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Golden Asro Frinks: “The Great Agitator”

Black History:  Special Delivery!!

 

Golden Asro Finks 1976
Golden Asro Frinks (right) (1920-2004)

 

Golden Asro Frinks (1920 – 2004) was a field secretary for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and a civil rights activist.  Frinks was born in Wampee, North Carolina but lived mainly in Edenton, SC where he resided since the age of 17.  He was named, “Golden” by his mother because of a “golden text” of scripture that was read at a church service she attended on the day of his birth.

Frinks was an unsung hero of the civil rights movement for 30 years; leading countless youth and adults; many of whom were African American and Native American.  He was arrested eighty-seven times for his civil rights activities.  A veteran of the United States Army, he served during World War II as a staff sergeant at Fort McCullough, Alabama.  After his military service, he returned to Edenton and married Ruth Holley.  They had one daughter, Goldi Ann Frinks Wells.

Frinks became involved in civil rights activism and organizing in 1956 in an effort to desegregate restaurants, theaters, stores, and other public spaces.  He also led the fight to end Jim Crow practices.  He used many of the same nonviolent tactics of civil disobedience used by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. such as sit ins, demonstrations, protests, and marches.  Frinks was selected by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr to become Field Secretary for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); a position he held until 1977.

His unorthodox style was extremely effective and earned him the nickname of “The Great Agitator”.  Frinks lead over a dozen civil rights movements during his career as an activist; three of which were on par with movements led in Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama.  His activism was not limited only to North Carolina.  A great deal of the organizing for the civil rights organizing in Selma, Alabama was conducted in in Frinks’ home.  He also assisted with organizing the March on Washington.  Leading efforts to advocate on behalf of individuals experiencing racial discrimination was also a hallmark of Frink’s activism.  Joann Little was one such individual.  She was an African American woman accused of killing the jailer who had assaulted her while she was in prison in the 1970’s.  Frinks also advocated on behalf of the Tuscarora Indians in 1973; marching to the state capital to support the group in gaining tribal recognition as well as representation on the Robeson County School Board.

Frinks is remembered as having some unorthodox ways; frequently dressing in a gold colored jumpsuit or sometimes a dashiki adorned with gold chains with a cross.  To energize meetings, he might jump on a table.  At one time, Frinks set a coop of chickens free around a courthouse building in Alabama to delay the start of a court hearing; a strategy he may have employed on more than one occasion.

He also played an integral role in advocating on behalf of four black teenagers in 1993.  The teens were arrested after a fight at a bowling alley in Hampton, Virginia.  Frinks became involved on behalf of the NAACP over concerns that the charges against the teens were excessive.  One of the youths being charged, was a local football and basketball standout, Allen Iverson.  Iverson maintained his innocence; stating that he left the area as the fight started.  Iverson felt he was being targeted because he was a “star”.  He had been sentenced to five years in prison.  Frinks involvement was instrumental in bringing national attention to Iverson and the incident.  60 Minutes covered the story and Governor Douglas Wilder would eventually commute his sentence. Iverson was then able to attend Georgetown University and play basketball.  He went pro just two years later and experienced great success as shooting guard in the NBA.

Frinks died in 2004.  He was 84 years old.

Sources:

http://wakeforestgazette.com/golden-frinks-organizing-the-grassroots/

 

https://www.ncpedia.org/biography/frinks-golden

 

 

 

 

So Why Do We Eat Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens On New Year’s Day Anyway?

Black History:  Special Delivery!!

black eyed peas

Eating black eyed peas and/or collard greens is a New Year’s Day holiday tradition for many African Americans.  But what’s the story behind these two food  staples?  Collard greens and black-eyed peas have long been hailed as symbols of prosperity and good luck; the tradition being that black eyed peas represent money in the form of coins and collard greens represent paper money.

Black eyed peas (which are actually beans by the way) were a food staple that was grown in Africa over 5,000 years ago.  They have been cultivated since pre-historic times; perhaps first cultivated in China and India.  During the 1700’s black eyed peas were exported to the Americas during the transatlantic slave trade and were give as food rations to the enslaved as well as being used to feed livestock.  Once black eyed peas began being cultivated in the U.S., they were initially a food that was largely consumed by enslaved peoples and poor whites.  However, the staple dish would eventually find popularity in more affluent households.

There is an oral tradition widely shared that during the Civil War, when the Union Army raided Confederate army food supplies, the only thing that they left behind was black eyed peas and a few other crops that they deemed beneath their station.  It is believed that the Confederate army was able to use black eyed peas as a food source that helped them survive the winter.

We should also recognize that black eyed peas also represent good fortune in the Jewish culture as well.  Black eyed peas were eaten for good luck in North Africa to celebrate the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashannah) and also dating back to the era of the Babylonian Talmud.  The Sephardic Jewish tradition also encouraged eating black eyed peas for fertility and good fortune.  It is also a Jewish tradition to eat bitter greens during Passover as a reminder of the hard times endured by the Jews during their captivity.

Happy New Year!!

 

Sources:

https://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/mysteries/blackeyedpeas.html

https://mic.com/articles/163513/collard-greens-and-black-eyed-peas-the-history-of-why-we-eat-them-on-new-year-s#.BDS0eaOhj

 

Happy Birthday Shirley Chisholm!!

Black History: Special Delivery!!

I am not the candidate of Black America, although I am black and proud. I am not the candidate of the women’s movement of this country, although I am a woman and I am equally proud of that…I am the candidate of the people of America, and my presence before you now symbolizes a new era in American political history.” -Shirley Chisholm

63rd Anniversary Of The Montgomery Bus Boycott: Honoring The Unsung HE-roes and SHE-roes

Black History:  Special Delivery!!

rosa parks

December 5, 2018 marks the 63rd anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  On May 21, 1954, just a few days after the groundbreaking Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision (declaring segregated schools unconstitutional) Jo Ann Robinson penned a letter to the mayor of Montgomery, AL on behalf of the Women’s Political Council (WPC).  The WPC was a civic organization for black women.  It was originally started because the local chapter of the League of Women Voters refused to accept black women as members.  Robinson’s letter demanded better conditions and treatment for African American riders on city buses.  She threatened a boycott if conditions did not improve.

On December 1, 1955, just a year and a half later, Rosa Parks, a then 42 year old seamstress and NAACP field secretary refused to give up her seat on a city bus in Montgomery.  Her courageous effort was an act of planned and deliberate resistance.  Of her efforts, activist, Eldridge Cleaver said, “somewhere in the universe a gear in the machinery shifted.”   Parks was arrested and fined $10.  Though Parks is historically recognized as the face of the boycott, there were many other unsung individuals who were critical to the success of the boycott.

Jo Ann Robinson and the Women’s Political Council had long been civil rights advocates; even before the Montgomery Bus Boycott galvanized leaders such as Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others.  The role that women played in the Montgomery Bus Boycott deserves more recognition.  Many women, at that time were employed as domestic workers and used the bus for transportation; more so than men in the community.  This often made them targets of mistreatment.  The WPC began taking action even before the “Montgomery Improvement Association” had selected Dr.  Martin Luther King, Jr as its leader.  On the night of Rosa Parks’ arrest they began distributing flyers calling for a boycott.  Their efforts were an essential catalyst for the boycott.  The majority of the 50,000 African Americans living in Montgomery refused to ride the buses during the 54 week long bus boycott.  Instead they walked, bicycled and carpooled.

WPC flyer
Women’s Political Council Flyer

The revenue lost by the City of Montgomery due to the boycott was significant.  While the boycott was under-way, the constitutionality of segregating public transportation was was being litigated in U.S. District Court (Browder vs. Gayle).  On June 5, 1956, a panel of judges ruled 2 to 1 that segregation was unconstitutional citing the president set by the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was the President of the Montgomery Improvement Association at the time.  It was the organization that was coordinating the efforts of the boycott.  Dr. King refused to end the boycott until the ruling was fully implemented.  This occurred on November November 13, 1956.  The City of Montgomery appealed the decision.  Their appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court.

Today we salute not only the heroic efforts of Rosa Parks, and also the unsung efforts of Jo Ann Robinson, The Women’s Political Council (WPC), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the thousands of men, women, and children participated in the boycott.

 

Sources:

https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/browder-v-gayle-352-us-903

https://timeline.com/this-unheralded-woman-actually-organized-the-montgomery-bus-boycott-db57a7aa50db

https://www.biography.com/people/jo-ann-robinson-21443551

 

The Legacy Of Ntozake Shange

Black History: Special Delivery!!

Author, poet, spoken-word artist, and playwright Ntozake Shange (pronounced en-toh-ZAH-kee SHAHN-gay) died on October 27, 2018. She was 70 years old. Shange is best known for her prolific play, “For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf”.

At the time, the play was only the second by an African American woman on Broadway after, Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin In The Son”. Shange was just 27 years old when the play premiered. Over 750 Broadway performances were held.

Shange has been referred to by Maiysha Kai as, “One of the original conjurers of what we now know as black girl magic“. Born Paulette Williams in 1948, she eventually changed her name to Ntozake Shange to identify with her African roots. Ntozake translated, in Zulu means “she who comes with her own things. Shange means, “she who walks like a lion.”

Shange graduated from Trenton High School in New Jersey. She also graduated from Barnard College and the University of Southern California, earning a master’s degree in American studies.

Sara Bellamy said of Shange, “Ntozake Shange invited us to marvel at the resiliency and power that women of color harness in order to survive a hostile world. She invited us to practice the ritual of loving ourselves.”

Certainly this queen used the power of her pen to elevate the voices and experiences of black women. May she rest in power!

Sources:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/theglowup.theroot.com/in-memoriam-for-colored-girls-who-grew-up-on-ntozake-s-1830060936/amp

MLK: “A Father We Have Yet To Bury”

Black History: Special Delivery!!

On April 3, 2018, Dr. Bernice King and her siblings took part in a service at Mason Temple Church in Memphis, TN to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination which occurred on April 4, 1968. The last public speech given by King was at Mason Temple on April 3, 1968. Bernice King comments on the trauma and grief she and her siblings still experience even as adults. …..50 years later. Not only was Dr.

King assassinated, but so was King’s mother, Alberta King who was shot and killed while playing the organ at a church in 1974. King’s brother Rev. Alfred Williams died from drowning in 1969. Many felt the “accidental drowning” may not have been an accident. Alfred King was also very active in the civil rights movement and worked closely with his brother.

Bernice King’s words in commemorating the 50th anniversary of her father’s assassination, are both poignant and moving as she reflects on experiencing the grief and trauma of the father that they “have yet bury“. The grief and trauma of these experiences is still present with them……… 50 years later.

Click on the link below to view an excerpt of Bernice King’s comments:

“Mountain Top”: MLK’s Last Speech Before His Assassination

Black History: Special Delivery!!

MLK QUOTE: “Be concerned about your brother……either we go up together or we go down together.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK made this quote on, April 3, 1968 during what would be his last speech at Mason Temple Pentecostal Church in Memphis, TN. King was in town to support black sanitation workers who were seeking better pay and working conditions. In this famous “mountain top” speech, some felt King seemed to be keenly aware that his life might be cut short.

On April 4, 1968, King was assassinated at The Lorraine Motel. Originally, James Earl Ray was arrested and convicted of Kings murder. He later recanted his confession. However many felt Ray was not King’s killer and that there was a conspiracy between the US government and the mafia to murder King. An initial ruling found that conspiracy was proved. However, the ruling was later dismissed by the Department of Justice due to lack of evidence.

Check out the video link to view an excerpt from this historic speech:

Sources:

http://www.thekingcenter.org/assassination-conspiracy-trial

https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/martin-luther-king-jr-assassination

Winnie Mandela – Dead at 81

Black History: Special Delivery!!

Nomzamo Winifred “Winnie” Madikizela-Mandela has died at age 81. The former wife of Nelson Mandela, the two were married for 38 years. However over three decades of that time was spent in separation sure to Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment due to his opposition of apartheid oppression.

Source:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/world-africa-43621112

Happy Birthday 74th Birthday Diana Ross!

Black History: Special Delivery!!

The legendary songstress was actually named Diane not Diana. Her name was, incorrectly printed as Diana, and that’s what folks started using. Another interesting fact about Diana Ross is that her neighbor growing up in Detroit was the legendary Smokey Robinson. Many also don’t know that her group, The Supremes original name was The Primettes.
What’s your favorite song or movie featuring Diana Ross?

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