Charlie Cobb is truly an icon of the Civil Rights Movement. He is one of the organizers of the 1964 Freedom Summer in Mississippi. His is not a household name, but it should be. I met Charlie several years ago after he and his wife, Ann, moved to Jacksonville. He is a friend, and I proudly claim him now as an honorary native of Jacksonville. I knew about Charlie prior to meeting him. Certainly, his incomparable background and exceptional reputation preceded him. He is Truly a Civil Rights legend.
Charles E. Cobb Jr. is a former field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and has taught as a visiting professor at Brown University. An award-winning journalist, Charlie is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame and is a 2018 Distinguished Carnegie Fellowship Award Winner. He will teach a class on civil rights this year as a visiting professor at North Carolina Central.
In 1962, Charlie Cobb became a field secretary in the Mississippi Delta region for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), for whom he wrote the original proposal for the Mississippi Freedom School, an education initiative that was launched during Freedom Summer in 1964. As a field secretary for SNCC, Charlie was a grassroots organizer; he lived in the homes of the people he worked with, as did other SNCC field secretaries, staying with sharecroppers, janitors, cooks, maids, factory workers, and day laborers and learning their perspective firsthand.
According to Charlie, this concept had a lot to do with the influence of Ella Baker, one of the great Icons of the Civil Rights Struggle. As Charlie put it, Ms. Baker taught us to organize from the bottom up, rather than from the top down. I sat down with Charlie to talk about his experiences and asked his motivation to join the Civil Rights Movement. Charlie began:
“Mississippi was chosen as the site of the Freedom Summer project due to its historically low levels of African-American voter registration; in 1962 less than 7 percent of the state's eligible black voters were registered to vote. First, you can struggle against great odds, as evidenced by the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party forcing the creation of a two-party system in the South. Sit-ins, and the student sit-in Movement, not only challenged the infrastructure of racism but empowered the free speech movement at many traditional universities and is where the roots of Black Studies departments can be found. The Civil Rights Movement changed people, their lives and the eventual paths they would take. The civil rights experience literally changed lives.” He also felt that the Civil Rights Movement saw the emerging leadership of young Black high school students and Black college students, who took the initiative fighting segregation and racism through direct-action demonstrations. Black students established going to jail for a principle, which at the time was quite new and revolutionary. Finally, he commented that Black World War II veterans were a very important part of the movement—Medgar Evers, Vernon Dahmer, Aaron Henry, to name a few. Fighting for freedom in foreign countries and then coming home to bigotry and blatant Jim Crow laws did not resonate at all.
We talked about Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer, and, although there are many who know of her leading the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party in 1964, few know about a savage beating she took the year before. Charlie gave me this account: “On June 3, 1963, after returning from a civil rights workshop in South Caroline, Fannie Lou Hamer and other civil rights workers arrived in Winona, Mississippi, by bus. They were ordered off the bus and taken to the Montgomery County jail. Later that night while in jail, three white men came into her cell with two Black prisoners. They made her lay down and ordered the Black prisoners to beat her with a blackjack. They savagely beat her until they got tired. When she was released three days later, it took her more than a month to recover, but we never felt she ever fully recovered. Though she died fourteen years later apparently of breast cancer, she continually had kidney complications from the beating she sustained that night in 1963, which I am convinced contributed to her death.”
In June 2014, Charlie spent several weeks in Mississippi with SNCC colleagues as they commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the Mississippi Freedom Summer. Charlie Cobb was the the first activist-in-residence of the SNCC Legacy Project, a partnership between Duke University and SNCC. The SNCC Legacy Project is designed to document SNCC’s major role in the struggle for freedom and to allow young activists to draw on the hard-won experiences and wisdom of those who marched before them.
Charlie is a part of the heritage of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Freedom Movement, and the Civil Rights Movement. Like many veterans of the Civil Rights Movement, he understands that America’s founding fathers did not have the equality of Black citizens in mind when they originated the country’s founding documents. Many will argue that America still does not. Yet you fight anyway. Charlie understands the unpaid debt. Experiences from the Civil Rights Movement eternally affect your life. I did not have to ask Charlie; I knew from my experiences. Charlie Cobb Jr. has spent a lifetime simply working to get America to pay its debts. They remain overdue. Charlie Cobb calls Jacksonville Home. I am glad.
Every time Black folks trivialize Racism including excusing those Blacks --Jay-Z--who enable White Racists and their Racism, YOU are enabling Racism while insulating Racists. You are also saying you can, and you will compromise your Black self-respect for a price.
When you say what Jay-Z and others do, and are doing is OK in the scheme of things because "it is business", you are saying The Racism business is more important than your Black integrity and your Black human dignity and respect.
If you are White, Racism is a " game" which You play, Daily.
If you are Black, Racism is not a game when you are the target of White Core Racist Attitudes, Daily.
The Struggle Continues.
JACKSONVILLE AND ITS WHITE CHARTER SCHOOLS. EVERYONE KEEPS WAITING ON JACKSONVILLE TO “GROW” INTO BEING A TOP-TIERED CITY. AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN.
Jacksonville shows every day it is not close to...and perhaps chooses not to want to be...a top-tiered city, even with, an NFL football team. Passing the half-cent sales tax for public education makes so much sense. Yet, Jacksonville’s City leadership is poised to kill this much needed resource for Jacksonville's children. Jacksonville once again FLUNKS another test to represent “ALL” the people.
Let me start by saying, I Am Not a fan of Charter Schools. Charter Schools, to me are nothing more than White Segregation Academies...i.e., the Charter schools on the White side of town are massively White and counting; and the few, very few by comparison, Charter schools on the Black side of town are massively Black. Many of the Black Charter school’s student numbers are simply used to “inflate” the White Charter School numbers to make it appear they are more than the Segregation Academies they are.
The Florida Legislature over the years intentionally sabotaged public education by not being responsive and not appropriating the needed dollars. Then they proclaimed public education is “failing”, when it is really the legislators who were failing by not providing public school teachers and students with the necessary and required resources and money.
Of course, White politicians -ad nauseum- rationalize the only people being hurt by their actions are the Black students and the Brown students, and their parents. So What? Over the years, White Jacksonville/White Florida purposely did not “maintain” the school facilities in Black Jacksonville, but you certainly maintained them in White Jacksonville.
Then in the midst of their slovenly treatment of Black educational facilities and their maintenance needs, we see this tremendous spike in Segregated Charter schools of late, to the further diminution of public education. And it is not Choice, just another “code word.” IT is White parents getting their White children away from the “Black infested school system” (words I have read and heard here in Jacksonville.)
There is a need to build, rebuild and renovate public school buildings. Florida’s Legislature over the years and with the total support and the insistence of the Jeb Bush administration, and certainly continuing until now, have “dedicated” a substantial portion of the monies intended for public education, including "bricks and mortar" money to instead, go to Charter schools... White, Segregated and Segregating Charter Schools.
Let me point out, there is no Such Thing as a Public Charter School. They are ALL private. They have a quasi-administrative involvement with the State of Florida. Charter schools in Jacksonville are not subject to the Duval County School Board. There is little or no oversight as you can determine with Charters closing regularly and the owners of the Charters and their “front men and women” walking away with taxpayer’s money, leaving parents, especially Black parents scrambling to get their children back in the public school system. It has happened a number of times here in Jacksonville and throughout the State of Florida.
Charters can do whatever the hell they want to do, with a nod and a wink wink from the State of Florida, and get away with it. Charters are for White students and White parents. Even with the need to build new public schools and renovate/rebuild others. RIGHT NOW, TODAY, Jacksonville’s City leadership is DEMANDING a disproportionate amount of money “off the top” for the Private Charters in exchange for their support of the dollars, a sales tax will bring.
Don’t give us ---White City officials, White parents, and White students---what we want for the Charter Schools, and we will not support the extension of the sales tax. Still another reason why you CANNOT say the word “progressive” and Jacksonville in the same sentence. It obviously will not work. Let’s just call it Educational Racism and White Privilege intimidation. I am waiting for someone...anyone...to explain to me in a public discourse why I am wrong.
The Struggle Continues!
White America: He must have been doing something "wrong" or the police would not have shot him.
Me: Yes he was doing something "wrong." He was Breathing While Black.
Some More Thoughts...
1) He who learns, teaches.
2) You cannot stand Tall, if your Back is Bent.
3) I give less than a Tinker's damn what you think of me.
Me: What Class. What Dignity. What Integrity. What Principles. What Elegance. What Quality. What a Leader!
Observer: Are you talking about president donald trump?
Me: NO, not for this Racist president. I was thinking aloud about President Obama.
White political pundits continue to say, they "expect more from donald trump." As a Black person, donald trump is doing exactly what WE expected him to do. Being an "illegitimate" president does not make a difference.
We know, and it plays out every day, Racists who wear suits and skirts, like the Racists who wore pointy-head hoods and robes, have NO Integrity and NO principles. Racist donald trump and Racist White America are performing as advertised.
The Racist-in-Chief sends his Slave Patrols out to arrest undocumented workers while at the same time his businesses are Actively hiring undocumented workers.
When you are a Racist dealing with and insulated by other Racists on a daily basis, you can say and do anything and get away with it. This Racist White American president is showing you the insidious degree of Christian White American Racism and a Racist Lifestyle to which Christian White Americans have Easily grown accustomed.
The Struggle Continues!
1) Teachers...in addition to the varied, sundry, and ridiculous things they Must do as teachers, have the added task of answering awkward questions from their students, about the even more awkward (and then some) president of the United States; and
2) My grandmother told me as a youngster, "Baby, you are known by the company you keep." If she were still with me today, I would love to ask her what that says about donald trump.
The Struggle Continues!
Racist and Racism are not comfortable words, nor should they be. They both describe the reality of America's existence.
While purporting to be a Christian country, America has shown it is anything but. White Christian America has taken my Melanin, which gives me my Black hue of skin, to somehow mean I am inferior. Then White America deny and ignore the factual knowledge that the Greatest Civilizations in the history of Mankind were on the continent of Africa, a continent with many countries of Melanin people. EVERY civilization "borrowed" or "stole" knowledge +, from African countries.
Memo...Egypt is not now, nor was Egypt ever in Europe.
I tire of White America and the White Media cringing when Racist and Racism are used. Blacks did not create the circumstances that those words describe, White America Did!
The Struggle Continues!
MEMO AGAIN to the White Media and specifically Kasie Hunt (who was sitting in for the awful Chuck Todd on Meet The Press Daily on MSNBC)...
Kasie, Stop expecting ALL White Democratic candidates for President to call out donald trump as a Racist, as ALL Black Democratic candidates have done. Because Amy Klobuchar cannot call donald trump a Racist as Kamala Harris and Cory Booker have, does not mean donald trump is not a Racist. He is. Maybe you need, some kind of “White folks’ validation” to say the word, I don’t.
Let's face it, I don't care how socially and politically liberal or progressive you purport to be as a White American, you do not, and you cannot, see Racism and Racists as Blacks do. Zerlina Maxwell, Black, Professional News person,and who was a guest analyst on the show, sufficiently explained Racism and Racists and White Supremacy for you and any other White person who wanted to know. And she called donald trump a Racist.You apparently have problems wrapping your arms around that word and its description. Maybe it was significant that you were sitting in for the awful Chuck Todd today, since he cannot bring himself to say the words either.
Let me leave you with these words Kasie, from Tim Wise, White (like you), Anti-Racist (not like you) speaker, author, and anti-racism activist, who said,
1) “Societal Racism is rooted in both White privilege and a failure to understand that the system is rigged against most people by ‘rich white men telling not-rich white people that their enemies are black and brown.’
2) “If you want to know if Racism is a problem in the country, do not ask White People.”
The Struggle Continues.