 A.D. which
also involved the super-high and very spectacular San Francisco Peaks
immediately north of town], Ned and I spotted a very large buck mule deer.
It was difficult to get a clear shot in the cedars that were around it. As
we moved stealthily and hopefully toward it, the deer's keen senses jerked
it to attention. Aware of something, but not sure where we were, it
retreated slowly into some heavier cedars. We followed, very slowly, very

And then -- shrewdly, coincidentally, or psychically -- The Quarry was going
literally into the midst of a large and obvious Anasazi ruin: several large
piles of rocks partially covered with cinders and sand and sage. Even from
some distance, we could see some broken pieces of pottery sprinkled
about --shining in the bright sun.

As one, Ned and I stopped, turned -- and went on to other game trails. Big
Buck could not have been safer.

Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'

Our Lair of Hunterbear website is now almost 12 years old. It
contains a great deal of primary, first-hand material on Native
Americans, Civil Rights Movement, union labor, and organizing
techniques -- and much more. Check it out and its vast number
of component pieces. The front page itself -- the initial cover
page -- has about 36 representative links.

See - A Few Basic Pieces in our Jackson Movement
"Scrapbook". Three consecutive web pages beginning with

And see this on the new, expanded and updated edition of my book,
Jackson Mississippi -- the classic and fully detailed account of
the historic and bloody Jackson Movement of almost 50 years ago:

Friday, August 26, 2011

New Mexico, Civil Rights Author Releases Internet 's "TOP 10" List of Emmett Till Books

Media Release
Contact Susan Klopfer

At right, A Chicago newspaper reports on the murder of young Emmett Till (may be subject to copyright)
* * * * *

(Gallup) -- In observation of Black History Month and the upcoming 57th anniversary of Emmett Till's murder in Mississippi on Aug. 28, civil rights author Susan Klopfer, has released a top 10 list of Emmett Till books and ebooks appearing on the Internet.

"These are books and ebooks that consistently come up in the first ten positions when Emmett Till is googled.

"And yes, of course I am pleased that both of my Emmett Till books are up high on the search engines," Klopfer said, "as well as my eBook, Who Killed Emmett Till? But all of these books are well worth reading, for anyone who wants to learn more about the modern civil rights movement."

The 14-year-old Chicago schoolboy, Till, was the victim of a racist lynching Aug. 28, 1955, in the rural Mississippi Delta.

"People there were angry after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, Brown v the Topeka, Kansas Board of Education, a year before Till's trip to the Delta in 1954.

Then the second Supreme Court decision, Brown II came, "and they were furious, because the second decision said they must integrate schools with 'all deliberate speed.'"

"It was already a horrible time for racism, particularly in Mississippi and the South, and people were in no mood for black children who stood out and didn't mind their manners," Klopfer said.

Till was forcibly taken from his relatives' home in the small cotton town of Money, after angering a local white store owner. Her husband and a relative beat and killed Till, after taking him to a barn at the edge of another town a county away. "His body was taken to still another location, tied to a cotton gin fan, thrown into the Tallahatchie River and was only found after it rose to the surface," Klopfer said.

The Emmett Till incident is seen as the spark that ignited the modern civil rights movement, according to major U.S. historians.

"Emmett's mother, with the help of powerful Chicago unions, got his body shipped back to Chicago. without the help of the unions, this could not have been done.She made sure that photos were taken and that the casket was open, so that people around the world could see what happened to her son."

A month later, the two men identified as Till's killer were acquitted by an all-whte jury. They later confessed in detail to a magazine reporter. But once they were found innocent, Rosa Parks of Montgomery, Ala. decide the time was right for her to take her civil rights stand -- to sit at the front of a city bus -- bringing the start of the modern civil rights movement in the United States.

"Parks later told Emmett's mother that she was thinking of Emmett when she decided to make her move."

Klopfer said it is important to place the Emmett Till story in proper context, and she recently posted an article, Eight Reasons Why the Death of Emmett Till is Important Today, on her Emmett Till blog at where she frequently posts on Till and related civil rights issues.

That Till's death sparked the modern civil rights movement is listed as the first reason on Klofper's list.

Here is the googled list of Emmett Till books -- the top ten list as of today:

1. The Emmett Till Book
2. A Wreath for Emmett Till
3. The Lynching of Emmett Till: a documentary narrative
4. Who Killed Emmett Till? (eBook)
5. (a link to) Death of Innocence by Mrs. Till-Mobley
6. Getting Away With Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case
7. 'Emmett Till': A Poem of Sorrow, and Hope
8. Eyewitness Account: Emmett Till's cousin Simeon Wright
9. Teacher's Guide for A Wreath for Emmett Till
10.Emmett Till in Literary Memory and Imagination.

Klopfer said her favorite Emmett Till book, "the book that motivated me the most to keep learning about this murder, was Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America by Mamie Till-Mobley, the mother of Emmett Till.

"Till's murder was so atrocious. It really galvanized the civil rights movement, leaving an indelible mark on American racial consciousness. Whenever I have interviewed a black civil rights activist who is older, they have told me how Till's death was a defining moment.

"Mamie Carthan was an ordinary African-American woman growing up in 1930s Chicago, a young woman who was heavily influenced by her mother. She married Louis Till, and while the marriage didn't last, due to the husband's domestic brutality, they did have Emmett."

Till's mother went through "an incredible change," as she began her career of activism when she insisted on the open-casket viewing of her son's gruesomely disfigured body," Klopfer said. "It was a terribly brave thing for her to do."

It has been reported that over a hundred thousand people attended the Chicago service. "Perhaps even more people walked by that casket."

The trial of J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant, was considered the first full-scale media event of the civil rights movement. "European reporters, for the first time, covered a major U.S. civil rights-related trial. They went into the most dangerous part of Mississippi, at the time, to do their job."

Mamie Till-Mobley, "pulled herself back from the brink of suicide to become a teacher and inspire black children throughout the country. She died as she completed this memoir."

One of Klopfer's professional colleagues, Keith Beauchamp, the producer of the first extensive documentary on Emmett Till, "told me that he promised Mrs. Till-Mobley that he would keep this story alive.

"He did, and Beauchamp is the reason why our nation knows this story, better and better, as the years go by."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Special Civil Rights Program set for Monday on Celebrating Truth

Media Release
Dr. E. Faye Williams

Dr. E. Faye Williams, Host
Monday, August 22nd, 2011 at 6PM-EST

Special Guests: Mr. Derrick Johnson – State President for the Mississippi Conference of the NAACP; Ms. Rose Sanders (Faya Rose) – Selma, Alabama Attorney, Civil and Education Rights Activist; Ms. Jannette Lee – Georgia Civil Rights Activists

Please follow us on Twitter @ctruthproducer and join our Facebook fan page

Sign on to listen at ; scroll down to Monday 6pm

# # #

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lets Hope The Help Is Not Just Another Gone With The Wind or Mississippi Burning Historical Failure of a Civil Rights Movie

Media Release
Contact Susan Klopfer
Gallup, New Mexico 87301

Here's Hoping The Help Is Not Another Historical Failure of a Movie

By Susan Klopfer, civil rights and diversity author/speaker

Whore’s Lake, outside of Drew, Miss., where white KKK females reportedly threw bodies of their black murder victims, as late as the early 1960s. Drew is some 40 miles southeast of Greenwood, the set of a summer movie The Help that focuses on Mississippi’s civil rights past. (Photo by Susan Klopfer)

For many folks like my husband and me, summer means buttered popcorn and escape movies. The Help, currently in the Hollywood spotlight, opens Aug. 10, and so far, the California film machine is staying busy, pumping out media releases and news stories, some even pledging this Mississippi-based summertime movie is not another whitewash, like Mississippi Burning.

Their promises are arriving daily through countless pre-movie stories, on and offline, yet it is starting to feel (at least a little, to me) like The Help probably does not do much to portray the truly violent history of what was going on around its characters at the time it takes place, the early 1960s in Greenwood, Mississippi.

I want The Help to leave audiences with some real education and do more than lightly dip into Greenwood’s notorious, racist history. Having lived in the Delta, writing extensively about its modern civil rights movement, I know this town was far more than a sleepy, little Southern berg, where black maids gossiped, white women attended social club meetings, and only white males were violent towards African Americans, who long after the Civil War were still struggling to survive in this country, especially behind the Magnolia Curtain.

If nothing else, if this movie does not correct this idea, do not come away believing that only white males committed atrocious violence, back in those days. There are small lakes and ponds scattered throughout the Delta, known to be the final resting placing of countless bodies, African American murder victims.

People still living near Whore’s Lake over in Drew, for example, will tell you that black women were killed by white women, and their bodies were thrown into these murky waters. The white women, apparently Klan members, were reacting to rumors that their husbands and boyfriends were sleeping with these black women. In today's town of Drew, children still play on segregated baseball fields.

There are so many stories I could share about Greenwood – violent accounts mostly kept out of today’s “history” books, especially those school books meeting Texas curriculum standards.

One of my favorite stories is how Greenwood activist, Aaron Henry, successfully kept Christmas profits away from white Greenwood when he took on the town’s white merchants in a highly successful strike. (See A Christmas Boycott That Worked.)

I wonder if Henry is even mentioned in The Help. I do not know how one could tell the story of Greenwood’s modern civil rights movement history without including this famous civil rights leader.

Apparently, this DreamWorks film attempts to present a complex tale of white women and their relationships with the black house cleaners who also care for their children. The script, based on Kathryn Stockett's 2009 novel, has one thing going for it: the book's popularity. Reviewers loved it, readers couldn't finish it fast enough, and it stayed atop bestseller lists for close to two years, according to Los Angeles Times reporter, Nicole Sperling.

Some early critics are detracted over a white author writing in a black dialect for a pair of maids who serve as two of the book's three narrators. “Others felt the white narrator — an idealistic college grad named Skeeter Phelan, who persuades the black maids of Jackson, Miss., to tell their stories to her and causes a sensation when she publishes their tales anonymously — was too much of a savior,” Sperling reports.

Actor Octavia Spencer, known for her small but powerful role in "Seven Pounds" starring Will Smith, plays Minny Jackson, a sharp-tongued maid with an abusive husband. So would a sharp-tongued maid have survived in Greenwood in the early 60s? More than likely, if she angered the town’s white power brokers, she would be beaten to death or at least raped and left to die.

Henry, so courageous and profound, was typically cautious and polite in his dealings with Greenwood’s white power base, and yet this remarkable leader often feared for his life. His Greenwood home and his pharmacy were bombed. His house remains in rubbles in a Greenwood neighborhood. Will these Aaron Henry sites appear in the background?

Oscar nominee Viola Davis ("Doubt") plays the role of servant Aibileen. Davis tells Sperling of seeing a “huge responsibility within the African-American community.” However, there have been “entire blogs committed to saying that I'm a sellout just for playing a maid," Davis adds.

One good thing going for The Help, is that it was filmed in the South, primarily in Greenwood, with a population 15,000, some 100 miles north of Jackson. History lurks around every corner and Mississippi's ghosts are still present — in the nearby Tallahatchie River where in 1955 the brutally beaten body of a 14-year-old chicago black boy, Emmett Till, was dumped. Killed for whistling at a white store-owner's wife, over in the cotton hamlet of Money.

Till’s slaying on Aug. 28 1955 helped mobilize the civil rights movement, since Rosa Parks of Montgomery, Ala., heard about the killing and how jurors found the two accused men innocent of killing Till who was visiting Delta relatives. She had already planned her act of civil disobedience, and decided the time had finally come to take action.

Mississippi’s first state leader of the NAACP, the talented Medgar Evers, was shot and killed in front of his Jackson home by Byron De La Beckwith, a Greenwood member of the white Citizen’s Councils, an organization headquartered in this Delta town. Councils members, termed by journalist Hodding Carter, Jr. as the “uptown Klan,” were not known for their civility to black citizens.

Councils came into being soon after Brown v. Topeka Board of Education as people in Mississippi reacted with fury over school integration. One month before Emmett Till came into Mississippi, a well-known minister, Rev. George Lee of Belzoni, was shot and killed in front of his business. Local officers would assert that Lee’s tooth fillings exploded in his head. Belzoni is about an hour southwest of Greenwood. (Voting Rights Act of 1965: Rev. George Lee Remembered)

Filming in the ghostly Mississippi Delta apparently had an impact on their performances, both women told Sperling. Spencer said she returned to Greenwood in May, after the film, and realized she “liked it a lot better.” But while the ensemble was working there, the actress remembered being unhappy.

“When you are shooting right around the corner from the Tallahatchie River and you know that ... Emmett Till's body was found in that river ... and you know (Michael) Schwerner, (Andrew) Goodman and (James) Chaney (the civil rights workers killed in 1964 about 100 miles east of Greenwood) and the history of that and the history of Medgar Evers, and the fact that those people look just like you, it's hard to relax,” she told the Times.

In nearby Baptist Town, where some of the exterior filming occurred, this all-black community today reports 85 percent unemployment and there has not been a single high school graduate in years.

So did the actors feel any extra sense of responsibility in playing these roles because of the history? Here is what they told Sperling:

“Spencer: There are a lot of people who don't like the idea of us playing maids without knowing anything about the story. Not knowing how proactive these women are in their community and how they are propagating change.

“Davis: They don't care. It's the fact that we are playing maids. It's the image and the message more so than the execution.”

Both women had to pause and really think about this history, before signing on – making certain The Help was not just another "Gone With the Wind."

I wonder if they read any books written by civil rights veterans (CRM-Vets) to prepare for their roles? This group is formally organized and many members have written countless, detailed histories of their experiences trying to bring Mississippi into the modern world.

I have not seen their research mentioned and my doubts are this film will not be much better than GWTW or Mississippi Burning – if so, a real disappointment. Bringing in consultants, like CRM-Vet and author Constance Curry, a civil rights activist and prize-winning author, would have given The Help far more credence.

Curry is loaded with credentials -- a fellow at the Institute for Women's Studies, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, Curry has a law degree from Woodrow Wilson College and did graduate work in political science at Columbia University before she was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Bordeaux in France. She earned her B.A. degree in History, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia. She was a Fellow at the University of Virginia's Carter G. Woodson Institute, Center for Civil Rights, Charlottesville.1990-91.

She is the author of several well-known civil rights works, including her award winning book, Silver Rights (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1995; Paper back Harcourt Brace, 1996), which won the Lillian Smith Book Award for nonfiction in 1996; was a finalist for the 1996 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award; was recommended by the New York Times for summer reading in 1996; and was named the Outstanding Book on the subject of Human Rights in North America by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights.

With an introduction by Marian Wright Edelman, Silver Rights tells the true story of Mrs. Mae Bertha Carter and her family's struggle for education in Drew, Miss., a tiny Sunflower County, cotton town, close to Greenwood. The Carters were Mississippi Delta sharecroppers living on a cotton plantation in the 1960s when they sent seven of their thirteen children to desegregate an all-white school system in 1965 after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Actually, the children took the lead, enrolling in the previously segregated white schools when their parents were out of town. Curry's book provides a wonderful look into the family's determination to obtain an education for their children.

Her most recent book is Mississippi Harmony with Ms. Winson Hudson, published fall 2002 by Palgrave/St, Martin's press. Mississippi Harmony tells the life story of Mrs. Winson a civil rights leader from Leake County, Miss.,who also challenged segregation in the 1960s.

Curry also collaborated in and edited Deep in Our Hearts: Nine White Women in the Freedom Movement (University of Georgia Press, 2000) and the book that began my person civil rights journey, Aaron Henry: the Fire Ever Burning (University Press of Mississippi, 2000). This book still makes me cry and is my personal favorite. It is the book I recommend for someone new to this history.

Curry, who has countless more credentials, is the producer of a newly released documentary film entitled "The Intolerable Burden," (winner of the John O'Connor film award, Jan. 2004, from the American Historical Association) based on her book Silver Rights, but showing today's resegregation in public schools and the fast track to prison for youth of color.

Curry, like me, is white. She is a woman who is firm in her message, and is someone who would have had no trouble – no trouble, at all – making certain The Help tells the real story of the modern civil rights movement, and doesn’t end up as just another horribly inaccurate documentary of this most important time of American history.

For those who are looking to learn some new history about the modern civil rights movement, seeing The Help might be a good place to start. But only followed by reading books based on the true stories, books that are solidly researched, books telling readers what really happened some fifty to sixty years back in a time warp that hasn’t totally disappeared.

Good reading. You know that you can still pop some kernals before you sit down to your book, kindle, Nook or iPad.
* * * *

Susan Klopfer is the author of three civil rights books: Who Killed Emmett Till?, Where Rebels Roost; Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited, and The Emmett Till Book. She recently wrote Cash In On Diversity; How Getting Along With Others Pays Off.

Susan is a former award-winning journalist and was an acquisitions and development editor for Prentice Hall. Susan holds a degree in Communication from Hanover College and an M.B.A. from Indiana Wesleyan University. She lives in Gallup, New Mexico. She enjoys speaking on civil rights and diversity.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Miss. provides $152K to restore 1950s service station connected to Emmett Till’s killing; Gallup civil rights author responds

Information from: The Greenwood Commonwealth,

MONEY, Miss. — The Mississippi Department of Archives and History is providing $152,000 to restore a gas station as part of the story of Emmett Till, a black 14-year-old from Chicago who was lynched for whistling at a white woman in August of 1955.

Ben Roy’s Service Station stands next to what used to be Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market, owned by Carolyn Bryant — the woman Till is said to have whistled at — and her husband, Roy.

Several nights afterward, Roy Bryant and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, killed and mutilated Till. An all-white jury acquitted them of murder, but they later confessed to the crime in an article in Look Magazine.

The station will be restored as part of the Mississippi Civil Rights Historical Program, The Greenwood Commonwealth ( reported Sunday.


Gallup, New Mexico civil rights author, Susan Klopfer, believes the state of Mississippi is making “a good effort” to recognize its role in this civil rights event, and to help others know the story, as the 56th anniversary of Emmett Till murder moves closer.

“I am always surprised when a teacher, anthropologist, history professor, a John Grisham fan (this one always stops me) or some other person who should know this story gives me a blank stare when I mention my eBook on Till.

“And yes -- this important story was not being taught in high school history classes way back in 1966 when I was a student in Lakeview, Oregon. Most white people and white historians, especially in the North, had not heard the story and certainly were not teaching it. No one in my college U.S. history class touched upon the Emmett Till story, either,” Klopfer said.

"And from what I've observed, this story is still not being taught in most history classes, unless the teacher is particularly enlightened."

The Gallup resident is the author of two books on Till, The Emmettt Till Book, and Who Killed Emmett Till?, The latter book, published both in eBook and print format, was recently nominated for a Global eBook award through publisher Dan Poynter of Santa Barbara, Calif.

“The story goes that in late August of 1955, Mamie Till Bradley put her only son on a train bound from Chicago to Mississippi so he could visit relatives. Having instructed him to mind his manners and corral his quick tongue, Mrs. Bradley made sure the boy kissed her good-bye before watching him scramble to make his train.

“He was a fearless boy, Emmett Louis Till, a 14-year-old inner city kid who sparkled with an impish sense of humor. Such boldness, his mother feared, could get a young black boy into trouble in the heart of the Deep South. It ended up putting him into an early grave,” Klopfer said.

“While looking for something to do on a hot and humid Mississippi Delta day, Emmett and his cousins ambled into the tiny town of Money, Mississippi, which boasted little more than a general store run by Roy Bryant and his wife, Carolyn, a young white woman.

“Carolyn actually lives today in Mississippi, and could shed more light on what really happened next, but she continues to refuse to talk. Even to the FBI.”

What exactly happened in the store is still unclear; there have been accounts that Emmett made a pass at Carolyn Bryant, whistling at her and calling her "baby" before his terrified companions pulled him out of the store and fled the inevitable consequences of disrespecting a white woman, Klopfer says.

“And there are still other stores that continue to float around the Delta. One story goes that Emmett was mentally challenged. Bryant tried to help him, and because he was African American, her racist husband heard about this and went ballistic.”

Three days later, Emmett was dragged from his bed at his uncle's house by Roy Bryant and his half brother, J.W. Milam. His body was later found floating in the Tallahatchie River, tied to a seventy-five pound fan and brutalized beyond recognition.

According to the Gallup civil rights author, Mississippi authorities wanted Mrs. Bradley to keep the world from seeing "images of the grotesque waxen features that dripped from her son's bones, to allow no sunlight to pass through the hole in his skull, or reveal the eyeball that lolled upon his cheek."

But Emmett Till's mother showed great courage, especially for those horribly racist times in this country. “She pried the lid open from her son's coffin to show the world exactly what hatred looked like.”

One person deeply affected by photos of Till appearing in the national and international press, was Rosa Parks who was living in Montgomery, Ala.

“Parks had been planning her act of civil disobedience, to sit at the front of a city bus on her way home from work. After she learned the two men were found innocent of killing Till (and they later confessed to this murder), Parks decided to take a stand.

“Thus, Till’s murder is seen by today's historians as an important spark that ignited the modern civil rights movement.”

Klopfer said she has spent further time researching the life of a civil rights lawyer, Cleveland McDowell, “who was the same age as Till and lived in the small town of Drew, Miss., near the site of Till’s murder.”

McDowell, who Klopfer said she is currently writing a third book about, “was murdered in 1997 – after spending most of his life investigating civil rights murders and brutalities, including the murder of Emmett Till.

“There are many questions remaining about his murder that I will try to answer.”

DOJ Takes on Tucson Unified School District in Arizona; Civil Rights News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Monday, August 1, 2011

Justice Department Settles Employment Discrimination Lawsuit Against the Tucson Unified School District in Arizona

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice announced today that it has entered into a consent decree with the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) that, if approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, will resolve the department’s complaint alleging sex and/or national origin discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. The complaint alleges that the TUSD discriminated against Donna Guzman, Marcia Vela, Veronica Leon, Jimmy Miranda and Eddie Montano, female and/or Hispanic custodial employees of its Rincon/University High School (RHS), by subjecting them to harassment and a hostile work environment based on sex and/or national origin.

The complaint, which was filed along with the proposed consent decree in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, alleges that the TUSD violated Title VII by failing to take effective action that would stop one of its employees – a white, male custodian – from subjecting his co-workers to a series of harassing and abusive comments based on their sex and/or national origin, and subjecting Guzman and Vela to physical intimidation based on their sex and/or national origin, after the female and/or Hispanic co-workers had complained about his behavior to RHS and TUSD supervisory personnel numerous times.

Under the terms of the consent decree, TUSD must pay a total of $45,000 to Guzman, Vela, Leon, Miranda and Montano in compensatory damages. The consent decree also provides for injunctive relief requiring the TUSD to enforce its policies and procedures that prohibit sex and national origin discrimination and to train its officers and other employees on the prevention of sex and national origin discrimination.

“The Justice Department is committed to the vigorous enforcement of all federal civil rights laws under its jurisdiction, including Title VII’s prohibition against harassment in the workplace,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. “This lawsuit should send a clear message that the Department will take necessary action to eliminate and remedy the effects of unlawful harassment in our public sector workplaces.”

The lawsuit is based on two charges of discrimination filed by Guzman and Vela with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). After investigating the charges, finding reasonable cause to believe that the TUSD had discriminated against the charging parties and their similarly-situated co-employees and unsuccessfully attempting to conciliate the matter, the EEOC referred the charges to the department. More information about the EEOC is available at

The enforcement of Title VII and other federal employment discrimination laws is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Additional information about the Civil Rights Division and its work is available on its website at .


Attorney General

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Radio Show Features Story of Elaine, Arkansas Race Massacre Of 1919; Black Holocaust

Media Release
(7/27/2011)*9pm c/10pm e/7pm p*Elaine, Arkansas Race Massacre Of 1919
W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio
Air Date: Weds. July 27, 2011
Time: 9 PM C/10 PM E/7 PM P
Call-in Number: 646-652-4593

Topic: "Black Holocaust: The Elaine, Arkansas Massacre Of 1919"

Show Promo Video:



Publisher's Note: I just received this notice from this radio station about the upcoming program on the Elaine Massacre, an event that reads like a John Grisham novel.

In the morning hours of October 1, 1919, urgent calls went up and down the Mississippi River from the heart of the Arkansas Delta: blacks in Phillips County are rioting. No one seemed to be clear about what had touched them off, but a shoot-out at a church in a hamlet called Hoop Spur in the southern part of the county had left one white man dead and others wounded.

More historians are beginning to write about this tragedy, and Ron's program should be very interesting. I urge you to tune in.

Susan Klopfer, publisher
Civil Rights and Social Justice News
Author, Who Killed Emmett Till, Where Rebels Roost; Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited

P.S. If you are interested in reading more on this historical incident (once called a "race riot", here is information on a recently written book by an Arkansas historian --

Blood in Their Eyes is a relentless examination of one of the bloodiest American racial repressions of the 20th century. In retelling the story of the Elaine massacres of 1919 with moral fervor and canny reinterpretation of sources, Grif Stockley has written a study of collective barbarism in real time that deepens our knowledge of the psychodynamics of white supremacy.

-— David Levering Lewis, two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author

Meticulously researched and compellingly argued, Blood in Their Eyes is the definitive history of the Elaine, Arkansas, massacre . . . [which] was the bloodiest race war of the Red Summer of 1919. Compounding the violence by rampaging white mobs and army troops was the torture of black survivors. Grif Stockley, a lawyer, has told the whole story, and in doing so, he has deeply enriched our understanding not only of America's violently racist past, but also of the challenges which that history poses for the future.

William M. Tuttle, Jr., author of Daddy's Gone to War: The Second World War in the Lives of America's Children (1993) and Race Riot: Chicago in the Red Summer of 1919 (2nd ed., 1996)

Awards for Blood in Their Eyes
American Association of State and Local History, 2003, Certificate of Commendation

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Civil Rights and Diversity Lessons -- School Librarian Tells How to ‘Teach Till’ Without Frightening Children

Media Release
Tuesday, July 13, 2011
Susan Klopfer
1712 Redrock Drive
Gallup, NM 87301

How to ‘Teach Till’ Without Frightening Children: A Resource Guide for Teachers

You are a classroom teacher. The anniversary of Emmett Till’s death is coming up, and you want to present a meaningful lesson for your students. How can you talk about the murder of Emmett Till -- a significant civil rights events -- without frightening children.

Patricia Fua, a 20-year-plus high school teaching veteran and librarian, believes she has answers and has developed a teaching guide for Help With Teaching a Lesson on Emmett Till. Fua shares this guide as this 46th anniversary of this important modern civil rights event arrives:
Resources for the Classroom

For ongoing classroom lessons which emphasize tolerance and diversity visit Teaching Tolerance through the link below.

This organization offers a free magazine for educators with articles for adults, and stories to share with your students. The magazine also offers many ideas for handling discipline and a wealth of lesson plans. The yearly program sponsored by this association is called “Mix it Up for Lunch”. This is a great activity which is strongly recommended as a school wide program for all ages and one that will have a lasting effect on both students and staff.

Preparing the Class for your Lesson on Emmett Till

The Emmett Till story evokes many strong feelings in modern day teenagers. No matter how you choose to introduce this story to students the result will be basically the same, many will be shocked, some angry, while others will be confused.

Initially, before introducing the story the activity below called “Information Circle” can be used to ease students into a topic which might make them uneasy. Using “Information Circle" at the beginning of your lesson allow students who have little or no knowledge of the Emmett Till story to acquire information from their peers, and to practice passing information along.
The general discussion time at the end of the activity allows the teacher to correct and modify any information which was shared which might be inaccurate. It is recommended that students have other lessons throughout the year which extend on this story so that they realize it was not an isolated event, that it led to a great movement in American History, and so that they can draw inferences to Jim Crow laws and racism in literature and history as they study throughout the year.

Closure on this lesson

Students will need some closure which will allow them to put the feelings which have surfaced into a proper context. Again using the activity below students might be given a specific assignment by the teacher to make the sense of closure more eminent. For example students might write a short sentence which they repeat to each student they meet in the circle when the music is stopped. It can be a pledge of what they will do to help end racism in the future, or a specific fact they found in their research. The slow movement together with the music should help to contrast this second staging of the same activity from the first. There should be a quiet sense of peace, a grieving time if you will in this closure activity.

After this activity a solemn pledge might be considered. Students could place their pledge which they read to one another into a small special container to be included in a school time capsule, or a pledge wall might be made in the hallway to show their peers how they feel. Ideas are unlimited and depend on the personality of the group.

For more closure activities see the Social Studies links provided under the high school section or visit .


Information Circle

This activity is suited for all ages including high school.

Before and after your lesson on Emmett Till a rewarding activity allowing students to review the information as well as voice their emotions is to play “Information Circle”.

Two circles are formed, one inside (circle A) and the other outside (circle B) thus including all the students in the classroom. Music is played, and in this instance Delta Blues should be used to set the mood.

Students walk in a circle slowly with each circle moving opposite of the other. When the music stops the students stand facing that person from the other circle and they exchange for 10 seconds each their knowledge of the event prior to the lesson, and their feelings about race in America after the lesson. The music is started again and a slow walk resumes to the next stop in the music. The teacher should facilitate the 10 second switch by monitoring the time and calling out, “A speaks” and then “B speaks”.

At the end of the activity (suggested overall time is 3 to 4 minutes) a class discussion can be held which is monitored by the teacher. All students will be ready to participate after gleaning information and opinions from others during the activity.

Springboard Lessons

Language Arts

Elementary School
Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson with illustrations by Hudson Talbott

Middle School
Everyday Use by Alice Walker

A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson (sonnets, especially the crown sonnet form)

High School

Language Arts

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

and the
Scottsboro Trial


US Race Relations After WWII

Analyzing Primary Documents

Time line of the Civil Rights movement

Social Studies Segregation Voting Rights  Wall of Tolerance Civil Rights Memorial

Miscellaneous Resources PBS Teacher Guide to Activities

for use with the video
The Murder of Emmett Till

(Editor's Note: I have also added the following video by Keith A. Beauchamp:)

PBS Videos and Lesson Plans 

Glossary taken

from “Eyes on the Prize

Short profiles
* * *
Patricia Fua has taught school for 20-plus years and is currently the Librarian at a public high school in rural Nevada. Some of her most beloved teaching experiences have occurred in American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas and a troubled inner city school in Central Los Angeles. Through all of these experiences Patricia holds fast that, “Young people are the same everywhere. They are concerned with fairness and equality, and they want to do their part to make the world a better place.”

Winner of two Christa McAuliffe fellowships Patricia has stretched across the board in education creating programs for the arts in Micronesia, setting up and acquiring funding for computer labs in both Samoa and Saipan and working as a volunteer to help accredit schools at each school where she has taught. Her first love is teaching Broadcasting and Drama but says she has a true passion for teaching tolerance.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Recent mosque protests and congressional hearings on American Muslims 'unfortunate examples of rising tide of fear'

A Note From --
Elizabeth Potter

Unity Productions Foundation

As you know, America has always been a melting pot, but in the post-9/11 world the environment can be downright hostile. Recent mosque protests and congressional hearings on American Muslims are all unfortunate examples of a rising tide of fear. This climate of suspicion towards our fellow Americans compromises the great values that our country was founded upon. We've put together a 2 minute film in response that I believe you and the readers of Civil Rights and Social Justice News will be interested in sharing, watching, and discussing:

The site also has many other cool features including the ability to share your own stories and even taking the "My Fellow American" pledge. I would love it if you could post or tweet about this and share the video. If you can, please let me know. I am here if you have any questions. Thank you so much.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Gallup, New Mexico Author Nominated For Dan Poynter Golden eBook Award; Who Killed Emmett Till?

Fourteen-year-old Emmett Till of Chicago was kidnapped and killed in the early morning hours of August 28 in 1955 while visiting Mississippi relatives. The sight of his brutalized body in an open casket, displayed to thousands of Chicago mourners a week later, was the spark that lit the modern civil rights movement. Among those moved to action was Rosa Parks of Montgomery, Alabama.

(Susan Klopfer, from the Google Knol on Emmett Tilll)

Gallup, NM --Civil right author and blogger, Susan Klopfer, has learned her eBook, Who Killed Emmett Till?, was nominated for a Dan Poynter Golden eBooks Award. Winners will be announced in August.

"This is a true honor," Klopfer said. Her book, also available in print format, focuses on the true story of a young Chicago school boy, Emmett Till, who in 1955, while visiting his Mississippi relatives, was brutally murdered. When his body was returned home to Chicago, his mother allowed it to be openly displayed and some historians say this was the spark that ignited the modern civil rights movement.

Klopfer lived in the Mississippi Delta for several years on the grounds of Parchman Penitentiary where her husband was the chief psychologist for the state's prisons. "We lived only a few miles from the site where young Till was murdered. And so, I met and spoke with people who lived there at the time, picking up interesting new information and clues about the murder."

While two Mississippi men eventually confessed to the murder, they were found not guilty in a trial in nearby Sumner, Mississippi. Rosa Parks was upset over what had taken place, and this was a chief reason she decided to go forward with her decision to sit at the front of a city bus in Montgomery, Ala.

"And we know what happened after that. The Modern Civil Rights Movement was underway."

Klopfer has written extensively about this murder and other civil rights events taking place in the Mississippi Delta. Her first book, Where Rebels Roost; Mississippi Civil Rights Revisited, covers a wide range of time, from pre Civil War to 2004 as the FBI reopened the Emmett Till files as a cold cas.

"Still, too few people know this story. It is not taught in many history classes and it is so important. Reporters from all over the world attended the trial in tiny Sumner and the U.S. was in the spotlight for its mistreatment of black people in this country.

"As children, today, are brutally mistreated and become victims of wars and terrorism, we can turn to this story of a young kid who was in the wrong place at the wrong time," Klopfer said.

At the time Till visited his relatives in Mississippi, the Brown I and Brown II Supreme Court decisions over school segregation had been announced and tempers were flaring. In the small town of Belzoni, "right before Emmett came into Mississippi," the Rev. George Lee, an outspoken advocate of voting rights, was murdered in his car. "No one was ever prosecuted for this murder. Rev. Lee was a popular man and he, too, took the brunt of this extreme hatred and anger over the Brown decision," Klopfer said.

The New Mexico author has written a Google Knol on the Emmett Till book. A second book by Klopfer, Cash In On Diversity, has also been nominated.

"I certainly hope to win one of these awards. I guess I would be most pleased if it was for the Emmett Till book. This is a topic close to my heart."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Juneteenth (June 19) Oldest Celebration Commemorating Ending of Slavery in U.S.

For more information, visit

The celebration known as Juneteenth is enjoying a phenomenal growth rate within communities and organizations throughout the country. Institutions such as the Smithsonian, the Henry Ford Museum and others have begun sponsoring Juneteenth-centered activities. In recent years, a number of local and national Juneteenth organizations have arisen to take their place along side older organizations - all with the mission to promote and cultivate knowledge and appreciation of African American history and culture.

It was on June 19, 1865 that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. (Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.

Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another, is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another, is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation.

No one will ever know if any of these versions could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln's authority over the rebellious states was in question For whatever the reasons, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.

One of General Granger’s first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3 which began most significantly with:

"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and free laborer."

The reactions to this profound news ranged from pure shock to immediate jubilation. Even with nowhere to go, many felt that leaving the plantation would be their first grasp of freedom. North was a logical destination and for many it represented true freedom, while the desire to reach family members in neighboring states drove the some into Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

The celebration of June 19th was coined "Juneteenth" and grew with more participation from descendants. Juneteenth continued to be highly revered in Texas decades later, with many former slaves and descendants making an annual pilgrimage back to Galveston on this date.

Certain foods became popular and subsequently synonymous with Juneteenth celebrations such as strawberry soda-pop. More traditional and just as popular was the barbecuing, through which Juneteenth participants could share in the spirit and aromas that their ancestors - the newly emancipated African Americans, would have experienced during their ceremonies. Hence, the barbecue pit is often established as the center of attention at Juneteenth celebrations.

Beginning in the early 1900s,s there was a decline in Juneteenth activities; text books proclaimed Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863 as the date signaling the ending of slavery - and little or nothing on the impact of General Granger’s arrival on June 19th.

The Civil Rights movement of the 50’s and 60’s yielded both positive and negative results for the Juneteenth celebrations. While it pulled many of the African American youth away and into the struggle for racial equality, many linked these struggles to the historical struggles of their ancestors. This was evidenced by student demonstrators involved in the Atlanta civil rights campaign in the early 1960’s, whom wore Juneteenth freedom buttons.

Again in 1968, Juneteenth received another strong resurgence through Poor Peoples March to Washington D.C.. Rev. Ralph Abernathy’s call for people of all races, creeds, economic levels and professions to come to Washington to show support for the poor. Many of these attendees returned home and initiated Juneteenth celebrations in areas previously absent of such activity. In fact, two of the largest Juneteenth celebrations founded after this March are now held in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

On January 1, 1980, Juneteenth became an official state holiday through the efforts of Al Edwards, an African American state legislator. The successful passage of this bill marked Juneteenth as the first emancipation celebration granted official state recognition. Edwards has since actively sought to spread the observance of Juneteenth all across America.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

'Refuse to Serve' Signs a 'Stupid Way to Do Business,' Diversity eBook Author Warns

(Gallup, NM) -- Any retailer that posts a sign announcing they “reserve the right to do business with anyone for any reason," might consider some business advice given by the author of a new, multicultural business eBook:

"That's a pretty stupid way to get new customers!"

Susan Klopfer, author of Cash In On Diversity, says she "can’t believe what I am seeing when I walk into retail stores with signs like this.

"What is going through the head of any business owner that appears to say, ‘Hey, if I don’t like the color of your skin, or how you look or act, I can tell you to leave my store and I don’t have to be rational or even follow the law’.”

Klopfer, a communication specialist, moved to New Mexico in January and said she is surprised that in a state with such a diversity of population, business ‘refusal’ signs are still common in many communities.

“For many people – whether or not they fit into a ‘minority’ classification, such a statement harkens back to the days when non-white people were actively discriminated against by racist retailers. So, why would any business owner in their proper mind – someone who wants to make money by serving as many people as possible -- post a potentially offensive sign in their store in this day and age,” she asks.

Klopfer, who holds a graduate degree in business and operates a small business, gives a quick sociology lesson: almost half, nearly 40 percent, of the U.S. population doesn’t fit the white family stereotype that made marketing in the 60s so easy – the image of June Cleaver and her popular family.

“Leave it to Beaver days are over! The changing cultural landscape of the country is exciting and offers so much opportunity. This requires all of us in business to think about the best way to start an engaging conversation.

An offensive sign that brings back memories of our country’s worst behaviors, the days of water hoses and black children being hosed down, simply is not a way to start a good conversation with any customer.”

Klopfer says she still remembers the “horrible images from the 1950s” when watching television with her parents, and often asks store owners to explain their signs when she sees them.

“It can be an interesting encounter. Sometimes, the store owner is quite defensive, even when I quietly explain how I feel about their sign and why. But I do think they get the message, and I ask others to ‘run’ the same ‘social experiment’.

"This type of bigotry, whether or not it is purposefully intended, really harms all of business and can be so hurtful.

“One has to wonder. Who is the store owner targeting? Would they kick out a gay couple holding hands? Do they want poor people to stay away? Are they directly targeting Native Americans? Often, the store owner can’t even answer these questions, probably because they haven’t given their sign enough thought in the first place. Yet, I am sure they want to have a successful business and make money from lots of customers.”

Cash In On Diversity, published by Smashwords (distributor of eBooks to the
Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store, Kobo and the Diesel eBook Store) blends practical experience with academic findings and provides do-able solutions for companies that are trying to grow their customer base, capturing a better representation of ethnicity and cultures.

The 12 chapter eBook features a diversity and psychology FAQ contributed by a social and clinical psychologist, a discussion of five common diversity mistakes companies make, specific tips for communicating with non-native speakers, an 11-point organizational diversity analysis, the script from Klopfer’s popular diversity webinar, followed by a complete glossary of critical diversity terms (“from Abrahamic religions to xenophobia”).

Klopfer’s interest in diversity comes through her business and civil rights background. She holds a master’s degree in business from Indiana Wesleyan University and an undergraduate degree in communication from Hanover College. The former Missouri journalist and Prentice Hall editor wrote three civil rights books on the Mississippi Delta and also wrote a Book of-the-Month alternate selection on personal computing, published by Prentice Hall. She has also written books on home-based businesses and how to use the Internet.

Klopfer recently moved to Gallup, a highly multicultural community, where she opened a vintage and southwestern gallery – “a quiet, little shop in a multicultural community where I can write, enjoy art and meet interesting people.”

Saturday, June 4, 2011

No Quick Fix to Diversification, eBook Author Says; ‘But Here Are Some Tips’

News Release
Contact Susan Klopfer

Dramatic, positive change is more possible for any business when leadership is truly diverse, says the author of a newly published business eBook, Cash In On Diversity.

Susan Klopfer, who writes and consults on how to capitalize on diversity – says that businesses and organizations with ”true diversity of leaders” typically perform better financially and in other ways, too.

And she offers hope for business leaders on how to get there.

“These organizations show an increased capacity to link with new global and domestic markets, as well as an expanded access to global and domestic talent pools,” Klopfer said, citing findings from “Diverse City,” a project of the Greater Toronto, Canada Leadership Project and from her own experiences and informal data gathering.

Heightened innovation and creativity are also more possible within diverse organizations, along with strengthened social unity or cohesion -- “People who learn to respect each other’s differences, and who learn to treat each other using the Platinum Standard are simply going to work better together and there will be more rewards when this occurs – socially and economically.”

But Klopfer warns that too many organizations still haven’t grasped the “platinum standard,” a diversity management term coined by diversity management guru R. Roosevelt Thomas, Jr.

“This means listening and learning from others as to how they wish to be treated and understood, and not assuming you have the answers, stemming from your own personal ideas and values.”

Greater employee productivity and organizational performance can also be expected when there is a commitment to diversity. Thinking out of the box has been attributed to work done by diverse teams, for example.

“The Toronto Project found that diverse leaders are able to respond better to Canada’s increasingly multicultural markets, and that diverse leadership is more likely to attract and retain a diverse workforce.”

So how can any organization ensure diversity of leadership? And can a turn-around happen fast?

“First, make diversity a strategic priority,” Klopfer suggests.

“There should be a public commitment to diversity in leadership that sets the tone and creates the right conditions for change.”

Another tip – “Break out of your comfort zone and realize diversity requires change. You will have to take some risks. Leaders must learn to consider new options and to try new things.”

Klopfer tells about one Canadian company that was able to move quickly into diversity by capitalizing on their networks to increase board diversity.

“They approached some 450 community-based organizations to reach out to prospective board members, in essence, asking everyone they knew for recommendations. Then they created a grid system to assess, track and monitor qualifications.”

Group mentoring is still another way to help bring diversity into an organization’s culture, Klopfer said. “Find senior ambassadors within the organization and help them network with non-executives by sharing personal stories about their careers, and by leading discussions regarding challenges and opportunities for people to succeed.”

Always establish goals and measure results, Klopfer said. “Become publicly accountable by posting this information to website and other venues such as news releases and internal newsletters.

While these tips for moving to diversity may sound simple enough, Klopfer warns there is no quick fix to diversification. “It is a journey that will never be over.”

But creating a culture of diversity “will help put measures in place within the organization and to address what are called unconscious biases that too often pose obstacles to hiring and upward mobility of diverse people.”

Cash In On Diversity published by Smashwords (distributor of eBooks to the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store, Kobo and the Diesel eBook Store) blends practical experience with academic findings and provides do-able solutions.

The 12 chapter eBook features a diversity and psychology FAQ contributed by a social and clinical psychologist, a discussion of five common diversity mistakes companies make, specific tips for communicating with non-native speakers, an 11-point organizational diversity analysis, the script from Klopfer’s popular diversity webinar, followed by a complete glossary of critical diversity terms (“from Abrahamic religions to xenophobia”).

The Gallup, New Mexico writer holds a master’s degree in business from Indiana Wesleyan University and an undergraduate degree in communication from Hanover College. The former Missouri journalist and Prentice Hall editor wrote three civil rights books on the Mississippi Delta and also wrote a Book of-the-Month alternate selection on personal computing, published by Prentice Hall.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sharper Focus on Diversity Could Pay Off For Business, Ebook Author States

News Release
Susan Klopfer

Diversity eBook nominated for Global Award.

(Gallup, New Mexico) -- Is the time ripe for another book on diversity? Author Susan Klopfer believes so, "...since the money part of the diversity message still hasn't hit home for most business leaders."

If American business has been talking the language of diversity for over 20 years, why do we still hear shocking complaints of ethnic mistreatment and cultural misunderstanding? Business author Klopfer asked this question after gathering diversity-related stories for her newest ebook, Cash In On Diversity; How Getting Along With Others Pays Off.

Klopfer's ebook is available through Smashwords, the Internet's largest ebook publisher and distributor to most major ebook retailers, including ibooks, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Stanza and others.

A civil rights author, journalist and professional book editor, Klopfer is a storyteller and her ebook’s characters reveal unfortunate accounts of “what still goes on in far too many business environments, even when we’re told through corporate messages via countless blogs, seminars, speeches, books and videos that major diversity issues have long been settled.”

One of Klopfer’s stories, for instance, focuses on a young man who wears tasseled shoes to work and is fired by a major pharmaceutical company because he doesn’t “fit in”; another, of an Island woman who is expected to cook a special meal every year so her cohorts can experience “true” diversity; and, still another story tells about a new employee who is asked to “set up” a “real quick diversity program” (“maybe write a blog or put up a Facebook page”) so the company will look good to its African American customers. “Try win a diversity prize!” his boss commands.

Cash In On Diversity blends practical experience with academic findings and provides do-able solutions, along with a diversity and psychology FAQ contributed by a social and clinical psychologist.

Adding value to this easy-to-read 12-chapter ebook is a discussion of five common diversity mistakes companies frequently make, like seeking “one size fits all” training and solutions.

Readers also benefit from a specific tips for communicating with non-native speakers, as well as a unique diversity questionnaire, and an 11-Point Organizational Diversity Analysis.

Also featured is the script from Klopfer’s popular diversity webinar, followed by a complete glossary of critical diversity terms (from Abrahamic religions to xenophobia).

“When we have a better grasp of diversity terms, we can really understand current problems and then have a better chance of solving them,” Klopfer, a communication specialist, asserts.

In doing her informal research, the diversity author noticed that big businesses often do no better than small organizations when it comes to really understanding diversity, and making use of its benefits.

“Too often, culturally naive business managers, even in large, sophisticated organizations, lead their companies into losing millions of dollars in lost opportunities due to problems stemming from simple cultural misunderstandings, which can lead to the mismanagement of employees. Just look at the high volume of lawsuits.”

Miscommunication and a lack of cross-cultural understanding are two main barriers organizations face when it comes to working globally, Klopfer states. “In an increasingly aggressive global business environment, there’s no time for the misinterpretation and blunders that result from failing to recognize and understand each other’s values.”

Klopfer holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Indiana Wesleyan University and an undergraduate degree in Communication from Hanover College. A former journalist and technical writer, she is the author of an alternate book selection for the Book of-the-Month Club (Abort! Retry! Fail!) and worked as a computer book development and acquisitions editor for Prentice Hall. Klopfer recently lived in the Mississippi Delta where she wrote two civil rights history books, including the story of Emmett Till. From this experience, she became interested in diversity management and chose to blend her journalism, business and civil rights experiences and knowledge.

Klopfer currently resides in Gallup, New Mexico where she recently opened a vintage and southwestern gallery.

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"In a world where ethnic conflict seems emerging and re-emerging, Susan Klopfer has written a luminous book defending the value of ethnic intimacy and arguing the virtue and art of story as a powerful means of achieving that intimacy. Her book could not have come at a better time."

Robert Alpert, civil rights activist and teacher

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Cash In On Diversity; How Getting Along With Others Pays Off ($3.99. Smashwords, 2011) is a practical guide written for business people, educators, health workers, lawyers, ministers, engineers, computer experts, students and all others who want to do a better job of relating to each other in their daily lives. Easy-to-read, storytelling approach. Includes a valuable glossary plus avaluable, free gift to readers.

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