Essays 2001-2015

The Maroon Conference

November 12, 2015

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 […]

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Tearing Down the Flags of Hatred and Oppression

July 9, 2015

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, […]

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Congratulations to Phil Pompey Fixico

April 10, 2015

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, […]

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“The Birth of a Nation”: A Century Later

February 17, 2015

By an odd coincidence the first week of Black History Month this February, Time magazine ran an article on the 100th anniversary of the first public showing of the movie classic The Birth of a Nation. This 22-reel, 3-hour and 10 minute silent film was Hollywood’s first blockbuster, first great historical epic, first full-length film (when […]

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NATIVE AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH: The Politics of Thanksgiving Day

November 5, 2014

Thanksgiving remains the most treasured holiday in the United States, honored by Presidents since Abraham Lincoln initiated the Holiday to rouse patriotism in a war that was not going well. Thanksgiving has often served political ends. In 2003, in the current age of US Middle East invasions, President George Bush flew to Bagdad, Iraq to […]

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Ill Winds Drove Columbus

October 9, 2014

Columbus’s Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria were driven across the Atlantic by the same ill winds that from 1095 to 1272 launched nine Crusades to capture Muslim Jerusalem. Defeated and humiliated the invaders suffered staggering human losses, left royal treasuries depleted, and convinced Christian leaders to do pay lip service to another try. Except for […]

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The First National Congress of Black Native American Indians – July 19, 2014

October 9, 2014

Congratulations to the hundreds of delegates and to organizer Jay Winter Nightwolf for assembling the First National Congress of Black Native American Indians. From the sun-splashed islands of the Caribbean to Virginia’s Great Dismal Swamp, the marshlands of Florida and towering mountains from Canada to Tierra del Fuego, your heroic ancestors wrote a proud history […]

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The Forgotten Fight Against Fascism

June 19, 2014

In late 1944 as a high school senior I rushed off to a U.S. Navy recruiting station ready to take on world fascism. Cooler heads insisted I wait until my graduation in June. After boot camp I served in “The Pacific Theater”–Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Hawaii, Saipan, Japan, and the China Sea. Anyone who has gone […]

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Dr. King’s Legacy Isn’t Just a Dream. It’s Denouncing War, Poverty, and Injustice

January 18, 2014

This year, Martin Luther King, Jr. would have turned 85-years-old. Since he embraced peace, practiced nonviolent resistance, and sought a loving society, for years the media has cast him as a sincere, avuncular, dreamy leader. This hardly comports with his essence or his fiercely tenacious battles—against war, racism and poverty—found in his writings, speeches, marches, […]

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An Ancient Seminole Christmas Gift: Freedom

December 17, 2013

Those who honor the memory of Paul Robeson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and the many others who gave their lives to advance liberty and justice in the United States, are invited to accept this Christmas gift for your memory bank. On Christmas day 1837, 176 years ago, the Africans and Native Americans who […]

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The Battle to Desegregate San Francisco Streetcars

April 30, 2013

Only months after San Francisco’s horse-powered streetcar companies during the Civil War dispatched their streetcars—with orders to only accept white passengers—African American citizens began to directly challenge this discrimination. On April 17, 1863 Charlotte Brown, a young African American woman from a prominent family, boarded a streetcar and was forced off. Determined to assert her […]

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A Christmas Eve Battle for Freedom: A Lesson for Today

December 27, 2012

Christmas Eve 2012 marks the 175th anniversary of an heroic battle for self-rule and liberty by a daring band of American freedom fighters traditionally ignored by school courses, texts and teachers. On the northeast corner of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee 380 to 480 members of the multicultural Seminole nation under the command of Wild Cat, and […]

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Thanksgiving Day: What to Celebrate

November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Day remains the most treasured holiday in the United States. Work comes to a halt, families gather, eat turkey, and count their blessings. A presidential proclamation blesses the day. But we must not forget that it preeminently serves political ends. Remember in 2003 when President George Bush flew into Baghdad on Thanksgiving Day to […]

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A Black Indian March for Peace, 1861-1862

April 18, 2012

As the country celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, one major event has passed unnoticed, though it stands as a massive demonstration of people power harnessed in the cause of peace and justice. It involved thousands of men, women and children of color in a painful and vast exodus to flee the Indian […]

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Gil Noble (1932-2012)

April 9, 2012

Gil Noble was a well-informed, charming, confident broadcaster devoted to seeing real news reached his community – all of New York. Operating within a network and system [ABC-TV] that treated news as entertainment and, often as political containment, he stood as an intrepid, challenging force. From 1969 on when his “Like It Is” interviewed me […]

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Lucy Gonzales Parsons: A woman for all seasons

March 7, 2012

On March 7, 1942, fire engulfed the simple home of 89-year-old Lucy Gonzales Parsons on Chicago’s North Troy Street, and ended a life dedicated to liberating working women and men of the world from capitalism and racial oppression. A dynamic, militant, self-educated public speaker and writer, she became the first American woman of color to […]

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The First American Freedom Fighter

February 2, 2012

This February 2nd stands as the 500th anniversary of the death of Hatuey, an Indigenous American fighter for independence from colonialism not mentioned in the same breath as Patrick Henry, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson. However, Hatuey deserves recognition as their earliest ideological ancestor and great forerunner. Little is known about Hatuey, a Taino Cacique […]

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Rethinking Columbus banned in Arizona: Katz essays included

January 31, 2012

The following is a response to news that Rethinking Columbus, a textbook aimed at critically engaging the legacy of Christopher Columbus in American and Indigenous history, is no longer approved for use in Tuscon public schools. The banning is a result of new laws that have shut down Mexican [American] Studies programs in the area. […]

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Gingrich Confronts History in South Carolina

January 4, 2012

“It’s not that I’m a good debater. It’s that I articulate the deepest-felt values of the American people,” announced the victorious Newt Gingrich in South Carolina. Republican voters [only 2% were African Americans] saw his tough, angry, racial language as straight talking. He eagerly strummed racial themes—Black urban pupils serve as assistant janitors to learn […]

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Christmas Eve to Remember: The Freedom Fighters of 1837

December 25, 2011

This post was originally published on January 4, 2010. Each Christmas Eve marks the anniversary of a battle for liberty in 1837 on the banks of Lake Okeechobee, Florida, that helped shape the United States of America. An estimated 380 to 480 freedom-fighting African and Indian members of the Seminole nation threw back more than […]

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Dr. King: The Monument, The Legacy and Today’s Wars

September 9, 2011

It has taken a hurricane to postpone the dedication of the long-awaited monument to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington — the first on the Mall for an individual who is not a president, not a white man and not a war leader. King repeatedly proved he was not frightened by hurricanes, and calmly […]

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War? Bloodlust? What’s A Scholar To Do?

June 9, 2011

The New York Sunday Times on November 28, 2010 published noted historian Geoffrey C. Ward’s review of a biography of President Theodore Roosevelt [TR]. His review reveals something distressing about the way some of our scholars gloss over our iconic figures and write history as the U.S. fights multiple wars. A popular war hero, President […]

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The Women who Gave us Christmas

December 22, 2010

Before Christmas emerged as a commercial success it led a checkered social life. In the 13 colonies it was known not as a Silent Night, Holy Night but as a heavy drinking, brawling festival, a raucous blend of July 4th and New Years Eve. But as the struggle over slavery in the United States heated […]

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Thanksgiving . . . and Who to Thank

November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving remains the most treasured holiday in the United States, honored by Presidents since the Civil War when Abraham Lincoln initiated the Holiday to stir northern patriotism. Thanksgiving has often served political ends. In 2003 President George Bush flew to Bagdad, Iraq to celebrate Thanksgiving Day with U.S. troops. He brought a host of media […]

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Are Cruel Years Coming to a Neighborhood Near You?

November 5, 2010

In 2010, with the blessing of a five to four Supreme Court vote, unlimited money from anonymous corporate sources was allowed to select candidates and call the political tune. It is hardly surprising the party best able to tap these funds scored major gains. While suspicious of repentant witches, and candidate that advocate a “Second […]

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“Those Damn Immigrants Again”

May 29, 2010

Immigrants have been a favorite American scapegoat for racists who wish to reach beyond their time-honored target—people of color. Waves of anti-immigration sentiment flooded the country in the 1840s [largely against Irish Catholics], in the l880s [largely against Chinese] and in the late 19th and early 20th centuries [largely against eastern and southern European Catholics […]

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The Historical Record as a Tribute to Native Americans

November 18, 2009

Early European explorers and settlers in the Americas depended on the skills and generosity of their Native hosts. No early foreign settlement could have lasted without the cooperation of Native Nations. Indians taught Europeans how to clear forests, plant and harvest crops, and how to survive in the new environment. The newcomers learned to use […]

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Tortured Reasoning and Tortured Results

June 18, 2009

Almost every day new evidence emerges showing that torture was authorized at the highest levels of the Bush administration. Dick Chaney’s flurry of admissions and denials captured media attention, but in ways that only drew more attention to a host of grim crimes carried out in secret and distant places. The evidence is overwhelming. Lawrence […]

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“Kill Him”—A Political Chronicle

June 17, 2009

Two white skinhead believers in “white power” who planned to assassinate candidate Barack Obama in a shooting spree that also targeted African American school children have been arrested by federal authorities in Tennessee. The two men, 20 and 18, are charged with illegal possession of a sawed-off shotgun, plans to rob a firearms dealer and […]

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President Obama, One Ape and Two Newspapers

March 7, 2009

On February 18th Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post published a cartoon showing two policemen identifying the dead chimpanzee they just shot as the author of the stimulus package. The day before President Obama signed his stimulus legislation. In recent memory police in the city shot Amadou Diallo, Shawn Bell and lesser known unarmed African American […]

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The Election of 2008

February 2, 2009

The election of Barack Hussein Obama has been greeted with well-deserved euphoria here and abroad. A country that embraced the duplicity of slavery and democracy until the Civil War, then continued to deny Black citizens unfettered freedom for another century, then fought a civil rights revolution that still did not bring full equality—that Amerca has […]

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Celebrating a Victory for Freedom

January 7, 2008

This Christmas Eve, the freedom-loving Bush administration has a chance to mark the anniversary of a great victory for formerly oppressed people on U.S. soil. The President is unlikely, however, to notice or heed the meaning of this particular milestone, whose cast of characters and historical lessons he would undoubtedly regard as all wrong. December […]

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Waterboarding and U.S. History

January 6, 2008

Some high U.S. officials claim not be aware of it, and Judge Michael Mukasey, the President’s choice for attorney general, prefers to equivocate, but water boarding has long been a form of torture that causes excruciating pain and can lead to death. It forces water into prisoner’s lungs, usually over and over again. The Spanish […]

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Blood, Race and Cherokee Sovereignty

March 3, 2007

As President Bill Clinton and others arrived in Selma, Alabama for the 42nd anniversary of the “bloody Sunday” march that prodded Congress to pass the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the Cherokee Nation chose a lower road. Members voted overwhelmingly for an amendment to their constitution that revokes citizenship rights for 2,800 members because their ancestors […]

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Black History 2006: The Black West

February 23, 2007

“If the American frontier did not exist, it would have to have been invented.” —Voltaire “The frontier is the most American part of America.” —Lord Bryce “The Westerner has been the type and master of our American life.” —Woodrow Wilson In the nineteenth century scholars transformed our frontier saga from a grim duel with nature […]

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Africans and Indians: Only in America

February 23, 2007

Alex Haley’s successful tracking of Kunte Kinte gave the hunt for African ancestors a needed shove forward. But driven by their stubborn will and searching eye, as researchers fanned out in pursuit of African connections, another vision appeared. First as a recurring distraction, then a source of wonder, geological detectives stumbled on Native American ancestors. […]

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President Hugo Chavez and the Rise of Black Indian Power

January 21, 2007

In early December, 2006 Hugo Chavez won a landslide election as President of Venezuela with more than 61% of the vote, exceeding previous vote totals, and carrying all 23 of Venezuela states. His victory surpasses popular U.S. Presidents. Not only has he won high office twice before, but in 2004 he defeated a recall election by […]

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A Time to Look Over President Wilson’s Shoulder

January 28, 2006

As more US soldiers are buried in the shifting political sands of occupied Iraq, President Bush still claims his invasion and occupation were justified, and that US citizens are now safer. Speaking before a “Protect America” sign, he repeats his “safer” line eight times, clings to flawed rationales and failed policies, admits no deceptions nor […]

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Albert Einstein, Paul Robeson and Israel

January 21, 2006

At a moment when so many people in the world decry the shockingly senseless, destructive militarism of the Israeli state and demand protection of the sacred rights of Palestinian people, the historic relationship between Jewish people and Zionism requires reexamination. Even when most popular immediately after World War II as a rescue effort, Zionist ideas […]

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