$451

When editor Bob Brown first came up with the idea for Alternative Truths, he decided that one share of the royalties would be paid to the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) for three years.  At the end of three years, all royalties would go to the ACLU.  Everyone involved with the project agreed to this.

Bob recently sent out the first royalty checks from Alternative Truths.  Because some of the authors agreed to donate their share to the ACLU, over and above what they were getting already, the ACLU got more than any author, illustrator, or editor.  Bob wrote the following press release.

On July 6, 2017 three representatives of B Cubed Press, Karen Anderson, Blaze Ward, and Janka Hobbs presented the first of many checks to the American Civil Liberty Union of Washington.

The money is part of a commitment to set aside a portion of the proceeds of the sale of Alternative Truths, an anthology that looks at the America that might be if the current political path continues unabated.

On hand to receive the check was Caitlin Lombardi, Community Relations Director at the ACLU of Washington.

Should you have any questions or desire a review copy of the book, please contact Bob Brown, owner of B Cubed Press, at Kionadad@aol.com.

Alternate Truths check for ACLU

Left to right, Karen Anderson, Caitlin Lombardi, Blaze Ward, Janka Hobbs

The following text accompanied the donation.

In 1953, a nation was reeling from the unapologetic assault on free speech from the likes of Joseph McCarthy.  In answer came the novel Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.  It is in this dystopian future where books are outlawed and firemen burn what books are reported, that we saw reflections of evil.

It was this world that we, who grew up in an America where freedom of the Press was sacred and the idea of burning books brought visions of storm troopers, could fear, but never imagine.

But oh, what changes a lifetime brings.  Ray Bradbury has left us and we live now in a world never envisioned as possible, where the President and his supporters regularly assault free speech and seek to limit the constitutionally mandated freedom of the press.  Where he stands at the podium and denounces the freedoms many of us served at home and abroad to protect.

We said NO!

We did what we could do in opposition to tyranny.

We wrote in the spirit of Thomas Paine.  In the spirit of free speech, we wrote.  And so was born Alternative Truths.

When we collectively decided to set aside a generous portion of the proceeds to the ACLU, we had no idea of the symbolic nature of the amount.  But today we presented the representatives of this staunch defender of our freedoms with the first installment of $451.  A symbolic number if ever there was one.

We made this decision jointly and freely because without the ACLU, it could be books like ours piled in the public square awaiting the match.

Without the ACLU, we could find that the freedom to express our views suppressed and denied.

So in the memory of Ray Bradbury, we stand against the stigma of the modern versions of McCarthy and those that would silence.  And we will continue to stand.

Thanks goes out to each and every writer, editor, and artist involved in B Cubed and Alternative Truths as we stand united in the name of Freedom.  True freedom that comes from making your ideas known, of speaking truth to power, and the ability to do so openly.

And as the ACLU has been in the forefront of the fight for, among other things, freedom of expression for nearly a century, we who are listed below support them as we freely express ourselves in fiction to the current crisis in American life.

Adam-Troy Castro

Alexander James Adams

Blaze Ward

Vonda McIntyre

Bob Brown

Bruno Lombardi

Cheyenne Summer Brown

Daniel M. Kimmel

David Steele

Diana Hauer

Vonda McIntyre

Gregg Chamberlain

Irene Radford

Janka Hobbs

Jim Wright

Joel Ewy

Karen G. Anderson

Ken Staley

Larry Hodges

Liam Hogan

Louse Marley

Marleen S. Barr

Paula Hammond

Rebecca McFarland Kyle

Rick Dunham

Sara Codair 

Susan Murrie Macdonald

Victor D Phillips

Wondra Vanian                                                                                             

Bobby Lee Featherston

Susan Omberg-Carro

 

(Caitlin Lombardi of the ACLU is no relation to Canadian author Bruno Lombardi.)

I’ve sold seven short stories now, and self-published a children’s book and an e-book.  However, Alternative Truths  is the first time I’ve earned royalties.  I have one teenager starting college in just over a month and another one planning to go to college in a few years, so I’d like to earn more royalties.  Buy Alternative Truths, $4.99 as an e-book, $11 as a paperback.

 

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A Review of “Alternative Truths,” a Guest Blog by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough is a Nebula winning science fiction/fantasy writer and editor  She recently read and reviewed Alternative Truths, the political satire anthology from B Cubed Press, and was kind enough to give me permission to reprint her review as a guest blog.

E. A. Scarborough

Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

In The Wind Between the Worlds, Robert Ford, an RAF radio operator unfortunate enough to be helping the Tibetan government set up radio links between the settlements when the Chinese invaded described his treatment as a prisoner. His captors softened him up with sleep deprivation and starvation, and with sessions of yelling at him that what he believed was lies and what he thought was wrong was true. They kept repeating the lies they wanted him to believe, substituting them for any real news until he was confused about what was true and what was not. By the end of his stay, following his “confession,” he was convinced that his enemies were his friends and vice versa. He said that it took him years after his release to sort out his own concept of reality. Everything he was told was counter to his own opinions and experience, but isolated and bombarded by his captor’s “alternative truths,” he was forced to accept their version of reality.

More recently, June Weinstock, woman from Fairbanks, Alaska, in Guatemala on an archaeological expedition, was waiting for a bus when a mob of villagers attacked her, beating and stabbing her until rescuers told them she was dead. The government had been spreading the story that American tourists were kidnapping Guatemalan kids and cutting them up for their organs. When one of the villagers couldn’t find her child, people set upon Ms. Weinstock, who later died from her injuries. The child was later found rehearsing for an Easter pageant. The disinformation that led to the death of the woman was a Guatemalan “alternative truth.”

“Alternative truths” can have truly deadly consequences, and although the stories in the anthology of the same name are fiction and don’t pretend to be otherwise, they illustrate 24 reasons why it’s not a good way to run a country. The current administration should leave the story-telling to the professionals.
POTUS’s rambling oratory style is so well portrayed by Adam-Troy Castro in “Q&A” and Jim Wright’s “President Trump, Gettysburg, Nov. 19, 1863” mimic POTUS’S rambling oratory style that I almost couldn’t laugh for cringing.

My favorites were the more allegorical tales. Diana Hauer’s “The Trumperor and the Nightingale” gives a Trump/Midas twist to the Chinese fairytale about a real versus a fake songbird. The story is kind to “the royal family” but not as forgiving of the advisors and is one of very few in the book with a happy ending.

Louise Marley’s “Relics, a Fable” is a poignant tale of what life might be like for the old and poor in the shadow of the humongous wall that is supposed to keep Mexicans from immigrating to the US.

“Patti 309” by K.G. Anderson is also about older people, but the once-affluent and even celebrities in their–er–golden years, when age and ill-health have deprived them of not only their money, but also much of their identities.

“Melanoma Americana” is a thrilling uniquely Capitalist tale of where the money goes when big business meets medicine.

I particularly enjoyed the British humor in Parliament’s take on an a familiar-sounding American head of state in Susan Murrie Macdonald’s “As Prophesied of Old.”

I also found “Letters from the Heartland” by Janka Hobbs to have a more home-grown gallows humor.

Joel Ewy’s “about_the_change.wav” is a love story. It reminded me of a couple I know who almost split up over the election, though it has a bit of a Stepford Wives meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers twist to it. “Frozen” is also a love story, kind of, but this one doesn’t have any cute reindeer or princesses in it.

Particularly chilling were three stories about ordinary citizens caught up in the changes that come to pass when alternative truths become real. “Raid at 817 Maple Street” by Ken Staley, “Good Citizens” by Paula Hammond, “We’re Still Here,” by Rebecca McFarland Kyle and “The History Book” by Voss Foster show the horrific consequences of innocent behavior when monitored by a well-armed witch hunt in a time when paranoia substitutes for imagination and alternative truths trump (pardon the pun) reality.

“Altered to Truth” by the anthology’s co-editor (with Bob Brown) Irene Radford, “Alt Right for the President’s End” by Gregg Chamberlain, “Rage Against the Donald” by Bruno Lombardi, “It’s All Your Fault” by Daniel M. Kimmel, “Monkey Cage Rules” by Larry Hodges, “Duck, Donald: A Trump Exorcism” by Marleen S. Barr, and “Pinwheel Party” by Victor D. Phillips all feature different takes on what happens when the Wicked Witch of the West is also in charge of the West Wing.

“Walks Home Alone at Night” by Wondra Vanian is unfortunately non-futuristic, since it seems to be occurring right now.  The kind of mentality that threatens the protagonist in this story happens too often, particularly to minorities upon whom certain people currently in the Cabinet and Congress have declared “open season.”

In this versatile anthology, there’s even a story the NRA could love–a good old-fashioned-though-modern shoot-’em-up Western called “The Last Ranger (ANPS-1, CE 2053)” by Blaze Ward. An iron-jawed legendary hero, a young man earning his spurs, overwhelming odds, headin’ ’em off at the pass, and lots of things exploding!

This book doesn’t cure any of the evils that people do, but it does provide a feast of food for thought.

If this sounds like something you’d like to read and review, please do. It’s available at Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Altern…/dp/B0718YNJ97/ref=sr_1_1… Please share!

white house snowflakes

Mahalo to Elizabeth Ann Scarborough for her kind words on my story, our book, and her permission to reprint this book review on my blog. And merci beaucoup to the 70 readers who have reviewed Alternative Truths on Amazon thus far.

 

Hero of the First Amendment: John Quincy Adams

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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John Quincy Adams is the sort of fellow who winds up as a Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit question:  Who was the sixth president of the United States?  Who was the first son of a president to become president himself?  Who was the first president to serve in the House of Representatives after leaving the White House?  He was also a hero of the First Amendment, specifically, the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

“In 1836, Adams focused his long-standing anti-slavery sentiment on defeating a gag-rule instituted by Southerners to stifle debate.”

“In 1836 southern Congressmen passed a “gag rule” providing that the House automatically table petitions against slavery. Adams tirelessly fought the rule for eight years until finally he obtained its repeal.”

John Quincy Adams was an adamant abolitionist, and is remembered for representing the slaves aboard the Amistad in court.  He is also remembered for arguing for the right of all Americans to petition the government, as provided for in the First Amendment.  Southern congressmen managed to get a rule based banning all petitions and resolutions on slavery.  John Quincy Adams considered this unconstitutional, and wasted no time saying so.

“I hold the resolution to be a direct violation of the Constitution of the United States.”

It took eight years of rhetoric and effort before Adams was able to achieve a partial victory.  Congress agreed to drop the gag rule, but declared the right to petition the government belonged only to free, white Americans.  Black slaves — who needed the right to petition more than their white brethren — were denied that right.

John Quincy Adams was one of the most brilliant diplomats who ever served the United States of America.  He was at his best when he was Secretary of State to President Monroe:

  1. He negotiated with Britain to peacefully determine our northern border with Canada.
  2. He negotiated with Spain, allowing the USA to acquire Florida.
  3. He was the principal architect of the Monroe Doctrine.

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[1843 daguerreotype of John Quincy Adams, by Philip Haas]

John Quincy Adams was born July 11, 1767 in the Massachusetts colony, to John and Abigail Adams.  He went overseas with his father on John Adams’ diplomatic missions, learning his trade before he finished his schooling.  He was educated at Leiden University in the Netherlands and at Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  After beginning his law career, he served overseas as minister to the Netherlands, Portugal, and Prussia.  He married Louisa Johnson in 1797 in London.  He returned to the US, where he served briefly in the Massachusetts State Senate and then was elected to the United States Senate.  He taught logic at Brown University and rhetoric and oratory at Harvard. He left education when he was appointed ambassador to Russia.  He left the tsar’s court to negotiate the Treaty of Ghent, which officially ended the War of 1812, and then took the position his father had once had, as US ambassador to England.

From 1817 to 1825 he served as Secretary of State.  In 1824 he was elected president in a close and contentious election, and served in the White House from 1825 to 1829.  After finishing his presidency, he attempted to retire from public life, but failed.  By 1830 he was elected to the House of Representatives, although some felt it was beneath the dignity of a former president to take a lower ranked position in the government.  He spent the next seventeen years in the House of Representatives, speaking for the rights of all Americans and the importance of the Constitution.  He suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and collapsed on the floor of the House in 1848.  He died two days later, on February 23, 1848.  A first term congressman, Representative Abraham Lincoln of Illinois, was assigned to the committee in charge of funeral arrangements.  Lincoln, like Adams, opposed both slavery and the Mexican-American War.

John Quincy Adams and his wife Louisa had four children, three of whom predeceased them.

Read the Constitution.  Read American history.  Know your rights as an American citizen.

Polar Bear, Stuttgart Zoo

Sleeping Bear

A mini-guest blog, by the inestimable Shaw Tesla:

“I am a progressive.

My choice has been to do my homework. Apply my critical thinking skills. Make decisions based on evidence and intelligent debate. I know that establishment politics and establishment economics doesn’t work. I know that centrism, i.e., deep economic injustice under the skin of social justice doesn’t work because social justice and economic justice can’t exist without each other. I know that giving huge tax breaks and subsidies to corporations when there are so many unmet basic needs for Americans, doesn’t work.

Like most Americans, I want clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, a good job, universal healthcare, spiritual freedom, and affordable education.

I thought that wasn’t too much to ask. Common sense legislation.
But instead….

I have watched the fires of division grow
And I don’t like it.

I have watched rise of fascism on the backdrop of deep economic injustice by corporate centrism
And I don’t like it.

I have watched my planet become increasingly trampled upon
And I don’t like it.

I have watched as the Golden Rule has been dismissed
And I don’t like it.

So to those who would trash my planet, disrespect my fellow human beings, and erode the principles upon which my country was founded:
Know this
You have woken a sleeping bear
And I am putting you on notice.”

Buy my books.  Please.

Alternative Truths, 24 political satire stories, including my “As Prophesied of Old”

R is for Renaissance Faire, my children’s book

Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid, an e-book of western short stories

Sword & Sorceress #30, a collection of feminist fantasy, including my “The Piper’s Wife”

Barbarian Crowns, a collection of fantasy stories in the style of Robert E. Howard, including my “Vixen’s Song” and “Two Princes”

Supernatural Colorado, a collection of horror and fantasy, including my “Thank You, Thad”

Coming soon!  Heroic Fantasy, including my “Erazabet and the Gladiators,” to be released in July.

Coming soon!  Bumples.com children’s e-magazine, with my story “Long Neck and Freckles.

Alternative Truths: An unexpected-success story

Here are the thoughts of one of my co-contributors to Alternative Truths. I did a silly story, to make readers laugh. She did a serious story, to make readers think.  Ladies, gentlemen, I present my colleague Karen G. Anderson.

Writer Way

Alt truths cover The cover of the Alternative Truths anthology

Just over 100 days ago, on Jan. 23, science fiction author Bob Brown issued a writing challenge: Imagine the future during or after the Trump presidency. Write a story. Submit it to an anthology to be called Alternative Truths.

“This is an anthology about the future in an alternative fact world,” Bob wrote. “What does the future hold? Endless alternative facts? Brilliant leadership? Alien invasions? Zombies in the White House?”

Bob set about co-editing the anthology with Phyllis Irene Radford, vowing to publish the book within the first 100 days of the Trump administration.

As submissions came in, Bob formed the private Facebook group Alternative Truth (now public) so the participants could discuss the project. In a field where submissions generally vanish behind a curtain from which editors issue cryptic rejections, the decision to open-source the anthology project seemed both odd and courageous. Did these people know what they were getting into?

I submitted a dystopian story, “Patti…

View original post 512 more words

Cover art by Alexander James Adams.

Alternative Truths

A few months ago, I wrote about the CREATE Initiative, that we could fight against corrupt politicians through artistic creation.  Well, Bob Brown and Phyllis Irene Radford had the self-same idea.  Knowing that humor is the best way to fight pomposity, and that parody is a traditional response to politics and politicians, they organized a science fiction anthology called Alternative Truths. That book debuts tomorrow, April 28, 2017, via Amazon.

Alternative Truths Anthology was formed, when on February 23, 2017, I, and many of my friends, asked what we could do. We could write, we could join that noble tradition of using the pen, to poke the powerful.  So was born, Alternative Truths. And our pens became word processors and our ideas became stories.

Alternative Truths is a look at the post election America that is, or will be, or could be. We attach no manacles to the word truth to bind it to our visions, but instead we free it to find its own way through the minds of the two dozen writers who have shared their vision of the future…. Whomever or what ever you like you will find here with an absolute appreciation for the fact that we live in a great country where you can still publish a book like this, in part to the continued efforts of the American Civil Liberties Union. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the ink of patriots.


Phyllis Irene Radford and Bob Brown,
Editors, Alternative Truths

Alternative Truths has twenty-four stories, mostly science fiction, but a few fantasy.  There are ghosts, there are demons, there are aliens, there are time travelers, and there are the most dangerous creatures of all, human politicians.  The stories range from the humorous to the horrific, from the silly to the scary, from (First Amendment legally protected) parody to frighteningly plausible predictions.  Several of the stories would make excellent Twilight Zone episodes.  American, Canadian, and British authors have joined together to imagine what might become of the United States if an unethical businessman with no political experience were to be elected to the highest office in the land.

“In true American tradition, we lampoon our politicians – particularly those with overblown egos. And our current President has an ego big as – well, a wall. His own staff member provided the inspiration for this anthology when she used the term “alternative facts.” Since the President won’t come to the correspondent’s dinners, we’re bringing it to you. Alternative Truths is a collection of twenty-four stories by authors specializing in genres from political commentary to science fiction and fantasy. Once started, it’s impossible to put down. The topic of prevarication is addressed in manners from humorous to deadly serious. Contexts range from the past to dystopic futures. The collection is powerful, provocative, and in some cases – hopefully not precognizant.” R. Kyle

Alternate Truths has stories by Jim Wright of Stonekettle Station, award-winning author Adam-Troy Castro, Diana Hauer, Louise Marley, Irene Radford, Canadian author and journalist Gregg Chamberlain, Sara Codair, K. G. Anderson, Daniel M. Kimmel, Janka Hobbs, Bruno Lombardi, Victor D. Phillips, Larry Hodges, Bobby Lee Featherston, Blaze Ward, Joel Ewy, Marleen S. Barr, Ken Staley, Wondra Vanian, Liam Hogan, Voss Foster, Rebecca McFarland Kyle, Paula Hammond, and Susan Murrie Macdonald.

The CREATE Initiative is a way for ordinary people to fight back against the powerful and heartless.  Write, paint, perform, blog.  If you can’t do that, then read or listen or watch the works of those who can.  Alternative Truths is $4.99 on Kindle or $11 in paperback.  Buy a copy (or two.  Books make great gifts, and Mother’s Day is coming.) Remember, to an author, reviews are love, so feel free to mention on Amazon and/or Goodreads that you liked it.

“That’s what we storytellers do.  We restore order with imagination.   We instill hope again and again and again.” Walt Disney

Remember three things:  1, the pen is mightier than the sword.  2, enough snowflakes gathered together can form a blizzard or an avalanche.  3, comedy is a traditional weapon against politicians.

Disclaimer:  I am not unbiased in this matter.  I am the author of the fifth story in the book and one of the assistant proofreaders.  I confess to having a financial stake in Alternative Truths doing well.  I have a son going to college in a few months, and I’d like to be able to pay his tuition.

 

Hero of the First Amendment: Pauli Murray

First Amendment of the Bill of Rights:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

 

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Pauli Murray has been one of my personal heroes for years.  It’s a good thing she was a real person, because if she were a fictional character, any decent editor would complain that she was unrealistic and demand that the author tone her down to something more plausible. Pauli Murray (born Anna Pauline Murray) was a poet, a lawyer, a civil rights activist, an educator, and the first female African-American to be ordained as an Episcopalian priest.  She helped co-found both CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) in 1942 and NOW (National Organization for Women) in 1966.  She was turned down when she applied for a position at Cornell University because her references (Eleanor Roosevelt, Thurgood Marshall, and Philip Randolph) were too radical. In her younger days, she’d been turned down from attending the University of North Carolina (which her ancestors had helped found) because she was Black and from attending Harvard because she was female. Her reply to Harvard was classic.

“I would gladly change my sex to meet your requirements, but since the way to such change has not been revealed to me, I have no recourse but to appeal to you to change your minds. Are you to tell me that one is as difficult as the other?”

Pauli Murray was arrested for sitting in the wrong part of the bus fifteen years before Rosa Parks, and for following Gandhi’s example of peaceful civil disobedience while Martin Luther King was still in short pants. She led sit-ins in Washington, DC during WWII.

Saturday afternoon, April 22, 1944, Pauli Murray and fellow students from Howard University began a demonstration at Thompson’s, at Eleventh Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, a cafeteria only a few blocks from the White House.  Some picketed outside.  Some, including Pauli, went inside and asked to order. The cafeteria refused to serve them, so they took empty trays to vacant tables and sat down. Pauli, as the only female law student at Howard University at the time, was spokeswoman for the group.  Politely but firmly, she reminded the staff at Thompson’s that Washington, DC, law did not require segregation.  It was custom, not legally required.

Police watched the picketers and the crowd gathering to protest the protesters to make sure no laws were broken, but they did not interfere. The posters said:

  • “Are you for HITLER’S Way (Race Supremacy) or the AMERICAN Way (Equality)?  Make Up Your Mind!”
  •  “We Die Together.  Why Can’t We Eat Together?”
  • “Our Boys, our Bonds, our Brothers are Fighting for YOU!  Why Can’t We Eat Here?”

The students from Howard entered the restaurant in small groups, two or three at a time.  They continued to occupy tables, preventing paying customers from eating.  Six African-American soldiers, who were not involved with the demonstration and had not known Thompson’s didn’t serve African-Americans, came in to get a meal.  White soldiers and sailors were already inside Thompson’s eating.  When the manager refused to serve them, they, too, sat down at empty tables and read the newspapers, rather than going elsewhere to look for somewhere that would serve Blacks.  By five o’clock that evening, there were fifty-six demonstrators (including the soldiers) taking up tables.  Thompson’s was losing money.  The manager asked them to leave, but Pauli pointed out they were not breaking any laws.  The district supervisor of the Thompson’s chain came and asked them to leave.  Pauli refused, politely.  As Martin Luther King, Jr. will do years later, she was practicing civil disobedience (with an emphasis on the civility).  Finally, after telephone consultations with Thompson’s main office in Chicago, the restaurant agreed to serve them, after four and a half hours of peaceful sit-in.  The cafeteria’s waitresses refused to serve African-American customers, so the manager and the district supervisor had to act as waiters.

Pauli, being a law student at the time, knew the First Amendment and “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.”

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“What is often called exceptional ability is nothing more than persistent endeavor.” Pauli Murray

Pauli Murray was born November 20, 1910, in Baltimore, Maryland.  She died July 1, 1985 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In between 1910 and 1985, she fought against racism and sexism.  She was the first African-American Deputy Attorney General for the state of California.  In 1947, Mademoiselle Magazine named her Woman of the Year. She wrote poems, essays, and books. She was the first African-American to earn a doctorate of law at Yale University.  She taught law at several colleges, both in the United States and Ghana.

She held these truths to be self-evident:  that all men and women are created equal.

 

 

 

Hero of the First Amendment: Richard Allen

First Amendment of the Constitution:  Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Related image Bishop Richard Allen, 1760 – 1831

Richard Allen is an important figure in American history, especially the history of religion and civil rights in this country. He founded both the Free African Society,  a “non-denominational religious mutual-aid society dedicated to helping the Black community,” and the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which later spun off the A. M. E. Zion Church and the C. M. E. Church.

Richard Allen was probably born in 1760, in or near Philadelphia.  He was born a slave, which means his birth was probably not recorded at the time.  February 14, 1760 is given as his usual birth date, which makes today his 257th birthday, and he was born in Pennsylvania or Delaware.  As a teenager he converted to Methodism and became a lay preacher.  His owner, Stokeley Sturgis, also converted to Methodism, and permitted Richard Allen and his other slaves the opportunity to purchase their freedom.  (He did not convert in so holy a manner and to so generous a heart that he freed them without at least partial reimbursement for the loss of their labor.) He bought his freedom in 1783 (some sources say 1780) for $2,000.  In 1786, “joined St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church, where he became active in teaching and preaching.”  He often preached at all-Black services early on Sunday mornings, at 5:00 a.m.  However, when he and other Black members of the congregation attended the regular services later in the day, they were required to be segregated from the white members of the congregation.

Details differ as to the great walk-out of St. George’s by the Black congregation members.  It may have been in 1787 or 1792.  It may have been because visitors to the church did not realize they were sitting in the “whites only” section of the church or it may have been a deliberate attempt at integration by Allen’s friend, Absalom Jones.  Some versions of the story claim the church forced segregated seating on the congregation without warning, and this was the first — and last — Sabbath they did so.  What is sure is this:  African-Americans sat in the “white pews.”  An usher tried to tell them to move, but as he was doing so, it was the time in the service to kneel for prayer.  They refused to move until prayers were over and scolded the usher for interrupting the prayers.  When the prayers ended, they rose to their feet and walked out of the church.  Richard Allen and Absalom Jones led all the other Black members of the church out.

Absalom Jones was the first African-American to be officially ordained in the United States; he chose to join the Episcopal Church.  Richard Allen did not want to leave the Methodist church, but decided that what was needed was a church where African-Americans could worship together.

“I was confident that there was no religious sect or denomination would suit the capacity of the colored people as well as the Methodist; for the plain and simple Gospel suits best for any people.”

Using his own money, Richard Allen bought an old blacksmith’s shop and established the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church.  Bishop Francis Asbury consecrated the building. He also ordained Allen.

Richard Allen Richard Allen, circa 1784

Having been a slave himself, Allen naturally became an abolitionist. Both his home and Bethel Church were stops on the Underground Railroad.  He worked for better conditions and civil rights for free African-Americans, especially education.  He opened a school for African-American children.  He wrote articles on the evils of slavery,  on the brotherhood of slaves and free Blacks, on religious topics, and on African-Americans staying in the United States and improving themselves, gaining self-determination, rather than freed slaves going back to Africa.

“We will never separate ourselves voluntarily from the slave population in this country; they are our brethren and we feel there is more virtue in suffering privations with them than fancied advantage for a season.”

The local white Methodist Episcopal churches tried to exercise authority over Bethel Church, but Allen fought them in court. January 1, 1816, the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court ruled the church belonged to Allen and his associates. In that same year, Allen “united four African-American congregations of the Methodist Church in Philadelphia; Salem, New Jersey; Delaware and Maryland. Together they founded the independent denomination of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), the first fully independent black denomination in the United States. On April 10, 1816, the other ministers elected Allen as their first bishop.”

Bishop Richard Allen died on March 26, 1831,  at his home on Spruce Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was buried under Bethel Church, which is considered the Mother Church of the AME Church.

Biographies of Bishop Richard Allen
Richard Allen, The Life, Experience and Gospel Labors of the Rt. Rev. Richard Allen, Written by Himself (Philadelphia, 1793; reprinted Nashville: Abingdon, 1960)

Carol V. R. George, Richard Allen and the Emergence of Independent Black Churches (New York: Oxford University, 1973)

Richard Newman, Freedom’s Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church and the Black Founding Fathers (NYC: NYU Press, 2008)


 

Happy St. Valentine’s Day.

Happy African-American History Month.

Happy Richard Allen’s Birthday.

Hero of the First Amendment: Ida B. Wells

First Amendment of the Bill of Rights:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Mary Garrity - Ida B. Wells-Barnett - Google Art Project - restoration crop.jpg Ida Bell Wells-Barnett

Who was Ida B. Wells?  She was an American heroine.  She was a teacher, a journalist, a lecturer, and a civil rights activist. She fought for freedom of the press and freedom of speech.  She worked to publicize the evils of lynching and fought to stop it.  She worked for female suffrage and equal rights for men and women, white and Black.

Ida Bell Wells was born a slave in Holly Springs, Mississippi, on July 16, 1862. When her parents and one of her brothers died in the yellow fever epidemic of 1878, she became a teacher to support herself and her remaining siblings, so the family would not need to be split up among various relatives. She eventually moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where teachers earned better pay, although she still earned less than white teachers.

“On May 4, 1884, a train conductor with the Memphis and Charleston Railroad ordered Wells to give up her seat in the first-class ladies car and move to the smoking car, which was already crowded with other passengers.” She refused, and was forcibly removed from the train. She sued. A local circuit court awarded her $500, but the railroad appealed, and the Tennessee Supreme Court overturned the case.

Wells began writing for newspapers, mostly on racial issues.  She became editor and co-owner of the Free Speech and Headlight in 1889.  In 1891, she lost her teaching job when the Memphis Board of Education disapproved of her articles criticizing the condition of the “colored” schools in Shelby County.  In 1892, she began in earnest the crusade for which she is most famous:  publicizing the evils of lynching, and explaining that lynching was not the result of white justice-seekers too impatient to wait for the courts, but of white businessmen and leaders determined to stop African-American economic competition and social improvement.  In 1892, Tom Moss, an African-American grocery store owner and a friend of Ida B. Wells, was arrested for defending his store from white vandals.  He and his business partners, Calvin McDowell and Will Stewart, were dragged from the jail and murdered by a lynch mob.

Wells not only wrote about her friend’s lynching.  She traveled the south for two months, investigating other lynchings and collecting statistics.  When she wrote about her findings, especially  that lynchings were not the result of Black men raping white women, a mob in Memphis broke into her newspaper office and destroyed her printing press.  She was out of Tennessee at the time, and was warned not to return to Memphis.  She traveled in the north and the midwest, writing and lecturing about lynching. She went to Europe on a lecture tour.

Image result for ida b wells

Unable to return safely to Memphis, she settled in Chicago, where she and Frederick Douglass organized a boycott of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. She, Douglass, Irvine G. Pen, and her future husband, attorney Ferdinand L. Barnett, co-wrote a pamphlet explaining Reasons Why the Colored American Is Not in the World’s Columbian Exposition. More than 20,000 copies of the pamphlet were passed out to visitors to the exposition.

Ida B. Wells married Ferdinand L. Barnett, an African-American lawyer and journalist, in 1895. He was a widower, with two sons by his first wife.  He and Ida B. Wells-Barnett (one of the first women to keep her own name after marriage) had four children together.

 The Ida B. Wells-Barnett House, a National Historical Landmark in Chicago, IL, is where Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Ferdinand L. Barnett lived from 1919-1930.

In addition to her many newspaper articles and speeches on lynching, Ida B. Wells-Barnett wrote two pamphlets, both of which are out of copyright and available on-line.  In Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases, published in 1892, she examined the causes of lynching and suggested that African-Americans use their Second Amendment rights to protect themselves.

The lesson this teaches and which every Afro-American should ponder well, is that a Winchester rifle should have a place of honour in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give. When the white man who is always the aggressor knows he runs as great a risk of biting the dust every time his Afro-American victim does, he will have greater respect for Afro-American life. The more the Afro-American yields and cringes and begs, the more he has to do so, the more he is insulted, outraged and lynched.

In 1895, she published The Red Recordwhich examined lynchings since the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.  Most white northerners were either unaware or refused to believe how widespread lynching was in the south.  Wells-Barnett explained “ten thousand Negroes have been killed in cold blood,  without the formality of judicial trial and legal execution” since slavery had ended.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, Ida B. Wells-Barnett tried to balance raising her family with fighting against lynching, fighting for women’s suffrage, and working for urban reform for the many African-Americans who were fleeing the dangers and poverty of the south to come to northern cities looking for a better life.  She founded the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs and the National Afro-American Council in 1896. In 1909, she helped W. E. B. DuBois found the NAACP.  She founded the Negro Fellowship League in 1910.  She died in Chicago, March 25, 1931.

Image result for ida b wells Ida B. Wells-Barnett

Her home in Chicago is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It is currently a private home and not open to tours. The Bolling-Gatewood House in Holly Springs, MS, once the home of Spires Bolling, the man who owned her as a child, is now the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum. Several schools are named after her, including the Ida B. Wells Academy in Memphis and the Ida B. Wells Preparatory Elementary Academy in Chicago.

Image result for ida b wells

 

Sweet and Sour, Food and Fascism

I was going to write about another hero of the First Amendment this week, maybe Ida B. Wells or Oliver Wendell Holmes.  Then the president’s executive order on immigrants and refugees was issued, and before I could set fingers to keyboard, Sally Yates was fired for doing her job. At that point I thought about my friends flooding Facebook with kittens, to distract us from the Kafkaesque political situation.  Maybe I’d just post a few of my favorite cookie recipes.  (If nothing else, it would prevent me from losing my chocolate chocolate-chip cookie recipe again.)  Think about something other than the fact that Trump’s administration seems to being trying to attempt a coup.

But no, that is what the current regime wants us to do.  They want us to give up.  They want outrage fatigue. So I’ll share the sweet, like my cookie recipes, and I’ll rant about the sour, like our president ignoring the U. S. Constitution.  I’ll talk about food, and I’ll talk about fighting 21st century fascism.


Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Cookies

1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter (softened)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
2 cups chocolate chips, M&Ms, etc.

Preheat oven to 350.
Beat butter, sugar, eggs, & vanilla.
Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, & salt in another bowl.
Slowly stir dry ingredients into butter mixture until well blended.
Mix in chocolate chips, M&Ms, chopped nuts, white chocolate chips, or whatever add-in you prefer.
Drop by rounded teaspoons on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 8-10 minutes.
Cool slightly on cookie sheets before transferring to cooling racks.


Who is Sally Yates and What Did She Do?

 

Sally Yates was the Acting Attorney General, until yesterday. She refused to have Department of Justice attorneys defend the executive order banning travelers from seven nations. President Trump fired her, using on of his favorite insults “weak.” He accused her of betraying the nation.

Ironically, when the Senate confirmed Ms. Yates for her position, Senator Jeff Sessions — Trump’s as-yet-unconfirmed nomination for Attorney General — asked her if she would say no to the president if he requested her to do something unconstitutional.  She did so, and she was fired.

“My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts. In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right.”


Crackle Cookies

1 box of cake mix, any flavor
1/2 cup shortening
1 tbsp water
2 eggs, slightly beaten

Mix together with spoon.
Batter will be stiff.
Roll into balls.
(Optional) roll balls in sugar.
Place on greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.
Makes two dozen cookies.


What’s an Emolument, and is President Trump Accepting Any?

An emolument is “a salary, fee, or profit from employment or office.” In this context, it refers to a politician accepting baksheesh from a foreign power, a private individual, or a company that wishes to influences him. Article I, Section 9 of the U. S. Constitution states “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” Some ethics experts claim that Donald Trump’s many investments and debts overseas create a conflict of interest.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and a United Arab Emirates tourism agency both rent office space in Trump Tower in New York City.  Many foreign diplomats stay at his hotel in Washington, DC, some admittedly hoping to curry favor with him by doing so.  There is some doubt as to whether his lease of the Old Washington Post Office building is even legal, now that he is the president.


Sugar Cookies (My Mom’s Recipe)

  • 1 cup margarine
  • 1 cup margarine
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups sifted flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  1. Cream margarine and sugar.
  2. Add eggs; beat well.
  3. Blend in dry ingredients & vanilla.
  4. Chill dough.
  5. Roll out dough 1/4 ” thick and cut on lightly floured surface.
  6. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet, 8-10 minutes at 400 F.

Kellyanne Conway Doesn’t Understand the First Amendment

Kellyanne Conway complained that journalists who said unkind things about the president hadn’t been fired for their horrible actions. She doesn’t seem to understand that a free press is guaranteed in the U. S. Constitution.  Journalists reporting the news are required to be truthful, not kind.

Thomas Jefferson said, “The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.”  Just in case Ms. Conway isn’t familiar with Mr. Jefferson, he was the third president of the United States of America.


My Son’s Favorite Sugar Cookie Recipe

  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup butter (or margarine)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
  2. Beat sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla in a large bowl.
  3. Slowly stir in flour mixture.
  4. Chill 2 hours (or more).
  5. Roll out dough and cut out cookies.
  6. Dough should be ¼” thick.
  7. Bake 10-12 minutes at 350 F on an ungreased baking sheet.

How to Impeach the President

The president can only be impeached and removed from office for “Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Here’s a quick and easy explanation. Here’s a somewhat flip explanation. Basically, the House of Representatives votes on whether or not to impeach the president.  The Senate then votes on whether or not to convict him.  It’s a difficult process, especially when the majority of Congress belongs to the same party as the president.  Are his current actions severe enough to warrant impeachment?