Saturday, July 3, 2010

Remembering the Light of Mississippi

I thought that EcoSoul needed to spread a little love today. Sometimes it seems that I am this walking ball of anger. But I just speak my mind in between asanas and smoothies.
Today I will focus on the good of Mississippi. It created the first black millionaire and billionaire, and one of the foremost, but underacknowledged Civil Rights activist.

However, this blog will kindly pass on talking about Oprah and Robert L. Johnson (founder of BET). Though both hail from Mississippi, and are one of the few African-American billionaires, I choose to shift my focus on the political stalwarts who died for caring about black folks and justice, and did not take it up the ass to forward their agenda.

MEDGAR EVERS - - - If Medgar Evers were alive in this dimension and in this body, he would have made 85 on Friday, July 2. Shot in his driveway in Jackson, the capital of Mississippi.

A civil rights activist in the harshest Southern state, Evers managed to do more than 1,000,000 average folk in a lifetime before he made 38. Some of his work includes: suing the state for not allowing him into law school at the University of Mississippi, protesting a number of businesses and government institutions that did not allow blacks full usage of their facilities, and openly investigating the 1955 Emmit Till murder.

A CUNY college in Brooklyn is named after Medgar Evers. I went there and of course it is a friggin' mess. Ai yai, yai, we've got work to do. Check out the coverage of Medgar Evers on "All Things Considered," radio program.

There aren't any words that can speak on the courage of Fannie Lou Hamer who started to participate in civil rights activism at the tender age of 45. She was married, the mother of four adopted daughters, and living in the exploitative conditions of sharecropping in Ruleville, a small rural town in Sunflower County.

Hamer's attendance of a voter rights meeting cost her husband his job. Her further participation resulted in local whites shooting up her house, and eventually, lifetime injuries from a savage beating while in jail for civil rights participation that would eventually cost her life. The trauma of being beaten with batons and a tire jack by two black lawmen who were "forced" by white bosses was the biggest blow to Hamer.

Hamer took on everyone, unflinchingly, and never once did she flee Mississippi. She died in 1977 as result of injuries sustained in that beating.

"The only times an Afro-American who was assaulted got away has been when he had a gun and used it in self-defense."

"The nineteenth century lynching mob cuts off ears, toes, and fingers, strips off flesh, and distributes portions of the body as souvenirs among the crowd."

If Ida B. Wells were alive today she would have been started a black NRA. As the only thorough investigative journalist of lynchings and lynch mobs in the late 1800s and early 190os, she supported gun ownership, and felt that blacks did not use the gun effectively. And I agree with that then and now.

Standing not even 5 feet tall, her big spirit, savvy research ability, and steadfast courage to challenge injustice started with a lawsuit when she literally thrown out of a Chesapeake & Ohio train in Tennessee by a white conductor. Of course she was removed kicking and screaming, even biting the guy. Fiesty is an understatement to describe Ida.

Check this out, she was one of the top three watched Americans at one point. Right after Garvey and DuBois. Married in her mid-30s (an anomaly in those days), her husband encouraged her activism and loved all of her dirty drawers.

Also, many don't know how much Ida was involved with the Women's Suffrage Movement.In fact, she challenged Susan B. Anthony, Cadberry and all of them chicks when they removed black women from the movement to win the favor of white Southern ladies who could not tolerate negro women.


The first self-made woman and African-American millionaire in the US, I must emphasize that Madame CJ Walker did not invent the hot comb like so many people assume. Nor did she create the creamy crack also known as perm. She was the first sister to create an effective and healthy comprehensive hair care system along with products for black hair called Madam Walker's Wonderful Hair Grower.

Walker established her own franchise of beauty schools and taught the regimen to thousands of women who used hairstyling as sustainable form of income.

Walker opened up a manufacturing plant, salons, and schools throughout the Americas. She even had businesses in Central America and the Caribbean. This sister owned blocks, not buildings. And she hired a black architect. I know that's scarey for a lot of us to use our own, but as you can see, that has become our demise.

Walker created an economic infrastructure using hair care as a model that many still use and try to implement like she did today. Sorry, but buying bullshit weaves in China will not get you there.

Just a little know fact, black women's hair back then on average was 6 inches longer than ours today. Why the hell are we so bald? Go figure.

Anywhoo, the photo above is that of her mansion, Villa Lawero, located in Irvington-on-the-Hudson, New York, and in great condition. Built from the ground up with some of the money she made from her Walker Franchise, Madame CJ has never been duplicated.

Check out the MCJ website and read an autobiography by her great-great grand daughter.

3 ish talking intellectuals holla at a sista:

A'Lelia Bundles said...

Thanks so much for your post on Madam C. J. Walker. . .and thanks for setting the record straight and for getting the info right about her accomplishments and contributions! I hope your readers will have a chance to visit our website at and to read my book, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker, for more biographical info about her. We'd also love for you to visit the Madam Walker Theatre Center in Indianapolis (, the National Historic Landmark that was the home of the Walker Company for many decades.
A'Lelia Bundles
Madam Walker's biographer and great-great-granddaughter

ayankha said...

That was sooo refreshing! I hope that others can draw inspiration from these people, especially those living in (or planning to return to) MS.

Reggie said...

Excellent post!!!

This is filled with viable American history that our young need to learn and embrace.

I remember 20 years ago moving to New Orleans after graduating from college and asking a high school student if they knew who Medgar Evers was. I was confronted with a confused look. I was confused, frustrated and I just didn't understand.

The reality is that there are people in this country that don't embrace this aspect of American history.

It is what it is.