Ossie Davis - Eulogy for Malcolm X, February 27, 1965
Here, at this final hour, in this quiet place, Harlem has come to bid farewell to one of its brightest hopes, extinguished now and gone from us forever. For Harlem is where he worked and where he struggled and fought. His home of homes where his heart was and where his people are. And it is, therefore, most fitting that we meet once again in Harlem to share these last moments with him. For Harlem has ever been gracious to those who loved her, have fought for her and have defended her honor even to the dea th.
It is not in the memory of man that this beleaguered, unfortunate but nonetheless proud community has found a braver, more gallant young champion than this Afro-American who lies before us, unconquered still. I say the word again, as he would want me to: Afro-American. Afro-American Malcolm, who was a master, was most meticulous in his use of words. Nobody knew better than he the power words have over the minds of men. Malcolm had stopped being a ‘Negro’ years ago. It had become too small, too puny, too weak a word for him. Malcolm was bigger than that. Malcolm had become an Afro-American and he wanted so desperately that we, that all his people, would become Afro-Americans, too.
There are those who will consider it their duty, as friends of the Negro people, to tell us to revile him, to flee even, from the presence of his memory, to save ourselves by writing him out of the history of our turbulent times. Many will ask what Harlem finds to honor in this stormy, controversial and bold young captain. And we will smile. Many will say turn away, away from this man, for he is not a man but a demon, a monster, a subverter and an enemy of the black man. And we will smile. They will say that he is of hate, a fanatic, a racist who can only bring evil to the cause for which you struggle! And we will answer and say to them: Did you ever talk to Brother Malcolm? Did you ever touch him, or have him smile at you? Did you ever really listen to him? Did he ever do a mean thing? Was he ever himself associated with violence or any public disturbance? For if you did you would know him. And if you knew him you would know why we must honor him:
Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood! This was his meaning to his people. Consigning these mortal remains to earth, the common mother of all, secure in the knowledge that what we place in the ground is no more now a man but a seed which, after the winter of our discontent, will come forth again to meet us. And we will know him then for what he was and is. A prince. Our own black shining prince who didn’t hesitate to die because he loved us so.
Black Angels Yoshida, photography„, photography, culture„
The Harlem Riot of 1935, the first in New York City in the 20th Century, was the consequence of a lingering unemployment crisis and police brutality. At 2:30 p.m. on March 19, 1935, a 16-year-old black Puerto Rican boy named Lino Rivera stole a 10 cent penknife from the Kress Five and Ten store on 125th Street. Both the store owner and the assistant manager saw Rivera steal the knife and managed to capture him before he was able to run away. A mounted police officer was called to the scene to investigate. When asked if he wanted to press charges, the store owner instructed the officer to let Rivera go.
In order to avoid anxious crowds and excited spectators, the officer took Rivera down through the back entrance of the store and out onto 124th Street. When one of the spectators saw the police officer take Rivera away, she shouted that they were going into the basement to beat Rivera. An ambulance arrived moments later to take care of the store owner and the assistant manager, who suffered scratches and other wounds while trying to tackle Rivera. When the ambulance left the scene empty, many of the spectators assumed that Rivera had been killed.
Shortly after the ambulance left, a hearse parked across the street from the store at 124th Street. The driver was visiting his brother-in-law, who was inside of the store. Gathering crowds immediately assumed that the hearse was there to haul away the body of Rivera. The police who arrived on the scene attempted to inform the growing crowds that no harm had been done to Rivera. Spectators began to demand that the police bring out Rivera alive, but police officers repelled the crowds and claimed that this was none of their business. At 5:30 p.m. the store on 125th Street was closed and New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia urged the residents of Harlem to remain calm.
The closing of the store did little to stop the anger of the crowd, and word spread across into Harlem that a boy had been mistreated by the police. Groups organized by the Young Communist League and a black group called the Young Liberators mounted a demonstration that drew thousands of people. When a white member of the Young Communist League was introduced and stood up to speak, an object was thrown through the window of the store, and the police responded by arresting the speaker and attempting to disperse the crowd.
The crowd reorganized across the street and another speaker tried to address the group from a lamp post perch. The police arrested him as well on the charge of “Unlawful Assemblage.” The crowds began to gather in greater numbers along 125th Street, and soon spread to other areas in Harlem. As the sun set, the looting and window smashing began. Police attempted to stop the crowds by circulating photographs of Rivera alive, but this fueled rumors that the photographs were fake.
The rioting ended the next day when New York Governor Herbert Lehman announced to Harlem’s white shop owners that city officials had the situation under control. Overall, three African Americans were killed and nearly sixty were injured. Seventy five people, mostly blacks, were arrested by the police. The riot caused over $200 million in property damage.
Queen Mother Dr. Delois Blakely at her apartment in Harlem, where Occupy Wall Street protesters occupied the building’s basement until the landlord agreed to replace the boiler. The building had been without heat and hot water on and off for years.
Dr. Cornell West was arrested today protesting the NYPD’s use of “stop and frisk” searches:
Princeton professor and noted activist Cornel West was arrested last weekend for protesting in front of the Supreme Court, and on Friday afternoon he repeated the experience in New York City.
West was part of a demonstration against the New York Police Department’s “stop and frisk” policy, in which individuals considered suspicious by the police are searched without due cause.
According to Salon’s Justin Elliott, the NYPD carried out 600,000 such searches last year, with 87% of the targets being black or Hispanic. Only 7% of the searches resulted in arrest, and critics of the policy say it does little to reduce crime and is probably unconstitutional.
Here’s the speech he gave moments before the arrests began:
These searches, even if they yielded arrests the majority of the time, have enormous potential for abuse - evident with the NYPD’s application of stop and frisk searches. To me, the searches are a morally reprehensible violation of a person’s civil rights.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963
Keep fighting, folks. King wrote in the same letter, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
“After a Harlem street rally, one of these downtown ‘leaders’ and I were talking when we were approached by a Harlem hustler. To my knowledge I’d never seen this hustler before; he said to me, approximately: ‘Hey, baby! I dig you holding this all-originals scene at the track…I’m going to lay a vine under the Jew’s balls for a dime—got to give you a play…Got the shorts out here trying to scuffle up on some bread…Well, my man, I’ll get one, got to go peck a little, and cop me some z’s—’ And the hustler went up on Seventh Avenue.
I would have given it another thought, except that this downtown ‘leader’ was standing staring after that hustler, looking as if he’d just heard Sanskrit. He asked me what had been said, and I told him. The hustler had said he was aware that the Muslims were holding an all-black bazaar at Rockland Palace, which is primarily a dancehall. The hustler intended to pawn a suit for ten dollars to attend and patronize the bazaar. He had very little money but he was trying hard to make some. He was going to eat, then he would get some sleep.
The point that I am making is that, as a ‘leader,’ I could talk over the ABC, CBS, or NBC microphones, at Harvard or at Tuskegee; I could talk with the so-called ‘middle class’ Negro and with the ghetto blacks (whom all the other leaders just talked about). And because I had been a hustler, I knew better than all whites knew, and better than nearly all of the black ‘leaders’ knew, that actually the most dangerous black man in America was the ghetto hustler.”
-The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Harlem, New York City