The official site of William Loren Katz and Black Indians
A Conversation with Bill Fletcher
Bill Fletcher, the noted writer and broadcaster, interviewed me by Skype on his program recently. You can see the interview by clicking on the video below.
One of the founding myths of this country is that world liberty began in 1776 with the Minute Men at Concord Bridge, the Declaration of Independence, and Thomas Jefferson. This neglects the history of maroon resistance by African and Native Americans that ranged from Canada to South America for more than a century before 1776.
Those of us who have long labored to bring to the light the long-neglected story of maroon resistance to invasion and colonization are delighted to celebrate the successful “Operation Suriname: Maroon Day” that united the living relatives of North and South American maroons this October. Their intrepid ancestors were our first freedom-fighters, and in many instances they also became self-liberated people and forces of resistance within their home countries.
“I wanted to build Cultural Bridges to other Black Indian and Maroon Freedom Fighters in the Diaspora” said Da Pompey Fixico, who represented the maroons of North America. Fixico, now President of the Semiroon Historical Society, has devoted his life to spreading the word in blogs and articles, speaking at events, meetings, and on radio often with me, whose book, Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage (Atheneum, 201200), he calls “a classic.”
The successful Maroon Day organizer was Her Excellency Dr. Ambassador Fidelia Grand-Galon, who invited Pompey Fixico and the other delegates to Suriname, a country of half a million people and 120,000 maroon descendants of enormous ethnic diversity. The 2015 National Celebration of Maroon Day recognizes the 255th Anniversary celebration of the “Peace Treaty” signed in 1760 by the Dutch Colonizers in favor of the Maroons, who won their Freedom from the Dutch oppressors through arduous combat and also won the land that they resided on.
Fixico, an honored guest of and accompanied by Ambassador Extraordinary Plenipotentiary, Dr. Fidelia Graand-Galon, has written movingly about the experience: “Deep in the Rain forest I visited Proud Maroon People in 10 different villages, on two major rivers both the Tapanahony/Ndyuka and the Cottica River. The villages visited were: 1. Diitabiki, 2. Dataa Konde, 3. Sanbedum, 4. Loabi, 5. Pikinpiisii and Kisai (all on the Tapanahony River), 6. Wanhatti, 7. Agitii-ondo, 8. Lantiwei, 9. Pikisant, 10. Langa-uku (all on the Cottica River). In addition these villages I was invited — with Ambassador Extraordinary Plenipotentiary, Dr. Fidelia Graand-Galon, I get to see Maroon War Sites and other Secret Sacred places that must not be spoken about.”
We all salute Maroon Day organizers who have for the first time bought together maroon descendants from all of the Americas.
1935 was half a century before Bree Newsome was born and 80 years before she climbed that flagpole to pull down a Confederate flag that stood for slaveholders, racial terror and treason. She and James Tyson her spotter were quickly arrested.
On July 26, 1935 Bill Bailey, a broad-shouldered Irish American seaman and union organizer, decided to pull down the swastika flying from the bow of Nazi Germany’s luxury liner BREMEN anchored in New York harbor. Posing as tourists Bailey and other American seamen came aboard. As his buddies started a fight to distract the ship’s crew, Bailey climbed the flagpole and tore at the flag that represented Nazi persecution of religious, racial and political minorities.
Bailey yanked, his friends battled Nazi sailors, and the swastika would not come loose. “I would have eaten the thing to get it off,” he later told me. Finally the swastika gave way, he threw it into the Hudson and New York police arrested him and his comrades. When Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbles denounced Bailey and demanded protection for his diplomats, Mayor LaGuardia sent along ten Jewish police detectives, further infuriating Goebbles.
The world applauded Bailey’ s brash courage as they did that of Bree Newsome . By the next year Bailey joined The Lincoln Brigade, 2800 other Americans of every race, who rushed to Spain to fight a fascist military take-over orchestrated by Hitler and Mussolini. He fought in an integrated machine gun company. During World War II, he helped liberate the Philippines.
Freedom fighters Bree Newsome and Bill Bailey never met but had a lot in common. Their audacious acts against racial hatred and oppression were four generations apart but remain forever linked by a strong sense some ordinary people have to defend others from injustice and persecution.
African Americans, Native Americans, and the Confederate Flag
I was interviewed by FireWalker on Talking Stick Radio to speak about this issue. Please click on the video below to listen to the broadcast.
This award was issued by Phil Pompey Fixico, President of the Semiroon Historical Society. He is a direct descendant of the Caesar Bruner Band of Florida that battled the United States Army, Navy and Marines for forty two years. He is also a direct descendant of the John Brown Band of Seminoles (who along with other young men from Indigenous Nations) fled the Oklahoma Indian Territory during the Civil War. These brave men of the First Kansas Volunteers then served under John Brown’s former officers!
FIRST, Congratulations to Honorable Ambassador Fidelia Graand-Galon of the Republic of Suriname who, speaking for her country’s “Maroon Women’s Network,” invited my dear friend Phil Pompey Fixico, President of the U.S. Semiroon Historical Society to an important international maroon conference in Suriname. Attending as an honored guest for his many activist networks and international reputation, he will represent North America’s maroon descendants at this “Freedom Fighters National Maroon Day” celebration. It commemorates the 255th anniversary of the historic Suriname Peace Treaty of October 10, 1760. […]
It is not easy to condense the United States narrative from its Indigenous people to the US Gulf Wars in less than 300 pages. It is even harder when the author is determined to be thorough, informative, and engaging. And it is harder still if the author’s compelling story challenges the “American Exceptionalism” mythology that dominates our schools, colleges and corporate media. […]
Black Indians Celebrated in Native American Heritage Month
NPR “explores shared black and Native American heritage with William Katz, author of Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage, and Shonda Buchanan, an English professor, who is of North Carolina and Mississippi Choctaw Indian ancestry.” Please listen to the radio program or read its transcript here.
Black Indians 2014
View an excerpt from Cultural Caravan TV’s interview with William Katz here.
Drawing from his forty books on African American History, William Loren Katz offers such powerpoint lectures as:
Black Indians — Revised, Expanded and Updated
The expanded and updated edition of Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage brings the Native American and African American alliance that for four centuries challenged the European conquest and slavery into the 21st century with additional research and documentary and photographic evidence.
Please click here to view a complete list of books by William L. Katz.