By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
During War War 2, the Women’s Army Corps 6888 Central Postal Directory Battalion made military history when over 800 Black women had the unenviable task of sorting through millions of letters and packages for millions of American soldiers fighting against the Nazis.
According to the U.S. Army Center of Military History: the women tackled the parcels in England in February 1945. They later sailed to France where they continued sorting through the piles of mail.
This past Memorial Day, the unit was finally given it’s long overdue respect, when it and its surviving members were honored in a Memorial Day parade in Washington, D.C., this past Monday.
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By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
It may be hard for many left-leaning liberals, or African-Americans to admit, but Kanye west, was kind of right about the 13th amendment.
Now, he was wasn’t right in saying the 13th amendment should be abolished, but it should be amendment or rewritten. Because contrary to popular belief the 13th amendment did not end slavery; in fact it only ended antebellum slavery, but it permitted slavery as long as it was in prison, as a form of hard labor to people convicted of a crime.
The 13th amendment states:
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Once the 13th amendment was passed, southern states began to immediately pass white supremacist laws, known as “Black Codes” and later “Jim Crow”, that were meant to disproportionately punish and incarcerate the black community, for minor infractions that most white people of that time wouldn’t get punished for. Like attempting to eat at a “Whites Only” counter or sitting in the “Whites Section” of a bus, even though whites could freely sit at any black section without fear of
persecution or prosecution.
Even today the 13th amendment is still be used in a harmful way against black people. Especially in a time of over policing in poor and economically disenfranchised, ethnic minority neighborhoods, and mass incarcerating those very same people for in most cases non-violent drug offenses that many white citizens get rehab for.
One example of this is San Francisco, a liberal city that has gentrified most of its black and many of its Latino residents out of the city, while at the same the time it has programs that give many drug addicts (most of whom are white), new, so-called clean needles to shoot up their drugs, which unfortunately they then leave where the average person could sit or step on, and possibly be infected with a harmful disease.
Now, I am not here advocating that prosecutors, jurors and judges start handing down harsh punishments for drug offenses to whites as the do to ethnic minorities to make up for past injustices in the justice system, rather I am saying people who commit drug offenses and other minor infractions, should be treated, in rehab or receive some form of therapy, rather than be sent to corporate prison somewhere to be a modern day slave.
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By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
There is a war going on today, and it’s not in some far off land, rather it’s being fought here in the United States.
Not for oil or gold, but for justice, freedom and liberty.
This war has been fought since the creation of this nation.
This war and its many forms has been fought through protests, like the Boston Tea Party, the Abolitionist Movement, Women’s Suffrage Movement, the L.G.B.T.Q Movement, to the movements being fought today.
Today, I will explain how this war for justice, freedom and liberty is being fought today, between protesters and the rich and powerful.
I was deeply troubled when I heard of Republicans in Republican-controlled states, writing new laws to punish peaceful protests.
This is socially relevant, because in a time when we have a White House full of white supremacists, this is a dangerous time to have our 1st Amendment rights violated.
In New York, a city that has a giant statue dedicated to liberty, protesters are having that very right violated by the men and women paid to protect it.
According to the New York Daily News ” protesters said the NYPD used undercover surveillance at the demonstrations over the chokehold death Eric Garner on Staten Island and shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.”
When Black Lives Matter protesters discovered this possible constitutional violation, they took the NYPD to court to discover what was collected and why.
A later New York Daily News article states ” the NYPD must disclose documents and video surveillance of Black Lives Matter protesters at Grand Central Terminal in 2014 and 2015, a judge ruled.
At this time the NYPD has not complied with the orders of the judge.
According to the same New York Daily News article ” the NYPD had argued that revealing its tactics would interfere with with law enforcement work.”
If you were given two black and white photos, one of civil rights activists in Alabama in 1963 and the other Standing Rock Sioux activists in North Dakota in 2016.
According to RT.com “Native Americans protesting the Dakota Access pipeline were reportedly attacked by security officers and their guard dogs.”
To my knowledge, not one person has been arrested for those harsh crimes.
Republicans in Minnesota are advancing a Bill that will allow city governments to sue protesters.
The law if passed will profile African-Americans some people believe.
According to theGuardian.com ” Both critics and supporters of the Bill agree on one thing, it is a response to Black Lives Matter-inspired protests in the Twin-cities area over the last two years, particularly after an officer shot and killed Philando Castile in July” of 2016.
Minneapolis Branch President, of the NAACP called the Bill ” highly racialized “.
The Bill recently passed a Republican-controlled committee in the Minnesota House of Representatives.
In other Republican-controlled states…..
According to the Intercept.com ” Republicans in Washington state have proposed a plan to reclassify as a felony civil disobedience protests as economic terrorism.”
“Republicans in Michigan introduced and then last month shelved an anti-picketing law that would increase penalties against protesters and would make it easier for businesses to sue protesters.”
” And in Iowa a republican law maker has pledged to introduce legislation to crackdown on highway protests.”
Today I informed you on the current political war being fought between political activists and politicians.
I described how local police have spied on protesters, and how state governments have written new Bills to silence dissent.
One of the worst things any American can do is remain silent in the face of injustice.
Never be afraid to voice dissent.
Never be afraid to use your 1st Amendment rights.
BY: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
On Saturday, October 15, 2016, early on a foggy, San Francisco morning, hundreds of activist-athletes and good Samaritans, of all faiths and even those without, came from a rainbow of races, nationalities, sexual orientations, and gender identities converged at Lake Merced Park.
After months of donations, given by a multitude of contributors, over a hundred thousand dollars was raised to support the children affected by the crisis and blockade in Gaza.
Proceeds from the Gaza 5k walk/run went to the UNRWA’s community Mental Health Program for Palestinian children in Gaza suffering from Psychological issues and posttraumatic stress disorder, due to the prolonged crisis of 2014 and the continued Israeli blockade in the Gaza area.
At the event there were several awe-inspiring and wonderful people of various ethnic backgrounds and cultures, united for this one great progressive cause, but the one person who stood out the most to me was fellow activist-athlete and a person I call friend, Chelsea Swall, her toughness still continues to blow me completely off my feet . Chelsea is what many millennials would refer to as a sociopreneur, for those of you unfamiliar with that term, a sociopreneur, according to UrbanDictionary.com is : “An enterprising individual that starts a venture not merely for profits but for inclusion of the communities that so far have been left out of the main stream.”
Well before the age of 30, she has already earned her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy /Counseling , worked at places like San Francisco suicide Prevention, USF Center for Child and Family Development, continues to volunteer in her community and has recently began practicing as a Marriage and Family Therapy Intern at a San Francisco private practice. What is most amazing to me is how she has turned her family’s tragedy and unimaginable personal “Pain into a Passion Fueled Purpose”, having lost two family members to suicide, she fights valiantly everyday to help people suffering with various types of psychological issues and mental Trauma. For Chelsea this is not about politics or religion ,it’s about curing a disease that according to the World Health Organization , over 350 million people are suffering from worldwide. An agonizing disease that at its worst, can lead to suicide, the World Health Organization states: Over 800 000 people die due to suicide every year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.”
I am pleased to say Chelsea and I have become good friends over time. Here is some of our conversation from the event :
Me: where are you originally from?
Chelsea : San Diego
Me: What made you come to San Francisco?
Chelsea : I came here for graduate school at San Francisco State University . I also loved the openness of alot of the people here.
Me: what age were you when you decided psychology was the path you wanted to take in life?
Chelsea: in high school I took a psychology class and volunteered at a hospice, but junior year of college is when I knew for sure, that I wanted to work in mental health.
Me: what do you want to accomplish by being here today?
Chelsea : bring awareness and raise money for a good cause.
Me: do you plan to continue to do community volunteering and activism for mental health causes?
Chelsea : yes
For those of you interested in seeing an amazing therapist in the Bay Area, use the link below to contact Chelsea Swall :
Pictures from this beautiful event:
Video of celebration after the race.
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By: Leon Kwasi Kuntuo-Asare
Muhammad Ali was born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. in the segregated south of Louisville, Kentucky, on January 17, 1942. Clay grew up in a house with a sister and four brothers. Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. and his father Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr. were both named after the 19th century republican politican and slave abolitionist , who was also from Kentucky.
Cassius Marcellus Clay Sr. earned money for his family by painting billboard signs and his wife Odessa O’Grady Clay was a household domestic.
Clay would be first introduced to boxing by local police officer and boxing coach Joe E. Martin, who witnessed the 12 year old, looking very irate one day, when officer Martin spoke with the young Clay, he realized Clay was upset that a thief stole his bike, Clay told officer Martin he planned to “Whup” the thief if he caught him. Martin Told Clay, he better learn boxing first, before attempting to “Whup” the thief.
Clay would begin his amateur boxing career in 1954, he would go on to win six Kentucky Golden Gloves titles, two national Golden Gloves titles, an AAU national title and he would win the Light Heavyweight gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy.
In his 1975 autobiography, Ali claimed he threw his Olympic Gold medal in the Ohio River after he and a friend were denied service at a “Whites Only” restaurant. Which would eventually lead to them having to physically defend themselves against a mob of angry white racists.
Clay would make his professional boxing debut in October 1960. In 1963 Clay would become impressive enough to become the number one contender to the crown of then heavyweight king Sonny Liston. On February 25, 1964, in Miami Beach, Clay would do the unthinkable and defeat the seemingly unbeatable thug with alleged mob connections, when Sonny Listen refused to answer the bell for the 7th round, making Clay the youngest heavyweight boxing champion at the time, at the young age of 22.
Soon after winning the heavyweight boxing crown, Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. would change his name to Huhammad Ali, after converting to Islam and joining the nation of Islam.
In February of 1966, Ali was reclassified by the Louisville, Kentucky Draft board as 1-A from 1-Y. Despite that fact Ali still had no plan or desire to serve in the United States’ military service. Ali openly stated in the press : “I ain’t got nothing against no viet Cong; no Viet Cong never called me nigger”.
After a successful titled bout in March of 1967, Ali had his boxing world titled stripped for refusal to be drafted into the U.S. Army Service. His boxing title was suspended by the New York State Athletic Commission. On June 20, 1967, Ali would be convicted of draft evasion, he was sentenced to five years in prison and given a 10,000 fine. Ali would pay a bond and remain free, while the court’s verdict was being appealed by his legal team.
As a result of Ali’s conviction, he was denied a boxing license in every American state and stripped of his passport, so that he was unable to earn a living for himself and his family by boxing overseas. Ali would not fight professionally from march 1967 to October 1970. As opposition against the Vietnam War increased across the nation, Ali’s stance gained sympathy, his conviction would be over-turned in 1971, a few months after having his boxing license reinstated and having a couple return matches.
Ali would soon become the number one contender to heavyweight champion Joe Frazier’s world title, in a fight nicknamed the “Fight of the Century ” due to the fact that two undefeated boxers, both held legitimate claims to the heavyweight crown were set to fight, to see who the true world heavyweight boxing champion of the world was. Ali would go on to lose to Joe Frazier, by unanimous decision, the first loss of his career.
After several comeback fights, Ali would once again become the number one contender for the heavyweight boxing world title, which at the time was held by the very dangerous and heavy-handed George Foreman.
On October 30, 1974 in a bout nicknamed ” The Rumble in The Jungle ” held in Kinshasa, Zaire, Ali using his “rope-a-dope” style to do once again the unthinkable and defeat a man, many considered to be the hardest hitting man in boxing history, to become a two-time boxing heavyweight world champion.
On October 1, 1975 , Ali would go on to fight his rival Joe Frazier for the third time, each having a past victory over their rival, they would fight for 14 tough rounds, Ali would say about the fight : “was the closest thing to dying I know”. Joe Frazier’s corner would refuse to let him fight the 15th round, after both of Frazier’s eyes closed, giving Ali the win by tko.
In September 1976, Ali won a highly contested match against Ken Norton. After the bout Ali claimed he was leaving the sport to focus on his religion of Sunni Islam, having left the Nation of Islam a year earlier.
In February 1978, Ali would fight an up and coming contender named Leon Spinks, at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The young spinks would defeat an aging and out of shape Ali, via split decision. The two would have a rematch, shortly after the first fight, in the bout, Ali would win via unanimous decision, becoming the first three time heavyweight boxing world champion.
Following his win on July 27, 1979, Ali announced his retirement from boxing. His retirement would not last long, we would soon challenge Larry Holmes for the WBC world title, in a quest to be the only four-time heavyweight boxing world champion in history. The Ali-holmes fight would take place on October 2, 1980. Ali would be battered so badly in the fight his trainer Angelo Dundee, would be forced to stop the fight.
Despite peas to stop fighting from family and friends, Ali would fight one last time on December 11, 1981, in Nassau, Bahamas against Trevor Berbick, Ali would lose the fight, via ten-round decision.
ALI AFTER BOXING:
In 1984, Ali would be diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome, it is believed by many he received the disease from years of head Trauma through boxing.
In 1991 Ali published Muhammad Ali : His life and times. That same year, Ali traveled to Iraq during the Gulf War, in an attempt to negotiate the release of Americans being held hostage.
In 1996, Ali would be given the honor of lighting the Olympic flame at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. At those same games, Ali would also receive a replacement Olympic Gold Medal .
Years later, Muhammad Ali would go to Afghanistan as the “U.N. Messenger of peace on November 17, 2002.
In July 2012, was a titular bearer of the Olympic flag, during the opening of the 2012 Summer Olympic games in London, England.
After years of battling a worsening health condition, like he battled boxers in the ring, Ali sadly would lose the fight for his life, when he died of Septic shock on June 2, 2016.
Short biography on the legendary Ali
Laila Ali discusses her father’s death and legacy
Ali the Muslim
Top ten Ali moments
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BY: LEON KWASI KUNTUO-ASARE
Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr., was born on August 17, 1887, in St.Ann’s Bay , Jamaica , to Sarah Jane Richards and Marcus Mosiah Garvey Sr., he was the youngest of eleven children, but only Marcus and his sister Indiana would survive to adulthood.
Garvey’s father owned a massive personal library, it was from this library where a young Garvey would first be educated. The young Garvey would continue his early education at some of St.Ann’s Bay elementary schools, it would be at those schools, Garvey would experience racism for the first time in his life.
In 1907, while working in the printing industry, Garvey would get his first taste of political activism, when he took part in a printer’s strike, the strike was not a success , but it sparked his interest in politics and activism.
In 1910, Garvey would leave Jamaica and travel throughout central America, first working as a timekeeper on a banana plantation in Costa Rica, Garvey would move on to work as an editor for a newspaper called La Nacionale and then later that year in 1911, Garvey would move to Panama, where he edited a biweekly Newspaper.
Garvey would return to Jamaica in 1912.
From 1912 to 1914, Garvey would live in London, England , where he would attend Birkbeck College and take classes philosophy and law classes. Garvey would also work for the African Times and Orient Review, published by Duse Mohamed Ali. Garvey would also be influenced by many civil rights activists of his time and was a huge admirer of Booker T. Washington.
When Garvey returned to Jamaica in 1914, he would form the United Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A), a Pan-Africanist organization.
On March 23,1916, Garvey would arrive in the United States, his goal was to raise money doing lectures to help build a school in Jamaica, modeled after Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute. When Garvey first arrived in New York, he found a job as a printer. On May 9, 1916, Garvey would perform his first of many public lectures, eventually Garvey would go on a 38 state speaking tour.
In May 1917, Garvey and his 13 associates would form the United States’s branch of the U.N.I.A, and soon began to preach economic and social freedom for people of African descent, both living inside and outside of Africa.
In 1918 Garvey began to publish the Negro World Newspaper, the paper had a dual objective, to educate black people on News and events, in their community and and to help spread the message of the U.N.I.A and grow its membership.
By June 1919, the U.N.I.A’s membership had grown to a massive two million members. That same year the U.N.I.A’s incorporated the Black Star Line of Delaware and bought their first ship.
That same year, a assistant district attorney in New York, named Edwin P. Kilroe began investigating Garvey and the U.N.I.A, but no illegal acts could could be uncovered, so no charges were filed. But that would only be the beginning of a bitter relationship between Garvey and Kilroe. On October 14, 1919, a man named George Tyler, attempted to Assassinate Garvey, he shot at Garvey four times and wounded him in his right leg and the upper part of his head. George Tyler claimed A.D.A Edwin P. Kilroe sent him, but before his arraignment, George Tyler allegedly jumped from the third floor of a Harlem jail and committed suicide.
Later Garvey would create the Negro Factories Corporations, he developed the business with the intentions to manufacture everyday commodities, Garvey planned to have NFC branches in the United States, Central America, West Indies and Africa.
In 1919 J. Edgar Hoover, then a special Assistant to the Attorney General and the head of the General Investigative Division of the Bureau of Investigation, later to be renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), would open an investigation into the activities of Garvey and the U.N.I.A organization. The bureau hired its first five black agents to infiltrate Garvey’s movement. The aim was to find a reason to deport Garvey and to sabotage his U.N.I.A movement. Eventually they would charge Garvey on mail fraud in connections with stock of the Black Star Line, the accusations were that even though Garvey was in the process of buying the steamship on the BSL brochure, he did not own it at the time he placed it on the brochure, therefore it was in the court’s eyes it was fraud and he was convicted and sentenced to five years on June 23, 1923.
After prison, Garvey would continue his work for the black race, while based outside of the United States, in 1928 Garvey traveled to Geneva to present the “Petition of the Negro Race”, to the League of Nations (the precursor of the United Nations ), in that petition he outlined the abuse of people of African descent by western nations.
In September of 1929, Garvey would found Jamaica’s first modern political party, the People’s Political Party (PPP), its objective were to improve education, help end poverty and improve workers’ rights for black people living in Jamaica.
In 1935 Garvey left the Island of Jamaica for London, England, he would live there until his death on June 10, 1940, Garvey died at the age of 52, after suffering two strokes.
Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr. would influence future civil rights leaders like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. , and the first President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah.
The Rastafari consider Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr. to be a religious prophet.
The plaque outside of the home he died at.
Blue plaque, 53 Talgarth Road, London
WATCH THIS MINI BIOGRAPHY ON MARCUS GARVEY:
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