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.
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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The initial Introduction in the two earlier editions has been replaced by one written by me.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.
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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: