Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

When Voices Rise: Echoes of Our Foreparents (Editor's Commentary)

Academic journal article The Journal of Negro Education

When Voices Rise: Echoes of Our Foreparents (Editor's Commentary)

Article excerpt

"Dear Racism, I am not my grandparents. Sincerely, these hands," reads a t-shirt that has recently become a popular posting on social media. "These hands" is slang for using fists for fighting. Following the controversial election of Donald Trump, and during a time when racist acts have reached unprecedented levels, the t-shirt resonates with many who are motivated to resist racism "by any means necessary."

On the surface, the audacity of the message has shades of the Black Power Movement, when activists like Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael openly eschewed nonviolent restraint, in favor of self-defense and tactical resistance (Auerbach, 2005). Ironically, the full message of the shirt suggests that the use of "hands" to deal with racism is contrary to the methods used by our "grandparents."

"When Voices Rise: Race, Resistance, and Campus Uprisings in the Information Age" is a special issue of The Journal of Negro Education that views contemporary means of Black activism as a continuation of, rather than a reaction to, the civil resistance and confrontations of our ancestors. The issue is dedicated to our ancestors who, "RESISTED and REFUSED to REST so that the VOICES of generations could RISE." Our ancestors shouted definitively into the distance, and our reverberations on social media are their echoes.

On a personal level, I dedicate this issue to my maternal grandfather, John Henry Scott, who spent nights staking out his home and church with a shotgun because racists constantly threaten him and his family for being voting rights activists. Also to my paternal grandfather, Henry Toldson, who told a story of arming himself to confront racists who threaten to lynch his son for cursing at a White boy who called him a nigger. Both of my grandfathers were born on plantations and managed to escape the exploitative system of sharecropping.

I also dedicate this issue to my stepfather, Imari Obadele, who served five years in prison, because his organization, the Republic of New Africa, while defending themselves against a COINTELPRO-instigated raid, killed a police officer in Jackson, Mississippi. I also learned, from the book Witness to the Truth, that my great, great grandfather fought in the Civil War in a colored brigade for the Union Army to end slavery.

Importantly, none of my forefathers acted alone; they were a part of larger Black movements with few modern-day equivalents. The original Black Panther Party, Deacons for Defense and Justice, The Republic of New Africa, and The Black Liberation Army are organizations that used self-defense methods that were so advanced and threatening that they led the FBI to start "COINTELPRO-Black Hate" to neutralize and disrupt them (Farnia, 2017). …

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